Posts Tagged Apple
Apple announced today that Bertrand Serlet, Senior Vice President of Mac Software Engineering, would be leaving the company.
Since joining the company in 1997, Serlet has played a critical role in developing Apple’s operating system, Mac OS X. Although not as well known by the general public as Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Serlet was considered a key figure inside of Apple.
Sertlet’s departure may indicate a diminishing role for Apple’s desktop operating system as the iOS, the operating system for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, becomes a larger focus.
Says Serlet, “I’ve worked with Steve for 22 years and have had an incredible time developing products at both NeXT and Apple, but at this point, I want to focus less on products and more on science.”
It appears a mutual withdrawal, with android gaining market share in the mobile arena, you would think Apple would be pulling all its resources to stay ahead of the curve. We are very interested to see what Bertrand Serlet creates in the near future. Science almost always leads back to more efficient technology and different ways of using it.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s Vice President of Mac Software Engineering, will take on Serlet’s responsibilities and will report to Steve Jobs. Federighi has been managing the Mac OS software engineering team for the past two years.
Before joining Apple, Serlet spent a number of years at Xerox PARC and NeXT. He earned his doctorate degree in Computer Science from the University of Orsay, France.
Understanding the interplay between the wireline and wireless worlds is important as value shifts occur. You can’t have a blockbuster iPad2 launch without Wi-Fi. And 55% to 60% of the embedded home Wi-Fi base is coming through cable modems. Apple Inc.’s success eventually results in Comcast Corp.’s, Time Warner Cable Inc.’s, Verizon Communications Inc.’s FioS and even AT&T Inc.’s U-Verse’s success.
With the next generation of tablet and phone devices (Apple’s iPad2 and the HTC Corp. Thunderbolt, for example) comes the front facing camera. We wrote about this with the column “The iPhone without a contract” last Labor Day. Sprint Nextel Corp.’s HTC Evo 4G launched last year with a front-facing camera using the WiMAX network and QiK (now owned by Skype) as the pre-installed app. New hardware begets new software. And this new software is high BPS (bandwidth per second). The higher the BPS, the faster the app.
The next $100 billion of value in the telecommunications industry (inclusive of software) is going to be created by the fast app ecosystem. Combine secure cloud computing with gigabit Ethernet backhaul and dual-core processors and you have the makings of an entirely new industry. It’s not that Groupon brought millions of us daily deals – it’s that they now bring them to us in 1080p (or whatever form factor your device can support). I can now see next year’s holiday blockbuster toys in action at Amazon.com (or through their app), not still photos. And video communication, including a revamped Pandora + YouTube, is now connected to my television. Why do I have a V-Tech cordless phone (and a $40 per month bill)? Why do I have a premium digital video tier?
It’s an exciting world to dream about, and developments are coming very quickly, thanks to companies like Apple and Google Inc. The highest returns can only occur, however, when you expand the market from portable (Wi-Fi) to mobile devices. In car. On train. On bus. If you are moving, you need mobility, not portability. And mobility requires bandwidth that moves with you.
This is where the wireless carriers come in. They hold the keys to mobile fast apps. As much as the developer community wants to circumvent or ignore relationships with the wireless carriers, they cannot achieve a high common denominator (“fastest app”) without the ability to achieve consistent bandwidth speeds and consistently low latency. Said another way, those applications developers that invest in the network interfaces and carrier relationships will create differentiation (and value) faster than those who dumb performance down to the lowest levels. When technology moves quickly, value is created from those companies who can expand with the market, who can achieve the highest and best result instead of the lowest and least. The bandwidth disparity created by 2G/3G/4G and Wi-Fi networks operating simultaneously is too great.
The only way Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA Inc. (combined or separate) can grow 10 to 20 million net adds in the next three years is to partner with the fast applications developers. Multi-player Angry Birds in 3D with optional voice chat does not happen without network integration – the connections are real-time, not “push” and servers need to be very close to the network. Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA may need more growth than 10 to 20 million net adds over the next 3 years to remain relevant. Dropped calls be damned – what about dropped apps?
So we have a willing development community, at least two willing carriers (on top of Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility who will definitely not take this lying down), and capital waiting to earn disproportionate returns. Where do we get started? Three ideas:
1. Multi-player Angry Birds in 3D with optional voice chat takes applications to a new level. Maybe an “all green” AB on March 17?
2. Facebook (or their replacement) could reinvent video communications singlehandedly (and take advertising to a new level).
3. Cloud-based communications directories with caller identificaton (app free version includes a mini-advertisement delivered on every incoming call).
One of the biggest reasons for any directory is discovery. In the old days of White Pages, we discovered a street address and a phone number associated with a name. With the advent of fast apps, I may want to know if you have FaceTime and if you are available for a quick chat, even if you are not in my contact list. Where’s the FaceTime (or Skype or Fring or ooVoo or YouTube or Facebook) listing on my BlackBerry? It doesn’t exist. Then how do I discover that you have FaceTime (meaning an Apple device that has a front facing camera on a participating carrier that has optimized FaceTime for their 4G network)? We need a better discovery engine to make FaceTime or their competitor a more relevant communications application.
The directory needs to protect privacy. I need to be able to turn off applications from being used by some and make an entirely different set of applications available to others. The directory needs to be connected to individuals, not Exchange (which, as explained in the last paragraph, doesn’t have room for these listings anyway). Privacy is easiest with an independent source – friendly to but free from wireless carriers, handset manufacturers, and operating systems.
Finally, the directory needs to be free. Listed or unlisted, private, user-controlled and free. This is not to say that there aren’t charges for “end caps” (featured fast apps), or that larger corporate or association directories don’t pay some fees, or that we show a mini-message on every incoming call in exchange for a free app, but this is not the calling name data storage margins of the past. And, if it can bring in 10 to 20 million customers for Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA (together or separate), it’s worth the carrier effort.
Fast apps are the next $100 billion opportunity in the communications industry. A well executed fast apps strategy by T-Mobile USA and Sprint Nextel (combined or separate) can break the current duopoly (or Verizon Wireless can execute it on its own with LTE and cripple their competition). To make fast apps a reality, the discovery process needs to be radically simpler, privacy needs to be protected, and it needs to be free to the end user. We need an independent directory.
Here come the fast apps. Are you ready?
Jim Patterson is CEO and co-founder of Mobile Symmetry, a start-up created for carriers to solve the problems of an increasingly mobile-only society. Patterson was most recently President – Wholesale Services for Sprint and has a career that spans over eighteen years in telecom and technology. Patterson welcomes your firstname.lastname@example.org.
BARCELONA, Spain–Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) CEO Sanjay Jha confirmed that its first tablet, the Android-powered Xoom, will retail for $800 when it goes on sale unsubsidized from Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). Speaking to reporters here on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress trade show, Jha justified the price of the tablet, which is higher than a similar version of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, by saying that the Xoom’s eventual upgrade to LTE gives it a leg up on the competition.
A 32 GB version of the Xoom with Verizon’s EVDO data service will retail for $800. The 32 GB version of the iPad with AT&T Mobility’s no-contract (NYSE:T) HSPA+ service retails for $729. “We felt that our ability to deliver 50Mb/s would justify the $799 price point,” Jha said. “It is 32 GB with 3G and a free upgrade to 4G. Being competitive with iPad is important. We feel that from the hardware and capabilities we deliver we are at least competitive and in a number of ways better [than the iPad].” Verizon has said its LTE network delivers average real-world downlink performance of 5-12 Mbps.
The Xoom runs on Android 3.0, or “Honeycomb,” and boasts a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. It also features a 10.1-inch widescreen HD display. The device supports 1080p HD video and HDMI output to display content on larger HD screens. Additionally, the Xoom has a front-facing, 2-megapixel camera for video chats over Wi-Fi, EVDO or or LTE, as well as a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera that captures video in 720p HD. The Xoom will be upgraded to LTE sometime in the second quarter.
Jha said that Samsung’s return rate and sell-through rate with the Android-powered GalaxyTab have been “concerning,” but said he was confident enough to launch the Xoom at the $800 price point. Importantly, Verizon has not yet revealed its LTE data plans for tablets or smartphones.
Jha also said that Motorola will release a Wi-Fi-only version of the Xoom. He would not be drawn on the exact price, but said it would be “meaningfully cheaper. The price is set by iPad at $599, and we will be right around there.” The 32GB Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad sells for $599.
In an apparent slip, Jha also seemed to divulge the existence of Google’s music service, which Google has never publicly acknowledged. Jha said that an ecosystem is composed of applications, developers and services. “Google’s mobile services–and that includes music services, video services…” Then, according to the Wall Street Journal, correcting himself, he said, “There will be music service, there will be video service.”
Rahul Sood was working in a Calgary rug store when fate beckoned in 1991. A friendly customer saw him fixing a computer by the front desk, and suggested he take his skills into the PC business.
Sood borrowed $1,500 on a MasterCard and started Voodoo PC, buying high-end parts and building powerful workstation computers for clients in the local oil and gas industry. It didn’t take long for him to find a more appropriate niche: In the early days Sood and friends stayed up until 2 a.m. playing graphics-rich video games on the office computers, so it felt natural when Voodoo began building eye-catching rigs for fellow video game enthusiasts.
Now Sood is a key player in Hewlett-Packard’s (HPQ) push to create breakthrough new computer designs to push it further ahead of its rivals. Since HP acquired Voodoo in 2006, Sood and his team have been working to bring Voodoo’s artistic, high-performance culture to HP’s mass-market audience. HP’s latest efforts, which will be unveiled on June 10, could begin to establish the company as a provider of beautiful technology gear – an image that consumers had traditionally associated with competitors like Apple (AAPL) and Sony (SNE).
“Voodoo inside HP is very much akin to the acquisition of Lamborghini into Audi,” says Sood, a car buff who races in his spare time. “In the new Lamborghinis the quality is 100 times better, and in Audis, the styling has gotten more aggressive – it’s a win-win situation for both companies.”
HP’s moves are about more than looks. The PC wars have changed. In the 90s, victory meant building PCs cheaper and faster. Michael Dell (DELL) defined the era by establishing a build-to-order process at his Texas plants, tightly managing parts and inventory, then cutting prices to bleed his rivals. Since then, Dell’s competitors have largely neutralized its cost advantage, so today victory is more likely to mean building innovative PCs and selling them in a high-class environment. (Dell has responded by focusing more on retail sales, and courting gamers through its Alienware unit.)
That’s why HP has already been putting more focus on aesthetics. When PC unit chief Todd Bradley arrived at HP three years ago, he observed that business laptops had all the flair of military tanks and challenged his team to radically redesign them.
Since then, HP’s entire line of machines has begun dramatic changes. Many laptops now come with stylish, eye-catching engravings. A quirky touch-sensitive computer won raves from Martha Stewart, and a muscle-car desktop excited video-game enthusiasts with its precisely-engineered parts. The company even worked with the Pasadena College of Art to rethink computer packaging. A marketing makeover completes the package, with commercials featuring celebrities like rapper Jay-Z and snowboarder Shaun White. (By way of contrast, a recent Dell ad featured Burt Reynolds.)
Yes, HP has come a long way. In the spring of 2005, when Bradley first sat down with CEO Mark Hurd to talk about joining the company, HP was still struggling to digest its acquisition of Compaq and still trailed Dell in the marketplace. Over breakfast at the Stanford Park Hotel in Palo Alto, the two men talked about how to streamline the PC division and make it a winner. “I really believed in our ability to drive innovation into the core PC space,” Bradley says. “It was an interesting opportunity to change the way people viewed computing, and make it personal.”
Weeks later Bradley joined the company, and began to deliver. He quickly brought in a new leadership team and standardized the basic skeletons of HP’s computers to simplify manufacturing and speed innovation. Profit margins have steadily risen from less than 1 percent the year before Bradley took over to more than 5 percent now.
Now that Bradley has the mechanics down, more attention has shifted to marketing. Aside from the design of the PC lineup, his team is also working on a novel retail strategy.
I got a peek at the retail part a few weeks ago. During a conference for its reseller partners, HP built a mockup of its store-in-a-store concept in a room at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. The most impressive thing about the setup was how well everything worked together; computers, printers, displays and other items sat on polished white surfaces, organized by how they might be used. The packaging matched, too – from printer cartridges to laptops, everything sported a black background accented by bright colors.
Versions of the retail space will begin appearing in stores this summer and fall. Micro Center, a U.S. electronics chain, will test the concept ahead of the holiday season; and HP will set up a boutique in Harrod’s, the upscale department store in London, this summer. The stores will include specially trained workers, promotions to draw people inside, and a commitment to continually improving the experience based on customer feedback.
For Satjiv Chahil, who heads up marketing for the PC division, it’s a reflection of how computing has gone mainstream. These days electronics stores aren’t really competing with each other – they’re up against chic fashion shops like Hollister, Louis Vuitton and Miss Sixty, competing for disposable income. “The purchasing power that people have is going to go somewhere,” Chahil says, and he has a point. Visit the mall, even during tough economic times, and you’re sure to see plenty of money being thrown around. Why shouldn’t HP get more of it?
“They’ve taken a stronger look at the experience of shopping for their product, versus just having their product available at multiple outlets,” says Kevin Jones, vice president of merchandising at Micro Center, who has been working with HP on the in-store concept. “This is about getting the cool factor into the PC product.”
That’s a tall order, since few computer makers have managed to make a strong case for why their machines are better than the competition – and in an economic slowdown, it can be harder to entice consumers to buy. But with it’s number-one global position, the backing of HP’s huge research labs and new ideas coming in from folks like Sood, HP may be better positioned than any other company to define the battlefield in the new PC wars.
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) said it stopped taking pre-orders for Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4 at 8:10 p.m. EST yesterday, and that the pre-order sales broke company sales records–an echo of the flood of traffic that greeted AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) when it took pre-orders for the device in June.
Verizon began taking pre-orders at 3 a.m. EST Thursday for existing customers. According to the carrier, within the first two hours Verizon sold more phones than any first day launch in its history. Verizon said online pre-orders will begin again Feb. 9 at 3:01 a.m. EST, and that its stores will open at 7 a.m. local time on Feb. 10 for the official launch. Apple stores also will open at 7 a.m. local time on Feb. 10; Best Buy will offer the CDMA iPhone then as well.
The launch was not without glitches. Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney told Reuters that the majority of the carrier’s customers were able to get their orders processed, but that some customers received error messages. She said Verizon is trying to sort through the issues.
Meanwhile, other carriers are working hard to blunt the impact of the Verizon iPhone. AT&T said Thursday it will throw its marketing muscle behind the Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) Atrix 4G. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will host a media event in New York City Monday to unveil an “industry first.” And T-Mobile is offering two free G2 smartphones when customers sign up for an unlimited, two-line family plan, which costs $179.99 per month. Additionally, the No. 4 carrier, which is kickstarting a company-wide turnaround plan, set up a special website to hype its smartphones and HSPA+ network, which it markets as 4G.