friends looks pretty awesome!
Further Evidence of FaceTime being the killer App
The other day, I typed a long article on why I believe FaceTime is the cornerstone of Apple’s strategy going and how it affects such things as the mythical “Apple Voice” and iTV projects. Today’s reports about FaceTime further my insistence that this will be the thing that ties it all together.
Apple announced that FaceTime, which they had previously said would be WiFi only for the first year, actually won’t use the cellular network other then for establishing the initial connection. This is a BIG announcement, because it essentially means that Apple is now in the phone business (i.e. the business of connecting people on their phones).
Now technology purists will point out that apps like Skype and Fring have allowed similar VOIP functionality for a while now, but the difference here is that FaceTime is a native Apple App. That means Apple is sanctioning a way to speak to (and see) another person that doesn’t use AT&T’s network. If that’s true, what’s stopping Apple from enabling other devices to use the same technology? Nothing.
Some of this has been possible in the past with iChat, but the use case was never as exciting because not enough people used chat to actually talk. Also, most chat clients rely on the idea of screen names and there are a lot compatibility issues between providers. Now that similar functionality has made it to a device that is synonymous with actually talking, my guess is that Apple intends to deploy FaceTime to other devices (like your TV and your iPad). That presents some exciting possibilities like sitting on your couch and getting a FaceTime call thru your TV.
This. Is. Awesome!
It’s not often that I offer praise upon Redmond’s strategic efforts, but this one is indeed praise-worthy. For some time, Microsoft has been decidedly absent from the smart phone conversation. Yes, Steve Balmer will contest that they ship their WinMo OS’s on a gazillion handsets each year, but the perception is that Microsoft has missed this wave, and much of that perception stems from the minimal innovation coming out of Redmond in the smartphone OS category. Hopefully that is about to change, and if the tipster quoted in this article is to be believed, this is one of the ballsiest moves by Microsoft in some time.
Such a move is not without recent precedent for Microsoft. For years, they got their hat handed to them in search by Google. It was only when they took some risks and started thinking and acting more like a startup did the market take notice. By all accounts Bing is a solid entry in the search category and is the first real compeition Google has faced in some time. That’s a good thing. I love Google, but competition will always be a win for consumers.
As for SmartPhones, Microsoft has avoided risk for many years, being content with releasing new mobile operating systems that were at best a marginal improvement over the previous version. Apparently, that’s about to change and I for one am a fan. I love my iPhone, but I don’t love it because Apple makes it. I love it because Apple is a company that never seems content with anything they’ve built, and is constantly pushing the envelope of what’s possible. If Microsoft could rediscover that element of their own DNA, we’d all be a lot better off and competition between Mac and PC would be even more interesting.
The new Facebook App for iPhone (v 3.1) lets you download your friends photos and store them as the profile images for your Phone’s address book. This is definitely pretty cool.
It also now has push notifications, also cool.
An 8GB iPhone 3GS for $99 would put a lot of pressure on other manufacturers. It would be a slam dunk for Apple, similar to how the iPod Nano has been a slam dunk.
Interesting article on the future of the connected car.
The issue of liability and the legality of using devices in cars is one that needs to be reviewed and addressed soon. Currently, manufacturers steer clear of developing too much functionality in the car because increased functionality leads to increased distraction and the potential for accidents.
The reality however is that people are already distracted, it’s just that their phones are what’s causing the distraction, not the car’s systems. People are dialing, texting, emailing and twittering in the car… even while driving!!
The means of combating this distraction has come in the form of increased laws against using devices while driving. Yet these laws are rarely enforced and fly in the face of progress we’ve made in communications. Moreover, I think a better direction to go is to acknowledge that people want to (and need to) communicate from the car and make the car safer through other advancements.
In the near term, Ford, BMW and others should shift their focus away from making these telematic systems (let the tech companies do that) and instead focus on how they can supplement the safety systems of the car and add new ones. Just as airplanes have gotten safer due to increased technology systems that aid pilots, so too must car manufacturers embrace the same approach.
Last week, Jack Dorsey took the wraps off of Square, a new payment service that lets anyone easily accept a credit card payment. While Square is certainly a near term solution, Apple may be focused on the same opportunity with the next version of the iPhone. Rumor has it that Apple will include an RFID reader into their next iPhone, potentially ushering in the era of payments using your mobile phone. Building in an RFID reader is one thing, but it only matters if businesses begin adopting RFID tags in retail establishments to go with them.
What’s interesting is how this plays into Apple’s strategy regarding the (mythical) tablet. While the consumer could use an RFID equipped iPhone to purchase products, the merchant would likely want some device to show what is being purchased and visually verify the process as the transactions take place. Theoretically, the merchant could also use an iPhone for this purpose, but the small screen size would make the merchant’s user experience rather poor, especially if typing would be required. Moreover, the tablet’s big screen would make it more appealing, especially if it can be paired with Apple’s wireless keyboard.
With these hardware elements in place, Apple could disrupt the lucrative cash register segment, by making it feasible to be cash less. The tablet could become the de facto standard device for businesses to have to handle payment, and the iPhone could be the device we all use to acquire information about a product and pay for it on the spot.
An AT&T decision to implement usage based pricing for data would be akin to telling an already angry mob to “f%ck off!
AT&T already suffers from a perception that its network is lousy. The iPhone exclusivity deal has sustained the company for the last few years because the device is just that good that it has brought in additional subscribers despite AT&T’s network. The smart play for AT&T would have been use the period of exclusivity wisely by borrowing all the money they could and investing heavily in building out their network. If AT&T could get their network performance to a level nearly on par with Verizon, they might head off the coming exodus of subscribers. But they haven’t done that (or at least the perception is that they haven’t, either way the point is the same).
Given this perception, why on earth would they want to add further fuel to an already raging inferno (of unhappy subscribers) that love the iPhone, but can’t wait to dump AT&T for Verizon when the latter gets the phone. If anything, AT&T should be reducing its prices for data as a means of compelling subscribers to stick around, as some are already heading to Verizon now that it has the Droid.
These Droid ads are getting to be so pesky and obnoxious that part of me wants to yell out (really loudly): SCOREBOARD!
IPhone continues to dominate! Now has 30% US smartphone market share
Full article (Via The iPhone Blog)