Friday, March 13, 2015

Apple's Researchkit and the Future of Health Studies

There are so many technology companies out there working to solve our health issues, but some have come and gone, many have succeeded in a variety of ways, while others have struggled to make any impact despite tremendous effort. When I listen to this (obviously staged) call in to Mad Money, its impressive to hear that collaboration on research disease is started to really take off...
NEWS HEADLINE:Apple released its ResearchKit as an open source tool “designed to give scientists a new way to gather information on patients by using their iPhones.” Reuters has reported that institutions like Stanford University School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College are already using the platform to research conditions and diseases such as asthma, breast cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.
When researchers can put the word out about an app, and get people to participate in a way that helps them correlate more data on the pathology of illness than ever before, you know something is going right.
Cook: "You know, it's really incredible. Since, uh, in the first 24 hours of ResearchKit, we've had 11,000 people sign up for a study in cardiovascular disease through Stanford University's app. And, to put that in perspective, Stanford has told us that it would have taken normally 50 medical centers an entire year to sign up that many participants.

So ResearchKit is an absolute game changer."

Makes you hopeful that we may start moving the needle further on preventable deaths of those we love.

There are some perspectives on whether Researchkit will really be as "Open Source" as Apple claims.  But, I'm hoping that at the very least its another piece of connective tissue for scientific collaboration.

I remember back in 2003 when Steve Jobs announced Safari as a browser based on Open Source code and how that eventually led to Google Chrome and much of the revolution around better standards used amongst a vast number of companies.  They later pushed HTML5 as the answer to web multimedia over custom plugins like Flash and Java that continue to be major pain points around security and malware.

But, one can't forget things Apple said would be "open" that never became so.  In 2010, at their Worldwide Developer conference, Steve Jobs received a round of applause when he made the following announcement.
Job: "We're going to the standards bodies, starting tomorrow, and we're going to make FaceTime an open industry standard."
Here's hoping Researchkit follows more closely with Webkit than it does FaceTime.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thoughts on Apple Watch Pricing

So, who hasn't been following Apple Watch?

It's interesting that we're at a place where technology is quickly becoming fashion.  For months, we've seen the excitement over the Moto360 and how it looks and conforms to that appetite for a round watch.  It will be curious if "round" smart watches ever becomes the new "big" in phones (although I doubt it will, given usability issues.)

I noticed Apple finally posted its pricing across its new line of watches, and it feels very telling how they've approached so many aspects of the device.

But the positioning of its various SKUs seems most telling of all. You can't help but notice the occasional gaps where various styles only show up in one size or another (but not both.)  I can only imagine the amount of thought that went into where those gaps needed to be.


NAME: Silver Aluminum Case with White Sport Band
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $349.00 | $399.00

NAME: Silver Aluminum Case with Blue Sport Band
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $349.00 | $399.00

NAME: Silver Aluminum Case with Green Sport Band
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $349.00 | $399.00

NAME: Silver Aluminum Case with Pink Sport Band
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $349.00 | $399.00

NAME: Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $349.00 | $399.00



NAME: 38mm Stainless Steel Case with White Sport Band
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $549.00 | $599.00

NAME: 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Black Sport Band
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $549.00 | $599.00

NAME: 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Black Classic Buckle
PRICE: $649.00 | $699.00

NAME: Stainless Steel Case with Milanese Loop
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $649.00 | $699.00

NAME: Stainless Steel Case with Black Modern Buckle
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $749.00

NAME: Stainless Steel Case with Black Leather Loop
SIZE: 42mm
PRICE: $699.00

NAME: Stainless Steel Case with Midnight Blue Modern Buckle
SIZE: 38mm
PRICE: $749.00

NAME: 42mm Stainless Steel Case with Bright Blue Leather Loop
SIZE: 42mm
PRICE: $699.00

NAME: 38mm Stainless Steel Case with Soft Pink Modern Buckle
SIZE: 38mm
PRICE: $749.00

NAME: Stainless Steel Case with Stone Leather Loop
SIZE: 42mm
PRICE: $699.00

NAME: Stainless Steel Case with Brown Modern Buckle
SIZE: 38mm
PRICE: $749.00

NAME: Stainless Steel Case with Light Brown Leather Loop
SIZE: 42mm
PRICE: $699.00

NAME: Stainless Steel Case with Link Bracelet
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $949.00 | $999.00

NAME: pace Black Case with Space Black Stainless Steel Link Bracelet
SIZE: 38mm | 42mm
PRICE: $1,049.00 | $1,099.00



NAME: 18-Karat Rose Gold Case with White Sport Band
SIZE: 38mm
PRICE: $10,000.00

NAME: 18-Karat Rose Gold Case with White Sport Band
SIZE: 42mm
PRICE: $12,000.00

NAME: 18-Karat Yellow Gold Case with Black Sport Band
SIZE: 38mm
PRICE: $10,000.00

NAME: 18-Karat Yellow Gold Case with Black Sport Band
SIZE: 42mm
PRICE: $12,000.00

NAME: 18-Karat Rose Gold Case with Rose Gray Modern Buckle
SIZE: 38mm
PRICE: $17,000.00

NAME: 18-Karat Yellow Gold Case with Black Classic Buckle
SIZE: 42mm
PRICE: $15,000.00

NAME: 18-Karat Yellow Gold Case with Bright Red Modern Buckle
SIZE: 38mm
PRICE: $17,000.00

NAME: 18-Karat Yellow Gold Case with Midnight Blue Classic Buckle
SIZE: 42mm
PRICE: $15,000.00


Long Time No See...

I've been told I should post more here than I do to my Facebook wall, riddling my friends with random tech observations, and I haven't been here in a minute (reads: 4 years), so why not? :-)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More Help for the Disabled through Tablets

I just ran across this story of Evelyn O'Brien. Absolutely awesome.

Now, here's hoping publications like WIRED and the Wallstreet Journal rethink their apps on the iPad and allow for speech assistance.  There is a growing number of iOS apps that do not support accessibility... and it really doesn't make any sense.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Different Approach With Marketing

So, I was recently finding myself more than a bit annoyed with Apple's new "If you don't have an iPhone" commercials, where they repeatedly remind you what you're missing if you don't have one.  Makes me almost want to grab for the remote the moment I hear it coming on.

But, recently they aired their first commercial for the iPad 2, and I have to say, as an iPad 2 owner, I think it strikes the perfect tone.  What I also found interesting, was how different it was from the commercial for the Motorola XOOM.  I mean... take a look at them both below.

Apple iPad 2 CommercialMotorola XOOM Commercial

[Voice over from the ad]

This is what we believe.
Technology alone is not enough.
Faster... thinner... lighter.
Those are all good things.
But when technology gets out of the way.
Everything becomes more delightful.
Even magical.
That's when you leap forward.
That's when you end up with something...
like this.

[iPad 2.]
[Voice over from the ad]

The Motorola XOOM tablet.
With the velocity of a 1 Ghz dual core processor.
3D graphics engine. Gyroscope.
And a widescreen HD display.
Grab it, and it grabs you.
Only at Verizon.

[Motorola XOOM with Google]
[Rule the Air]
[Verizon - In Stores Now]

Motorola XOOM Verizon ad
The commercial for the Motorola XOOM still fascinates me, because it says a lot about who they think their customers are, and who they think they're NOT. As the 2011 parade of competitive large screen tablets start production and ship from companies like Samsung, HP, Toshiba, LG and many others this year, it will be fascinating to see what their advertisements say about them.

The difference between sizzle and steak I think.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Mobile Gardener - A Basic Comparison

A Basic Comparison

After considering a response to my analogy, I felt it was important to hash out a much simpler, clearer version of the observation.  Let's take the two hottest mobile OS platforms on the market and use the metaphor for a basic comparison.

Apple's iOS is a walled garden that provides an optimal climate for cross-pollination, abundant sunlight, excellent support systems and the security needed for healthy growth. Conversely, Android OS is a free and open field with little to protect developers from communing with pervasive weeds, unpredictable climate changes, and outbreaks of blight that not only prove to be unwanted but endemic to its very nature.

You can truly love the freedom of an open field, celebrate the contributions of its benevolent benefactor, appreciate the fact that they are available almost everywhere, but there's no denying the efficacy of a professionally run property whose rules may be more restrictive but which produce a track record of positive results that can't be ignored (or easily duplicated).

Hopefully that sounds clear and rings true. More than a simple analogy, I think its the true nature of what we're seeing as it plays out in the marketplace. A pervasive and sprawling Android footprint, and an intentional and efficient iOS evolution that sets the standards the industry will continue to watch and react to.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Mobile Gardener - Part 1: Competition As Metaphor

As I've always said... we're in an exciting time in the tech industry, with disruptive innovations springing up left and right.  On the one hand, companies like Microsoft are winning praise for devices like its new Kinect while competitor Nintendo and its ground-breaking Wii platform seem to have plateaued (Nintendo experiencing its first quarterly loss in 7 years). On the other, Google has managed to upset the Apple cart by halting the advance of the iPhone with the explosive rise of its Android OS.  That said, we're beginning to see a somewhat worrisome trajectory and a pattern to go along with it.

Why "worrisome"? Well, in the mindset of futurists, we all accept that we inevitably reap what we sow. That in mind, I wanted to take a considerate look at extending a basic metaphor... gardening... to what's happening in the most vibrant industry sector, namely, mobile computing.

The Gardener's Constants

While any attempt to imply a one-to-one relationship from a metaphor always ends in disappointing incongruities, it certainly doesn't preclude the usefulness of extracting basic lessons and insights.  Disclaimer extended, let's dive in and see if we can't discern something of value.

Here is the crux of my comparison:
  • Landlords: Platform Vendors
  • Gardeners: Platform Developers
  • Land/Gardens: Platforms
  • Plants: Applications
From that, you can draw a few additional distinctions:
  • Water: Support 
  • Soil: Ecosystem (SDK, Sales Channel, Marketshare)
  • Sunshine: Revenue
  • Growth: Expansion
  • Weeds: Spam/Spyware/Malware/Viruses
  • Harvesting: Sales / Downloads 
  • Unauthorized Harvesting: Piracy
But what about "free" applications?  They're important and appreciated by everyone, so you might ask... how can any application/plant exist without revenue/sunlight? The answer is that "even with indirect[revenue], respectable growth is possible." So, let's begin.

For the purpose of simplicity, let's focus on the United States for our discussion.

Sony Corporation,  Microsoft Corporation, Google Inc., Nintendo America, Research In Motion Limited, and Apple, Inc. are the leading platform vendors in our modern consumer mobile applications market.  If you're a gardener... er... mobile applications developer... you'll want to deal with at least one of them. When it comes to the burgeoning mobile sector, they are by far the landlords with the most viable plots of land whether you're trying to develop on the PSP, the HTC Surround, the EVO 4G, the DS, the Blackberry Pearl, or the iPod Touch. No one else matches the influence and innovation these players introduce into the space.

While its plausible, as RIM has recently asserted, that the amount of native applications on its new Playbook platform isn't necessarily relevant to the likelihood of a successful or useful product... its probably safe to assume the comment closely resembles Apple's attempt to elevate the prominence of "web apps" when it first launched its iPhone platform (and did not yet see an emphasis on native applications as viable given the product's nascent security model).  But, as we all know, when Apple launched its App Store in mid-2008, it changed everything.  Research firm ChangeWave conducted a recent survey that implies that applications are the prime reason consumers choose a particular smartphone, followed by "ease of use".  Exclusive titles are the bread & butter of all game systems and "killer apps" are often the deciding factor in the rise and fall of any popular electronic device.

Walled Garden: The Rise of Awareness

It's important to get this comment out of the way so that its not a hanging punchline.  The most overused expression in this gardening metaphor, is one we all hear on a regular basis.  Namely, that those developers and customers who choose to do business with Apple, Inc. and their iOS platform, are operating in what is called a "walled garden".  By this, the commenters are usually referring to the nature of the platform Apple provides and the degree of control it often chooses to assert with all parties.  This level of control is often portrayed as an endemic criticism towards Apple itself.  In horticulture, however, a walled garden is used to provide security and contributes to what is referred to as a microclimate, allowing for the thriving of plants that would not otherwise survive in an unmodified climate.

The irony in this criticism however, is that with the recent exception of Google's Android Marketplace, the entire smartphone and mobile gaming industry has always leaned towards a walled garden approach.  No developer had a reasonable expectation that his/her application concept would be naturally be approved for distribution on any platform, and in those instances where there was no walled garden to nurture growth, those developers often suffered from market lackluster performance and/or poor harvests.

It's also worth noting that early iOS developer Neven Mrgan, made an interesting point in his blog on the metaphor earlier this year:
I’m assuming we’re supposed to compare this approach to the freer alternatives such as community gardens and city parks. Ignoring for a moment the fact that these gardens are also regulated by serious restrictions on what one can and can’t do, it still puzzles me that the “walled garden” is presented as an obviously undesirable structure.
He concludes by saying:
I’m not saying the [Apple] App Store is a beautiful garden. That is not a very good metaphor at all — but insofar as it applies, it doesn’t strengthen any App Store detractor’s case… unless they’d also argue that the Portland Japanese Garden should open its doors, run on monopoly money, and turn from a meditative oasis into a busy bazaar.
This reality is at the center of certain bellwethers coming into play.

Five Gardening Basics for Beginners

There is a nice article on gardening available at It seeks to give budding gardeners (ha, ha) some rudimentary rules on how to get the kind of results everyone can appreciate.

Here are the bullet points they've layed out, along with my summaries.
  1. Prepare your Soil - Till, analyze, and build it up to improve its composition of nutrients and ability to retain moisture.
  2. Watering Matters - Less can be more. Too much watering leads to immature root systems that are overly dependent on you. Give extra attention during dry spells.
  3. Let the Sunshine In - Consider the availability of direct sunlight with regards to how much you want to grow.  Even with indirect sunlight, respectable growth is possible.
  4. Care for Your Garden - Weed your garden. Thick planting can help blunt ambitious weeds.
  5. It All Takes Time - Proper timing makes all the difference. Know which seasons to plant, and when something has grown to maturity.
In the next part of this article, I'll layout exactly how the companies mentioned approach the concepts mentioned above, and what it spells for the future of mobile computing as a whole.  This is really a fun exercise for those interested in the industry, so give it some thought yourself.  You'll probably see where this is going.

Next Up:
The Mobile Gardener - Part 2: Surveying the Landscape...