Where Does Apple Go From Here?

Discussion in 'Apple and Mac OS X' started by Cleonard, Oct 20, 2011.

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  1. ral

    ral Notebook Evangelist

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    I don't expect to see quad core phones out this year. I really do not see any point to having those. Very little software, a handful of games take advantage of dual core processors.

    The App store concept was a great draw, but the Steve Jobs never really wanted an app store for iOS. Over time I think you will see the mobile operating systems integrate more functions into the OS, and the app stores will be limited mainly to games and apps with proprietary content.

    App development is a promised land about to burst. From something I wrote awhile back:

     
  2. masterchef341

    masterchef341 The guy from The Notebook

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    I agree about the screen resolution issues. They are about as varied as can be, in terms of physical size, aspect ratio, and resolution. Each of those variations presents a massive challenge to developers to present their applications and content in a thoughtful and usable way. There are also a variety of performance implications, with 2D/3D graphics, if you can design your software knowing the resolution it will run, in advance.

    I'm also not convinced Android 4.0 will convince hardware makers to drop their nonsense, unless it's closed source and they have no choice.

    The Kindle fire isn't generating a lot of issues with android phones right now, but it is an indicator that hardware makers in the future might not elect to go with up-to-date "Google" android in favor of "totally-custom *my version* android. More nonsense than it is now. If amazon can do it, other big companies may follow suit. It's not a certainty, but just pray that ship doesn't set sail.

    As far as the hardware arms race, that's already going on, it has been for a while, and no one is gaining any separation. Most companies are using very similar processors. Apple does have a GPU edge at the moment, but it's not like other companies won't fill in that gap before apple releases a refresh.
     
  3. ral

    ral Notebook Evangelist

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    I don't know where this misconception that manufacture customization results in fragmentation. Things like Sense, TouchWiz, Blur and the like, result in delaying updates since the manufacturer has to update the official verions with its customizations.

    What this means that you have different phones running current and older versions of Android. This does not result in "fragmentation".

    Look at it from a different standpoint. I opted no to upgrade to Lion from Snow Leopard. A friend on mine has a iPhone 3GS running iOS4.2 becuase he was not happy with performance under 4.3. It still works with App Store apps. Is that fragmentation?

    The Kindle looks really different, but under the hood it still runs Android 2.3, and is compatible with Android 2.3 apps. If Amazon wants to update the Kindle to Android 4.0 well Amazon will have to build their customization into a Android 4.0 ROM.

    Nothing is wrong with it if Amazon decides to complete fork Android and continue to develop their using their own updated Android 2.x device. This would result in fragmentation. So far, all we have are manufacturer customizations of the UI and no one if forking Android yet (well one Chinese company says it will have its own version of Android which will be called Baidu).

    Basically, if that ship sails, the new vessels wont be called Android anymore. Than it is up to you whether you want to buy an Android device or something based on Android going by a different name.

    The problem is we, and tech reviewers still view this devices as Windows type computers. Essentially, Android is Linux, where the desktop environment and the OS are two separate things. I run Ubuntu, but without the default Ubuntu UI. Instead I run it under a Gnome 3 environment.

    Now if we have Fedora, Suse and Ubuntu running under Gnome 3.2 shell they will all look the same, but the OS under them is different and apps compatible with one have to be recompiled for the other.

    Fragmentation is really a hardware issue. Look at WP7. To prevent fragmentation they set strictly provide specifications. The end result is that all WP7 devices are all the same with minor differences. Apple, basically, maintain 2-3 phones only at a time.

    No fragmentation also means no real hardware choices. That is what Android is all about. It allows it to reach all sectors and allows for many choices.

    Sell a device with a slow processor and some Android apps wont run. But those are the inexpensive smartphones that are very important to some markets. At the same time you will lose things like the Motorola RAZR and ATRIX and their lapdocks if you restrict customization too much.

    Choice has it advantages and disadvantages. Android 4.0 will try to address those by at least taking screen resolution out of the issue. I do not think that will resolve all fragmentation issues.

    Apple will continue as it has been catering to the higher end segment of the market. If it catered to all segments, than fragmentation issues would crop up too. But someone has to cater to the rest of it.
     
  4. Rodster

    Rodster Merica

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    I think Apple will be fine in the short term but they will be under the microscope post Steve Jobs. Recently they missed the mark on revenue and stocks took a hit. That's what investors will be looking at and whether they can continue to pump out cutting edge products. I think they will as there is enough in the pipe line possibly for the next 4-5 years.

    We'll see after that if they can continue to push the industry forward. Their problem is after the death of their CEO it has energized the competition as he was the equivalent to Formula One's car designer Adrian Newey.
     
  5. ral

    ral Notebook Evangelist

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    Lower than projected iPhone and iPad sales resulted in lower than expected profits. The lower iPhone sales were because of the delayed release of the new iPhone. I think Apple will make up with stronger than projected iPhone 4S sale this quarter. As for the iPad projections, maybe the projections were too optimistic.
     
  6. masterchef341

    masterchef341 The guy from The Notebook

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    This is fragmentation. Both examples. If you are running 4.2, then developer's can't rely on features of 4.3 in their apps if they want you to run the app. There's no way to get everyone running the latest version of the software. Some people won't upgrade. But if 95% of iOS devices are running iOS 5 after the next 3 months, that really helps developers choose how to develop their apps. I don't have a pie chart to describe this, but generally Apple has a huge majority of it's users running the latest version of iOS, some people running one version prior, and then a small fraction running legacy versions older than that. Android has a wider distribution of devices running different versions of software. Developers can generally maintain compatibility by catering to the lowest common denominator, but that lowest common denominator isn't the same thing for iOS as it is android.

    It's not that developers CANT leverage new features. They can throw money at the problem and have specific features activate for devices that support it. But developer time (cost) is the issue. They aren't going to invest the time to take advantage of new OS features if the majority of devices can't use them. It's just not worth it for them.

    For example. iOS5 was just released. iCloud is a service that can be leveraged by 3rd party apps for data storage. All sorts of apps are going to start updating to be compatible with that service, because there is a sudden influx of a TON of iOS 5 devices, that people either upgraded or are buying now.

    If a new version of android comes out with an OS level feature, how many people are going to be leverage it? How many people will be able to leverage it after 1 month? 2 months? 3 months? How many people are running the latest version of android (4.0) right now? In 3 months, what percentage of android users will have access to 4.0?

    I don't have all the answers, but it's something to think about. This is how developers think and decide how to invest their time with their applications. Software is one piece of the fragmentation issue.

    That ship has already sailed with amazon. They did fork android. It's built off of version 2.1, not 2.3. Luckily, amazon is not the be-all end-all android hardware maker at the moment. The kindle fire is brand new. If I had to guess, it's going to sell like hot cakes because they have content distribution down and Google does not, and they're probably going to be the only tablet manufacturer that has decent sales figures. I don't think they're quite ready for the handset market, but there's going to be a massive influx of devices that aren't compatible with 2.2+ OS features. That type of thing just doesn't exist in Apple's ecosystem.

    Sure, that's the UI stuff. Those UI differences are similar to most manufacturer additions. The issue is that it's preventing them from being up to date with the current underlying version in an unpredictable way. It's not clear which handsets have which software version available, or if/when they will have it available.

    Meanwhile, all iOS devices from mid 2009 and beyond have access to the latest software version the day it's released.

    This is not an unfixable problem, it's just something they need to do better and resolve. They might need to get manufacturer support through incentives or something.


    I agree that hardware differences are a major contributor to overall fragmentation. Basically developers only have to think about 2 device groups. You have all handheld iOS devices, and all iPads. With the handhelds, all of the UI interface stuff only needs to be done once, even though the resolutions are different, because Apple went out of their way to make dealing with that difference straightforward.

    I pretty much agree, except there is no good way to handle the screen size issue. Android 4.0 gives developers some tools to deal with it, but it's still a mess. If there were a small number of screen sizes, you could deal with resolution changes. But it's really hard to make an interface that works well with 3.5" screens, 4" screens, 4.5" screens, 5" screens, 7" screens, 9" screens, etc. (not to mention that even for a certain diagonal size screen, some have different shapes - 4:3, 16:9, 3:2, 5:3 are all common android device aspect ratios)
     
  7. ral

    ral Notebook Evangelist

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    Now exactly what Android app wont run on the Android 2.1 and what iPhone app wont run on 4.2? No need to answer that. I do not see my running Snow Leopard as a fragmentation issue. If I need a piece of software that requires Lion, I will upgrade than.

    Sorry, but I really have to ask, do you even use an Android?

    I have seven devices Android in use personally or issued to my staff. Here is an example of fragmentation:

    Samsung Galaxy Y - Running Android 2.3. Some apps wont run on 240 x 320 screen resolutions, others that do do not display the full screen (in order word some elements are outside of the screen... I cannot describe it better).

    Samsung Galaxy Ace - Running Android 2.2 (upgradeable to 2.3). 320 x 480 screen. All apps run well except games that require more resources.

    HTC Desire HD - Running Android 2.3. 480 x 800 screen. All apps run well except games that require more resources.

    Samsung Galaxy Tab - Running Android 2.3 (originally 2.2). 600 x 1024. All apps run well except games that require more resources. Some apps do not use the full screen.

    Actually, it would make sense for Amazon to use Android 2.1. A bit of a lazy way to do it (better 2.3 and disable some features).

    Android 2.2 added support for storing apps in the SD card.
    Android 2.3 added support front camera and NFC.

    The Kindle Fire does not have a SD Card slot and NFC. But Amazon has their own Android app store so they can fork their own system if they want too. In the end you are buying an Amazon product and should rely on Amazon for support.

    Actually, it would be nice if that is the case. It really is an issue of manufacturer greed. XDA has place many updated ROM's on devices that manufacturers neglected to support.

    If you buy an Android and want direct support from Google, get a Nexus phone. If you buy one from another manufacturer than count on support from them. I get HTC's because I like Sense. I used Sense over Windows Mobile 6.5 and now over Android 2.3. My next phone will probably also have Sense running on top of it.

    Basically, if Apple built an Android device I am pretty sure you wont see the same problem of late updates on an Apple Android.

    I buy Samsung for issue to the staff because they are cheap. HTC for myself since they have a better track record on support. Android 4.0 will cause more problems for HTC I think though.

    Lets see how well it works in Android 4.0 before saying it wont work. One day Apple will offer iPhone's in different sizes too. I might buy one than.

    Apple and Microsoft control fragmentation by limiting their devices to two basic configurations for Apple and one basic set of specs for Windows. Would it be better if Android did the same thing instead.

    If Android's approach is a mess, eventually people will stop buying it and move to other platforms.

    Would we all want only one size of MacBook's? OSX is not optimize for a 1440 x 900 screen. But I can live with it. And the 1440 x 900 has advantages in other situations.

    Sorry, Masterchef but I really get peeved when some tries to enforce a one size is better policy. I am near sited and do wear glasses. If I put the screen to close to my face I need to remove my glasses to read it. So I need to keep it further from my face. Second I have fairly large hands. I like having a larger virtual keyboard.

    I really am not comfortable with a smaller 3.5-inch screen whether it runs Android, iOS, Symbian or Windows.

    ---------

    Going back to where Apple is headed next. One interesting issue is whether they will go more mass market or not.

    Apple has high margins on iPhone, Mac's and Macbooks. It has more moderate margins on the iPod, iPad and MacBook Air.

    iPhone the cost of manufacturer is about 30% of the selling price. So Apple makes as much money selling one iPhone as it does selling two MacBook Airs or iPads.

    iPhone 4S (16GB) - BOM: US$170 --- Retail Price: US$649
    iPad 2 (16GB WiFi) - BOM: US$320 --- Retail Price US$499
    11.6" MacBook Air (64GB) - BOM: US$718 --- Retail Price US$999

    Apple has two pricing policies in effect where some products are targeted at a wider economic market. Anyone see a credible Windows based MacBook Air killer despite Intel's US$300 million dollar commitment? Not all Apple products are premium priced.

    The question is I guess, under Tim cook will you see Apple products go down one price point and try to catch a larger market.
     
  8. Lieto

    Lieto Notebook Deity

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    There are a lot of creative minds but very few got budgets. Also very few companies got experience in creating something innovative and not making it look stupid in the process. Apple got both money and expertise so i clearly cant see why they shouldnt keep progressing.

    Whether it will be something ground or not is another question. Quite frankly i think samsung and other brands were just copying apple for the last few years (not to say they did bad at it) so i dont have huge belief in competitors for sure.
     
  9. ral

    ral Notebook Evangelist

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    Samsung actually spends more on R&D than Apple. So Apple did not just do well because they had a lot of money to throw into it. I think the loss of Steve Jobs is a big loss.

    That being said, the iPhone is well entrench and Apple should be able to keep it current, same for the iPad and their MacBooks. I do not think we will know how much the loss of Steve Jobs affected apple for at least 3-4 years.
     
  10. masterchef341

    masterchef341 The guy from The Notebook

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    I'm not saying 1 size is better for everyone. I'm saying it's a big challenge to get developers to properly support variable resolutions on touch screen devices.

    For the people who can work well with apple's screen size, they get the benefit that all apps are designed around that screen. If you need a larger screen, you aren't getting an iPhone. It's a challenge for developers to support arbitrary screen sizes (especially when the screen resolutions are small, and especially if it's a touch screen)

    Laptop resolutions aren't as big of a deal, because those screens are all much larger, and the pointing mechanism is exactly one pixel in size regardless of the physical size of the screen. Our finger touch corresponds to a variable size relative to the screen. So if you have an 800x480 3.5" device, and I have an 800x480 4.3" device, then the buttons and other UI elements are either going to be too big and spaced out on mine, or too small on yours, or both, unless the developer has access to the physical size information of the screen AND put a ton of effort into handling all sorts of possible combinations of sizes and resolutions.

    It's not that choice is bad for consumers. It presents an interesting challenge for developers. A good solution is still MIA, but it's not like your phone doesn't work in the meantime.
     
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