Apple is now operating in several different industries, all of which are coming together at warp speed -- computer hardware, software, entertainment and now the cellular phone industry. Each of the industries have their own market dynamics. The PC industry is one in which there are only two real operating system options -- PC or Mac -- and many hardware options (Dell, HP, Lenova, etc. etc.). When you buy a computer, you have to make one main decision ... do I want Windows or Mac. If you want Windows, you can go to any number of hardware makers. If you want Mac, you go to Mac. This has allowed Microsoft to charge dearly for its operating system. And Apple has been able to keep its prices and margins high because there's no where else to go for a Mac.
The same cannot be said of the cell phone market. There are dozens of handset makers. And they all are trying to kill the iPhone with their next gadgets. Just check out the cellphone section of Engadget and there's a new announcement each day. The typical cellphone release goes as follows -- hot product release, early adopters snap it up for a premium, price is cut 3 months later and the masses adopt it.
This is all that is happening with the iPhone. Jobs wants a larger share of the market. He can't do it at $599/phone. So he needed to get into a price point that competes with Nokia, RIMM, Samsung and Motorola's multimedia cellphone devices. If you picked up a phone for $599, congrats! You're an early adopter. If you waited, congrats. Congrats, you can now get one more affordably.
Personally, I don't like the iPhone as a phone. I don't like it as a messaging device. These are the two most important features for me. The BlackBerry Curve is the best phone and messaging device I've ever owned and I plan to stick with it. I may check out the new iPods. I wouldn't mind having a personal media device with me. But given my new computer (MacBook Pro), I have a great entertainment device with me where I go these days.
RIMM and Apple are two of my favorite stocks (thanks EJL for getting me into them early). I love RIMM's products, I own RIMM and love the stock and the company. I also Apple. I don't love the iPhone as it's just not for me, as I stockholder I love the move to lower the price and the announcement of the new products.
Everyone complaining should just shut up. The market is the market. People wanted an iPhone early, Jobs new it and was willing to sell it at a higher price. No one forced you to buy that phone. Now that the newness factor is gone, it's time for Apple to compete in the trenches. And that's what Apple is doing.
On Tuesday night, I took a jog. I started at my apartment on the Upper West Side, winded through Central Park, and somehow ended up at the Mac store on Fifth Avenue. I can't be help responsible for what happened next -- I bought a MacBook Pro. So this means that I am officially done with PCs (at least from a hardware perspective).
Here's how I got to this point. My first laptop was a Mac. I bought it at the Norris student center at Northwestern. Loved it. Took me through college and beyond. In addition to the usual school work, I ran my first company, University Wire, with it (Seth, Eli and Whiteley can attest to that).
After NU, I stuck with Macs at U-Wire and Student Advantage. And then somewhere around the time I met Kass I switched to PCs. I'm not blaming her, as my life on PCs has been productive as well. The timing is just a little too perfect to me coincidental.
In 2005, Kass gifted to me an iMac. These are the white, all-in-one Macs that look like the illigitimate child of a Mac desktop and the sexier MacBook. I love this computer. I do all things fun on this computer (music, cut movies, photos, etc.). But I can't take it with me easily, so it's a non-starter for work.
Since I left my tour of duty at Time Inc., I have used a combination of two older Dell laptops (Lattitudes) for all my consulting and other activities. And to my dismay, they both died (one a hardware crash, the other software). While I could resurrect one of them, I am done with crashes, restarts, reloads, system errors, bugs, security issues and more. Since I started using my iMac, I haven't had one issue. Not one.
So I went with the 15'' MacBook Pro. I'm running both the Mac operating system and Windows XP (via VM Fusion, which so far is really awesome). While I don't expect to spend a ton of time on XP, it is helpful for testing, spreadsheets, SnagIt (love that program) and other productivity tools I use regularly.
Why the MacBook Pro and not the MacBook? I'm launching a new company (stay tuned ... on the verge of announcing). I'll be out of the office often and doing a ton of presentations. So the larger screen and faster computer will make presentations much more impressive. I also plan on doing much of my video editing on this computer as well, which will be much faster.
I have only used this computer for a day now. But I can't imagine why anyone would purchase a PC computer anymore unless they were forced to by their company. They really aren't that much more expensive than high-end PC laptops. And they perform much better. And oh, by the way, they're super cool.
What if the massive adoption and use of the internet overwhelms its capacity and takes it down? That's the question analyzed in a story in today's WSJ.
There are solid arguments on both sides. On one side are the doomsayers. They contend that the rapid increase in Internet usage lead by video streaming, file sharing, internet phone service and more could bring the internet to its knees.
"One of the key possibilities for 2007 is that the Internet could be
approaching its capacity," analysts at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu wrote
in a January report. "Our belief is we'll start to see some brownouts
or service slowdowns or service issues," says Phil Asmundson, the
national managing partner leading Deloitte & Touche USA's
On the other side is Google and others who say that innovation will make it possible to expand bandwidth and keep data flowing freely and efficiently.
Eve Griliches, telecom analyst at research firm IDC, told the Journal that five years
ago analysts and engineers voiced concerns, but the result was a surge
of innovation. "It feels like we are hyping again," she says. "When we
did this before, we found intelligent ways to handle problems with
The internet is the latest public utility. Like water and electricity, we take it for granted. But like water and electricity, the supply of internet bandwidth is not unlimited. Water shortages are now common in California, Nevada, the mountain states, the Northwest, Greece and Australia. And blackouts are no longer few and far between. They are a way of life in much of the country.
It is not out of the question any longer to see similar "shortages" in the internet in the next 18 months. The internet has moved from communication vehicle (email) to entertainment delivery system (video and audio). And 40 hours of high-definition video represent as much traffic as one million email messages. While the technology will get better as companies innovate, bandwidth is added and switches and routers are smarter and more efficient, the crush from users worldwide may be too much to handle.
I don't think the internet will be taken down for good, ever. There's just too much riding on it -- media, banking, communication, health and much more. But imagine your life without the internet for a second.
I, for one, would be out of a job. I guess I'd need to call up Mort Kondracke and see if he'd take me back at Roll Call in Washington, DC. This is a potential job I gave up to pursue my entrepreneurial seizures at U-Wire/Student Advantage. My primary communication device would go down. The living and breathing public diary of my life and kids -- this web site -- would go away. I'd need to get new phone service as Vonage would no longer work. And I'd need to subscribe to magazines and newspapers again.
The interesting sidebar to this story is the Internet2 project. Internet2 is a non-profit consortium lead by 200+ universities and about 60 companies that has created a private network called Abilene. Abilene is used for education and research and is technically seperate from the public internet network. So as the network we know as the public internet turns into the Jersey turnpike at 6 p.m. on a summer Friday, Abilene continues to carry traffic. Does the Internet2 consortium then open up Abilene? Does the US government take over (hope not ... just look at Amtrak, the public school system, Iraq or the budget deficit)?
I don't pretend to know the answer to the question posed above. But instead of sitting around idly like we did with global warming, water supply, power plant construction and a host of other issues, we should address this issue. The internet is just too valuable a public utility to let decay.
Great technology brings people together. I truly believe that and I've been living it since 1994, when I started U-Wire. Back then, the idea was simple. Why should college media run standard AP stories? We should get together, share our stories and run stuff in our papers from other campus media outlets. Well, the rest is history. I graduated, grew U-Wire by signing up 800 campus papers (thanks Beckwith and Kelly Bare and everyone who helped!) and U-Wire is now owned by CBS.
Since 2002, I've been posting pictures of my immediate family -- first Kass and me, then Myles and now friends, family and more. I always lived far from the rest of my family and most of my close friends. So technology was the only way to really stay touch without touching traditional communication devices (phone, USPS, etc.).
So I started blogging about a week ago. (I'm hooked. I admit it. I have always loved to write. My brain works in strange ways.) In one of the first posts, I mention in passing my campaign to rule Landon's 8th Grade and how I opted out of the presidential campaign to let Jon Slotkin win. Well, a week later, Jon reads the post and we're now back in touch after years of falling out of touch.
Great technology brings people together and breaks across geographic and other barriers. I can't talk about it just yet. But I have a killer business that I'm about to launch that is founded on these principles. My partners are super smart (much smarter than me) and great people who I really look forward to working with. I'm hoping to be able to announce it next month.