Sunny Friday ShareDay


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In New York City, we’ve declared winter officially over, less because of the official start of spring and more because of the amazing weather we have been having! (You all can thank me, by the way. This year I acquired my first gas-powered snowblower, thus ensuring a snow-free winter.)

Also in 2012, my family started our conversion to Apple devices – we picked up a pair of iPhones and an iPad so far and we are instant fans (see last week’s Friday ShareDay post). MacBooks are next on the list.

All that data consumption on our wireless devices has us becoming more and more mindful of our data plans and on what seems like a constant quest for wifi.

The first time I got an iPhone in my hands, I understood (and frankly, changed my mind) on the need for free wifi hotspots in major traffic areas, incluing downtowns, at train stations and in commercial buildings. The wireless companies are making huge investments in their high speed networks, mostly to cash in on expensive data plans that power social media, streaming entertainment and texting. But even the best 4G/LTE infrastructure can’t measure up to a robust wifi hotspot.

So this article on a wifi usage study from TechCrunch comes along almost serendipitously, showing that we’re not only not alone in our mania, but quite normal. What do you think?

Happy Weekend!

Target: Apple

Apple & Target

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Over the weekend, Mashable reported news that Apple would soon experiment with mini-stores inside Target locations.

Pair this with the news that plans for the Steve Jobs action figure have been abandoned by its creators (thank goodness), and it raises a question I’d like to throw out for debate: is Apple in danger of watering down its brand?

There’s no argument that part of Steve Jobs’ genius was his showmanship, and his understanding of what when into great marketing of a product to turn it into a mega-brand.

My perception of that genius has, at its core, the balance of an “exclusivity of brand” with a “there’s room for everyone” concept.

Jobs communicated that Apple products are special, and so the people who use them are special.

But admission to that club came – and still comes – at a price: whether it’s a $99 Apple TV or a $2,000 MacBook, you aren’t a full member of the tribe before you have one of those shiny new gadgets in your hand.

Even the process of purchsing my iPhone4S recently had an “induction” feel to it; I stood with a store employee who actually high-fived me once the phone was set up (or maybe I high-fived her?). That was a first.

Jobs balanced these two concepts well, so the thought of making Apple so ubiquitous that you can pick up an iPad3 two aisles down from the laundry detergent and dog biscuits seems odd to me.

Yes, Best Buy sells Apple products, but that seems right – it’s a personal electronics/gadget store. And so putting the MacBooks across from the gaming consoles and OLED TVs is more of a fit than alongside toothpaste and motor oil.

I’ll probably have to eat these words in a year or two, after the Target experiment has been crowned another stellar Apple success. But for now I’ll call it an unusual choice, and admit I’ll be watching this closely.

What do you think?

RIP, Steve Jobs

Red Apple

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I let out an audible gasp upon hearing the news. I don’t gasp, but this was one of those moments.

So much will be said and written in the coming days about Steve Jobs and his contributions to technology. But he was more than a computer guy, gadget maker or technological innovator. His creations went far beyond that little magic brick in your pocket. He literally changed the world.

For better or for worse (and I think better) Jobs can be credited with:

iTunes forced music companies to rethink distribution, and all but abandoned the concept of the “record store.” Purchasing music, movies and books instantly, the moment you want them, is now the norm.

– He created a new economic model with the 99-cent song and provided a platform to buy only what you wanted, obliterating the concept of the “album.”

Mac-based music and video production put once expensive tools into amateurs’ hands, allowing art that may never have been able to be made to flourish and spread. And make money where they might never have.

Pixar created a treasure trove of movies and opened new pathways of storytelling. There’s a slew of Academy Awards that were basically created for this genre of movie-making.

The major telcos are far richer because of the iPhone and have created entire divisions solely dedicated to making sure voice and data pushed across their networks function properly. The explosion in subscribers and the data they consume is directly attributable to iPhone, which paved the way for all other similar devices.

Running after Apple is an industry unto itself, with thousands employed in the sport. Hundreds of magazines, books, reporters and publishing companies owe their existence and profitability to covering Apple products.

To say Steve Jobs will be missed hardly does his passing justice, because our world won’t get to see where he was going to take us next.

Apple Still Shiny

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The news that Steve Jobs is stepping down from the top spot at Apple is certainly a surprise, but not altogether shocking (or maybe the reverse?). We’re all aware of his ongoing health battles, and we wish him well.

Jobs’ statement said nothing about leaving Apple; in fact, he took pains to explain the roles he would still like to play. As corporate statements go, this one was remarkable in its specificity and humanity. But Jobs has always done business that way, and had his company/employees do it the same.

Jobs’ decision is one of a good CEO: he’s outlined a succession plan, and started to make his company less about him. (See Mashable’s great Post-Jobs org chart) And the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg wrote a great breakdown of Jobs’ and Apple’s impact on not only computing, but the entire world.

We’ll certainly miss those annual stage presentations, and incoming CEO Tim Cook will have large shoes to fill just when it comes to that. It will be interesting to see how that piece of the puzzle fleshes out, and if he chooses to do them at all, or reinvents them somehow.

Wall Street will no doubt make a mountain out of a molehill here, and the stock will dip. (It was down 4% overnight, so silly.) It will also rebound. My advice: buy. And here’s why:

Apple’s product line is strong and its pipeline is full. iPhone5 is rumored to be coming in October; an iPad3 should follow. And let’s face it, Apple make products that are more popular with a broader base of consumers. Barring a major catastrophe or shift in culture (unlikely with Jobs as Chairman of the Board), Apple will continue to do well.

So while the company’s business and strategy will be relatively unchanged, you will read stories over the next few days that will lead you to believe the opposite. Go ahead, Google it.

Here’s how I see it: if my 2-year-old, upon waking from a night’s sleep, continues to ask for “my iPad” before “milk” or “cereal” the way he’s done for a week now, Apple will be just fine.