I was fed up with telcos, and I worked for years as a consultant for them.. they just broke the phones on purpose.
And damn nokia, and its internal war + wrong perception of clients.
Apple's iPhone wasn't just a shiny new thing that was irritatingly and madly overhyped. Before long, it shattered a benevolent kind of crony capitalism in which Europeans took great pride, but that was short-serving the public. And it needed an outsider to do this. Ten years ago, Europe could be excused for feeling a little …
It's damn them, damn them all. The history of the industry reads like a list of lost opportunities.
Apple make some interesting things, although inevitably all of the things they make are flawed to some extent because that's how life is. No one can achieve perfection. There's lots of room for improvement.
It would have seemed sensible for the handset manufacturers to respond to the challenge and up their game to compete effectively with Apple. To exploit Apple's weaknesses.
RIM had an edge with secure communication technology but didn't seem to realise that there was value in improving the handset and the services. By the time they woke up Apple had got themselves established. Even now, Apple are not offering as good a corporate or government system, but continue to nibble away at that market.
The other makers seemed to mess around at the time doing things like making a device look a bit like an iPhone but without the functions of the iPhone. It was like trying to compete with BMW by sticking some plastic body panels onto a tired old model of car. Oh hang on, wasn't that what Rover tried?
I'm not sure why execs didn't get that this was something that was going to encroach on their market and that further assaults on their market would happen just as soon as another maker or consortium produced something that offered similar look and feel to the iPhone. It's a story that had already happened elsewhere and not just with Apple. Manufacturers get cosy apparently thinking they can do the same thing with minor variation for ever and then the new kid on the block steals their market.
>RIM had an edge with secure communication technology but didn't seem to realise that there was value in improving the handset and the services. By the time they woke up Apple had got themselves established. Even now, Apple are not offering as good a corporate or government system, but continue to nibble away at that market.
RIM do software for iPhones these days, a mate of mine - a MOD contractor - has been issued a locked-down and RIM'ed iPhone. A couple of years back, it was announced that IBM were to start doing corporate iOS software (that I haven't heard much of since means nothing, because it is not my area). It appears that in between appealing to executives and being more secure than Android, Apple got a good chunk of the corporate market without trying too hard.
Orlowski is right in what he says except for one point: he attributes everything to the first iPhone whereas most of what he says came with the 2nd and 3rd generation iPhones.
The main selling point of the 1st gen iPhone was visual voicemail. Imagine if every email, text and tweet you receive came in the form of voicemail and you had to listen to each one in order, making notes as you went? Well, that was what it was like for business people in the US before the iPhone. That and having to pay to receive texts.
In hindsight it was a good idea for Apple to not do 'apps' until iOS 2. If they had done them from day one, a lot of the reviews / discussions about the iPhone would have revolved around the fact there are no apps. Apple chose to let it win on the things it did well (UI, browser, plans that include unlimited data) to build up market momentum. By the time the second gen came out along with iOS 2, the App Store announcement was greeted with fanfare, and developers knew they had a large audience of eager (and fairly well off) customers at the ready.
Yeah, GPS didn't come until the second gen hardware and MMS didn't come until iOS 3.0, but those were both value add - not something very many people used on their previous phones so most wouldn't miss them. Apple wasn't designing a phone to steal existing smartphone customers, at least at first, so they didn't have to match them feature for feature. They were going after a much larger market: everyone else!
With the 3gs they made a phone that even owners of stone age smartphones like Windows Mobile and Blackberry had a hard time arguing against (though of course some were in denial for a couple more years, my girlfriend hung on to her Blackberry until the 4S)
I'd still f'in love visual voicemail.
Not really something I have to use much any more, but there is still egregious voicemail fuck-wittery out there.
Three spring to mind. Any chance of that little GSM standard voicemail icon? Oh no, you just send me a text at some random future time, alerting me to the fact I missed a call whilst I was sat with all-the-bars on my phone
"It appears that in between appealing to executives and being more secure than Android, Apple got a good chunk of the corporate market without trying too hard."
I disagree so some extent. Apple haven't done a single thing to specifically get the corporate market, and I don't think they give a damn about it either. They never bothered doing anything in their computers to help businesses either, not really.
They aim their products at the consumer market, which is where the big money is. Corporate users are welcome to buy of course...
What I mean is that there's nothing in Apple products that helps corporate admins fit them nicely into a (often necessarily) controlled corporate IT environment. OS-X can do domain authentication and browse file shares, but that's it. The MDM solutions that exist for iOS are terrible kludges really, sticking plasters applied on top of an unhelpful OS. It doesn't even do VPNs properly.
With little real support for business use in both iOS and Android, BYOD now seems to have become:
"Your work mobile is an iPhone we've lent you that's locked down to the point where it's not worth stealing it":
This suits Apple very well. Apple get to sell 2 phones, not one, and they still don't have to do anything technological to support that. But us drones have to carry 2 phones.
Android is the same but worse by the way - it doesn't do a very good job of talking to Exchange servers, and so the MDM solutions for it are quite often even kludgier. Yes I know, Exchange servers, domains, it's all so much old bollocks, but not every company (especially outside the USA) is prepared to jump into the Google, Apple or MS clouds
The only mobile company that did understand the needs of business and BYOD was BlackBerry, and built a mobile OS specifically to accomodate that - BB10, and particularly it's Balance feature and the 2 phone numbers in one device party trick.
This is still the most elegant solution to the BYOD problem. It's far superior to sticking a MDM plaster on top of a consumer focused mobile OS. It's the only thing out there that truly makes it plausible for an employee to have one single phone for both work and personal use, with the right level of control for both parties and strong separation of the business and personal domains, and still be easy and pleasurable to use. It definitely doesn't feel like something "added on", it's right at the core of the whole OS, mail client, calendar, apps store, the lot.
Unfortunately, BlackBerry, like a lot of other companies, didn't understand the art of doing business.
Balance is really good, but it also takes a lot of getting your head round. By the time it came out it was already too late, and very few people had the motivation to go look at clever ways of solving the BOYD problem.
If Apple cared about chasing the corporate market they'd have bought up BlackBerry just to get their hands on Balance and incorporated the idea into iOS. They haven't.
Forget the Business Market, it's Irrelevant
Apple, and to some extent Google with Android, taught the world that chasing fat corporate sales was a pointless myth. The corporate market is too small to bother with. The consumer market, that's the thing.
Having learned that lesson, Microsoft went off and did Window 8. Whoopsie!
The PC is really a business tool. It became cheap enough for consumers to buy it. Turns out consumers didn't really want PCs, they wanted mobiles and tablets. Nowadays one looks at the PC market and wonders whether one will still be able to buy an affordable workstation for one's business needs in 5, 10 years time.
I'm no fan of Apple or Jobs, but Jobs did get one thing right. It's the software that matters. As soon as electronics had advanced to the point where a battery powered handheld could just about support an advanced graphical user interface it was inevitable that someone somewhere would do one. Jobs saw that, jumped early (the first iPhone models were absolute bollocks really), cleaned up.
For the rest of the industry the warning signs were there. The Apple Newton may have been poor, but there was the seeds of something there.
Nokia are perhaps the worst offender. They acquried Psion's OS and software stack - the Psion 5mx was a true masterpiece that's yet to be equalled - and threw the opportunity away. Nokia had more than the seeds of an idea, they had something that actually worked. Nokia in effect had a 10 year head start on Apple, and cocked it up. But then again, Nokia was run by hardware guys.
It's looking dodgy. Their designers are now so up their own arses that one seriously wonders whether they can recover. They need to stop chasing "form" and get back to designing things that people will actually lust after. Can't plug an iPhone 7 into a Macbook, even for charging? Job's would have had a fit at the idea.
Weirdly, Microsoft are making a ton of cash on Apples turf - premium laptops. Surface notebooks sell veeery well. Apple need to move fast to make sure that there's no possibility of a resurgency in the mobile space for Microsoft. Apple have a lot of laurels these days, difficult not to rest on them
Apple's product line up is, well, boring and disjointed, and in some ways very very annoying. Whereas MS is possibly be about to launch a good mobile to go along with good laptops. If only a few key mobile apps make it to Surface phone, people might just start wondering whether they need an iPhone and its frailties at all.
With little real support for business use in both iOS and Android, BYOD now seems to have become:
"Your work mobile is an iPhone we've lent you that's locked down to the point where it's not worth stealing it":
These two statements are contradictory. The reason it is possible to lock down an iOS device is because Apple does support business usage via its Device Enrolment Program.
The degree of lockdown is completely up to the company. If yours is unusable then that's because your employer chose to make it so.
The 'not worth stealing' aspect is a big bonus to us. We have near zero thefts of iPads and iPhones because thieves mostly now know that they are impossible to reset and sell on.
It isn't as though Apple had the 'premium laptop' segment all to itself, because while a Macbook will run Windows well, it isn't generally the best option out there if you have zero interest in running macOS. Surface isn't stealing any sales from Apple, it is stealing them from Wintel partners like Dell.
"These two statements are contradictory. The reason it is possible to lock down an iOS device is because Apple does support business usage via its Device Enrolment Program."
No they're not. The mainstream MDM solutions are all about allowing a company to make a device less the users and more the company's. They're designed so that the user is allowed to do less and the company is restricting it more. That's not BYOD, that's "it's a company phone that does company things, not a phone you the user can do anything you like on. It's CACD (Carry Around a Company Device).
The only way that this really results in anything like a BYOD environment that the user has normal rights on is if the company places few restrictions on what the user can do at all. Which is dumb because there's be zero point of the MDM and "Device Enrolment" at all (apart from slicker roll-outs).
I've yet to see anyone at all use an MDM encumbered iOS or Android device as their own personal phone too, or for their own personal accounts / social media / etc.
"The degree of lockdown is completely up to the company. If yours is unusable then that's because your employer chose to make it so."
I refer back to my previous point. MDM + minimal / zero lockdown is not really MDM'ed at all. It's just a personal phone that maybe the company can remote wipe if they want to. Bit of a stretch to call that "managed". To get any real assurances concerning protecting company data the company has to lock it down.
For example, time and again there's been highly dodgy data stealing malware scattered all over Google's app store, and Android itself is generally wide open to vulnerabilities for very long periods of time. It's the last OS on earth that any company with any concerns at all about their data security would allow an employee to install arbitrary apps on a company mobile.The only real answer is to stop the employee installing apps at all, and then it's useless as a personal device.
In comparison to BlackBerry's Balance and it's multi-level security system with its cryptographic separation of company and personal data and slick unified view of both personal / private email and calendars, the MDM approach on iOS and Android is pretty lame brained. They're essentially doing little more than turning stuff off and maybe installing clunky alternate email clients / calendars / etc.
That's not adding any supporting functionality at all, it's taking it away. But it is right up there, bang in line with what company admins already do (lock down PCs to the n'th degree, more of the same please). It's all distressingly unimaginative, admins don't have to think, and Apple and Google don't really have to do much to support this.
"It isn't as though Apple had the 'premium laptop' segment all to itself"
For a long time all PC laptops, even top of the line ones, were clunky, plastic and horrible even if the internals were pretty good. Meanwhile Macbooks were aluminium, sleek and lovely. It's only comparatively recently that the PC market has worked out that nicely made good looking premium stuff sells, and sells well. It took them only 10 years of watching Macbook sky high profits to work that out.
"Surface isn't stealing any sales from Apple, it is stealing them from Wintel partners like Dell."
Well, MacWorld reported that Apples Q4 results for iPhone, iPad and Mac sales were all down. Yet everywhere I look I read news of the boom in sales of MS's Surface line. Apple sell less computers, MS sell more computers. Call me old fashioned, but if that isn't sales stealing I don't know what is.
There's been plenty of people, even here on El Reg's forums, announcing that they've jumped off Apple's ship too. Seems that the delta between Windows 10 and OSX is small enough that the availability of things like standard USB, ethernet, HDMI and SD slots is more valuable than slimness, adapters, and an increasingly poorly performing OS-X.
The fact that MS (yes, boring old aesthetically challenged MS) can make money at all from selling a premium notebook / tablet thingy running Windows 10 is, by conventional thinking, unbelievable. Aesthetics is supposed to be what Apple are best at, yet it's clearly not enough to preserve their sales figures.
Andrew (for whom I bow to none in my admiration) is rabidly anti- European institutions. The GSM/Symbian slant is praps a teeny stretch?
Ie, surely Apple won because iPhone did a UI/UX that normal people could use, with affordable data "out of the box" (XDA fans etc: you never had the former.) (Plus, in later versions, Stevie took on the Music Biz and won.)
But the Symbian deal was a disaster in product/UX terms. As others have said, "Nokia was run by hardware guys." A quote, from Andrew's old interview with Symbian's Head of Design at the time:
> On one of the four platforms, we had to combine the spec of our previous Psion applications and user interface, with the specification of a new device Nokia had been developing. So there’s me locked in a room with about 15 Nokia designers, who, it slowly transpires, view Symbian as a software house they have just bought in order to deliver their product.
> I explain to them the thinking behind the various things in the Psion UI — why it just saves changes automatically, why a second tap means “open”, why it has infoprints [informational messages] in the corner, why ToDos appear on the main Diary screen, all that kind of stuff that we’d worked out over the years, and they listen and then they say “yes, but we want you to do this”.
In the 10 years from 1987-1997 the Psion UX went from the Organiser-II to the Series5. If they'd been given another 10 years - to 2007 - do you think they'd have been iPhone-competitive?
How can MacWorld report Apple's Q4 sales when Apple hasn't reported them yet? They're just guessing. And Apple's iPhone and iPad sales are irrelevant to the question of whether Surface is affecting Macbook sales. The growth of Surface sales is irrelevant too - it was starting from a pretty low point as it took them several iterations before they stumbled on a formula (making their "tablet" be a fully functional Windows laptop) that consumers wanted.
Even if Surface sales grow and Macbook sales fall that doesn't mean that Surface buyers would have bought the Macbook otherwise. The entire Windows PC market has seen sales fall for five straight years, so there are plenty of OEMs showing sales drops who could be losing sales to Microsoft. Or maybe it has something to do with how long Apple took to update the Macbook line (the current quarter is the first where all sales will be of the new line, Q4 will only have a month of sales of the new model) or people don't like the lack of USB-A ports, or whatever. Maybe some are buying an iPad Pro instead. Maybe enough have Macbooks still going strong and the new Intel CPUs don't offer enough of a performance jump they are going to wait for Apple's next update in a year or two.
They used CRTs because that's all they had for dressing the sets. But you can see in some shows (ST TNG is the one I can remember best) the start of tablet computer type ideas with non-functional props and their flat touch panel LCARS controls. But where they needed something to work and change they had to use a CRT coz that's all they had.
The set dressing budget wouldn't extend to replicating imaginary tech.
An honourable mention for that goes to the film Runaway (1984) - they wanted their characters to use portable flat screens, but as you say that simply wasn't an option at the time. So they used "loose" CRTs filmed at angles where only the front of the screen was visible, and positioned as if they were being cradled in arms, resting on table tops, etc...
For the most part if worked reasonably well.
The IBM-branded tablet computers in Kubrick's 2001: Space Odyssey. The props don't move on from their spot on Bowman and Poole's desk, so had ether a CRT or projector mounted beneath them.
Yet Heywood Floyd, a big fish in the organisation, doesn't have a tablet - he has to go to an ATT booth to 'Skype' his daughter from orbit.
In Clarke's book 2001: A Space Odyssey, those devices were called "newspads" and were only for receiving/presenting information, not sending it. They had no "phone" capability at all, much less videophone capability built in. There's nothing like a cell phone in either the movie or book, AFAIK. One place where reality outstripped science fiction.
However, in Robert Heinlein's book Space Cadet, written in the 1950's, there a scene where one of the characters gets a call on his "pocket phone," so I guess it's really just a matter of what a particular author dreamed up.
Not that I particularly like any corporation using my electronic wallet as an interest free loan or a way for them to make money from commissions from the payment services chain, but I'd like Apple and Google using it the least.
And m-pesa works, it's not just a card wallet for buying frapuchinos.
>Not that I particularly like any corporation using my electronic wallet as an interest free loan or a way for them to make money from commissions from the payment services chain, but I'd like Apple and Google using it the least.
Could you share your rationale? The traditional card issuers wanted a big percentage of every transaction, and to know what you were buying. The Apple model is a small percentage per transaction, and neither Apple nor the card issuer know what you have bought because it is token-based. By saying you'd like Apple the least, you leave us in the dark as to exactly what it is you find objectionable.
... they were actually mostly very bad at it. Both U.F.O. and Space 1999 were frankly terrible, and became quickly outdated. I still have fits of laugh when their computers output data on narrow stripes of paper...
Star Trek at least did some more efforts (but a way to retain people on chairs when under attack...). Also employing often the little trick of avoiding to show what the character look at on some devices (i.e. Spock "scope", or the ) - or using animations and projections ('60s CRTs would have looked really ugly).
But I'm quite sure Space 1999 is what many smartphone designers had in mind for a while...
If you use British TV shows for designs of the future...
... they were actually mostly very bad at it.
I don't know, "Zen" (Blake's 7) could have been Siri and Alexa's father... And their "Watson" (Orac) was semi-portable.
Yet I find the special effects in DrWho from the 60's and 70's look better in retrospect than the attempts at CGI and chroma-key they tried in the 80's.
How about Citizens United, the Koch brothers and the Military Industrial Complex, just for starters?
Isn't Apple the American company that keeps trying to screw customers with non-standard components that you can only buy from Apple at extortionate prices, but which the EU keeps forcing to adopt industry standards to protect consumer choice?
Thank goodness for EU "cronyism", frankly.
>Isn't Apple the American company that keeps trying to screw customers with non-standard components that you can only buy from Apple at extortionate prices, but which the EU keeps forcing to adopt industry standards to protect consumer choice?
Apple had a 13 pin iPod/iPhone plug, then a Lightening plug. That's it. Either are available for next to nothing from numerous 3rd parties from a petrol station or supermarket near you.
Over the same period, my non-Apple devices have required USB B, MiniUSB, microUSB barrel chargers of two sizes (Nokia), headphone adaptor (Nokia), three types of power connector and headphone adaptor ditto (Samsung) and some similarly daft stuff from Sony Ericsson. Not only that, but these never-twice-the-same-plug devices shipped with cables hardwired to the mains power adaptors. It was incredibly annoying, and I'm glad the EU stepped in and standardised microUSB. Oh Wait! It turns out that microUSB was not as user friendly as the orientation-agnostic Lightening cable, so now we have to adopt orientation-agnostic USB-C!
Not having owned any Apple kit, I can't tell how irritated 'fanbois' were at having to change their cable type once in nearly fifteen years. I won't lose any sleep on their behalf, though. Lucky sods.
You forgot about Apple's proprietary HDD connectors, their infamous pentalobular screws, and the fact that MacOS is synthetically tied to ridiculously overpriced Apple hardware using DRM and a highly dubious EULA, as just a few more examples.
Certainly other vendors have also tried similar lock-in tactics over the years, but Apple is the undisputed champion of shafting consumers, and the only thing defending us from these chancers is those "meddling EU autocrats", as neoliberals like to call them.
I think the biggest single point is that Apple saw the "phone" as a computer that made calls, while most others saw it as a phone that could do the odd bit of computer work. As Andrew pointed out, the main "customers" of Nokia, etc, were the mobile networks and they were adverse to anything that would *use* those networks to any useful degree and with poor bit rates we had WAP to make it usable, but that was really a misery to use.
"I think the biggest single point is that Apple saw the "phone" as a computer that made calls,"
Common mistake,. some XEROX engineers I knew claimed that their ground breaking computers failed because senior management couldn't change mindset from charging customers per copy. Plus they were fantastically expensive.
The real reason Apple's model won was that they invested massively in software (touch interface, nice finger friendly, clear and logical).
Other phone manufacturers looked at the hardware specs, and then had a small team to try to hack Symbian to work with the model. Or, even worse, Windows CE (or whatever they called it). And Symbian was a relatively late development -before that it was even worse.
So Apple's model won becase Apple made the original Mac and has ever since invested in the user interface.
In a way the other manufacturers tried to treat their smartphones as shrunken PCs, wheras Apple realised a phone needed a radically different UI (which in turn required a massive investment).
"I think the biggest single point is that Apple saw the "phone" as a computer that made calls, while most others saw it as a phone that could do the odd bit of computer work. As Andrew pointed out, the main "customers" of Nokia, etc, were the mobile networks and they were adverse to anything that would *use* those networks to any useful degree and with poor bit rates we had WAP to make it usable, but that was really a misery to use."
The iPhone was yet another in a line of PDAs with phone functions.
Vodafone sold VDA touchscreen smartphones.
O2 sold XDA touchscreen smartphones.
Orange sold SPV touchscreen smartphones.
T-Mobile sold MDA touchscreen smartphones.
Everyone of those Windows Mobile devices had (data hungry) HTML browsers (WM never had a native WAP browser)...
And let's not forget that iOS did not start outselling Windows Mobile until late 2009 (and within a year Android was outselling iOS).
Ah, voices of callow youth. Way back <fx: wavy lines> at the turn of the millennium Wireless Information Devices were all the rage. Symbian were pushing the WID as hard as they could, WAP was seen as the way to provide information over a wireless network that could be shown on tiny LCD screens (in monochrome if necessary). It reduced most web sites to a cascading series of links that went on forever. It was like using Gopher but with some tiny low-res images.
I had a look at it and wrote a paper "WAP is crap" for my employers. It was fairly clear even then that developments would leave WAP behind because no one in their right mind would want a 96x95 pixel or even a 320x240 pixel view of the WWW.
For years the mobile contracts would only advertise the number of call minutes and texts you got, you could barely find the amount of data you got, if any, and certainly not quality/speed (GPRS, EDGE etc.). When they did cotton on the still would never give you a decent amount of data without a ridiculous amount of call minutes and texts. I just wanted the data... but of course data was expensive and broke their money cow of SMS, up to 10p for 160 characters of text, per text!
The article was interesting but it forgot the absurdity of Apple's nano-SIM... phones got bigger, SIMs got smaller, everyone standardised on the micro-SIM.. except Apple. No good reason.
Apple were involved in setting the Nano SIM standard, but weren't the only participant. IIRC the solution chosen didn't match Apple's initial suggestion. Oh, and the Micro SIM dates back to 2003, before the first iPhone, so no Apple didn't push that one through either.
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