Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple. In a letter to the board, he writes, “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.” Above, we’ve pulled three Newsweek covers of the visionary Apple co-founder from over the years.
Amazing correlations, like the IBM Simon phone.
Chris Dixon lampoons a few no-name analysts that predicted Apple wouldn’t be able to crack open the cell phone market with the iPhone, and then, in a charming bit of rhetoric, shifts to the world of TV. Dixon suggests that Apple is in a similar position with the TV world: capable of creating a new generation of TV device so wonderful that users will rally into a revolutionary force, and transform the whole market from top to bottom:
Regarding the TV industry, here is what Steve Jobs said last year at AllThingsD:Q: Is it time to throw out the interface for TV? Does television need a new human interface?
Jobs: The problem with innovation in the TV industry is the go-to-market strategy. The TV industry has a subsidized model that gives everyone a set top box for free. So no one wants to buy a box. Ask TiVo, ask Roku, ask us… ask Google in a few months. The television industry fundamentally has a subsidized business model that gives everyone a set-top box, and that pretty much undermines innovation in the sector. The only way this is going to change is if you start from scratch, tear up the box, redesign and get it to the consumer in a way that they want to buy it. But right now, there’s no way to do that….The TV is going to lose until there’s a viable go-to-market strategy. That’s the fundamental problem with the industry. It’s not a problem with the technology, it’s a problem with the go-to-market strategy….I’m sure smarter people than us will figure this out, but that’s why we say Apple TV is a hobby.
So Jobs doesn’t believe an “additional box” is a viable strategy for seriously entering the TV industry. This leaves three places to enter: 1) integrating into set top boxes, 2) integrating into other TVs, or 3) Apple creating its own TV. Regarding #1, the last thing the cable operators want is for internet-delivered programming that bypasses their cable channels to become widespread – they see that as the fast track to become a dumb pipe. Re #2: This just seems very unlike Apple – the most vertically integrated company in tech, and famous for wanting to control every aspect of the product and user experience.
Re #3, let’s imagine Apple develops a TV that is as groundbreaking as the iPhone was. The biggest problem “smart TVs” have today is that they need clunky IR transmitters to control set top boxes because the cable operators won’t willingly interoperate. So a new Apple TV would have to drum up such incredible consumer demand that the operators would feel compelled to support it. This does indeed seem harder in the TV than in the mobile industry. At least in the US you had 4 nationwide mobile operators at the time of the iPhone launch. In TV, consumers normally have at most two real choices for traditional cable programming – cable and satellite – and two real choices for two-way internet – cable and DSL/FIOS.
Perhaps Apple won’t enter the market due to its structure. But that didn’t stop them in mobile phones where the structure was similarly difficult. The mistake analysts made about the iPhone was to assume the current industry structure would be sustained after Apple’s entry. I’d be wary of making the same assumption about the TV industry.
I have been talking about the battle-for-the-living-room for years, and Apple hasn’t made a credible play yet. But iPad, more than iPhone even, points the way to where we might be headed. Yes, iPhone has been more destabilizing to date, fundamentally redefining the market. But I think the impact of iPad on the PC and Media markets will be just as cataclysmic.
Consider this as a transition from dumb to smart TV’s.
The TV is the best example, perhaps, of a new device space for Apple: the impersonal device area. The TV is (generally) not used by a single person, either at a given time or over time. TV’s are a one to many device, and generally relatively immobile. We go to the TV to watch it, and it is (often) a very social experience. And, increasingly, we watch while fooling with our phones, laptops, or tablets, too.
The TV market could be Apple’s foray into the other side of future computing: one-to-many and many-to-many user experience. Today, this is all based on dumb TV’s: they don’t know who is watching them, they don’t know who is managing the stream of bits coming in their inputs, and they don’t know about other devices in the room.
A next generation, smart TV system — as Apple would concoct it — might operate like this:
So, I am imaging a new operating platform by Apple that treats TV’s as immobile, impersonal devices, and which supports interaction with mobile devices. This is an obvious move for Apple to make. Someone has to catalyze a revolution in the TV world, and Apple is the best bet to do it.
Yes, this blows up the current marketplace for internet connection, cable services, and networks. The people bringing a pipe to your door would be just that: dumb pipe. The cable companies would be cut out, because all content would be streaming through the web to the iTV and other smart TV’s (although we’d probably have a transitional era where specialized apps might be needed to emulate set-top boxes), and an open marketplace for TV shows would exist so users would be able to see nearly any show… for a price.
Don’t get me wrong: the established giants will resist this, but everyone else would be happy.
The tech world is awash in stories about Rockmelt, a newly debuted start-up, that has announced a social browser, based on Chromium, the open source browser code developed by Google.
Robert Scoble wonders if the company is philosophically correct (Does RockMelt (a new social browser coming tomorrow) have the right startup philosophy? — Scobleizer), which is an odd angle, but he is correct in his observation that it will be hard to move folks from the browser they know, and the ways that they use social tools like Facebook and Twitter already.
Om Malik echoes Scoble’s philosophy comment, wondering why the twitterati seem negative about Rockmelt:
Why is there such a negative reaction?
Change is hard, but there’s something else: advanced users have a framework of WHERE they’ll accept change. I call it “battlefronts.” Places where the industry is actively fighting it out. Right now I expect a LOT of change on mobile apps, for instance, but not much change on my desktop or laptop computers or operating systems. Browser wars? So 1996. But 2010? We’re in a mobile phone war, for gosh’ sake. Too much change in wrong place and it gets a blowback.
Tonight I’ll have several videos, for instance, from companies who are doing apps for Windows Phone 7. Those will be very well received, I expect, compared to RockMelt.
So, why do I care about RockMelt? Because social continues to radically change everything about my life. Look at Foodspotting, Foursquare, Tungle.me, and/or Plancast. Those are radical changes to how I live my life. I want a browser that integrates those into my Facebook and Twitter experience. So far that hasn’t arrived. Will RockMelt bring it to us in the future? Possibly, but today they haven’t and have aimed at slower adopters.
I think that’s a strategic mistake. How about you? In the interview RockMelt covers why they made the bets they did at 19m 40 seconds into the video. “There are 2.1 billion people who use browsers…that’s a lot of people.” Listen to their answer.
Is it the right philosophy for a startup to have?
Maybe Scoble and Om are circling around this philosophy thing, looking for a handhold, trying to grasp Rockmelt. But it’s like a bowling ball with no finger holes.
I think Rockmelt might turn out to be the equivalent of Tivo for the social web.
Tivo is a response to the established way of watching TV, making time-shifting and and ad avoidance possible. The idea caught on, and a lot of people bought DVRs. But the devices did not have a big impact on TV programming or even user experience, in the big picture. It’s a small idea, really.
Contrast that with iTunes/iPod impact on the music business. Or the changes in the entertainment business coming from Netflix streaming. Did you know that 20% of US prime time internet traffic is Netflix streaming movies today? That is going to lead to a wholesale change in all corners: user experience, TV devices, business models, and the future of theaters. Everything.
So Rockmelt, like Tivo, is pointing in the right direction, but it just doesn’t get you there. And what is that direction? The coming social operating system.
The future is apps, not better browsers. The browser is a kludge, in a way, providing a gateway to the web for operating systems that were designed with no web in mind. We are beginning to see the emergence of new operating environments — most notably iOS from Apple — that are based on the notion of an always on, connected web with billions of devices attached to it, and with people using those devices to communicate.
As more and better apps are built that are based on the premise of a connected web, browsers will be used less, until their use will become something like the Mac OS Terminal app: a way to get into the guts of things, used mostly by developers.
And these connected apps will take advantage of the metaphors and magic conjured up by the platforms they run on. And the most interesting and compelling metaphor to arise from today’s web is the social revolution.
The next generation of operating systems will be social at the core. We won’t be fooling with files and folders. We will be connecting with others, reading streams from our friends, and tossing observations and hopes and insights into the wake we leave behind, spreading out to all that think we matter.
So, yes, browsers will be social in that new social world, but so what? Everything will be.
President Obama decides that digital distraction is a political issue. Is he kidding? We have a world in chaos — ecological mess, wars, a wounded economy, unemployment — and he decides to warn college seniors about overuse of shiny mobile devices?
US President Barack Obama lamented Sunday that in the iPad and Xbox era, information had become a diversion that was imposing new strains on democracy, in his latest critique of modern media.
Obama, who often chides journalists and cable news outlets for obsessing with political horse race coverage rather than serious issues, told a class of graduating university students that education was the key to progress.
"You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter," Obama said at Hampton University, Virginia.
"With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said.
He bemoaned the fact that “some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction,” in the clamor of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.
"All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."
Obama, who uses the handful of Commencement addresses that he delivers each year to meditate on societal developments broader than the minutiae of everyday politics, warned the world was at a moment of “breathtaking change.”
"We can’t stop these changes… but we can adapt to them," Obama said, adding that US workers were in a battle with well-educated foreign workers.
"Education… can fortify you, as it did earlier generations, to meet the tests of your own time," he said.
Did he say ‘none of which I know how to work’ as a claim of pride? Or is he admitting to being out of step with the young people who voted for him? That he’s a luddite?
Please ignore him kids, he needs to get back on his blackberry more often.
This is the war on flow again, and now the president is saying that what we are up to is bad, because our connectedness — he thinks — makes us easier to control. But the opposite is true. He should be howling about television, I think.
"I think this will appeal to the Apple acolytes, but this is essentially just a really big iPod Touch."
- Charles Golvin, Forrester via New York Times
I wonder if Golvin will ever live these words down.
A post from blackrimglasses in its entirety:
Apple passes Amazon to become the #3 US music retailer - Engadget: this is the only real review of the iPhone (or AppleTV for that matter) that matters. The devices are secondary (although from what I understand and know, they are amazing). What is more important is the Apple trojan horse and the shifting of consumer behavior. Lest people forget, the Ipod was released a year (I think) before the music store. Apple just surpassed Amazon as a music retailer… hmmm…..
I agree. Apple’s hardware is the camel’s nose under the tent flap. In the cell phone market, apple’s gizmo will lead to astonishing shifting in the market dynamics.