Cisco’s Lew Tucker stood onstage today at Cloud Connect and pitched the networking giant’s “Internet of Everything,” an app-centric world that will be worth $14.5 trillion over the next couple of years. Whereas the Internet of Things is all the objects in our world, Tucker says the IoE is the smart grids and, really, the entire supply chain and its transformation.
Big enterprise companies are good at this kind of thing. They talk about huge market opportunities and great futures with tremendous upside, but it’s a question of how nimble they can be with startups innovating so fast. Tucker, however, gets credit for explaining how an app-centric world ties in with software-defined networking (SDN) and the switch from traditional, heavyweight systems of records (ERP, CRM) to systems of engagement (apps, lightweight services that provide feedback loops).
Tucker, citing Cisco’s own study, says there is $4.9 trillion in immediate opportunity through the development of such things as smart grids, smart factories, smart buildings and smart cities.
Here is the key and why Tucker is correct in what he has to say. We live in a futuristic, app-centric world that has to operate in an old universe filled with increasingly outdated “physical” routers and switches. That’s why SDN is so important and why Cisco faces challenges of its own with new players such as Big Switch and VMware, which acquired Nicira last year. With SDN, the network goes to the application instead of the other way around. The compute, the storage and the network are continually optimized based upon the demands of the customer.
His statements mirror what you hear from someone like Amazon Web Services CTO Werner Vogels who talks about cost-aware architectures that enable companies to manage IT and app workloads according to its own feedback loops. Data goes in to the data center and is read by a variety of apps and services. Analysis comes back and the customer adapts accordingly using standard, reserved or spot instances that it trades in an exchange.
It also further validates the rise of any number of IoT startups. For example, SmartThings has raised $3 million to develop a platform for connecting everyday objects to the Internet. According to our Natasha Lomas, London and Cambridge, U.K.-based accelerator Springboard is launching a dedicated program for hardware startups, focusing on the IoT.
Tucker describes a virtuous circle for the IoE that is all about this app-centric world. The Internet of Things means more data and that requires a cloud infrastructure. Apps are multiplying and will continue to increase as we plant more sensors with APIs into our personal items and everything else: roads, bridges, etc.
The IoE also provides a context for the ways we interact with this deep fabric of connected things. An ERP system will become less relevant for companies. Instead, systems of engagement will put us right in the center of a feedback loop that allows us to measure our own selves and in the process connect to all the other smart aspects of our life. That might be in the city of San Francisco when trying to find a parking spot or the smart factory where we order our data-generated personal things.
“What really matters in the end are the apps,” Tucker said. “They drive a change in what we need in our infrastructure.”
I could not agree more.
Apple’s iPad mini event was rumored to be happening sometime around October 17, but this week brought no invite. Now, however, there’s a very good sign that we could see it on October 23, thanks to a report from AllThingsD and a confirmation from one of the best-connected bloggers in the Apple ecosystem.
First, John Pacszkowski reported this morning that an event will be held October 23 at which Apple will reveal its iPad mini, according to “people familiar with the matter.” He notes that it’s unusual to have this on a Tuesday (Apple generally holds these kinds of events on Wednesday during the past few years), but he suggests Microsoft’s impending Surface launch could be a driver.
Information about what we’ll see are slim, but the new report says we’ll probably see the expected 7.85-inch display and Lightning for cable connectivity, plus a slimmer design than on the current iPad. That doesn’t answer any of the big questions around Retina resolution or cost, however.
Pacszkowski has a good track record on his own, but The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple posted one of his famous monosyllabic blog entries shortly following the appearance of the report, with an affirmative “Yep.” Generally speaking, if Jim feels its worth weighing in, then that’s as close to an official confirmation as you’re going to get before the actual press invites go out.
See the original post: Apple’s iPad Mini Event Likely Happening October 23
It’s easy to forget that the iPod touch didn’t even include a camera until 2010. While such a key feature has been standard on the iPhone since its initial unveiling in 2007, Apple apparently didn’t think it was one of the must-have features of the touch. That changes this year.
With the new iPod touch (the fifth generation, for those keeping score at home), which was unveiled a few weeks ago and just started shipping this week, the camera is one of the hallmark features. In fact, it may end up being its most important feature.
I know what you’re thinking: but it’s not even as good as the camera on the iPhone 4S, let alone that iPhone 5. In megapixel terms, that’s true. But it doesn’t matter. It’s a good camera. A really good camera. And for millions of users, it will be good enough to be their only camera.
When I sat down to think about my angle in writing about the iPod touch, at first, I was a little stumped. It’s a fantastic device, don’t get me wrong. But I’m an iPhone guy. I don’t really have a need for an iPod touch in my life since the two are so similar. It would be overkill.
But many people (most, even) aren’t iPhone people. There are huge swaths of the market that are never going to own an iPhone. There are kids with parents who think they’re too young for a phone. There are people with Android phones (yes, I’m admitting this). There are people with Windows Phones. And BlackBerrys. And yes, there are even still a ton of people with feature phones.
And there are a lot of people who want access to the App Store as well as iTunes and all its tidings. Some choose an iPad for this, but plenty choose the iPod touch (and some, of course, choose both). There’s clearly a large market for the iPod touch as it’s the only version of the device that Apple now regularly singles out as the version that is doing well in an age of continual iPod decline.
Anyway, I quickly realized my angle for writing about this particular version of the iPod touch was staring me in the face: the loop. — the wrist strap that comes with the new iPod touch.
There are a few features that the iPhone has which the iPod touch does not (cellular connectivity being the biggest). But the loop is a feature reserved only for the touch. And I think that’s telling.
Clearly, Apple’s thinking here was to take a page from the point-and-shoot camera book. Every single point-and-shoot I’ve ever owned has had a wrist strap. Apple being Apple, rethought how it should work. There is no indented area that you try to fish a cord through. Instead, there’s a metal button you push and up pops a metal latch to which you can easily attach the loop.
This is not something they just tacked onto the iPod touch. They designed the entire iPod touch with this feature in mind. And again, that must speak to Apple’s thoughts about the evolving role of the iPod touch in the world: as a point-and-shoot camera.
In terms of megapixels, the camera found on the new iPod touch matches the one found on the iPhone 4. It’s a 5 megapixel shooter. Again, that may seem slightly lame when the 4S and the 5 come with 8 megapixel cameras, but it’s easy to forget just how good the iPhone 4 camera was when it was first released — even though that was only two years ago!
And this iPod touch camera is actually better thanks to other improvements to these small camera internals made over time, as well as the updates to the camera software since then.
Smartphones have been eating point-and-shoot cameras’ lunch for a while now. You’ve probably seen the Flickr chart. The domination of the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4 as the top overall cameras (yes, out of all cameras, period) used to take the pictures on the service has only been slowed by the release of the iPhone 5, which will undoubtedly soon top the list itself.
No point-and-shoot even makes the top 5 on that list. It’s all smartphones (and let’s be honest, just iPhones) and DSLRs.
Still, lots of people continue to buy point-and-shoots. Hell, I’m one of them. I own a Canon S95 which replaced my Canon S90 before that. I basically never use it anymore. It’s all iPhone, all the time now. Those cameras were several hundreds of dollars ultimately not well spent.
But again, not everyone has an iPhone. So for many people, a point-and-shoot still makes sense. Enter the new iPod touch. If the iPhone badly damaged the point-and-shoot market, the iPod touch is going to obliterate it.
Yes, yes, yes. I hear you. The point-and-shoots like the Canon S series cameras are better overall cameras than the iPod touch. No question. But it just doesn’t matter anymore. While the new iPhone 5 camera is fantastic, it’s also still not quite as a good as a good point-and-shoot. And yet, the results are in: point-and-shoots lose.
The point-and-shoot is in a bad spot. People serious about photography opt for DSLRs, which continue to come down in price. The rest of us now mainly go with smartphones for everyday photography. There was still a sliver of people still looking for that point-and-shoot. But those people should and will now look at the iPod touch.
Being a camera isn’t enough anymore. Not in an age of apps. Why spent $300 on a point-and-shoot camera when you can spend $300 on an iPod touch with a solid camera and thousands of great camera apps? Still not sold? What if I throw in a gaming machine, a web browser, a messaging device, a music player, a movie player, etc, etc, etc.
Previously, the camera on the iPod touch was a joke. It was meant to shoot video and the still pictures (sub-1 megapixel — yes, really) were a complete after-thought. And yet, there were still more pictures taken and shared with that device than any of the Samsung Galaxy phones, for example.
Now, this is the first touch where Apple is taking the camera seriously. It’s going to rocket up the Flickr list. And it won’t be to the detriment of smartphones.
As for the rest of the device, it’s great. As I allude to above, some people will buy it just as a gaming device. Some will buy it just as a media player. Some will buy it just for apps. It’s a true jack-of-all trades device without having to worry about carrier contracts.
It’s getting close enough performance-wise to the iPhone where I would consider buying one if they simply added cellular connectivity. Imagine an iPod touch that had built-in LTE and the option to get the same no-contract deals from the carriers. That’s what I really want.
It’s would be the iPhone minus the phone. When you think about it that way, it’s sort of ridiculous that we’re all paying the carriers upwards of a hundred dollars a month for years on end to have the ability to talk to someone over their digital lines in the sky. All we really want is the data, but you can’t get that yet without the phone. (Except on devices like the iPad — presumably because the carriers know you’re not going to walk around using Skype on your iPad to talk to people. Though I’ve seen plenty of people actually do this. Seriously.)
Of course, if Apple did try to add an LTE antenna into this iPod touch, other compromises would have to be made — namely in design and battery life. And those are two of the best features of this device.
Because it can only connect to the internet via WiFi, the iPod touch’s battery seems to last forever. It’s not quite iPad-good, but this thing is a fraction of the size of the iPad. It blows the iPhone battery away despite the device being thinner than even the iPhone 5. Again, a benefit of not including a cellular (and GPS) antenna.
Another striking feature of the new touch is the design. Unlike the iPhone which features a two-tone back that’s a combination of aluminum and glass, the iPod touch has an all-aluminum back (save a small black plastic oval in the upper right for WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.). In my opinion, this looks nicer than the iPhone 5.
And instead of having flat edges that split the front and back of the device, the iPod touch is unibody aluminum all the way to the front plate. This feels like the way Apple would want to design the iPhone if only all those pesky antennas didn’t matter.
The iPhone 5 feels great in your hand — the iPod touch feels even better. The rounded aluminum contours harken back to the original iPhone. But this device is so much thinner and lighter.
The other benefit of this unibody experience is the ability to offer the device in different colors. I’m testing the yellow one, but it also comes in slate, silver, pink, blue, and (product) red. And yes, the loop matches the color you choose.
It’s interesting that all of the iPod touches feature a white front face except the slate version, which features a black front face. This also gives the iPod touch a more playful quality than its iPhone brethren as you can clearly see the accent of the color you chose along the outer rim of the device. For example, on this yellow iPod touch, I see a rim of shiny, polished yellow when I look at the device. I’ve heard aspects of iPhone 5 design described as “jewlery-like”, this is even more so.
In my iPhone 5 review, the first thing I noted was how insanely light the device was. Remarkably, the iPod touch is even lighter — 88 grams compared to the iPhone 5’s 112 grams. But it’s the thinness that’s the even more noticeable difference. The iPhone 5 is incredibly thin. The iPod touch is now absurdly thin. When John Gruber noted the other day that the only thing stopping them from making it thinner still is the size of the headphone jack, he’s actually not kidding. Maybe they could shave an extra micron or two. Maybe. (It’s so thin that the camera actually protrudes out a bit — about the same height as the popped-out loop latch.)
My only real gripe about the iPod touch may be the price. Given everything you’re getting, I don’t think $299 (for 32 GB of storage) and $399 (for 64 GB of storage) is outrageous — especially in an age where the aforementioned point-and-shoots are still around the same price. But it would be nice to see a $199 price too. Yes, I know you can get the older model of the touch for $199, but I’d have a hard time recommending it. The new version is too major of an upgrade in every way.
I can’t believe I just wrote this entire review and didn’t even mention the beautiful new 4-inch retina display, which matches the display found on the new iPhone 5. Well, I just did. All the new apps being tailored for the iPhone 5 screen look and work beautifully here as well. HD movies look great. And, of course, pictures.
In January 2007, when Steve Jobs took the stage to unveil the iPhone, he set it up this way:
Today we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device.
So, three things. A widescreen iPod with touch controls. A revolutionary mobile phone. And a breakthrough internet communications device. An iPod. A phone. And an internet communicator. An iPod. A phone. Are you getting it?
These are not three separate devices. This is one device.
This new iPod touch could be set up the same way — with a slight tweak. A widescreen iPod with touch controls. A breakthrough internet communicator. A powerful portable gaming machine. And a great point-and-shoot camera. These are not four separate devices. This is one device.
Right after the Apple press conference, an all-star panel took the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. Jim Dalrymple (The Loop), John Gruber (Daring Fireball), Tim Stevens (Engadget), MG Siegler (TechCrunch columnist) and Jason Snell (Macworld) told Darrell Etherington and the audience their first impressions of the new iPhone. Among the famous Apple writers, The Loop’s Dalrymple compared the situation of the new iPhone with competitors.
Even though Amazon may provide a good offer if or when they release a phone, Dalrymple said that “Apple got a decade head start on most people.”
In particular, when it comes to content, Apple has quietly built a big ecosystem for music, movies, apps and TV shows since the release of the first iPod and the launch of the iTunes Music Store.
John Gruber noted that “Amazon’s media ecosystem is almost completely U.S. only and a little bit in the U.K. whereas Apple has deals in around 100 countries.”
Apple is now capitalizing on its market advantage and is very careful with its most valuable product. In one of Apple’s promotional videos, Jony Ive said something interesting according to MG Siegler. Siegler summarized it by saying that “Apple can’t change things too drastically.”
When it comes to competing with the iPhone, many companies focus on hardware instead of software. Putting Android on a phone is often not enough when users want to buy music and movies. Google Play is an answer to those requests, but building a global integrated ecosystem takes years.
We are in the midst of a great revolution the payments space: anyone with a phone can now accept credit cards; online-to-offline commerce is allowing online payment for offline purchase and significant friction is being removed from the consumer purchase experience thanks to mobile. All of this innovation (read: competition), combined with government intervention, means that payment fees are falling, threatening revenue streams for incumbents and startups alike in the payments space. But a broader opportunity exists: using the data of payments to build a more valuable, more defensible business model, one not dependent on fees. The result will revolutionize offline commerce and online advertising.
Today: It’s All About Fees, and They’re Heading Towards Zero
Payment companies make money by charging fees to “process” a payment from buyer to seller. Square charges 2.75% (or $275/month for volume up to $250K/year). PayPal Here charges 2.7%, as does Intuit GoPayment. Groupon and Amazon are both supposedly working on their own dongles, and prices will continue to fall, especially as these new devices create “one-sided” networks without significant defensibility outside of switching cost and inertia. “Pay with Square” is a potential game changer, as the millions of Square user accounts can ONLY be used with Square. But basic “acceptance of credit cards” is becoming a commodity where prices will keep going down.
Competition between payment companies is only one leg of inevitable downward pricing pressure. Government intervention is the other. Not too long ago, the Australian government decided that payment fees were too high, so now most Australian merchants pay less than .5% for credit card swipes, a fraction of the cost here in the US. The European Union is likely to enact similar legislation. The Durbin Amendment of Dodd-Frank and the $6B+ (pending) Brooklyn Settlement are US-based government and civil attacks on the business of payment fees. Many of these fee-cutting regulations help intermediaries like PayPal and Square short term, by reducing their cost (owed to the Visa/MasterCard infrastructure), but eventually it limits what they can charge, too.
Wherever fees end up, most merchants will still dislike paying them. They are a “cost of doing business” that every merchant has an incentive to bring down. Payment companies generally aren’t delivering new customers; they’re taxing the flow of existing ones. Google effectively charges 20-30% to deliver a customer (if you back out the cost-per-click to percentage of realized sale) to an ecommerce merchant, yet merchants are competing to hand Google more money because each dollar “in” produces more than a dollar “out.” Payment companies charge a fraction of Google, but are often despised (witness the lawsuits and legislation) or treated with promiscuous disrespect.
It comes down to something rather simple: Connecting the bank accounts of buyers and sellers will never be as valuable nor defensible as connecting buyers and sellers. Google delivers customers at the top of the funnel, and payment companies serve the prosaic, but necessary, task of shuffling funds at the end.
Tomorrow: Payment Data Will Revolutionize Commerce & Advertising
As society goes increasingly cashless, payment companies will have a larger business, and a more valuable one, in closing the loop for offline transactions and helping deliver customers. The data they possess is without equal; did somebody buy something? How much did he spend? What did she buy? Paper money cannot be tracked in this manner. In order for Online-to-Offline commerce to take flight, every merchant needs an ability to track online/mobile action to offline purchase, and PayPal Here, Square, GoPayment and others could provide just this for a whole new class of small merchants.
Imagine that Wendy’s, or even a local handyman, wants to advertise on the Internet. What’s the point? What does a click, or an impression, really mean? It’s clear what it means online, since every click can be measured to “action” (e.g., purchase) for an ecommerce company. Who can tell Wendy’s, or the local handyman, if that online advertisement worked?
In an increasingly cashless society, the answer is pretty clear: the payment infrastructure. Tracking that purchase back to the originating source (Google? Yelp? Patch? etc) is known as “closing the loop” and will revolutionize offline commerce and advertising alike.
The million-plus merchants walking around with Square, PayPal Here, and GoPayment dongles want more customers, and these dongles provide a means to “close the loop” and let those merchants acquire more customers, remarket to those customers, understand those customers, and do everything that ecommerce companies have taken for granted for over a decade. Legacy POS systems were poorly integrated and insufficiently verticalized, often requiring a merchant to have separate relationships with every player in the payment chain (hardware vendor, merchant bank, CRM system, etc); moreover, they were priced out of reach of the sole proprietor.
Beyond closing the loop, payment companies can utilize data from existing transactions to generate more transactions. Companies who maintain a direct relationship with the consumer — such as American Express, PayPal, Square, Discover, etc — are in the perfect position to serve as an Amazon recommendation system for “everything.” You bought a tennis racket at Sports Authority? How about tennis lessons with Saul the tennis pro, at a discount thanks to your purchase of a tennis racket, only redeemable with the same payment instrument? You weren’t searching for Saul, and you wouldn’t want an unsolicited email from Saul, but seeing an advertisement for Saul shortly after buying a tennis racket (say, on your purchase receipt) would likely produce a response. It’s a way to preeempt search for a large class of “secondary” purchases (e.g., charcoal after buying a grill; tennis balls after buying a tennis racket, etc), in a “pull” based way.
None of this is to say that the fees charged today are wholly unreasonable and unconscionable; they’re just not long-term defensible as more parties offer the same conduits to existing credit card infrastructure. I have $40 cash and five credit cards in my wallet right now, so any merchant wanting to charge $100 for some widget can either get 97.25% of $100 (if using Square), or $0. That’s an easy decision and shows why things like Square and PayPal Here are hugely beneficial to merchants and consumers alike. But longer term, as those fees continue to compress to the benefit of merchants, the larger business will be in applying the data of payments to the benefit of merchants, consumers, and payment providers alike.
Image via stevendepolo
Read more here: Payment Data Is More Valuable Than Payment Fees