January 2010
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Month January 2010

iWork for the iPad: Game changer for the software business

Amidst all of the positive and negative opinion pieces and postings which followed Apple’s iPad announcement this week, the impact to software businesses are only starting to become apparent. I think Apple’s announcement that iWork pricing will be $9.99 per app is significant.

It’s game changing not for third-party ISVs already developing for the iPhone, since they’re used to charging 99 cents to a few bucks for an app. For Mac software developers like OmniGroup, it’ll be challenging. There is already a large Mac software ecosystem with apps priced in the $20 – $60 range. These ISV’s have continued to charge such prices even while iPhone app prices dropped a zero, because the difference in functionality and screen size between a Mac laptop and the iPhone is significant. The difference in what users can do is significant.

iWork on the iPad is a laptop/desktop experience, suitable for the vast majority of home and many business users. And yet Apple dropped a zero on the pricing, basically. With a presentation program, word processor, and spreadsheet available for $10 each, or $30 for the entire productivity suite, how will third party ISV’s charge $50 or $60 for an iPad version of their Mac software apps? Perhaps they can’t.

Is it 10am yet?

I’ll admit it.  I’m an Apple fan.  I didn’t actually need to say that out loud to most people I know.  I joke that I should just tithe a percentage of my income to Cupertino, and have them send me one of everything in return – a “hardware subscription.”

This morning, fingers crossed, we’ll learn more about the new “tablet” device.  The leaks have been accelerating for days, business partners ringing my iPhone constantly to tell me breaking news, and of course I’ve read all the non-news news purporting to describe authoritative leaks.

But none of it matters, because ultimately what we want to see is Steve, dressed in his usual black and white, stand onstage and give The Demo.  If you’re in the biz, The Demo is King.  The Demo is where you set expectations, destroy preconceived notions.  The Demo is where you win or lose, fundamentally.  Because before The Demo, the chessboard is empty.  The Demo is where you put your pieces down — not in the starting configuration, but hopefully in position to reach mate in the fewest moves possible.

If you’re Doug Englebart, giving the mother of all demos, you literally change the world by showing us the ragged bits that the rest of us will spend the next forty years making smooth and usable and real.  Everything that followed:  Dan Bricklin’s Visicalc, Alan Kay’s pioneering work, Steve and Steve with the Apple II, Bill Gates, Tim Berners-Lee and the Web, Netscape, Linus Torvalds…all of it the work of giants in our field…all of it playing out the possibilities inherent in that mother of all demos.

Steve Jobs consciously aims at game-changing demos:  the original iPhone demo was, as was OS X and the Intel transition.  I don’t know that today’s announcement will rise to that level, but I hope so.

I think our industry is getting tired of playing out the possibilities inherent in a forty-year-old demo.  It would be nice to have some new territory to explore.

Amazon and the Kindle: A customer service tale…

Early in my experience with the Kindle DX, which I love and use constantly, I put the default Amazon case or cover on it. The cover attaches to the Kindle through two metal tabs that engage in the side of the Kindle’s plastic case. It’s not a bad cover, but it turns out that if you open the cover upside down accidentally (easy to do since the nondescript black leatherette looks about the same apart from the Amazon logo), the metal tabs flex the Kindle’s case and it can become cracked. Mine was within 2 weeks of getting the device, but without any real damage. I kept using the Kindle since I didn’t want to hassle with returns, migrating content, or being without my Kindle.

Last Friday night, I open an email from Amazon, and it contains a friendly reminder about my Kindle warranty and what it provides me. And in the middle, a little paragraph precisely describing what can happen if you open the default cover/case backwards — describing the cracking I’ve got. And the email encourages you to get in touch with Support.

Hiatus over…

I stopped posting here almost a year ago, focusing instead on my community of friends on Facebook. But recently I’ve decided that the blogging/notes options there aren’t terribly good, and I’d prefer to run my own websites (with help from a hosting company, of course).

Over on MadsenLab you can read about my research, but here we’ll stick to the standard fare: politics, food, wine, cocktails, books, legal scholarship, and whatever else I feel like discussing.

It’s good to be back and writing again. Cheers.