The Next Technology Shift

Apple's WWDC announcement usher in a new era of integrated mobile and desktop computing poised to change the way people interact with their technology. Again.

On Monday, Apple announced the new versions of their two operating systems: OS X 10.10 Yosemite for Macs and iOS 8 for iOS devices (iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch). There were a number of interesting components to the upgrades, and I have installed Yosemite on one of my Macs to begin testing and exploring a bit, but the real shift is in the integration of the two worlds. While this is only a first step, consider two aspects of the new awareness:

  • Your Mac will know when your iOS device is near, and will allow you to transparently continue on one something you started on the other. Start an email on your iPhone, finish it on your Mac. Start writing a document on your Mac, finish while on the go on your iPad.
  • Your Mac becomes an extension of your iPhone, allowing you to make and receive phone calls and text messages (SMS) directly on your Mac via your iPhone, even if it's charging elsewhere in the house (I'll leave mine up in my bedroom where it gets decent cellular signal!).

Now, add to that updates to iOS like:

  • Family sharing, allowing up to 6 family members to share purchases, location, and iCloud data like reminders and calendars simply and transparently,
  • Health, to integrate all of the great health monitoring and management that is now available,
  • HomeKit, allowing developers to create integrated apps and hardware for keeping your house safe and automated to do what you want it to do.

When I look at this set of new capabilities, I see an incredible opportunity for Apple as a company, and those who align squarely with these new initiative and build hardware and software that aligns to it, and even for individuals to navigate a new career.

Apple introduced an entirely new programming languages called Swift that is designed with mobility, touch, and common development of iOS and Mac apps as core architectural points.

If technology is your business or career, pay attention and strongly consider a shift in how you're doing what you're doing.

If you are a user of technology, be prepared to shift away from thinking about your various devices as individual points of interaction to a world where they are each simply windows into your information that have different characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses.

All Clouds are Not Created Equal

After I read about another Google customer losing all of his Google data when Google decided to delete (or at least suspend) his account, I got to thinking about all of the times that Google has made a mistake and deleted user accounts or deleted email for Gmail users, I thought about how the different approaches of the key players in the emerging world require you to make some choices, some of which may be untenable. So, I thought I'd lay them out in clearer form than you will get from the hard-core technical blogs or the companies themselves. At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference this year (WWDC 2011), Steve Jobs and the Apple executive team introduced iOS 5 and iCloud. During his iCloud introduction, Jobs said this: "We are going to demote the PC to just be a device. We are going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud." This is Apple's philosophy: the iCloud is the sync-master for  your digital life. It provides the axle to your devices that are the spokes. However (and this is a vital distinction!), your digital content lives on your devices when you are using it. The iCloud, then, is the master copy, but Apple expects you to have copies on one or more of your devices.

This is in sharp contrast to Google. In Google's world, the cloud is the only place where your data resides. You'll use your browsers (on your PC, your tablet, or your phone) to access, manipulate, create, and use your content. You may even cache some of it locally for performance reasons (for example, caching the first part of a video so you can watch it without "stutters"). However, the content is in the cloud and your devices are simply windows into it from Google's perspective.

...and then there's Microsoft. They want to get in on "this cloud thing," too, but they really aren't sure how to do it. Their business is Windows and Office, so how can they use the cloud and keep those lines humming? What they are doing now is having the cloud be a glorified backup service with some of the capabilities of their apps. The best experience, however, is to use their native apps on a PC and hook them into the cloud for backup and collaboration. This means that Microsoft Office 365 is a different perspective than iCloud (which is personal) and Google (which is all about the data being in the cloud only). It's effectively a hybrid of the two.

Regardless, you will want to make a choice based on these distinctions, because to the cloud you will go, one way or the other.

CES 2011 - Verizon's Big Splash with 4G LTE

It is 10:00am PST on Thursday, January 6, 2011, and the CES show is now open. As I mentioned in previous posts, the CES show has a gigantic focus on mobile, broadband, and portable devices. Since I have spent the past 3 months working with team members from Verizon and Ericsson developing a 4G LTE demonstration, I am looking forward to letting you in on all that Verizon is doing.

The Verizon booth shows the breadth and depth of the 4G LTE ecosystem, showing LTE-connected devices ranging from enterprise telepresence to gaming, home automation to live broadcast television, a connected OnStar car to a broad range of smartphones and tablets. The point is that high-speed wireless access is available today from Verizon nationwide, the footprint is growing, and the capabilities are imaginative and useful for virtually everyone.

In the smart home area, Verizon is showing devices that control home temperature, shades that are remotely controlled, and of course entertainment over both FiOS and LTE. Alcatel Lucent is showing augmented reality systems running over the LTE network. Panasonic is showing HD enterprise teleconferencing over LTE, and Nomad Innovations is showing their LiveEdge.tv system for broadcast media electronic news gathering.

I will get a closer look at devices both in the Verizon booth and in other booths in the area and I will let you know if I uncover anything surprising or especially innovative. But, right now, if you're in the market for wireless broadband, Verizon has to be on your list.

Business Growth in a Mobile World

The world is changing--again--and the good news is that the pendulum has swung back in favor of local, high-value businesses. This is exciting! It was the mid-1990s in Boulder, Colorado. I was a young, idealistic business owner with a passion for growing businesses. At the time, there was a lot I didn't know about helping businesses understand the reasons for doing what they needed to do, but I didn't lack in energy or conviction!

One time, I remember trying to convince the manager of an executive suite that one of the best things he could do to build his business would be adding Internet access in the offices. I gave him a reasonable proposal, and showed him that the prices would be reasonable and the benefits significant.

...but he didn't get it. "No one cares about Internet access," he told me. "They just want office space and a phone."

They went out of business.

A few months later, I had another conversation with a business owner explaining the value of using the Internet for communicating with customers and prospects. I talked about building a web site and how she could use it to build her business. Again, she didn't see the value and allowed others to take her business over the next few years. At the time, only visionaries could see the value in the Internet and the web. Today, we take it for granted.

We are at another juncture. It's like the early days of the web all over again. Sometimes, I get those same reactions, but the visionaries get it.

What am I talking about?

The shift in how people find you and your business. How they look for products and services. And what that means about how you find your prospects and show them your value. The world is now mobile. Virtually everyone always has their phone with them. Many of those phones have access to the Internet and mapping applications. And millions of them have the ability to install applications.

All of these are opportunities for you. You can differentiate your business, build relationships, engage with your customers, and win against the faceless giants in the marketplace.

It's a great time to be in business.

The strategy is straight-forward and the elements are extensions of what you already know to do: use your website to communicate, have a blog, use web video, podcast if it makes sense, be "mobile friendly," be social, and use apps strategically.

I'll go through each of these in upcoming posts. I also have made space in my schedule for a few free consultations for business leaders who are eager to grow their business at this tipping point in time. For a free half-hour consultation with me about your business and accomplishing the growth you're seeking, go to my business growth page right now and sign up before the slots are gone.

Files, Files Everywhere!

As I have expanded my usage of multiple systems, from the iPhone to a Mac Pro, my first focus was making sure that whenever I needed files, I could find them. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions for this challenge, and, as usual, I've picked the simplest, most elegant solution, Dropbox. I did try other systems like Apple's iDisk and SugarSync's namesake system, but problems in using either of them in terms of performance and reliability have me avoiding them. Since I decided not to use them, I'll not spend time on describing them, but in outlining my use of Dropbox, you'll see why I like the simplicity better.

Dropbox is free to use as you get started, with a starting Dropbox storage of 2GB. First, you download the Dropbox installer to your Mac or PC. After you install it, you will see a new Dropbox folder in your home directory (on a Mac) or a My Dropbox folder inside your My Documents folder (in Windows). To begin to manage a file or folder using Dropbox, simply drag it and drop it onto Dropbox.

...and that's when the magic begins!

When you drop the file or folder there, Dropbox syncs it with the cloud version of your Dropbox folder. Then, if you've installed Dropbox on other devices, those devices sync with the cloud. This means that everything in your Dropbox shows up exactly the same on all of your systems. This is true whether your systems are Mac, Linux, Windows, an iPhone/iPad, or even a mobile device with a web browser, since the cloud Dropbox is available from any browser anywhere.

As a result, I have migrated all of my active files into Dropbox. The only files that are not in Dropbox are those that are in an archive somewhere. This means that all of my systems always have the latest copy of my files available wherever I am. I even use Dropbox to sync settings between computers so that, for example, my 1password and TextExpander shortcuts are the same everywhere.

I'll mention one additional function of Dropbox in this entry: You can use it to share files and folders with others. This has come in very handy when I am working on projects with others or just want to give them access to a big file. It's easier than using a file sharing service or trying to get it to them by email: I drag the file into a shared folder or into my Public folder in Dropbox and simply right click, copy the link to the clipboard, and email that link off to them.

Check out Dropbox to make it easier to manage your files and keep your life in order between your multiple devices and let me know how it goes.