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The Age of Context claims its first victim: Scott Forstall (more trouble ahead for Apple)

This morning Google Now got a new version. The Verge properly gives it its due: http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/29/3569684/google-now-android-4-2-knowledge-graph-neural-networks This one feature is more innovative than anything Apple has done this year. 

This is Scott Forstall's problem and, today, it cost him his job: http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/29/3573226/scott-forstall-leaving-apple

See, if you get on top of the mountain you better not celebrate too long. You need to compete with yourself, otherwise someone else will.

Glad to see that Tim Cook recognizes he has a real problem. What is the problem?  

Google is way ahead in the world of context.

I'm now seeing apps, like Maluuba (listen to their team talk to me at TechCrunch Disrupt: https://soundcloud.com/scobleizer/cool-context-app-i-found-at ), that are way better on Android. Why? Because Android is more open. Open systems are going to beat closed ones in the future. Forstall should have seen that and opened up iOS more.

Developers tell me over and over that Apple is holding back real "Age of Context" innovation. How so?

1. Developers can't have access to the dialer. That means you can't study who people call, or build new kinds of phone experiences. On Android they can.

2. Developers don't have real access to the radios. That means that developers can't build systems like Tawkon can: that see radiation or energy levels used by the device, but it also doesn't let developers build real indoor navigation apps. You do realize that if you had access to the radios you could tell exactly where in a room you were standing, right? (Wifi is like light, it sprays across a room, and if you can triangulate its strength you'll know where in your house you are standing).

There's more, too. Android is quickly being switched to as the default platform. Glympse' CEO told me he builds on Android first, because he can iterate faster. Then he moves to other platforms. This is horrid for Apple because, really, if Apple loses its lead in apps, what does it have? A thinner phone? That won't sell. Especially as Microsoft is powering into the market.

So, what does Apple need to do?

1. Get on board on context. And fast. Open up its maps. Make those completely open source. Make +Waze seem closed. Let us add things to maps and help Apple build a better map than Google. (Apple's customers are more likely to help than Android users, but the window on that is closing fast since early adopters are switching to Android in droves).

2. Get on board on context. Open up the dialer. 

3. Get on board on context. Open up the radios.

4. Get on board on context. Open up the data silos that each of its 600,000 apps represent. Get those apps to share data with each other and with the base OS.

5. Get on board on context. Build systems that go deep into your email and calendars to figure out extra stuff that could be shared with developers. This will happen (already I've seen one such app coming from SRI, the lab that invented Siri). If you let those things come out on Android first you are dead when the +Project Glass gets here.

6. Get on board on context. Instead of copying Google or Microsoft), think about how people will work in the future. Build more stuff like +MindMeld, the hot app from Techcrunch Disrupt (it listens to meetings on your iPad and shows you interesting stuff.

7. Get on board on context. Buy Nest, the thermostat folks. Don't miss what's going on there. Tony Fadell (he worked at Apple on the iPod) is building sensors for your home that will augment your life. There are others, too. Get on board as the most sensor-friendly platform.

8. Get on board on context. Start spending your money on context. Build an "Age of Context" startup incubator.

9. Get on board on context. Businesses are already asking for "contextual intelligence" that goes way beyond what Salesforce and Microsoft are offering. Yet you have nothing to offer businesses that want to know more about why customers are buying or what they might buy next. I visited Aspen/Snowmass and they want to know more about their visitors so they can offer new kinds of customer service. So go buy companies and serve these new business needs.

The Age of Context will bring human service to a next level. Highly personalized. Very aware. Probably displayed through wearable computing (you did notice that the Pebble Watch raised a lot of money on Kickstarter, right? Why hasn't Apple done a wearable computer? Google sold one +Project Glass to every two attendees at Google IO, and they are charging $1,500 to those people (I bought one, because the future is in context).

If you don't know what the Age of Context is, listen to the CEO of Alohar. https://plus.google.com/+Scobleizer/posts/3iqjCACkBuz Why hasn't Apple bought this company yet? 

I think Forstall got shown the door because he didn't have a good answer to that question. 

Google is positioned to really rip Apple wide open. Tim Cook better solve that problem and solve it fast.
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134 comments
 
Might as well start investing in Google gear, my house is a walking display of Apple products and this comes as very bad news for me. As I said before Sculley years are slowly coming back like a bad dream!
 
+Robert Scoble Spot on! I envisioned this from the beginning of #Android  I'm so excited to see it coming to pass. I only hope this level of innovation continues, which I believe it will.
 
Google play is seriously starting to rival itunes!
 
+Emmanuel Henri I hear from inside Apple that Scott had no ideas and was begging employees to send him ideas for what to do. He had to go and the signal has been sent that if you are at the top at Apple and have no ideas, you won't survive. 
 
Now is a killer feature. I've really been enjoying it. Super-useful.
 
at each iteration I realize how much potential google now has. it is google at full strength. it will be hard for others to compete! also, it is the perfect to way to get people back to search and ads.
 
+Michael Banks Yeah, we're seeing these trends big time at +Rackspace Hosting and have been moving for two years to position ourselves to take advantage of them. First move was to gift +OpenStack to the world (open source cloud). Compare to Apple's offering: all closed up. 

That was a HUGE misstep for Apple and will keep it from really being taken seriously by developers. Apple should have gone with an open source cloud (fine, don't pick OpenStack, open source your own).

In the Age of Context Open+Cloud=Goodness.
 
+Calvin Prewitt I believed that yesterday, but today Forstall is gone. That's how things move in big companies. They can't get more closed. I bet that Tim saw the writing on the wall and said "WTF?"
 
Yep,just updated Google now on my phone and it  picked up a Amazon shipment email from gmail and tracked the item automatically.
 
+Patrick Schmitz you didn't see me run out and buy a Surface, did you? No way. Google is the one to watch and invest in. 
 
Maluuba is awesome on Android... I just with the interface wasn't so... Windows Metro-ish
 
I've always felt that the culture at +Google favoured innovation. With Apple, they had a good run, but closed systems never end well. 
Mike K
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Google Now, Apple Yesterday.
 
wow! I guess the important thing for Apple is that they recognise their blindspot and are doing something about it....and you're on point +Robert Scoble if Apple loses developers for their apps, a thin phone wont cut it. But hey, at least it can compete with my Nokia 3210 (bar battery life). Context turns information into knowledge.
 
But when we call iOS and the iPhone boring people still won't admit to it. MSFT has an app problem but the way the OS is opened in WP8 and sharing a core with Windows 8, it's poised to take off.
 
Interesting. And I read that they're going to work on integrating iOS and OSX? Seems MS is ahead there with W8. The question truly is if Apple and Tim Cook can look into the future well enough. It seems to me that Ballmer and MS and the Google bous are doing better at it. But isn't this also about how Apple operates? They have to open up and maybe accept that from now on developing may become messier. 
 
There's only limited amount of time that you can make bank on brand alone. A lack of innovation will poke holes through any marketing message you send at me. Learn from RIM, don't quit while you're ahead.
 
This doesn't surprise me. Apple's position was unsustainable. I'm surprised it took this long.
 
+Brendan Thesingh oh, please. Microsoft just copied Apple's playbook. Integrating the two? That's extremely lame. Apple should go the other way. There will be a billion people over next few years who's first computing device will be a smartphone.
 
Don't forget the stuff about Waze as well, I can see +Google keeping a close eye on them, ummming and ahhing over the link up between traffic managed by latitude users as opposed to the "predictive traffic management" it has at the moment which is pretty hit and miss.
 
Great post Robert! I continue to be amazed how many things Google is getting right these days - and fast, like the crisis map for Sandy just now.
 
+Roberto Inetti I think he got fired because he didn't have an answer for either the new Google threat, or the new Microsoft one (Surface works better with Office and with AutoCad than iPads do).
 
+Robert Scoble my home of Tonga (South Pacific) which is 1hr east of Fiji jumped wired telephone lines in a major way and dived headfirst into mobile about 12 yrs ago. What took wires 30 or 40 years to do to connect our country, mobile did it in under 2 years. Similar uplift in other developing countries in the world.
 
+Robert Scoble You can't change a culture by merely making a few management changes. Apple recognizes trouble. However, they will look to solve it using its own personality, relying on the same line of thinking that made it a success.

Apple was not born in the cloud. It is not a data company. It is a company that specializes in beautifully designed hardware. Apple's DNA makes it a different species than Google.
 
Once again, +Robert Scoble , you've hit the nail on the head. Closed system design has been Apple's biggest problem since the original Macintosh. They are on track to become more and more like (the old) MSFT, but their myopic arrogance prevents them from seeing it. I am platform agnostic, and love much of what Apple builds, but right now I'm more excited about Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and everything Android because of the fresh, new ideas being developed and envisioned in these spaces. It feels weird to say that about anything MSFT makes, but they seem poised to turn the corner and reenter the mainstream tech world as a real engine for innovation. We'll see! :)
 
Great to see the use of neural networks.one of the most innovative technologies...google is absolutely doing great work..keep it up Google 
 
I'm an Apple guy … but I'm thrilled about what Google is doing. These OS, software, services, and hardware innovations will push the industry forward.

Don't write off Apple. Tim Cook is likely to make changes Steve Jobs never would have. Like … today, for instance.
 
Wow! And this news comes on the day I start using Nexus 7, my first ever Android device! After all these years of using (a) Mac and a handful of iDevices, it feels weirdly reflective that my individual actions are a fractal example of the tech trend at the macro scale. 
 
Well, Google Now is okay at best, but it could get a heck of a lot better. I wrote a post about this in 2011 where I guessed that would use some type of learning system based on your location in latitude, your check-ins and your purchases from Google offers to better predict where you maybe and where you may go. Google Now just presents me with a bunch of local information that I have no interest in. I think they can do better. More on that here: http://goo.gl/h4xF4
 
Very insightful view of the situation. The problem with Apple is they make a design decision and defend it to the end even when it's wrong:
1) 1-button interface (mouse, home button)
2) No visible file system (can't fix this without an iOS rewrite)
3) Small display (iPhone5 doesn't fix this)
4) Censored app store
5) Locked down hardware and software
 
I agree with your "Age of Context" focus but I'm not sure Apple will survive the Google onslaught. I see both Forstall and Cook as implementers not innovators and Forstall being gone won't change a thing. 
 
Or better yet, take it one step further and tie in Google Calendar and Google events on Google+ to better serve my needs.
 
+Greg Hammond Windows, even the new variants, are just as closed as Apple is (and not nearly as mature, either, which explains why reviews of Surface are mostly "awesome hardware, crappy software, no apps").
 
+Robert Scoble, I don't think it's on Apple's nature to open up to the degree we would like but I do believe that they will open up Maps more so that devs can create more hooks and feed even more info in.

I still feel that the whole mapping engine/Siri interface will be the source of Apple's contextual efforts and that Apple will partner with/acquire more data sources in order to supply more and more information that is location/context sensitive. I think iOS7 could be very interesting.

But, Apple is now very far behind Google and is having to fix its core engine just to save face without even thinking about context yet.

When Jelly bean was first released I said that Google Now would be the only thing that would make me go back to Android - Apple needs to do something and fast. 
 
Well … that's a good point Robert … Apple could simply "acquire" their way past everyone pretty easily. :-)
 
+Rick Knight The only question is who could they acquire to get them where they need to be?  They would have to acquire several companies and rework them to go together to get anywhere close to what Google has inhouse.
 
Robert, you are spot on that investment in "contextual intelligence" is where companies such as Google and Apple need to invest. A few months ago I wrote an article that "Content is no longer king" and instead the new rulers are search engines and device applications that delivered this information directly to the user by sifting through the content for them. In that article ( http://cmsreport.com/articles/dethroned-content-is-no-longer-king-4269 ), I wrote:

"As consumers rely more and more on Siri, Google Now, and similar products these same people have less need to directly visit content enriched websites for their information. Don't fool yourself in believing that the search engines are there to serve website owners. Quite frankly, it is the other way around and Randy Pausch would more than likely call this the "head fake". In Google and Apple's world, online content is for one purpose: as food for their products and search engines. In this world, content is no longer king but merely a pawn used to feed the information engines of search giants. Until we as content management enthusiasts deal with this, increasing the value of our content and the evolution of our content management systems becomes much more difficult".

This is a game changer and it's impact is likely to be felt in multiple industries not just tech. AI and Contextual Intelligence is likely the new answer to the "What's next?" question. Personally, I think Apple will be playing catch-up here as this is just not a technology issue but also an issue of resources and momentum. Google has Google Search, Microsoft has Bing, but what does Apple have beyond shiny well designed devices?
 
Isn't anyone concerned that Google will know exactly where in my house I am at any given moment?  I know personal privacy is a thing of the past, but at some point the pervasion of information about me being relayed to others is going to be downright scary.  Wait; it already is.
 
Google Now seems interesting - curious at the choice of having the new (HSPA+) Nexus 7 only have android 4.1 and not 4.2 - any reason why? And will this affect the version of Google Now?
 
Why bother with context? Apple doesn't want to get to know the user's life. Apple wants to be the center of the user's life. That can't last forever.

Just wait until social context (in the way of Google+) starts to tie in with Google Now.
 
Now looks pretty annoying. I love that all your personal, business and movement information is tied in, so I can monitor it, but I'm not interested in being a player in a system that doesn't tell you its 'sharing' your location, movement, info, friends, likes, contact list, distance and other relationships with whatever you'd like to call it. For google-believers its 'the force' and for the rest of us privacy watchers, its 'the dark side'. 

Like Googles other Cloud computing concepts, there's really no attention paid to how much information about you android 'shares'.. 

Sharing sucks. let's face it. its mostly a one-way street when you consider who is monetizing it. Check Vimeo's tip jar and pay per view video. Now that's going to bring a much needed revolution to motion artists. Not Youtube's shared ad revenue model. 

for those who need a lot of personal visibility, well Google's you're pal. For those of us who work on projects that need absolutely zero visibility until the product is announced, Google is not your friend. :)

So this new Mashup of Googles Cloud (elsewhere called 'Clown') computing looks like a grand bit of tech that just raises the hair on my neck, and does little else. Google knowing I'm interested in the burned down 1800s pizza house where paramesan was first introduced doesn't make me any smarter. It makes google's clients more willing to pay Google.

We're the product. Google collects us and resells us, so long as we take the bait. :) 
 
+Garry McCarthy Google already knows you are in your house, if you care about that. Is it any scarier to know that Google will know you are in your kitchen grabbing a beer out of the fridge or in your bedroom doing who knows what?
 
Great article, great analysis spot on.
 
Might as well call it the "Age of (implied) Consent" :)
 
This is kind of exciting. Although I'm primarily an android user this shake up should push Apple to more innovation and better products hopefully, and in turn should push Google further as well. 
 
+Robert Scoble Re 9) Context for businesses.  Did you write about what you learned from talking with Aspen/Snowmass?  I'd love to hear more about that!
 
+Howard Greenstein Android 4.1 can run the latest version of Google Now (my tab and phone are both running it).  Nexus 7 will get the 4.2 update but it currently will not come with it.
 
+Robert Scoble I've been waiting for an article such as the one on the Verge. If neural networking can predict stock markets, weather, river crests...I think it can predict where I want to eat tonight. Google Now has delivered to the consumer what traditionally has been kept in the science labs and server rooms. Powerful stuff coming our way.
 
+Will Setchell I'm working on a book on the Age of Context. Mostly they are dreaming of an age where everyone is wearing wearable computing. They already know a frightening amount about you.
 
+Padmanabha Hosmane you probably are right. I always said that even if Windows 8 is a failure it'll sell hundreds of millions of units. That said, I don't like it. I think Google is leading us in the right direction and Microsoft is just following where Apple lead us.
 
+Robert Scoble The things that you note should be more open are things that concern me on the privacy level.  I'm not naive, I know some of this stuff is being tracked already, but it dosen't make me feel better about it.
 
+George Lara do you worry about driving a car? Did you know that 40,000 people die in the damn things every year? Every freaking year. 

These "Age of Context" technologies will have risks. But so far I haven't seen anyone die using them yet and there are HUGE benefits. Focus on the benefits.

There's a reason we all drive, even though doing so brings huge risks.
 
+Robert Scoble the choice of gps map data from TomTom was a poor one. TomTom sells upscale and delivers lots of errors and poor customer response, while doing Linux based GPSs. Its easy to get cross ways on that decision so Apple Maps isn't the best, however, if I had to venture a guess its about saying 'its ready' when it isn't quite. Now Beta Apple Maps is ready, and like Google could have been for years or was it a decade? :) I like the smooth flow of Apple maps and many many things about it. The underlying database of locations is a bit of a problem - something very difficult to determine prior to a mass release of the product. Goes to more testing really, not a bad decision, given what a manager might know. 

and I must say, the Age of Context for me, would be much more attractive if my context was not shared, stored or otherwise available to context provider. Like one-way encryption for Cloud stored resourced I own, the context of those resources is my property and I should have the only key to unlock the content.

I reminds me again of the public's easy assumption that e-mail is like mail. Making the assumption that your e-mail needs the same court order to open that US mail does. eMail privacy is non-existent in gmail, for example. Google opens it, reads it, develops context derives value from it, and then sells that to others who want to present a more compelling action for me to take.

This can be extended to making political decisions, life-decisions, in addition to spending decisions (buying something). 

That influence, which is based on deriving value from my context is, well, stealing. Early on, it was said to pay for your free access to this product - gmail , but I never got a financial statement as to how it pays for it. Clearly there was some money left on the table. oh, 350 billion dollars or so? This monetizing technique is what separates Apple from Google/Facebook. Apple's bread is buttered on the product side. Google/Facebook are ad revenue driven.
 
+Alex Huppenthal we will trade that privacy for utility. I already am getting a lot of utility out of these things and we're only in the Apple I days (IE, things don't have a lot of utility and are quite ugly).
 
Google's extensive forays into potential rather than a strive for perfection is what's getting it ahead. People may criticize Google for putting beta products and services to the market, but they don't see that such propensity for exploration into the new and unknown - such as wearable computing, driverless vehicles and contextual search - are exactly what we need to push the industry forward. I love the fact that it is leveraging all of its existing services to power Google Now.
 
Simple: Apple hasn't done any of those things because they don't care about the customer. Period. All Apple cares about is milking as much money as they can out of clueless people that still buy their crap. The only reason why Apple is doing these changes now (Years after the iPhone and iPad hadn't offered anything new) is because competition has passed them and people are starting to notice. Do you really thing that if people weren't starting to notice what kind of overpriced products Apple puts out they would be making these changes? Please! Don't be naive. Apple only cares about the money and screwing over the customer, otherwise they would've released the iPhone 5 instead of the 4s and they would've make Siri available for older iPhones; they would've added a retina display to their compromised iPad mini and Scott Forstall had nothing to do with those things. iOS is one of the most noticeable things that give away how stuck Apple is and that's why they're firing Scott Forstall. There's no more to it.
 
+Alex Huppenthal Google doesn't sell you data to anybody, they are at best a mediator... Oh he's talking about this subject, let's see, they people are selling things regarding the same subject matter, let's show them to him.... that's about it...
 
+David Perez sorry, that's totally wrong. The head of retail just got fired today because all he cared about was the bottom line. In fact, the care of users is exactly why Apple is so closed. They don't want their users to get hurt.
 
+Jon Calanio exactly right. Clap! Clap! Clap! At least someone gets what's going on here. Google is more experimental. Willing to let people get cut a bit. But that gets you to the future. 
 
Apple needs to act fast.
On top of the things enumerated above, third party apps on iOS don't have access to text messages either and cannot run apps in the background (besides VoIP profile apps for apps like Skype) which is also very limiting for context-aware apps.
I am not sure this problem can be solve fast. It is contradictory with Apple philosophy. By allowing access to dialer, text messages, background apps, you also possibly open the door for malicious apps or battery-draining apps that Apple despise.
It is a very complicated issue to solve.

Apple is not the only one, Windows Phone 8 is actually closer than iOS. Android is the real leader in context and this is going to stay like this for a while.
 
Google simply placed a bet on where they think the puck is going and giving their stakeholders the 'keys' to co-develop the future with them. Much more powerful to collaborate than trying to do something on your own. 

...but as you mentioned +Robert Scoble, a few gazzillion in the bank can also help buy a piece to that puzzle called context. The trick will be, who will out-innovate and out-manage this the best.
 
+Robert Scoble Yes, that's what I love about Google; always curious of the possibilities, never afraid to take risks. Every success and every mishap it has done is an experience that can be learned and improved on. 
 
+Robert Scoble I understand many have, do and will make that trade - knowledge about my whereabouts, what I read, who I call, who my friends are, what my interests are, and many many more bits - are fine in benign business purpose, with Google's pledge to never disaggregate and then only to disaggregate when delivering an ad to me. There's a lotta pledges behind keeping that one.

A lot more money is applied to that pledge. Without academic oversight, or peer reviews on algorithms close to my data, or better still open source, the pledge is simply a matter of trust. Stating unequivocally that Google is not selling my data is a matter for both philosophical (what is data) and factual debate, since open source, peer review nor academic review takes place to my knowledge. If I'm in error, I'd embrace the facts. 

I'm 110% behind the advancement of technology and watch google with lots of trust, although I have to say, I use Yahoo as my search engine and shifted my email off gmail, and do those things I feel are important in my work - where public access could actually reduce the value of my work, not increase it. 

Here at G+, i do share photos and am learning about its utility as a promotional tool for those items I really enjoy sharing.

I agree Robert, MSFT is making some serious changes. Their stock has languished as their products barely keep pace. Their decision to take the xbox 360 example of hardware success and do a few products from hardware - through apps must be inspirational to Microsofties. I might check them out again. :) 
 
I like Larry Page' priorities:  _My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they're having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society. As a world, we're doing a better job of that. My goal is for Google to lead, not follow that._ Larry Page
 
+Robert Scoble Then why didn't they make all these changes before? Even 1 or 2 years ago? Why wait until this year when Android has clearly surpassed Apple? 
 
I'd like apple to let me set default apps for anything I want. But I'm not holding my breath. 
 
+David Perez because a rising stock price and rising sales and rising profits hides all sins. Plus, it took Tim Cook a while to get a handle on things, I'm sure. 
 
The positive thing for Apple is they can make these changes and still have a loyal fanbase that will follow them. They also don't feel like a monolithic, slow moving company like Microsoft does - they are quite happy to kill their own successful products in order to take on a new market (as they did with the iPod by inventing the iPhone). A revolutionary change to iOS might be needed - it's been around for five years and while successful, it's also stale.

This is an exciting time for people who love technology, and with prices of new gear all being within a reasonable range, you don't have to back one brand/ecosystem and hope they succeed ahead of all the others.
 
Exciting to hear & see in actual words. Thanks Scoble!
 
+1 for context. Can we see it on the desktop as well?
 
"Google is positioned to really rip Apple wide open" — this will make John Gruber happy for his claim chowder list, dear Robert ;-)
 
I agree with most you said +Robert Scoble apart from the observation that Apple crowd would be more likely to help out. Reason being is:

1) Apple buying crowd has been conditioned to expect things to work. Not having to help finish it off..

2) Google Mapmaker is already out there, and being used by willing public.

OpenMap is fine, but I'd expect that many users whom contributed to that project would not be happy for Apple to take what the volunteers have built, and and profit from the efforts in grand style. 
 
I hope Apple listens to you, Robert.
 
+Robert Scoble  - I recollect you saying a year back to me in twitter that you have long forgotten (or gotten used to live without) privacy in online world. And, that's how I come to treat it. If its out there, then assume it is known. Even if something in Facebook is private, still, Facebook can know it. So, for people here who say google or companies are making you a product and selling it to you - I say dont make a fool of yourself. Thats how online world will likely be. Real world - your family and friends know you. Online world, may be few big companies with whose service you use, know you.

And yes - apple, products, the new iMac is great, of what they did last week. But if you see, you can see a pattern in all of apples innovation in hardware. Make it one of their product, and apply it all across, all the devices. The display becoming thinner, flash memory, lightning port etc. So, if one device got thinner, we know all are going to be in few years.

Google is advantageous than any other IT company coz, they are in to Driving car and wearable computing now. Thats completely non-IT sort of field, where they are going now. I read somebody saying that self driving car is all the technological invention and innovation of the recent history put in to one solution. Like, GPS, Maps, radar, software algorithms, electrical systems, and car systems and lots of others I dont even know.

These are things that computing vastly forward !!
 
+Daniel Cook It would take numerous acquisitions, you're right about that … and probably more for talent than existing tech. They have the cash to buy dozens of small developers and startups and, like Google has been doing in-house, encourage them to explore, innovate.
 
Who wouldn't love to see a pirate flag once again flying over a building at Apple? :)
 
Don't we all see users sacrificing privacy every day? To gain nothing at all.
 
Historically, Apple has done well when it's been knocked down. Don't be surprised if they do away with IOS entirely and start from scratch.  They have enough gas in the tank to do this and enough loyalty from it's customers base who will gladly tag along for the ride.
Context is immediately only exciting to us nerds and geeks, but it's access to media/magazines/movies/apps/music that matters to the average consumer (for the time being). 
 
+Robert Scoble 
Well written. Thanks. 
When Google flexes its "contextual" muscles a lot of competitors will be in trouble. It is almost like one can feel that Google is lining up different interactive technologies and services to work seamlessly together and that will be a big blow to Apple. Probably not a relevant question, but where does this leave Facebook? The last time I checked, they are still just a social network and struggling to innovate. When Google unleashes its "contextual" capabilities onto social, is FB going to be relevant for a long time?
Disclaimer :- I am a prolific user of Apple products but completely hates their policies.
 
+Robert Scoble This is the best post I've seen concerning Apple vs Android. You've laid out the road map that Apple needs to follow.  
 
I agree that CONTEXT is important.

But nobody here seems to admit that open has advantages AND disadvantages (lack of control/direction, fragmentation, lack of security/privacy). It seems to be a big ol' Google love-fest on openness, while forgetting that Google and Android are more "clopen" than open, but with all the disadvantages of open.

Apple's closed approach has disadvantages AND advantages (control/direction, security/privacy, stability, much less fragmentation, better apps, UX).

I don't buy into the old trope that "open always wins". We have been hearing that since the 1980s. If that was the case why did Microsoft (yes Microsoft software is closed/proprietary) win the PC wars? And why is Apple winning in mobile??

Remember, Apple has over 200 million iOS devices active in the wild. That's quite a lot of data to leverage. I think Apple is positioning itself to be a large presence in Contextual Computing. Apple will use Siri, Apple Maps, Passbook, and whatever else they have in the pipeline to accomplish this. 
 
For starters just let me key in my command to Siri instead of forcing me to use voice. Open up Siri to allow for interactions between the apps like what Siri used to be able to do.
 
+Robert Scoble Interesting post.I'm very doubtful if Apple will reinvent themselves.
They are basically caught in the "Innovators Dilemma" (a book by Clayton Christensen.) . They make great devices. However the market is not asking for better devices anymore as devices are good enough. When that point is reached a complete vertically integrated approach like Apple has is not the best anymore. Different parts should be made by different companies in that case and that drives innovation and competition. Furthermore apple is making loads of money with what they do now. Many new business/product proposals that Apple employees come up will not be acted upon because the market is only a few billion or profit margins will go down etc. etc.

BTW have you already changed your default phone to an Android one to experience context to the max?
 
Huge power drain. Turned it off on my Nexus S. Needs a couple of iterations of Moore's law (or a few extra batteries, not just one extra battery!) to make it make sense.
 
Oh boy, so you've finally figured out that in the long run 'open beats closed' ... you've come a long way from when you were only a month ago, 'dissing anyone that told you that you were wrong about Apple's infallibility.

So does this mean we will no longer have to put up with insufferable  articles on Apple 'amazing innovation culture'  the next time they update their processor or release both a black and white version of the same product at the same time?

Oh well, I guess it's good to have some of you Silicon Valley tech "journalists' managing to finally find the guts to report outside the RDF.

Welcome to reality.
 
David: that is totally unfair. Point to a post where I ever said that.
 
While those are good suggestions, you might have missed the most important piece - apple wasn't and won't be "open", and that openness belongs to Google.
 
A victim with 38 million dollars in his bank accounts. I rather be such a victim :)
 
+Robert Scoble Well said. Not sure if you have used Google Now that much since iPhone is your main phone, but in the last few months I was blown away by how important context is.
Google Now is the biggest advancements to smartphones since the iPhone. The iPhone made my life a lot easier, I can get instant information whenever I needed. But Google Now gives me that info when I should know about it.
My phone now manages my schedule almost perfectly. It tells me exactly when I need to leave to for my next meeting to arrive on time, I no longer have to show up early or late for meetings (This is very valuable to busy people, and a recipe to a more efficient workplace). It also tells me when I need to leave for home (based on traffic conditions).
I didn't find other aspects of Google Now that useful (Hopefully the new stuff coming out will be)... but the scheduling aspect is huge.
 
it has been 2 years since Apple told us, the tawkon team, they will add radio API so iOS folks will be able to benefit from tawkon's radation phone tracker. We have received hundres of thousands of requestrs for tawkon from iOS users. Maybe finally some positive change is arriving to Apple...
 
If Forstall had been an executive at Microsoft, would Ballmer have let him stick around for a while or would he have done what Cook did and cut his losses and moved forward? 
 
+Robert Scoble next time you are at the castle, bring a droid and let's go to a place with only one wifi spot so you can demo it triangulating with only two reference points to tell me where in the establishment it is. :)
 
Totally agree with #2 & #3 opening up the dialer and radios would open up totally new opportunities for developers to innovate. When talking about openness and integration - I would also suggest Apple to stop using propitiatory cables & hardware 
 
+Robert Scoble Fascination topic. As I see it, exploration = innovation, but let's face it, it is the benefit of the big ones like Google (e.g. Wave) /Apple (e.g. maps) to explore and to be mistaken, startups can do 0-1 mistakes during their lifetime. at WonderVoice we're focused on social context, but as mentioned above, context is also who you are, what apps are you using, where u r, and of-course, where you are headed to. Google combining all it's information backend is brilliant and definitely the only way to solve the complexity behind context.
 
+Robert Scoble oh please ... you've basically contradicted in this post everything you said in your post and comments from a month ago https://plus.google.com/+Scobleizer/posts/MQSmPV1dJLq

Look, I think it's good that you've started to take off the Apple blinders, I am guessing that having access to Project Glass has opened your eyes to the real power of what you call "context" ... but let's not pretend that this was ever much of an issue for you until recently ... it was all about 'the pretty' .. you basically mocked anyone who used the argument that Android was more flexible, you don't buy phones to rearrange the icons you said, not realizing that this flexibility you were ignoring was just the 'skin deep' appearance of an open platform and the very basis for the 'context' you are now so excited about.

Like I said, it's good that you have come to see the light, maybe now when asked to compare Android to iPhone instead of claiming that Apple is for the "normal person", you might look a little bit deeper into the issues and consider that 'simple' doesn't just mean 'less flexible', that silos of data and apps are NOT in the long run 'simpler' for getting the job done than openness and cooperation. 

Android is not just for the geek as you claimed, it is for those who want a platform that will grow with them ... if you don't like rearranging your icons, then don't rearrange them on whatever mobile platform you want .. if you want "context' and a platform that will really be "simple, and for the ordinary person', then the clear choice right now is Android.

And please, let's put 'simple' into perspective .... mobile devices are not at this time for 'the ordinary person' .. it's not 'Apple is for the ordinary person, and Android is for the geek", it's Apple and Android are for different classes of 'geek'. 

There are 3 classes of care ... race cars, self driving cars, and the ordinary care we see on our roads every day ... you're classification of "Apple is for the ordinary person' is like saying that the self driving car is based on really geeky technology that the ordinary person can't hope to understand, where as an F1 race car, while complicated, is based on more traditional and understood technology, so the F1 is a better car for the ordinary person ... I'd think you'd agree that if any 'ordinary person' were to come to you saying that they want to move away from using ordinary cars in their every day lives, and would they be better served going with F1 race car or a Google self driving car, that you'd have to tell them that the underlying complexity of the technology was not the point, but that where the technology was headed and its potential usefulness in our everyday lives .. yes, the F1 looks cool, and does go faster (in ways pretty meaningless to our ordinary lives,) and the driverless car looks like 'a car' with some ugly bits hanging off it, and you will probably be only able to go at realistic and legal speeds, but in any measure that has any meaning to making our ordinary lives better, you'd have to recommend the driverless car over the F1.  

Until now, you were recommending that based on your life as a race car driver, that F1 cars were the obvious choice for ;ordinary people'.
 
+Robert Scoble just to add - while I think my criticism is correct and justified (you may think different, fair enough) I also want to give credit where credit is due and say that no matter how egregiously one sided and wrong I think your past reporting/opinions were, I am impressed and happy that finally someone from the Silicon Valley tech media world has finally poked their heads up out of the Apple RDF and looked past the superficial (that's not meant to be as "faint praise' as it may sound.)

I was impressed with your appearance on TWIT this week, hope you keep up the rational dialogue and don't get pulled back into the Apple hype world (unless of course they actually do something worth getting excited about.) 

My increasingly shrinking 'tech journalists worth reading' list thanks you for giving it a reason to grow a little bit. On the list of tech media that cover Apple on a regular basis, you and Andy Ihnatko are about the only ones worth listening to.
 
Regarding the statement on Maps crowdsourcing ... I'm not sure iOs users would be more helpful ... Pick two productivity apps from both markets and check out the comments and ratings in the store ... just something i noticed.
 
+David Landry I went back and reread that post several times. I don't see a single thing that is contradictory between these two posts. iPhone 5 DOES have a better camera. Does have better apps. Does have a better overall "smoother" experience. If you are questioning that then you are way too biased to look at the two objectively.

That said, in that other post I already started pointing out that new contextual apps were showing up on Android first. Also, since that post I've seen the +Project Glass and gotten a look at where the future is going and Apple hasn't yet reacted to that. Also, just yesterday Google announced more Google Now features. It also recently shipped "Field Trip" which is another contextual app. Apple hasn't done anything interesting with its software lately. So, now, I'm stepping it up because I can see a growing strategic hole over on Apple's side of the fence and it cost Forstall his job.

I'm also talking with developers and the openness issue keeps coming up. Just on Saturday I interviewed Aaron Levie, CEO of Box. He brought it up and says that open systems will outrun closed ones in the Age of Context.

That said, the closed guys do have "sexier" systems at the moment and a LOT of market momentum. I generally go with the best tools AT THE MOMENT. I have two Nexus 7's on my bed (I'm playing with different use cases on both) and they still aren't as nice to use as my iPad. That said, these new features are starting to show major holes in Apple's strategy. 

I don't see these to be contradictory observations at all.
 
+Rich Ehmer CEO after CEO tell me that iOS customers use the web at a far greater rate and use apps at a far greater rate than Android customers do (and the stats back that up). Customers aren't the same. Some are far more passionate about using technology than others. If those "heavy users" switch (and a switch IS underway) then Apple will lose a huge weapon it currently has on its side of the fence.
 
As much as I can see where iOS needs to be open, the closed ecosystem has a huge advantage over Android. Apple's ability to control the main system components make the UX much smoother then Android. When I attempt to text or call somebody from my Android it bombards me with 50 options of what app to use. I just want to send a text! It's the small things that Android just doesn't get right that makes me still switch to my iPhone.

Google makes technologies that make using technology easier.
Apple makes technologies that make being a human easier.

Apple will prevail as long as the remember who they are.
 
+Robert Scoble I was not suggesting you were wrong about the better camera/apps ...I am suggesting you were wrong in using those parameters in judging what platform was better for the average person. Back to my 'F1 vs Google car' example, the F1 has a more powerful engine, and a better paint job, but when evaluating the suitability for the average person, those are hardly the most important attributes to consider.

I appreciate that you have since expanded your views, but I just wonder what took so long for you to do so? It seemed to me to be obvious that the Android platform openness will in the medium to long term win out and that the 'ordinary person' was much better served by staying far away from getting themselves locked into the closed Apple ecosystem.

Anyway, I don't want to be all 'negative on your ass', just want to remind you of where you came from, so that hopefully you don't forget and get distracted by the next shiny Apple object dangled in front of you and keep in mind that 'a better camera' is only 'better' for a short time, where a 'better platform' is self sustaining and harder to replace with "the next big thing' (or as ordinary non-Apple Fanbois call it .. 'a modest upgrade.)
 
+Robert Scoble thanks for clarifying. My general point is that iOs users appear less tolerant of 'incomplete' apps (especially productivity apps that are never considered finished by users). I definitely agree opening iOs would lead to greater contextual capabilities, and that those capabilities are essential for the platform moving forward. There are many reasons this will be difficult transition for Apple, but as you mentioned in another comment they have plenty of cash to do it.
 
With all due respect, the general public is not ready for the "contextual" experience that +Robert Scoble is preaching.  I am a big tech users but I turn off all sort of tracking on my iPhone.  In case you forget, everyday users, not the tech minded on G+, are freaked out by tracking.  Everyday people want to go slow on tracking.  Google Now is a cool concept but many people, including myself, don't want it because I don't trust developers or Google to know everything about me.  Most people buy iOS devices so they can play games, cruise the internet, email, run productivity apps, etc.  The cool tracking apps are a novelty for now and not something the market place is clamoring for. Many people will buy the iPhone 5 because it is beautiful.  The tracking stuff is great for Robert but he is on the bleeding edge.  Forstall got fired mainly because he was a dick and probably challenged Tim Cook's leadership. He also didn't play nicely with others like Jony Ive and Mansfield. That is why he got fired.  Yes he fucked up iOS 6 Maps and could have made Siri better, but the real reason he is being fired is he thinks he is Steve Jobs.  And you can only be Steve Jobs if you are the CEO of the company. Forstall was not the CEO but it sounds like he acted like one. Anyone who is worked in a large corporation knows the CEO is the king.  That is why he was shown the exit.
 
Forstall is an OS guy. The OS is done. At least the layer he's most competent in. The file system decision, huge mistake in my opinion. But then there's Google Drive...on iOS.

I think more and more Google services will come to iOS so it's hard to predict what the competitive outcome will be.
 
Lex: I remember the days when people said that about computers, then email, then the web, then Facebook. 40,000 people die a year in cars. Do you still drive? Why are you driving but freaked out about something that has huge utility but won't kill you? In other words you are on the wrong side of history.
 
A recent Verge video quoted a company wide letter from Sergey where he said, have computers do the "hard work".  This was, as most people saw it, the vision of Apples work with the iPod and later the iPhone. For reasons you articulated +Robert Scoble, they had the right idea, but executed incorrectly -- at least in part. But I'm not saying goodbye to them yet. They have the cash to almost buy their way back into the game -- almost.  They still need to tweak the culture and change some rules about how to become more open. 
 
The core of Apple has been about control and a pillar for control is being closed. I am so deeply invested into the Apple ecosystem, it would be painful to unravel but agree that the future will be wide open. Open is messy. Open lets in the crap and the evil as much as the innovation and the good but it's like I used to say when I lived in NorCal: It's the price of paradise. Natural wonders, fantastic climates, ocean, mountains, annnnnnd earthquakes, black widows, rattlesnakes, wild fires, drought… Talk about extremes!

Great post, Robert. Thanks as always.
 
what a fanboy....why Apple doesn´t do this, why Apple doesn´t do that hahaha
 
I've installed 2 great android apps today because of scoble, why is it these apps are never easy to find unless someone talks about them? Maluuba is amazing.
 
Finally, +Robert Scoble gets what all the Android fans have been telling him for a very very long time! Apple's "walled garden" of iOS never had a chance to compete against Android, just as Mac never had a chance against Windows in the 90's.
 
I think while some of your analysis sounds right, at the end of the day the new iPhone 5 comes out and Apple can sell it faster than they can produce it. An iPad Mini comes out and its selling like the world has been waiting for it for years.
I agree that they make only mini-steps in innovation (i.e. thats why I own a iPhone 4S and not a 5). But they sell it in large amounts, people love it. Apple has more value (stock value) than any other company. That somehow does not compute with your analysis.
Being in open source myself, I wish opening everything is always the answer, but it isnt.
Google has big problems like the inability to do OS upgrades on non-Google phones. So Android phones are cheap, but you mostly have to buy a new phone to get a new OS version. How silly is that ?
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