Competitive Edge
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Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
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The Future is Without Apps — Fwd: Thoughts

The Future is Without Apps - Fwd: Thoughts - Medium

How we may soon no longer need to install apps with help from Google and Surprisingly: Apple.

“There’s an App for That.”

It’s the trademarked slogan that defined the mobile world since 2008. Surely, apps seemed to be the way to go. Coding bootcamps that claimed to teach you app development chops within weeks popped up everywhere; products used commercials to go out of their way and show off their new apps; heck, even that family restaurant around the block got its own menu app built.

With the release of the App store in 2008, Apple was the first to popularize the idea of nicely packaged, downloadable applications on your phone. However, this concept of centralized software distribution isn’t actually new. Many handheld and desktop devices already had some form of application store built in years before Apple’s App Store debut. The reason why Apple succeeded, in retrospect, is a combination of timing and technology. By 2008, the iOS (then “iPhone OS”) platform was able to offer access to a maturing 3G network, a well-documented development environment, great handheld graphics, and most importantly, the backing of a technology giant. Mobile apps made sense. They were the most efficient way to deliver the newest content and services with native experience and performance.

People don’t care how it all works, they just want to throw birds at pigs and show off their #nofilter selfies. The ability to download and run cool apps was the iPhone’s winning feature for a short while. Android soon followed suit. Smartphones became cheaper; networks became faster; handheld processing power quadrupled; apps prevailed.

“OK Sherlock, So What’s Wrong?”

Nothing. But we can do better now. “Better than this app that lets me feed and play with cute cats?” Yep. Read more: click image or title.

 

 

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Via massimo facchinetti
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

With the user in mind everything gets more streamlined and user friendly. The world of #apps is going the same route. This article talks about #delivery and #discoverability, and how both #Google and #Apple are looking for solutions to keep the client happy.

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How the Apple Watch could reinvent fashion as we know it

How the Apple Watch could reinvent fashion as we know it | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/Z7xu


The most important thing that the Apple Watch has already tapped into, and has in common with the fashion world, is our imagination.

On one of the coldest days of the year, a smartly dressed woman, defying the elements, stands at one of the last remaining newsstands in Manhattan flipping through the voluminous bible of fashion that is the March issue of Vogue. Amid the pages of waifish models blissfully tossing aside $1,000 scarfs and tableaus of beauty products promising transformative powers she happens upon something completely different: another, mini-magazine, devoted to the Apple Watch.

The message contained therein, all visual, no text, is obvious: The illusion of luxury, of another, better life — one filled with glamour, the right look and the people and places that go along with such trimmings of success — now includes a smartwatch.

It's an old message, aspirational luxury, but one made new by technology playing the starring role. But all stars aren’t created equal. And even the most brilliant sometimes fail to capture the public's imagination.

So now, with companies like Apple, Nike, Under Armour and many others betting billions on the chance that the marriage of technology and fashion might produce a hit, there's a key question that needs answering: Is wearable technology ready? And will the Apple Watch be the catalyst that takes it mainstream? Read more: http://snip.ly/Z7xu




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"No matter how small a company may be, we believe that Growthink’s standard of excellence does not change from one client to the other and we would certainly welcome the opportunity to work with Melissa and her colleagues again."
Shannon Lindsay
Publisher
Southern Beauty Magazine


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Design can make or break your product and company. Apple has proven this very well, successfully. Will the Apple Watch be a success? You bet.

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The Strength Of A Transparent Startup | TechCrunch

The Strength Of A Transparent Startup  |  TechCrunch | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

If you ask a member of the business-tech community about the benefits of closed systems versus their open counterparts, one word that will almost certainly come up is “security.” There’s been a long-held belief in the tech industry that closed systems are more difficult to corrupt and, therefore, more secure than systems built on a philosophy of radical openness.


But in recent months we’ve seen this idea of “closed is more secure” flipped on its head. Once concerned primarily with keeping hackers and other “outsiders” from accessing sensitive data, consumers are now more aware of the importance of maintaining personal security and privacy from corporations, governments and other powerful “insiders.”

We’ve seen this trend gain momentum in America following Edward Snowden’s NSA program leaks, and even more vocally in Hong Kong recently with the Occupy Central protests against the Chinese government’s famously closed election system.

Meanwhile, we’ve also begun to see cracks appearing in one of the world’s most popular and fanatically trusted closed systems — Apple’s. While the iCloud celebrity nude leaks reminded us of the value of multi-factor authentication, a fake Occupy Central app that spread phishing malware in Hong Kong poked a few more holes in the perceived security of iOS’s closed system.

So in a world where being “closed” can not only prove ineffective but also raise red flags, it makes more sense than ever for tech startups to adopt a policy of radical openness: transparency leads to trust; collaboration leads to innovation; and decentralization leads to empowerment.

Transparency Leads to Trust

Each year, GMI Ratings releases a list of the 100 Most Trustworthy Companies, inspired by the abuses that led to the financial collapse. GMI’s stance is that trustworthiness comes from transparency — even when the news is bad, the companies on this list are keeping shareholders informed, leading to less investor uncertainty and, in most cases, solid stock prices.

What might surprise you (or might not) is that technology is cited as one of today’s most fraudulent industries along with pharmaceuticals. This means that the opportunity is ripe to distinguish your tech startup from closed-up competitors by employing a model of radical openness with investors and clients.

That may mean providing more performance and financial data, being up front about long-term goals (or your more agile, wait-and-see approach, if that’s the case) and even coming forward to report your mistakes and near misses. It might be painful, but it can actually strengthen your relationships over time.

Collaboration Leads to Innovation

Some of the most talked-about startups in recent years would not exist if not for open data. Wikipedia is an obvious example, but also consider Waze, which was acquired by Google in 2013. Waze uses user-submitted traffic data to recommend the fastest driving route, which adjusts in real time as the user drives. Imagine the efficiencies that would be lost if Waze tried to generate this data by itself instead of tapping into the free, unlimited power of collaboration.

Investors in companies like IFTTT (which stands for If-This-Then-That) are also placing huge bets that the future lies in interconnection and open interaction among a multitude of platforms and devices. While many tech startups were thinking about how to carve a niche, own it and charge for it, IFTTT was strategically positioning itself as the go-to platform for the impending Internet of Things.

This brilliant, long-game strategy landed the company a $30 million investment in August of this year. Imagine if the company had instead built a platform that only functioned with IFTTT-approved devices, following a closed, vertical integration model. It might have enjoyed some early success, but it would have inevitably been unseated by a more open provider.

No closed system is safe from the disruption of a more open alternative.

Even a closed behemoth like Microsoft is now recognizing the value of open-sourced collaboration, recently announcing its decision to open source its server-side .NET Framework and also take it to Mac and Linux. Launching a startup with “artificial walls” in place, such as exclusive partnerships or extensive restrictions, in all likelihood means signing your own death sentence. Hold up Apple as a shining exception if you want, but history shows that tech that doesn’t play well with others gets left behind as collaborative innovation happens outside its walls.

For example, if Apple decides to throw its hat in the virtual reality ring, it will have to do on its own what the united front of Samsung (in other words, Google’s Android OS), Oculus Rift (in other words, Facebook), and the world’s entire network of virtual reality developers are collaborating to create.

Companies that rely on the idea that they’re “completely irreplaceable” need only look at the long list of alternatives that have arisen to even some of our most institutionalized services in recent years: bitcoin for traditional currency; at-home 3D printing for manufacturing; and right now in Hong Kong, Firechat, which is enabling protesters to circumvent Internet service providers. No closed system is safe from the disruption of a more open alternative.

Decentralization Leads to Empowerment

Back to Waze for a moment. Let’s imagine the blowback the company would receive for trying to charge for its user-submitted information. The commercial real estate industry has done precisely that for many years. The largest data providers have served as arbitrary gatekeepers for the world’s commercial real estate listings by asking brokers and agencies for info on their available spaces, then packaging that information and charging for access to it.

It’s unsurprising that free and open alternatives are now arising, threatening the existence of these long-established gatekeepers. (Disclosure, I run RealMassive, one such company.)

The commercial real estate industry lost sight of one important fact — the Internet has made kings of us all. In a Google world, the encyclopedia salesman is a relic, and businesses built around proprietary data have an expiration date.

If your startup is basing its business model on data that another company could feasibly gather and give away for free, you can expect that very thing to happen in the near future. Would you be able to survive? Do you really want to find out?

The Choice Is Yours, And Not Choosing Is a Choice

When it comes to making a choice between radical openness and “closedness” as a business philosophy, the best time to choose is in the early months of your company. A company that starts out with a closed paradigm and later chooses to open up will have a tough time rerouting company culture and also runs the risk of losing ground to more open competitors early on.

Even worse, a company that starts out open and later chooses to become closed will almost certainly make enemies, as Makerbot learned after it suddenly clamped down on its open-source 3D printing hardware after a community of early supporters spent years contributing to Makerbot’s design (it’s worth watching “Print the Legend,” a new documentary that chronicles the whole ordeal, available on Netflix).

Since you must choose one — and you must — openness is simply a better option for tech startups who stand little chance of deploying a successful vertical domination strategy like Apple or Sony built in decades past. When it comes to relationship-building, innovation, and eliminating competition, the best thing you can do to guarantee your company a spot in the future is to employ a philosophy of radical openness.

Schoolyard politics still apply: Secrets don’t make friends and neither do bullies.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent article. Openness promotes collaboration and is a sign of self confidence and trustworthiness. Apparently, it's similar in the tech world.

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Box, Dropbox and Hightail Pivot to New Business Models

Box, Dropbox and Hightail Pivot to New Business Models | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it


Box, Dropbox and Hightail are rethinking their core business models, focusing on specific industries or bolstering customer service.

SAN FRANCISCO — Nothing concentrates minds at a tech start-up like living in the middle of a price war between Amazon and Google.

Just ask executives at companies like Box, Dropbox and Hightail. They pioneered a new kind of Internet service that allows people and companies to store all kinds of electronic files in an easy-to-use online locker. But as often happens, the much bigger companies liked the idea so much they decided to do the same thing — at a much lower price.

“These guys will drive prices to zero,” said Aaron Levie, co-founder and chief executive of Box. “You do not want to wait for Google or Amazon to keep cutting prices on you. ‘Free’ is not a business model.”

So how do you avoid free? Box is trying to cater to special data storage needs, like digital versions of X-rays for health care companies and other tasks specific to different kinds of customers. Hightail is trying to do something similar for customers like law firms. And Dropbox? It is trying to make sure that its consumer-minded service stays easier to use than what the big guys provide.


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“It’s very tough just to be in the storage business,” said Brad Garlinghouse, the chief executive of Hightail. “We don’t think that is what we’re selling anymore.”

In the tech industry, they call this sort of reinvention of the core business model a “pivot.” Another way to describe it is a fight for survival.

Box, founded in 2005, has attracted $512 million in investment, and in March it filed papers for an initial public offering of stock. In July, the company said it had 39,000 businesses paying $15 to $35 a month a user. It is hard to know how many people that is, since some businesses have just a couple of people, and others include General Electric and Eli Lilly.

Dropbox has 300 million customers worldwide and actually runs inside Amazon Web Services, as do parts of Box. Many Dropbox customers pay nothing and get two gigabytes of storage capacity a month, the equivalent of 1,000 books or seven minutes of high-definition television. A version for $10 a month offers 100 gigabytes.

Hightail, which used to be called YouSendIt, says it has over a half-million business customers paying $25 a month or more, depending on the features chosen.

“There’s a place for all of them,” said Amita Potnis, an analyst at IDC. “Amazon’s focus is really computing itself. The smaller ones have to focus on ways businesses actually use it.” For example, she said, the services can help companies collaborate with each other online instead of sending emails back and forth with attachments.

While devices and apps get most of the attention, data storage is every bit as important, particularly as objects like phones, tablets, cars and thermostats become appendages of the Internet. Throw in trends like collaboration and big data analysis, and all those bits of data become more dynamic than something in a file cabinet. They are fluid and being entered and retrieved from many points.

Managing all that data should be a good business.

The problem for everyone is price. Amazon and Google have for years decimated competition in their respective fields of Internet advertising and retail. As the two companies move to dominate cloud computing, including online storage, they are turning that relentlessness on each other.

In March, Google celebrated the unification of several cloud computing services with price cuts of 68 percent for most customers, to 2.6 cents a gigabyte a month, about one-quarter the price of Dropbox’s premium consumer service.


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Amazon’s Web Services, which had cut prices at least four times since 2008, responded with cuts of its own, including one cut to 2.75 cents a gigabyte for large amounts of storage, and just a penny a month for data used less frequently. It has made further price cuts on other types of storage since then. Many expect Microsoft, which runs its own big cloud business, called Azure, to follow with similar cuts.

Even by the standards of computing, where services seem almost invariably to become cheaper and faster, storage prices have had an exceptional fall. The first gigabyte storage device in 1980 typically cost $120,000 and weighed 550 pounds. Amazon’s cloud-based storage might cost 12 cents a year.

None of the smaller online storage companies doubt that Amazon and Google can make seemingly impossible pricing moves. Both companies also have a scale that means even the tiniest profit can be huge. A.W.S. brags that almost all of Netflix, and Amazon itself, is inside its cloud, along with hundreds of other substantial companies.

Apple’s iCloud storage service and other parts of Apple, along with operations at several large banks, run inside A.W.S., say people familiar with the service who spoke on the condition they not be named so they could sustain relations with the powerful cloud company.

Amazon would not comment on confidential customer agreements. An Apple spokesman noted that Apple had its own data centers in four locations in the United States and said that “the vast majority” of data in services like iTunes, Maps and the App Store ran on its own computers. Apple uses other facilities as well, he said.

Google does not have anything like the Amazon customer list, but its computer network is probably the largest corporate network in the world. It includes custom-made computing and power systems and several thousand engineers to keep it running. According to one person with knowledge of the system, Google spends about $2 billion a quarter on its computing infrastructure.

Google would not comment on its costs. In an email, Tom Kershaw, a product manager for Google’s cloud service, predicted more cost-cutting. “As more customers store more information, for longer, we’re able to make gains in efficiency and pass these savings along to the customer.”

Both Box and Hightail now say they assume that they will offer customers unlimited storage free and push their costs into the prices they charge for other services. “At this point, it’s better just to say ‘unlimited,’ ” Mr. Levie said. “The thing to do is take into account why someone is storing something online and what their needs are.”

Box has hired people with specialties in health care, media and entertainment, hospitality and retailing. Dropbox still has supposed limits on storage in its business offering, but they start at a terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes, and customers can upgrade from there with seemingly no fee.

This niche approach could work, provided the big companies do not go after these industry-specific storage markets or build more consumer-focused service offerings. Mr. Levie said he thought that was unlikely. “No one is going to build Google Health Care,” he said.

Google’s Mr. Kershaw differed. “Industry-specific solutions are the wave of the future and a key part of what Google is building for our customers,” he said.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Coming up with a great idea in the tech world and putting it out is not a direct road to success anymore. Companies, even successful ones, need to adjust, pivot, and compete with corporations like Google and Amazon. Not an easy task. Complex world.

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Brand Stories with a Pulse

Brand Stories with a Pulse | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
A few days ago Dave Winer wrote a post on pulsing technology, about how Apple has a pulse and follows a pattern every year. The company builds expectations, then follows up with an established cadence.

The Steve Jobs' defined process and event signature served the company well over the years by keeping its evangelists, developers, and customers in the loop. From Jobs' WWDC 1997 Q&A:

[...] we need to keep our eye on the prize.  

And that is turning out some great products, communicating directly with our customers the best we can. Getting the community of people that are going to make this stuff successful like yourselves in the loop, so you know everything and is marching forward, one foot in front of the other.

I wrote recently about how as a business Apple closes the perception-value gap. It is not a coincidence that the product company has climbed to the top of Interbrand's best global brands#. Its strong resonance is due to a consistent design of experience, with some element of surprise thrown into it -- the introduction of the iPad certainly was that.

Brand is a short form to express a core truth and encapsulate expectations, stories, memories, and relationships that compel us to hire a service/product to do the job we want done.

To Continue Reading, click on the Title of the article...



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Via Gregg Morris
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Building a Brand: there is so much to learn from Apple. Read the article to find what Apple's marketing strategy is, in a nutshell.

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Gregg Morris's curator insight, November 12, 2013 6:21 AM

Good brand definition!

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ARM: Britain's most successful tech company you've never heard of

ARM: Britain's most successful tech company you've never heard of | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Without ARM, the iPhone and other smartphones wouldn’t work. Hardly anyone knows it – and that’s just how Cambridge’s ‘Silicon Fen’ company likes it.

In a loose collection of offices on an underwhelming business park outside of Cambridge sits Britain’s most successful technology company, ARM. You’ve probably never heard of it, but ARM’s designs are at the heart of the iPhone and nearly every other modern smartphone. It has fingers in almost every other area of technology, from fitness trackers to server farms. It records profit margins that analysts have described as “impossible” (in a good way), and goes a long way to helping justify the “Silicon Fen” label sometimes applied to Cambridge’s tech scene. So how did one company get so successful without anyone really noticing? And, more importantly, what does ARM actually do? Read more: click on image or title.



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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Amazing story.

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I spotted an Apple Watch on the train this morning, and now I'm a believer | VentureBeat | Gadgets | by Mark Sullivan

I spotted an Apple Watch on the train this morning, and now I'm a believer | VentureBeat | Gadgets | by Mark Sullivan | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
http://snip.ly/rBYH

The watch has the effect that other blockbuster Apple products have had on casual observers. When you see it, something somewhere in the corner of your mind clicks on, and then you realize you want one.


The man to whom I gave a gentle push so that I might fit inside the crowded commuter train this morning was wearing an Apple Watch.

As the train stopped in a tunnel, the man apparently received a reminder on his wrist, and when he raised his wrist I got a clear view. No, it wasn’t one of the knockoffs they were selling at CES. This thing looked like a luxury item, and it had the now familiar “bubbles” Watch user interface.

I saw a text reminder on the screen, and then, briefly, a map. It appeared that the guy had been using the Watch for some time and was pretty used to it. The product is supposed to go on sale in April, but Apple gave Watches to a number of its employees to gather feedback and fix bugs. Read more here: http://snip.ly/rBYH




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"Thanks for your note....KEEP THE ADVICE COMING!



I studied the Truth About Funding program (video)...and it really helped me focus on the steps we need to take to move and expand our business into LA."



J. Mack

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Apple has the edge combining design and finding ways to deliver what people want.

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What Every Business Can Learn From Apple’s Mistakes

What Every Business Can Learn From Apple’s Mistakes | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
App developers learned something important from Apple’s iPhone 6 release: even the titans of the industry deal with programming bugs and release disasters.

Ran Rachlin is the co-founder and CEO of Ubertesters, a global provider of a comprehensive, cloud-based, process management tool for mobile applications beta testing.

App developers definitely learned something important from Apple’s latest product release: even the titans of the industry deal with programming bugs and release disasters.

Well, we all knew that. What’s surprising is the depth of the problem; one so severe that Apple was forced to pull its iOS 8.0.1 update just days after it was released.

All businesses, not just developers, can learn a few other useful things from Apple’s mistakes.

Don’t let your past mistakes haunt you

It’s worth considering that almost all of the recent articles about Apple’s current headaches cite problems in the past.

Steve Jobs, for all his virtues, could be curt and abrasive with customers. In response to complaints about the iPhone 4 low signal glitch back in 2010, Jobs declared, “Non issue. Just avoid holding [the phone] in that way.”

Owners responded harshly to the suggestion that they didn’t know how to hold a phone properly. In the end, Jobs apologized: “If you’re still not happy even after getting a [new] case, you can bring your iPhone 4 back undamaged for a full refund,” Jobs said. “We are going to take care of everyone.”

But, a lot of damage was done. Apple eventually accepted responsibility but phone owners and business journalists agreed that it shouldn’t have taken weeks for a more reasonable response to the problem. Apple got away with it, but these sorts of incidents tend to have a cumulative effect. That incident hangs over Apple to this day.

The lesson? Your company has a track record. This is especially true in the social media age when your past mistakes are just a Google search away. Your best bet is to prevent problems through a more diligent approach to all of your work.

Never slam your competition’s attributes as unnecessary

“No one Is going to buy a big phone” claimed Apple’s Steve Jobs back in 2010. In response to a suggestion that an Apple antenna problem could have been prevented by using a larger case, Jobs attacked recently released large smart phones like Samsung’s Galaxy S, calling them “Hummers” and insisting that “no one is going to buy them.”

“Guess who surprised themselves and changed their mind,” wrote Korean electronics giant Samsung on its Twitter feed this week when Apple revealed its new, 5.5-inch supersized iPhone 6 (versus its 4’’ iPhone 5.)

There are probably a few lessons to be learned. Mostly, don’t be so quick to disparage the competition until you’re absolutely sure they’re not on to something. And take ownership for the problem.

Steve Jobs tried to deflect the issue, rather than suggest that a larger phone might be one solution, but not the one that Apple was pursuing.

It’s about you, not them. Don’t be petty. Just do the best quality work you can do.

Don’t make enemies of your biggest fans

By now everyone has seen videos or read stories about the bendable iPhone 6. Apple’s initial response to complaints was silence.

After a few days, the company issued an accusatory response: “With normal use, a bend in iPhone is extremely rare and through our first six days of sale, a total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus,” wrote Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller. Social media quickly dubbed the problem #bendgate.

Is Apple suggesting that these nine users are crackpots? The number is irrelevant. The Apple rep added that the company was “looking into this with an insane amount of detail.”

That was all that was necessary. Although Apple might have thanked the new owners that brought a potential issue to their attention.

The lesson? Always try to use criticism to your advantage. Your users are trying to help you by finding bugs and reporting problems. Be humble and grateful, not sarcastic. The fact is they’re doing your work for you.

Will any of this hurt Apple? Probably not in the long run, even if shares are down this week. Apple will bounce back due to a couple of significant factors: Apple is big enough that it can suffer some financial loss; the company has been around long enough that a short-term problem can be overcome; and, most important, the company has a well-deserved reputation for responding quickly to customer bug reports.

Most SMBs don’t have these advantages. If your company’s new iOS 8 app doesn’t work well, for example, your customers will probably have little patience. That’s why when we work with developers, we always tell them to think of professional app testing as an essential part of the development process, not an optional extra.

Most importantly, do it properly, with professional and experienced quality control people. You can’t expect friends and relatives to know what to look for. We know from experience that app developers who launch an app to the market without proper testing, and subject users to bugs and crashes, risk potential customers simply deleting the app immediately and checking out the competition.

And that’s the final lesson: it takes time and a commitment to quality to build a reputation that can withstand scrutiny and and the worst kind of crises. Back in April 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “You want to take the time to get it right. Our objective has never been to be first. It’s to be the best. To do things really well, it takes time.”

Perhaps he should have listened to his own advice. It’s not too late for you.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Lots to learn from Apple, successes and mistakes.

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This Is What A Holographic iPhone Might Look Like


Apple has filed a patent for a holographic touch-screen display. Heres an amazing rendering of it for the iPhone.

Lasers. Infrared sensors. Parabolic mirror assemblies. These are the technologies that could allow iPhones of the future to project holograms from 3-D screens, according to a new Apple patent application.

Now, whether or not Apple will actually make such a device, no one knows. It’s perfectly common for the company to patent technologies that don't make their way into finished products.

To see the picture of view the video, click on the title.



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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, May 7, 2014 8:50 AM

Cool! Imagine how that will sell!