Steve Jobs, Master of Delivery

Watching Steve Jobs introduce new technology is a wonder to behold. He doesn’t bash you over the head with hyperbole nor run circles around you with facts and figures. Instead he walks on stage in jeans and sneakers and pulls something out of his pocket like a wandering hiker might pull out a beautiful stone to share with friends around a campfire. He’s a seeker that’s come back from a journey with something wonderful to show us, he excites us to think of what’s possible and how we might join him on his journey of discovery.

Look at how he introduces the first iPod. We may laugh when we see the goofy fonts and hear about the 5 GB capacity but to hear how he casts his spell over the crowd gathered in what looks like a local high school auditorium is no different to how Steve has always delivered his latest innovation.

Flash forward to 2005 and we see him introduce the iPod Nano with what has to be my favorite Steve Jobs unveil, “Ever wonder what this pocket is for?”

Steve Jobs had a style that was all his own and I’ll miss him. The internet is awash with a collective group hug at the news of his resignation as we all reflect on the departure of a man who helped define why we enjoy tech. Here’s a sample of some of the best recollections (and one future prediction) I’ve had the chance to read:

And then there are Steve and Apple: a leader and a company not afraid to take the long view, patiently building the way to the future envisioned for the company. Not afraid to invent the future and to be wrong. And almost always willing to do one small thing — cannibalize itself. Under Steve, Apple was happy to see the iPhone kill the iPod and iPad kill the MacBook. He understands that you don’t walk into the future by looking back. – Om Malik, Steve Jobs and the sound of silence

The company is a fractal design. Simplicity, elegance, beauty, cleverness, humility. Directness. Truth. Zoom out enough and you can see that the same things that define Apple’s products apply to Apple as a whole. The company itself is Apple-like. The same thought, care, and painstaking attention to detail that Steve Jobs brought to questions like “How should a computer work?”, “How should a phone work?”, “How should we buy music and apps in the digital age?” he also brought to the most important question: “How should a company that creates such things function?” Jobs’s greatest creation isn’t any Apple product. It is Apple itself. – John Gruber, Resigned

So, who is this man? He’s the anchor baby of an activist Arab muslim who came to the U.S. on a student visa and had a child out of wedlock. He’s a non-Christian, arugula-eating, drug-using follower of unabashedly old-fashioned liberal teachings from the hippies and folk music stars of the 60s. And he believes in science, in things that science can demonstrate like climate change and Pi having a value more specific than “3”, and in extending responsible benefits to his employees while encouraging his company to lead by being environmentally responsible. – Anil Dash, What they’re “protecting” us from

It was at the iMac launch where he was showing off the modern line that is on my desk today “look at the metal on the back, isn’t it beautiful?” he told me. It was. But all the other CEOs didn’t care about the back of their products. They cared, instead, about shaving cost from them instead. – Robert Scoble, A front row seat to Steve Jobs’ carreer

We know there is such a plan — there has to be, Apple’s moves have been too deliberate, if inscrutable, to be some executive random walk.  But nobody near the top has ever tried to explain where the company is going, preferring to be mysterious instead.  Bill Gates had Nathan Myhrvold write his book for him, but Steve is classier than Bill. I believe Walter Isaacson’s book will also function as Steve’s technology manifesto, part of his legacy. Once we have the grand plan, then it may make more sense just who should lead that plan’s execution during what will clearly be Apple’s best quarter in its 34 year history.  Steve Jobs is setting-up this (and us) for another grand reveal… just one more thing. – Bob Cringely, Cupertino Two-Step


I had to include this photo I took at the iPhone launch event. Note the look of wonder and open-mouthed awe.

Current Events

All Aboard for the Cloud Wars

Marketing campaigns are gearing up for the major players offering cloud services as add-ons to their core products.

Google Docs recently launched Google Cloud Connect,  a plug-in which lets  you add your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents to Google Docs and share with your colleagues. (Ars Technica reviews Cloud Connect and says it’s “not ready for primetime”)

Microsoft will be ending the beta of it’s Live Mesh service on March 31st and has announced Windows Live Mesh 2011 with the byline, “Access the stuff on your computers from almost anywhere.” It’s part of Windows Live Essentials bundle which you download and install and includes,

Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Mail, Writer, Family Safety, Bing Bar, Messenger Companion, Microsoft Silverlight, and the Outlook Connector Pack (Microsoft Outlook Hotmail Connector and Microsoft Outlook Social Connector Provider for Windows Live Messenger)

There is a custom install option in case you don’t want to take all of this in one go. You can learn more at

Finally, Apple has just changed it’s tune. I took a screenshot of yesterday and got the image you see above. It’s all about the services. Mail, Address Book, Calendar, Photos, Cloud Storage, and the Find my iPhone app. I just went back today and the site has been refreshed and the message is totally different.

Today, when you visit it’s all about the hardware. The cloud is front and center and behind are the familiar outlines of the Apple brand of glass tablets and phones. If you wave your mouse over the cloud, you’re greeted with a pixie-dust effect adding some magic to an otherwise plain ol’ login page.

Could this be positioning for the launch of the rumored Media Stream service or is this just a routine update now that we’ve rolled over from February to March?

Moo Vision

ReadWriteWeb posts about Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream company, releasing an Augmented Reality feature as part of their Scoop of Happiness iPhone app to increase consumer engagement (or should we say enthrallment?). What’s unique about this particular AR implementation is that it doesn’t require custom QR codes or other customization to be printed on the packaging to unlock the animation. All you need is to run the app and point it at the lid of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream carton and the app automatically recognizes the printed logo of the flavor. Collect all four and you unlock custom wallpapers for your phone.

Will automatic logo recognition become the norm? The video below imagines a world where this is the case.

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

Current Events

The iPad is a Digital Coffee Table Book

After looking at the video below, which shows off the signature Apple User Interface, it’s very clear to me what Apple is doing here. The iPad is not a computer, it’s not a replacement for your netbook, notebook, or desktop. The iPad is a $500 entry into book publisher’s most lucrative category, the coffee table book.

Pay particular attention to the UI gestures that drive the photo album app. Forget those old photo albums you have lying around. We’ve all gone digital anyway and it was always awkward to hand a visiting relative a laptop to look at photos of their grand-kids. Projecting them onto the TV, despite the good intentions, always felt like the 21st century equivalent of the dreaded carousel projector slideshows that neighbors used to inflict on each other to back in the Sixties.

Early media tech media coverage panned it and I don’t blame them, the iPad is no replacement for your computer. This device, as the iPod before it, was not designed for the techie. The iPad is not a computer, it is an animated book, an upgrade to the static kind. The iPad is going after the coffee table, photo album, scrapbooking markets all rolled into one. It’s appeal is to those that like to curate and display. It’s a glass showcase for your memories which are, more often than not these days, in digital format.

And it plays games.

– video from

Current Events

Microsoft Tablet vs. Apple Tablet

Gizmodo has the goods on the Courier Tablet while Wired’s Gadget Lab has the summary (and hilarious mockup) of something iLounge is calling an the iPad.


Either way, folks are looking for a way to innovate beyond the touch screen and netbook form factor. I’m not so sure this is the solution. If it’s going to be this big anyway, what’s the big objection to a keyboard?

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Find My iPhone Fable

Great story of how Kevin Miller tracked down his stolen iPhone using Mobile Me’s Find my iPhone app.


While Kevin’s friend walked the streets of Chicago with a broadband modem-enabled laptop, they homed in on the actual person who had taken their phone and confronted them.

“Have you got it?” I asked as I marched up to the guy, acting far more intimidating than I felt. Our iPhone-pilfering friend apparently works at the sketchy bar, and as he fished around in his bag, he gave a questionable alibi about having found the phone, intending to return it, but being intimidated by “all these scary-looking messages” that kept popping up on the display. “Um, yeah, those were from me,” I replied curtly. He pulled my phone out, totally unharmed, and handed it over. I resisted the urge to giggle.

Kevin acknowledges that this wouldn’t have been possible if the phone’s battery died

I’d been amazed that the phone had enough battery life to make it through the night and still beam its location; the moment its battery was dead, then it would be game over for our little scavenger hunt. I unlocked my phone and saw almost 20 missed calls. And then, at that very moment, the iPhone shut down and displayed the “Connect to power” icon. My phone’s battery literally hung on until the second it was in my hand. I wuv you, iPhone.


UPDATE: There’s a Nokia version of this product too – a bit more geeky but if you know what you’re doing, quite powerful.

UPDATE: Check out Ewan’s post for a very English version of this same fable. [I Lost My Phone in London Today]

iPhone is internet 1997

One of the things that just seems crazy to me is that the iPhone cannot run applications in the background. The iPhone developer site explains:

If you are running an application such as AOL Instant Messenger on your iPhone, everytime you receive a call or browse away from the application you would be signed out, you would lose any unread messages, and your conversations would end.

Watching Stephen Colbert last night, it hit me. The iPhone is the internet in 1997!

The Colbert ReportMon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c

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Finger Piano, a social mobile app

Featured at last week’s Japanese iPhone Developer’s reception hosted by Six Apart I saw Finger Piano, a cool little app that allowed you to play the piano on your phone. As the bars move down towards the keys, you press them to carry the tune.

The thing I like about this video? The fact that it requires a friend to play.

Screenshot of MacBook Wheel Predictive Sentence Feature

predictive text

In the absence of any real substantive announcement from today’s MacWorld, people are talking up a fictional device announced by The Onion, the MacBook Wheel. I’m assuming you’ve already seen the video but here’s a screenshot of the predictive sentence feature with some choice samples.

Apple Price Drop: It was all part of the plan

Steve Jobs ain’t no dummy. Robert Cringely writes,

Apple introduced the iPhone at $599 to milk the early adopters and somewhat limit demand then dropped the price to $399 (the REAL price) to stimulate demand now that the product is a critical success and relatively bug-free. At least 500,000 iPhones went out at the old price, which means Apple made $100 million in extra profit.

Had nobody complained, Apple would have left it at that. But Jobs expected complaints and had an answer waiting — the $100 Apple store credit. This was no knee-jerk reaction, either. It was already there just waiting if needed. Apple keeps an undeserved $50 million and customers get $50 million back. Or do they? Some customers will never use their store credit. Those who do use it will nearly all buy something that costs more than $100. And, most importantly, those who bought their iPhones at an AT&T store will have to make what might be their first of many visits to an Apple Store. That is alone worth the $50 per customer this escapade will eventually cost Apple, taking into account unused credits and Apple Store wholesale costs.

The Puppet Master 

Not only that, think of all the free publicity this stunt created. All eyes will be on what gets put into the next version of the Apple OS, due to ship next month. . .