One of the most anticipated tech events coming this fall is Apple’s release of the iPhone 5. Along with the phone, they will also be releasing their new operating system – iOS5. We are currently reviewing their latest beta release for iOS5 and will share our thoughts with you in a week, but Apple’s history shows that they will continue to break new ground and enhance the user experience.
On the flip side, the release of iOS5 probably means an acceleration in the demise of iOS3. Currently, less than 10% of iPhone owners are on this platform, and with the release of the iPhone 5, we anticipate that many users will choose to upgrade.
This is a good thing. Remember back a decade ago when you bought your 486 computer. At the time, it was a huge upgrade over the 386 it replaced. But then came Pentium, and all of a sudden, software became not only faster to use, users had new functions that never before existed. But ultimately, software that worked on Pentium computers didn’t work on the older platforms.
That’s what’s happening with iOS3. Already, major companies are designing apps that simply don’t work on iOS3 phones, including Major League Baseball and Delta Airlines. Their calculation? They’d rather trade off the ability to have better app functionality and user experience for 90% of users than try to accommodate the declining 10% share.
Based on our experience, we have recently released an app for a major festival that had high level mapping functionality, but had to then go back and remove this feature for iOS3 phones. It shouldn’t be a surprise that doing this increases costs for the client and as the iOS3 market shrinks, this doesn’t make sense.
For apps we’ve developed for radio, we currently have a Background Play button so users with iOS3 can shift the audio stream into the Safari browser – a great workaround. But again, there is going to be a time when we decide that it simply doesn’t make sense to provide this feature in an app because it will be like the crank that drivers used to turn to start their cars.
So change is coming, and we wanted you to be aware of it. There will be a date when it simply isn’t practical for new apps and upgrades that we build to be compatible on a declining OS that hurts the total package. Also, if there has to be recoding of your app to make it work on iOS5, it’s possible that we will lose iOS3 functionality. We don’t know when that will be, but wanted you to be aware that it’s a possibility in the near future.
One my favorite apps (and yes, it’s one we didn’t build) is for Major League Baseball. It’s the best $15 I’ve ever spent. As a baseball freak, I’m in touch with my beloved Detroit Tigers no matter what part of the globe I’m in. As the 2011 season approached, I bought the new version and anxiously awaited opening day.
My brother? Not so lucky. He still has an iPhone 3 (we keep it around for testing apps). Unlike the past two seasons, the new MLB app won’t work on his phone. (By the way, he can’t download the Delta Airlines app either for the same reason.)
In 1960, Vance Packard, who was a keen observer of the culture, wrote a book called The Waste Makers. Packard called out corporations for “the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals.” Packard was referring to the practice of “planned obsolescence,” where a company makes a substandard product knowing full well that it would break easily or quickly go out of style. The practice, which was attributed to the auto industry, creates a system where consumers are either always chasing the next big thing, or simply need to upgrade old products, simply didn’t last long. Ultimately, consumers became angry with the automakers because planned obsolescence became equated with shoddy, poorly engineered products.
I was reminded of this when I saw a study recently from the consumer electronics site, Retrevo. They found that 6 in 10 smartphone owners expect their devices to become obsolete before their contracts expire.
This feels quite a bit different than what we experienced in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when cars started shaking at 40,000 miles and things stopped working. Planned obsolescence back then was a strategy based on poor quality products and incremental change. The consumer was pretty much trapped because of limited options – there were only three viable car companies back then.
That’s not the case with smartphones. Their version of planned obsolescence is predicated on the unbelievable speed of innovation. The older models were designed to handle the available technology when they were created, but couldn’t anticipate the greater demand and capacity that consumers continue to crave.
In this case and in these times, this modern-day obsolescence is indicative of a healthy industry and economy. There is more consumer choice than ever. Innovation abounds. Smartphones are amazing. Rumors spread about next generation smartphones and how they will change our lives.
Will smartphones become more expensive, or will competition drive down costs, which will continue to fuel this amazing cycle?
Car buyers weren’t feeling this way 40 years ago. Obsolescence meant the consumer was screwed, and innovation was stagnant. Why add new features and build a more reliable vehicle if you don’t have to? This mentality opened the door to foreign competitors and as a resident of the Motor City, we learned first-hand about the true cost of these business practices.
Today, obsolescence is synonymous with innovation. In the smartphone and software development industries, it is defined by new products, features, speed, functionality, customization, and more. Consultant Tomi Ahonen says that consumers replace their cell phones every 18 months. And they do so gladly. They look forward to the new models, loaded with cool new features and functionality. And they brag about their new phones just like ‘60s guys showed off their new cars.
You have to wonder what Lee Iacocca thinks of all this.
Jacobs Media’s digital guy, Tim Davis, is back from SXSW Interactive. Last week, he summarized the vibe from the conference. Today, a look at author & thought leader Guy Kawasaki’s presentation…
A non-thematic highlight at SXSW was seeing Guy Kawasaki speak about his new book Enchantment. It’s not tied into some of the overarching themes that I talked about last week, but it covers a lot of ground that has a broad appeal – and he’s a big fan of radio (public radio especially).
The essence of Guy’s book and talk are that in 2011, you’ve got to “enchant” people in order to achieve optimal communication. Whether it’s your clients, your boss or your employees (he didn’t mention this, but one assumes it applies to spouses and children as well…).
Get Ready. Guy urges that you be prepared for whatever it is you’re creating – a product pitch, a new show, a mobile app, etc. He’s a proponent of D.I.C.E.E. or:
Launch. This is where the rubber hits the road, and Guy says that you need to tell a story and focus on what motivates people to listen and engage. It’s not about the great miles per gallon performance that sells cars (or “30 minutes of nonstop rock”). It’s the narrative.
Overcome resistance. If you’ve ever launched something innovative, you know the first reaction you get – pushback. Guy cites the example of those white cords that accompanied iPods. At first, they looked odd but they ended up becoming the industry standard.
Endure. Veteran radio programmers know what this is about. And Guy cited the Grateful Dead as an example of enduring success. The sharing and swapping, the community it created, and the connection to fans are all reasons why the band is relevant today. In radio, it’s one thing to give away cash, but an enduring experience might mean making a listener the music director for a day, or seeing a hockey game with the airstaff, etc. Those are the prizes that Guy would call “enchanting” – the experiences that money can’t buy.
Present. This is an area that we all need to work on. Whether it’s a PowerPoint, a sales pitch,or an on-air promo, how can you sell your dream? Reasons aren’t good enough. Enchanting your audience is at the heart of creating interest in them wanting to be a part of your dream.
(For PowerPoints, by the way, Guy is a believer in the “10-20-30 Rule” – no more than 10 slides, less than 20 minutes long, and 30 point fonts or bigger).
Enchant “up.” Drop everything else when the boss asks (Fred is a big believer in this). Prototype fast and deliver bad news fast, too.
Enchant “down.” Provide MAP: That is, mastery, autonomy, purpose.
Empower action and suck it up when you have to. Don’t ask your employees to do things you’d never do. Think Mike Rowe on “Dirty Jobs.”
All in all, great ideas for motivating yourself and your team. Thanks to one of the sharpest minds in the business.
Another sign that we’re living in a Seth Godin digital universe and not a Ries & Trout analog world occurred last week when Rupert Murdoch put up a “for sale” sign on MySpace.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing was a guidebook for media and marketing pros everywhere back in the '90s. And what was Rule #1?
1. It is better to be first than it is to be better.
Of course, that was the case for many brands – General Motors, Kodak, TWA. If you got in first, you could dominate for decades.
But as we’ve learned over the past decade or so, just being first in is no guarantee of long-term success.
Yahoo! was the first search engine – not Google.
Palm's Treo was once the hot smartphone.
And now the first mega-social network, MySpace, is on the scrap heap as News Corporation looks for a new buyer. Their explanation?
"The new MySpace has been very well received by the market and we have seen very encouraging traffic figures. But the plan to allow MySpace to reach its full potential will be better realised under a new owner.”
The fact is that in this Wild West digital environment, being first doesn’t mean much. That’s’ why Steve Jobs, the Google team, and Mark Zuckerberg are working themselves and their teams in hyperdrive to stay sharp, cutting edge, and innovative.
There are a lot of chips out on the table for companies that have the passion, desire, and bandwidth to be great.
For those mailing it in, “same as it ever was” is the fastest path to an obituary.
Just ask Rupert.
Simon Sinek took on this topic at the TEDx Puget Sound conference last year, and it dovetailed nicely into why Apple succeeds while so many other great tech companies fail. And in this story are some lessons for all us who are trying to inspire people with our brands and companies.
This could be the best 18 minutes of your day. Enjoy and let me know what you think, and how it inspires you.
Thanks to Curtiss Johnson (Entercom/Sacramento) for bringing this to my attention and to Simon for allowing us to use it in today's post.
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