Archive for January, 2010
I was plunged into the Apple world when my daughter won an iTouch from a magazine drive. I dived into it nine months ago when I bought an iPhone. Here’s why mobile devices work- you can harness the power of the internet and international communications in your pocket. To ignore this trend is to deny what most Europeans and Asians already.
Why then are Americans the laggards in the mobile me movement? I think it’s because we’re wealthier than our cousins across the ponds. Until we get mobile devices with a readable screen, that aren’t hard to use, we’re going to stay chained to desks or flopped with lap weights. Americans won’t adapt because we don’t have to…yet.
What can this mean to the mortgage industry?
POINT OF SALE: For the most part, mortgage shoppers care less about the loan terms than convenience and the ability to get approved. I want the ability to give them all three on a mobile app. I want them, and the real estate agents to use that app to get a pre-approval, check payments and cash-to-close, follow the mortgage market as it relates to their loan approval, and watch the loan process from a magazine sized computer.
MOBILITY: The loan process lasts 30-150 days. I want that borrower or agent to check rates and recheck their application status by simply touching that app button. If I’ m the user, I want the ability to take a loan application…anywhere:
- at a Chargers tailgate party while watching the ribs on the BBQ
- in the schoolyard at my daughter’s school
- at a Chamber of Commerce networking mixer
- in a real estate agent’s office
- at an open house on a Sunday
- at the beach
COMMUNICATION: I want to receive a text message every time they open that app and/or login. I want to know what they’re doing in there so that I can anticipate their questions and perceive their concerns. I want them to be able to send me a text message, from inside of the iPad app.
I thought the iPhone was going to deliver this platform but the screen is too small. I’ve gone from fighter pilot eyesight to Mr Magoo, in nine short months, because of that small screen. The iPad can restore my 20/20 vision.
How can I make this happen?
My customized mortgage rate search provider, which powers RatePeeker.com, has to build the front door. It has to be my brand so that I control the most important real estate in the mobile marketing world; the screen. The iPhone/iPad screen is today what the refrigerator used to be; a “magnet” holder.
After the consumer sees the approximate loan terms, she needs the ability to convert to a full loan application screen. All that data has to interface with my loan origination system (LOS) so that I can pull credit and secure an approval. Then the app has to have a document management screen so that we can communicate what is required to see an approval.
Smart, tech-savvy secondary market investors will have a mobile platform that allows my customers to enter through my app button and keeps me in front of our mutual customer for the life of the loan. I want to know when that customer enters through my portal…forever.
I know I’m asking for a lot. While we’re “dreaming”, I’d appreciate what real estate agents would like my app to do.8 comments
iPad observation #7: When you’ve built a product that turns whole worlds upside down — what happens next?
I’ve got more to say, but I’m running out of Sunday. Here’s what’s next:
The iPad is the first move in the disintermediation — disintegration — of dozens of well-established institutions in our society.
Vendors of mediocre crap like Windows computers and Android cell phones are done for. Established on-line retailers are finished. Broadcasting in the spectrum is kaput. Best of all, the union-organized ignorami called schoolteachers will be put out of work.
In a circumstance such as I describe, what would you expect to happen?
My answer? Rotarian Socialism.
When the mediocre feel threatened, they pass laws. When the established face disestablishment, they pass laws. And when the ignorant get organized, they pass laws.
If anyone besides me could clearly foresee what a disruptive influence the iPad is going to be, they would already be clamoring for protection from the awful consequences of free choice.
Here’s the good news: Almost nobody can see what is going to happen. They might be myopic, but at least they’re very proud. They will insist — one may hope until it is too late — that Apple cannot be doing what it clearly is doing.
The bigger threat, in the near term, would be the Antitrust Laws, which say that your company can grow as big as it wants, as long as it’s really mediocre like Microsoft. But if you’re growing because you are satisfying — ecstatifying! — consumer demand, the Feds have to come in and bust your company up.
Here’s hoping that everything that matters in this revolution of the mind will have happened before the Rotarian Socialists can marshall their defenses.
And on that note, I will shut up.
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iPad is the real estate kiosk. I found this leaked video from December. The earth moved for me when I saw the guy change the kitchen cabinet finish. The 3D CAD interior design idea has been around for a while, but now you can put it in HER purse so SHE can redecorate your listing while waiting at the car wash. Then we go viral from the app store. She can then collaborate with all her friends and they all can redecorate my listing. One of them will buy it or redecorate some other house on my IDX site and buy that. Now I see.
Oscar Wilde said that, the best kind of philosophy — bonum, verum, pulchrum — the good, the true and the beautiful.
I don’t hate it that we are monkeys biologically, genetically. But I hate it when people act like monkeys. Despite everything else that is going on, last week we caught a glimpse of the fully-human life. The prospect for an iPad-like device to take over education is cause enough to celebrate.
To the unchained human mind!
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iPad observation #5: Linking frees slaves, sometimes, but the future of mobile real estate is unknown to attorneys from New York City.
Here’s a true fact: I’m pretty much disgusted with the RE.net — which denomination I quarried with my own hands, back in my early days on the apellation trail. By now, just about everything looks to me like hoke, smoke, hustle and jive — smirking vendorsluts and the clueless suckers who can’t stop themselves from pridefully posturing about having procured their own plundering. I know that’s not fair — or not entirely fair — but it often seems to me, lately, that everything I have ever hated about the real estate business is successfully infesting the on-line world.
This will fail, all of it, in the end, and I’ll say why in detail when I get time. But for now I persevere by holding my nose and holding my ground. Whether it is the seemingly harmless simian chatter of net.monkeys desperate to prove their ape-titude to all the other net.monkeys or the craven schemes of hack vendors looking for just one more gullible fool to make their month, I’m well sick of it all. I haven’t looked at a feed-reader in many months, and my Twitterverse consists of my Best Beloved, Cathleen, and Teri Lussier.
The rest of the net, however, is a different thing. I’ve been following Apple tablet posts for months, and The Unofficial Apple Weblog is the only blog other than BloodhoundBlog whose client I have on my iPhone. On and off last week, and in greater earnest today, I’ve been looking for decent iPad posts from the RE.net.
Not hard to foresee, but Agent Shortbus doesn’t get it. Typically insipid kibitzing with no real understanding of the revolution the iPad will bring to the entire universe of commerce.
But, alas, the Shortbus set doesn’t have the vision to come up with a truly idiotic argument against using mobile devices to market real estate. This honor was earned by Rob Hahn, an attorney in New York City who doubles as a vendorslut consultant or a consultant to vendorsluts or some bizarre combination of the two. Realtors follow his musings religiously, apparently because they confuse being an attorney with being a Realtor, and living in New York City with living in a normal real estate market.
In any case, “The Inglorious R.O.B.” insists that smartphones won’t work for real estate marketing, first, because the cops might not like it, and, second, because he bought a lame-ass smartphone. As a matter of courtesy, in case you are laboring under the false impression that these arguments are not totally absurd, let’s dispense with them:
First, people obey anti-texting laws just about as religiously as they obey speeding laws. And, on the off chance that a cop is not tied up with a real crime or a bloody traffic accident, it seems likely that the uniformly-disobeyed law he is most likely to enforce — if he’s already topped off on donuts for the day, that is — would be the speed laws. If you’re not getting pulled over for speeding all the time, text away. Nobody cares — except for “The Ignominious R.O.B.”
Second, good smartphones have good batteries — and the iPad will have a great battery. I think trying to use a smartphone to shop for real estate in New York City would be beyond stupid, but, as it turns out, people in the rest of America not only have cars from which to illegally use their smartphones, they also have a smartphone charger plugged into the cigar lighter. As I have mentioned, my car has three cigar lighters, but I use two of them for 330 watt 120 volt power inverters, thus to power my own laptop and my clients’. The horror! Not just smartphone use on wheels, but actual flagrantly criminal laptoppery! There oughta be a law, dammit!
And surely I am being unfair to “The Ignorable R.O.B.,” but it’s sane to argue that “mobile won’t matter in 2010″ for one reason only: Because 2009 was the most important year for mobile real estate marketing. This is why we talked about it so much here last year. Even so, I’m prepared to argue that the iPad could still win the year — but with a more interesting kind of mobile real estate marketing.
And: To hell with all that. Let’s talk about people who are getting things right.
Here is a wonderful post from TechCruch, speculating about the iPad the day before it was announced. The author manages in a few paragraphs to document everything the Vook could have been if Brad Inman had the kind of respect for his customers that Apple has.
The online buying model for newspapers and magazines isn’t going to save the publishers, any more than iTunes Music and TV downloads have been saviors for their respective content owners. Will consumers benefit? Absolutely. But they won’t be willing to pay a premium for content they can access on the web for free. And if old media shifts to a pay-only model, consumers will just switch to free online alternatives. There will be exceptions — publishers with high quality, exclusive content (say, the New York Times) will likely benefit. But the majority of newspapers and magazines? Not so much.
But what about this promised land of revolutionary hybridized content — won’t people be willing to pay for that? Thing is, that’s going to be time consuming and expensive to make. A handful of very large publishers, like the NYT, may be able to scrap together some compelling content on a regular basis. But it’s going to be difficult to quickly integrate additional supplementary material in a way that doesn’t feel tacked on.
So Who Will Benefit?
Textbooks. Guides. Biographies. Novels. Pretty much anything that has previously been offered in book form, but has been handicapped because it was restricted to paper. Few of these have ever been ported to the web in a rich media form, because they’re lengthy and it just isn’t fun to read a book on your computer screen. And even when textbooks have been digitized (like for the Kindle DX), they didn’t bring anything new to the table. But there’s so much room for improvement.
Imagine a biography of Abraham Lincoln that allowed you to pull up photos of every person and place mentioned with a single finger swipe. Flicking the top of the screen would bring down an interactive timeline of Lincoln’s life, making it easy to get your bearings. The hybrid book could include comprehensive references for each person mentioned in the book. Not just a Wikipedia article, mind you, but information that is contextually relevant to the moment you’re currently reading about. The experience wouldn’t simply be one of jumping from hyperlink to hyperlink. All of this supplementary material would naturally flow into the reading experience, while you never left your place in the primary text.
There are plenty of other potential applications. Picture a chemistry textbook where you could freely rotate any molecule, tapping on a chemical bond to learn more about why it behaves the way it does. Or a Shakespeare play (in text form) where you could tap a piece of dialog to hear it spoken aloud, or perhaps even played in a video. Tapping a sidebar at any time would bring up a roster of characters and their allegiances, lest a love triangle leave you confused.
There are infinitely more possibilities ready to be unlocked. Many of these things could be done were this content converted to a rich webpage, but up until now there hasn’t been much benefit to doing so because there was no way to comfortably consume it.
Read it all. That’s your Deep Think homework for the day. Here are some lighter bits:
The PC officially died Wednesday. So says The New Republic, and of course I agree with this evaluation. It will take a few years, and the die-hards will surely die hard. But the die is cast.
Mashable insists that the great eBook war aas already begun. I’d say it’s already over, but, as the article hints, dinosaur forces could be brought to bear. More from me on the latter later.
And Geek Estate has a nice post on the iPad as a Realtor’s electronic amanuensis. I talked about some of this stuff on Wednesday, but Michael LaPeter came up with some ideas I missed. Like this:
Build a fun, interactive signup sheet for visitors. You could let them choose to subscribe to various value add lists right there, and depending on what you use it could put their info right in your list/ database, no tedious transcribing later.
That’s brilliant, as is this:
Take notes directly into your online CRM/ organization software, with no risk of losing them and no tedious transcribing later.
Ignoring “The Inexplicable R.O.B’s” inability to understand the immense and accumulating power of mobile technology as a real estate marketing tool, the iPad is the perfect replacement for the Realtor’s portfolio, that classy-looking notebook you’ve been carrying around so you can pretend to take notes. Now you can take notes — and keep them forever in your CRM database.
There’s more out there, I’m sure, but I haven’t seen it. If you’ve spotted a particularly valuable iPad post, weigh in with the link. As much as I enjoy spanking idiots, I’d much rather see people working hard to improve their understanding of the world.
Linking frees slaves — I love that joke — but only if the slaves want to be free. I do. How about you?
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iPad observation #4: Looking for a smart way to connect with your clients in a pull-based marketing world? Update your iPhone/iPad app.
I give away a lot of killer marketing ideas here, but I never worry about the competitive implications.
For one thing, I believe to the core of me that it’s raining soup, that wealth is pouring out of the skies and almost none of us is smart enough to reap that bounty.
But, second, I have learned through years of experience that, no matter how good my ideas are, almost nobody will ever follow through on them. We learned to sell, most of us, from people who believed to their cores that real money comes from laziness and lies. My way of marketing looks too much like work, I surmise, for people to adopt it in big numbers.
So much the better for me, I guess, although, to be frank, I would rather see Realtors doing more to earn the business — and the trust — of their clients.
In any case, here’s a way of thinking about marketing my way, a style of salesmanship based on integrity, transparency, follow-through and client satisfaction.
So: Start here: Build an iPhone/iPad app for your business. (See there? I just lost almost everybody!) The app has to be mission-critical and laser-focused on what your clients really need. Not — with emphasis — more idiotic self-promotion. If you’re not delivering something of value — in the estimation of your target-marketed end-users — you’re wasting your time.
Then get it on their iPhones and iPads. It ain’t easy, so you have to do it relentlessly. Ideally, everyone who can be expected to use you in the future — and to refer you to their friends and family members — should have your app on their iPhone or iPad.
Now you have the perfect means of staying in contact with those folks going forward. I’m not talking social networking, and my thinking is that drip marketing is probably a waste of effort. If they don’t unsubscribe, they’re going to ignore you except when they need you. It’s a pull-based marketing world, and your clients only really want to hear from you when they have a real estate need — not when you have a need for attention.
But you can draw their attention to you again and again, with one simple marketing tactic. What is it?
Upgrade your app.
If your clients have your app on their devices, the App Store will tell them when you’ve upgraded. Not only will they refresh their copy, they’ll go in to see what’s new.
Implication: Only upgrade when you have something that is not only new, but is also of demonstrable value to end-user. Cry wolf and you will end up deleted.
But this is not only a way of delivering real value to your clients, its a way of reminding them that you are working assiduously, constantly to deliver real value to your clients.
That’s my kind of marketing…
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iPad observation #3: If your baby — or a caveman — can figure out how to use the iPad, the user-interface works
This is from an email exchange with Teri Lussier:
Here is the computer for the rest of us:
Imagine that civilization has collapsed. It’s happened before.
Now imagine a computer something like the iPad (but durable enough to have survived and solar-powered or whatever).
The ideal user-interface could be put to use by whomever finds that computer, with zero assumptions or expectations about what that person does or does not know about conceptual volitionality.
It will be babies (crawlers, not toddlers) who will tell us — by their interaction with it — if the iPad is there yet.
(FWIW, this is one of the things I’ve been waiting for all my life, a computer that can train its end-user literally from scratch — from nothing — from the complete collapse of all abstraction-based learning. If civilization ever does collapse again, a computer like this will deliver a much faster renaissance to the survivors.)
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Cathleen bought her mother an iPhone just lately. Aloma Collins is 88, and her health is slowly failing. She’s in an awful spot, unable to do much and yet bored to tears.
The iPhone has become a bright spot on her horizon. Cathy loaded it with some apps, and Aloma has since figured out how to add others. She’s big on email and card games, so far. I don’t know if she’s surfing the web, but you can be sure she will be in due course.
When the Macintosh was introduced in 1984, it was advertised as being “The computer for the rest of us.” This was true at the time, when DOS was a ubiquitous zombie wraith afflicting the earth like the undead Unix. And Windows has sucked so perfectly, over the years, that the Mac segment of the computing marketplace has always had ample gloating space.
But what about Aloma? What about my own mother, who has so far managed to reject two EZ-to-use computing paradigms?
The iPad is the answer, or the first step toward an answer. For everyone who gets frustrated by the arcane modalities of the PC world, the iPad offers instant results, instant gratification, instant satisfaction.
Many of our ideas about computing are based in a puritanical reading of Dante’s Inferno: “How can you hope to enter data processing heaven without first having trundled your way through data processing hell?” This is hugely satisfying to many of us living the wired life, especially Windows and Unix geeks, and most especially Microsoft Certified Cash Sinks or whatever the reformat-that-hard-disk cadre is called.
To whom is it unsatisfying? How about the 50% of America that has so far managed to resist the wired life? How about Cathleen’s mother, and my own? How about your Nana? How about her grandchildren? The iPad is the computer for people who do not want to have to be told how to use a computer — the computer for the rest of us.
I’ve been thinking about and arguing about this idea for days, but the iPad is igniting a scenius all across the net. Here’s a post from Fraser Spiers making a similar argument:
For years we’ve all held to the belief that computing had to be made simpler for the ‘average person’. I find it difficult to come to any conclusion other than that we have totally failed in this effort.
Secretly, I suspect, we technologists quite liked the idea that Normals would be dependent on us for our technological shamanism. Those incantations that only we can perform to heal their computers, those oracular proclamations that we make over the future and the blessings we bestow on purchasing choices.
Ask yourself this: in what other walk of life do grown adults depend on other people to help them buy something? Women often turn to men to help them purchase a car but that’s because of the obnoxious misogyny of car dealers, not because ladies worry that the car they buy won’t work on their local roads. (Sorry computer/car analogy. My bad.)
I’m often saddened by the infantilising effect of high technology on adults. From being in control of their world, they’re thrust back to a childish, mediaeval world in which gremlins appear to torment them and disappear at will and against which magic, spells, and the local witch doctor are their only refuges.
With the iPhone OS as incarnated in the iPad, Apple proposes to do something about this, and I mean really do something about it instead of just talking about doing something about it, and the world is going mental.
Not the entire world, though. The people whose backs have been broken under the weight of technological complexity and failure immediately understand what’s happening here. Those of us who patiently, day after day, explain to a child or colleague that the reason there’s no Print item in the File menu is because, although the Pages document is filling the screen, Finder is actually the frontmost application and it doesn’t have any windows open, understand what’s happening here.
The visigoths are at the gate of the city. They’re demanding access to software. they’re demanding to be in control of their own experience of information. They may not like our high art and culture, they may be really into OpenGL boob-jiggling apps and they may not always share our sense of aesthetics, but they are the people we have claimed to serve for 30 years whilst screwing them over in innumerable ways. There are also many, many more of them than us.
It’s fun to watch the high-pontiffs of punctiliousness dismiss the iPad as a toy. If you tune your radio back to 1975, you can listen to the computer experts of the time saying the same things about micro-computers. Skip ahead to 1984 and it’s the aborning Macintosh, pictured above, that is taking all the haughty, well-informed abuse. But — as we will discuss in my next observation — even the squeaky-clean will cling to this computer made for the unwashed masses, once they’ve gotten their hands on an iPad.
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How are we ever going to top this?
Oh, yes. It’s real. Mrs. Buyer said, “I don’t even want to think about what happened in that room.” My risposte? “Nothing happened in that room!”
But: Even so: It’s an interesting real estate problem, isn’t it? It would be $500, at most, to repaint that room. And yet every buyer who has seen it will have been revolted. What’s the cash value of that revulsion? At least $15,000 off the comps — and it’s still not selling…15 comments
The FHA suspended the 90-day flip rule as of February 1, 2010, for a period of up to one year. I’m not so sure lenders are going to play ball, though. I’ve found that lenders are implementing the 90-day seasoning rule for all loans, not just FHA, these past six months.
I warned the readers on Bigger Pockets about my observations and offered this advice:
If you purchase a property that looks like a good flip opportunity, you should be careful to not enter into a residential purchase agreement (RPA), from an enthusiastic buyer, for at least 91-days from the date the deed was recorded. I’m certain there will be instances where certain lenders will follow the HUD policy to the letter of the law but for now, I’d enter every potential flip planning for a minimum 90-day holding period before you market the property.
Bigger Pockets has a lot of experienced investors and speculators who read the articles there. Ryan Hinricher suggested that some lenders may be playing ball:
This is probably going to go both ways. I would imagine some lenders will continue with overlays despite the 1 year suspend on the rule. As an investor who was an underwriter, the best thing to do is understand if your lending sources are going to work with the suspension or ignore it. My thoughts = lender by lender. I’m planning on flipping many deals within 90 days.
Ryan’s comment proves that there are no absolutes in lending, especially today. While I think my observations are indicative of a growing trend, I imagine that a few lenders will follow the HUD guidelines to the letter and fund those transactions. My guess is that those lenders will charge a premium for those transactions, costing the buyer/borrower more money for the risk involved.
Should real estate scavengers, who buy distressed properties and remarket them at a profit, wait the 90 days to enter a residential purchase agreement or consider a “buy-down”, so that the lenient but more expensive lenders’ terms are consistent with “market rates”?4 comments
Brian Brady had a comment in the Oregon Suicide post and it got me thinking. I had forwarded this news to some economic development clients of ours. Nike would make a great Texas brand. I just pulled up some of the largest employers in Oregon and found a couple first rate candidates for Texas passports:
Advanced Navigation & Positioning Corporation (ANPC) We got a few folks from here to the moon and back. We even knew where they were the whole time! ANPC would surely find some kindred spirits here.
AFMS Transportation We have a bigger port, a couple of trains and a freeway or two, plus two major airports, and no small expertise in extraterrestrial travel if needed. Houston was the first word uttered from the moon by man.
AVI BioPharma I have no idea what an antisense vaccine is, but I bet that there might be a place for these folks near the largest hospital complex in the world. and maybe they can get a breakthrough in recombinant RNA for some commonsense on the West Coast.
Avista Corp. Is an energy company. My question for these folks is, “Why not come play in the bigs?” Even if Avista is a green energy company, Texas leads in wind and everything else that keeps your shiny new max-iPad charged.
Fort Bend County near Houston has already gathered a couple $ million to market target to businesses in LA. The hit teams are forming to swoop in to rescue the productive. The numbers for relocating the whole business are compelling for an entrepreneur who is under assault by every government entity to whom he must pay tribute.
Why would a West Coast business owner consider moving to Texas? Bawld Guy likes bullet points so here we go:
- Cost of housing: half.
- Salaries let’s call it a push, unless you have union labor and then, as we say yipee ki yo!
- Income tax- What’s that?
- Welfare payroll levies reduced
- Residential Property tax-It’s how we pay for stuff like non teacher union schools and non union road construction.
- Business Property tax- We’re gonna give it back to you if you bring us your posse of productive citizens.
- Environmental regulations: We like nature, we hunt and fish. If you spill it wipe it up. Don’t do it if it will kill your kids.
- Healthcare: Best in the world. Arab princes fly their 747’s here for check-ups after the casino girls in London make their hearts go all pitter patter.
- If you really hate the weather, the tax savings and the enhanced profitability of your enterprise will pay for a nice vacation at the San Diego W.
So, if you see a West Coast business man chatting with a couple guys with mile wide smiles, firm handshakes and boots, you a witnessing a Texas Special Operation.11 comments
All the election news last week was not as rosy as Massachusetts. Oregon voters approved two measures that invite businesses and high wage earners to move out of Oregon.
Voters approved an increase in the minimum excise tax paid by every business from $10 each year to $150, a 1500% increase. Excise tax rates were also increased for all gross revenue classes. They also raised the corporate income tax from 6.6% to 7.9% on earnings over $250,000.
If you are an Oregon resident who makes over $125,000, if you’re single, or $250,000 if you file jointly, your income tax rate just increased from 9% to 10.8%. If you earn over $250,000 and are single or a joint filer of over $500,000 your rate increased from 9% to 11%.
In other news from the Northwest of interest to those in North Carolina, the Washington State Democrats are telling Boeing to leave. They aren’t going to let little things like agreements that they already made stand in their way.
Boeing spokesman Bernard Choi said the bill “would take away our ability to run our business” and says the company has met all the detailed conditions in the 2003 tax agreement. – Q13
For those of you from Oregon and Washington reading this, Texas is one of 5 states with no income tax.
Real Estate professionals in Idaho, Texas or elsewhere where the disenfranchised Oregon and Washington achievers might move may find the Northwest a productive place to look, as well as California, for buyers of high end homes. Personally, I’ve lived in Texas before and don’t rule it out in the future.13 comments
The Apple iPad is a category-cataclysm and no one knows it yet: Double-thinking Steve Jobs and his double-suss of the hi-tech marketplace
Here’s the question that will appear in the deep-think mainstream media analyses of the brand new Apple iPad:
How can hardware vendors answer Apple’s new tablet?
Guess what? It’s a dumb question.
Slightly brighter lights might ponder this, instead:
How can Amazon compete with the new iBook store?
And: Yes: It’s another dumb question.
Here’s why: With the iPad, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has managed to double-suss the entire hi-tech marketplace. After 30-plus years of being ridiculed by nerdy dipshits like Bill Gates, Apple is poised to take over everything that matters in the new economy.
And, as far as I can tell, no one so far has even figured out what they’re doing.
Why is it that all of the supposed iPhone killers have fared so badly in the marketplace? Because the iPhone is not a cell-phone. It’s a software experience packaged as a cell-phone. Phone vendors can compete well enough with the actual phone, but they have nothing at all to offer as a software experience. Wannabe iPhone clones only have apps at all because iPhone app developers port their products to BlackBerry, Palm and Droid devices.
And if you’re about to get huffy about hardware or performance or open-source or whatever, stand down. We’re not done yet.
The true fact is, the iPhone isn’t a hardware product, and it’s only a software experience from the point of view of end users.
What is the iPhone, really? It’s the user-interface for the iTunes App Store. For iTunes generally, of course, but mainly for the App store.
So what is the iPad, really? It’s portable retail store-front for everything sold at the iTunes store.
Apps. Movies. Music. Books. And now newspapers and magazines.
The iPad is not a tablet computer, so all of the supposed iPad killers that will be introduced in the coming months will fail, just as all the iPhone killers have failed. Hardware vendors will kill themselves eclipsing the iPad’s hardware in every possible way — and they will fail dismally in the marketplace.
The iPad will be a great hardware experience coupled with the typically-superb Apple software experience. That goes without saying. But none of that will matter.
Here’s what matters: The iPad will be the means by which you will acquire all of the digital content for sale at the iTunes store — and all those wannabe iPad killers will not. Without the iTunes connection, the iPad will have no competition. None. Zero. Never.
That’s half the genius of the iPad. Here’s the other half: Amazon doesn’t have the iPad. Apple understood the Kindle the way no one else did: Not as an eBoook reader but as a retail store for eBooks. And with the iPad, Apple has stolen the real product from Amazon, leaving it with warehouses full of useless Kindles and charging Amazon a premium to become Apple’s partner in the eBook retailing business.
The iPad is a truly frolicking brilliant move by Apple. It can’t be beaten as a hardware/software device, and it can’t be beaten as a retail Point of Purchase for digital content.
Apple has not only just killed the desktop, laptop and tablet computer category, it has also killed the digital content marketing category. The iPad is the future of for-pay digital content. The only future, eventually, for content creators who want to get paid.
And here’s the killingest thing of all: Apple isn’t even going to own much of its own content. It’s not a retailer, truly. It’s a broker — a consignment store. Apple will take 30% or so from book, newspaper and magazine publishers in order to make their products available through the iTunes store. Similar deals for music, movies, software applications — everything. If it runs on an iPod, an iPhone or an iPad, Apple will broker the content and take a big split on every sale. The risk remains with the content creators, but Apple will keep a cut every time the cash register rings.
And the device itself, if it is an iPhone or an iPad, is the cash register.
The world has bitched forever about the cost of Apple hardware, but it seems likely to me that the iPad and the iPhone would be immensely profitable even if Apple gave them away for free!
This is a brand new way of doing business. It’s wrong to say that Apple invented it. Amazon did, with the Kindle. But Steve Jobs understood what no one else did: Great hardware is not enough. Great content is not enough. But marry the two together and eventually there will be nothing left for anyone else.
This is big news, bigger than anyone can understand as yet. The iPad will get lots of gushing coverage tonight and tomorrow. But the real news is here: Steve Jobs and Apple today announced the eventual demise of both Microsoft and Amazon, among many, many other hi-tech companies.
The iPad is not a category-killer. It’s a category-cataclysm. Whatever our congenital hall-monitor of a President says tonight in his State of the Union speech, this is the big news of the day, by a huge margin.
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