Why I won’t be buying an Apple Watch

This is why you don't need an Apple Watch - The DeTomaso Matera Automatic watch

I am a big fan of Apple. I have been forever and at 49 years old, one of my claims to fame is that I have never owned a PC of any description. I had a few Nokia phones in the early days but that’s about it. I have been Apple through and through since around 1989.

But I won’t be joining the masses in buying the rather overpriced Apple Watch. I simply can’t see the point. It alerts you to what your phone is doing in your pocket and you’ll look like a dick if you talk to it (who really uses Siri other than to make it tell you jokes?). You’ll very quickly give up checking all of the notifications as they are so frequent anyway with five email and even more social media accounts on my phone. What’s compounds the misery is that being on Bluetooth all day will only make the battery life even more useless again. It’s bad enough having to charge my iPhone twice a day, but my watch too?

No, sorry Apple. This is a step too far for me. It’s not making my life easier. I’ll stick with my simple mechanical watch that tells the time. It doesn’t try and multi-task or be my personal assistant and it manages to wind itself just by being on my wrist. No batteries, reliable as you like and it glows in the dark so I can read it at night.

Thanks Apple, but no thanks.

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Steve Jobs – by Walter Isaacson – One of the best books I’ve ever read

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I am a bit of an Apple fan, so when my good pal Andy Hanselman bought me this giant book as a gift, I was looking for the right time to sit down and get started on this 600 page monster. As it happened, this time didn’t seem to be materialising, so I sat down to read it anyway and I’m extremely glad I did as it is completely brilliant and inspirational, if not a little sad. You can buy it here. I recommend you do.

What it does is go through the history of the way the business developed as well as give a real warts and all account of the man himself. there’s no doubt he was a completely obsessive and extraordinarily odd man, but he was also driven by passion for detail and a search for quality like we’ve never seen before.

I advise anyone who ever asks that you have to focus on quality to build a brand, but this is what Jobs did everywhere – throughout every single aspect of the business. And, I’m convinced that this is why Apple has been so successful. That and the fact that he had an amazing design partner in Jony Ives and between them they had incredible vision too.

A few highlights for me.

1. As an understanding of why differentiation is critical – “It’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy”. Most products that come to the market do so in flocks, following a market leader. Apple deliberately and methodically went the other way.

2. On having an enemy for the whole team to focus on – “Throughout his career, Jobs liked to see himself as an enlightened rebel pitted against evil empires, a Jedi warrior of Buddhist samurai fighting the forces of darkness. IBM was the perfect foil. He cast the battle not as mere business competition but as a spiritual struggle”

3. On why the little things matter too – Jobs father had taught him that a drive for perfection meant caring about the craftsmanship, even for the parts unseen. Jobs applied that to the layout of the circuit board inside the Apple II. He rejected the initial design as the lines weren’t straight enough”. This point is again critical. Most businesses do the big things just fine. The ones that go onto become great brands care about the little things too, as this is where differentiation and ultimately, perfection lies.

Anyway, enough from me. read it. It’s an amazing and beautifully written book.

This is why the Apple brand is still world class

Sometimes I fall right out of love with Apple, mainly because it isn’t individual or special any more, but this just reaffirmed why Apple is still an astonishing brand with a stunning eye for detail.

I asked Siri a simple question “who let the dogs out?” and this is the conversation we had.

 Apple Siri - Who let the dogs out? Who, who who, who who

Apple Siri – Who let the dogs out? Who, who who, who who

Apple as a brand has always had it’s own little quirks and one of these is Siri. Apple have pre-programmed jokes into it that we slowly uncover as we use it. One of my other favourites happens if you tell Siri you are a little drunk.

‘Neither of us is driving home then’ comes back as an answer with a button to press to call a taxi.

That could have been done in a totally boring way or ignored as a valid question/statement, but Apple, in the search for the tiny details that really make a brand special, have hidden these beautiful brand quirks all over the products and I love them for it.

The beginning of the end for Apple

iPhone 5 is almost here, but does anyone really, really care?
iPhone 5 is almost here, but does anyone really, really care?

I was asked by my good friend Simon Egan today to comment on what I thought about this article on the BBC about Apple, which basically says they are no longer innovative and have become merely followers. And, despite being an Apple user for well over 20 years (before it was this widespread) I have to say, I agreed with it.

In fact, I completely agree. Apple is no longer special or surprising. It’s too ubiquitous to be different or sought after.

iPhone five with its new dock will annoy masses of people as it will render all their own kit worthless. I have a beautiful Valve based Amplifier that was totally designed around that very connecter. Admittedly I use it with my old style disk based chunky iPod and not my iPhone, but it means the end is nigh.

My sixteen year old daughter broke her iPhone (by dropping it down the toilet) and moaned for a few days but it’s all gone quiet. She is now using my old Nokia and has just stopped complaining because it’s a better phone and you can still text. The rest is a waste of time done better by other devices. I experimented a few years back and lived without my iPhone for three months. I enjoyed it and may well go back there.

Unless apple do something truly radical it will begin to fail. The new Televsion they are due to launch will give them a big positive blip but I can’t see them being able to do much after that. Most of our tech is covered and unless they invent a new category like they did with the original iPod, they may well be left high and dry.

They could obviously extend into Domestic appliances? But for me, that really will be the end. Look at Bugatti, Dualit and the other once great brands that have gone into pastiche brand extensions. That’s where apple will arrive soon enough unless they go back to where they should be and innovate.

Microsoft copies Apple (again)

There has been some debate about the new Microsoft logo and the specifics of typography, but for laypeople, it looks very much like the new Microsoft logo is either derived from, or very closely related to the Macbook Pro logo by Apple. I’ll show you the argument, you decide whether they have learnt from Apple.

Branding is far more than just logos, but in my eyes, there’s a real case of one looking very much like the other. I still wouldn’t want to own a Microsoft product though.

New-Microsoft-looks-like-Apple-corporate-font

 

Thanks to Andrew Brett Watson for the image (and for leading the debate)

Start with Why – By Simon Sinek

This is a TED lecture by the amazing Simon Sinek That my friend and former colleague Hannah Pearce pointed me towards.

I sat and watched this on Sunday and ignored everyone who tried to talk to me whilst it was on. It’s 18 minutes very well spent and will change the way you look at creativity and designing brands, businesses and products.

His belief is that all innovators think in the same way. They start with the ‘why’, rather than start with the ‘what’. So in effect, they design the idea or the reason before they begin to design the product or service that comes out of the process.

A few highlights.

1. Apple Computer are a company that start with why. Their ‘why’ happens to be to challenge the conventional way of doing things. Their ‘how’ is by designing beautiful intuitive products and their ‘what’ is computers, MP3’s, phones and all sorts of electronic gadgetry. Perhaps this is the reason I have my doubts about Apple at the moment, maybe they have been focussing a bit too much on the ‘what’ and not enough on the ‘why’.

2. If you hire people for the ‘what’, they will work for your money. If you hire people who believe what you believe, you are hiring the ‘why’ and they will work with blood, sweat and tears. This backs up what I said back here completely in my John Timpson book review.

3. When Martin Luther King had 250,000 people to hear him speak, you will notice that it was his ‘I have a dream’ speech, and not his ‘I have a plan’. Modern politicians with their twelve point plans for success seem to get it wrong  time after time after time, because it is never about the why, always about the what.

It’s really worth a watch. But do it with a notebook, like I did.

Safari, Firefox or Chrome

Google Chrome - Better than Firefox and Safari? - certainly less crashy and slow
Google Chrome - Better than Firefox and Safari? - certainly less crashy and slow

 

I’m a bit of an Apple fan and believed they could do no wrong, but their battle with Adobe over Flash is killing them slowly and by a thousand small steps.

I don’t want Flash on my iPhone as I agree it may well slow it down even further, but I do want a browser that works.

I have had so many hanging pages in the last few weeks from Safari that I have completely switched to Google Chrome as my default Browser.

There have been a few of the most committed fans getting twitchy. Not least Tim Garratt when he got stiffed over his .mac account.

I do use Firefox as one of my browsers, but only so I can keep my shared Google calendar open as it uses a different user name and password to my other accounts. Maybe it comes back to connections again, but I never really connected with Firefox.

But Chrome is good. It is now much faster than Safari, allows clever plug-ins and seems to never crash. Even with sites that have Flash embedded on their front page.

Is Apple losing their grip? or is Safari due a major upgrade.

If you want to see a brilliant Google funded experiment with the power and processing of Chrome, have a look at this site. Put in your home Postcode, wait a few minutes and sit back and enjoy. The first few minutes are dull and then it will stagger you.

The X Factor effect and how brands need to recognise the changes in youth behaviour

The X Factor effect and how brands need to recognise the changes in youth behaviour
The X Factor effect and how brands need to recognise the changes in youth behaviour

I’m 44 years old and grew up in a village outside Plymouth in Devon. Having moved there from Oxford, it never felt like to most cosmopolitan place but I don’t think my childhood years were that different to millions of others of my age.

But young people today are totally different in some of the things they think are normal.

When I was on holiday recently I was talking to a good friend of ours Chris Bentley who lives in Kent.

What we noticed was that when we were kids, if you wanted to speak out loud in a language lesson (only French and German in those days) and try to put on the best accent you could, then you were seriously weird.

But now kids seem to love languages. Listening to my 12 year old son taking care of all the ordering for us on holiday and priding himself on the Spanish accent would never have happened when we were kids. Just use English louder was far more normal behaviour.

And then there’s singing and dancing.

I recently went to an School X Factor event where 13 finalists, who had been whittled down from many more entrants, were prepared to stand in front of all their peers and sing their hearts out. The standard was amazing.

Again, if you danced at a school disco as a lad, you would have been lynched.

But any brand needs to address these changes. Staying cool is tricky at the best of times, as tastes and norms change so completely over long periods. Even Google is being pegged back by the US investment market as it is not showing the growth it once was and is being overwhelmed by Twitter and Facebook in many areas.

Apple are now the most valuable brand according to the same Fortune article, but can even they keep it up for another generation?

So whilst looking at how your brand presents itself, sometimes it’s not just a design change that’s needed, it’s a cultural, brand definition change.

And that’s far more scary.

iPhone vs. Blackberry – the professionals choice?

iPhone 4 is here and is in every professional's pocket
iPhone 4 is here and is in every professional's pocket

It may be a small straw poll but I have heard of two more professional services firms who have switched all of their phones to the rather excellent iPhone platform.

We did it ourselves last year with a great deal from 02 who gave us seven of them free as part of our contract – which in truth is not that massive at around £200 per month. I had a Backberry Pearl for a few weeks on demo but hated it.

But one firm – Innes England – have just had 40 of them and replaced all sorts of handsets for the switch.

The other is a specialist law firm who have had 30+ iPhone handsets too.

Now I haven’t heard of anyone switching lock stock and barrel to Blackberry. Have you? But I did buy one for my daughter for her birthday as her and all her mates have them and love the instant messaging function. (like Apple’s ‘face time’ in text – but actually usable)

So for me, this means that the markets are diverging. Blackberry is going after the PAYG market and Apple are trying to own the corporate market. As an app developer, this makes life much easier as you are only working on one platform, but it will push Apple into an almost monopolistic position in supplying this market.

Good. iPhone is just better, and better should win shouldn’t it.