My Christmas Greeting 2013

Now it’s time for the annual Christmas Greeting. It’s become like a tradition for me to create a short animation every Christmas. This is the fith Christmas film that I publish on YouTube, though one year I wrote a story about Mr Polar Bear in stead.

I hope that all of you are feeling the holiday spirit and wish you a Very Merry Christmas!

Apple’s genius business model

Two years ago I wrote about ”Google, Android and diffuse business models”. I didn’t like that Google and Android have created a kind of mystified business model and compared to Apple and Amazon which both have business models that are easy to understand = you get from where they get their money.

A lot has happened since that and yesterday Apple hold an event and dropped the news that they are giving away their new OS, Maverick, for free and they also give iWork and iLife for free. That is so totally, mind-blowing amazing! It makes me very happy and I feel like they really reward their customers. Read the article about ”Apple’s Free Software Gambit Means War With Microsoft”, Forbes.

At the same time, I still understand from where Apple get their money, there’s no mystery. Apple sell computers and iDevices. They have created an eco-system in which Apple ID is the key to buying apps in AppStore, music and videos in iTunes and books in iBooks. You can buy stuff from any of your Apple devices. They have made it so easy to use their Apple devices that people really use them too and they are happy and content with the experience – which is not true for Apple’s competitors. Apple also started to sell ads.

Apple has created inspiring working conditions for the app developers. One crucial part is that Apple has encouraged and rewarded an updated culture among their users, which means that Apple users actually upgrades anything that can be upgraded as soon as possible. Well, not everyone, but the majority is and that makes a difference when it comes to keeping the Apple devices secure and free from virus and malware, but it also encourages the developers since it makes it fun to develop for the future and not for yesterday.

On top of that, Apple has built a culture among the customers to pay. Apple users like to pay for music, videos and apps. To get payed is attractive for any developer that dives into weeks or months of  programming.

And now Apple starts to give away OS and software for free… One could say it’s a bad thing considering what I wrote above – maybe it will change the Apple users attitude into demanding more stuff without paying? At the same time, Apple’s business model is still easy to understand. We can see several sources for incomes: hardware, music, videos, books, apps and ads. Apple gives away software for free because they can afford it and because it will make their customers happy and even more loyal, which means they will continue to use their Apple devices in ways that brings in the money to Apple anyway. So, I think this is a very cool move from Apple.

Though, what makes it even more interesting is the way Microsoft has been fighting during the last years. Microsoft just don’t get what to do. The company used to live in a happy world where they were the king and then a little iPod started to challenge their empire in ways that they had never dreamed of. Yes, I think it started with the iPod and iTunes – that was the beginning of Microsofts disaster.

Today, Microsoft is some kind of software company with a flagship that is sinking: Windows. What do I, as an Apple user, know about Windows? I know that Windows users don’t like to update, because they don’t trust the newer Windows versions and they know what it’s like to struggle with software that doesn’t work and invites virus. If they decide to update – then they get confused when they have to choose from all the alternatives. Updating means problems in the Windows world, in contrast to in the Apple world where updating is joy. Windows is Microsoft’s eco-system and it doesn’t work like it used to anymore. The glory days are over.

Then we know that a lot of PC/Windows users bought iPhones followed by iPads and now they started to understand what fun it can be to use digital devices and their expectations on what a computer should deliver have increased. A lot of people have stayed with their PC:s because they need to work with Microsoft Office and they can’t do that on iPad.

Microsoft understood that they had to change something, so they started to add hardware to their product mix: the ”iPad killer” Microsoft Surface and together with that the OS Windows 8 for both computer, tablet and phone. But, the problem is: not many want those products. I have met one young man that was happy about his Nokia Lumia smartphone with Windows 8 – but he also said ”Of course, there are not so many apps”. ”Not so many apps” means less incomes for Microsoft and less joy for the users. Since there are not so many users of Windows 8, the developers are not so keen to develop app versions for Windows.

Now Apple give away the new OS, Maverick, and iWork for free… The given question is: what will this mean to Microsoft? I’m sure that this is the last push that a couple of confused Windows users need to jump over to Apple. It’s so easy to migrate from the Windows platform to Apple and so rewarding. If they have to send documents back to some left over Windows friends, it’s a piece of cake with the latest version of iWork – you just send the link and the receiver can make her own choice of which file format to use. So, not many issues left to solve for the Apple user.

Microsoft is left with a bucketload of problems to solve… do they even have an understandable business plan to follow? I bet they don’t.

Kodak, Blackberry and now Microsoft. Apple has caused disruption in many business models. I am sure that there will be an end of the Apple era, some day, but right now it’s Apple that’s surfing the waves and I think they will do that for at least five years. At some point there has to come a competitor that has found a new and better business model and it’s impossible to guess what it might be, because when it comes, it will be so new and bold that a whole world makes happy sighs, just like they did when the first iPhone was shown to an audience.

Fingerprint thieves?

Since we got the news about Apple’s iPhone 5S with a fingerprint sensor, there has been so many speculations about how dangerous it might be. Dangerous? Come on, really?

The first one is that Apple will collect a bank of fingerprints. Of course they will, because it’s so handy to have many fingerprints, they are valuable too and that’s why you can see fingerprints thieves everywhere collecting fingerprints from glasses in cafés and bars, from handles, from glossy books, from other glossy surfaces and then they sell these fingerprints to, eh, wait a minute? Who are they selling them to? Who wants a fingerprint? How much do they pay? Oh? Right, people might not be that interested in fingerprints after all… hm?

Well, Apple will still collect the fingerprints, right? NO they won’t! They have no interest in doing that. In fact they have more interest in proving to their customers that they can’t get access to their fingerprints and that’s why the fingerprints you scan and save on your iPhone, are stored in a separate card that doesn’t communicate with the other units in the phone.

Then these German, ”clever” hackers came up with the big news that they have created a fake fingerprint in latex, put that on a finger, moist it a little and then it worked to lock up the iPhone 5S screen. So, how useful is that? Why would you want to be able to lock up some other persons iPhone 5S? Well, because you want access to it’s content of course. You can have different reason to why you want that access.

If you for example suspects that your partner is keeping secrets from you or if you want to play a joke with a friend, then it’s easy to see that you might get plenty of opportunities to get hold of that needed fingerprint and since you probably spend a lot of time with your partner or friend, then it’s also possible that you could get hold of their iPhone before the code lock is activated, so that you can get access with the fingerprint. Yes, you read that right: code lock. You see, even if you use the fingerprint sensor to unlock your screen, it will still activate the code lock if you leave your iPhone inactive for a while. Then you have to know the code – or you could try to guess the code, but hey, you were going to use the latex fingerprint now, when you have done this smart achievement to get it. So, then you have to get hold of the iPhone before the code lock gets activated. Good luck!

If you are a thief on a public place there won’t be much use of this fake, latex, fingerprint. You can’t just steal the iPhone, steal the owners fingerprint, run away, unpack your ”how-to-make-a-fingerprint-in-latex-kit” and then SESAM use that fake latex to unlock the screen – because by then the code lock will be activated.

A smarter thief would steal the iPhone while it’s active, keep it active and then ran somewhere where he can change the safety settings and inactivate the code lock, except, if you want to shut off the code lock, you need to know the code…

So, even if you manage to make a fake latex fingerprint and you are quick enough to snatch the iPhone from your friend, you can’t relax if you want to be able to use it. As soon as the iPhone is inactive so that the code lock gets active, then there’s no point in using the latex fingerprint…

If you are a spy in Mission Impossible you will of course be able to make that fake latex fingerprint, snatch the iPhone in the right, active moment and then very quickly use it to send a fake text, steal a photo or something like that. You can’t however download an app – if you haven’t got the Apple ID, you can’t log in to the bank, order something online and you can’t get access for logins and other protected information that the owner keeps in an app like 1Password. You will need other logins to do that. Well, you could probably find some notes and you could get access to DropBox and that might be valuable for you if you are a spy. On the other hand, if you are a spy, you probably know a lot of other ways to get access to that…

If you however are a regular guy with a regular life, you won’t have so many spies lurking around your house. The thieves might have other ways to get inside your iPhone – but then you have of course activated ”Find My iPhone” right? And then you can turn it off…

Finally, what if they cut off the owners finger and uses THAT for the fingerprint sensor! Ha! Well, there’s not much point in doing that. To start with it’s messy. It will be useful for a very short time… and it has to be moist (like the latex has). By the time it takes to handle all this, the code lock will probably get activated again…

I think the speculations about Apple’s fingerprint sensor are really making a chicken farm from a feather and people who read those speculations and don’t bother to get the information or think by themselves, will not understand how smart and simple the feature with a fingerprint sensor is.

It’s just a very cool way to unlock your iPhone, it’s so easy to use that a lot of people will use it, that means all of them will activate the code lock as well and that means all those people will protect their iPhones a lot better than they do today, because it’s not fun to use the code lock ”all the time”.

Update

I found a very interesting interview with Jony Ive and Craig Federighi. They talk about the fingerprint sensor and Craig remember their concerns during the creative process:

”…we’re going to have to build in our silicon a little island, a little enclave that’s walled off so that literally the main processor—no matter if you took ownership of the whole device and ran whatever code you wanted on the main processor—could not get that fingerprint out of there…˝

Samsung don’t get it – send out spies!

If we boil down this question about why Apple haters and/or Android users consider Apple users to be part of a cult, we end up with the simple fact that they don’t get the full concept of Apple.

If they did, Samsung wouldn’t have to send out spies to Apple stores to ask questions to people standing in line to get the new iPhone 5C or 5S. To me, it’s so obvious why they stand there and also why Apple is still so freaking hot that an iPhone 5S gold is reported to be sold for $1800.

Samsung still believes that a bigger screen is innovation and to be the best is a matter of collecting technical features on a list.

Apple users talk about the user experience. They are happy. We love Apple because Apple makes a huge effort to simplify our lives. I don’t think that I would stand in line to get a new iPhone, because I buy my stuff online and when it comes to iPhones, I buy them directly from the carrier, but I can understand why people want to stand in that line – it’s fun to be around others that like Apple.

In my case, I get my share of that from social media and of course in my daily life as well.

I got very happy when I found out that Tim Cook has started a Twitter account. I hope that he will use it as well. In the beginning there was Steve Jobs but there were also the Macintosh evangelist Guy Kawasaki. I also remember that there were like Apple clubs that you could join, in for example Växjö where I lived, by then. Some people think Apple’s success is a cult thing, but I tell you, it’s more a sense of being part of something that makes a difference and to ”know” the persons that do the excellent job of developing Apple to what it is today and to what i will become in the future. It’s like a personal relation to the brand.

I’ve blogged about my concerns regarding that I missed the possibility to be able to follow Apple in social media and it’s a true concern. I’m writing a book about social media and has thought a lot about Apple and why they shouldn’t or should take part of social media and I can’t come to another conclusion than yes, Apple should step out and be part of social media. People expect a personal relation with brands today and that was exactly how Apple was built from start, so it’s a natural thing that they should be present on for example Twitter.

Belonging to the Apple cult?

One of the most boring arguments that I hear from Apple haters is that all of us that uses Apple’s devices are part of a cult.

It annoys me, because that means that I’m like under a spell and once I got captivated by that spell, my brain stopped working and Apple took over the thinking. And that is the reason to why I keep on buying Apple devices since 1989 when we bought our first MacPlus?

I guess that if you don’t use Apple devices and never have experienced the user satisfaction from doing it, it might seem to be very strange that people use Apple devices and are happy and content. Especially if your experience from Windows and Android is more frustrating and annoying. So of course, you have to come up with some kind of reason to why those Apple users are so happy and loyal.

From my point of view Apple users generally know more about their devices than Windows and Android users do, they are more interested in their devices, because they work well, Apple devices almost turns into your friend. It’s more than a tool.

That’s why Apple users cares more about their devices so that they update their OS and iOS whenever there’s a new version. Read the article on Tapscape.com – yesterday 40% of all iOS devices had upgraded to iOS7. Only in a couple of days! My Facebook feed was full of friends that was upgrading to iOS7 as soon as it was launched in Sweden. What’s more, there are very few iPhones and iPads with older iOS.

Have you heard of anything like it in the Android world? I’m sure you haven’t. The typical Android user would explain that Android users are not part of a cult and therefore don’t follow every step that ”the leader” takes. As an Apple user I think it’s just plain dumb. To upgrade is to care about your devices. This is what it looks like in the Android world:

This picture is also from Tapscape.com

Add the fact that Android users has more than 3000 different variations to choose from. That is what they call freedom of choice. The developers call this hell. Well, I guess there has to be some enthusiastic developers that actually like to develop apps for Androids, but if you ask me, you probably have to belong to a cult to cope with all the extra difficulties that follows from this mess of variations and different stages of upgrades.

Who’s the master behind this mess? Google. The ”do no evil”-company that gives away everything for free like the kid on the schoolyard that gives candy to everyone and hopes to become popular. Well, that’s not the whole truth. There are no such a thing as a free lunch and there is no such thing as a big search engine company giving away things for free. They earn their money from ads and payed search results. That’s why Android is free to use for everyone that wants to build a smartphone. You can do whatever you want to do with Android if you just know how to do the code.
The problem is: that’s exactly what developers do and especially in China. They figured out that all that ad-stuff was a bore and that they don’t like Google’s search engine, because they have one of their own, Baidu, so it turns out there’s not much for Google to earn their money on? You can read about that in this article from ExtremeTech. To make it worse, China is the number one source for Android malware.
Now, there are of course some Android power users and they are very easy to detect: they are the ones that actually have found out how to surf the internet on their devices… Do you think that I’m unfair and mean writing this? The fact is that research after research give the same result: iOS users surf the web, Android users don’t. It’s like a mystery why they don’t. Maybe they think it costs a lot of money, maybe they just want to make phone calls with their smartphones (that’s like buying a computer to use it as a lamp) or maybe they can’t figure out how to do it. The consequence is that Android users don’t buy much stuff from the internet either, while iOS users do – which means that more money flows in the system, which makes it more stable. An OS without money in the system is like a house of cards – it offers no stability.
By the way, Android users don’t like to pay for their apps either… they just want everything for free and believe that Apple users are stupid to pay for everything. I guess they thought it was stupid when Apple turned the music business upside down with introducing iTunes several years ago. Pay for music? When you could get free, pirate copied music from the internet? Well, it didn’t take long until a lot of people bought a lot of music from iTunes and they are still doing it and it’s not so bad for the musicians either, because, they get payed. App developers get payed, authors get payed when they sell e-books in Apple’s iBookstore.
I believe in clean business solutions. If you want this, you have to pay this. Simple like that. If you don’t pay, you just won’t get it.

This is why I want to stay in my Apple world as long as it keeps on being smart, functional, beautiful and delivering an excellent user experience.