Interview for EARCH.CZ | APPLE VS. ANDROID – TWO DIFFERENT PHILOSOPHIES
| part 4 |
Are you Probably an Apple fan. How do you explain that other manufacturers of software and hardware just barely keeping up with Apple products?
For the past 25 years was a battle between computer platforms. On the one hand you have the platform supporters of Microsoft and Bill Gates, who says that the software should be licensed on hardware from multiple manufacturers. On the other hand, you have the approach championed by Steve Jobs and Apple, with their fully integrated hardware/software solution.
Round one went to Apple and its Apple II and Macintosh computers, but in round two Microsoft quickly rose to OS dominance, owning 96% personal computer market. But there is always another round. With Apple’s “digital hub” solution surrounding iTunes, iPod, and their integrated hardware/software computer products, they have clearly won round three. The Result – Currently Apple is the world’s number one brand. Apple’s ability to control the complete user experience is the key to its current success in the marketplace. This approach enables them to deliver a holistic solution and thus a superior consumer experience. They are wining by continually offering the most integrated product and services package – making the entire music, application, store, and player ecosystem work flawlessly together. Google’s Android is playing the counter position to Apple here (instead of Microsoft), and although it’s platform is open source (its still the same approach as Microsoft’s). They are gaining market share, but their system is chaotic and not polished like Apple (just like Microsoft’s OS). This is the natural result of a multi-manufacturer platform approach. I don’t believe they will ever match the elegance of the Apple integrated solution, but Android offers an alternative, and the marketplace always needs divergent models. Only time will tell who wins round four.
I see this all as just a continuum. At one end the spectrum is the licensed or open platform approach, on the other is the fully integrated but closed solution; both having advantages and disadvantages. Both philosophies provide choices that any company can choose to follow or innovate on top of. The key for me is to learn from both ends of the spectrum and and craft the ideal solution for the your product and your customer. There are opportunities to capitalize on an integrated approach in terms of design; Apple doesn’t have the corner on great design experiences, they are just in the lead at the moment.
Allplan 2012 will soon be supported by Parallels Desktop 7 and Windows 7 and will run on Mac. Does Allplan plans for the future use of data by also for iPad?
Again I cannot speak specifically about possible future development. My personal opinion is that every company that wants to compete in the Innovation Age needs to have a strategy for what platforms and what devices they will be on. The utilization of “Cloud” and its centralized data technologies should allow the data ecosystem to deliver to any mobile device in theory. But it is not as easy as it sounds. Again the key will be the ability to create an end-to-end solution, but without the benefit of owning the whole system. Apple made something like this with iTunes, beating those who were in a better position – Sony should have owned this market. They owned the music, the devices, and the computers; but still they couldn’t put their own expertise together to create a coherent ecosystem, even after Apple showed them how by doing it first. This illustrates how hard it can be, but clearly it also shows how Apple’s ability to take risks and innovate allowed them to dominates the competition. The formula is simple – if you want to play on the Apple platform, you have to play by their rules. The only question is whether you want to play.
At your presentation, you mentioned that you see the future of UI in Multi-Touch interface. What are your main advantages of this type of interface, besides the fact that you can use both hands at once?
Multi-Touch takes advantage of OUR fundamental controlling interface: our hands. It is important to recognize that all tools are Multi-Touch (the computing screen is just starting to catch up). A hammer needs 5-finger input. A large axe employs two hands and ten fingers. Really only “new” digital tools, such as mouse, believe that we have only one to three fingers. Our hands are our primary tools of nonverbal communication and manipulation. Multi-Touch computing devices are just the first step towards a future full of more natural and humanistic. Digital technology is just starting to fully utilize human hands, and products like the Wii were way ahead of the computer industry in taking advantage of our full range of physical expression. I often feel that the computer industry is like an arrogance teenager – It operates like it doesn’t really understanding its own historical context of human or product development.
I come from an automotive and industrial design background, and it is clear to me that software has a lot of growing up to do. It’s lack of self-awareness is very apparent. Software still, even in the best designs, limits human input primarily to the binary. Gestures like swiping left or right on your iPad, currently only advances a web browser page forward or backward. This is very binary approach, and ends up the same action as clicking on the “back” button. Future technologies will have to embrace and better utilize the full human range and “quality” of touch. We need to start to use the full communication range of our emotional abilities to touch (sensitivity to pressure, velocity, direction, inclination, etc.) Think about the eloquence of a musician playing their given instrument – they can coney love or fear, anger or submission – all with a single stroke of a bow on a violin. Think of the magical experience and the spiritual connection produced from the simple actions of a Japanese tea ceremony… Multi-Touch still has a long way to go before he is able to capture what we humans can offer. We have just begun our journey to rediscover ourselves, within our “new” digital instruments. Yes, software has a ways to go to catch up with the hammer (I won’t even mention voice, sound, sight, smell, taste, etc-etc), but its begging to get a “real” handle on the world.