Apple’s Art of War

Apple is the most valuable company in the world today. The main reason for Apple’s success (apart from great products) is how it fights in the mobile war. Apple uses the Guerrilla warfare strategy to make all its competitors bite the proverbial dust.

Strategy 1: Rise from the ashes with infinite wisdom

Guerrilla battle teams rise from the ashes of past defeat with the wisdom required to win. Apple was a fading company in the 90s. With the learning from previous failures, Steve Jobs’ leadership, and the launch of the iPod Classic, Apple rose from the ashes. The rest, as they say, is history.

Strategy 2: Remain hidden until it is ready to attack

Guerrilla battle teams are hidden until they attack the enemy. Similarly, Apple, with its absolute secrecy, ensures that its product strategy is always hidden. Its product lines, features, and components are always shrouded in absolute secrecy before launch. For example, nobody knew Siri was the key feature before iPhone 4S was launched.

Strategy 3: Use its weakness as a strength

Guerrilla battle teams use their weakness as strength. For example, they are small (weakness) and hence extremely mobile (strength). Unlike Windows, that can run on a variety of hardware Mac OS X could only run on the Mac hardware. This exclusivity was perceived as Apple’s biggest weakness. Today, because the iOS runs on iPhones, iPods, and iPads, it thus creates a common framework for Apple Apps. Across various Apple devices, Apple users have downloaded the apps over 25 billion times. This uniformity of hardware and operating system is now Apple’s biggest strength.

Strategy 4: Enjoy Public Support

Guerrilla battle teams enjoy public support – that’s why they win. Similarly, Apple has built a huge cult following over the years that it can tap into. Mac, iPhone and iPod users always remain loyal to Apple. This fan base is a huge plus for Apple since loyal users always upgrade to the newer versions of Apple products. For instance, have you ever heard of people standing in lines overnight for Android or BlackBerry devices?

Strategy 5: Grow stronger as the enemy grows weaker from within

Guerrilla battle teams draw their strength from the weakening enemy. This tendency is psychological as well as practical. As RIM constantly reduces the price of the BlackBerry Playbook, it shows that the BlackBerry Playbook is not worth the original price. HP shutting down its tablet business signifies defeat. The weakening and dying enemies help Apple grow stronger psychologically as well as in market share.

When Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War, I’m sure he did not think Apple would use it to reach the zenith of excellence and success!

Laptop, Netbook, Tablet or Smartphone?

The problem: I already have a desktop at home as my primary computer. I am trying to choose my secondary device to carry around with me. I am looking for something that I can travel with and also take with me to the local coffee shop. I am interested in social networking, writing blogs, Google Maps, and e-mails, but nothing much else.

Following are the options:

Laptop: Carrying a laptop has its own advantages and disadvantages. A laptop is a complete system with a lot of processing power. A good laptop has enough battery to last you a long time. With a large screen, and multiple programs installed, a laptop is a good workhorse to carry around on a day to day basis. On the downside, it is heavy, bulky, and comes with a lot of accessories that need to be carried around. The power cord, the laptop case, and the mouse (an optical mouse or a magic mouse for a Mac).

Netbook (Ultrabook): The best part of the netbook is its battery power. Most netbooks have a battery life of around 8 to 10 hours (the ASUS Eee PC 1000 HE). However, it has a small screen without a CD/DVD drive. A netbook is slower and mostly used for travel. A netbook is very compact, but can be used only for email or basic surfing. Once you start doing some advanced word processing or graphics, and the netbook starts stalling.

Tablet: A Tablet is a very good option IF you don’t need to type a lot. Most tablets are very good for multimedia, movies, and social networking. If you need to type a lot, you need to have an external keyboard. A tablet does not have tactile feedback and you don’t feel it when you have pressed a key. Some tablets can play a sounds when a key is pressed. Also, in some tablets, the key is highlighted when you press it. Other than that, there is no tactile feedback. A good bluetooth keyboard is very important for a tablet in case you need to do a lot of typing.

Smartphone: A Smartphone is a very good option if you want to make and receive calls (and stay connected to the Internet). You can use a smartphone for emails, social networking, and apps. The smartphone is always connected to the Internet. The best part of a smartphone is it does not need to be booted up like a netbook or a laptop. Since smartphones are basically phones, they are always ON. Using a bluetooth keyboard, you could always type a lot of long emails or blog posts. The screen is small, but with a slightly larger font, it would be readable from a distance, say top of a table.

Assuming you don’t want to invest in a laptop or a netbook and you want something as your ‘secondary’ device, a tablet or a smartphone can serve as a very good option.

How do you choose your secondary device? Here’s how you can decide. Which of the following features do you want to use the most?

  • Internet
  • Social Media
  • Games
  • News
  • Email
  • Blog
  • Camera
  • Movies

Once you zero down on what you want to do, we could probably choose the best device. Tablets are really cool since they can do all of the above (with an external keyboard of course!).

Let us assume you just want to type long emails or blog. And you also like to interact with people using Facebook. If you don’t want to watch movies or do anything advanced on your device, maybe a smartphone with a keyboard would be a good idea.

If you would just like to use the device for blog posts or long emails, it might be ok to have a small screen. You could just get a bluetooth keyboard and type away!

This is what your setup (smartphone with a bluetooth keyboard) would look like:

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However, if you want to do something rich in multimedia, watch movies or just edit photos, you might want to go for a tablet.

Comparing a large and small screen might seem funny, since this is what the comparison would look like:

20120311-175613.jpg

But you can’t really carry around your iMac, can you?

Another good device (which the ad classifies as both a tablet and a smartphone) is the Samsung Galaxy Note. The Samsung Galaxy Note is slightly bigger than smartphones but definitely smaller than a tablet.

Once devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note enter the market, the decision just gets more difficult. In a world where you need to decide between netbooks, laptops, tablets, and smartphones what would you call the Samung Galaxy Note?

The decision just became harder.

An Apple a day for every age

I was wondering why Apple is more successful than other companies out there. Why is Apple’s growth phenomenal even through the recession? What is it that Apple is doing right? What is Apple’s mantra for continuous success?

I have heard many reasons for Apple’s success such as: Apple has a cult following, People are crazy about Apple products, Apple is a good marketer, Apple’s secrecy is the reason for success, and the very best It was only because of Steve Jobs’ charisma.

There is a perfectly logical reason for Apple’s success. Let’s analyze what Apple is doing differently. Apple creates both hardware and the software for that hardware. The hardware specifications for each device type (smartphone, tablet) are exactly the same. When programmers write the code for the software, they have a uniform hardware platform to work with such as CPU, memory, or GPU. As a result, they are able to create a uniform operating system. A uniform hardware and a uniform operating system lead to a Uniform User Experience.

Android is an awesome operating system. However, the Android market is extremely fragmented with multiple hardware devices and hence, developers need to write different drivers for different hardware specifications. Screen resolution, input buttons, processing speed, memory, and Internet speeds are widely different for different Android devices. Android, in spite of being an amazing operating system, is thus unable to provide a uniform User Experience across all its devices like Apple.

While writing code for Apple apps, programmers can work with very uniform hardware and operating system specifications. However, for Android Apps, multiple devices and multiple operating systems need to be considered. It may not be possible for the Android apps to be tested and optimized for every hardware device out there.

But what does a Uniform User Experience mean for the success of the company? How does a Uniform User Experience translate to becoming the world’s most valuable company? How does a Uniform User Experience translate to a 100 billion dollar cash hoard?

The uniform programming environment and a Uniform User Experience has led to apps being used by a wide demographic/age groups finally leading to 25 billion downloads from the Apple App Store:

  • 2-3 years – Crayola Apps and devices for the iPad are used for kids to draw and enhance their creativity. Technology is being used at such a young age to do the same thing that was done using colors and papers.
  • 3-5 years – iPad is now being used in PreK and Kindergarten to teach kids the basic stuff that was being taught using a whiteboard. A Uniform User Experience ensures that each kid is learning the same way using the iPad. Toys are also a great hit amongst kids. (See Disney’s Cars Toys and App for the iPad)
  • 6-10 years – iPad and iPod touch are used by children to learn subjects like Math and Science. The interactivity boosts their interest and helps them learn. Each child using the same App learns in the exact same way. (Check out the Solar walk 3D App)
  • 10-16 years – Games are a huge hit in this age group. Thousands of games are being used today by pre-teen and teens today.
  • 16-20 years – Social networking and music are a great hit. Again, the User Experience is uniform across all devices for the same App.
  • 20+ years – News, Cooking, Games, Social networking, Music, Utilities and thousands of apps for every age is available today. Each App provides a Uniform User Experience for all users.

Android is a formidable opponent for the iOS. If there was a single hardware device (say Samsung Galaxy II, or Samsung Galaxy Tab), with a streamlined and exhaustively uniform Android operating system, the landscape of the mobile market could be very different today.

Meanwhile, there’s always an Apple App a day for every age.

Build and Run your own Cloud Storage with Pogoplug

There are a lot of cloud storage options available today – Dropbox, SkyDrive, MozyPro, Carbonite, and many more.

But here’s my problem: I already have a 2TB external hard drive where I store all my files at home. Copying around 1.5TB of data in the external hard drive to the cloud is very expensive since I would need to buy (or rent) the space, and pay a monthly charge. Plus, I lose the option of plugging in my external hard drive and copying my data from my computer directly.

The question then is: how can I transform my external hard drive into a secure cloud? The answer is simple: Pogoplug.

Buy the Pogoplug device from Best Buy for under 50 dollars. The Pogoplug device has 4 USB ports and 1 Ethernet port. Just plug an Ethernet cable to the Pogoplug device and connect it to the Ethernet port on your cable modem or wireless router. Now, plug in your external hard drive to one of the USB ports.

From your laptop or any other computer on the same network, just go to Pogoplug.com and activate the device. Enter your username and password to complete the activation. You are done! It’s plug-and-play.

Here are the cool features of Pogoplug:

  • Your external hard drive is your cloud! That’s right. You can access your external hard drive via any browser and upload/download the files. The capacity is limited by the size of your external hard drive.
  • Share files with anyone, anywhere. Select the file/folder you want to share and Pogoplug will send an email with a link to the recipient who can then download the files.
  • Use the Pogoplug app on your smartphone. I use the Pogoplug app for the iPhone and it is really cool. Just launch the app and all the photos and videos on your iPhone are automatically synced to your external hard drive over 3G or Wi-Fi. Pogoplug automatically categorizes the files as per the month or date they were taken.
  • Play music or videos remotely. You can play music from your external hard drive via your smartphone or the Internet remotely. Pogoplug optimizes the videos and music for you. You don’t really need to copy your music between devices anymore.
  • Set up a Backup or Redundancy. Here’s the coolest feature. Just plug in another external hard drive and select a folder from the 1st hard drive to be backed up to the 2nd hard drive (via Settings>Backup on your Pogoplug online account). Whenever a file is added to the 1st hard drive, it is automatically copied to the 2nd hard drive thereby creating redundancy. The chances of both hard drives failing at once are extremely rare, so your data is safe.
  • Print remotely. Plug in a printer to the Pogoplug device via USB and you can remotely print over the Internet or via your iPhone. Make sure Pogoplug supports your printer.
  • Automatically copy files from multiple computers. If you have multiple computers in your home/office, it’s a headache to backup the data from all the computers. Install the Pogoplug software and select the folders to be copied automatically (via the Active Copy feature). The files are automatically synced to the external hard drive. This is extremely useful for multiple home users and small businesses where data from multiple computers need to be backed up.
  • Use the Bonus Cloud Storage. When you create an account online, you get a 5GB cloud storage too. You can keep your work-in-progress files here just in case the power goes off and you cannot access your external hard drive. Of course, if you have a UPS, you may never need this feature.

With a Pogoplug hardware and an external hard drive, you can build and run your own cloud. Small businesses can use this setup to cut down costs and store important files within their on network instead of putting them up on the Internet.

It’s as simple as that – your own cloud for zero dollars a month.