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This. Just this.

8 Mar

From Merlin Mann at Inbox Zero

Word Up – Office for iPad?

6 Jan

This is something I wrote for my company’s blog, which was published yesterday:

In the past weeks, Microsoft has released a slew of iOS apps, including SkyDrive (with 25 gB of free online storage), OneNote for iPad, Halo Waypoint, and My Xbox LIVE, Lync 2010 for iPhone and Lync 2010 for iPad, in addition to previous releases like Bing, Photosynth, and OneNote for iPhone.

And there are strong rumours that Office for iPad is in the works. With Windows 8 tablets like to appear at some point in 2012 and Windows Phone 7 already in the market, the big question is why would Microsoft bolster its rival’s business by offering products which may keep them away from its own devices? At first glance, it looks like madness.

But Microsoft is a software company first and foremost (notwithstanding their excellent range of PC mice & keyboards, and the XBox business). 90% of their revenues comes from software, so it makes sense to put its software on as many platforms as possible. Right?

Well, kind of. Most of those apps are free (OneNote allows 500 free notes, then it costs £2.99), so there’s no revenue attached. But there’s huge value in user data. By putting apps on to the only tablet with any significant market scale and tying them back to online services they get to see exactly how users behave. It’s like a giant user testing laboratory and Microsoft engineers will use that information to figure out the best implementation of their apps on their own tablet version. Putting XBox LIVE on iOS extends the platform onto the world’s most popular handheld gaming device.

But those arguments don’t hold true for Office. The two cornerstones of Microsoft’s business are the revenues it earns from its Office and Windows franchises. Nothing, but nothing, is allowed to compromise that. Ever.

Although there is a huge and flourishing market for premium (i.e paid-for) apps on iOS, price expectations are set pretty low. Even for iPad there are few apps priced over £9.99. Apple’s own iWorks app (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) cost £6.99 each. Even with their larger feature sets it’s hard to see how Microsoft could charge anywhere close to the current lowest price for Office on Windows or Mac (the Home & Student edition is £72.99 on Amazon; the business edition is £100 more expensive but includes Outlook). 

So Microsoft has to make a judgement call – will Office for iPad sales be additive to desktop sales, or cannibalise them? And would a lower price on iPad exert significant downward pressure on Office prices for PC, even if the tablet versions are functionally limited? 

My best guess is that there may well be more iOS apps from Microsoft through 2012, but we won’t be seeing Office for iPad anytime soon. The risk to core revenues is simply too great. Those looking to move their entire working lives to iPad will have to wait a little longer, or explore the non-Microsoft options.

Steve Jobs

6 Oct

I’m somewhat at a loss for words at the news of the death of Steve Jobs

Obviously I didn’t know him personally, never met him, but Steve Jobs probably had more impact on my adult working life than almost anyone else. The tools I use daily are almost all the result of his vision, his perfectionism, his drive.

There’s a quote from his 2005 Stanford address that should stand as a guide to us all in the time we have left to us:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Amazon Opens Fire in Tablet War

3 Oct

A new post by me on my employer’s blog about the Amazon Kindle Fire and its potential impact on the tablet market.



Keep Taking the Tablets

18 Aug

My look at Apple’s influence on the tablet market, on the company blog:

Once again, enjoy!

Patently Absurd?

17 Aug

My thoughts on Google’s acquisition of Motorola, on the company blog: 


BBM, Social Media and the riots

9 Aug

My colleague Jonathan Akwue posted a great article yesterday about “the unlikely social network fuelling the riots” – not, as the Mail and others had so predictably claimed, Twitter and Facebook but BlackBerry Messaging.

It got wide pick-up across the media and was quoted in the Guardian and the New York Times, among others.

If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you read it:

The End of the IT Department?

28 Feb

A really interesting post on 37signal’s Signal vs Noise blog:

Looking forward to the day when no-one needs to have a computer named “server” sat on their network.


Public Parts?

6 Dec

Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, is writing a new book on why open is better than closed and why we all benefit from putting more stuff out there in public. On his blog at he sets out the basis of his thinking:

  • Publicness makes and improves relationships. To make connections with people, you need to be open and share. When you decide not to be public, you risk losing that connection.
  • Publicness enables collaboration. That’s the beta lesson: When you open up your process, you invite people to help you improve what you’re doing. It is also, of course, the lesson of open-source.
  • Publicness builds trust. Secrecy doesn’t.
  • Publicness kills the myth of perfection. That is, when we open our process, we are showing our faults and are no longer held at every moment to the myth of perfection that has come to rule our industrial-age processes.
  • Publicness disarms taboos. Publicness was the daring weapon gays and lesbians used to tear down their closets. I’m not saying that people should be forced out of their closets; that is their choice. But I am saying that when they do, it faces down the bigots who made homosexuality a taboo; it disarms them.
  • Publicness grants immortality. (Note to Andrew Keen: That’s a joke.) Publicness at least grants credit and provides provenance for ideas and creation.
  • Publicness enables the wisdom of the crowd. If we all keep our information, knowledge, ideas, and lessons to ourselves, we lose collectively.
  • Publicness organizes us. Cue Clay Shirky. Speaking and assembling go hand-in-hand as rights. When we stand up and say who we are, we can find others like us and do things together.
  • Publicness protects. This will be controversial but the knowledge that one’s actions could be public have an impact. That’s why I’m not against cameras on Times Square to thwart the next bomber.
  • Publicness is value. This is an argument I’ll make that what’s public is owned by the public — whether that’s governments’ actions or images taken in public space — and whenever that is diminished, it robs from us, the public.

An interesting set of perspectives. What do you think?