Few would argue that the iPad isn’t an attractive device. But the latest Microsoft ads questions whether the iPad isn’t like a bubble-headed supermodel: All beauty and no brains.
Ads which have been met with universal derision.
And as with other ads in this series, it’s a pretty effective way to position Windows tablets vs. Apple’s heavily advertised competition.
So effective that Surfaces are flying off the shelves…
Sure, it’s as effective and truth-driven as any of the other ads in the series.
Which is a nice way of saying “Yeah, it’s kinda sorta technically true, but makes not a god damn worth of difference to a normal consumer.”
But this one is notable for a few reasons.
First, it directly attacks the biggest issue I have with Apple products, in that they value form over function. This was implicitly stated by previous ads like this, but the tagline at the end—Siri’s sad question, “do you still think I’m pretty?”—suggests that’s all the iPad has going for it. Obviously, that’s not true, but it’s an effective message.
Again, so effective that iPad sales have dried up while Microsoft can’t keep the Surfaces on the shelves. Wait…the exact opposite is true. It seems Thurrott has an odd definition of “effective message”
Second, this ad actually features Surface RT and its new $350. As you must know by now, Microsoft took an immediate $900 million write down so it could sell Surface RT at this price. This has led many to believe that Microsoft was on the verge of cancelling Surface RT (and/or Windows RT entirely). Not true. In fact, this is basically the strategy I advocated for RT at the start: Sell it at a loss to establish a user base because it’s otherwise too risky of a bet for average users.
“We’re losing money on each unit but we’ll make it up in marketshare!”
Thurrott is in the unfortunate position of liking when Microsoft takes a stab at Apple, even when it’s laughably off the mark.
But keep digging, there’s bound to be a pony in there somewhere.
The problem, as I see it, is that the Surface was a tabletish computer designed for nerds. Its overriding design principle was not to be simple but instead run Microsoft Word. They largely succeeded but most people don’t care.
Pretty brutal, and accurate, assessment.
Few people enjoy beating a dead
horse more than I do, but man, beating up on Microsoft Windows is
simply no fun anymore…because everybody’s doing
Not a lot of good news for Microsoft.
In the world of Tiny Thief, every stage is a brand new cartoon, waiting to be animated, and you always get to play the Bugs Bunny, always with the upper hand against every authority figure. Every time I tricked some evil rube, I kept expecting the wordless thief to turn to the camera, raise his eyebrows and ask, “Ain’t I a stinker?” Yes you are, tiny thief. Yes you are.
Many consumer surveys point to an obvious conclusion: most people hate seeing ads on smartphones and tablets. But the truth is, contrary to the desire for an ad-free experience, when faced with the choice between free apps with ads, or paying even $.99 for apps without ads, consumers overwhelmingly choose the free apps and tolerate the ads.
Pay for quality stuff people.
Gestures are an incredibly rich, incredibly deep topic that’s difficult to write about and far, far, far more difficult to design and develop. A lot of supremely talented people are working on implementing them, and things like pinch-to-zoom have shown, when done right, they can quickly become integral parts of mainstream computing.
This is the 11th post in a series called Ask The Nice Guy. In this series I will attempt to provide answers to the various questions I get asked throughout the week.
Mike’s a nice guy. Take a read won’t you?
Today we’re introducing a new Google Maps app for Android smartphones and tablets, also coming soon to iPhone and iPad. It’s a new mapping experience that makes exploring the world and getting to the places that matter to you a lot faster and easier.
In the fine print:
*The new Google Maps for mobile is compatible with Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean Android devices and iOS 6+ when available.
Google - about 62% of Android devices can get this new app.
Apple - about 93% of iOS devices can.
During its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the chance to brag about how “over 90 percent of iOS users are using the latest version of iOS.” This, he said — with a giant pie chart to support his point — “stands in stark contrast to Android,” where version usage is significantly more spread out.
So far so good.
Here’s what Cook forgot to mention, though — and it’s an important distinction: While most Apple devices get OS upgrades at the same time, many of them don’t get all the features introduced with each release. Look at last year’s iOS 6: Sure, the iPhone 4 received the software upgrade. But key features like Siri, panoramic photos, turn-by-turn navigation, and Maps Flyover were stripped out of the experience. (Remember, it isn’t “fragmentation” if it’s “magical.”)
And off the rails we went.
JR Raphael makes the classic mistake of conflating two things:
- Apple’s first party features
- New iOS APIs for third party developers
It’s true that Apple segments different levels of first party features for various pieces of hardware (Anyone surprised that Apple is in the hardware business and needs to find ways of making you buy a slightly more expensive version of its hardware needs to stop dreaming.)
But, if an iOS device gets update to a version of iOS, it’s gets ALL of the programming APIs. The result is that while an iPhone 4 is slower than an iPhone 5, because they have all of the same APIs they are “identical” as far as a potential market goes.
When Good Men Do Nothing About Tech Bloggers Reporting on Tech Analysts, Idiot Commentary Is Allowed To Thrive
Research firm Gartner today released its preliminary calculations of PC shipments for the second quarter of 2013, finding that worldwide shipments fell by 11% over the year-ago quarter, the fifth straight quarter of year-over-year declines. According to Gartner’s numbers, the U.S. market held up significantly better than the global market, but still declined by 1.4%. Gartner continues to attribute the declines in the PC market to strong growth in tablets.
So far so good.
Gartner’s number show Apple underperforming the overall industry in the United States, with the Mac maker posting a 4.3% decline in shipments compared to the 1.4% decline in the overall market. Apple was able to hold on to its third-place ranking in the U.S. market behind HP and Dell, although fourth-place Lenovo is closing quickly on Apple, driven by nearly 20% year-over-year growth in the U.S.
I’ve already seen a flurry of idiotic comments. Allow me to respond to two general ones I’ve seen:
“Apple Is Falling Behind!”
The adorable hobby horse of ,well, morons.
Two thing to note about Gartners press release (their description not mine):
- Gartner makes it clear that this is “preliminary study”. So any arguments about exact number/percentages is off base from the get go.
- Gartner also lays out why PC shipments didn’t fall as much as Apple:
“Our preliminary results indicate that this reduced market decline was attributed to solid growth in the professional market,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “Three of the major professional PC suppliers, HP, Dell and Lenovo, all registered better than U.S. average growth rate. The end of Windows XP support potentially drove the remaining PC refresh in the U.S. professional market.”
In other words, it’s not that Apple’s Mac sales are running into a systemic failure, it’s that Apple’s competitors benefited from a one time occurrence.
“It’s Not Fair the iPad Isn’t Counted In PC Shipments!”
I’ll be the first to admit I grate my teeth when Gartner refers to the iPad as a “media tablet”, but defining the traditional PC market as “desk-based PCs and mobile PCs, including x86 tablets equipped with Windows 8″ seems as good a definition as any.
“We are seeing the PC market reduction directly tied to the shrinking installed base of PCs, as inexpensive tablets displace the low-end machines used primarily for consumption in mature and developed markets,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people, who at best are deferring the purchase of a PC. This is also accounting for the collapse of the mini notebook market.”
In other words, Apple skated to were the puck was going and is reaping the rewards.
Including the iPad in PC shipments only muddies the waters when you’re trying to accurately access the current state of the “old” PC market. Stop complicating things by trying to make Apple’s “PC sales” numbers look better.
Nate Barham has a great piece on how the iOS 7 UI is really pushing out the old concepts of UI.
This part caught my eye:
The best developers will see iOS as an operational model, not a visual one. Imagine a Tapbots app that, instead of removing the cute “I’m a twitter robot in your phone!” aesthetic, doubles down on it. Zooming metal plates, ratcheting gears not shadowed from without but appearing from within the device, only now it isn’t a robot-esque layer over the stock controls, the UI becomes the character that the developer envisions—even more so than it has ever done before.
After a trial and several settlements with other publishers, a federal judge has ruled that Apple conspired to raise the price of ebooks from major publishers, and a hearing for damages will be held later. Apple was originally accused of price fixing in 2012, along with five of the six major publishers. Several publishers quickly caved, and all had agreed to settlements by early 2013, leaving Apple the only company facing a trial. Now, Judge Denise Cote has found that “the Plaintiffs have shown not just by a preponderance of the evidence but through compelling direct and circumstantial evidence that Apple participated in and facilitated a horizontal price-fixing conspiracy.”
Probably not the last we’ve heard of this case.
In other words, your customers’ relationships with you are the only relationships you have as a business and you think a lot about them. But you’re one of a thousand things your customer thinks about in a week, and one of dozens of businesses. And they probably have their own ideas about how they want to engage with you (though they wouldn’t put it in those words) – assuming they think about you at all.
While most people probably think “minor release” when they see the name Windows 8.1 ,the truth is that this release is more important—and more substantial—than its name suggests. But this is no curiosity. Instead, Windows 8.1 is just the latest in a list of supposedly minor Windows releases that have made all the difference in the world. And in shipping such an update, Microsoft has done the impossible: It has made Windows 8 and even Windows RT truly usable for those people who were previously not so sure they wanted to upgrade.
“It’s an ice-cream and a floor polish all in one! Now with improved flavor!”
This is momentous stuff. But maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Microsoft often has to take a step back to clean things up when it executes a major platform shift in Windows. It happened with the innocuously named Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), which followed Windows’s long-awaited move to the NT code-base.
I seem to recall a massive security problem as well…
It happened with Windows NT 3.51, which took an elegant but unwieldy OS and made it actually usable on then-current hardware. And it happened with Windows 3.1, which skyrocketed Windows—and with it Microsoft—to unparalleled levels of success.
That’s 20 years of radical platform shifts followed by minor tweaks that made those platforms shifts palatable to customers.
“palatable to customers”…There’s high praise. You think anyone describes using an iPad as “palatable”?
And I’m only touching on the big ones: Windows 7, Windows 98, and even Windows NT 4.0—which, let’s face it, was just NT 3.51 with a pretty new face—could all make the short list as well.
Put simply, Windows 8.1 isn’t just obvious and necessary. In some ways it was preordained.
But the difference between Windows 8.1 and those releases that didn’t make the short list is time to market. In 2006-2007, Microsoft unleashed one of the biggest bombs in its history, the much-loathed Windows Vista, and then stubbornly ignored critics, competitors (including Apple, whose “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads were toothless without Vista’s bad reputation)…
I recall quite a few “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads that never mentioned Vista:
…and even customers by not actually fixing the problems with this OS until it shipped Windows 7 three years later.
The fear with Windows 8/RT was that Microsoft would repeat the mistakes of the past.
You mean trying to shoe-horn a desktop OS into a tablet form factor?
Similarly received—and yet curiously spared from another round of bashing ads courtesy of Apple, which says a lot about how much of its edge that firm has lost—Windows 8/RT seemed headed for the same stagnation, with license sales dropping precipitously from their Windows 7-era norm.
By mistakes of the past Thurrott means “not fighting back against Apple”, rather than fixing existing products or creating products with clear, straight-forward, desirable features.
…”that firm has lost it’s edge….” Lost it’s edge so bad that it’s iPhone division makes more money than the entirety of Microsoft.
Instead, Microsoft will deliver Windows 8.1 in less than a year. And Windows 8.1 is awesome. Not perfect, no. What software is? But it’s the release we all believe we should have gotten last year, and the release that, I think, will trigger a turnaround for this new platform.
Windows 8.1 is an improvement of a system built on the fundamentally mistaken assumption that Microsoft can use its desktop dominance as leverage to move users into a Metro environment.
In this way, it perhaps most closely mirrors Windows 3.1. That release of 21 years ago offered a similar set of supposedly minor updates while bringing Windows into the then-modern world. It required 286 or better hardware, with flat memory management, dropping support for the archaic Real Mode. It integrated its own legacy environment, the MS-DOS command line, more elegantly into its new operating environment, the graphical, windowed system we just think of as Windows. And it offered full (if hidden and disabled by default) support for 32-bit disk access and protected mode memory, allowing for PCs with big hard disks and up to 4 GB of RAM. It was set up for the future, and was the first version of Windows to be delivered on CD-ROM.
What makes Windows 8.1 different is that it’s not trying to make a better desktop PC; it’s trying to move existing Microsoft customers into an iOS-style form of simplified computing. In a world were iOS already exists why would Microsoft costumers be willing to make that move?
Windows 3.1 was the first version of Windows I actually used regularly, though I quickly moved to Windows for Workgroups 3.11 when that arrived, another minor release that maybe should have made the list. This one required a 386—look at Microsoft, always pushing forward—and supported 32-bit network access. It was, for most intents and purposes, Windows 95 without the new UI.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This summer, we have Windows 8.1 to explore and probe in Preview form. There will be complaints, from those who can’t stand that the Start menu isn’t coming back perhaps, or because the Photos apps in its current form is a sad joke. And there will be those who will point out the growing list of previous Windows features that are silently being dropped in the interest of a simpler computing future. (Ed Bott has a good list of those.) This, too, will cause some grumbling.
But you know what? I feel good about this. I feel good about this in a way I haven’t since the release of Windows 7, which of course finally fixed Vista’s ills.
With Vista, I felt that Microsoft sat on its hands for too long, letting its critics and competitors drive the conversation, and that pattern was repeated with the original release of Windows 8/RT, leading me to seriously wonder about the fate of a company that would allow such a thing to happen. But the past several months have been interesting, and mostly positive, and I like the way that the Windows team talks about Windows 8.1. More important, I like what I see here.
To be clear what I mean by that, I was always pretty OK with Windows 8, recognizing it as the painful and necessary step to the future it was, and knowing that many people would be unable or at least unwilling to take that step with Windows 8/RT in 1.0 form. But as a reviewer, I need to put myself in others’ shoes, see the world as they do, and determine whether whatever product or service makes any sense. And there was a big disconnect with Windows 8. I was OK with it. Many clearly were not.
With Windows 8.1, the gap has shrunk to an acceptable, even normal size. This release is going to make converts out of those who were previously on the fence, or even firmly in the “you can have my Windows 7 when you pry it from my cold, dead hands” camp. It won’t convince everyone. But it doesn’t have to.
Unlike the 90′s, Microsoft doesn’t have the luxury of “my way or the highway”. There any number of options for even the most basic computer user.
Historical precedence and my gut tell me that Microsoft is on the right track with Windows 8.1. And that’s neat, since many future releases—not just of Windows but of all major Microsoft platforms—will be minor updates, not major milestones. If Windows 8.1 is representative of what we can expect every year from these folks, then we’re entering an era I can only describe as a Microsoft Renaissance. Sounds good to me.
I’m betting the old adage “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” still has legs.
Famously, Jobs said that the people at Apple shouldn’t try to make decisions by asking themselves what he would have done. Instead, he said, they should just do what’s right. Clearly, Cook took that to heart. This is Cook’s Apple, and they are not constraining themselves by what feels Jobs-like. Cook hasn’t confused the trappings of Jobs’s Apple—how Jobs managed the company—for its heart: an irrepressible desire to make insanely great products that improve people’s lives and give them joy.
Possibly the most concise explanation of how Tim Cook is a different CEO than Steve Jobs.
Generally speaking, zombies are dumb. They’re clumsy, single-minded corpses that are constantly in attack mode. But for World War Z, London-based VFX house Moving Picture Company had to make the zombie hoards a little more intelligent.
The movie has some amazing sequences, but a poor script.
At the risk of being “that guy”, read the book.
I keep linking to those pieces again and again because, to me, it’s such a new language that it needs to be contextualized each and every time it’s approached. Here’s the gist, though: Apple has built a complete, robust physics and particle engine for iOS 7. Elements don’t just go from point A to point B, they move through a “real” world. They react to the accelerometer and gyroscope, they collide and bounce off each other and with the edges of the display, and they can change color according to the environment around them. They behave like objects in space, and interact like objects in a game.
If you’re complaining about icons or “Apple is stealing from Android and Windows Phone!” you’re missing the forest for the trees.
This “I want it now” attitude, or perhaps expectation, has clearly seeped into the psyche of tech pundits when it comes to Apple. The reality, though, is that true innovation doesn’t happen in an instant. As intimated by Jobs, it takes time for all of the pieces of the innovation puzzle to coalesce.
And the funny thing is, even when Apple does come out with a game-changing device like the iPod or the iPhone, the very same critics that are quick to declare that Apple can’t innovate are just as quick to predict that said products are nothing special and will flop in the marketplace.
Verge commenter “SpeedVX” on The Verge “reporting” on the recent Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco:
I fully understand that The Verge is not a full-service news organization which makes the coverage of this story even more perplexing. Why is it being covered at The Verge at all? But even more importantly, if you are going to cover a breaking story, why is it being done in this manner? I put a lot of stock in the reporting delivered by The Verge, but in this respect, it has failed. Miserably. If you’re not going to even try to do a story well, why put it on the site at all?