iPad, BeBot, Pandora and the ‘tech’ industry

iPad wallpaper

Jobs Motto

So I haven’t said much about my constant companion, the iPad, recently. 

  • I updated to iOS5 the day it released, of course on an Orig, it’s not  the same as it probably is on a 2 but it’s still good.  I think iCloud’s (base) is going to work out well and the iMessage etc look interesting.  The tabs in Safari took a few hours to get used to but they are an improvement.
  • Other than a pretty good hand holding experience during set up I haven’t had much ‘contact’ with the new.  Which in my experience is actually a good thing.  I may be a fantasist and romantic but I’m als a bit of a stick in the mud, if something works, why change it for the sake of change?
  • Biggest headache was having to update what seemed like umpteen Apps but as usual it happened pretty seamlessly. 
  • My biggest iPad laugh was taking it(them actually) to my sister in-law’s and I think her little grand son(4?) whose had an iPad longer than I have, flipped the selector switch on the side of my wife’s iPad, muting it.  It took me an HOUR and several hard boots and harder words, to figure out the poor thing was doing what it was told, I just didn’t understand.  
  • So at the same meeting of iPad carriers, we were introduced to BeBot, a simply wonderful time sink, and maybe the closest thing to a new instrument I have seen in a long time.  It’s just an App but it turns the iPad into a synthesizer with a pure touch interface, you run your finger(s) over the screen to make synth music.  Quite a few interesting base options and lots of ways to vary them.  I could see someone becoming a professional BeBotist in the future, or BeBot Groups getting together.  It’s currently only an instrument, it does not record, I hope they come out with a version which lets you ‘lay tracks’ etc. 
  • Pandora, the phenomenon, I listen to little else these days, on my iPad or laptop.   I have found music that I love, that I had never heard or been able to follow up on before.  This is by far the best way to listen to music.  As I have said elsewhere, the fact that I cannot absolutely control what I am listening to but can make my opinion ‘heard’ is simply a phenomenal breakthrough in listening pleasure.

And so to the Tech industry, who is finally settling into a funk over the dominance of Apple, iOS, the iPad, and to some extent the death and ascencion to TechSaintHood of Steve Job’s (that’s a comment on others, not a slam at Mr.Jobs who was as human as they come but the right gifted man at the right pivots of  [tech] history.) 

It seems to me that anyone out there who looks at the industry with a reasonably open mind will see that pervasive lacks have impaired broad swaths of the industry

  1. originality
  2. innovative risk taking
  3. long-range vision
  4. middle distant financial horizons. 

Jobs seems to have recognized these things and was able to use Apple and the experience he gained while in the wilderness to build a product platform + family + business-model that others seem unable or perhaps unwilling to compete with. 

Most fundamental to the paralysis is item 4 above with a lot of 3 in support. Jobs was able to keep building his model over a long period of relatively lack luster performance.   He was lucky, in that no one really expected great things of Apple but it had a dedicated customer base and no one in a place to counter or make use of the knowledge understood what he was doing till it was too late.  He was cagey and secretive, probably because that was just the way he was, but also because he knew that if some of his business partners understood what he wanted to do and came to believe in it like he did, he’d probably have a harder time making enough money to keep the project going when he needed cash flow to push some of the concepts forward. He was also like most visionaries and his understanding of his own  vision evolved and developed detail over time.  And of course, no one else knew what they should be watching for. 

So now we have people talking up Amazon’s Fire as a competitor.  Why, because its Amazon and Amazon had the Kindle.  I’m not sure but I think they miss the point.  The Kindle was the front end of a digital book store.  The Nook showed that with color and the right price you could have a bit more than that.  The Fire is a shopping window and digital sales point for Amazon, yes it’s also a reader and a tablet, but its main purpose is as a shop window. 

The iPad is a more general purpose tool than Fire.  IPad is part of a larger tech infrastructure from the iPod Touch to the top of the line Mac workstations. This is essentially an intellectual interface infrastructure for creation and consumption, with a powerful shopping window built in.  The Fire is never going to compete with that.  And neither is the Android platform by the way.

Android is like Linux it has a good chance of lasting a long time because it is widely dispersed and open for people to build on and use.  It is also likely to be very important, but as an also ran competitor in all but the phone space, where in some senses it may already dominates because of the variety of companies and price points it supports. 

So is this bad….yes because Apple is not going to be able to carry the ball forever and maybe not for very long unless Jobs trained his heirs well and left them with the tools to control the kingdom.  It’s bad because competition is good within reason and no one is competing with Apple at the moment which will weaken them eventually  The competion seem to be in a ‘waiting out the deluge’ mode.  Waiting for Apple to stumble giving them the opportunity to pull it down to their own level. if (when) that happens then the leaps we have seen recently may end as the industry falls back into the frothy stagnation it suffered from the later nineties to mid noughts. 

Lets hope not….

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