Monday, March 20, 2017

Apple iPad Pricing

If Apple is sincere in its stated belief that iPad is the future of personal computing (i.e., “PCs aretrucks”), Apple’s relatively low pricing strategy makes great sense.  Setting up an established base of users can create a virtuous circle of application development to defend against an assault by an alternative future.  And setting such a base up quickly makes sense if establishing that defensive wall is the goal.

I say "relatively" low pricing strategy as I know iPad prices are not low.  But they are lower than one might expect of Apple.  This is a company that still wants to make sure it makes money when it sells something and so maintains healthy unit profit margins.

To balance these competing goals (margin and scale), Apple must keep its prices realistic and this has resulted in a pace of advancement that is likely slower than what Apple is actually capable of (iPads could probably run macOS if they had to).  But that is fine if advancement isn’t necessary to grow the market or, put alternatively, if the market can be grown more quickly through price than with specifications.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

check back in October 2017 and 2018

Apple hired a person who may be the smartest person on the planet to play a large role in Siri.  I know him personally and believe we will see something remarkable over the next 6-18 months.  Just wanted to set this out now for credibility (or claimchowder) in the future.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

transportation as a service

There has been a lot of good thinking and action regarding transportation as a service.  BMW, Daimler, and Ford have all made announcements and begun initiatives here.


I wonder how much these efforts will echo their previous attempts in transportation services?  Recall that each of GM, Chrysler, and Ford owned the US rental car industry until very recently.  This was for a very different reason (to ensure vehicle deliveries) but still, there is an echo of the past here...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

iBook

If Apple decides to make a notebook form iOS device, the iBook name is waiting (the last iBook was in 2006).  Aside from the iMac, the name fits perfectly with the MacBook, iPhone, and iPad naming conventions.

iPads already support trackpad like cursor control (and I guess some iPhones do too?).  And iPad Pros seem focused on keyboard support.  So offering a better keyboard and a trackpad experience is not a big jump.

I wonder what will be the catalyst (nominal or real) for something like this.  Office is already available.  Screen size is already there.  Maybe an issue with the ergonomics of touch on a vertical screen?

Monday, February 6, 2017

AirPods!

Got my AirPods today.  Some quick observations and a rant about poor customer service...

Fit.  I knew they would not feel super secure because I already knew that regular wired EarPods don’t fit well in my ears (and most reviews have said they are pretty much the same shape).  So I won’t be running or doing cartwheels with these but that is not a surprise or a disappointment.  What is interesting is, as many other people have noted, the lack of wires means they feel more secure than regular EarPods because there is simply less weight trying to pull them out of my ears.

Sound.  They sound fine.

Controls.  I found that my right pod did not respond to the Siri double-tap at first.  But, after about ten minutes, it started to work (but still less consistently than the left).  Perhaps I wasn’t double-tapping the right way but, really, how many ways can there be to double tap?  I’ll keep an eye on this.

Siri.  As others have said, Siri seems to work better on the AirPods than on the phone (she is more likely to understand what I am saying).  A feature request: I would like to be able to control the volume of Siri’s confirmation beeps.  A related feature request:  An app (like for Apple Watch) would be a nice addition, especially as AirPod controls are scattered throughout the phone.

Pairing.  The initial pairing is as seamless as universally noted.  However, I’ve found that opening the case near my iPad doesn’t trigger the battery display as, I think, it is supposed to (the iPad is clearly connected as I can switch my audio to the AirPods from the iPad easily and I can force the battery widget to show me the AirPod battery remaining).  It works on my phone so I’m pretty sure I’m doing it right.

Purchase.  I used in-store pick-up today and had the WORST experience I've ever had at an Apple Store.  Very disappointing.  My intake person was too busy talking to a co-worker to help even though she was standing at the entrance.  I opened the Apple Store App to show her the barcode and she said I was doing it wrong (I was not, as I showed her).  She then stood next to me for 10 minutes, playing with her phone, not seeming to notice or care that I hadn't received my product (the store was pretty much empty with about a dozen staffers wandering around, straightening up, etc.).  Finally, I asked if it was supposed to take this long.  She seemed puzzled and then said "I don't know if they are picking it up from the back or here.".  She wanders off.  About five minutes later, after I complained to another staffer, she comes over, super proud that she has the AirPods.  They were sitting in a drawer about two steps from where we were waiting.  She said: (i) it wasn't her job to intake customers (confusing then, why she processed my pick-up); (ii) she wasn't allowed to go to the counter to get merchandise (seems strange that she then broke some rule to do so?); and (iii) I was having a bad day (true - because of her).  The fact that she didn't care that her own customer was standing around waiting for something that ought to take maybe 2 minutes (again, the store was pretty much empty with tons of staffers unoccupied) and then said it wasn't her job to help me was unbelievable.  Apple Stores can be a little bit slow-motion but this was just rude and antagonistic behavior.  I hope she gets fired.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

W1's killer app

The killer app for Apple's W1 chip is CarPlay.  Assuming a modest cost to create the chip, Apple could offer the chip to automakers to embed in the dash at no-cost to permit one-tap pairing, a more stable and smarter connection, etc.  Pairing headphones is painful but pairing in a car is worse as automotive systems often have two different Bluetooth profiles for the phone and audio – in particular, Siri runs over the phone profile and so will interrupt audio streams.

Headphones traditionally (but maybe not for long) use wires but cars traditionally use wireless.  I think W1 is starting with headphones but is intended to be extended out to a range of IoT devices and headunits, including and especially the car.

Monday, June 6, 2016

iPhone SE backorder


I ordered an iPhone SE on May 26. Apple estimated it would take about 2-3 weeks for delivery (that is around June 14).

I figured that, as has been typical for Apple, 2-3 weeks was a conservative estimate and the phone would arrive well before that. Instead, the delivery window hasn't shifted at all.  In fact the estimate for the earliest delivery date is now 3 weeks from the order date and the outside date has shifted to 4 weeks...

A few questions:

1) were sales completely underestimated? It seems clear that original estimates were low (given that the phones immediately went on backorder upon release).  But now it seems that estimates continue to remain wrong?
2) why are they still backordered? Is it supply and not demand?  Has demand increased and so made even revised sales expectations too low? Or is supply somehow constrained as Apple gears up for iPhone 7 (if there even will be a major change to an iPhone 7).
3) why were sales so underestimated in the beginning and, perhaps, now?
4) will up-to-date iPhones henceforth come in 3 sizes (4, 4.7, and 5.5 inches)?
5) will Apple change the launch cycles for iPhones and iPads to Spring and Fall, respectively?  I think this would better match gift cycles (it is cumbersome to gift an iPhone because of carrier subscriptions and so moving away from holiday makes sense).

All in all, the pessimism around Apple seems odd if even a phone that is cosmetically identical to the 4 year old iPhone 5 can sell out for weeks (and perhaps months).