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September 25, 2015 - No Comments!

Friday Link Bait: Honda Paper Stop-Motion, the iPope, and Opera Rebrands

Cowabunga! It's your weekly dose of Link Bait - September 25, 2015.

Link-bait-week-4

  • Honda Paper Stop-Motion Ad We're big fans of Analog animations. The fancy computer-generated stuff is cool too, but there's something to be said about work that is crafted by hand. Adam Pesapane, a New York-based creator of digital shorts, made this one. We just love it. If you want to read a little more about analog vs. digital, check out our founder, Dave Fletcher talking about it right here.
  • iPope? The Pope has been in town for just a day, and while it seems that the city has geared up for his tour, one thing that's undeniable - The Pontiff's mere presence was enough to delay iPhone 6S deliveries. Other than this non-issue (which certainly has upset the iPhone faithful), we hear he really likes to take selfies...
  • Opera Rebrands Google just did it and Opera was soon to follow. While we don't mind testing on Opera, we don't think that a new logo is as needed for them as much as an increase in market share. It's a vast and thoughtful improvement to the identity, nonetheless. While the engineered simplicity of Opera's new brand certainly doesn't break any new ground (we've seen plenty of logos with dimensional shadow-effects to create visual interest), it still feels familiar and cleaner than the previous iterations.

Published by: davefletcher in The Linking Mechanism
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October 2, 2012 - Comments Off on Directions to Crazytown: How Crowdsourcing Should Have Saved Apple Maps

Directions to Crazytown: How Crowdsourcing Should Have Saved Apple Maps

Unless you've been living under a clump of moss, you are undoubtedly aware that Apple supremely failed with their iOS Maps application. Judging from the all-out thermonuclear war that followed from the press, Droid devotees and occasional smartphone Luddites who clench their Blackberry like grim death – this was a long time coming. Like slobbering hyenas waiting for a magnificent antelope to stop one too many times to defecate in the jungle, everyone seems to be relishing this opportunity to eviscerate the tech giant for releasing and (some say) arrogantly replacing a vital part of any smartphone’s delicate ecosystem – the almighty mapping system. In fact, the reason this is so troubling, is that Apple, in releasing poorly rationalized software, has betrayed their brand's essence.

It makes “antenna gate” look like a rampant case of hiccups at a leper colony.

Apple brought this vitriol on themselves, by almost single-handedly ushering in the pathetic age of the “legal patent screw-fest” – where every entreprenneur who thinks they might have a brilliant idea will immediately discard it (opting rather to take a nap in their parents basement), in order to avoid the unholy wrath of lawsuit-hungry corporations.

The snark was particularly squalid in both the press and the endless comment trails from the merry tribe of Internet baboons who deem it necessary to flip every opinion piece into their own bully pulpit for personal political or technical vomit. On the corporate side, Motorola instantly added fuel to the fire by commandeering the #iLost hashtag quicker than a beard grows in Williamsburg. Samsung has commercials poking fun at people waiting in endless iPhone lines as a response to Apple reportedly penning an internal ad poking fun at an apology requested in a UK court over a Samsung verdict. Screw all of these corporate knuckleheads – it reeks like a public tiff over Bieber tickets between the rich high school cheerleaders that everyone hates yet desperately wants to date. The intended audience this bile is aimed towards will soon move past all of the silliness. To teach the corporate executives approving this creative pap a lesson, shareholders should be cashing in their stock. In the end, innovation is the new loser, not a person buying a gadget.

While I’m not forgiving Apple for their transgressions, if a particular CEO was still alive, one could postulate that the Maps disaster might not have even happened. This major mistake occurred under the watch of a supply watchdog, not a creative visionary. Mr. Cook and many others who didn't program the application would have likely been burned at the stake on YouTube live in Cupertino if this had transpired under the watch of that turtlenecked angel in black, Steve Jobs.

TomTom (one of the companies that Apple uses for the maps portion of the Maps app) had already been publicly humiliated (Google search “blame TomTom” and see what comes up). Everyone from the CEO of Waze to the entire country of China is having a field day with this company right now. TomTom has fired back, understanding that their 20 years of respect in the business will likely be questioned because of the Maps fiasco, noted the fact that Apple is using data from at least 2 dozen other partners.

They should have released this new piece of software alongside Google Maps and challenged their devotees to make it better than Google.

Aside from arrogantly pushing a fully unfinished and untested product to the masses, Apple made a seriously shortsighted and future backwards error. They should have released this new piece of software alongside Google Maps and challenged their devotees to make it better than Google. We've all heard the spin: There was a month left on some corporate contracts between them, and yes, the word on the street is that everything fell apart because of Google's refusal to integrate turn-by-turn directions, but in the end the Maps application should have focused heavily on crowdsourcing out of the gate. The interface of the application should have made it overwhelmingly simple for the audience to correct mistakes in maps. Apple could have spent some of the zillions that Jobs said he would use to destroy Google and really buried them by empowering their users to make the Maps application a truly socially aware product (or at least feel part of the experience by building reputation capital through linking the geo-coding aspect of their photo libraries, commenting or at least connecting with other map users like Waze does). And please don’t tell me that crowdsourcing Maps was always the plan, because the suggestion box is currently buried in dark gray on the interior screen of the Maps application. My guess is, if Apple doesn’t just eventually shelf the entire app (like Ping, a coincidentally excessive and uninformed social media failure from Apple), and it's shareholders don't force Cook himself to crawl on his hands and knees to Google’s office begging them to build an Apple Maps app (spoiler: Google says they refuse), the next release's interface should focus heavily on a crowdsourcing component.

The only trouble is crowdsourcing takes time and interest from the audience to reach an increasing level of perfection - both which were lost on this highly touted app's speed to market. Launching a lousy app was stupid. Replacing Google Maps with this "not-ready-for-prime-time app" is reprehensible.

Unfortunately, it’s likely too late. In fact, people may look back at Apple in a couple years and point to this moment (much like a certain presidential candidate), as the time when due to arrogance or sheer stupidity - shit went south. I don’t doubt that Apple might be able to recover, but I don’t think that they have a big and vicious enough honey badger running the company anymore to savagely beat the entire planet into willing submission. The bad vibes, not the press, are enough to begin pushing a small percentage of Apple’s globally small, but passionate mobile user base toward what is finally becoming an excellent alternative OS by virtue of customization alone. And since Apple has staked it’s entire future on the inevitable mobility of computers, and not the desktop computing machines that drove a stake into Microsoft’s dominance, this is a very, very... very catastrophic event.

The problem with Android phones is that the OS resides on inferior components. Apple’s advantage remains that the device’s quality is married to the OS. Apple used to preach this in their branding - the sexy machine married to the equally sexy interface. Now they supremely screwed that pooch, and I fear that they will not fully recover.

Word to the wise: Never, ever, ever betray your beloved brand essence. Especially when the road back to the top has a stream of venom waiting for you - flowing right down the center.

Published by: davefletcher in The Thinking Mechanism
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August 26, 2011 - Comments Off on The P is for Paul

The P is for Paul

This week we saw an earthquake hit New York, a hurricane shutting down the city's massive subway system, Google forfeiting $500 Million generated by online ads for Canadian pharmacies and the aftermath of HP's decision to flat out get out of the PC business, but the biggest news of the week was the resignation of Steven P. Jobs as CEO of Apple.

Though it did not come as a surprise, what with the medical leave and the move of the publication of his biography from next year to this November, it did shock. We knew it was coming, and yet it startled us.

Many stories have been published in response to his resignation, and about the future of Apple, including many profiles of Tim Cook who was immediately named CEO in perfect succession.

[ Shame on all those who have only focused on the sexuality of the man whose operational genius allowed Apple to produce the Macs, iMacs, Macbooks, Airs, iPods, iPhones and iPads the way they wanted while simultaneously maintaining an envied inventory chain worldwide, leading Apple to profits so large they recently had more money in the bank than the US government and surpassed Exxon Mobile (for a brief period of time) as the world's most valuable company. So if you want to talk about who the man sleeps with go ahead, you are an idiot. ]

Jobs reinvented many industries and forced all of us to reconsider what we thought was the norm. There is a reason we always hear the question "how would Apple do it?"

I was tempted to include lists to my favorite articles concerning the resignation, a quick search would yield many of those. Instead I'll share this: I wrote my university application essays on a Mac. All my college papers, dissertations, assignments, all done on Macs. I made a website to sell the arts, in 1993, on a Mac. All the career-elevating work I've ever done in my life, happened on a Mac (and now on an iPhone and an iPad as well). All the work we are doing here for our clients, happens mostly on Macs (and every time we have to test a website on a PC I am reminded why). Many call such loyalty fanboy-ism, and yes, there is a touch of that, but the truth is simpler. At every step of our lives when we wanted to challenge ourselves, when we had to challenge ourselves creatively, when we've pursued something so large we weren't sure how we could do it, or whether we could do it at all, an Apple product helped us forge ahead. It really is that simple.

Oh alright, one link, the commencement speech is really a must see.

And in the spirit of all those amazing keynotes that I will surely miss:

One More Thing.

Pixar.

Because of Pixar we know that Apple will have a bright future without Steve Jobs as CEO. Jobs has been an integral part of the growth of Pixar and yet we seldom think of him when talking about the unprecedented string of multi-billion-dollar-earning movies created by the studio. Because Jobs' biggest contribution at Pixar is the company's team and culture, the way they work and create, in essence the company itself. Likewise, Jobs' greatest accomplishment at Apple is not any of the many products they've created but a team, a work ethic, a company capable of producing them.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

Published by: antonioortiz in Pharmaceuticals, The Thinking Mechanism
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July 29, 2011 - Comments Off on The Thinking Mechanism – 7/29/11

The Thinking Mechanism – 7/29/11

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

The week in quick links:

• Now that you finally got an invite, how Spotify works.

Google Offers To Re-Write Your Webpages On The Fly, Promising 25% To 60% Speed Improvements.

• OK GO's next viral hit, featuring Pilobolus, goes interactive with Chrome: All Is Not Lost.

• Apple makes Xcode free to all with release of 4.1 on Mac App Store.

• Information Architects - Should you scroll or flip pages on the screen?

Think Quarterly by Google hits the US with The Innovation Issue.

This is why your newspaper is dying.

• And lastly, Lucas loses Star Wars copyright case at Supreme Court.

July 22, 2011 - Comments Off on The Thinking Mechanism – 7/22/11

The Thinking Mechanism – 7/22/11

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

The week in quick links:

• Mac OS X Lion is out. Here is what to do to prepare for it, what to expect from it, and a massive book-length review from Ubernerd John Siracusa.

Apple said to be considering making a bid for Hulu.

• Quarterly results are out: Nokia, Microsoft, Apple.

Apple opens Business App Store for volume purchases.

R.I.P., Google Labs.

Andy Hertzfeld on Google+, UI design and how Bob Dylan influenced the Mac.

Translation technology may let humans speak with dolphins.

Reinvent NYC.gov - An unprecedented community event at General Assembly to kick off the reinvention of New York City's primary web presence. Civic participation meets the digital age.

• Speed Matters: How Ethernet Went From 3 Mbps to 100 Gbps … and Beyond.

• And lastly, Russia classifies beer as alcoholic, until now it was considered a food stuff.

February 4, 2010 - Comments Off on I Pad, U Pad, we all iPad

I Pad, U Pad, we all iPad

Apple unveiled the mighty iPad last week after a targeted carpet bombing of pre-event hoopla, far too many misfired “leaks” and eventual lukewarm excitement. Of course, the people who were unable to devise the device immediately went to work, spending unnecessary time and brain cells shouting from their favorite mountaintop called Twitter, making fun of the name and comparing it to lady stuff...

Geeks are funny creatures. If this device was called an "iTab" they probably would have made soft drink jokes - All that talent and occasional genius is sadly wasted on a single, albeit funny observation instead of trying to figure out some undocumented and innovative uses for the thing. Trust me, as soon as someone starts waving real development cash at the naysayers, they'll be singing the praises of the “innovative” and even “magical” iPad; salivating to build apps quicker than you can bark the word “Pavlov”...

For those who are interested in actually using the device, it really doesn't matter what the thing is called - as much as what it can and cannot do.

The iPad has a couple well-documented drawbacks:

  • iPad doesn’t do Flash (more about that later). This means no Hulu, YouTube or other currently Flash-enabled video sites for you on the iPad Safari Web browser...
  • iPad doesn't multitask, so you can't listen to music while penning your brilliant blog post, notes or novel. This is a “deal breaker” for the countless hordes who apparently planned to brutally smash their trusty old iPod on the way out of the Apple store with their iPad. The truth is, people have grown accustomed to hoofing around several devices in their backpacks, shoulder bags and/or pockets. Despite our Utopian dream of "one device to do it all," as technology changes and new things are devised to keep us from having actual conversations with other live humans, there will always be another “thing” to stuff into our ever expanding satchels o’ plenty.

The iPad's strength isn't that it plays music, movies, games or that it surfs the Flash-less Web. The iPad gets it's real mojo as a comfortably-sized, compact and usable device that doesn't require an attached keyboard, a mouse or a constant power source to input notes, data or, more importantly, read published materials. Everything else it comes loaded with, simply helps to justify the price point. The iPad could really show true muscle for students, teachers and classrooms and by eventually saving and/or enhancing the suffering magazine publishing business. But to do this effectively, Apple needs to cozy up to college kids to make the iPad truly a thing of “magic”.

So, while we're waiting for the iPad to do a keg stand at a college dorm near you, here are some things that Apple and it's partners should concentrate on to help the iPad live up to it's promise:

  1. Create an exclusive network for students. College textbooks should be available via a subscription service on the iTunes store so you can burn those oversized, overweight, overpriced books like Guy Montag and plant some trees. As a specific textbook’s information is enhanced or corrected, it should automatically be updated, just like your iPhone/iPod currently informs you when a purchased application has been updated. Software developers for the iPad should focus on applications that will make lecture note taking and sharing, as well as commenting on digital textbooks simpler. Imagine downloading a textbook for your class and having the benefit of seeing the best notes from a global network of past students. To avoid reading irrelevant notes, a system could be put into place allowing students to rate other students notes, making only the useful stuff rise to the top.
  2. Expand the iTunes store to include magazine and newspaper subscriptions asap. Save that dying, ink-laden, forest-chomping horse as fast as you can. Obviously publications will need to embrace HTML 5 for any video content, so start brushing up, if you're planning on developing for a future publishing industry.
  3. Allow musicians to plug in. With GarageBand already part of iLife, in the future I hope to see musicians with guitars, iPads and a dream sprawling out in Prospect Park writing tons of crap they can sell to their relatives on iTunes with the help of TuneCore.
  4. Advancement and advocation of the HTML 5 specification. Apple has been very clear: they refuse to get into bed with Flash. They view Flash as an uncontrollable source of application crashes - not to mention a bandwidth and processing hog - and as a designer and developer who has worked with Flash, they are partially correct. Many of Flash's novice developers know only a little about the scripts and techniques required to deliver the most processor-efficient experiences. ActionScript, the scripting language behind Flash has been massively changed and enhanced over the years, leaving the true Flash programming to true programming wizards who have worked with it since the introduction of ActionScript 1.0 with Flash 5 in 2000. The future promise of HTML 5 has begun to make the use of Flash increasingly irrelevant and unnecessary for simple video and audio players. Even Hulu will come around as well if first the audience - and eventually their advertisers request it. This prospect of course, sours the folks at Adobe. They will run myriad ads over the next couple months attempting to convince the masses of the perceived inferiority of the iPad because it doesn't have Flash. But it's really just fear.
  5. Shhh...the word on the street is that the iPad may have a camera. In fact, the Software Developer Kit (SDK) for the iPad currently has "Take a Photo" as a programmable menu item, so maybe the dream of video conferencing or even augmented reality with the iPad will come true (or not)...or some Mountain Dew-gorged developer at Apple has just gotten a “mouthful of fist” from Steve Jobs because they forgot to remove the "take a picture" menu item from the iPad SDK...

Apple has a history of using current devices to test out and eventually surpass the last one. Look at the history of advances that have been made to the iPod since it came out in 2001. I’ve got 4 of them, each with enhanced features.

Just like the iPhone was a jacked up phone with a serious music player and a savvy integration into a robust online store, the iPad jacks things up further, but in a slightly different direction. Who wants to seriously read books or watch movies on your iPod or iPhone? You can right now, you know. They've been testing out the iPod and iPhone as an eBook reader and video player to lead us like slobbering zombies to the iPad. Whether the vast Apple audience realize it or not, we support their innovations by historically testing them and upgrading our devices to the next big thing.

Will the iPad be larger than life? Will it raise Apple stock prices and Apple profits? Will Google become the new Microsoft?

Regardless, is the amount of chattering, twittering and blogging out there an indication of how quickly the masses will line up for a shiny new iPad?...

...Possibly, iSay.

Published by: davefletcher in The Thinking Mechanism
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August 7, 2008 - 2 comments

Lol! F**kingNDA.com, Apple!

I know Apple is quite restrictive about information, but I was a bit surprised to see how far the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for the iPhone SDK goes: iPhone developers are legally banned from sharing programming tips, discussing code or asking questions of one another in forums or over e-mail!

From Webmonkey:

"F**KING NDA" has become a mantra on Twitter. Every time a developer posts about his or her latest run-in with the metaphorical brick wall that is Apple's NDA, the capitalized expletive is sounded off. "F**KING NDA" has become such a phenomenon, a website has sprung up at F**kingNDA.com to track the twisted tweets.

Apple's software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone is the primary set of tools for building apps for the iPhone, especially if the creations are to be included for sale in the device's App Store. The NDA, which must be agreed to before the SDK can be downloaded, prevents programmers from discussing the finer points of their code.

"There is no legal way for developers to talk about they are developing," Williams laments. "No way to post tutorials. No way to give code away. It's hard to interact with other developers and to write code without reinventing the wheel. Normally, you could post [a coding question] on Twitter and get an answer within minutes."

More info on why the iPhone NDA is no good:

Published by: jeffreybarke in The Internal Mechanism
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