Apple’s WWDC 2008 Keynote Address – iPhone 2.0/3G

June 15, 2008

Apple’s WWDC 2008 Keynote Address – I’m trying not to drink the ‘cool aid’.

The conference keynote was ‘quite the show’!  Yes, Steve/Apple still know how to push a new product.  The keynote was all about the iPhone, and Mobile Me.  Steve mentioned that they will be talking about the Mac and Leopard after lunch.  I am wondering if the iPhone will become (has already become) Apple’s ‘flagship product’.

Yes, the iPhone 2.0 is quite impressive. I have been trying really hard not to ‘drink the cool aid’.  However, it is not that easy.  Apple has packed a considerable amount of features and functionality (major understatement) into a small device.   

 

3G support – AT&T plans to have 3G support in 275 markets by the end of June, and support in the rest of its 350 markets by the end of the year.

Security – The security enhancements look good – IPSec VPN, WAP2 (featuring 802.1X based authentication), data encryption, manageable security policies and remote kill/wiping.  These features should address many/most of the enterprise security concerns. 

Built in GPS (assisted).

Full MS Exchange support; it must have given Steve great pains to do that.  Support for Push Email, Calendar, and Contacts (via Active Sync).  There was no mention of support for Domino (has Microsoft won that battle?)

The Apple iPhone SDK is most impressive. 

  • Full iWork document support – view iWork documents, pages, etc.
  • Complete MS Office Document Support – Word, Excel and PP. Documents can be downloaded as attachments.
  • Bulks delete and move of messages, and saving of images to the photo library.
  • Full set of parental controls.
  • 70 Countries will be supported by the end of the year – Europe, most of Central and South America, parts of Africa, India, Japan, Australia and New Zeland (support in China can’t be far behind).
  • Push notification services for applications via persistent IP connection to the phone (beta in July, GA in Sept 08) – Badges (# of waiting messages), custom alert sounds, and custom text alerts (with activation buttons to launch related applications). The unified push notification services will work over the both the cellular and the Wi-Fi networks; it can scale to many 3-rd party services.
  • Price – $199/$299 – Great pricing!The largest round of applause during the keynote was when Steve announced the iPhone pricing.

 

The customer testimonials were, not surprisingly, very positive and upbeat.  However, they did not, on the whole, seem to be over stating the capabilities of the iPhone.  The statements made by principles from Disney, the Department of Defense, and Genentech gave credibility to the ‘enterprise ready’ claims that Apple was making.  

The user/customer demonstrations were most impressive.  And, given the relatively short amount of time that most customers said that they had been working with the iPhone SDK (weeks to a few months), the demonstrations showed a surprising amount of features and functionality. 

 The demonstration of a LBS/Social application by Loopt was slick.  With Loopt, iPhone users will be able to see if their friends are nearby.  It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which you can use your iPhone to ‘check out’ entertainment venues (bars, restaurants) to see how many of your Facebook friends are there.  If it can do that, the iPhone might even be able to do the impossible-make Twitter useful J

 The gaming (Sega, Pangia Software, Digital Legends Entertainment) demos were really fun. The graphics/display looked better than many of the games on the DS.  I liked the idea of using the motion of the device as part of the controller (ala Wii).  I don’t think that Sega or Nintdeno need to worry too much (total cost of ownership if a fraction of a portable game device).  However, if you already have an iPhone then you will, most likely, not really need/want your GameBoy/DS.

 Six Apart, Typepad – The TypePad blogging client simple, uncluttered, and easy to use.

 Associated Press, Mobile News Network –  Allow real time reporting/posting of news stores from local sources. http://www.apnews.com/

 MLB.com, At Bat – You have to give high marks to to MLB for so quickly integrating nearly real-time video into their box scores. This is going to be a killer app for ‘sports junkies’.

 There were two demos in the medical/educational space.  Modality showed their medical educational software – currently used in curriculums at the medical colleges.  MIMvista demonstrated high-resolution medical imaging software.  The images were just amazing. One can see why there is strong interest in the medical community for the iPhone. The iPhone is going to be a great platform for building rich educational apps for all curriculums.

 Apple has made the development and delivery of custom mobile applications a very high (if not the number one) priority. 

 Application Distribution will come via three modes:

  • iPhone App Store – Users can access App Store from iPhone in 62 Countries
  • Enterprise Application Distribution – Companies will authorize iPhones (to run their application) in their enterprise, and they can create applications that will only run on those phones, and they can distribute those applications via their intranet. Their user then download the applications to their computers, and snyc them to the phones via iTunes ???
  • AdHoc Distribution of iPhone Apps – via expanded developer certification program. Up to 100 phones can be registered to run a set of applications. This will provide an easy method for development testing and small alpha trials. Would be nice to be able to expand the number of users to a few hundred users/phones for beta testing (I suspect that the limit is not hard and fast)

 In summary, it was one of the most impressive and compelling presentations of information technology that is have seen in a long time.  That said, Apple still has more work to do on the iPhone.

 What is missing, but appears to be coming:

  • Safari needs Flash Support. From a number of recent posts on iPhone Blogs, it would appear that Flash suport ‘is coming soon’.
  • Needs Java / JVM support – Sun says that there will be a JVM for the iPhone some time this ‘summer’ (July I suspect).
  • Native data encryption was announced, but no details were given. Note: It does not appear that encryption was available in the beta release

 

What is missing, but could be added (3-rd party application):

  • Dedicated/native iChat/IM applications.
  • Better YouTube search.

 What is missing and should be added:

  • Application delivery channel for the enterprise – TheiTunes sync requirement is justnot going to cut it with enterprise customers (I trust Steve knows that)
  • Multimedia Messaging.
  • Cut and paste of text – That is a really strange omission.
  • IM and SMS Forwarding.
  • Better Bluetooth (including OBEX transfers).
  • Support for Voice Dialing – Speech Recognition will have to be ‘native’ to work well.
  • Text-to-Speech – Should be native.
  • Needs a 32G version.
  • A real (non-toy) camera would be nice.

 All in all, the iPhone is an amazing consumer product.  That said, one of the most interesting things about the iPhone is the business model for application development and distribution.  The App Store provides the store front, the hosting, and the channel for the wireless distribution of 3-rd party applications.  Over time, it will be the 3-rd party applications that add the most value to the iPhone.

Given the price, features, functionality and the availability of 3-rd party applications, I believe that the iPhone will soon become the device of choice for consumers that are in the market for a smart phone.

 As for the question, “is the iPhone really enterprise ready?”  I think that the jury is still out on that question.  There have been a number of articles (from ComputerWorld, ZDNet, Gartner)  stating that that the iPhone remains largely untested from a corporate security standpoint, and that is still doesn’t offer quite the same level of security as either BlackBerry or Windows Mobile devices do.  There have been some unconfirmed reports, from beta testers, that there are still a number of outstanding ‘security concerns’.  It remains to be seen if they will be addressed by the July 11-th release date (only a month away).

Another major issue is the lack of third-party security software, such as antivirus and encryption tools.  Such tools are readily available for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices

The iPhone has a relatively small presence and a fairly short history in the enterprise.  It has yet to be widely checked for vulnerabilities by third-party penetration testers.  There needs to be validation of the security of the iPhone by third parties who have tested and validated the security of the iPhone within the enterprise.


Convergence – 2008 TAG Forum on Leading Technologies

May 15, 2008

April 25, 2008

Atlanta, GA. Last month, I attended the 2008 Annual MITEF/TAG Forum on Leading Technologies http://www.tagonline.org/2008miteftagevent.php. The topic was a timely one – Convergence. They had a good panel of industry experts: Jim Straight, SVP Consumer Product, Verizon; Mark Taylor, SVP, Product Delivery, Business Markets for Level 3; Bob Schukai, VP Wireless and Broadband Technologies & Platform R&D, Turner; Allen Weiner from Gartner; and Dr. Neale Martin  http://www.tagonline.org/2008miteftagevent.php#bios.
It was a little, actually a lot, like the blind man/men describing the part of the elephant that they were touching.  Or, more to the point, the part of the elephant that they wanted you to see and they way in which they wanted you to see it.  That said, the presentations and discussions were useful and informative.
 The title of the forum was ‘Convergence’, but the theme that I kept hearing was the need for all of the various players to find/make new ways of doing business.

Allen Weiner’s keynote touched on a wide range of topics:  from TV on your cell phone and social casting, to what he described as ‘Super Enablers’ (Amazon and Google Business Apps), to opportunities presented by the elections and the Olympics.  However, in all of the topics was a clear message that Convergence was going to drive the creation of new business strategies and relationships.

Jim Straight talked at length about the need for Verizon and their partners to develop and implement new business models:  core business capabilities, partner relationships and value propositions.

Mark Taylor described how Level 3 had to completely re-architect their network to be able to double  the amount of bandwidth that they can deliver (every year), and, at the same time, lower the cost of their services.

Bob Schukai’s (Turner) presentation focused, not surprisingly, on media and content delivery. He is one of the few presenters that I have heard recently who asked the audience to ‘turn on your phones and let them ring’.   The tagline for Bob’s talk was ‘brands without borders’ – the delivery of media and content, and, of course, advertising, without regard for networks, technologies or devices.  The second theme was ‘no experience in isolation’ – being able to link media and content from one source to another (i.e. use TV to promote mobile content and vice versa).  In the end, it is all about finding/making new ways of linking content, channels and  networks, experiences, and devices (to drive subscription and advertising revenue). 
One of the key issues presented was ‘openness/access to cellular networks and
creation of services/applications that can run on those networks’. Jim Straight talked at some length about the need to embrace new business models and their [Verizon’s] plans to open up their wireless network. However, he gave few specifics or details about their plans.
During the Q/A session, I asked Jim Straight a direct question about their support for Google’s open mobile software project (Open Handset Alliance), but all I got were general statements about their commitment to ‘openness’ (he even started talking about Linux, not sure where that was coming from).  I did not come away from all that with a ‘warm/fuzzy’ about their open network plans. I talked to a couple of the other presenters about their take on Verizon’s plans to open their network.  One presenter was somewhat (guardedly) positive – “yea, open, but open in Verizon’s terms”. However, another presenter was quite negative – “a cold day in hell”.  That person reminded me that the FCC mandated an open cable standard five years ago, and then asked if I could see any evidence of an open cable network [open to 3-rd parties] – I could not think of any such evidence.
 
I believe that the meaningful innovation in this space is likely to come from some number (possibly all) of the following scenarios:

 – There will be a strong push from the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Cisco and others with real muscle to get carriers to open up their cell networks – any applications, any devices.  The open platform provisions from the recent 700M auction are a good starting point; but, as always, ‘the devil will be in the details’.
– One of the more innovative carriers is going to embrace some new/radical business models that are inherent to this new, open network – possibly a T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile or Sprint (the Clearwire deal may have potential).
– The openness of the European carriers (Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2, Orange) and Asian countries (Japan and Korea) will put pressure on ATT and Verizon.
– Clever innovation from players in the eCommunication space (i.e. VoIP capabilities imbedded in Adobe Flex).
– Clever individuals will find workarounds to the restrictions of the cell networks (i.e. iPhone hacking).