Tag Archives: Apple

Jun 08

Posted by TeamS2

Posted in Products, Stage Two, UI/UX

Windows 8: Close, But No iOS

After reading this article from Daring Fireball we got the idea that Windows 8 is like that guy who is always modifying his old car. Sure, he has custom rims, tinted windows and monogrammed upholstery. But at the end of the day, he is still cruising around in a ’99 Celica.

While Windows 8 does offer some pretty nifty features- you can view two apps side by side, among other enhancements – the esthetically pleasing demeanor doesn’t equal flawless functionality. Quoting from the page:

I think it’s a fundamentally flawed idea for Microsoft to build their next-generation OS and interface on top of the existing Windows. The idea is that you get the new stuff right alongside Windows as we know it. Microsoft is obviously trying to learn from Apple, but they clearly don’t understand why the iPad runs iOS, and not Mac OS X.

So while Microsoft has built a visually appealing mobile operating system (and it is pretty – see the video below), they tacked this new UI on top of Windows. The result is a potentially muddled experience that aims to power tablets, laptops and desktop PCs. Others have wondered if this new OS is capable of powering both desktops and slates.

Microsoft needs to understand that a great touch OS is defined by restraint and streamlined elegance, while a desktop OS is defined by thoroughness and depth. It is interesting to see how the UI has progressed, but in failing to differentiate mobile from desktop user needs, Microsoft may have just put new spinners on an old Toyota.

Apr 21

Posted by TeamS2

Posted in Events, Memes, Stage Two

The Top Ten Creepy Stalker Songs To Put In Your Creepy Stalker iOS Device

Yesterday the news broke that Apple iOS devices have been secretly tracking and storing their movements for over a year. Privacy advocates, tech pundits and even politicians got involved almost immediately. We thought we would get in on the media maelstrom and offer a slightly different take on these revelations.

Here, then, are our top ten creepy stalker songs to play on your creepy stalker iOS device.

10. Every Breath You Take – The Police

9. I Will Posses Your Heart – Death Cab For Cutie

8. #1 Crush – Garbage

7. I Love You . . . I’ll Kill You – Enigma


6. You Belong To Me – Carly Simon

5. My Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars

4. Protect Ya Neck – Wu-Tang Clan

3. I Will Follow – U2

2. Sunglasses at Night – Corey Hart

1. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley

Mar 11

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Products, Stage Two, UI/UX

Only Apple Could Make The iPad 2

In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Apple iPad 2Country, Spock recalls an old Vulcan proverb that says, “Only Nixon could go to China.

I firmly believe that only Apple could deliver a device like the iPad 2. Their focus on usability and user experiences ushered in a post-PC paradigm in computing. The Cupertino company defined the tablet space and is expected to ship 30 million tablets in 2011. There is a reason other tablet makers don’t have Apple’s market share- their tablets just don’t measure up at this time.

I recently reviewed the Motorola Xoom, and in the first few seconds of interacting with it, it became clear that it was not an iPad. From the moment I picked it up, it just felt wrong. The first time use feels cumbersome and even languid. Motorola’s tablet asks me for account information – user names and passwords – before I can do anything with the device. When I pick up the iPad, it works – quickly and effortlessly. There are other differences, as well. Stability, for one. As the venerable Walt Mossberg puts it in his iPad 2 review: “[The iPad] never crashed in my tests, unlike every Android tablet I’ve tested.” Then, of course, there is the price point ($800? Really?). And finally, the news that Xoom owners will have to send their devices back to the manufacturer for a 4G upgrade. Quoting Dvice:

Poor Motorola Xoom. We all wanted to love you, but you may have popped out of the oven a bit too soon. If you want 4G LTE on your shiny new Xoom (goes on sale today), you’ll have to return it back to Motorola for the upgrade.

This debacle is more Motorola’s fault than Android’s. Someone at Motorola said that this tablet was ready to ship when it clearly wasn’t. Who is that guy? What motivated his decision making? At what point did making customers return their product for an upgrade seem like a good idea?

Hardware makers must innovate tablet technology while delivering fun, functional user experiences. The reviewers and consumers have weighed in and at this point only Apple can deliver a tablet worth waiting in line for.

Mar 10

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Stage Two

How Apple’s Focus on UX Created the Post-PC Paradigm

We recently blogged about how Apple’s commitment to amazing user experiences is ushering in a new Post-PC paradigm in computing.

Determining the best tech products was easy in the old PC era. The best devices were the ones with the best hardware. A 5 megapixel camera was better than a 2 megapixel camera. Specs settled all debates. End of discussion.

But in this new, post-PC world, usability dictates which device “wins.” ZDNet picked up on this theme in a post that claims “user experience is everything, hardware not so much.” Quoting from their article:

Apple has proven time and again that the user experience is the primary thing on any product that will get millions of mainstream consumers to purchase and enjoy using the gadget . . . The user experience is everything, from the way a device handles users’ common tasks to how pleasant that experience is perceived by the device owner.

The best device is no longer the one with the biggest chip inside. The best device – in this post-PC world – is the one that users enjoy interacting with the most. And with that definition of success, Apple products (including the iPad 2) will continue to outsell their competitors.

Engadget smartly highlights how specs are diminished in the new post-PC era of usability.

In a post-PC world, the experience of the product is central and significant above all else. It’s not the RAM or CPU speed, screen resolution or number of ports which dictate whether a product is valuable; it becomes purely about the experience of using the device. What that means is that while Motorola and Verizon will spend millions of dollars advertising the Xoom’s 4G upgrade options, CPU speed, and high-resolution cameras, Apple need only delight consumers and tell them that specs and and speed are the domain of a dinosaur called the PC.

Apple’s iPad defined the tablet space just as the iPhone changed the very nature of the telephone. But it wasn’t the hardware that made Apple the second largest publicly traded company on the planet. Their dedication to usability and creating simple, stable products that people love to use drove their growth.

Mar 09

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Gadgets, Marketing, Products, Stage Two

Apple Could Ship 29 Million Tablets in 2011 Says Wall Street Analyst

AppleInsider has a jaw-dropping post up this morning that looks at Apple, the iPad2, and how the tablet bubble could burst.

J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz predicts that Apple’s tablet business could grow 100% this year, with the Cupertino firm shipping close to 30 million iPads in 2011. What that means is that the rest of the market may not find buyers for their products. Quoting from the article:

“In our view, the technical and form factor improvements of the iPad 2 stand to make it tougher for the first generation of competitive offerings to play catch-up, meaning actual shipments could fall well short of plan,” Moskowitz wrote.

Using discounted build plan estimates to project tablet shipments for the year, the analyst claims that tablet makers will build approximately 65.1 million tablets in 2011. When compared against J.P. Morgan’s estimates of 47.9 million tablets sold this year, companies could find themselves with as much as 51 percent oversupply in a worst case scenario.

This analysis is in keeping with other Wall Street thinking, that sees iPad 2 controlling much of the tablet market in the coming year. Dan Frommer concurs, and sees the iPad controlling 60% of the market for years to come. Yes, Android and Windows tablets are coming, but the question is, will anyone buy them?

Mar 02

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Events, Gadgets, Products, Stage Two

Apple Announces iPad 2

White iPad 2

Apple's iPad 2

Engadget had a great live blog from Apple’s media event this morning, where Steve Jobs and others introduced the iPad 2. As expected, the iPad 2 has a slimmer form factor and more processing power than the original tablet from Apple. It also has front and rear facing cameras and a gyroscope. The iPad 2, which comes in both white and black, will ship March 11th along with iOS 4.3, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Other features touted during today’s announcement include a 10 hour battery life and updated Garage Band and iMovie Apps.

Jobs took this opportunity to highlight Apple’s first mover advantage in the tablet space. He remarked, “many have said this is the most successful consumer product ever launched. Over 90% market share . . . our competitors were flummoxed.” In fact, the iPad has sold more units than every other tablet PC ever sold.

But jobs went further to differentiate Apple from other consumer electronics manufacturers. First, he defined the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad as post-PC devices. He then stressed Apple’s commitment to delivering technology to the arts and humanities.

“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology is not enough. It’s tech married with the liberal arts and the humanities. Nowhere is that more true than in the post-PC products. Our competitors are looking at this like it’s the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this. These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive (emphasis added).

Apple has dominated the tablet space in past year. As we blogged earlier, other companies need to innovate – rather than imitate – if they want to compete with the iPad 2.

Feb 15

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Products

Apple: Doin’ It Right

Apple is now the most valuable tech company on the planet. In fact, the Cupertino firm is worth $100 billion more than Microsoft and Google, its next closest competitors. According to TechCrunch, Apple is “a little over $90 billion away from becoming the overall most valuable public company in the world.”

Impressive, especially when one considers that the company was six weeks away from filing for bankruptcy not so long ago. So what is the secret behind Apple’s turnaround?

I have long maintained that there are no real secrets to Apple’s success. The company creates simple, stable products that people want to use. They engage in brilliant marketing and advertising campaigns to promote consumer electronics that are well designed. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop mentions Apple’s success in his infamous “burning platform” memo.

Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications. They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range [of smart phones] . . . The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don’t have a product that is close to their experience.

The focus on experience is telling here. Apple’s emphasis on design and usability creates products that are both stylish and enjoyable to use. There is a “cool factor” and a “fun factor” embedded in all of Apple’s devices. Simply stated, Apple designs, builds, markets and delivers technology that people love to use. The positive emotions users feel when using Apple technology results in increased and repeat sales.

Feb 08

Posted by Jim

Posted in Marketing, Stage Two

Why Engineers (Usually) Aren’t To Blame For Missed Product Deadlines

Picture this: Your company is about to miss a second product deadline that you’ve committed to publicly. You’ve told the press that you are launching Feature X tomorrow and QA knows it’s not ready. What do you do if you are the CEO? Marketing Manager? VP of Engineering? Whose fault is this and how can you course correct?

Many people’s first response is to blame the Engineers. After all, they didn’t deliver on time. It must be their fault. But this is usually an oversimplification of the product development process. There are best practices for managing a product crisis, and almost none of them involve screaming at engineering.

Ideally you never want to be put in this situation. But examining this hypothetical example of missed public deadlines can be instructive for executives and professionals in a variety of fields.

The first question to ask when staring down the barrel of a (second) public shaming is, “How did we get here?” There are many ways this scenario could have happened.

This kind of problem usually occurs when a company builds something new. Maybe it is a first-run product or a new set of features. Maybe there is a new third party API. Whatever the product or feature is, it typically contains a lot of unknown variables and hidden horrors that push out expected deadlines.

There are also institutional issues that contribute to missed product milestones. Problems can occur when business or financial motives arbitrarily set product deadlines without getting sign off from the “boots on the ground” in engineering.

A good rule of thumb for setting product development deadlines is to have the engineering team 90% confident that they can meet proposed milestones. Not the head of engineering (at least not without the confidence of all his team leads). Not the CEO. Managers can’t will something into existence if it requires code, no matter how persuasive they are. Make sure that all the people who own the product have committed to the date and encourage them to send honest feedback up the food chain.

Of course, the best possible scenario is never missing a public deadline in the first place. Here, then, are our guiding principles for managing missed public deadlines.

1. If you miss a publicly announced deadline, don’t set a second deadline publicly.

2. If there are variables in the project that are out of your control (such as third parties) don’t set a new deadline publicly.

3. Only announce a ship date after the product is ready to ship and all the bugs are worked out.

4. If marketing (or any other department, for that matter) changes product features, engineering needs to adjust the ship date. If this date is publicly available, you must communicate the changes to the public.

5. If you work in Marketing/ Communications/ PR/ Social Media, be realistic. Don’t be hopeful, optimistic, pessimistic, angry or ashamed. Be real. No one cares how you feel about your missed deadline. Stick to the facts.

6. Don’t blame others for your own missed milestone– it’s petty.

7. Clearly explain why the deadline was missed. Open the kimono and tell what happened (in diplomatic terms), what your initial expectations were and why you were wrong.

8. The moment an organization knows a product will be late it must begin the process of communicating that information to the press and public. The sooner the better.

An analogy here is to think of going on a hot date. If you have a date with an attractive person at 8:00 pm, and you know that you are running late, when would be a good time to tell that person that you won’t make it on time? Should you tell them as soon as you know, or at 7:59 pm? It all depends if you want another date.

9. CEOs should investigate the process and find out where it broke down. In addition to issuing personal apologies the CEO should be prepared to fire inept senior managers.

In general, keep your product road map a secret. Ask yourself why you are announcing something before it is ready? It can’t be to drive sales, because the product is not on sale. Is it for pre-orders? There is almost no upside to releasing dates to the press and public. There are, however, many downsides.

Apple does this incredibly well. If Apple told the media that iPad 2 would ship on XX day with YY features, that would only cut into the original iPad’s sales. So they never announce a product until they know that it is ready to ship. To conclude, there are many things executives can do when a public deadline is missed, but the most important one is to not give a revised deadline that people will not have faith in.

Jan 26

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Gadgets, Stage Two, UI/UX

Fortune: How Steve Jobs Gets Things Done

We ran across this interesting Fortune article today that examines how Apple CEO Steve Jobs gets things done.

He doesn’t just develop new products; he changes games. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad, along with iTunes, have created massive disruptions, forcing players in the music and telecom industries—among others—to change their business models.

The piece is well worth a read. It examines how Jobs is able to create successful consumer tech again and again during his “second act” at Apple. While there are a number of factors at play here, the article pays particular attention to how Jobs focuses on product design and User Experience.

He views a product as an experience, not just an object. He can visualize what it will look and feel like, and can then execute it to near perfection. He makes advanced technology friendly to consumers based on his uncommon talent for connecting it to user experience. He has an innate feel for design, convenience, simplicity, and elegance in the product.

Fortune also points to his ability to manage people, make critical decisions and identify new opportunities as contributing factors to Apple’s meteoric rise in the past 12 years.

Steve Jobs didn’t invent phones, MP3 Players or Tablet PCs; he made them simple to use and desirable by focusing on how hardware and software design relate to the user experience. Steve Jobs gets things done by demanding the best from his people and building technologies that people desire.

Oct 20

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Marketing

Secrets of Apple Media Events Revealed (column)

Stage Two Founding Partner Jeremy Toeman now has a recurring Cult of Mac column.  The focus will be the theme of “Apple’s Secrets” in which he contends effectively that there really aren’t any secrets.  As we’ve said many times, Apple plays their own game, and they play it very well.  From concept through development through launch through use, Apple’s products have the kind of thoroughness we love to see.

Here’s an excerpt from the full post:

This Wednesday, Apple holds a media event in Cupertino entitled “Back To The Mac.” As soon as they sent out the invitations, the internet started frothing with rumors. What will OS X 10.7 look likeWill there be a new MacBook Air? Will my iPad finally make coffee? The list of apple rumors is tremendous. Vegas odds makers are even taking bets on what Apple will unveil during the announcement.

Read the rest at Cult of Mac!

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