Apple explores newer horizons

It was “apple week” last week. Some loved the event, some hated it – no matter which way you swung though – it was one of the most talked about event in technology news ever since of course – last month’s iPhone 5S and 5C launch!

The events (and the products!) got me thinking – was something big happening out here? Is it just me or did Apple just unleash new categories with its launches? Consider:

The iPhone 5s launch repositions the phone as a “fashion statement”, essentially a new category for phones – while its 5c variant battles on the technology/ innovation plank with samsung and the other boys.

And doesn’t Apple’s hiring Angela Ahrendts (CEO of Burburry) reinforce this intent – here’s a good Forbes article arguing for it?

And how about the iPAD Air? Its not really a conventional tablet, its not a net book, its not a laptop nor a phone. So who is its competition – again no one – allowing it to charge that big premium – while the older gen iPAD and iPad minis continues to slug it with the samsung tabs of the world.

So while the competitors seem more focussed on the cheaper, faster, better (think chromecast/ htc one/ samsung tab etc.) planks – apple seems to be going for “lifestyle” – a new dimension for the industry itself. And that I think its cool.

Just wait a minute though. Samsung did a category definition with its note 2 (the “phablet” with the “s pen” right?). And with its new samsung gear+ note 3 combo?

Perhaps yes, but I think these are still products on the technology/ innovation plank focussing on faster/better/ cheaper – the note essentially did what the phone and the tablet could do and the gear is essentially an extension of the note 3 (a more versatile accessory than the stylus, its newer avatars of course may be a whole new story taking the fight into the nike fuelband category!!). Apple on the other hand seems to be going a whole new route – the closest analogy I can think of is the time when watches started appearing in jewellery shops as luxury goods. Thoughts?

Whoa! Innovation unlimited in the consumer computing space…

It’s been a fascinating period, technology-wise. Form factors have changed and parts we thought were fossilized have been dusted, given face lifts and are back looking smarter than ever.

A quick recap:

Apple decided to make the iPad smaller, so we have a smaller tablet, the iPad mini now. And they’ve brought back the 4:3 aspect ratio (everybody else sports the cinematographic 16:1 these days). And by the way, this is not a bug (they say it increases display area very significantly). It’s also got a great tag line depicting the experience – “there’s less of it, but no lessto it”.

Samsung’s decided to make the phone a little bigger – let’s welcome the new phablet Galaxy Note II. Oh God! they have also brought back part II of the stylus and it looks cooler than ever (the newly christened s-pen!). So much for Steve’s quipon the best pointing devices in the world…

Amazon has decided to put a custom amazon shop in everyone’s home and called it the Kindle Fire – and priced it at zero margins – maybe they reasoned supermarkets don’t price for the use of their shopping carts! If this move succeeds massively (and it does seem to be happening), maybe the company should call itself the Amazing Amazon?

Google showcased its beautiful chromebook at a fraction of the Mac air’s price. From a feature and capabilities standpoint, it could very well be called the cloud book (and it comes with lots of Dropbox space too) – and interestingly rather than adding, they’ve left stuff out (their new architecture allows them to knock off the fan and also become much slimmer) and decided in favor of a Samsung chip. A new ecosystem brewing here?

Microsoftprobably deserves the biggest space. Newly architected hardware( the surface), a new OS which promises a seamless operation between form factors – they are certainly headliners this year. Very interestingly, they brought back the keyboard. Instead of opening out a new genre of computing machines, have they collapsed the PCs and Tablets into one category now?

This seems to be a most interesting period in the timeline of personal computing device innovation. Computer-human interaction has increased, home-work life is blurring, SoLoMo technologies bring context like never before into the picture – and these innovations reflect the evolving times. The question of whether we will adapt to an-always-online, always-visible world or whether we will make the devices adapt to our requirements (and free up our time and lives because of the increased context and on demand nature of these innovations)is of course a matter for debate – as always…