Apple breaking away from a PC centric era

Steve Jobs mentioned in one of its famous key notes that we were entering the post PC era. Nice talk. But when you had to set up for the first time any iOS device out of the box, you had to plug it into a PC/MAC USB port and sync the device with iTunes. Meaning that you actually couldn’t use an iPhone or an iPad if you hadn’t a PC !

This is now over with iOS5 the new release of iPhone and iPad operating system. And I believe this feature is the most innovative compared to the iCloud, iMessage and iWhatever.

Apple presents it, this way:

With iOS 5, you no longer need a computer to own an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Activate and set up your device wirelessly, right out of the box. Download free iOS software updates directly on your device. Do more with your apps — like editing your photos or adding new email folders — on your device, without the need for a Mac or PC. And back up and restore your device automatically using iCloud.

iOS going PC Free

This feature was available from the start on Android and other mobile operating systems. But the signal here is that Apple is shifting smoothly form a PC (MAC) centric company to a Mobile computing company. Macs are no longer at the core of Apple strategy.

What’s next ? Envisioning technology

To foresee when new technology will impact your industry is always tricky. What will come first ? Nanostructures? Self healing material? Holography?

I’ve found this holistic map showing what’s next in the different categories like Internet, Hardware, Energy, etc.

Envisionning Technology

Envisionning Technology

It has been created by Michell Zapa and is available from here. I have always been fascinated by creative ways to display information (read the book Visual Explanation from Edward R. Tufte)

I know have it as a poster in my office. Nice isn’t it?

Solving the 1 day battery life problem

Yesterday I forgot to fully charge my smartphone before leaving home and my battery went dead at the end of the day. I’m not a frenetic user but a heavy one using push email, some application, sat nav software, SMS and a few calls of course.

There are only a few ways to improve smartphone battery life.

Increase the energy density in batteries is one solution, but unless there is a disruptive technology coming it won’t be enough to provide 2 days of battery life. Currently the energy density store in a battery is improved by at maximum 5% year on year. At that pace, battery life will reach 2 days in around 15 years.

Improve the energy consumption of the device. Multi core processors consume less as when the power required by the applications is low some of the cores are put in an idle mode. >see previous post

Another approach is to charge the device on the go. Some nice products are available today from the Samsung Blue earth solar phone released in 2009 to the Umeox Apollo, the first solar Android smartphone.

Umeox Appolo Solar Smartphone

Umeox Appolo Solar Smartphone

> Specs of the product

The solar panel doesn’t replace a real charger but it will give your smartphone the little extra boost that will let you finish your day.

Another nice innovation is the What You See Is Photovoltaic Surface: a transparent film put on top of your screen that will charge your device when in the daylight.

> Wysips company website

I can’t wait to have these nice innovations and definitely drop my spare battery.

Apple next 2 killer products

OK, I’m neither working at Apple, nor with Apple and I’m not a friend of Steve Jobs.

But when you look at Apple’s growth over the last 5 years, you cannot start to wonder how will they sustain their growth pace (nearly 40% on average the last 3 years)? Tablet is one thing, and iPhone another but it wont be enough. Apple needs to enter new spaces in Consumer Electronics with some exciting new products.

I see two arenas where Apple know-how could be put at work almost instantaneously: PNDs and connected TVs.

Apple PND

Personal Navigation Devices are a declining market but navigation is still increasing. Google and Nokia are offering navigation services on their device for free. So I think Apple could acquire a company like TomTom. TomTom with a Market Capitalization of 1.4B € is a small bite for Apple 50B$ cash chest.

This acquisition would give Apple access to a navigation software and services, maps and a unique know-how with car makers to have PND (or other devices like iPod, or iPhone) embedded into a car dashboard. Furthermore it will strengthen its value proposition against Android and Nokia Windows Phones launching soon.

> PND in car experience

Apple connected TV

Connected TV, the other killer product doesn’t require any acquisition. It is a straight forward route.

Imagine a TV set with an Internet connection so you get access to iTunes (like in Apple TV set-top-box) for VoD and music. Furthermore Apple can leverage its Face time application in making video calls entering the living room by adding a camera on the TV set. Add a touch of magic with a “Kinect like” gesture recognition UI.

Next stop would be to provide a nice SDK so developers can develop services and applications for the platform. Last but not least, add some nice home content streaming application to watch on the TV set the contents from your iPad, iPhone, iPod, iMac. Then call it iTV or iSomething…

With these two new categories of product Apple will emerge as a tier-1 Consumer Electronics brand playing in every domain: phone, PND, multimedia player, tablet, PC, and TV, along with Sony, LG and Samsung.

I think these products will materialize in the next 12 months.

Like that. But better.

I found this ad from Best Buy on the Internet. I love it because it is a bit like the Netbook hype a few years ago.

Best Buy ad for eeePad Transformer

Everyone loves the tablet concept but one has already a laptop in the bag. And you can’t replace a laptop by a tablet when you need to write a document or make a presentation for the next steering committee.

This kind of hybrid approach is the future of personal computing and will invade all the laptop range at every manufacturer. It will definitely be a hit at the condition that Microsoft succeeds in making a compelling touch experience on Windows. They succeeded in making their own revolution in the mobile space migrating from Windows Mobile 6.x (yuk!) to Windows Phone. Their next challenge is there.

The clock is ticking.