Cloud Computing

Where’s the next Tech War?

Tech War

Are you among those who are still wondering what would be the outcome of Mac Vs PC battle? Here’s news for you, the battle does not matter anymore. Both parties are not bothered about the outcome any more and have stopped spending their efforts behind it. Apple pulling off the famous “I’m a Mac” ad campaign should be enough as an evidence for you. Assuming that the current market position and brand value ranking(#1) that Apple has achieved, let us for argument assume that Apple is the #1 tech company in the world. So where do you think is the next battle and which is the tech company to watch out for in platform and hardware battle? Who is the biggest threat to Apple?

Do you think with its Launch of a better OS for desktop (windows 7) and a new OS for mobile (Win7) it is Microsoft? Or with its recent launch of touch based blackberry phones and acquisition of QNX to eventually launch a tablet(Playbook) on new OS it is RIM? Or with its rapid market share gain in mobile platform and recent launch of Honeycomb for tablets and the all new Chomebook it is Google?

Well if you rule out the previous two companies and go for the later i.e. Google, I would agree with you on your first guess of ruling out Microsoft and RIM but I would tend to have a different opinion in case of Google. I don’t think Google can pose as much of a threat to Apple or in that case even Microsoft mainly because of a couple of reasons. One the company has got its hands in too many projects that are all in beta stage and in most cases all of them die and untimely death without seeing light (steady state). There are countless examples to prove my point. Google Buzz, Google Video, Google Notebook, Google Catalog, Google Answers, Web Accelerator, Google Audio Ads, Dodgeball, Google X, Google Wave, Lively, Jaiku etc and few soon to join like Google TV, ORKUT etc are few of them. The biggest problem with this approach is that though they have got the brightest of the brains to work for them there is a severe lack of channelised focus which ultimately leads downfall of those products. Their behavior can best be compared to a child who wants everything that belongs to others and would never be able to enjoy what he has in hand. Unless, Google gets their act straight and have somebody at the help with a razor sharp vision and focus to hold the company together, it is going to have the same fate that Microsoft had. Lot of initial success but eventually end up in disarray.

The company that falls in the category of having everything that Google is missing and the one which would end up being the biggest competitor to Apple according to me would be, AMAZON. They are a company with a sharp vision. A well disciplined company. A company that is slowly, but steadily, making inroads in the biggest markets/trends of the future. All their investment has been very silent but assured. Brick by brick, they have built services that would eventually become the main products or go to products for future not only for SMBs but large organisations as well. They are a company that is focused on quality as much as Apple is and would not allow any third party to use their name unless it is of the standard they approve. Look at Kindle! It is a device that could put Apple products to shame in build quality. Not only did they achieve that but also they sell it at a price that is a no brainer for consumer. In contrast, Google allows third parties to not only build Android based products that are flimsy but also allows them to put Google’s name on them.

Let us quickly go through the product catalog that Amazon has been quietly building. Amazon web services(AWS) is a wide array of web & could based service that caters to the needs of all kind of end customers. It houses in it products to cater to E-commerce, Storage, messaging, networking, payment and billing, Database, content delivery etc to name a few. If you are an end customer that is a large organisation or a one man shop who wants to move to cloud; look no further. They have got it all. In media and fashion, Amazon has acquired every company that makes any market sense and have built a large catalog for themselves to cater to all your media, books, fashion needs. They have even built a store for Andriod App of the quality that Google has struggled to produce so far. They have built up the infrastructure, catalog that is unmatchable. The only thing that they now need is a product that helps people explore this catalog. I would not be surprised if Amazon came up with either or all of a phone, computer, tablet, TV that would act as a frontend to the Amazon market place. They have displayed with Kindle the quality of product they can build. They have the resources to throw behind their product. They have the right attitude and reach to customer. In short, Amazon has got in it everything that is required to be a threat to Apple and to take over as the number one tech company. It is not a question of what it is a question of when? And the answer is; you’ll not have to wait long………  Watch this space!

How would Apple use $1 billion Data Centre in North Carolina

Apple has been building a 500,000 square-foot data centre is North Carolina, US for some time now. This is the largest data centre that Apple will own once it is ready and will act as a back bone to Apple services.

Here are few options that I think the data centre will likely be used for. considering the size of the data centre is obvious that it will be used for more than one of the options mentioned below

1) iTunes music streaming

iTunesAfter the purchase of Lala it was highly speculated that Apple will build on their service and design a bigger and better model of online music streaming. Eventually, Apple shut down Lala’s online services in May of this year and has not given any indication that suggest that they are going to start a similar service of their own with iTunes. Considering the size of iTunes and the market share that it commands it was never going to be easy for Apple to start a similar service as it would first have to sort out agreements with record labels and get them to buy in. Though we have not seen any movement in this area and any clear indications about the service, it is one of the items that is definitely on the cards and will see light very soon.

2) Media Streaming
(Movies and TV shows)

This is one service which is definitely in-flight. How apple is playing different with Apple TV compared to Google and other services is that the other players are relying on content that is already available on the internet through either the channel or through the producer, Apple here is more likely to host all the media content on their servers and provide the facility to all partners (channels, production house). The assurance that they would have in return is that all media would be streamed from Apple’s data centre and that it would be secure and locked so that it is not possible to download and copy the rented media that is streamed through Apple, unless purchased. This would be a big selling point for Apple who would slowly be able to get a grip on the Media streaming business and eventually be a proper threat to the current Cable/dish networks. Any sort of inroads in this space would only be possible if there is enough content available with Apple. The data centre would be a big selling point for not only converting and securely storing media but also securely streaming subscribers from their own facilities where they have greater control. Currently, there are two production houses Fox and ABC that have signed up with Apple to make their content available on rent through iTunes. I would not be surprised if we come to know against the popular belief that Apple actually had chosen to go only with the two as they wanted to test the data centre thoroughly before other channels/production houses were brought on board or while the content on other channels is being processed and converted.


3) E-mail Service

Apple EMailAs I write this article, it is very likely that facebook would have beaten Apple in the race of providing email service. Apple has never shown any interest in this space and have kept away from it all this while. But with the social media growing very strongly at global level and where facebook and twitter have a strong grip the only other space that will get more users on board with Apple would be the email space. Currently Gmail has a strong grip on the market share with its innovative and robust emailing solution but with every passing day Google is finding ways to show to the world of the different ways they are trying to get more and more information about the internet user and Gmail is just one of them. I do not trust Google with my emails as much as I did a year ago. facebook is in a similar zone. With all the security issues on facebook over the last couple of years it has become a highly unreliable company to trust with your personal data. When facebook launches its email service it is more than likely that they’ll hit a 10 million users in one week but most of them out of pressure than to actually take advantage of the features that facebook may provide on their email service. Apple is one company and I would rate Amazon to be as close that people would not have as many issues with having an email id with which they trust would be secure and would want to use as their primary account. Moreover, with iTunes accounts Apple already has a large user base that can be easily converted to email users if Apple wishes to do so. Apart from social networks, email service is the only place on the internet that can help you showcase your potential to shape user’s experience at such a large scale. It would also be possible for Apple to seamlessly integrate their email services with iOS and OS X to ensure a great user experience on both the platforms and their devices that support those platforms.

4) MobileMe (Cloud computing)

Cloud computing is a concept which is still in its infant stages. There are a few companies that  have tried to shape it in different ways and have come up with their own unique understanding of the concept. Dropbox, Evernote, MobileMe, Google docs etc are a few that come to mind immediately when you think about cloud computing. Apple has already been in this space for sometime with MobileMe. The only issue with that is that they have not got it right. Right in a way that it becomes globally acceptable and becomes the norm of the industry. Apple and people related to the project may want to differ with my opinion but the fact remains that considering the time that MobileMe has been around, it should have gained atleast 100 times its current acceptance to be called relevant in this segment. MobileMe is definitely a good service if not better but has a huge scope of improvement right from design to implementation. It goes back to the same old issue of whether Apple has an understanding of virtual services on internet. They are good when it comes to hardware and experience on the hardware device but do they understand the internet well? They have shown their in-expertise again with a service like Ping which is struggling to make its way even in the iTunes using community. They need someone who is of a non engineer mindset and can look at things from a internet usage perspective who can help them shape MobileMe service in a way that it becomes the norm of industry and takes the shape of how cloud computing of the future would look like.

It is clear from Apple’s product portfolio announced in the last six months that it is the cloud they are planning to move towards with slow but assured steps. Apple TV with no storage, MacBook Air with only 64 GB storage, iPhone, iPad are all hinting towards the inevitable move to cloud storage.

Mac Essentials: DropBox

DropBox
DropBox

How may times do you use your USB stick to copy and move your files around? How many times do you send a copy of file to yourself so that you can pick it up on a different machine while on travel or at home/office? Now the only downside about this is that you’ll end up with multiple versions of the same file and each one residing at a different location. Imagine a situation where you have multiple computers that you work on and are constantly worried about the right version of a file to be available on the right machine.

DropBox is a tool that can be used to overcome such issues. DropBox is a cloud storage tool that resides on your Mac and seamlessly stores file on the cloud in real time. Since it is available on almost all platforms including mobile platforms, it comes in very handy for making changes in a file on the go and from different locations.

With DropBox, you can use it on as many machines as you like. You can manage files with a simple drag and drop. You can also create folders and sub folders to manage your files. You can share access to a folder with friends, family, clients, associates, vendors and more so that they need not have a copy of the file but can access the file from your folder to get the latest and most updated version of the file at anytime. Sharing of the folder can be done with others even if they do not use DropBox.

You get to use 2GB space for free when you sign up DropBox. You can pay for additional storage based on your requirement. There are various storage options available on payable basis. By the way, DropBox offers a referral scheme which can land you a cool 8GB of extra storage!

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