Up in the iClouds

I recently was chatting over email with friend Mark Chandler over Apple’s release of iCloud and what it would mean for our personal music.  I lamented how Apple’s competitors seems to be making really obvious mistakes and with Apple’s solution in view, it didn’t seem like rocket science.  His response was great as always, post-worthy for sure.

Apple is a hardware company at the end of the day. They want to lock you into a model, and they have to make sure that they offer just enough to keep you hooked, but leave room for improvement in the next gadget that they want you to buy. In this case, they improved the service instead of the gadget, but the perception is that the “product” has been upgraded. User experience is also a core value at Apple. Regardless of whether or not anything they have trotted out was a success, the user experience was an integral part of the product.

The Amazon model was good enough, but they didn’t have the depth of offering. People using that service were using it to get music to put on their iPods for the most part anyway, so Apple still got a residual of sorts. M$ needs to clean out upper management (Balmer just needs to go the same way that Amelio had to go) and let some of what they have in research see the light of day. Courier was the best challenge to the iPad that never was . It had the potential to be truly disruptive since it wasn’t trying to copy the iPad, but instead bring a different paradigm to the tablet form factor. The music store model that Apple is trotting out is pretty similar to the Zune marketplace, but the device was the weak link in the Zune ecosystem. If M$ was really slick, they’d have supported other devices including the iPod with that store and laughed all the way to the bank.

Google needs to go see a shrink. They can’t figure out what they want to be right now, and with Oracle about to drag them over the coals over the JVM that’s part of Android, they are only further distracted. You’d figure with all the info that they have at their disposal they’d know exactly what people want and just deliver it. They are also suffering from what we all saw around MIT. A bunch of really intelligent people with zero street smarts that have a hard time accepting that they can and will be wrong at times. They nailed search, and expect to nail everything else with the same amount of ease. They need to hire the equivalent of an elementary school art teacher. Someone that knows when to take the construction paper away from the kid and hang it on the wall for everyone to admire, but also knows when to make the kid just start over with a new piece of paper. Google Wave is the best example of this. Unless you were an ADHD addled kid, that product was unusable. The idea behind it was sound, but the execution was lacking.

I’m not writing off any of the other players just yet, but they are going to need to come up with something that no one has seen before, or they are going to have to cater to high-end niche users.

Actually Rob, it is rocket science. One needs a bunch of smart people, a lot of money, and plenty of luck. You don’t get to the moon, much less stay in the air for any amount of time without all three.

I stand corrected.

Mark Chandler is a computer security professional, chef, and DJ.  safechef@yahoo.com

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