Will tomorrow be Steve Jobs' last big thing?
I read all the press reports, like this one on CNET, about what Apple is announcing tomorrow http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-20114545-248/what-to-expect-from-apples-iphone-event/
or the others here on Techmeme: http://www.techmeme.com/111003/p13#a111003p13
and I just find myself finding that the expectations are pretty darn low from the professional press, mostly focusing on the iPhone 5, since that's what's leaked the most so far.
But my focus is on bigger things than just the iPhone. I'm thinking a lot about Steve Jobs and his legacy.
I'm hearing that Steve Jobs won't be at tomorrow's press event. He's just not feeling well enough to come out in public, I hear (and yes, that makes me sad, the industry will really miss him and they will see again tomorrow why). I keep wishing that these continued rumors are wrong, but know in my head that they probably are right. That said, tomorrow will be ALL about Steve Jobs even though he probably won't be mentioned much, beyond something like "Steve is watching today's keynote from the comfort of his home and he sends his best wishes to all of you."
If he doesn't show up tomorrow, don't worry, his fingerprints will be all over the announcements. This could be his last big thing and I'm expecting a lot bigger things than what the press is expecting, so far.
Here's what I will be looking for beyond the cool new iPhone 5, which will be faster, have a nicer display, a better camera, and all that.
1. A deal with Facebook that will be stunning in its depth.
That Steve Jobs had very little to do with, but Apple is looking for partners to keep its phones relevant against Google and Android.
2. A real explanation of the three-screen strategy at Apple.
This one will have Steve Jobs' fingerprints all over it as Apple expands its TV hobby into a real business.
So, let's take these on one by one.
Now that I understand where Mark Zuckerberg is going with Facebook, which is he's building both a new media company, where the media comes to you, and he's building a new intent-satisfaction machine (Google is the one we all know and love, but soon you'll be asking Facebook for answers to things), it's clear these two companies need each other. Apple needs Facebook to add social behaviors deep into the OS so that the Facebook users will buy iOS devices rather than consider going with Android or Windows Phone 7 based products and Facebook needs Apple to get access to its expansive retail channel and the mobile dataflows that Apple's users provide (the photo below is of +Kevin Rose
recording a Diggnation in front of the Palo Alto Apple store for the first iPhone launch back in 2007, where my son was first in line).
My prediction: the press will be caught off guard by the expansiveness of the Facebook deal. Zuckerberg isn't playing around. If the deal got done, it won't be a minor one, but will be a major one with lots of implications for the future.
Zuckerberg already set the stage at F8. Did you see him showing off Foodspotting and Runkeeper? I did. They explain how expansive the role of Facebook will be in EVERYTHING Apple shows off tomorrow.
Second, the three screen strategy.
Apple has a real chance to build a defensible ecosystem with a three screen strategy. iPhone, iPad, AppleTV. Phone, tablet, big screen.
Want to see what this strategy will look like? Watch this video that I did with 955 Dreams: http://youtu.be/GEHqXEKt4nQ
In it you see what their new great app, Band of the Day, does on phone, which is different than what it will do on tablet, and how that's different than what happens on the TV. All one app, but a three-screen strategy. Look for several such demos on stage tomorrow.
iOS 5's new AirPlay features will be shown over and over again tomorrow to drive home this new three-screen strategy. It's one area where Apple is way ahead of Android, so look for them to make sure you understand that. For those who don't know what AirPlay does, it lets me click a button while watching a video on my phone or my iPad and push it instantly over to my big-screen TV which has an Apple TV hooked up to it. Apple has never really made a big deal about AirPlay but tomorrow they will, demoing it over and over as they announce content deal after content deal. Steve Jobs fingerprints are gonna be all over this.
What I will be really looking for is whether Apple really understands how to mix Facebook into the three-screen strategy. I expect they do and will get this new social world a lot more than we expect. Just like when Google+ came along it blew away our expectations of Google, tomorrow Apple will blow away our expectations for its understanding of social with deep integration with Facebook and with Twitter, which has already announced deep integration into iOS.
Many of us already watch TV with our iPhones and iPads in hand. I see it as you discuss football on Facebook (yesterday's 49ers' win was all over Facebook yesterday) and now that Facebook has a deep application strategy, thanks to Zuckerberg's famous "verbs" and "ticker" which displays those verbs, I'll be looking for a new iPad app that lets you watch TV using the three-screen strategy and which lets you be social with your TV watching.
How can Google compete? Well, that's what I'll be visiting the group that does DLNA (which is Android's version of AirPlay) later this month to find out. The thing is Android doesn't have one company that can really explain its three-screen strategy to consumers the way Apple can, so look for Apple to lead the way here.
I'm hearing that Apple is working on a new iPad app that looks a lot like DirecTV without the dish, too. Again, that app will have Steve Jobs' fingerprints all over it as it will be more expansive than the press is expecting in its content availability. There's a reason Apple built a 500,000-square-foot datacenter (about twice the size of a Facebook one, by the way) and that new datacenter is for video and the data that video causes to be shared with everyone. Will +Reed Hastings
CEO at Netflix be on stage tomorrow to help Apple explain its three-screen strategy? I sure hope so, because that would explain further why Netflix split up its streaming and DVD businesses a lot better than Reed's been able to so far.
Anyway, this is all my way of saying, yes, I'll probably be the first in line again for whatever Apple brings out tomorrow. But this is a different age than when we waited in line for that first iPhone back in 2007. This time Apple has real competition from Google and it will be interesting to hear how Apple is going to keep its passionate fans (like me) in its ranks. Facebook and an expansive three-screen strategy will do the job.
It will be Steve Jobs last big thing.
UPDATE: +Kosso K
reminded me that we'll see these two guys from Siri on stage too: http://scobleizer.com/2010/02/08/why-if-you-miss-siri-youll-miss-the-future-of-the-web/
to explain the new voice response features in the iPhone. Good point, Siri's purchase by Steve Jobs will make sense tomorrow.