Steve Jobs, Salesman Extraordinaire and the iPad 2

March 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last week, the world witnessed the launch of Apple’s second generation tablet device, the iPad2. What it also saw was one of the best presentations yet from their CEO and arguably the greatest salesman of this generation, Steven P. Jobs. If you want to save the trouble of reading the post, you are welcome to view the presentation here. Jobs unveiled a modest upgrade to the immensely popular iPad in his inimitable style that has been copied by many but mastered by none.

Prior to the event, there was speculation if Jobs would be present given his recent health issues. But surprising many, Jobs took stage at the Yerba Buena Center in downtown San Francisco to launch iPad2. Some have questioned[1][2] if the upgrades iPad2 has offered over iPad could have really been part of the first generation of the product and if the specs are comparable to the current and upcoming slew of Android tablets. But the way Jobs masterfully presented the product to the world, there is little doubt that this iteration will be as wildly successful if not better than the first generation of the product. Joshua Topolsky has a well written Editorial at Engadget explaining just why so. Avid Apple enthusiast John Gruber of Daring Fireball fame has a nice article that actually goes beyond his love for Apple and presents a valid case for why Apple will succeed with the iPad 2.

I wanted to dwell for a few lines on the presentation itself which was brilliant. Starting with the appearance of Jobs and the masterfully edited iPad montage and simple yet assertive slides on how much more popular the iPad was, compared to the competition, it was just fantastically done. Friends have referred me in the past to a wonderful blog titled Presentation Zen and the associated books[Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery][Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations][The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides (Voices That Matter)] from its author, Garr Reynolds that lets us present much like Jobs. Reynolds in facts writes quite a bit about Jobs as seen here and here. The books are great but not everyone who has read these books and others[The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience] can present like Jobs and we all know that. Jobs, in my opinion is a one of a kind innovator and salesman. This video from the author of the Presentation Secrets book captures the gist of Job’s presentation greatness and how we can emulate it. We are truly privileged to see the man in action in our lifetimes. Remember, the tablet is something most of us really don’t need. Between the superphones of today and our laptops/desktops, there is really not that big a void the iPad fills. But it is to Apple and Jobs credit that they have convinced over 20 million people and counting, that they need the iPad. And with the launch of the iPad2, they will only conquer more such millions. And the launch presentation set the ball rolling just about perfectly!

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SIM, microSIM and more

October 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

A Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) does a lot of cool things it doesn’t get credit for. It allows you to actually connect to a network, make calls, download music, browse, chat…and lots of other stuff. I will refrain from going into details and let Wikipedia do the honors. All phones that use the GSM/GPRS/EDGE/WCDMA/HSPA technologies use the SIM to do all the cool stuff. One of the best things about the SIM is that it is removable and replaceable with another from a different carrier, thus allowing a user to travel the world and not necessarily pay exorbitant roaming charges. Much of Europe and Asia uses the kind of networks that require handsets to use a SIM card and hence makes it easy for people to invest on a cool phone and use prepaid SIM cards wherever they go.

Now Apple, being the pioneer it is, wanted to curb the rampant jail-breaking and use of the iPhone without Apple getting its dues, one way or the other. It was only a natural approach to protect what is probably the most profitable single product of the decade. Thus entered a sibling of the SIM with the iPhone 4 (and subsequently the iPad), the microSIM. To be clear, the microSIM is an ETSI ratified and designed entity but didn’t attain legitimacy of use with mobile phone manufacturers until it was embraced by the iPhone 4. There are a lot of hacks to circumvent the iPhone 4 microSIM issue

And to kick it up a notch, there are rumors floating around that a popular SIM manufacturer Gemalto and Apple are collaborating on a new kind of SIM. This is supposed to be embedded entity taking away the need or means to swap SIMs. Apple and Apple alone would control the  carrier the device can connect to and make it well, interesting for hackers and jail-breakers. For now, this report is only a rumor but if it were to be true (gigaOM is fairly well reputed and doesn’t make stories up for the sake of traffic) it would give the industry a new way of locking a customer up and make it harder to jail-break the handsets.

As a parting note, it is interesting to see how much the mobile phone industry has been and is being revolutionized by the good people at Cupertino. Regardless of the implications to customers and carriers, they surely have made their mark in just 3 years of being in the mobile phone business.

Tablet wars

May 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

The iPad is about to have some serious competition. In the marketplace today, the iPad is numero uno when it comes to a must have tablet computer. That might soon change if Google, HP, Lenovo and a myriad of competitors have their way. It is public knowledge that Google is working on a tablet that runs one of its Chromium/Android OS. This much was revealed a few weeks back here. There is even a cool video with a mockup of a tablet running the OS. Fast forward to today where there is tremendous anticipation for an iPhone that runs on Verizon. For everyone complaining about ATT’s network being an impediment to using the iPhone, this was going to be the Holy Grail. Engadget dug up the ATT-iPhone contract details that confirmed that the exclusivity expired not in 2010 as many had predicted but in 2012. This implied that Verizon would have to wait to get the iPhone.

In the meantime, the Verizon – Google partnership on the Droid handsets is flourishing. All the Android devices on Verizon are selling extremely well and are proving to be a cash cow to Verizon. All of a sudden, for haters of ATT network, there is a lot of smartphone love with The Big Red. So it was no surprise when WSJ and Bloomberg leaked information yesterday of a collaboration between Verizon and Google to bring the Google tablet on their network. This makes sense in a lot of ways. Google gets to continue its oneupmanship battle with Apple. Verizon gets to call a tablet its own and the consumer has choice in the tablet segment.TechCrunch breaks this equation down here.

Eventually HP will get into the tablet business with a webOS based Hurricane tablet. Microsoft is already in the tablet business to retain its competitive edge in the OS segment. So a bevy of vendors will tote out Win7 tablets in the coming months. The Lenovo U1 IdeaPad met with good initial response when unveiled at CES. It remains to be seen if it ends up as a meaningful competitor. The iPad will now have to fight it out with multiple tablets featuring different OS’s each with its pros and cons. It will also have to keep upping the ante on the e-Reader front against the Kindle, Nook and the upcoming Kobo from Borders.

For the consumer, it is a win-win. Competition as always forces innovation and price wars. It also means there is an alternative. Bring on the tablets!

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