Estimated iPad Shipments for CY10


8 million in 9 months, with almost 3.5m for last quarter alone.

Not huge, but hardly to be sniffed at


On folly, freedom and filters

So, here’s a summary of the issues as I see them:

  • there’s no serious Internet content problem to solve – you just can’t inadvertently stumble on RC or child porn on the Internet
  • even if there was, few want the government to solve it this way – there are better, more effective, more workable and more societally acceptable options
  • the technology presents a real risk – we’ve seen the trial results and the extensive analysis which points out the flaws
  • the blacklist itself is a problem – it’s secret, unappelable, deals with material that remains legal, it’s already been leaked and will again (you’ve heard of the Streisand Effect, right?)
  • the filter will not address criminal distribution of illegal material – it’s far better to ensure funding and resources for law enforcement, who are the only people equipped to deal with this problem properly
  • the filter impinges on the freedom of Australians to determine for themselves  – it represents a real shift in the ability for Australians to determine what is and isn’t appropriate for them to view online and significantly changes a fairly workable classification system in other media to cope with a medium that is changing rapidly
  • the filter will be administered by governments ill-equipped to do so – the technology and policy are complicated and problematic. We’ve seen several policy and program stumbles lately, do we want one over this?
  • there is no guarantee that future governments will not change the scope of what is filtered – the suppression of material based on moral or political grounds is anathema to what Australia is about

This is far from a simple issue.

I’d like to close with a few words from Will Briggs, an Anglican priest from my wife’s home town of Somerset, Tasmania. Will is a strong voice in the discourse on the filter. He said:

“[This issue] is best [addressed] through clear information, balanced argument, reasoned debate…[on the] multiplicity of issues… [it is] a debate which is not simply about sexual ethics but about freedom of speech, the reductionism of morality, and the role of government in society… by… simplifications in this case [we] look like simpletons.”

Click through the link above to get the full text of Stephen’s excellent Speech

Apple’s R&D Efficiency

Apple has always spent below the industry average for R&D.

Here are Apple’s trailing 9 quarters R&D as percent of sales:

3.42% 3.86% 2.59% 2.65% 3.51% 3.50% 2.93% 2.54% 3.16%

Nokia spends at least 10% of sales on R&D and Microsoft at least that much.

But these numbers are not as spectacular as the comment above that iPhone development cost was $150 million.  To date, the product has generated $31.4B in sales.

As the article points out, Apple spent $4.6B on R&D over the past four years and Microsoft spent 7x that or $31 billion. Cisco and Intel spent 4x.

3% on R&D as a percentage of Sales? Anyone else do that?

Show me a successful relationship without Trust

When I started in University, there were these little beige boxes with a built in screen over in the corner of the Typesetting room. 5 years after the first Apple Macintosh, personal computers were making their way into the training establishments for future newspaper and publishing industry employees.

Naturally most of the class avoided them. It was 1989 after all and in my experience most computers were still mainly for games or typing using Wordstar and DOS or Windows 3 if you were lucky. One or two significant others and I, however, did not. We taught ourselves Pagemaker 3.0, QuarkXPress 1.0 and Illustrator among other ways of doing things.

We drew and wrote things on that tiny screen, not necessarily because it was easier, but because it was different. And we grew to trust that little Mac Classic so much that even when we got fancy LCIIIs and Quadra 800s for the main class we still went back to it.

This week I talked with a friend about reasons why we buy certain products. Especially when we continually go back to the same brands. Even when those companies become surrounded by earned and unearned controversy.

I told him I believed it’s because we trusted what we were getting. I understand there is a bit more to it than that – value and cost springs to mind – especially on smaller ticket items. But I firmly believe trust is a large reason for sticking with a product. Trust in a brand, trust in the service, trust in the dependability of their products.

Similarly, I trust my coffee shop to give me the coffee the way they know I like it in the morning. Others might dispute my rationale that it’s the best coffee in Sydney. But I know I’m getting what I want and trust them to continue take care of my tastebuds.

Like us all, I’m a creature of habit. So what if we’re all wired subtly differently, we all have habits we find difficult to let go of. Otherwise, how can we explain our ongoing resistance to change, despite the knowledge that all things must, in the end, change?

While I was chatting about my first few weeks in college over a cup of coffee with a friend. I recalled how that time involved learning how to use the antiquated technology that was still in wide use in the Newspaper industry in 1989. Seven Inch Green screens. Eight inch floppy disks. Processing units the size of a Fiat 500.

Just so we could enter and tag text.

I adore those machines for teaching me my understanding of tagging, but not for being the key piece of a workflow which seemed idiotic even to a 17 year old know it all.

That those machines were still in wide use in the late 80’s seems odd to us now. But if you understood the industry they served you’d know it was probably because in a time of a slow adoption of new technology and in an industry even slower to move, they provided an easier and cheaper way of producing newspapers than traditional linotype and their ilk had become. Remember there were still plenty of hot metal printing shops in operation past 1989.

But those systems were also built and supported by companies such as Linotype. The same brand, with existing Customer Service and Support machinery. And a long history in the publishing and printing industry. A different product, yes, but a company trusted by that large industry with many of its key stakeholders resistant to change.

More than 20 years later, as we move into the second decade of the 21st century, it’s interesting to see similar trust patterns continue with new products in the consumer world. Those computers have shrunk even smaller than the MacClassic I described earlier and become consumer devices. Used in active and passive ways to assist us in enjoying our cosseted lifestyles. From the digital clock to the ATM to the car you drive, computers are in practically everything we touch.

The problem with most of these devices which make our lives easier is that we really don’t trust them. While we enjoy the benefits they bring to us, we expect them to fail us by breaking down at any moment. We rejoice when something survives past its warranty date, yet still buy cheap no name products and feel let down when they fail. Does that sound like a contradiction? Absolutely!

Many of us strive to buy certain products because we trust when we go to use them they will work. This is especially important for those things we don’t use too often. And when they don’t we trust the companies which make them to think it worthwhile to at least attempt fix them. In our consumer “buy, use and discard” society, it’s becoming more and more unusual to find products and services to buy which you can invest that type of trust in.

Our Bosch washing machine has been going for 8 years without a problem and our Bosch dishwasher (even older) survives manfully on one successful service call.

I don’t think it is a surprise then that Bosch use “Invented for Life” as their motto. It’s an interesting corporate statement, but considering their product quality, service and support perhaps apt. I take two meanings from it – we want you to use our products in your life and we want you to use our products for life.

So far not only do they say it, but when you see tradies trusting their power tools and our own experiences, I’m thinking its a reasonably safe bet you’ll get what they promise.

The quote “To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved” by the Scottish Author and Poet George McDonald was shared this week on twitter and I was immediately struck by it. A very powerful statement, I think we’ll agree.

Thinking about this and talking with my wife, I realised that while personal relationships are built on many things, in the end trust grows to becomes the backbone of that relationship. Meeting for coffee or down the pub or chatting online are important relationship starters, but in the end are just an important habit or a ritual which we enjoy with each other.

Listening to others, taking what they say as truth or at least accepting their arguments despite disagreement. Accepting recommendations – those things are all built on trust.

The same can be said for relationships like marriage. Even those without a great deal of love often stay together because of force of habit. But those same relationships would disintegrate without trust.

An so in a week when Google announce their latest update to the Android operating system and have been in trouble for collecting our Private data as it was being sent over unsecured Wi-Fi connections, trust is on my mind when it comes to technology companies. And I’m not even going to mention a certain other online service.

Salesforce seem to understand the importance of being trusted by their users. Providing “real-time information on system performance and security” for their customers 24/7 is obviously a must have for the services which they provide. But why should it be limited to companies who operate exclusively on the internet?

I use Google services, and I love their Gmail and Search products, though I constantly question how they use the information I share with them and which they then use to make their profits.

And even though, on the face of it, those issues with Privacy are a completely different business to the Mobile Phone business, the reduction in trust of a company overall caused by recent admissions is going to be unhelpful to them. For example it’s not going to help convince me or anyone else to switch to the Phones supplied by Google’s Android Partners in the near future.

Naturally, they already have some way to go to convince many of us to trust their obviously clever and innovative products. They have no history with us to prove they can provide us with the dependability, reliability and service we have with existing products. For myself, I’m happy with what I currently use and most importantly what I currently use has not done anything to break my trust.

Like that MacClassic of 21 years ago, companies need to put something in my path at a time perfect enough to attract my attention and break my existing habits or create new ones. But even if they do that, those organisations which I do trust, like Apple and Bosch will still need to give me a series of bad customer experiences, either in service or product quality, to destroy that trust in order for me to even consider casting my net for alternatives.

As I see it recently only iPad (launching this week in Australia) has entered the market as a new habit creator of the form I mention above. Just as those in the publishing world who cast aspersions on the abilities of Desktop computers to replace the known systems back in the 1980’s were wrong, I believe the trust relationship Apple have built up in the marketplace for building reliable, usable products allied with good customer service will allow iPad to succeed.

However, it’s easy to make your fans happy, its another thing to have a sustainable level of reliability. Unless Apple proves the iPad habit changer is also worth trusting or Google and their vendors show that with Android they have a trusted habit breaker, it’ll be some time before we can say if either Product has legs built upon a trust well earned.

Love the way @gruber manages to get that Steve Ballmer quote in again

Post-I/O Thoughts

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Post-Google I/O, there’s not much room left to see iPhone-vs.-Android as anything other than an all-out war. What we’ve got here is a good old-fashioned epic rivalry.

The big loser this week, though, was Microsoft. They’re simply not even part of the game…Microsoft? They’ve got nothing. No interesting devices, weak sales, and a shrinking user base. Microsoft’s irrelevance is taken for granted.

Google’s competitive focus on the iPhone at I/O was intense and scathing. But it’s Microsoft’s lunch they’re eating…

Microsoft can’t afford for its mobile platform to account for just a sliver of the industry’s unit sales. Their licensing model is all about volume — low per-unit profits multiplied by an enormous number of units. They’re not selling $400-600 phones, they’re selling $8-15 licenses for an OS.

But Google lets carriers and handset makers license Android for free. And not only has Google cut the bottom out of the market price-wise, by the time Windows Phone 7 phones actually come to market, Android will have two complete years of momentum and market share behind it.

Three years ago, just before the original iPhone shipped, here’s what Steve Ballmer said in an interview with USA Today’s David Lieberman:

“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any
significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized
item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a
look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have
our software in 60 percent or 70 percent or 80 percent of them,
than I would to have 2 percent or 3 percent, which is what Apple
might get.”

Not only was he wrong about the iPhone, but he was even more wrong about Windows Mobile. Three years ago Ballmer was talking about 60, 70, 80 percent market share. This week, Gartner reported that Windows Mobile has dropped to 6.8 percent market share in worldwide smartphone sales, down dramatically from 10.2 percent a year ago. (The same report puts iPhone OS at 15.2 percent, and Android at 9.6.)

Microsoft can’t undercut Android on price, and it seems increasingly unlikely that they can beat Android in terms of features or experience. They didn’t warrant even a passing reference from Google at I/O. No chance, indeed.

Perhaps Steve Ballmer should take the advice I dreamt that Bill gave him the other night?

Why Greece matters | spiked

The bailout measures have encouraged a false sense of security about the economy. These rescue programmes have only patched things back together, on the same un-sound basis that existed before the financial panic hit. If properly understood, the disruptions in Greece and the Eurozone should serve as a wake-up call, reminding us that the global economy is far from healthy or stable.

They should’ve allowed a whole load of rottenness to collapse in 2008. Yes we would’ve suffered for a while, but better a short sharp nick than a painfully drawn-out recovery.