I was intrigued by my own response to the Apple product announcements yesterday. How does that work? Well, I allowed my own technical interest to play out. I watched the product announcement video, I critiqued the Jobs-less Apple presentation as any Apple fan might do. But then I stepped back and evaluated what I had seen and what my gut reactions had been. And I believe I sensed a turning point similar to what I witnessed when the PC finally emerged as the option for the masses back in the early eighties.
Apple’s new products are beautiful and carry an even higher “cool factor”, but I think the difference now is the status difference that emphasizes affluence over practicality. I caught myself asking “why do we really need such a thin iMAC with a retina display that will cost approximately $2000. Sure some power users can justify the specifications, but I sensed a new arrogance from Apple, one that says we only care or cater to the affluent buyer and if you have concerns about being locked into our platform then tough, we don’t need you. Why haven’t I felt that before.
- Was it because the Apple products were so superior that cost was not a factor.
- Was it the fact that I don’t really see a difference with the retina display.
- Was it the lack of attention to even offer low cost options.
- Was it the $329 entry price for the iPad Mini.
Yes, probably so.
If I wear my Higher Education hat, I start to question whether the recent trend of students preferring Apple laptops is still healthy in these turbulent financial times. I see the student with a white macbook as the Kmart shopper and the those with aluminum models the Neiman Marcus shopper. I see our entitled students as being concerned about this. Nothing wrong, this is who we are, but I sense that the split in the road is now pronounced. Apple only wants the high road and the profit margins that come from that market segment. Do we in Higher Education need to shift our focus to the affordable consumer market that appears to be dominated by Google based platforms?
I think the door is still slightly open for Microsoft to hold onto the corporate workplace, but it won’t be because of an Office Suite but can be about professional applications. Let’s accept the fact that a Pad computing device is more then adequate for working with today’s cloud based information. I believe we will see affordable smart computing devices appear in the hands of the consumer masses worldwide. This is a movement that redefines the Personal Computer, “PC”. And with it, we will have an even greater need for techies to maintain computing sanity.
I wrote a post about the recent Apple Educational Event but I decided not to publish it because it was mostly expressing my disappointment. Oh well, I’m glad I spared you the typical uninspiring critique, especially after getting a chance to review the compilation of blog posts put together by the Chronicle, “Campus Reactions to Apple’s Entry Into E-Textbook Market”. Some good points are made by others that give Apple due credit for at least stimulating the E-Textbook market.
I do hold out hope that the iBook Author application might be allowed to be more open with regard to output format. And I do not think Apple needs to require a tether to the iPad for E-Textbooks in the iBookstore but I imagine that for now all the players are holding their cards close. I do believe the overall textbook business model is close to a dramatic shakeup so any E-Textbook stimulus will be beneficial. I can tell you that we are getting ready to play our cards.
Finally an alternative to Apple’s iPad in the latest Kindle offerings. I have to admit that I am impressed sight unseen by the Kindle Fire for $199. More then anything else I see adopters of these simpler pad devices desiring simplicity. Just give me a device I can check my email surf the web and read books, and a guess playing games would be cool. This is really about the fact that these pad consumers have never wanted to use a real computer nor should they have been forced to. Now we have some pad options that truly justify having one as a digital consumption device. Let the geeks have the computers but let the masses participate in our digital world more simply and affordably.
Something else that struck me was how Amazon may now be able to build a stronger customer profile database. Not only from this more controlled connection to their customers because of the Kindle device, but maybe more from their controlled monitoring of their web browsing trail. What I am talking about here is the Amazon Silk web browser. Isn’t this improved performance based on running everything through the AWS cloud better then even a proxy server. Google only gets to monitor us when we are on their sites. What if Amazon can now monitor everything we do?
Stephen Shankland’s CNET article: Amazon Silk: One step forward, two steps back shed’s additional light on my privacy concern’s.