Apple Desperately Needs Some New Fruit

Apple

I love my Apple iPhone, but this core product debuted in January 2007.


We’re going on almost 9 years!!!


Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is enormously successful:


– It accounts for 92% of the smartphone industry’s profits (even though it only sells 20% of the smartphones). 


– The iPhone bring in almost 2/3 of Apple’s total revenue now going on almost $200 billion. 


But, the new growth that Apple seeks in not based on any real exciting innovation.


Take for example Apple’s announcements this week:


– A new larger 12.9 inch iPad with a stylus (the Apple Pencil).


– A revamped Apple TV set-top box. 


– Apple’s iPhone 3-D Touch that controls the smartphone based on how hard you press. 


Uh, ho-hum–this is all V-E-R-Y boring!


Google has a similar problem with their core business of advertising on Search and YouTube accounting for 89% of their revenue.


But at least Google continues working towards their next moonshot, and has reorganized their innovation labs into a separate entity called Alphabet–working on everything from:


– Self-driving cars


– Delivery drones


– Internet balloons


– Smart thermostats (Nest)


– Broadband services (Google Fiber)


– Longevity research (Calico)


– Smart contact lenses


– Robotics


Unfortunately for Apple, the death of Steve Jobs in 2011 has meant the loss of their driving force for innovation. 


Despite a workforce of about 100,000 and a gorgeous new flying saucer-looking headquarters, can you think of any major new products since Jobs?


Apple is a fruit in it’s prime–ripe and shiny and hugely smart and successful, but without any new fruits going forward, they are at risk of becoming a stale mealy apple, versus a bountiful and delicious fruit salad. 


Apple is very secretive, so maybe the fruit is coming. 


I hope for our sake and theirs that Apple is seriously planting for the future and not just harvesting on the past. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

3-D Printing Comes To Life

3D Printing
So my daughter is graduating high school, but is already taking a class in 3-D printing. 



(This little guy pictured here was made experimenting in the class and was a precious gift from her.)



Already prophetically envisioned in Star Trek as “the replicator,” this technology has been around in primitive trial form since the 1980’s.



In 3-D printing, alloyed material is successively layered under computer control to make complex shapes and products.



It makes traditional 2-D printing (on paper) look like rubbing two sticks together to build a fire (circa the paleolithic period of mankind thousands of years ago). 



The promise of 3-D printing for advanced manufacturing is absolutely incredible.



The Wall Street Journal describes how NASA researchers and engineers are working toward using 3-D printers in space to “make bricks suitable for airtight buildings and radiation proof shelters” simply using the sand already on Mars. 



Moreover, the astronauts on their journey may be eating pizza from these printers as well (except for the sand, but still probably better than MREs–Haha).



Already objects have been printed “19 feet long…stone-like building blocks weighing one-and-a-half ton each”!



In the future, 3-D printers could be sent in advance to planets we look to colonize and “lay down landing pads, roads, and shelters” in preparation of our arrival.



These printers could even build working replicas of themsleves or “swarms of self-assembling construction robots” boosting our capacity for even more building.



Moreover, technology is in the works to recycle from 3-D printing by melting down the printed products back into material that could be reused for new printing projects.



On Earth, where we have long been drawing down our natural resources as well as polluting our environment, the prospect of going to other worlds where their are new resources and we actually have the ability to use them constructively is humanity’s chance for a whole new chapter of life beyond. 😉



(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

The Great Big Apple Donut

The Great Big Apple Donut

Some people think the new Apple HQs (or Apple Campus 2) looks like a flying saucer or spaceship–to me, it looks like a great big donut. 🙂

In all seriousness though, the planned Apple HQs is so cool–I love it!

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (4 April 2013) has a terrific article about this awesome design project.

Some of the facts about this planned facility:

– Houses 12,000 employees
– Has 4 concentric rings.
– 2.8 million square feet (2/3 the size of the Pentagon)
– 176 acres of trees, including the vast courtyard in the center which will have apricot, olive, and apple orchards.
– 40-foot high walls of concave glass
– 700,000 square feet of solar panels (enough to power 4,000 homes)
– Climate-responsive technology such as window treatments that automatically open and close
– Costs about $5 billion (1.1 billion more than the new World Trade Center)
– Move in expected 2016
– Just 2 entry roads
– 4-story underground garage
– 2 R&D labs
– Fitness center

While some think that this building is vanity, I think it is a work of art, and perfectly suits the innovativeness nature of the company.

Apple’s HQS is a reflection of itself, not just another building. The beautiful, sleek, and high-tech building melds with the company’s design philosophy and vision for great consumer products.

Just like Apple’s unique positioning in being able to integrate hardware and software solutions for their customers, their new HQS is a unification of their physical work environment with their internal vision for themselves as a company and the amazing products they put out.

Unlike some organizations which are foolishly tearing down all their walls and working as if they in sitting in Starbucks, Apple understands how to marry the need for a social and collaborative work environment with a proper and respectful functional space.

Apple’s building will be beautiful and functional just like their computing devices…and they remain true to themselves and us. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Cupertino Government)

>Innovation Goes Both Ways

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A soldier with an iPod mounted on his wrist takes aim with his assault rifle

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iphones-in-iraq-ndash-the-us-armys-new-weapon-1682655.html

It used to be the military technology often found application in the consumer world (like the development of the Internet from DARPA). Now, consumer technology is being used in battlefield theatre (for example, iPods and iPhones).

Enterprise architecture is being turned upside down in terms of the traditional migration path of technological innovation.

Perhaps, the practice of applying technological innovation to other areas regardless of from where they originate is the best model of them all!

In this way, we share and match the best and brightest ideas and product designs to new areas of applicability, opening up more uses and markets for successful product launches.

>Design and Enterprise Architecture

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Design, style, and innovation are important communication mechanisms and are crucial to User-centric EA. These communication mechanisms are used in information visualization and is heavily used in EA to develop useful and usable information products that can be easily understood and applied.

Increasingly, design is taking center-stage across technical and everyday products in our economy.

The Wall Street Journal, 4 January 2008, reports in no less than three separate articles on the importance of design and style for everyday products from computers to hard drives and even storage containers.

Here are some examples from a front page article titled, “PCs Take a Stylish Turn in Bid to Rival Apple”:

  • “Dell is trying to inject a sense of style into the company’s PCs, with new shapes, sizes, and color.”
  • PC Makers are “racing to replace boring boxes with sexy silhouettes that will differentiate their products, entice new buyers, and command higher prices.”
  • Forrester Research “issued a report last June heralding a new ‘age of style’ in the PC market. It concluded that more attractive models could command $150 to $200 more.”
  • “During most of the industry’s 30-year history, PC makers didn’t worry much about style. A bigger challenge was boosting technical performance and wringing costs from suppliers.” Now an Intel anthropologist states “there is a sense of, ‘Oh my G-d, why does this have to be so ugly?’”
  • Lenovo stated that now “designers have equal weight at the table.”
  • Dell has gone from 6 designers in 2001 to 90 designers now and they are still recruiting.
  • At the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft will hold a PC ‘fashion show’ with judges picking the top three designs.

Additional articles the same day point to the importance of design and style. For example, the article “Can a Hard Drive Make a Fashion Statement” states that Seagate “kicked off a new strategy at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, offering drives with sleek shapes and lights to woo users accustomed to iPod-like elegance.” And in another article titled, “The Struggle to Contain Ourselves,” about the briskly growing $6 billion storage and organization industry where “style is increasingly important” and “once just plastic bins in industrial blue or clear, specialized storage products are now available for most conceivable uses in an array of material, from bamboo to faux leather to sea grass.”

While certainly consumer products are different than information products provided by EA, there is clear understanding now that design, fashion, style, and innovation are critical in reaching out to people, getting them interested in your products (consumer or information), and that design demands a premium in the marketplace. As the Intel anthropologist stated “why does this have to be so ugly?” Similarly, I would ask why do traditional EA products have to so often be so ugly, difficult to understand and apply. Let’s transition the way we do architecture to User-centric EA and design innovative information products that capture our users’ attention, really “talk to them,” clearly identify problem areas, propose alternative solutions, and lead to better decision making. Our executives are busy people with challenging jobs. We owe it to them to provide information in User-centric EA ways.