Friday, July 24, 2015

can't delete Apple Music?

Why does this Wired author assert that "You can't delete" Apple Music?  If Brian Barrett means "you can't go back to the old Music App", he's pretty wrong.  If he means you can't delete the Music App period, he's right but that has always been the case.  And I'm pretty sure he means the former as he seems to be lamenting the change from the old Music app.

For those who don't want Apple Music (I didn't - I was spooked by the lost songs/mixed up metadata problems and didn't think it likely I would use Connect), and who want to revert back to the old pre-Apple Music app, do the following:

1) go to settings>general>restrictions and scroll down to "Apple Music Connect".  Deselect Apple Music Connect and enable restrictions.
2) go to settings>music and deselect "Show Apple Music".
3) if you use iTunes Match, leave "iCloud Music Library" enabled to keep playlists synced and all music available on your devices.

And now you are back to your pre-Apple Music app.  No Connect.  No "New".  No "For You".  Just Music, playlists, and radio.  Just like before.

Is it a little inconvenient?  Absolutely - I needed to write a set of instructions.  Is it difficult?  Not really, the instructions had two (maybe three) steps.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

oil prices

Given that certain countries are highly dependent upon oil earnings for their government budgets and economies generally, how much political work goes into destabilizing other oil producing countries (and thus both permitting increased deliveries and increasing prices)?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

"Windows Fans"

In most of the articles about Microsoft's write-down of $7.6b on its Nokia deal, as well as the source email itself from Satya Nadella, there is a reference to refocusing Microsoft's mobile efforts on three groups: business/enterprise customers, users of lower-cost phones, and "Windows fans".

The first is fine - I think that Microsoft's franchise has shifted to weight Office more than Windows and so targeting business makes sense (although I'm not sure how giving Office away for free works to earn profits).

The second is dangerous but perfectly plausible.  Not a great customer base but big volumes can go a long way.  Of course, for software, the margins are nearly 100% so competing on price is dangerous but fine (also, hard to see how this works well with targeting business users?).

But the third is baffling.  Who is a "Windows fan"?  I thought Windows was universal because users had no choice, not because users loved the brand.  And I write brand very specifically.  I don't mean that some users don't love a specific version of Windows (personally, I think Windows 7 is great and they really should have just fired everyone and kept raking in the profits from selling it for years). I mean that, given the multiple changes to the OS (especially on mobile but also more generally - see Windows 8 v 8.1), it can't mean that they love their Windows workflow (there is no such thing as workflows generally don't translate from desktop to mobile/keyboard to touch). And it can't mean for the APIs (programmers are not a big enough market to set as one of three core targets for sales).  So it must mean a devotion to the BRAND.  But that seems insane.  And why do none of the articles even question the idea of their being a meaningful set of fans of the Window brand large enough to translate from desktop to mobile?

People like Android but, really, it is by defining themselves against iOS.
People like iOS but, really, it is either by defining itself against Android or against history.  As the OS stops evolving so rapidly (there was no cut and paste only a few years ago...), there will be less to delight and the OS will just fade into the background.  And, what people really like about iOS are the apps available and the integration with other Apple products at a core level.

But I don't think anyone LOVES Windows because there isn't another reasonable comparison.  And the apps don't exist on Mobile.  And I don't think the experience is really so different from Android or iOS that it matters.

So are there only two legs?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Left hands and right hands

Duane Reade/Walgreens has an app that, among many other features, has an electronic copy of their loyalty card and permits it to be included in Passbook (iOS’s electronic wallet).  In fact, it is even location aware so that the card will appear on one’s phone when nearby the store to ease scanning at the register. And the website confirms that the phone version of the card works in the store.

So far, pretty sensible.

However, when one arrives that the register and tries to scan the phone, the cashier will say: “Sorry, we’re not allowed to scan phones so please enter your phone number instead.”  And then, “no, you may not enter your card number, only your phone number.”  What?  Why is there an electronic copy of the card?  Why is it in passbook?  Why is it location aware?

Is the unfortunate person on the app side unaware that someone on the rewards side doesn’t want people to use electronic versions of the loyalty card (which itself is baffling given that using the card is more helpful to Walgreens than it is to the customer)?

Someone at Walgreens is not doing their job.

See also this for Target's version of left hands/right hands with respect to apps and in-store.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Using Android against itself

This is funny.  As part of its efforts to switch users from Android to iOS, Apple will release an "Android Migration" app to move "contacts, message history, photos and video, Web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars and even wallpapers" from the user's Android phone to iOS.

Why funny?  Because the loose nature of security in Android (including access to system level items such as wallpapers) means one can create an app like this on Android but not (or not without great difficulty) on iOS.

Also funny is that, given the prevalence of developing for iOS first, nearly all meaningful apps on Android have iOS counterparts and so Apple could have a "baby-version" of the app that at least shows that the potential switchee will not lose any core apps he or she depends on.

Finally funny is seeing Apple's fonts and style on an Android phone and not because it is a knock-off.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

tablet doom and gloom

There's been a lot of concern about declining year-on-year tablet, including iPad, sales.  I think the definition of the relevant market needs closer examination.

For traditional business measures (will this business line increase sales this period vs the relevant prior period), then these metrics (total unit sales, revenues, etc.) are correct.

But, for trying to predict the relevance and permanence of a sector (are tablets a flash in the pan or are they a device with staying power), these are NOT the right metrics.

Regarding reduced year-on-year sales, tablets, and the iPad in particular, had huge initial sales because it answered the unmet demands for many people and there had never been a solution prior to iPad's release.  The dramatic improvements from iPad1, to iPad2, to iPad retina, and iPad Mini, all led to meaningful sales even to those who previously purchased earlier generations.  But, as many have pointed out, iPads are durable and capable devices so upgrades are less frequent, especially as incremental improvements have been less dramatic (iPad Air 2 v iPad Air 1 is a sharp example).

None of this means that the second meaning of market (userbase) is adversely impacted.  I'd bet that many iPad1s are still going strong and relatively useful.  iPad2s are definitely still useful (noting that they continue to be sold as the base iPad Mini!).  So, in terms of a growing userbase, tablets look healthy.  Apple's own comment that most buyers are new suggests that this is the case (and helps to explain why, atypically for Apple, it continues to sell 3 year old hardware in the tablet space unlike any other).

I think we are close to the point of seeing what normal replacement cycles look like on iPad and should think more about household durables (washing machines and televisions) than phones or even computers.  It's probably a five year cycle and so will start seeing some meaningful growth in a few years as the pig of those first few huge years moves through the python.

Monday, April 27, 2015

oxymorons and Apple results

This headline isn't unique to Apple but it is especially conspicuous given Apple's prominence: "Apple second-quarter earnings expected to top expectations".  I'm not quite sure how something can be expected to top its expectations...