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Showing posts with label Apple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Apple. Show all posts

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wrong Side Of The IT Ecosystem

I find it ridiculous that people are blaming Apple for job creation in China as opposed to in the US. People are also debating how US might in-source some of these manufacturing jobs to compete with China who has sophisticated manufacturing abilities and large skilled labor force supporting these operations. They are all missing the point. This is a wrong debate.

The US lost manufacturing jobs to other countries a long time ago. I find it amusing that people expect the high-tech companies such as Apple to create manufacturing jobs in the US. If Apple were to even consider this option we would not have seen the tremendous success of Apple as a company and its products. What Apple created is an ecosystem of people and companies that are doing amazing things with their platform and their devices. It's a different kind of ecosystem and America should focus on that innovation as opposed to bringing those manufacturing jobs back.

On one side we are whining about the loss of manufacturing jobs and on the other side we have shortage of skilled IT workforce. Try hiring a good developer in the Silicon Valley and you'll understand what I mean. And yet as a nation we are behind in retraining our existing workforce, attracting students to engineering majors, and fixing our immigration policy for highly skilled foreign workers to meet the increased demand of IT-driven jobs. And, of course, while we wait, Apple is quadrupling its IT investment in India.

America should not play the manufacturing game with China or for that matter with anyone else. We are at such a loss. Let's play the game that we know we can win — technology-driven innovation. When I work with customers' on daily basis I come across so many opportunities that we are not looking at. We can use the technology, that we have built, to our advantage in the industries such as healthcare, agriculture, public sector etc. A combination of cloud and mobility could take us long way.

We're looking at the wrong side of the IT ecosystem. I don't expect the hi-tech companies to hire low-tech workers in the US. But I do expect hi-tech companies to create jobs in the US at the other end of the ecosystem via the opportunities to consume their technology and innovate in a different sector. A lot of people are missing this point. I'm talking about an ecosystem where Apple has paid out more than $4 billion to the developers. Why are we not talking about these jobs? Apple has more than $100 billion in cash, but what doesn't get much discussed is that a large part of this cash is overseas. Given the current US tax laws, Apple can't/won't bring this cash back into the US. This might make Apple acquiring or investing overseas. We do have an opportunity to reform the tax laws to deal with such a global situation (that we never encountered before) to encourage the hi-tech companies to invest into R&D in the US and not overseas.

When you look at the big picture, having a job is merely one piece of contributing to good standards of living. What about access to affordable healthcare and college education? There's a significant opportunity to apply technology built in America to innovate in these areas. We are barely scratching the surface of what's possible in healthcare as well as in education. We are living in such an antiquated and inefficient system.

Another industry that has seen less than desired technology innovation is agriculture. Take a trip down to central California to see the potential. At 2008 Olympics in China, Michael Phelps winning 8 gold medals was obviously the biggest highlight for us, but people in Watsonville were super excited because China allowed the US to export Watsonville strawberries for the Olymipcs. Recently, India relaxed the laws (that are still being challenged) to allow 100% foreign investment in the retail sector opening up the doors for Wallmarts of the world. Any guess what's the biggest challenge in retail operations in India? A non-existent cold supply chain and lack of reliable infrastructure. We take a lot of things for granted — nationwide freeways, strong governing bodies such as FDA, and size of the country. We do have an opportunity to excel in certain agriculture areas and employ a lot of Americans. We need to recognize what our real strength is and look forward as opposed to look backwards.

I am a geek and a technology enthusiast, and perhaps a little naive. But, I know for sure, we aren't pushing the technology envelope as much as we should.

Photo: Looking Towards Tomorrow

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life Is Too Short To Remove A USB Stick Safely

Today, Steve Jobs resigned as a CEO of Apple. I think I will remember this day and so will others.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” — Steve Jobs

For me, Apple is not just a personal choice that is better than other alternatives, but it's also an ongoing proof of what's possible if you believe in what you think is the right thing to do. It's also about the elements of design and endless perseverance that I can thrive for. Thanks Steve for showing what's possible and wish you all the best with your health and a speedy recovery. I hope you can stay on and mentor others at Apple for what's going to be a great future of computing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mass Customization: From "There is a plug-in for that" To "There is an app for that"

In a much anticipated mystic event Apple announced a tablet today called an iPad. Steve Job's hypnotizing presentation convinced people that iPad is a magic. I was not there in person to see Jobs unveiling an iPad and somehow escaped the magic. That gave me time to think about the implications of a trend that an iPad endorses - mass customization. Firefox's success in part can be attributed to its approach to allow the developers to write and publish extensions. There is a Firefox plug-in for pretty much anything. Then came the iPhone and we had an app for pretty much anything. Now we have an iPad and the trend continues.

Mass customization trend is about micro-chunking the software that we run on our devices ranging from cell phones to laptops. The emergent architecture and delivery model have empowered the consumers to buy only the chunks of software that they actually need. The cloud computing and SaaS have further enabled the consumers not to run any software other than a web browser for many daily tasks that they need to accomplish. Micro-chunking and webOS have grave implications on the large shrink-wrapped software packages that occupies the most space on consumers' hard-drive, hogs memory, and provides a little value. I won't go to the extent of calling this gold rush for the app developers but I do agree that the independent developers now have a level playing field to compete with the ISVs.

I certainly welcome this trend. I not only want to be in charge of the devices that I own but I also want to experiment and micro manage the applications that I run on my devices. If I can get a tall non-fat extra hot double shot latte at Starbucks why shouldn't I expect a device that runs the exact software that I need - no less, no more.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Innovation and design

"How can I do Apple"? I liked Cordell Ratzlaff's quotes in this Business Week article. "The most successful products I was a part of at Apple started with only a few people with no formal structure or hierarchy and little corporate oversight." Cordell managed Apple's Human Interface group in 1990 and now he is a director of User-Centered design at Cisco. He also says "Democracy works well for running a country and choosing a prom queen. The best product designs, however, come from someone with a singular strong vision and the fortitude to fend off everything and everyone that would compromise it." Yes, we all know and I agree that Steve Jobs is the king. To "do an Apple" you can either hire Steve Jobs or you ask your C-level executives to do what he does. Apple does not sell products, it sells user experience and apparently they are doing a good job marketing and selling this experience. We all can learn from Apple and understand the connection between innovation and design.

Apple has made mistakes in the past that resulted into some failures. Many people have blamed Apple for causing cognitive dissonance that resulted into bad design but Apple at least believes in design and gets it. Design-led innovation is not just about interaction, sensory, or information design but it is about design thinking. Apple does get a lot of credit for providing design a first class seat in their organization and enjoys the halo effect or cognitive bias to certain extent. The Business Week article talks about designers sharing the same philosophy and thinking long after they left Apple and this is a good thing as long as the designers don't introduce self-referential design. You want all the people in your organization to believe and practice design-led innovation but you don't really want to copy Apple when you "do an Apple".

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Apple and Google alliance

Few bloggers have picked up this Wired's post on a speculation of Steve Jobs announcing a possible alliance between Apple and Google. Interesting - that's all I can say. The post has a quote from Eric Schmidt that Apple actually gets the design but does not have the necessary computing infrastructure. I agree. Apple is a company that delivers innovation with heavy focus on design (of all kinds) where as Google has brought in simplicity and agility by nailing down few very simply problems with state of the art technology innovation. Google certainly does not have bad design but Google has a long way to go and has plenty of opportunities when it comes to interaction or visual (sensory) design. I was told that the person who leads the user experience efforts at Google has "office hours" during which developers can (and do) drop in and expect that person to solve design problems. This was quite a challenge for that person since the design process does not quite work that way. On the other hand, design is one of the biggest strength that Apple has and given the computing resources Apple can do miracles. I don't think it is about or limited to .Mac. iTunes can have a great story if offered on Google's cloud since it could have great sharing and preview potential with Google's cloud. Apple did have issues with iTunes after last Christmas when people started using their iTunes gift cards to buy music and the store could not handle those concurrent users. It was a true load test and iTunes did not do well. Imagine the same scenario - iTunes running on Google's cloud and tightly integrated with AdSense. YouTube is a great platform for video syndication with a community angle. Apple does have community but the syndication is limited to downloading and does not have sharing semantics. Having said this despite of these product synergies an alliance cannot be successful unless it can offer a tangible business value. But hey, this is a speculation, isn't it?
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