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: 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:

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: ), 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. 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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