Monday, February 1, 2010

Hello Apple! Can you hear me?

Almost everyone knows of or has heard of the Ipad that Apple released last week; if you don't know about it, here it is.  
Now I realize that there have been many articles and blogs reporting how terrible this product is and all the horrible features and let downs-but I intend on this post to be more constructive than critical.  I have been tracking the Ipad for weeks now and as I'm sure Apple has picked up on some major flaws, there are some flaws that I just don't understand.  In one of my marketing classes today we were discussing new product development and my brain sidetrack into thinking about the new product development (NPD) of the Ipad and what does not fit in this NPD strategy.

Wireless Wireless Wireless

People like Wireless.  I like wireless.  Wireless is in and cool.  Wires are a nuisance: They are too short, too long, get tangled, stop working, don't connect so on so fourth.  I was at the Verizon store this weekend and I saw the Palm Pre.  This phone made me give my Droid a second look.  The phone charged without wires- That is cool.  You put the phone on some cool looking stand, and without having to plug i any wires, the phone charged.  This is innovative and something we could expect from and Apple product-what happened?

Not only wireless charging how about wireless syncing?  We have to plug the Ipad with our USB connector to sync it with Itunes. How is that cool or innovative?  I would put money on the line to say there are technologies available that you can wirelessly sync a mobile device- over the internet, over wifi, or bluetooth.  To make matters worse, Apple is still using its annoying Ipod dock connector.  Note to Apple: NOBODY likes them.  The whole world is running mini and micro USB-try being a bit more compatible.  The Ipad should have a feature such that it syncs everything I do on it, with my computer.  If you want this to be a secondary device, this feature should be as versatile as possible.  Companies such as "Sugar Sync" do this.  Come to thing of it apple has a horrible and horribly overpriced service called "mobile me" that aims to do this.  Unfortunately they missed the nail way off the head.

The Ipad is an ultra-portable versatile wireless hand-held device- keyword: WIRELESS.

Apple is known for coming up with creative innovative hardware products that consumers want.  Apple focused on what the consumer was looking for-something Microsoft totally missed.  (We will come back to Microsoft later).  This standard kept the bar for Apples tablet higher due to these expectations.  There was not a single piece of innovative hardware on the Ipad.  I have  a list of features that could have easily set the Ipad apart that consumers are looking for.

Micro USB port.  If you are going to have wires, at least make it convenient.  As mentioned before, Apple should start using the industry standard USB.  Part of the reason Apple's costs are so high is because they provide non essential hardware parts like the Ipod/Iphone connector.  Use Micro USB ports, lower costs for consumers, lower costs for Apple, and have more accessories readily available.

16 GB? Is that a joke?  I have a flash drive with 16 GB.  the Micro SD card in my Droid has 16 GB.  My netbook had 160GB.  If you want more you can get 32GB (+$100) and 64GB (+$100).  $200 dollars for 48GB of additional memory.  I bought a 1.5TB hard drive for $120.  I have 16GB of music, letting my movies alone.  This is a horribly sad issue/disappointment for a company that boosts amazing hardware.     

Video conferencing.  Netbooks have webcams on the front of them.  I use Skype, Oovoo, Google chat, and many other IM clients to webchat and video conference.  It blows my mind how no company has released cameras on the front of any handheld mobile devices.  Why don't Cell phones or Smartphones have the camera on the front of them?  Apple should have jumped on this.  Netbooks have it, people want it, Apple didn't give it.  In fact, Apple took off the camera.  The Ipod touch does not have a camera.  The Ipad doesn't have a camera either just to show how similar the Ipod Touch and Ipad are.  The Ipad would have been exponentially cooler if it had a camera on the front so I could sit there and talk to someone face to face on my tablet.  Sure, it would have hogged up mobile networks, but we already do it on laptops through wifi.  and if Network Capacity is an issue: Don't rely on At&t.

Focus on the Customer
Why has Google been so successful?  They focus on the customer and do anything and everything to build trust with the customer.  They do exactly what I want, how I want it done.  Apple until now has been fairly good with this, but the partnership with AT&T has been bothering me.  I don't have an Iphone but people who have the Iphone have complained about AT&T's network.  Now why Apple isn't reaching out and working with Verizon after 5 years puzzles me.  I have had T-Mobile(Voice Stream), Sprint, AT&T (Cingular) and Verizon all as my carriers and so far Verizon is the best.  I would not sacrifice having a solid network for an Iphone.  Dropped calls are just not an issue with Verizon.  I would much rather have a regular smart phone that is not an Iphone and not have to worry about a lost connection.  Once again, just focusing of things that work.  At&t has a really slow and behind network.  If the Iphone came to Verizon I would buy it, but I am not going to go chasing after Apple.

Today Steve Jobs called Adobe Lazy-I think Apple is Lazy; Why? because after 5 years if you still don't have an Iphone for Verizon you have redefined lazy.  He attacked Google.  People love Google , I love Google.  Google gives us a lot of stuff from free.  Don't criticize their "Don't be Evil" slogan-work on yours.  The fact that after 5 years, Apple is still not working with other carriers tells me that they are not listening to their customer.  Apple does not realize that keeping such secrecy can bring a lot of hype, but it can also annoy the customer.  Why after 5 years there is no Iphone for Verizon
and Apple not telling anyone why that is- is flat out annoying.

I have an idea Apple: Survey Me! (or just read this blog because I could not find a survey on Apple's website.)
New Product Perception
As mentioned before, the reason people have flew towards Apple is because of Microsoft resentment.  People were willing to pay more money for a better product.  Microsoft overcharged its customers for operating systems that did not do what the customers were looking for.  Not only did Microsoft's Operating systems cost a lot of money, the cost users a ton of time when they would freeze and crash, and a lot of stress when it just didn't work.  People just wanted a simple easy to use computer that did what they needed it to do.  Microsoft did not listen to it's customers.  Apple is Dangerously on the same road.  Look out fast and easy people left and deserted Microsoft, Apple is not immune from this situation.

Apple heavily overcharges for its products and services.  Granted they provide quality products, other companies like HP and Dell are beginning to shell out cool looking gadgets.  Steve Jobs apparently wanted to lower the price so that people could afford the product.  The Ipod Touch cost from $199(8GB) to $399(64GB).  I personally never really wanted an Ipod Touch, my desire for an Ipad is about the same.

I look back at Apple about 2 years ago when they came out with the MacBook Air.  The Macbook Air by general consensus among the people I know was the coolest thing ever.  And to this day, I still think its pretty damn cool.  I remember when Steve Jobs pulled it out of that envelope and shocked everyone.  I would have bought it at the time if it didn't cost $2000.  I would buy it today if it didn't cost $1500.  More so, regardless of how cool I thought the product was, I can count on my fingers the number of MacBook Air's I have seen outside of retail stores in the last 2 years.

Now the Iphone was a huge success but it does not mean that model and name will work for everything.  Apple has expanded the Ipod line from the Ipod Shuffle to the Ipad.  Its getting too broad.  The Macbook Air was a much viable platform that Apple could have built off of.  The computer was simple, thin, compact, and sexy.  It had a webcam, it was light, and had the bare necessities: a Power Adapter and  a USB port.  If Apple wants something between a Macbook and an Ipod, they should have the product between a Macbook Air and an Iphone.  Running The same OS run on Iphones and Ipods just makes the Ipad seem all the more like an Ipod.  If Apple is developing a new product, they should not have that product seem like EITHER.  This even goes by the name.  The "Ipad" gives it the connotation that it is an extension of the Ipod line.  Not only that, the name is a bit funny, Islate may have been a better choice of words.

Mr. Jobs mentioned that Netbooks don't accomplish anything: they are just cheap laptops.  Indeed he is correct, but what he failed to realize is that the Ipad does the same thing in reverse, it is just a more expensive Ipod.  My Asus Netbook cost me 300 dollars.  It came with Windows XP (which I upgraded to Windows 7, Jolicloud, and soon Chrome OS).  It has 160 GB of hard drive, 9 inch screen, VGA port, 2 USB ports, Power adapter, built in webcam, microphone, keyboard, and removable batter.  Oh yes, and an SD card reader.  Now Apple needs to see how much value added benefit are they providing for the extra $200-500.  Sure its a cool looking sexy device, but will it do what I want it to? Up until this point, consumers were willing to shell out the extra couple hundred dollars for a product that did something new and worked.  Its a bad economy and in today's day and age, a lot of new products work.     
The fact that the Ipad can't multitask to me is simply a joke-At least I hope it is. 

Now this blog post may seem like a rant about how much I hate Apple however it is not aimed to be such.  In fact, I am a huge fan of Apple and the products the come up with.  From the way I see it, Apple is not on the right road and is not utilizing the markets the way it should be.  Apple's market share was built up by listening to the consumer which is exactly what they are not doing.  Over the last 3 months I purchased 2 new Macs (Mac Mini and Macbook) and love both of them.  I only wish success for the company and do not mean to demise it which is the reason I sat down to compile my view of the direction they are headed.  I would love to hear what other people have to say about this issue.  I am no industry expert my objective is to simply look at the situation from a practical point of view.    

Steve Jobs is brilliant-Maybe he just needs a vacation.

In the meanwhile please entertain yourself with this hilarious IPad Video. 

P.S. I am currently a student an unemployed if anyone at Apple is looking for an innovative person

Just kidding.