Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Unintended consequences of the iPhone’s DRM requirements – Apple shoots the Mac

In my real life I’m used to hearing the myths that “software shouldn’t change how people work” and “software should adopt to people, not the other way around”.

If only.

The reality for every product is an ugly compromise between optimal functionality, costs, and dozens of stakeholders. Only one of those stakeholders is you, the user.

In any case, smart humans, and even groups of humans, are still much more flexible than software. In the medium to long term smart users are much happier if they adopt their workflow to optimal software, rather than use crummy solutions that support current workflow.

This is good by the way; when software becomes more flexible and adaptive than humans we’ll regret it.

So, even though I wrote “I will be buying my iPhone in the next week or so. I approach the date like a condemned man!” I realize that I have no choice but to throw out ten years of Palm/Outlook driven workflow for whatever Apple will choose to support.

No choice but to grind my teeth because the biggest iPhone stakeholder is not me, it’s the movie industry. A movie industry with DRM requirements that have led Apple to lockout the Phone cable connector.

Fair enough, that’s the way the world works. Lowest common denominator Apple iPhone applications and alternatives limited because they can’t sync to the desktop mean I need to look to the iPhone’s one strong point – connectivity and a very good web browser.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

The combination of Apple’s lowest common denominator iPhone native apps (ex. no tasks, no work/home calendar management, no global search [1]), and the disabling of better alternatives by absent desktop synchronization, is going to drive me to Cloud Computing faster than I’d prefer.

So who owns the Cloud?

Not Apple. Google.

In the long run, despite medium term anguish, shifting to Cloud Computing will probably be an improvement on my current workflow. It will also put me in a very good position to switch to Android if Google is able to deliver a working version sometime in 2010. In the meantime I will save money by buying fewer Macs, since the Cloud will be providing my family’s processing and storage.

So, things will eventually work out for me.

On the other hand, I’m not sure this emergent solution is entirely in Apple’s long-term interests. Does Apple really want to shoot the Mac?

[1] Both tasks and global search were well supported in the very first PalmPilot I bought around 1997 or so. From the perspective of native applications that I need all the time, the iPhone is large regression from 1997.


Anonymous said...

Don't be so quick to throw the Cloud to Goggle. Wait till later tonight when the new .Mac is up and running. It might surprise you (at least I hope it surprises me!)

Partners in Grime said...

I signed up for a MobileMe account. So far, looking at the calendar app, I like what I see.