Friday, 30 April 2010

Jobs vs Flash: Just which battle has Apple won?

I read with interest Steve Jobs' open letter about Flash and why Apple won't use it on iPad, iPod and iPhones. Well constructed is the least one could say about it. It's been followed by a WSJ interview with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, summarised on WSJ blogs. Both are well considered by Charles Arthur on Technology Guardian - here on Jobs' letter, and here on the Narayen interview.

It posed two questions for me. The first is 'has Apple won this battle?' My bet is yes. And I think this has at least as much to do with the time Adobe seems to be taking to bring fully-featured Flash to mobile platforms, as to do with Apple's behaviour. Will Flash be as key on mobile devices as it has been on desktops and laptops? Don't think so.

But the second, and more interesting question, is exactly which battle has Apple won? Is it just about Flash on mobile devices? I suspect not. Here's the hypothesis:
  • Mobile device (smartphones, tablets, media players, etc) uptake, I think, is growing faster than desktop and laptop, and will continue to do so
  • So, mobile devices account for larger and larger shares of use, and begin to set the direction, rather than desktop / laptop devices. We'll see (five years? ten?) a time when mobile establishes the pattern and desktops and laptops follow. Already there are signs of this in user interfaces and application design.
  • At the same time, and symbiotically, consumerisation of IT proceeds apace. So, developments in consumer technology point the way for corporate computing. Think about it - Apple vs Adobe in setting consumer technology standards relating to media. Make a call.
So, the battle Apple has won (or the war it is winning) is surely against Flash overall. Note that most of Jobs' arguments don't apply to mobile devices alone. If this is true, then there are implications for the corporate IT world too. This includes how long we go on using Flash for web applications.

But, that's only part of it. Apple's strategy for corporate penetration seems very different from (say) 20 years ago. Then it was about attempting to demonstrate that the Mac was a better solution for the corporate desktop - I remember a KPMG-produced analysis arguing that the Mac had better corporate connectivity than the PC, for example. Now, the strategy includes ensuring that there is a foundation for integration with eg Exchange, but the battle is fundamentally being fought elsewhere. The pattern I see is Apple fuelling and riding the wave of technology consumerisation and then surfing it all the way to the corporate desktop (and perhaps more importantly, whatever follows on from 'desktop').

So, watch how this one plays out. It's about much more than iPhone apps and browser functionality.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

A World Without Secrets (Part One)

So, Gordon Brown has been caught saying one thing publicly, and another in private. That's a bad day for him - both because of the displayed disparity between public and private, but also because the private comment was unjustified.

Integrity has sometimes been defined as the absence of any difference between public and private person - and I get that. I want to be the same person in public as I am in private. On that basis, Brown got it badly wrong.

On the other hand, I know that I don't live up to this, not by a long way. I therefore find it far easier to identify with Gordon Brown in his frustration, his fault and his apologising than I do with George Osborne who said:

"We have found out the prime minister's internal thoughts... and I think they speak for themselves ... What people will see is the contrast between what he was saying publicly and what he was saying privately"

It must be nice to be as confident about your own behaviour as that - or perhaps he's being a tad hypocritical? I'm with Nick Clegg who told Radio 4's PM programme:

"If we all had recordings of what we mutter under our breath we'd all be crimson with embarrassment... Gordon Brown has now gone out of his way to apologise. He was quite right to do so, and I think that's that."

Good on him. We really do live in a World Without Secrets.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Unwritten Rules

So, there's an unwritten rule that you shouldn't blog in your 52nd year. Because it's unwritten, I think I'm the only person that knows about it. Well, that's my excuse for not posting for a year.

What have I learnt during this silence?
  • Blogs can continue to resonate - one ex-colleague, reading my blog in March this year didn't notice posts were 12+ months old, and said he liked them. I suspect it's a bit like stopped clocks being right twice a day.
  • An increasing proportion of the insight I come across is in blogs - which sets a higher threshold for me subscribing, but means blog results are a much bigger part of business-related searches. Sets a higher threshold if I expect anyone to read anything I write. And I like some corporate blogs too.
  • It was all too good to last. The Obama Car Wash on the Cowley Road is now The Only One car wash - I suspect this is about disillusionment with the president rather than a car wash with messianic pretensions - but, on the other hand, this is the Cowley Road.
  • Having a daughter marry can be a wonderful experience
  • Establishing a network that works both online and offline is immense fun - and that CIOnet appears to remain the only international online and offline network for CIOs and IT leaders. You're not a member yet? I think we're doing something a bit different, and of real value. Contact me for more
So, there's another unwritten rule about blogging in your 53rd year. I'll follow that one.