An Apple A Day – Yoga & Health joins Apple Newsstand

Europe’s leading independent monthly Yoga magazine, Yoga & Health, is now available whenever, and wherever you like via Apple Newsstand.

Now Yoga fans on the move will never be far from the step by step guides, posture advice and meditation techniques.

The app allows readers to view issues back to November 2011, all at the touch of a button. A newly added function also means that articles can be shared straight from the App via email, message and Twitter.

Read the magazine anyway you like with different view modes and the Page Flow tool that allows you to skip straight to the page that you are looking for.

To find out more download the App here – http://bit.ly/YogaHealthApp

Getting the App store thinking – Radical Philosophy now available as a Newsstand App

The UK-based journal of socialist and feminist philosophy can now be downloaded at the tap of a finger.

Published 6 times a year the magazine is sent straight to your Apple device, with subscriptions also including a host of searchable back issues.

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Sync issues for offline reading and enjoy the latest issue wherever and whenever you like.

To test out the App follow this link – http://bit.ly/RadicalPhilApp

Apple’s Segmentation and Service Integration

There is a brilliant and highly perceptive article on Apple’s strategy by Mark Sigal over at O’Reilly Radar. Read it all, but here is an excerpt:

In the real world of building products and attacking market opportunities, market segmentation is the process of defining and sub-dividing the aggregate, homogeneous market into addressable, targeted needs and aspirations buckets. Buckets that are in turn, thresholded by demographic, psychographic and/or budgetary constraints.

Market segmentation strategy enables a company to drive complete, unified product solutions that are harmonious with messaging, customer outreach, and channel strategies for selling and supporting customers.

In this regard, Apple’s product strategy is a study in market segmentation. Versus merely trying to stuff a product, burrito-style, with as many different features as possible, they target specific user experiences, and build the product around that accordingly. Apple’s segmentation strategy, and the folly of conventional wisdom

Mark points out that Apple has defined and addressed these market segments (or buckets) by delivering a range of devices which have differing but powerfully complementary and mutually attractive portability, wearability, pocketability modalities. Apple has brilliantly seen that in the age of mobile computing it is highly desirable to offer your users different styles and weights in which devices may be donned, doffed, cuddled, clutched or tethered; best not to have them ‘lugged’ or ‘humped’. The way the devices look and the way they feel matters more if you are carrying them around. Their touchability, weight, balance, their reflectivity and colour — all these are important with tools which are becoming almost a part of our wardrobe (or at least will often be taken out of our handbag). Style becomes an aspect of function when the objects are to be worn and carried. He also provides us with a helpful diagram of the range:

Apple-Segmentation.jpg

Mark Sigal goes on to point out that this segmentation is complemented by highly effective integration at the level of the OS (to a degree — making us parenthetically wonder when will iOS 4 move out towards the desktop and down towards the Nano?) and most importantly, and more universally, through the e-commerce platform iTunes and the media layer. The media layer is universal; we should reflect on the defensive strength that gives the Apple product skeleton. We should reflect on the accretive potential that this breadth of cultural objects gives to the device constellation. Because there are many, many more, choices at the media level it is essential for the Apple eco-system that the individual choices of consumers are shared within their individual device grouping. The media layer is where the consumers individual choice reigns supreme and it is in this sense the most ‘open’, the most consumer-committing, and potentially one of the most profitable aspects of the differentiation strategy.

Further, when you see how Apple has used its vertical integration of the iPod media player and the iTunes marketplace across all of its devices to create a billing relationship with 160 million consumers vis-à-vis simplified discovery, purchase and distribution, it provides a window into how they’ve facilitated a market segmentation approach that is simultaneously harmonious and discrete. Apple’s segmentation strategy, and the folly of conventional wisdom

Harmony is key, the range and mutually supporting quality of the Apple product segmentation is making it very difficult for competitors to mount an effective challenge to the iPad, and to an extent to the iPhone. And we notice that hardly anybody is trying to mount a competitive challenge to the iPod Touch which may be the most effective, defensive/aggressive, unit in the Apple line-up.

Life is difficult for the consumer electronics and device manufactures who compete with Apple, but following Mark Sigal’s analysis what are the implications for media owners?

  1. The first point to understand is that Apple’s strategy is broadly media friendly. Especially to media that wish to establish subscription services to Apple’s large iTunes audience. The device manufacturer and the mobile network operator may be in direct competition with Apple, but the media producer should aim at a symbiotic relationship with the leading mobile media platform.
  2. Furthermore the Apple strategy is working and it needs to be followed. But notice that this does not mean that a media owner should aim at segmentation at the service level. Quite the opposite. Books, films, magazines, newspapers, TV shows should be sold as all-in inclusive services wherever possible. The media should flow between all the device options that confront the consumer and wherever a publisher can establish a direct relationship with a consumer, that relationship (a subscription) should be transferable to any other device or access solution that the consumer is wearing/lugging. Segmentation at the device level should be married to integration at the service layer.
  3. Apple is building its services on top of web solutions. Apple’s universal media layer is driven by web services, as (See John Gruber on Apple and the Open Web where he points out that Apple is heavily invested in HTTP but not much in HTML). Follow that model. The web is fundamental to all media distribution, and it is at the level of web distribution that the media owner can hope to provide a fluid service for users who may be part in and part out of the iOS device network.
  4. There will be scores of new device options in the next two years. Apple’s present lead in media delivery will be steadily encroached. Avoid the mistake of building solutions for devices (there will be 5″, 7″, 9″, 11″ and more screen sizes on tablets next year). Respect the integrity of your product and your service and deliver the same solution everywhere, as far as possible. The best solution may not be fully deliverable on some platforms, but make sure that the core offering is available there (even if some of the bells and whistles are missing).
  5. Consider, at every step in your relationship with Apple, that the consumer is king. Apple will not lightly grant access to consumer information and private data that the Apple devices may obtain, or that ill-mannered apps might obtain without the consent of users. Apple will not and should not pass on this private data and do not expect them to do so.

Apple iTV — A Big Change?

Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) has a well-informed, short blog on the prospects of Apple’s iTV, which he suggests will be announced in September. According to Rose:

The rumor: Apple will be releasing a revamped/renamed version of their ‘Apple TV’ set-top box, called ‘iTV’. The box will run the Apple iOS (same as the iPhone/iPad), and be priced around $99.
(Kevin Rose Why Apple’s iTV Will Change Everything).

The only quarrel that I have with Rose’s piece is his headline. So far from changing everything, my bet is that this is just one more ‘chock stone’ in the more or less impregnable media arch that Apple is building. It changes very little and will probably be as successful as Apple’s other recent innovations, because they are all moving in the same direction. Its an obvious gap in their media line-up: having a market for film, audio, books, magazines, newspapers and now TV will make the Apple constellation (iPhone, iPad, iTouch and iTV) an incredibly tough proposition for any head-on competitor, Sony, Google, Microsoft, HP etc.

Apple will be even harder to overtake when they have planted the idea that your iPad, or your iPhone is the default remote control for the family TV. One can also guarantee that they will evade the charge of monopoly by making sure that the iTV platform is ‘semi-open’. TV companies will be able to sell programs, through iTunes, but channels will also run on the hardware and nobody will be obliged to put stuff in iTunes….. its just that if you don’t do that you will be missing a major market opportunity. Apple will also control the consumer data and jealously protect the ‘privacy’ of viewers information requirements/habits. The TV consumer electronics companies will suddenly realise that a lot of the value they capture has migrated to the lowly, and hitherto neglected, remote control. No need for touch screen TVs if the control is touch screen. Nielsen will lose its pre-eminence in measuring audience and ratings. And the TV network and cable companies will suddenly realise that a great deal of leverage over their output has magically gone over to the touch sensitive iPad/iTV device, which is the switch to their conduits. Apple disintermediates most of the big players by inserting their iDevice in the space between the layers of hardware and program. Who else gains from this disruptive innovation? Consumers of course, and the program producers and independent production companies. That is the way disintermediation works.

TV companies may be appalled by this prospect, but all other media organizations will understand that this innovation gives them just another very strong reason to get their apps on to the iPad/iPhone platform.

Nick Bilton’s Grammatical Clanger

Nick Bilton who blogs for the New York Times has dropped and smashed the front of his Apple-loaned iPhone 4. Here it is a complete, fragmentary, mess.

I thought it would work beautifully until I dropped my iPhone on the concrete on Tuesday evening. The phone’s glass became a Humpty Dumpty look-a-like.

I’m still trying to figure out whose fault it was? Of course, I’m mostly to blame for being clumsy and dropping the phone. But is it also Apple’s fault for creating a gadget that breaks so easily? Electronics Designers Struggle With Form, Function and Obsolescence

Musing on this mini-disaster leads Nick to consider that perhaps the requirement that electronic devices should look and feel uber-slick has led Apple’s designers to sacrifice function for form and to build objects which are insufficiently robust.

Jason Brush, executive vice president of user experience design for Schematic, a branding and design agency, noted in an interview that the fragility of electronics today might not lay in the form and function debate, but rather that gadgets are not meant to be long lasting.

“If you purchased a Leica Camera a hundred years ago it would still work today. It was bullet proof,” he said, “But electronics today are not built with permanence in mind.”

Mr. Brush said that electronics are now built as fashionable objects that serve a functional purpose. “When things are made to look beautiful versus being designed to last for 100 years, the products form can look vastly different,” he said. (NYT)

Clearly Mr. Brush is on to something here. iPhones are not built to last the way that Leica phones are, or were. But surely Jason Brush and Nick Bilton are missing the key point with this criticism? Apple’s devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch etc) are obviously not built to last, they will be improved upon very soon; more germanely they are not built to be objects in the sense in which the Leica was an object. The Leica camera is a specific functional tool with which quite specific and well-framed tasks would be performed in a professional manner. Nick Bilton has committed what philosophers like to call a ‘category mistake’. He has mistaken the iPhone for a Leica-like object when it is clearly an adverbial-appendage. The iPhone and the iPad are not truly objects, they are adverbs. They are only parenthetically about taking pictures, they are mainly about doing all kinds of stuff, much of which you hadn’t even considered to be do-able in that way, or at that remove. They are multi-purpose mediators through which the web and the internet interacts with the user. It is moot whether they are appendages to us, or appendages to the web through which stuff now happens. The creative process is now all about the web (subject) doing (verb) to us (object) in a certain way — perhaps most stylishly in the Apple way. The iPad is, by some distance, the most adverbial of the range of devices that Apple has produced. That it is a range of devices, each of them invoking their own adverbs, and hard to copy or emulate is the key Apple’s ‘defensive’ stance in relation to Android and other competitors. Any company that wants to compete with Apple now has to do some deep syntactic analysis. The adverbial genius of the iPad is that it has redefined and clarified the adverb ‘gorgeously’, ‘stunningly’, ‘veridically’ or ‘lazily’ in the way that we interact with the web. The genius of the new iPhone is that it has appropriated the adverbs ‘instantly’, ‘face time’ (which in spite of sounding like a process, is on its way to becoming an adverb characterizing conversation), ‘unintentionally’ and ‘magically’ to the previously more or less routine but increasingly mobile business of using a telephone.

So, Nick Bilton really should not worry about breaking an object (especially since it is one that had been loaned to him by Apple, ‘generously’). He has lost an object but gained access to a range of adverbial devices each with unique performance envelopes through which he can interact with the web in the way that Apple envisages smart journalists now need to do that. Guiltlessly and perhaps carelessly. Hold on for the iPad nano, Nick.