Apple Changes The Game – Again.

by Karl Krummenacher on January 27, 2010


Most of my long-term friends know that my recent conversion to an Apple / MAC fan  is out of character for me. For over 20 years I developed and sold software or services  built specifically for the Win-tel platform.   Microsoft and I grew up together in a symbiotic relationship. I wrote software that increased the need  for PC’s in business, they provided a platform for which I could quickly develop entirely new products  - sometimes out of thin air –  that could be sold to business users.

PC’s meant business.  MAC’s were toys.

But about two years ago, when my business partner and I decided to start an interactive agency specializing in digital content creation, we rethought our operating platform.  Most of our content was web video and websites and social media content.  For video editing – the most practical (and cost effective) solution at the time was to acquire an Apple Mac.

I already had PC’s, and there were certainly PC based video editing platforms available. But like most PC applications, they were expensive, prone to crashing and had a steeper learning curve then I had the  money or patience  for. Reluctantly, I decided to acquire Mac computers to launch our new fledgling enterprise.

While the initial learning curve – or should I say unlearning curve was a little steep for the first two days, as soon as I let go of all the complexity I have come to expect from PCs, my new MacBook Pro started to feel like an extension of me. Unless you’ve made the switch yourself, there’s really no way for anyone to explain exactly what this means, except to say that it just works the way you think.

Want to incorporate that graphics sitting on a webpage into a report open in your word processor? You just drag it there. Have a beautiful, premade template that has  all the right fonts, colors, and page layout – you  just need to express your own ideas and images? Just drag new content and images over the placeholders.

It just works.

Now, three years later and thousands of hours of MacBook Pro time behind me, I can honestly say I am a Mac evangelist. On the few occasions that I’ve had to use a Windows-based PC in order to get something done, I’ve left the experience worn out, frustrated, and grateful that I made the decision to build our business around the Mac platform.  I consistently get better results, it takes less time and money to do the same things, and I feel like an idiot for taking 10 years to figure it out.

PC’s wear you out –  Mac’s give you juice.

My partners and I have all caught the bug. We use Mac notebooks, Mac software, Mac iPhone’s, and even look forward to the new Mac commercials and keynotes from Steve Jobs himself. None of these ever seem to disappoint us, and the few frustrations we have had, invariably occur when we run Microsoft software on our Macintosh computers.

Today, while working on a complicated and time-consuming web development project, I  waited with anticipation for the announcement regarding Apple’s new touch computing device.  So did my friends.  Facebook was buzzing about it.  Most people expected an iPhone that was supersized. Some expected a notebook computer with the keyboard removed. Instead, Apple once again proved that they can make products that work exactly like you think they should.  But not because the hardware form factor was so revolutionary.  Because they actually thought thru how people would use it.

The new iPad, an accommodation of the iPhone version of OS X and the PC version of OS X  once again demonstrates Apple’s keen attention to human – computer interface design.   want to read a book? Just flip the page. Want to review your address book? Just select the letter tab for your last name. Want to watch a movie, play a game, read a newspaper, turn pages in the magazine? It all just works like you think it should,  with an interface that is familiar for both Mac computer users and iPhone users –  leveraging the subtle differences of each to provide the best user experience for the platform.

My wife and I watched  the  live feed-streamed photos and text of the keynote presentation  from Jobs himself. It was brilliant.  We got it.  Many didn’t.  Much like a similar roll-out a few years ago with the iPhone, many “expert pundits” were quick to dismiss this product’s introduction as ‘ pedestrian’  or underdeveloped –  quick to point out that the PC marketplace already had nine competitors lined up.

Yea,  that’s true.

It’s also true that the PC marketplace has over a dozen manufacturers contributing to an ever shrinking sales pipeline, while Mac computers continue to grow year-over-year, quarter over quarter, month over month.    as Steve Jobs put it,  this was an opportunity to perfect the intersection between liberal arts and technology.  Think about that.  It feels like a book.  Like paper.  Like a magazine.  Notbooks and phones cannot.

Finally, most people fail to account for the fact that Apple has –  in just a relatively few years, created an entire ecosystem for the development of applications that run on its proprietary platforms. A gold rush was created when the iPhone first hit the marketplace, and new millionaires were made from applications as diverse as iFart , Monkeyball and Todo.  In the last decade, Apple has demonstrated an uncanny ability to provide world-class business applications that can interface with a PC or Web based counterparts with no effort, regardless of platform,  and then just as easily  deploy a best of class  game platform that competed and even beat well-established competitors who were left slack jawed trying to figure out what to do next.

The result?  Today Apple is the leader in mobile devices.  Sony, Ericsson, RIM – Apple beat ‘em.

I can’t imagine what Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com or the folks at Barnes & Noble are thinking right now.   Apple’s iPad  is priced  at or near  the same price as a many e-book readers,  yet provides dramatically more functionality coupled to an exquisitely crafted interface.  And this is only version 1.  Where will it all go?

Well, in just over 30 years, Steve Jobs has taken a startup company from $0 to over $50 billion in annual sales. An enterprise which is respected by its raving fans and competitors alike. Regardless of your personal bias, it’s hard not to sit and grin when you look at how one idea, one passion for a user experience  that began in a garage has turned into  a global movement that has significant impact on world economies, all while making us smile as we do our work.

Will the iPad succeed.  Oh yea.  Will there be other platforms.  Sure.  Look, as we’ve all heard before – there is no accounting for taste.  Some people like gray jumpsuits and metal desks under florescent lighting.  Others prefer hawaiian shirts and beach front cabanas.

Yea for consumer choice!

Click here to learn more about the new Apple iPad  from Apple’s website.

Click here to read  more about the new product announcement at Mashable.com

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