Thursday, April 23, 2009

Something to Make Apple Fan-Boys Turn Rhodamine (Pink)

An interesting discussion of someone's first experiences with Microsoft's Surface. I'm honestly a little saddened by this. I think nothing in the world could be better than good competition for Apple's touch-screen products, even if it's not a directly competing product, but if this account is anything to go buy, the Surface doesn't appear to be nipping at Apple's heels in any meaningful way. Oh, the product itself is okay, but the lack of attention to detail... well, it matters! Great technology isn't enough. If you miss the opportunity to wow with the first impression, you've got to fight very hard to get back in the user's good graces.

But, I must admit, there's a very small part of me - the Apple fan-boy part - that secretly smirks with satisfaction that Microsoft is yet again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in another emerging market.

(via Dr. Wave)


Eric Busch said...

It's hard to please someone who just spent $17,000.

I'll stick with an iPhone sitting on top of a fold out card table :)

Unfortunately, like you, I thought Apple was going to benefit from competition, but so far no one has manned up. The LG Dare? No. The Blackberry Storm? No. The Microsoft Surface? Strike 3. It's possible the Palm Pre might actually advance a few things, but so far no one has come even close to replicating the iPhone's awesomeness, let along pushing it further.

Scott Squires said...

There is still a number of things Apple can learn from Palm and Blackberry. A few items are finally being addressed in 3.0 but it's taken a long time.
These may not be gee whiz Ui things but in terms of usefulness they're huge.

Type in first and last initial and your contact pops up instantly. 2000 contacts. try typing in anything in the search function of the iphone. It takes forever. Now imagine you have a need to call someone right now that's not in your favorites. It's glacial. Remember the iPhone is faster than the Treo and has more memory.

Palm had the ability to search globaly. Any documents any app, including the calendar and job description and notes. In 2.2 phone you still can not search for events. 3.0 addresses some of this but not to the same extent as the Palm.

iPhone has poor notes section. memos on the palm had categories and could actually sync with your desktop. 3.0 is finally addressing some of this.

Palm has conduits. If I'm going to go on a trip and be flying I plug in the palm (or use bluetooth) and sync. i want all documents moved to my device and have access during the flight. It syncs not only the Palm apps but any apps the vendor has supplied a conduit. One button pressed, they're all synced. On the iPhone you have to sync every single app separately except Apple's. That's a lot more time and required wireless connections. Each develoepr has to solve the problem in a different way.

There are many more things I wish the PApel people actually compared their latest version with Palm and Blackberry. There's still plenty to learn from.

engine rebuilding 04 said...

Funny to me, at least, is that the MS Surface doesn't utilize touch at all. It relies on several cameras below the surface to perform motion tracking...

Jeff LaMarche said...


There's no doubt that there are things Apple can learn from many competitors. That's not really the point I'm making. Features do not competition make, and Apple has never been about features. They're about the experience. They intentionally focus on core functionality first, think it through thoroughly and get it right, and then move on to less core features.

Of course, I don't always agree with them about what's "core" - I would have liked to have seen copy and paste in the original iPhone, for example. There are absolutely features I'd like in my iPhone that I don't have.

But, having features that Apple doesn't, or implementing a certain feature better is not the mark of an "iPhone Killer". What Apple needs is somebody really innovating in a space AND executing on their implementation of that innovation to force them to the next level. There is nobody nipping at Apple's heels in that respect.

I can't comment on the Pre yet because it's still vaporware, but since the iPhone came out, everybody's been trying to essentially copy it. The Storm, the Voyager, even the H1 are all trying to out iPhone the iPhone, which isn't going to work, especially since none of them done nearly as well the things that the iPhone does well.

Apple is not likely to go to Palm or Blackberry for inspiration. Those companies have fundamentally different approaches - they are targeting a specific audience (business people, especially those who travel a lot). Apple designs for broader appeal, and most people don't have 2000 contacts or need memo categories. I'm sure Apple keep an eye on their competition and the industry at large, but don't expect them to adopt any old feature that some people like or just because some segment of the larger audience wants it. The interface is going to be king at Apple, not a laundry list of features. That's their schtik, and that's what seems to sell well to the widest audience.

Maybe the Pre will be the object in the iPhone's rear view mirror forcing them to be even better or implement more features, but I certainly don't have any confidence that it will be. I thought the Surface had the potential to be a real threat to Apple. It's a neat technology and it's implemented really well, but Microsoft obviously fell down on some of the most basic things, which is never a good sign. I suspect it's that huge corporate bureaucracy getting in the way and keeping the smart minds they've got in engineering from producing truly exceptional products. Microsoft needs to compartmentalize and stop making every decision by committee. They need to start having more faith in their developers and designers and less in their management.

Jeff LaMarche said...

Engine rebuilding 04:

I don't think it matters what the underlying technology is as long as it works. And the reports I've seen have been that the Surface actually does work pretty well.