Saturday, November 09, 2013

Lessons from Photo Stream Unlimited - Typhoon Mobile and is Apple going to make a prosumer camera?

For an old school technology geek, reared on local file stores and data cables and file formats and backups and (ugh) synchronization, these are challenging times. Our life is getting harder as the tech landscape shifts to fit billions of connected devices paired with humans who don't know a .docx from the proverbial hole in the ground.

Remember Cnut and the tides? He knew you can't fight City Hall. The best we can do is figure out which way the wind blows. (Ok, I'll stop now.)

So what does Google's mangling of old school email [1] and weakening of CalDAV support, Apple's ending of iTunes USB sync of calendar and contacts [2], Apple's disregard for iTunes metadata [3], Apple's mobile/Cloud retcon of iWorks [4] and, especially, Apple's very quiet Everpixing [5] of Photo Stream tell us about the wind?

It tells us that mobile has at last eaten the world. We knew this was coming, but we didn't know when. Hello Typhoon Mobile, good-bye the world we elder geeks evolved in.

The new world is transitory -- people don't keep photos any more. They walk away from Facebook accounts with barely a backwards look. It's Los Angeles all over.

The new world doesn't have cables. It doesn't really have local file stores or local backup. It rarely does power or complexity -- pro power is going to get expensive. Do you love your iTunes Smart Lists? Play 'em Taps while you can.

We can't fight this -- heck, even Apple can't fight this. At best Apple may support a rear guard action for its old school paying customers. Google, Amazon and Samsung ain't gonna be so merciful or so motivated. [6]

Maybe we'll meet at a bar sometime and raise a glass to the days that were.

Oh, and that camera? 

Well, if Photo Stream is as big as I think it will be -- just enough memory in the age of transience -- there's a nice little business for a Photo Stream compatible prosumer device that is to as the MacBook is to the iPad. It's a natural Apple software/manufacturing disruption move. An iCamera they make that works with Nikon, Canon or Leica glass -- whoever makes the right deal. I'll buy one.

- fn -

[1] I just modified the wikipedia entry to say Gmail is an "email-like" service rather than an "email service". I doubt that will stick, but eventually it will. 

[2] So far on Mavericks. It's effectively ending for Podcasts and iBooks as well. After Apple stops selling iPods all cable sync is going to go.

[3] You can change Podcast titles in iTunes, but if the Podcast is available online those edits are ignored.

[4] Retcon is how comic books dealt with middle-aged superheroes that were born 60 realtime years ago; it's a recapitulation of how Greeks did mythology -- every town had its version of the stories, and they got frequent reboots. In software we once had "updates" that added features and capabilities or managed platform changes, now we have retcons that inherit branding. They come with new capabilities, but also substantial regressions. Apple has kinda-sorta apologized for calling iThing 13 iWorks, but they didn't have much of  a choice.

[5] Everpix was a photo service that claimed to store all images forever for all devices. They were so obviously high risk I avoided them, but it may not be coincidental that they died around the same week that Apple ended its Photo Stream image limit.

[6] Who is it that makes Office 365? Can't remember.

Update: A corollary of all of this is that we're never going to come up with a DRM standard for either eBooks or movies. We'll go instead to a pure rental model.

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