The Only 2 Things You Need to Know About Apple Watch


A totally abbre­vi­ated post on the  Watch, mostly writ­ten just “for the record“1. I started accu­mu­lat­ing Apple stock when I saw the iPhone in NYC. AT&T sim­ply didn’t work, yet I noticed the phones every­where in spite of AT&T’s suck­i­ness. Tehni­cally, I started buy­ing Apple stock after the iPhone though.

I believe you’re run­ning out of run­way to buy into $AAPL before the  Watch and that would be a missed opportunity.

I’m excited about the Watch. Not sure if I’ll buy the first ver­sion… who am I kid­ding? I’m buy­ing the first ver­sion, the only ques­tion is do I go with the light alu­minum one that only has a glass face, or with the heav­ier one with a sap­phire face. I haven’t worn a watch, except for a few months when I first started work­ing, since my early teens when I was afraid I’d back out of a fight because I wouldn’t want to break my watch. That was over 3 decades ago.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. The his­tory of horol­ogy, which I’ve just come across. I can’t find the link, it’s quite pos­si­ble I heard this on a pod­cast, but the basic sto­ry­line is that time pieces used to be really large. They got smaller and smaller, and more accu­rate, and went from tow­ers, to big pieces in homes, to things that sat on tables and could be kept on ships, to the pocket, and finally to the wrist. With a few tweaks, that sounds like com­put­ers. They were big, had their own rooms, and there were only a few for every­one. They got smaller and smaller, sat on peo­ples desks then in their bags until finally they became small enough to fit into people’s pock­ets. Then they made their way to the wrist. Turns out, the wrist is a really good place for stuff (unless you’re a trou­bled teen that likes to fight).

2. You need to know the rela­tion­ship between cap­i­tal expen­di­tures and Apple’s stock price. Hold onto your hats and check out this chart for Apple’s lat­est cap ex  in rela­tion­ship to stock price.

I’m sure there will be bumps along the road. We can dis­cuss the tech­ni­cal fea­tures and lim­its all day long. We can com­pare it to all sorts of stuff that doesn’t really mat­ter. I’m sure it’ll be fas­ci­nat­ing to see how Apple mar­kets the  Watch and what the most expen­sive ver­sion will cost. But the excit­ing thing, for the record, is sim­ply these two points above.

  1. There is no record. []

Apple IBM Partnership: 6 Things to Consider

The Apple IBM part­ner­ship is a big deal. Of course, I have the long view. My wife laughs at my long time hori­zon all the time.

In order to get a feel for why the announce­ment is such a big deal, two things are crit­i­cal to understand:

  1. The way enter­prises acquires, deploys, and sup­ports tech­nol­ogy (it’s like writ­ing an app — it’s one thing to write it, another to do all the QA involved get­ting it into production)
  2. How bad most enter­prise apps are to use (solv­ing your prob­lems, not your users) — and that atti­tude leaks into their con­sumer offer­ings (link to bank­ing updates for iOS7)

The Enter­prise Acqui­si­tion of Technology

The Enter­prise Apple­Care offer­ing is huge in its own. It’s not like 200,000 GE employ­ees can just walk into an Apple Genius Bar if they have a prob­lem. Com­pa­nies need to pro­vide first-line sup­port to their employ­ees, includ­ing hard­ware ser­vice. They need to have a clear path to pro­vi­sion for new employ­ees. They need to under­stand prod­uct roadmaps1.

What­ever these 100 apps they’re cre­at­ing for ver­ti­cals are… they won’t nec­es­sar­ily need to sell them to be suc­cess­ful. Big com­pa­nies like IBM work on ELA’s (Enter­prise License Agree­ments) for soft­ware. And while ELA’s are chang­ing, they’re hardly going away for com­pa­nies as big as IBM and Ora­cle. This means IBM can “sell” what­ever soft­ware they choose to as part of big ELA renewals, and declare vic­tory. It’ll drive the busi­ness… and Apple will benefit.

It’s also impor­tant to remem­ber that it’s one thing to write an app, and a-whole-other thing to run the gaunt­let of test-deploy. In many large com­pa­nies for most of their projects, an after­noon of cod­ing could lead to months of testing/QA and deploy­ment sched­ul­ing2.

The Sad State of the Enter­prise App Experience

I could write a mil­lion words on this alone. But, it’s Fri­day and if I do, it’ll upset me all weekend.

Enter­prise apps, in large part, suck. Full stop.

It’s not because peo­ple are bad, or bad at what they do (though, you might sus­pect the apps could only be this bad if they pur­posely tried to make them so).

Enter­prise apps serve many mas­ters. Let’s take my favorite, expense reports.

Sim­ply put, there are two users — the accoun­tants and the trav­el­ers. The soft­ware is designed for the accoun­tants to track expenses, not for the trav­el­ers who are doing the expense reports.

It’s naïve to think that an employee wast­ing 2 hours per expense report would jus­tify spend­ing money on improv­ing the expe­ri­ence. You’d have to track the sav­ings, jus­tify the time­frame, real­ize that peo­ple fix­ing that prob­lem are not doing some­thing else, etc. Espe­cially since most peo­ple who do their own expense reports prob­a­bly do them on their own time at this point. And, I know peo­ple who don’t do small expense reports and eat the costs them­selves because it’s such a has­sle. Sta­tus quo is good for the enter­prise3.

If IBM can deliver a mobile prac­tice around solv­ing a vari­ety of user per­sona expe­ri­ences… well, that’s what mobile is really about. Unbundling user expe­ri­ences and then pro­vid­ing delight­ful apps for each.

By the way, it took both Fidelity and Bank of Amer­ica a full year to update their sin­gle mobile bank­ing apps to iOS 7. You know what that meant? They updated to iOS7 the week before iOS 8 was announced and every­thing changed again.

If the bank’s pub­lic apps, the ones try­ing to impress cus­tomers, are this behind and we know that enter­prise UX has never been a pri­or­ity what can we infer from enter­prise mobile apps? And, since tablet apps are designed like PC browser apps, why not just use a PC?

What Does This Imply for The Opportunity?

Because Apple has some pres­ence in the enter­prise, its sim­ply wrong to think they’ve cracked the enter­prise to any fair measure.

And, to think that the state of mobile apps in the enter­prise is any­thing like that which we expe­ri­ence in our con­sumer lives is fun­da­men­tally naïve.

The Impor­tant Things To Con­sider About the Apple IBM Partnership

  1. Mobile is a new / big thing; and as I’ve said before, Enter­prise doesn’t under­stand it. This is a good strat­egy for IBM, and the Apple IBM part­ner­ship will give them credibility.
  2. It was inter­est­ing that they men­tioned big data min­ing; that hints to me as a unique value propo­si­tion they’re going to try to lever­age (machine learn­ing, and all that mainframe-AI stuff they do)
  3. Remem­ber Enter­prise buy­ing pat­terns – the enter­prise can’t just walk into an Apple Genius Bar for sup­port. This move is crit­i­cal for Apple to pen­e­trate the enter­prise more. ALSO, remem­ber the ELA. Most big soft­ware com­pa­nies don’t actu­ally sell, they run the compliance/ELA-renewal route. This is another big fac­tor for IBM to do dif­fer­ent busi­ness than Apple would.
  4. By the way, we know Apple has good pen­e­tra­tion in the enter­prise, but we all real­ize that it’s mostly the élite. IBM is a com­pany that is sup­pos­edly neu­tral for employ­ees, any employee can get a Mac exactly the same way they get a PC. Very very few com­pa­nies are like that. IBM can help them (and it’s crit­i­cal for the com­pa­nies to do so, because young peo­ple want Macs).
  5. This is huge for Apple’s iPad, and there­fore a huge oppor­tu­nity for IBM. I mean, IBM runs a huge busi­ness on cash reg­is­ters & kiosks – 2 places where tablets would be a much bet­ter solu­tion than a PC. Yet, today, they do it all on PC. Same with enter­prise apps. Using a Mac at at many large com­pa­nies is impos­si­ble with­out Vmware, unless you don’t travel, use con­fer­ence rooms, and so on4. There’s no way peo­ple could use a tablet and get their jobs done. Too hard. Same with iPhones – sure a lot works in the browser. Most peo­ple use them like fancy black­ber­ries – email, cal­en­dar, address book… and what­ever they can also do in a browser and what­ever they can port over from their con­sumer use of technology.
  6. Finally, unless you’re a real nerd, there’s no way you’re using (for exam­ple)’s mobile app. It’s too broad reach­ing. Mobile is about unbundling expe­ri­ences, and the expe­ri­ences need to be tar­geted very specif­i­cally at their user sto­ries. It’s sim­ply impos­si­ble to do that broadly with a small num­ber of apps (with­out adding so much com­plex­ity, that peo­ple sim­ply yearn for their laptop’s big screen and mouse). It’s the Hotel Tonight vs Travel Por­tal exam­ple I like to use. No one would ever go to Con­cur in a browser on their phone or tablet to make a reser­va­tion. Unless they’re jammed up and have to. But, if I were look­ing for a hotel, I’d go to my phone first. There are a few things I use my phone for as my first choice (RSS reader, Twit­ter, con­trol­ling my stereo). That’s what IBM is going for. How do they make the phone/tablet the first com­puter peo­ple reach for? We (as Enter­prise IT) need this. Imag­ine an enter­prise app you’d rather use on your phone than your PC?


Not only is this huge, the tim­ing is good. Tablets are accepted. Exec­u­tives have brought them into the enter­prise. There’s enough ten­sion that it’s clear much more can be done, but no one has really fig­ured it out yet. Wall Street won’t like it because it’s not going to add mil­lions of phone/tablets per quar­ter next quar­ter. The end game though… the end game is beau­ti­ful. Imag­ine the iPad being a peer to a Win­dows desk­top in the enter­prise in a few years. Imag­ine SecureID instead of com­pli­cated pass­words that you have to change all the time? Brilliant.

PS — Of course it depends on how they exe­cute. If any­one can exe­cute, it’s Tim Cook. And, IBM bet­ter be pay­ing atten­tion to HP (and how badly it’s fail­ing)… IBM’s much big­ger, so it’ll be slower to fail. But fail it will if they don’t do some­thing meaningful.

  1. IBM won’t be able to help with hard­ware roadmaps, but they can buffer between IT and Apple in an inter­est­ing way by ball-parking future OS releases and hav­ing mile­stones around them, even though there’s uncer­tainty. It can “check off” future com­pat­i­bil­ity by say­ing “it’s IBM’s prob­lem”. If it’s their own prob­lem, they have to pro­vide the answer to how they’ll do it… but they can’t if they don’t know what new fea­tures are com­ing, etc. []
  2. It may not be 2 months of work, but if you can’t sched­ule deploy­ment until after QA is com­plete… and then if you are sched­uled, but a pri­or­ity fix has to use your deploy­ment win­dow, you get bumped. And so on. []
  3. Just because I’m a con­spir­acy the­o­rist, doesn’t mean there’s not a con­spir­acy. []
  4. Many of these sys­tems have Microsoft back-ends that require IE. []

Seriously Delta?

My beau­ti­ful wife is on the road. In fact, as I write this, she’s on her way home.

I’m try­ing to decide whether or not to keep our baby awake long enough for her to see him. If everything’s on time, it won’t be a prob­lem. But any delay at all, and I’ll want to put him to bed as usual.

Why not setup a flight noti­fi­ca­tion, right?

Clearly, Delta wants to make this as dif­fi­cult as possible.

Delta Airlines Notification UI


By way of vent­ing, I’d like to sub­mit the fol­low­ing Cap­tain Obvi­ous ques­tions to prod­uct management:

  1. Why must I select only a depar­ture or arrival noti­fi­ca­tion? I know I can setup up two noti­fi­ca­tions sep­a­rately, but since that requires typ­ing in a lot of extra infor­ma­tion, why can’t I just have an “and” option?
  2. Which City? Depart­ing or Arriv­ing? You do real­ize there are 2 cities involved in each flight. Of course, you have the flight num­ber AND date, so you don’t really need the city.
  3. Enter a Device Address”?!? What planet are you from, and do you need help with your Eng­lish lan­guage skills? You’re send­ing a freak­ing email. Who cares what device?
  4. How about text noti­fi­ca­tions? If you under­stand the social-differences between email­ing and tex­ting, you’d real­ize that noti­fi­ca­tions are more suited to text than email. At least allow an option. I don’t want to have to cycle through all my emails just to see a notification.
  5. PDA Device? Seri­ously?! By the way, do you really send device-dependent mes­sages? No. So why ask?

Seri­ously though, I couldn’t get past the “city name” thing. And now have no noti­fi­ca­tions. You might want to think about mak­ing new par­ents your UX advi­sors. We know how to get things done, and move on to the next impor­tant thing. Which is all any­one really wants to do when they deal with your old school organization.

PS Make your fonts bigger.

Burying the URL

Last week a build of Chrome got rid of the URL. It’s an exper­i­ment. How­ever unlikely bury­ing the URL is to catch on, it’ll be the time when enter­prise tech­nol­ogy goes over a cliff so high you’ll never hear Enter­prise IT’s screams.

Why would Google do this?

Unlike other mod­ern tech­nolo­gies that have hid­den as much com­plex­ity as pos­si­ble, web browsers have con­tin­ued to put this tech­ni­cal arti­fact top cen­ter, dots, slashes and all. The noble URL caused a rev­o­lu­tion in shar­ing and publishing.

It is also a usabil­ity tarpit that directly com­petes with search.

Google moti­va­tion for bury­ing the URL is to replace the URL with search. Com­pletely under­stand­able. In fact, two of my favorite smart peo­ple have pointed out that it’s how most peo­ple use the web anyways:

real­is­ti­cally, this is con­cep­tu­ally how most peo­ple use web browsers any­way, and it’s been this way for a long time. They’re just cod­i­fy­ing this sad real­ity into the inter­face. (via Marco Arment)


It seems to me that search has long since become the default nav­i­ga­tional tech­nol­ogy of the web, with the main user-focused enhance­ments com­ing from pre­dic­tive and his­tor­i­cal results, auto­matic col­lec­tions of commonly-used sites, and so forth. By con­trast, hyper­link nav­i­ga­tion and explicit cura­tion of book­marks are for the tiny minor­ity. Humans just don’t use the web that way. (via Matt Gem­mell)

So What?

Have you ever tried to use search as the pri­mary brows­ing inter­face on your company’s intranet?  

I real­ize Chrome isn’t used much in the enter­prise and that you’ll always have a choice to use a URL any­ways. That’s not the point. The point is:

Intranets no longer resem­ble the Internet

I’m work­ing on a thought-piece about the bifur­ca­tion of the intranets from the Inter­net. Chrome’s bury­ing the URL, though unlikely to ever show up for real in this man­ner, should be a wakeup call. It’s a great exam­ple of how enter­prise IT is diverg­ing enter­prise tech­nol­ogy from con­sumer tech­nol­ogy in a way that’s cre­at­ing two irrec­on­cil­able branches of tech­nol­ogy. At some point the tech­nol­ogy used inside com­pa­nies will sim­ply not work the same way as outside.

Imag­ine if the only way you could com­mute to work would be to learn to drive a stick shift1?

If this intranet/Internet bifur­ca­tion hap­pens, com­pa­nies will no longer be able to catch up. They’ll have taken a wrong path & will need to back­track or die.

The Answer

The answer is to turn the intranet into a soft­ware inno­va­tion plat­form2 that resem­bles the mod­ern Inter­net. I’ve got a ref­er­ence archi­tec­ture for that too. If you’re a CA employee drop me a note at my CA email address and we’ll talk.

  1. This anal­ogy is only for my Amer­i­can read­ers! []
  2. I’ve been using the phrase ‘inno­va­tion plat­form’ & have been asked where it came from. It came from me. []

The Obvious Insight to Mobile Payments

Mobile Payments Are ComingBen Thomp­son at Strat­e­ch­ery wrote a few inter­est­ing words on Mobile Pay­ments (that the NY Times sub­se­quently copied).

I believe peo­ple aren’t using Mobile Wal­lets because they suck. In a world where we’re com­plain­ing about an extra click (or touch) to do some­thing in an app, how can you look at cur­rent mobile wal­lets and have any doubt about why peo­ple (not users) haven’t adopted them?

The answer to cre­at­ing a mobile wal­let that suc­ceeds is a sim­ple 2 steps: [Read more…]