Redesign of iTunes Store sign in screen by Nitin Garg. I enjoyed his commend: “It appears like they want me to forget my ID quite frequently!”
I have long wondered why those taking addresses require you to give your city and state. Whether it’s over the phone or through a web-form, why not just ask for the zip code, allow the computer to look up the city and state, and then simply confirm the result with the user?
I was pleased to experience such purchasing my new AppleTV a few minutes ago from apple.com.
The darndest thing happened in the last five days and I was fortunate to be privy to it. Apple has gotten people excited about computing.
But this time, it’s not nerds or geeks and certainly not IT industry analysts. It’s everyone else.
I had a curious set of three conversations this week. One with a grandma, one with a technophobe and the third with a self-proclaimed luddite.
My mother-in-law walked in the door the day of the keynote and the first thing out of her mouth was “Did you see that new Apple iPad? That looks like it would work for me. Would that work for me?”
I was utterly flabbergasted. She NEVER talks about computers or technology. She tolerates them at best. Her attitude is typical of most baby boomers I’ve talked to regarding computers. She wants to benefit from them but is frustrated by the wall she must climb in order to do so. She’s learned how to use email and a couple of other things on the Internet and that’s about it.
Her bringing up the iPad was amazing for two reasons. First, someone in her office (she works with other ‘boomers) found out about it within hours of the keynote and shared it with her. That Apple news warranted attention from baby boomers at all is significant. That she then held her interest long enough to tell me at the end of the day is equally significant.
After learning a little more information about it, she has decided that she wants an iPad. It actually borders on technolust.
A good friend of mine is an attorney and reluctantly uses technology for his work. In age, he’s somewhere between my generation and the baby boomers. He recently lost his phone in the snow and then found out his company was moving to AT&T. He replaced his lost phone with a blackberry and when our group of friends caught wind of that, we informed him he could have gotten an iPhone. So on our recommendation, he decided to take the Blackberry back and give the iPhone a try.
I had never once seen him exhibit any excitement over technology but the next time I saw him, he could barely contain his enthusiasm for his new phone.
Fast forward to last Wednesday evening. I told him about the new iPad and his eyes grew wide. He blurted out “Wait, are you talking about an iPhone but with a bigger screen? A regular sized computer THIS easy to use? $15 a month for internet anywhere? When can I buy one?”
He had been won over completely by the user experience of the iPhone. It was amazing to watch and fascinating to see him project his good experience and excitement to the iPad.
The third conversation came from a completely unexpected source. I have a good friend and neighbor who works remodeling houses and who reluctantly agreed to have me design a website for his company after being pressured by his family. I don’t know anyone else who hates computers more. He has refused to get an email address. He doesn’t use his mobile phone to do anything other than make a call. And he often mocks me anytime I even mention computers. I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m not exaggerating his attitude. At all.
He stopped by my house the day of the keynote to talk about his new website and when he walked in I happened to have some iPad photos open on my laptop. He asked me what they were about and I casually described the new Apple “tablet” that had just been released. I didn’t spend a lot of time on it considering his historical lack of interest in computers. He asked me a couple of questions and then we discussed his site.
Three days later, he called me and the following exchange ensued. “Dude, I think I want to get one of those Apple tablets for my business.” “Really?” I said. “Yeah, I went and looked at them and they seem really easy to use. I think it would work great for showing potential customers my work and for doing bids on.” I was completely speechless.
After Apple released the iPhone and when the serious rumors started about the “tablet” a year or so ago I had hoped that this was where Apple was going. I’ve long felt that computers were too hard to use, that the filesystem should NEVER be seen by the user. That human-computer interaction should favor the “human” side.
As the Apple guys stood on stage and described the iPad, I knew I was seeing computer history being made. This new approach to computing and experience is as much a game changer as the ORIGINAL Mac. Heck, it may even be more so.
But honestly, before having these three conversations, I figured Apple’s vision would be realized in ten to fifteen years. Now I’m thinking five or less.
One More Thing
When the date for the announcement was set, I started hoping that Apple would release something like iWork for the “tablet.” I doubted they would so soon but the hope was there. As I figured, if they did, they’d be sending a clear message that this was the future of computing, not just for gaming, watching videos and reading books.
Somehow that message has been lost on people (so many iWork comments end with “meh”), but I consider the release of mobile iWork to be the biggest sign of things to come and the strongest message Apple sent regarding their vision for the future.
It’s amazing to watch all of this unfold.
Mull this over this weekend and get back to me:
Today John Gruber wrote this little gem in his review of the iPhone’s
Copy and Paste abilities:
That we had to wait two years for the iPhone’s text selection and pasteboard is a good example of one aspect of the Apple way: better nothing at all than something less than great.
... it’s simply incomprehensible to some people that it might be better to have no text selection/pasteboard implementation while waiting for a great one than to have a poor implementation in the interim.
Is it better to release something mediocre than to wait to release something great? Too often I hear this excuse: “this is better than what we have now.” This is a tempting excuse to spew out of your mouth, because no one can argue with it. Of course it’s better. It’s easy to be better. But is it great? Is it awesome? Are you cheating your customers or viewers of something that would blow their minds?
What do you think? Is it better to release early and often, improving on a”good” idea in public? Or is it better to wait until an idea strikes this beautiful chord of greatness and then unleash it on the world?
Interesting examples today of innovative internet advertising. In this economy™, companies are finding ad space on the cheap, and Vitamin Water and Apple have two similar but very different approaches:
On ESPN.com today, Vitamin Water has 5 ad spaces for their “Great Debate” campaign pitting LeBron against Kobe. Too bad these ads aren’t as good as their TV ads (“You can’t check him!”), and not nearly as awesome as Nike’s Jim Henson throw-back (“whooo!”). Each ad by itself looks fine, but the 4 ads together overwhelm the page and is uninspired and tired, if not annoying.
Apple, on the other hand, took over NYTimes.com today with a totally different approach. They’ve got 3 ad spaces here, and each ad interacts with each other. The PC and Mac characters point up to the bar graph, and the Hair Growth Academy guys start pitching in with their opinions mid-way. They’re clearly having some fun here, and employing a much more interesting and engaging experience.
Apple clearly takes the cake on this one, and my guess is they’ll see a better return on those ad dollars as viewers’ eyes stay on their ads for longer and that little Apple logo gets burned ever so deeper into our brain matter.
While Apple has a healthy amount of attention on profit, product features, and competition, they seemed to pause this week to make a clear statement about their company. Steve Jobs passed around a Macbook chassis in their media event and Jony Ive, SVP of Design, emphasized careful craftsmanship in their product showcase. Apple has communicated what drives their company. They, the CEO and his fellow business-minded executives, respect the balance of form and function and embrace beauty and innovation. They notice nuances and foster a culture of design excellence. Leaders that love design are the foundation of an experience-driven organization.
As good as Apple is for creating buzz around their new products, and really breaking the mold when it comes to industrial design, they have to figure out a way to make people feel less stupid for having their old products. Yesterday morning I thought my MacBook Pro was pretty sweet. Now it just looks stupid. So does my old iPod. Great marketing of course, to get me out to the Apple Store and spend the thousands of dollars I don’t have. But can’t they maybe introduce more incremental improvements? Instead of rendering this expensive laptop both ugly and practically useless in one press conference?
Apple opened its first retail store in China today. I’m sure Tim and Christine, our two Chinese team members, would approve. :)
(Photo courtesy of 变脸.)
News today that Johnathan Ive, Apple’s design mastermind, consulted on a character in Pixar’s Wall-E:
”’I wanted Eve to be high-end technology – no expense spared – and I wanted it to be seamless and for the technology to be sort of hidden and subcutaneous,’ Andrew Stanton, Wall-E’s director, told Fortune. ‘The more I started describing it, the more I realized I was pretty much describing the Apple playbook for design.’”
Through a spokesman, Ive declined to comment.
This looks like something only Cameron could pull off.
This is why Apple has such loyal customers.
The new Apple Keyboard. Update: Function may have taken a back seat to form, as reported by Garrett Murray. “Apple has decided that the wired version of the keyboard should be full size, but the Bluetooth version isn’t. ... The wired keyboard now has up to F19, and no dedicated volume controls. Instead, it moves the volume controls to special functions on F10, F11 and F12. You might remember those as two Expose keys and the Dashboard key.”
A Greener Apple, a nice play on words and logos (notice the recycled paper?) and companion site for a PR campaign to highlight Apple’s commitment to the environment.