The Difference

The dif­fer­ence between doing every­thing, or doing one thing and doing it really well.

We’re going to see enter­prise soft­ware ven­dors cre­at­ing appli­ca­tions for iOS and Android. This is doing everything.

The fact it, there isn’t a cor­po­rate tablet mar­ket, there’s an iPad mar­ket.

Ven­dors, like every­one else, have lim­ited peo­ple to work on prod­ucts. Rather than pick one, and do it well, they’ll do everything.

Why? So they can check off that they sup­port every plat­form when they respond to RFP’s. It won’t mat­ter than each is a bland expe­ri­ence, par­tially com­plete because they’re split­ting efforts. They can check off the check-list so they feel they’re doing their job. Nobody gets fired for cre­at­ing crap.

Be bold.

Be will­ing to say no.

Com­mit to a plat­form, and cre­ate a great solu­tion for your customers.

It’s as much what you do, as what you don’t do.

Who Wants Old Stuff?

I’m a bit sur­prised I’ve not seen any­one else pick up on this Apple insight regard­ing the “New iPad” naming.

Imag­ine the buy­ing expe­ri­ence. You walk into a store, and see a range of prices for iPads. You won­der, “what’s the dif­fer­ence between the iPad 2 and the New iPad?”. The answer: (or a sim­ple ver­sion of it) “The iPad 2 is the old one, the other is the new one.”

Well, I want the new one. In fact, I might even want a NEW android tablet rather than an OLD Apple tablet. (Not me! Some hypo­thet­i­cal less tech­ni­cal cus­tomer who makes ratio­nal decisions.)

In fact, I bet that’s what hap­pens with the iPhone. You can get the two-year old one. The one-year old one. Or the new one.

Who wants old stuff?

But, it’s per­fectly nor­mal to bal­ance price and fea­tures when age is not a fac­tor (or an obvi­ous fac­tor). They all run the lat­est OS. Do you want the one with slower proces­sor, or faster proces­sor? Do you want more or less mem­ory? Faster or slower wire­less net­work? I bet a lot of peo­ple would instinc­tively think that they don’t want an old iPhone and would rather have a new some­thing else. Said dif­fer­ently, you walk into a store and want a free phone. I give you two choices NEW android or OLD iPhone. Well, how old? Two years old. Hmmm, a lots hap­pened in 2 years, I’ll go with new.

But, it’s not really old. It first shipped a cou­ple of years ago, but the soft­ware is brand-new. Runs all the lat­est stuff. It has cer­tain fea­tures, and specif­i­cally lacks newer fea­tures (for exam­ple, like 4G), but it’s not old as in inca­pable of doing what it used to do.

In the case of the iPad I saw an arti­cle on some­thing that I real­ized very early on. Com­pet­i­tive tablets can’t even com­pete with the iPad 2. I’m still using an orig­i­nal iPad, but I sus­pect the iPad 2 is plenty of iPad for many peo­ple. Why name it in a way that peo­ple asso­ciate it with being “old technology”?

Those in the know time their lap­top pur­chases to new releases, but most peo­ple don’t. And, mod­els don’t change every year, though per­haps they get upgrades to pro­cess­ing power or capac­ity. I bet in the future we see sim­i­lar updates to ear­lier phones and iPads. Maybe an older 3GS will have an update to a newer Apple chip? Maybe as mem­ory prices come down, it gets more mem­ory for the same price?

Tak­ing the release num­ber out of the name helps cus­tomers com­pare devices on price/features, with­out the stigma of age.


This is the Kinda Stuff that Makes Me Angry

Call me an ass­hole any day. There’s plenty of proof to make a rea­son­able argument.

But, call me stu­pid, and I’m going to get angry.

Whit­ney Hous­ton dies, and Sony uses it as an oppor­tu­nity to make more money. OK, while I think it’s a vile pol­icy, it’s a rea­son­able reac­tion (from Sony’s per­spec­tive). It’s not a big price hike for an indi­vid­ual cus­tomer, but mul­ti­plied by the mil­lions who likely have pur­chased her music the last few days could have a big impact. Let’s face it, they’re not the only com­pany to raise prices when they know they have you by the balls.

What pisses me off, is that when caught doing this, instead of sim­ply apol­o­giz­ing for a bad busi­ness deci­sion, they say it was some “ran­dom mis­take” that has been fixed. I call bull­shit. It wasn’t ran­dom. It was a delib­er­ate change, with­out really think­ing through the “new trans­parency” pro­vided by social media. Own it. Apol­o­gize. Learn. Move on. Don’t freak­ing lie.

Then, another of my favorite com­pa­nies AT&T blogs about how the suc­cess of AT&T’s prod­ucts is con­sumers’ prob­lem. Here’s how I read this sit­u­a­tion. AT&T launches a data prod­uct. Peo­ple buy it. The prod­uct man­ager sucked. They didn’t antic­i­pate demand, actual usage sce­nar­ios, or under­ly­ing tech­ni­cal impact/architecture. Now, they’re whin­ing about how much band­width peo­ple are using and say­ing they can’t meet their com­mit­ments and instead of own­ing up to it, throt­tling those cus­tomers who signed on for exactly the terms that AT&T is fail­ing to deliver.

This is false adver­tis­ing at its best. Get the cus­tomer in under one premise, cre­ate a prod­uct that is dif­fi­cult to leave, then change the terms.

I’ll leave you with another story I heard the other day. A bank we all love to hate (I know, be more spe­cific) entices new cus­tomers with 30,000 “free” miles if they open a new account. Then, at the end of the year, with­out prior dis­clo­sure, cus­tomers receive tax forms for a gift of $750 dol­lars! Most NY-ers would owe some $400 or more in taxes on that gift. (There’s even one guy in NY who would owe $765 in taxes on that gift.) Not even sure where to start on that one. 30,000 miles, these days not even enough for a sin­gle free restricted ticket, and this bank places a value of $750 on that gift? Then, with­out dis­clos­ing that this is a tax­able event, they get cus­tomers to move busi­ness accounts over (not some­thing triv­ial to do, or undo). With­out expla­na­tion or warn­ing, the IRS form shows up in the mail adding stress to an already stress­ful sit­u­a­tion (tax preparation).

The bank’s response?

We can take the miles back.”

Holy bait-and-switch batman.

Where’s the integrity? WHERE’S THE INTEGRITY?

I would like to say that I’m going to stop doing busi­ness with com­pa­nies with­out integrity only I’m afraid I’d go hun­gry, be dis­con­nected, and liv­ing on the street. That said, I’m def­i­nitely not using the diner in Tribeca again who felt they could add a few dol­lars to the credit card receipt after I signed it.

For what­ever rea­son, it seems that we’re lost and can’t even see it.

I’m going to fight it by being even stronger in my integrity, not because it’s the right way to live, but because it’s the only way to live. I hope it rubs off on others.

I’ve gotta get back to my real job, but thanks for let­ting me vent.

Please Stop Underestimating Complexity

In par­tic­u­lar, around stuff you know really well.

One of the best things about being mar­ried is that I can watch my wife use tech­nol­ogy. I’m shocked at how dif­fi­cult “sim­ple” things are, and how “quickly” she gives up.

The thing I’ve learned, obvi­ously but it bears repeat­ing, is that these things she’s try­ing to do are not quite as “sim­ple” as I think they are. And, she’s not that inter­est­ing in fig­ur­ing it out. She feels, in that sit­u­a­tion, that “it’s not work­ing”. So she “gives up”. And, she’s right. She’s not giv­ing up, these things aren’t work­ing (for her). The barrier’s too high for her to receive the ben­e­fit, so she’ll take “less ben­e­fit” with a lower bar­rier every time.

This goes for enter­prise soft­ware too… make it eas­ier. Please. I’m begging.

I’m a big fan of Apple, but I think there’s a lot to learn from how obvi­ously lit­tle Apple’s com­peti­tors have learned since Apple entered the music busi­ness, or the mobile busi­ness. And, pos­si­bly soon the TV business.

Yes, it is about “func­tion­al­ity” — whether it’s sound qual­ity of the music (which on iTunes is worse than a CD), or capa­bil­i­ties of a mobile device (remem­ber the iPhone that couldn’t copy/paste?), or pic­ture qual­ity on the myth­i­cal iTV.

But, it’s more impor­tantly about access. How easy is it to setup a beau­ti­ful TV/surround-sound/streaming-video/voice-integrated/social media sys­tem that show­cases Samsung’s TV’s or con­fer­ence room presentation/video?

Make it easier.

If You Present on a Mac, You Need These

Quick week­end post. Two appli­ca­tions that I find indis­pens­able for doing pre­sen­ta­tions from my mac:

  1. Caf­feine. Tiny (and free) pro­gram that sits in your menu bar to quickly let you pre­vent your com­puter from going to sleep or dim­ming the screen.
  2. Cam­ou­flage. Another tiny pro­gram that sits in your menu bar to quickly hide all the icons on your desk­top so you don’t need to actu­ally keep your desk­top clean, you can just “toss every­thing under the bed”. You can even set an alter­na­tive desk­top pic­ture that’s more pro­fes­sional than the one you like to have while you’re working.

And, in case you won­der if these lit­tle things mat­ter… remem­ber, every lit­tle thing matters.