Apple – Why they rule, and iPad2: my first impressions

iPad 2I tuned in to the TechCrunch Live Blog today to get the dish on iPad2. I was skeptical about this launch. Rumors were it would be thinner, lighter, would have a camera, and so on. I didn’t care much for any of that, so I kept my expectations low. I already own an iPad and I wasn’t going to rush and get a new one just because. Don’t get me wrong, I love Apple stuff, but I am not total nuts to get every little version that comes out.

But now after ready the details on the iPad page at and hearing about it via the live blog, I am impressed. I am impressed by the two Apps featured in the launch and look forward to getting GarageBand and iMovie on my iPad. I am not so hot on the white iPad, but who knows, I might change my mind after looking at the real thing. I also love the iPad Smart Cover, which is brilliantly designed, so simple.

Coming to why Apple rules…it is all in the way you think about a product.  Steve Jobs said when he closed the show with a statement:

“A  lot of folks in this tablet market are rushing in, looking at this as the next PC. hardware and software are done by different companies, talking about speeds just as they would with PCs. Every bone in our body says this is not the right approach.”

This is a fundamental difference between Apple and all the other wannabes, in how Apple (and Jobs) views a product: as an integrated system  (of hardware, software and user experience) and eco-system (Apps, Books, Music, Movies, Videos, …). This is the reason why no one is going to beatthe iPad / iOS for some time to come, in spite of all the hoopla about Android based tablets. Google is just beginning to think about the eco-system, but has no integrated vision like Apple. All the other device vendors are beginning to create their own fragments of marketplace which in my only makes it confusing and difficult for the users. Besides, I am not convinced that users will pay for mediocre content, apps or experience. Apple has set the bar quite high and others are only getting started. Which means, they have a lot of catching up to do. While they do that, Apple is not staying  put, they are forging ahead. So I am convinced that it will be difficult for other tablets to achieve the level of commercial success the way iPad did for Apple. It is not about the OS (Android or iOS) or how many Android devices are shipped compared to iOS devices. Those stats only tell you just that, not how much revenue the devices are generating. The difference is what Apple has been known for for decades: They just “Think Different!”

How do you define an ‘Enterprise App Store’?

[Cross-posted from my JackBe blog.]

Lately everyone here at JackBe have been very focused on the latest edition of Presto and all it’s cool App and App Store features. We’ve hosted lots of webcasts, given tons of demos, briefed a lot of the media. And while I admit a certain bias, I think Presto 3.0 with its emphasis on user-driven Enterprise Apps and a user-centric Enterprise App Store has been well received.

But Apoorv Durga, the Portal and Web Content Analyst at CMS Watch, recently wrote ‘JackBe’s App Store is interesting but not new‘. He’s not wrong, exactly, but I think he’s missed the point. He emphasizes that ‘App Stores’ can deliver great ‘time to market’ through reusability and ease-of-use (I agree!) but then quickly condemns most past/present products on these qualities. And that’s where I think Presto 3.0 really is different.

In my last post I talked about how Presto 3.0 provides all the necessary tools and infrastructure to create Enterprise Apps and Mashups. We made every step of the ‘Enterprise App Lifecyle’ easier, from the beginning (secure registration of Mashable information sources), to the middle (easy and secure creation of Mashups), to the end (creation of Enterprise Apps from your Mashups/Mashables. And what I promised at the end of that post was more gory detail on what happens AFTER the Apps are made. In other words, the Enterprise App Store.

I’ve decided to define an Enterprise App Store for you by example. Where do Apps go after they are made? How do users use them? How do user shares them? I’d like to give you a guided tour of the Presto 3.0 Enterprise App Store and ultimately I hope you’ll agree that the Presto App Store is like the Portal ‘App Stores’ (in Apoorv’s article) as much as my car is like my kid’s bicycle: similar in intent, fundamentally different in design and implementation.

Submitting Apps: Apps get into the Presto 3.0 Enterprise App Store very simply. Apps are created by power users or developers and then submitted to the App Store Manager for publishing to the Store. Anyone who has permissions to create an App can submit it, but only the App Store Manager (there can be 1 or more persons in this role) is authorized to allow an App into the App Store.

This is a very important step in the App lifecycle, I believe. As one banking enterprise architect put it, the Store Manager ‘keeps your App Store clean and safe’. Your enterprise can set the guidelines and standards that App creators and submitters must follow to successfully publish an App to your enterprise App Store. If the App Store Manager decides an App is not ready, for whatever reason, they can send the App back to the creator with comments for further development or modification. Once these issues have been successfully addressed, App creators can resubmit their Apps for consideration to be published to the App Store.

Using Apps: What can you do with Apps in the App Store? Once you find an interesting App, if you have the right permissions, you can instantly use it. You can work with any number of Apps simultaneously at any time. Every App you open is shown in the ‘Open Apps’ gallery, and we maintain the state of all open Apps so that you can multitask and switch back and forth between Apps without losing your data. Once you are done using an App, you can close it.

Making Apps Personal: If you like an App and anticipate using it frequently, you can add it to the ‘My Apps’ gallery in the App Store. My Apps lets you add your own twist to the App: customize the App with you own settings (login information, colors, search parameters, etc.) for your very own personalized App. A single App can become dozens of customized Apps for region, data ranges, subjects or whatever parameter(s) you want to personalize.

Sharing Apps: What about sharing? You can easily share an App with other users in the App Store. You can also share with others outside the App Store via email or instant messaging. You can also rate, tag and send comments to the App creator.

Embedding Apps in other sites: You can put your App in other webpages. You get the embed code for an App and stick it into your iGoogle page or your Wiki or web page or even your portal server. You can also publish Apps from the App Store to your Microsoft SharePoint instance as native Web Parts. The point is, you can deliver the App to where the users work and need it – in their wiki, portal, web page, SharePoint, etc. on their desktop, mobile phones, iPads, etc.

Making the Apps secure: All the Apps published in the App Store are secured by authentication and authorization policies configured in Presto by your security expert. Every App can be configured to provide universal access or, if configured, to require the user to authenticate themselves. This can help provide Apps with contextual data or capabilities, if needed. Furthermore, all the data sources consumed by the Apps are protected via Presto security for authentication and authorization. Sharing is secure as well, rest assured. Even if you share an App with me, unless I have the correct permissions, I won’t be allowed to actually use the App.

So, do I think this is a typical App Store? Not in the slightest. The Apps aren’t made, shared, or used by IT with the business people in mind. The business people are the makers, the sharers, and the users. This empowering model is one I’ve rarely seen formalized in the way Presto does. And that’s the part I think Apoorv missed in his post. I am sure that once he gets his hands on Presto, he will surely come to notice all these differences that make our App Store a whole lot different than just a portal server or a gadget server trying to be an App Store.

However, I do agree with Apoorv that, by adopting an Enterprise App Store, you enhance your organization’s time to market. What’s different here is that you can harness and unleash the power of your end users with domain knowledge and let them solve their business needs with self-made or self-discovered Enterprise Apps. And your Enterprise App Store can be the last mile to get the data and new functionality to your users when they need it, where they need it, and how they need it!