On Apple vs Google’s ecosystems

People not living in the Apple world, usually dismiss its ecosystem by saying that you end up locked into it.

The same people think that by moving to Android they are going to be free. Free of what? This is a fallacy.

When you start investing in either Apple or Google, you get stuck with it. Google’s ecosystem locks you in no less than Apple’s if you really want to be productive.

The question is really which ecosystem covers your requirements better. This is not about which one is evil or which one is a walled garden.

As it stands, Apple fits my needs better. And has done it for the past 22 years. That’s all.

Apple and sarcasm

I just wanted to link this post by Charles Pinker discussing how many elite Apple bloggers resort to sarcasm when it comes to discussing the competition.

He makes a good point about it and I think that all of us have in the past used more or less the same kind of attitude. One of my most visited posts is still an old Google’s mea culpa list where I had some fun looking at the times Google had to apologise to its users.

We should all go back to talking about Apple without looking down on anybody. After all Apple was among the losers not so long ago and old Apple users like me clearly remember that.

Apple winning with consumers, Microsoft with the enterprise

It’s becoming more and more evident that Microsoft will concentrate on the enterprise market with Windows 8 tablets which is where the real cash for Microsoft is. Computerworld reports that:

Microsoft’s tablet sales will concentrate in the enterprise market. John Jackson, analyst at research firm CCS Insight, told Reuters:

“Microsoft and all its licensees are late to the game, but for all Apple’s inroads into enterprise markets, it’s still Microsoft’s fortress to lose.”

I totally agree with this. I can’t see how microsoft can be competitive in the consumer tablet market in the near future. Selling average devices is not going to convince people to switch from Apple. The enterprise market is different though as I previously wrote (check the comments too).

In the enterprise Microsoft can leverage the close integration between all their solutions such as Exchange, Lync, Sharepoint and Office.

Apple is winning the consumer market hands down.

(Via Computerworld)


One in two American family owns an Apple product

A new consumer report shows that 50% of American families own at least one Apple product.

It’s also interesting the breakdown of those numbers by family income:

It is not much of a shock to learn the majority of Apple buyers are working-class users earning upwards of $75,000 a year. For example, only 28 percent of people who make $30,000 yearly own an Apple product, in comparison to the roughly 77 percent making $70,000 who own an average of three.

Interesting enough it seems that Apple customers are equally distributed between Democrats and Republicans. I wonder what happens in other counties.

What will Apple do with $ 100B cash?

Tomorrow Apple will host a conference call to discuss the decision taken by its board of directors on what to do with the $ 100B in cash that the company has stashed in the past few years.

The call is scheduled on Monday at 9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific.

Update: Apple is going to pay $ 2.65 per share and start a $ 10B stock buy back program that will cost the company about $ 45B in the next three years.

(via AppleInsider)

Would you trust your data to an ad agency?

One of the most juicy posts this week has been the one on Zdnet.com that compared the revenue distribution across product lines for Apple, Microsoft and Google.

This is nothing new, I wrote about the unbalanced Google’s revenue stream in my how-to instructions on how to move to iCloud, what is interesting is the comparison with two normal IT companies. Ed Bott, the journalist that posted the entry, also wrote:

If you want to understand why a company acts the way it does, just follow the money.

When you think about it, it becomes clear why Google values your data so much. That’s the only raw material that they have to build their products. There’s nothing else. Google will not think twice – and in fact is not doing it – to change whatever Privacy Policy to get what they need to survive.

We can expect more from Google (and Facebook too for that matter) in the coming months. I believe that most people don’t see this as a big problem, as long as the service remains free, so they keep saying. Others simply shrug at the issue with a generic “it’s not a problem as long as you know that they do it”. It’s up for debate that is the way to tackle the problem.

As for me, I use Google services less and less every day. macography.net email is hosted on Google Apps for Domain. I chose it because what I write is public anyway so I don’t care too much if Google data mine my emails.

It’s a totally different story with my personal emails, the emails that come from my bank, my doctor, insurance, pension fund etc. all end up in an iCloud account. I’ve been using it since the service was called iTools and could not be happier.

One thing that has always baffled me is why I seldom get spam emails on my .mac account but I am flooded with it on a test Gmail account that I opened in 2005. Gmail does an excellent job at moving those email to the spam folder but I’ve never fully understood why I get so much spam on Gmail even if I don’t use it as much as my mac.com email address. I’ve got a theory for it but I think I should not write it in a blog unless I have any proof of it.

I’m slowly but steadily convincing my closest friends and family members to move their emails to other services. If they happen to complain that Google services are better than others, I try to talk them into using paid services with equal or better quality. At the end of the day there ain’t no such thing as a free meal.

Apple products in the enterprise market

Apple devices are becoming more common in the enterprise market. Their popularity is pushed by pure osmotic pressure from the bottom up. That is from the users that already buy Apple products for their home use.

In the past week AppleInsider published a post that went almost completely unnoticed. According to Good, a company that manages multiplatform enterprise mobility solutions,

The iPhone accounted for 61 percent of all enterprise smartphone activations in the third quarter of 2011, retaining the lion’s share despite Android’s growth to 39 percent of smartphones.

Apple’s iPad also showed complete domination of the enterprise tablet market, taking 96 percent of total activations tracked by Good. Android represented just 4 percent of tablet activations for the quarter.

The statistics published by Good don’t include Blackberry and Windows devices which makes these numbers less dramatic that they initially seem. Nonetheless they give a good idea of how far iOS devices have come.

Whoever has the pleasure – or misfortune depending on the point of view – to walk around a multinational open space office will tell you that the number of employees walking around with Apple devices has increased significantly in the recent months.

It’s a big flurry of sales people talking into their iPhones, executives using iPads in their presentations and consultants taking MacBook Pros out of their bags.

Any IT Administrator will confirm this fact. They will tell you of how many support tickets they get every month with requests on how to connect an iPhone to the local Exchange server, print from a Mac and so forth.

It’s a trend that only now is getting steeper and steeper.

The factors behind the trend

This phenomenon is becoming bigger because of four factors:

  1. Bring Your Own PC (BYOP) policies.
  2. Self support.
  3. File and communication standards.
  4. The availability of solutions like Citrix Receiver.

Let’s briefly analyze each of these points.


In the majority of multinationals’ IT policies have become somehow more lax. Usually strict policies are enforced for PCs because their hard-drive image is centrally managed.

Many other companies have real BYOP policies in place whereas they allow their employees to use whatever hardware they choose.

When it comes to smartphones, the control of IT is even less strict. Unless the company uses Blackberry devices and the Blackberry Enterprise Server that ties employees to a single platform, employees are free to use whatever brand they want. This is where all those big numbers for iOS devices come.

Self Support

This is somehow linked to the first point. IT policies usually request that if the employees decide to use their own devices, they are also responsible for the support. Not surprising as your own PC/smartphone is usually a non official supported device.

IT is generally OK with it as long as you don’t cause problems on the main infrastructure. A rare event in any case with the protections that exist nowadays.

File and communication standards

Microsoft Exchange, Docx, Xlsx, and so on makes working with an officially supported device or your own Apple device exactly the same thing.

The availability of solutions like Citrix Receiver

This is where a small piece of software, and a great technology behind it, can bridge the gap between Windows applications that are ubiquitous in the enterprise and Apple devices. Provided that those Windows applications are virtualized, by using a solution like Citrix Receiver, an employee can use his/her Mac/iPad/iPhone to work with the existing software.

An IT shift

For the first time in IT Enterprise history we are witnessing a change in who’s making decisions. More and more, the single employees are in control of what device to use.

Because most of them already use Apple computers in their own time, it’s only natural that given the possibility they are going to employ the same device at work.

The reasons why this is happening are quite obvious in my opinion:

  1. Products used at home are usually newer than the ones provided by IT. The lifecycle replacement time at home is shorter than at work.
  2. The Apple products you use at home are more efficient and you are more productive.
  3. They offer a better user experience.
  4. They are usually faster.
  5. You don’t need to carry twice as many devices with you.
  6. The cool factor, for good or bad always to take into account with Apple products.


I can see advantages for everybody when employees are allowed to use their own Apple devices:

  1. Anybody is happier when they can use whatever computer they want.
  2. They can always work with up to date equipment.
  3. They can avail of a wider range of choices than the ones provided by their IT department.

For the employer the advantages are usually concentrated in three areas:

  1. Happier workforce.
  2. No additional IT helpdesk resources needed if a self-support policy is in place.
  3. The IT department can get valuable experience with a new platform at no additional costs if point 2. above is implemented.


There are of course a number of disadvantages. They are mainly in the areas of standardization which is always an issue within any multinational, and the need for specialized helpdesk agents if employees are entitled to support.

Employees willing to work with their Apple machines can either experience glitches because some systems are not optimized for Apple computers or total incompatibilities in the case of software that cannot be streamed from a virtual server.

There are of course many more disadvantages than that but the purpose of this post is to show why Apple devices are becoming more popular in the enterprise not the challenges they face.

Advantages for Apple

I am not sure if Apple’s technical choices and tools that they include with their devices are just an after thought. I believe that Apple is employing a clear strategy to enter the enterprise market leveraging the pressure from the bottom up from their faithful Apple users.

Apple is entering the enterprise market without the hassle usually associated with it. Certifications, regulatory obligations and so on require huge investments in a company that wants to sell to the enterprise market.

Because officially Apple is not in it, it can get all the visibility, and revenue without bearing the costs associated with it.

Broadly speaking, Apple is getting a free ride on the enterprise market. Smart strategy if you ask me. By doing so Apple can gain priceless experience in this class of products without having so sustain the costly investment of enterprise support, management infrastructure and sales.

Apple pushing users to upgrade to iOS 5

Another great find by John Gruber:

At a time when most current Android devices — even the ones that will be sold over the holiday shopping season — won’t ever have the option to install Android 4.0, Apple is specifically pushing the iOS install base forward. Apple wants all iOS users on iOS 5, not just the ones who buy a brand new device.

iOS 5 can be installed even on the relatively old iPhone 3GS. My wife has installed iOS 5 on hers and she hasn’t noticed any performance or battery degradation.

Apple’s strategy is clear and so brilliant. By encouraging more and more people to upgrade to iOS 5 they can forget about legacy support on old versions of their operating system. By doing so they can assign resources to the activities that allow them to push forward the newest OS. The same strategy applies to OS X.

That’s just a proof of what I wrote earlier on.

(via Daring Fireball.)

On the same old story that Macs are more expensive

It’s October 2011 and I am still having discussions with people about the cost of Apple products. Unbelievable.

Somehow I enjoy these discussions because there’s no escape for anyone saying that they buy PC because they’re basically the same and way cheaper than Macs.

Their arguments are flawed. It’s along the lines of saying that eating at McDonald’s is the same as eating at your agriturismo in the Tuscan hills. Different experience, different quality.

This is a quote from Steve Jobs in October 2008, exactly three years ago:

There are some customers which we chose not to serve. We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that

I don’t see anything wrong with it. Apple is a company that aims at quality. You pay for quality. You must be willing to pay for quality.

You want a real cashmere sweater? You pay for it. You want a poor imitation of it? You go to Penney’s and get one for EUR 30.00 only to throw it away after the first wash.

When you buy an Apple product you know that it’s going to stay with you for a long time. In that time you build an emotional bond with it because you know that that object is going to serve you for a while.

I am writing this post on a February 2008 MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo. This is the third OS X upgrade on this Mac. It came with Leopard, then I upgrade it to Snow Leopard and now to Lion.

To the best of my knowledge no PC maker can make a computer that lasts this long and that allows you to install two major OS upgrades.

PC makers are losing market share because of short sighted decisions. It’s once again the old story of short term versus long term revenue. Let’s only hope that Apple does’t change its focus.