All posts by Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Age of Context book is now funded, latest news

chase

Shel Israel just announced that we have raised $100,000 to fund the development of our book, “Age of Context.” If you haven’t heard that we’re working on a book, we are, it’s going to focus on how companies are able to build highly anticipatory services (think of Google Now) and highly personalized services (ToyTalk, for instance, is building toys that will interact differently with you depending on who you are and where you are) because of these five things:

  1. Sensors that are exponentially increasing. You are carrying seven sensors in your smartphone. But soon we’ll have a lot more. 
  2. Wearable devices. Google Glass, Oakley AirWave, Plantronics, Smith I/O Recon, FitBit, Basis, Nike FuelBand, Jawbone Up, and more are coming nearly every week. (In the photo above that I shot on Saturday in Sun Valley, Idaho you can see famous photographer Chase Jarvis wearing the Smith I/O Recon ski goggles that have sensors and a display).
  3. Database innovation. Big data, database computation, cloud-based databases, and more are bringing new capabilities to developers.
  4. Rapidly increasing social data. Twitter is about to have a billion-tweet day. That number is continuing to double every year or so.
  5. Rapidly increasing location data. Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, Google Maps, Waze, and many others are seeing yearly doubles, if not more, in location data.

Over the past year we’ve seen this “contextual service” trend just get more and more important. To get the book done I needed help, which is why I am working with Shel Israel, Forbes author, again. But he needed to quit his consulting business to write the book quickly (we’re going to try to turn this book around very quickly, expecting to get it on the market by October, 2013). Also, we wanted to self publish the book, in order to be more agile (most book publishers just can’t turn around a book fast enough, nor do they like letting authors publish content for free ahead of the book). So, we’re using Guy Kawasaki’s methodology for publishing, which he calls APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur).

In addition to getting Shel paid, the funds will be used to edit, design, and market the book.

Here’s the sponsors, thank you to each one of them:

  • Rackspace, the open cloud company. They served as our lead sponsor and they have been the most generous contributor so far.
  • EasilyDo is the first context aware pro-active assistant mobile app. It is sort of the GoogleNow of iPhone apps, except it actually lets you do stuff in the app, like track a package or add a contact.
  • Betaworks is a data-driven media company based in New York that builds and invests in the social web.
  • Microsoft Bing is one of the world’s leading search engines, helping millions of consumers do, not just search.
  • Autodesk, the 3D design, engineering and entertainment software company.
  • MindSmack, an interactive agency that designs and develops for mobile, web and TV.

Some things:

  1. Being a sponsor doesn’t influence what we write in the book. We are going to tell it like we see it and cover competitors of these well.
  2. We still need more funds to properly promote the book. Usually book publishers give you an advance, then take you on speaking tours and arrange PR through radio, TV, and newspapers. We’re going to fund that ourselves. Write me if you would like to be involved: scobleizer@gmail.com
  3. The $100,000 raised so far is about three times what we would have been able to raise through traditional publisher and has a bigger upside because we can be much more agile and innovative (getting the book on market quicker after being done, for instance, or publishing all of our own work on our blogs).

Here’s some of our latest interviews (these are in addition to the dozens of interviews we’ve posted previously):

 

The Contextual, Sensual CES2013

It’s been a week now since the Consumer Electronics Show closed. I wanted to take that time to read all the reports and get rid of any overhype I picked up because of all those big screens that I saw.

Really the story was sensors. Whether video sensors on glasses, heart rate sensors on watches, or 3D sensors that you can interact with, this CES was more about sensors than anything else.

For a taste of just how big a deal this was this year, check out this video of Primesense’s private suite.

Don’t know Primesense? It licensed its technology to Microsoft for the Kinect sensor. You know, the one that can see you dancing, or gesturing, or moving around. It even does pretty good face detection. It knows I’m playing instead of my sons.

But this year the technology took a Moore’s law-style turn. It got a LOT smaller. It’s now a stick of chewing gum instead of something longer than most of my books. It’s lower cost. Will run less than $100. It’s much higher resolution. It now is so accurate it can see how hard you are pressing against a desk.

Listen to Primesense founder Aviad Maizels talk about his vision for 3D sensing.

Speaking of 3D sensors, I did see the Leap Motion. I like what they are doing too and we’ll do a video in the future with them. But their sensor is optimized for over keyboard use, not room use, so I find the Primesense has me dreaming about a contextual future a lot more.

At CES I had dinner with execs from GM and Ford and they are thinking about how to use these sensors in cars. Both to personalize the car (with a sensor like this they could tell you are sitting in drivers seat) but also to do things like wakeup alarms if you are falling asleep while driving. Also, hand gestures will be more efficient in many ways than voice systems, particularly for moving around user interfaces. Listen in to John Ellis, head of the Ford Developer Program, talk about the contextual future of cars:

The other thing I saw were wearable computers. Listen in to these two visionaries who are building really interesting wearables. Recon Instruments builds the heads-up displays that Oakley is including in its AirWave ski goggles and Pairasight has built a glasses with two 1080p cameras. The Texas Instruments chipset Pairasight was using lets you stream about 1.5 hours of 1080P video on a single battery charge (and the battery is tiny, so this is a breakthrough). Pairasight’s glasses are in prototype stage. Recon’s are shipping now.

That all led me to talk with Don Norman, who I ran into at CES. Don’t know who he is? He used to be a fellow as a User Experience Architect, which was the first time User Experience was used in a title at Apple and later became Vice President of Apple’s Advanced Technology Group, but that hardly explains Don, go read his wikipedia entry.

So, what does it mean?

Well, consumer electronics are about to become anticipatory and personal.

Think about Google Now, which shows you all sorts of ways to live your life better (like the fact that I better leave for my meeting now because traffic is bad on way into San Francisco). Our world will know you at a deep level. Don’t believe me? Look again at the Primesense video. In there is a demo by Shopperception which lets retail stores see what you are buying in real time. Freaky, huh? But you know we’ll let stores do this. Why? We’ll get paid to. I see everyone in Safeway using their Safeway card, which already allows pretty deep tracking of buying behavior. Imagine a display near the cereals saying “hi Robert Scoble nice choice of Cheerios, if you want a second box it’s half off.”

The sensual, contextual age of consumer electronics is here ready or not.

The contextual and exponential future of Facebook

Facebook book

Rocky Barbanica and I visited Facebook’s headquarters today and interviewed a bunch of people for the book “Age of Context” that I’m writing with Shel Israel.

What’s the age of context? Five radically expanding technologies/data types.

1. Sensors.
2. Wearable computing.
3. Big Databases.
4. Social network behavior.
5. Location.

What will that bring for consumers? Highly personalized experiences and products. For companies? An extraordinary level of contextual business intelligence: clear vision of what your business will be and who your customer is.

I interview Facebook's Mike Shaver

I met with people like Mike Shaver, director of engineering, at Facebook. Listen in:

He talks about context, and how different contexts, like, say, when you’re driving, which is different than when you are reading Facebook on your couch, and is different than if you were skiing down a slope, could be used to bring different items to you.

He told me before we started recording that Facebook is, indeed, trying to pick the best items for you to see. It’s a difficult job because there so many different kinds of users. My dad, for instance, might only read Facebook once a week and never clicks like on his items. Me? I read Facebook every few minutes and click like on thousands of things a week.

Facebook has to pick, out of millions of potential messages, only about 30 for us each to see, each time we refresh the page (or, better yet, drag down on the mobile app).

It’s clear Facebook is also in the midst of a huge shift: one from web pages that have no contextual data to mobile and wearable computers where there is a huge amount of contextual data. My desktop computer doesn’t let me use it in different contexts like driving, skiing, running, eating, or shopping at the local mall. My mobile phone does. Facebook is in the middle of being rebuilt for mobile users, and soon, wearable computer users and maybe automobile heads up display users. Oakley, for instance, just started selling ski goggles that have heads up displays in them (we did a separate interview with that team).

An office at Facebook

One thing I noticed, after having conversations with about seven of Facebook’s execs, is that some seem to be ahead of the rest of the company in their thinking. Sam Lessin, who is director of product, talked to me about the exponential growth in identity information and the kinds of personalized, contextual, experiences that will enable in the future. Imagine walking into a bar you’ve never been into before and they say “hey, Robert Scoble, welcome, do you want your usual Oban whisky?” Or, imagine skiing at Squaw Valley and they will know that you are probably hungry, since every day you check into a lunch place by 1:30 p.m. and it’s now 1:45 and you haven’t eaten yet. “Hey, Mr. Scoble, are you hungry yet? Our sushi restaurant has a seat available after your next run.” Then imagine that I can invite a friend to join me, all via our wearable computers, and I learn that that friend doesn’t like Sushi “hey, you invited Mr. Smith to join you, but we know he doesn’t like sushi, would you like to switch to our steak restaurant instead?” That is all very possible, and Lessin explains how that might work.

We also talked about what it was like to build for a billion users compared to building at a startup with a few thousand users.

Hack at Facebook

Finally, I met Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering. His teams, when they check in code, affect more than a billion people now. Think about the power to screw up that that gives an engineer. He told me that keeping up with exponentially-growing contextual data about all of us is very difficult. They rebuilt their engineering teams to check in code twice a day and ensure that Facebook doesn’t slow down as it gets more engineers. He showed me the engineering team, which mostly works in one big room so that system conditions can be discussed fast.

This was an extraordinary way to get inside one of the world’s great companies and hear how they think. Hope you enjoyed it.

By the way, while I was there, they rolled out a new feature: nearby (here’s Techcrunch’s writeup of the new feature). They gave me access while I was meeting there and I checked into one of the restaurants there (free food baby).

We’ll be back at Facebook on Wednesday to meet with the team that wrote that feature. It’s barely the start of where Facebook’s information discovery features are going. Hint: the future is contextual, which will let them build new kinds of search/discovery features.

Some things I learned, while there:

1. Everything you do on Facebook will affect what comes in your view in the future. If you like crappy things that you don’t care about, you’ll see more crappy brands that you don’t care about in the future and it might even affect your experiences when you walk into bars, churches, schools, shopping malls, etc. Using Highlight, for instance, I can see what kinds of things you like and I’ll treat you a lot differently based on what you’ve liked.

2. Facebook is teachable. If you hide items, you’ll see fewer of those kinds of items in the future. Like more items and you’ll see more of those in the future.

3. Facebook is looking to help you distribute content to who you want to distribute to. Facebook gets a lot better if you put each of your friends into either your “close friend” or “acquaintance” list. Put family members on your family list, and you’ll be able to send photos just to your family members very easily. Spending some time tuning your friends lists dramatically increases the quality of your feeds and also lets you see items from your friends and family so you don’t miss them.

4. Facebook’s new gift feature will be able to build new kinds of stores in the future. If I buy a gift, like I did for Sam Levin, who got engaged last night, Facebook can learn about what kinds of things I like to buy for people, but it also lets Sam switch his gift without letting me know, so now Facebook knows more about the kinds of things Sam likes to receive.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this look inside Facebook and also appreciate that you get to see the raw material for the writing of our book, which should be out in Q3, 2013. Here’s some other photos from the campus.

Facebook's headquarters

Fun at Facebook, not in Kansas anymore

Hack at Facebook

Ice cream at Facebook

Epic cafe at Facebook

Facebook clothes at company store

Facebook teddy bears

Facebook pens

Mark Zuckerberg on wall at Facebook headquarters

eBay talks about a contextual future for its mobile efforts; update on our book "Age of Context"

eBay sells billions of dollars of things on mobile. Cars. Boats. Jewelry. Clothes. Gadgets. And more. Here Steve Yankovich, VP of mobile and platform at eBay, tells me how eBay is competing with Amazon. What the trends on mobile are.

eBay’s new eBay Now app lets you have things delivered from stores in San Francisco too. Will eBay expand this offering to other cities? I bet it will and Steve gives his insights there.

Finally, Shel Israel and Robert Scoble are working on a book about contextual software and Steve talks about how eBay is using contextual data to help purchasers in the future. Think of what eBay would do with Google’s wearable computers, coming next year, called “Project Glass.”

Try out eBay on your mobile.

+++++++++++++++

Speaking of context, you might know that I’m writing a book titled “the Age of Context” with Shel Israel, author at Forbes. We’ve been doing lots of interviews lately. Some of them below. We’ve visited Oakley, Qualcomm, JBL, Autodesk. At LeWeb I interviewed CEOs of Gnip (they have one of the only firehose licenses from Twitter) and the CMO of Salesforce. On Monday we’re visiting Facebook, along with talking to a bunch of startups. Tons more work to come.

We have made some progress on getting the book funded but we need some more help. We have one corporate sponsor, but they don’t want to be the only one funding the book. So, we need someone who can help us sell companies on a sponsorship (we want to do this book right, which means tons of travel, lots of interviews, and then putting a great product together with editors, designers, etc).

One of the best books I’ve ever seen is the Human Face of Big Data. That had several corporate sponsors. Why corporate sponsors? Because selling books simply doesn’t pay for the production of them anymore. At least not if you are only going to sell a few tens of thousands of copies. Hey, not everyone can be Tim Ferriss. :-)

If you are interested, contact me at scobleizer@gmail.com.

That said, we have a pretty good idea of where the book is going now, thanks to these first big interviews, and we are aiming at finishing it by the end of summer, 2013, and having it available to purchase by Christmas of next year.

Here’s some of the interviews we’ve done so far, with many more to come. We’d love your help, too! Let us know if you are seeing anything contextual happening. What’s that?

When you mix:

1. Sensors.
2. Wearable computers.
3. Big data and post-SQL databases.
4. Social networks.
5. Location data.

all together to make highly personalized services or products.

Oakley’s AirWave ski goggles with heads up display and contextual future:

Basis sensor for health monitoring.

Qualcomm’s augmented reality team:

Qualcomm’s healthcare team is seeing context and mobile:

Qualcomm’s President of Internet Services about Qualcomm’s vision of mobile’s future:

Foodspotting and Delectable CEOs talking about the mobile first world:

Vintank’s CEO talks to me about a contextual future (they provide 1.1 million tweets a day to wine industry):

Foursquare’s head of growth and analytics on contextual future:

MC Hammer (famous musician and entrepreneur) gives his tips for entrepreneurs as we head into a contextual future:

AOL’s CEO talks to me about AOL’s future in age of context:

Nest’s CEO (and guy who headed iPhone effort at Apple) talks to me about contextual future:

Geeking out with CEO of Apigee about contextual future:

Discussion with Maluuba’s CEO (contextual app for Android):

Discussion of future of customer service in contextual world with Harry Max (co-founder of wine.com):

Discussion of contextual customer service with CEO of SOcialAppsHQ:

Discussion of contextual social world with CMO of Salesforce:

Discussion of social streams in contextual world with CEO of Gnip at LeWeb:

Autodesk CTO on future in contextual world:

A new start with WordPress 3.5

senzari

Today WordPress 3.5 shipped. I quickly updated.

This year I’ve been bored with my blog. I spent a ton of time this year on Facebook. Today Facebook told me that I added 2,272 friends and liked 4,007 pages this year.

Yet I let WordPress languish. Why? Because posting inside the social networks, whether on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter, was easier. Less friction. And the people showed up in droves. A year ago I had about 15,000 followers on Facebook. Today I have 442,000.

So, today, I opened up WordPress. Wiped out the theme I had been using, and moved to a simple theme and just started writing.

The photo? It’s using a new photo upload feature in WordPress 3.5. That’s one thing that the social networks had made easier. So nice to see WordPress is getting easier to use again.

It’s of the Senzari team at LeWeb. I was interviewing them for our new book. The video should be up soon. They are building a new contextual music service.

Speaking of videos, have you checked into YouTube lately? YouTube has a nice new design and my channel is looking good.

This morning I interviewed Freshbook’s CEO using my iPhone on Soundcloud. We talked about tips for entrepreneurs and more. You really should listen to some of my audio interviews, they are quite good and intimate since I can have conversations that are just on my cell phone.

Anyway, the last month has seen a bunch of travel. Did you see the video I did with Michael Lazerow, CMO at Salesforce while on stage at LeWeb?

Finally, over on Google+ they opened a new feature, called Communities, last week. I quickly added one, for people who are building companies, and already 4,000+ people have joined.

Anyway, thanks to WordPress for updating and getting me back to blogging. Sorry for using the boring theme.

More to come on our book, The Age of Context. Lots of great interviews are in the bag for that, more to come.

The war on noise

George Takei believes its his right to make sure every single message he posts to Facebook gets through to his fans’ screens.

Jason Calacanis says that Facebook is in a bad war with George Takei.

I told Jason he’s wrong. What we’re really in is a war on noise.

Our computers bring us HUGE amounts of noise. On my screen right now is a new tweet every half a second. New email arrives every few seconds. It’s gotten to the point where I simply can’t answer more than about five percent of my email now. On Facebook new posts arrive every 10 seconds or so. On Quora? Every few minutes. On Instagram? New photos every few seconds on my accounts and I’m only following 300 people there. Chatter? Every few minutes a new post shows up on my screen from coworkers. And on and on.

I’ve been swimming in this noise  for a while and I’ve noticed a few things.

1. Marketers suck. Including me. Look at my big tech company list over on Facebook. Do you actually learn much?  A little, but marketers push themselves too much, and say too little.
2. No one is focused on what you want. Including me. I have a list of tech industry investors. Rich people. I want to hear from them about when they talk about investing, the economy, starting companies, trends, that kind of stuff. But do they stay focused? No. They talk about movies. Their vacations. Their kids. And more.
3.  Everyone is emotional. Including me. I have a list of tech industry VIPs. People who have changed the world. Invented Twitter. Or the Web. Or built Microsoft. Etc etc. But when they post about emotional topics like politics, religion, babies, pets, death, birth everyone goes crazy and reshares their posts.
4. Everyone has gone Gagnam Style. Including me. We love resharing. Retweeting. Talking. Liking. Pushing. Watch my tech news list and you’ll see the same story rehashed, repeated, reshaped, remashed.

We are great at generating noise.

So, what does this mean now that we’re leaving the social age and entering the contextual age?

Noise is about to get worse. A lot worse.

Why?

Sensors are generating noise. Look at the tweets coming off of people’s Nike Fuelbands. Noise.
Wearable computers will be more important. If you are wearing a pair of Google’s Project Glass wearable computers (coming within 18 months) do you want a constant stream of tweets to hit your eyes? Hell no. Even worse, if you are driving those might be a major distraction.
We’re posting more media. Look at the increase in photos on ALL services, especially Instagram. Aside, my new page on that service rocks. But you see the noise problems, don’t you? If you don’t care about my family and only care about when I photo stuff about tech, why is Instagram showing you the wine I drank, the bacon I ate, the sunset I shot, the beach I walked on?

The contextual age means we’re going to have to go to war on noise.

That means that George Takei will have to sit down and shut up. Even if I like him (I don’t, but my wife does, so I see many of his posts just because she likes them, which shares them with me) we see too many of his items. They waste our time, bring us low value compared to, say, the Economist. It’s rude that he is demanding that every one of his items gets to our screens. Really? Even when I’m driving? Even when I have a project to finish?

I’ve spent hundreds of hours studying Facebook’s EdgeRank (its noise reduction algorithms) and they are quite good. Far better than anything on Google+ or Twitter so far (or Quora, or LinkedIn, or Pheed, or App.net, or or or or or).

Here’s another way to look at it.

If you only had five minutes to read every morning, which means you could probably look at 20 items, what’s the best 20 items to show you?

George Takei, in the past 24 hours, has published seven items. Let’s say I liked 50 things that are like George. Are you saying, George, that your seven items should crowd out all other items? That’s bullshit.

I want Facebook to pick the best 20 items to show me every single time I refresh that screen. It does very well at it. Far better than Twitter and Google+ and others, so far.

Now, could the relevancy algorithms at Facebook be improved? Absolutely.  But they are the best we have so far and are showing the way into our new age of context.

I can’t wait for the war on noise to get really going.

Oh, some day I’ll tell you about why I wrote more than 1,500 Gmail filters. They throw away more than 300 emails every day. Every day. It’s the best thing I ever did for my productivity.

Context is the new battleground between Android and iOS

Contextual apps arrived at Techcrunch Disrupt. It’s not just Google Now that shows you information about your next meeting, either. I saw a bunch of cool apps that are using context and I kept hearing that iOS is behind.

Here, listen in as I talk with the team behind Maluuba, which is a new way to search, organize, and connect on your phone. Think of a new Siri.

Maluuba isn’t the only company that has told me that iOS is behind. Glympse‘s CEO, Bryan Trussel, told me his team develops its contextual mapping app on Android first, then moves it to iPhone.

Why is this?

A few reasons:

1. Android lets developers have access to the dialer so that app developers can watch who calls you and who you call.
2. Android lets developers look at the wifi and bluetooth radios on the phone so app developers can build better systems to track where you are, who you are near, and whether you are near things like your car.
3. Android lets developers ship and test without waiting up to three weeks to have their apps approved.

That said, there’s a counter point of view, which you’ll hear in my interview with Path’s CEO, Dave Morin (he is working on adding more contextual features to his app, which is a personal journal that’s quite popular).

What is this pro-iPhone point of view? Well, Path ships on both iPhone and Android. If you look at the market share numbers you know that for every iPhone sold Android sells about three devices. So, Path should be wildly more popular on Android than it is on iPhone. It’s not. In fact only about 30% of its customers are on Android. The rest are using iPhones. You might explain this away by some other factor but I’ve heard this from many many developers, including Starbucks and eBay. iPhone users use more apps. The ecosystem of apps is better on iOS. The profitability of app developers is better on iOS than on Android. On and on.

The dirty little secret is that users aren’t the same. My son’s friend showed me why. iOS users tend to be ones that really care about being online all the time. They also tend to be willing to pay for that. You might say they are richer users, which is partially true. My son’s friend shows me that she doesn’t have an unlimited data plan so she turns off her data on her phone and that she isn’t very app centric because she can’t afford the high availability data plans. She isn’t as good a user for app developers as, say, my son is, who keeps his phone’s data online all the time thanks to Verizon’s flat rate pricing on the iPhone.

At Techcrunch Disrupt I interviewed about 30 companies over three days. Most of them showed me that their apps are being developed on iOS first and they back up Dave Morin’s reasons why they go iOS first.

Some other things I saw at Techcrunch Disrupt, or didn’t see.

1. It’s clearly an Android vs. iOS world. It was extremely rare to see a Windows Phone, a RIM device, or anything that wasn’t running Android or iOS. There are even toys coming out that run iOS.
2. Nearly every developer is paying attention to the Age of Context and looking to build personalized features into their mobile apps.
3. Lots of people came up to me showing me apps on iPhones but they admit that they are really building prototypes of things that will ship on Google’s Project Glass next year. I saw two face detection companies, a slew of Siri competitors, and more that would be awesome on the Project Glass wearable computers that Google is working on.
4. While the new iPhone wasn’t all that exciting nearly everyone I asked admitted they were going to buy one. Even the Android fanboys said they are going to buy one for development reasons. I did meet a few people who hate Apple and still won’t buy one, but they were a rarity on the floor of Techcrunch Disrupt.
5. Most people aren’t paying attention to what’s happening in the contextual world, even though Qualcomm’s Gimbal team was one of the sponsors.
6. There are a LOT of concerns about two things amongst developers: 1. the freaky line. 2. Battery life. The freaky line is a concern because these technologies basically learn, and stalk, you. Already some of the apps, like Alohar’s Placeme, knows what gas stations you like, whether or not you attend church or strip clubs, and what routes you take to work. That freaks people out. The battery life is an issue because any of these developers who needs to turn on the GPS sensors in the phone increases the power consumption of the phone. Highlight is a good example of this. Turn it on and you’ll get about 20% fewer minutes out of your battery. For many that’s a killer.

When I was talking to Maluuba’s developers I noted that we’re in the Apple I days of contextual apps. The apps are ugly, don’t do much, and take too much battery life for the utility they provide. The team agreed and said to watch as user experiences with these apps get better and devices build in better software and hardware that won’t hit the battery as much. For instance, developers are already learning to be smarter about figuring out you’ve moved without turning on GPS.

Early adopters and developers are going to want to get Android devices to play around with this new contextual world. As Google’s Project Glass comes out next year the difference in ecosystems between iOS and Android will become more stark. Even Dave Morin admitted that his team will use Android more as R&D and as a proving ground for new, contextual features.

Is this dangerous for Apple?

I don’t think it is. Apple, at its best, isn’t a technology leader. Did anyone really use the Newton? No. The iPad, though, was very popular. Why? It took what the industry had been working on for a decade and simplified it.

So, watch for Apple to learn what works in terms of context and watch for Apple to be a fast follower that will bring a mass market product that my dad will use. For now my dad doesn’t care about context and I don’t have any reason to bring him the latest apps. They are too geeky, use too much power for what they deliver, and aren’t reliable enough. I can see that changing big time over the next two years, though, which is why Shel Israel and I are working on a book about the contextual age. It’s clear that we’re moving into a new age, it just will take a while to get out of the Apple I stage, where only a few hundred geeks are playing with it, to the Apple II stage where the mass market starts to show up.

Ignore it at your peril, though. It is the new mobile battlefield.