Not trying to be flip, really, but seriously… Calm the frick down, people!
Here are the facts: Apple is holding an event on March 7th to show off the next generation iPad. The event will take place Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 10:00 am at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
Everything else is rumor, speculation, random guessing and complete B (as in “B”) S (as in “S”).
Recently, while on vacation in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and visiting family, we stayed at my sister’s house. She was kind enough to let us have her place while she found accommodations elsewhere. She moved in to this place herself not too long ago and was proud to point out to us the brand new, gigantic, flat-panel television and full Cable TV package she purchased slightly before our arrival. She felt that our four year old daughter Beatrix would especially get a kick over having so many kids channels to watch on such a big screen.
Now, we don’t watch what someone my age would consider a traditional television at home. We do own one — a 15 year old CRT model that resides in our third floor office loft. That said it is very rarely turned on. We don’t subscribe to Cable TV. It is connected to a not much newer DVD player. The digital converter and antenna we have for it have not been hooked up for a couple of years. Beatrix will occasionally remember it when we are up there and shove a DVD in the player to watch. That is the extent of its use.
When we want to watch things like movies and shows, we do so using streaming services on a three generation old iMac 20 inch that resides in our library/den. This means mostly Netflix unless available for streaming otherwise (Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, direct from the show’s website, etc.). One can safely assume that if it is not available via online streaming then we likely have not watched it.
I say all of this to set up the fact that Beatrix has little idea of how traditional TV works and seeing her first real exposure to it was enlightening to say the least.
The first time came after attempting to walk to a parade a few blocks away and getting caught in one of the area’s famous torrential downpour rainstorms and having to turn back. Wet from head to toe and cold, we figured finding something fun for Beatrix to watch on that great big screen would lessen Beatrix’s disappointment at missing the parade. After scrolling through what seemed like a hundred options in the built-in program guide, I finally found a channel that had something on that would hold her interest — Shrek.
I turn to that, Beatrix approves, and we watch. Then, a few minutes later, a commercial comes on. The volume difference is jarring to say the least. I would safely guess it is fifty percent louder than the show. I hurriedly reach for the remote and turn it down…
“Why did you turn the movie off, Daddy?”, Beatrix worriedly asks, as if she has done something wrong and is being punished by having her entertainment interrupted. She thinks that’s what I was doing by rushing for the remote.
“I didn’t turn it off, honey. This is just a commercial. I was turning the volume down because it was so loud. Shrek will come back on in a few minutes” I say.
“Did it break?”, she asks. It does sometimes happen at home that Flash or Silverlight implode, interrupt her show, and I have to fix it.
“No. It’s just a commercial.”
“What’s a commercial?”, she asks.
”It is like little shows where they tell you about other shows and toys and snacks.”, I explain.
“Well the TV people think you might like to know about this stuff.”
“This is boring! I want to watch Shrek.”
“I know, honey. It will be on in a bit. Just be patient.”
The show eventually comes back on. I reach for the remote to turn the volume back up. We can barely hear it now. The difference in volume between the show and the commercial is shocking and I don’t remember it being this bad when I did watch television regularly. Perhaps it is only like this on kids channels. I wouldn’t know.
Of course, not more than ten minutes later, the movie is once again interrupted by a round of commercials.
“Why did they stop the movie again?” Beatrix, asks. Thus leading to essentially the same conversation as before. She just does not understand why one would want to watch anything this way. It’s boring and frustrating. She makes it through the end of the movie but has little interest in watching more. She’d rather play. The television is never turned on again during our stay.
A few days later and on our way back home, after a long day of driving, we arrive at a hotel. We check in, unpack the car of our essentials, make it to the room, and settle in for the night. There was a television in the room with some select Cable TV stations and Beatrix asked if she could watch a show. Sure, I said, so I turned it on, and flipped it to what appeared to be a kids channel. There was a commercial on.
“Is this a show?”, she asked.
“No. This is a commercial, we have to wait for the show to come on.”
I now realize, in hindsight, that she did not understand that all televisions work this way. She thought it was only the one in my sister’s place that was “broken” and “boring”. In her mind, this was a new TV and thus should work differently.
Then, a commercial for The Secret World of Arrietty comes on.
“This! I want to watch this!”, Beatrix exclaims.
“We can’t honey. It’s not out yet. It’s just a commercial.”, I say. She seems more confused so I try an analogy.
“You know when we go to a movie theater, and they show you previews of movies that are not out yet before the real movie? It’s like that.”
“Oh.”, she resigns. Not sure she gets this but I think the television executives and I have finally worn down her curious resolve.
When the commercials are over, it is some live action teen show. She is not impressed.
“Can I choose?”, Beatrix asks. She’s still confused. She thinks this is like home where one can choose from a selection of things to watch. A well organized list of suggestions and options with clear box cover shots of all of her favorites. I have to explain again that it does not work that way on television. That we have to watch whatever is on and, if there is nothing you want to watch that is on then you just have to turn it off. Which we do.
I then do what I should have simply done in the first place. I hook up the iPad to the free hotel wifi and hand it to her. She fires up the Netflix app, chooses a show, and she is happy.
This, she gets. This makes sense.
One of the benefits of a long car trip with my wife is the opportunity to have really great and insightful conversations with the smartest person I know. Yesterday, on the first leg of our trip, we spent some time discussing Microsoft’s many missed opportunities. The failure to take the iPhone seriously. The failure to take the iPad seriously. And, on. And on…
Then I brought up to her what I thought was Microsoft’s biggest miss. That being this:
Microsoft’s DNA is software. They are primarily a software company. The very name of the company is a mashup of microcomputer and software. And of all of the software they produce, one is more important than all the rest and a huge revenue source that the very livelihood of the company has come to depend on.
Are you thinking Windows? Wrong.
This is also the main cross-platform software they build. Got it yet? Yep.
Why then, instead of laughing at the iPhone, iPad, Android, or anything else that comes along, not employ a strategy of “Office Everywhere” and build platform specific and complementary versions of Office for every device that popped up? That, to me, seemed to be their biggest miss. Can you even fathom how many versions of “Office for iOS” they could have sold at this point? I would guess in the millions.
This, I said to my wife was their biggest miss.
And, as usual, my wife disagreed. She then laid down a thought so insightful, so deep, so damned perceptive, that it just about brought me to tears in its completeness.
You see, she said, missing all of the opportunities was just the start of a much deeper problem. Microsoft for many years had convinced the world that, in order to get “real work” done, you needed Office.
In fact, my many years of Mac Consulting was proof of this. To my clients, Microsoft Office was a “must have” no matter how much I tried to convince them otherwise. And I tried very hard for a while before even I just finally gave up. If a client told me they had to have it I just nodded along and told them what to get and where. They were as sure as the sun rises that, without Office, they would not be able to work, open attachments, write letters, anything. They had to have it.
Then, she explained, the iPhone came. There was no Office. People got things done. Then the iPad came. There was no Office. People got things done. Android came. People got things done. All of those things that they, just a couple of years ago, were convinced they needed Office to do. They got them done without it. And thus, the truth was revealed.
Microsoft’s biggest miss is not the lack of a smartphone, or tablet, or Office apps for iOS and Android.
Like the curtain finally falling from the Wizard of Oz to find just a small, frail, man pretending to be far more powerful and relevant than he really was. Microsoft’s biggest miss was allowing the world to finally see the truth behind the big lie — they were not needed to get real work done. Or anything done, really.
And that will be what ultimately kills them.
At some point this weekend, while I was not looking, I missed the fact that Minimal Mac just passed 25,000 followers in Tumblr. To give you some idea of the rate of growth, I posted about 20,000 back in late October. Mind blowing.
To celebrate, reader Greg Jones kindly donated a license for Sparrow, the wonderful email client for Mac, to go to one lucky winner. I’ve covered it before. You’ll love it.
I asked Greg if he wanted me to link to anything in return for his generosity and he selflessly said that he himself did not want anything. I pressed him a bit and here is what he said:
Glad to be able to share something with your readers. As to linking to a site, I do not have anything personally but my wife Jeannette is an inflammatory breast cancer survivor (8 years this month). A few years ago we started the small non-profit organization Stamp To Cope to raise breast cancer awareness and to share card making as a cancer coping mechanism. She blogs about the journey at this site:
I’m sure she would appreciate a mention of her cause.
We should all learn a lesson from him (and her). Please, support this worthy cause.
Also, F*ck Cancer!
Here are the rules to enter. I’m going to make you do a bit of work this time:
To enter, please send me a message to @minimalmac on Twitter with the name of the singer who sang “ Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow ” and the name of the hit 1970’s detective show for which it was the theme song, before midnight (Central Standard Time) Tuesday, Feb. 14th. No entries will be considered afterwards. Got that? I want both Singer and Show Name
One winner will be selected tomorrow at random and notified by reply to their Twitter message. In that reply, I will give instructions for emailing me and I will reply with the license file.
Got it? Great. Go!