Tablets make us work

Read today in a Dutch newspaper:

Because of smartphones and tablets, managers work more frequently in their spare (private) time. According to Metro, 25% of the managers indicate that they spend more time working in their private hours.

Of the managers with a smartphone, 21% said to work more often after-hours, as was found in a research amongst more than 300 managers. When a tablet is also part of the repertoire this percentage goes up to 25%. Women tend to use the smartphone to work from home, while the tablet is a male thing.

In addition, the research showed that 1 out of 5 managers check their e-mail 5 minutes after waking up. almost 66% of the managers in the research had an iPad.

So the next time your boss is bullying you that you shouldn’t do a status update on Facebook in the office, send this post.


Update: Accompanying Dilbert cartoon (thx Gea for the heads-up)

The iPad and Pharma. A perfect marriage?

Disclaimer: Copy from original source here – PDF download (but it was too interesting not to share)

Pharmaceutical manufacturers face increasing pressure to refine their strategic and operational approach to sales and marketing. This need is motivated by a quickly changing industry landscape driven by healthcare reform (HCR) and an expanding web of strict government regulations. This includes gift ban laws, aggregate spend compliance/sunshine laws on both the state and the federal level, and diminishing physician availability because of HCR (i.e., 32 million new “covered” patients set to phase into the healthcare system).

In the primary care setting, physicians typically give a pharma sales rep less than 30 seconds per interaction, most of which is time spent signing for samples. In specialty therapeutic areas, sales reps receive much longer periods of time but still struggle with their ability to differentiate themselves through clear, concise, and interactive messaging delivered to each physician. With all of this further complicated by gift ban laws and aggregate spend, which may eliminate a significant portion of lunch/dinner meetings and make all related spend information publicly visible, pharmas’ challenge to increase sales force effectiveness is becoming ever more real by the day.

What’s Changing?
Generally speaking, companies typically identify a problem or a business process that needs enhancement and then perform due diligence and an in-depth technology assessment to choose IT to apply to that situation. Historically, this is what best practice would dictate. Well, say “hello” to the iPad, which is quickly turning this traditional wisdom on its head. While tablet PCs have been used in the field within pharma sales for quite some time to enable electronic signature capture and more interactive display of edetailing information, the explosion of next-generation tablet devices like the iPad has rocked the boat in this space.
The pharmaceutical sales community is now undergoing an enormous shift, with widespread interest in transitioning toward HTML5-based tablet devices like the iPad, as the industry seeks a quicker, lighter, and more attractive way of displaying drug-related information. Two things in particular make this trend interesting: the purchasing behavior of companies regarding these devices and the monopolistic iPad mindset prevailing in this space.

Purchasing Behavior
Despite conventional wisdom, several major pharmaceutical companies are putting the cart before the horse by purchasing iPads in large quantities prior to even owning a single application to run on the iPad. It is true that many existing Web-based SFA products delivered via a hosted or a SaaS model will run equally well in an iPad Web browser, but there is little incremental value over a traditional tablet PC with this scenario since no HTML5 capabilities are being utilized. Most SFA vendors servicing the pharmaceutical industry do have plans under way to launch an HTML5 version of their software, and a few already have, but these solutions are brand new and still immature.

During recent conversations with large pharmas, I have heard leadership at several companies make comments similar in nature to “we have not yet purchased an iPad-based SFA software product, but we know we will eventually, so we’re buying the devices now.” More than one company has told us they have already purchased iPads in significant volume and are storing them for later use. Although it is true that many companies are indeed planning to make the shift toward these devices, the unwavering excitement and investment certainty displayed by the industry for a technology that still has no proven ROI in the pharma setting over existing tablet PC-based approaches are certainly interesting.

An iPad State of Mind
I’m sure Billy Joel never expected his song to be used as a vehicle for explaining people’s love for the iPad, and while the general population probably still has greater affinity for New York than their iPad, that may not remain the case too much longer.
Beyond pharmas’ overwhelming interest in embracing HTML5-based tablets, what makes the phenomenon even more interesting is that most pharmas with plans to adopt these devices are planning to purchase the iPad, with little current interest in seriously evaluating competing devices from other vendors. Based on interviews recently conducted with more than 20 pharmaceutical companies regarding CRM and SFA planned investment, all stated they believe Apple will remain the lead innovator in the space and that deploying SFA on the iPad (rather than a competing tablet device) is safer long term because it will help ensure they keep up with the latest technology developments and innovations. Only 3 of 20 companies mentioned they planned to spend any significant time reviewing competing solutions.

Looking ahead, the verdict is that pharma is moving toward wide-scale deployment of HTML5-based tablet devices. Historically, Apple has had little presence in pharma, with the exception of iPhones in the ePRO space, but even that is a fairly recent development. With the skyrocketing adoption of iPads in pharma sales and marketing, Apple is now perfectly positioned to not only break into the sales and marketing side of the pharmaceutical industry but is likely to quickly become a dominant hardware vendor in the space.

Social Media defeats e-mail

Last week I read an interesting article about the use of social media in comparison with e-mail. Although I do find myself still e-mailing a lot (too much!) apparently e-mail is degrading to a secondary form of communication:

On the PC e-mail is still ruling for communication purposes. On the mobile phone however, mail has been surpassed by social media. From recent research executed by the UK-based company TNS it appears that we use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter a factor 1.4 more than e-mailing. On average we spend 3.1 hours to these services, whereas e-mail gets only 2.2 hours of our attention span. In addition, all respondents indicated that they will use much more social media on their mobile phone. The PC is being switched off.

According to the researchers the popularity of social media on mobile phones have to do with ‘instant gratification’, such as short messages being sent and read. Next to that, the variety of communication is appealing to many: public messages, private messages, video, pictures, status updates, geo-locations. Much more attractive than a simple e-mail. The number of users is increasing dramatically as well, mainly due to the enormous uptake of smartphones such as the iPhone or Android. It is expected that next year more smartphones are being sold than ‘normal’ mobile phones (shall we call them ‘dumb’ phones?).

The biggest users of social media are found in emerging markets by the way, such as Malaysia, Russia and Thailand. On average people in these countries spend 8 hours per week on social networks. In the west of the world this average is much lower. According to TNS this is due to the fact that we see the internet as ‘normal’, a given. In emerging markets people are grateful for each new form of communication.

Punch line of the story: we are a bunch of spoiled kids not realizing the power we have in our hands.

iPad goes corporate?

I see it all around me. Corporate VP’s and other honchos showing off their iPad proudly as if they have discovered fire. And even more so, Corporate IT also seems to have a sheer interest in the little device. Although it still hurts to admit that they are having a device in their hands made by that company ‘with a shiny logo making toys’, it seems that their arrogance in this matter is melting. Suddenly Apple is ‘OK’.

Yahoo wrote an interesting article about how the iPad is invading the business world. It discusses some cool uses in restaurants and refers to an article from BusinessInsider about how VCs are using iPads in boardrooms, too. Status-increasing and time efficient. Both aspects land well in the VC world.

We get many questions from our customers about how to use the iPad in business, if there are more companies using iPads and what the security issues are. A few weeks ago we were at a large pharma company demonstrating the concept of one of our new apps. “Yeah, but our corporate IT is not so happy about Apple. It’s insecure, it uses an exotic programming language and that’s why iPhones are banned, too. Can you build your app also on another platform? Like Android, or so?”. Anybody who has a remote understanding of programming knows that Android is not more secure and I dare too say even more exotic. But that’s how marketing people are sometimes being influenced by IT. And most marketing people how little understanding about the geek-tech talk to parry these statements: “Uhm… OK!”

To provide a service to people who want to know more about the use of iPads in business we’ve started a new blog solely dedicated to this subject. The blog, creatively dubbed: collects articles related to the use of iPads (well, also iPhones) in a corporate environment. It’s just a collecting blog, no more, no less (and it’s still a bit under construction, so working on the logo..). But it could be a good start bookmarking this site and keep up to date on these exiting developments. And start talking back to those IT guys.

How to use an iPad in business. Right now!

The iPad, one of the most imaginary mobile hardware devices of the last decennium. Long before the iPad was introduced people speculated about its features. More than 600,000 iPads were being pre-ordered by people who had never seen an iPad in real life (such as myself). The dust never settled and recently Apple announced to have sold 3,000,000 in just 80 days. With the European launch now in full process the production of the device has been ramped up to 1.2 million per month.

The iPad clearly went mainstream, also in the Netherlands. It is estimated that about 1 million people in the Netherlands are planning to buy an iPad. Comfortably positioned between a mobile phone and a laptop only the future will know which place this new device will hold in the digital ecosystem of the modern consumer and business person. It is indeed amazing that the mobile landscape drastically changed in only 3 months time (April – July)

In my view, four reasons account for the success of the iPad (in random order):

  • The lean mean marketing machine of Apple, being able to enormously hype this product
  • The design of the device
  • The intuitive User Interface (touch)
  • The App Store

Especially the latter significantly boosts the value creation of the iPad. With more than 200,000 iPhone apps running natively on the iPad and more than 15,000 native iPad applications ‘App development’ became one of the fastest growing industries in the digital era. The Operating System (iOS) on which Apps are based can be used for development on the iPad, as well as the iPhone and the iPod touch. It is expected that this year 100 million iOS devices will be on the market.

The App Store hosts a variety of categories, of which ‘Medical’ is one. This category, although small in number (91 medical apps for iPad, as per June – data Distimo) is certainly a financially interesting category. Data show that the average price of a medical app is about $42 (Distimo, June 2010), the highest pricing in the app store. Obviously it is unknown how successful these apps are, but the fact that touch-based computers (Windows-based tablet PCs) are well introduced in the medical world might indicate that this segment will embrace the iPad much more easily. Experts (Zachary, 2010) indicate that three segments currently have the biggest potential for adopting the iPad: Education, Healthcare and Enterprise.

We get a lot of questions from companies which gained interest in the iPad as business tool. The main question is: “I can see the future, but what can I do right now with the iPad to help improving the productivity of our employees, thereby not upsetting my entire IT department by introducing an ‘unknown’ device”? From a business point of view the iPads are pretty cheap, so usually investment in the hardware isn’t the issue. Main challenge is -as always- the content.

In this report it is explained how the iPad can be used as a viable business tool to boost productivity for companies who are open for the use of it, and the tactics to implement iPads in the workflow.

The iPad in six different Activity Groups
A tablet computer such as the iPad has a tremendous potential to replace current laptops in the sales force. Not only the light weight of the devices and the duration of the batteries (10 hours), but also the functionality of the iPad could give rise to a new use of mobile devices. Currently the main functionalities used on a sales rep’s laptop are:

  • E-mail
  • Internet
  • CRM system
  • Word processing
  • Excel use
  • Producing and giving presentations

To enable a constant workflow the laptop should be connected to the network at various intervals either wireless of via a cable.

Although all the above functionalities can be covered by the iPad, it is -after several weeks of usage- my opinion that the iPad is not yet ready to replace the laptop entirely. Especially in a Windows-dominated environment the biggest hurdle is the exchange between Office documents and documents created with the office apps from Apple (Pages, Numbers, Keynote). Moreover, there is no file structure, hence browsing through different folders is not possible. Most companies are not yet ready to transfer all our files to the cloud, which would make life simpler.

But that doesn’t mean there is no business case for the iPad. On the contrary.

The current incarnation of the iPad can be used in any organization in six Activity Groups (see figure). With the constant addition of functionalities over time, these Activity Groups can be further extended. As for now, these six groups will be handled by the iPad just fine.

Be aware that currently the iPad is not supported by most IT-organizations. This means that only functionalities can be used that do not require connection to the network. All functionalities that are either offline or receive data through an independent cloud service can be used. An exception to this is e-mail. Apparently iPhone users report perfect e-mail functionality due to the integration of Microsoft Exchange. IT departments often don’t know that the data is going to an iOS device. While I’m not supporting nonconformism to the company rules here, it is a fact that many iOS devices (iPhones in particular) enter companies ‘through the back door’. This is a serious issue for companies since company data can be compromised if not dealt with properly. Usually IT departments take a firm stand point by stating that these devices are not allowed. However, modern knowledge workers do not accept this attitude anymore and it’s time for IT to start thinking pro-actively and seek for opportunities, rather than threats.

Anyway, back to the six Activity Groups.

In the following paragraphs, each Activity Group will be explained briefly.

Activity Group 1: E-mail and agenda
The iOS installed on the iPad can handle communication through the Microsoft Exchange Server, which is commonly used in coorporations. To enable this on any device, a simple username and password will suffice. The only requirement is that the user should have the status ‘Smartphone User’ within Outlook Exchange, thus being able to receive and send e-mails through a mobile device. In the past usually only higher management got this privilege, but nowadays more and more also mere mortals are able to get this status.

The e-mail and agenda is being handled through the mail- and agenda client on the iPad. Since these programs are not Microsoft related but built by Apple, they do not resemble to familiar ‘Outlook look and feel’. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to the user to decide, but in general e-mail and agenda clients are pretty straightforward.

The added value of accessing your e-mail and agenda through the iPad is without a doubt one of the most requested features of a mobile worker. Being able to access your e-mail on the fly, not only on an iPad but also on a smartphone will increase ROI of sales reps by 30-40% within 6 months of implementation, according to research.

Activity Group 2: Cloud-based platforms
Many Internal Social Collaboration Platforms are purely cloud-based, meaning that it is easily accessible through an iPad. All functionalities (except video which is Flash-based, although that will be solved in the near future) are available through the browser on the iPad (ideas, blog, wiki). Moreover, many vendors of cloud software have already an iPhone app available which will run on the iPad as well. If not,an iPad version is under construction.

People can access company information on any given time on any given place. They can collaborate on projects and create content as they go.

Activity Group 3: Product and Service Presentations
The iPad is the tool pur sang for giving one-to-one or one-to-few presentations. The build-in presentation software (Keynote) can handle a variety of presentations (though they must be converted from PowerPoint to Keynote). The real benefit lies in the interactivity one can achieve using the touch screen. the iPad can be used as an alternative to a paper sales aid, providing a more immersive experience for the viewer. Existing brochures can be transformed to digital versions and included with audio, video and animation. Going a step further, using a dynamic agenda enables the sales rep to tailor-made his/her story to the needs of the customer. Often those needs are discovered during a sales call and adapting the visual representation of the call is no doubt valuable for the success of the call.

One can make nice presentations with Keynote, but a more professional approach can currently only be achieved through expensive third-party involvement. For example, Time Magazine makes use of software designed by WoodWing. A complete package to design one magazine will costs around EUR 30,000 (software, hosting, licenses).

Another example of such an interactive magazine is Wired. Through a plug-in for standard design software (InDesign) this magazine is highly interactive and makes use of a variety of multimedia features (video, audio). The plug-in software, however, is not yet available to the public and as of yet it is unknown which business model will be chosen. It is expected that this software will become available end of this summer.

Activity Group 4: Business Intel
Several Apps provide the functionality to consolidate data and display the information in an easy to understand way. Sales, market shares, and similar business intrinsic data crucial to understand the development of the products and services can be accessed on the iPad. For example, at the moment of writing there is an App available which links directly to the sales data in for example a SAP system. Using this App, consolidated data can be presented in simple tables and graphs. There are more apps providing this functionality (i.e. Roambi) so that it needs to be evaluated which app fits our requirements best. In addition to internal data, the iPad can also be used for external business information. For that, and RSS reader can be used (see next point).

Activity Group 5: News Reader
One of the main activities the iPad is used for is news gathering The sheer availability of RSS readers on the App Store is a silent witness of the desire to consume news anywhere and anyplace. In most market segments there are online news sites dealing with subjects related to that segment and important to know. Usually these news sites have RSS feeds that can easily be incorporated into an RSS reader, thus providing the possibility to make news gathering much more efficient. In addition, sharing of this information is equally simple so that ‘cross-fertilization’ of information is stimulated.

Activity Group 6: Apps
It is difficult to write a paragraph about Apps if there are 200,000 iPhone Apps and more than 15,000 iPad Apps are available. Where to start? In 20 categories one can find Apps related to health, fun games, productivity, social networking, and all in-between. Apparently there is no limit to the imagination of developers and chances are that if you think about an App, somebody has already built it (or is building it as we speak). First and foremost the iPad must be considered as a productivity and presentation tool. Apps related to these categories must be sought and tried first. Some Apps are free and some are paid, making a clear policy on this important (although prices are usually a few Euros so financial risk is minimal). Test users should be given the possibility to experiment with Apps, enabling us to get a clear insight into the pros and cons of these Apps.

Closing remarks
Improving the productivity of the employees is a multi-facetted approach. Discipline, the right employees, training and coaching are imperative for an effective way of working. I do not underestimate these areas for improvement and companies should try hard to organize ourselves in this respect. My intention in this blog post was to describe the role certain technologies can play in this area. And that technologies play a significant role in a modern employee goes without a doubt.

My personal experience learns that, once understanding these new technologies, a significant step can be made towards professional (and personal) effectiveness. Technology should follow people and not vice versa. As stated in the Groundswell (Forrester Research, 2009), the introduction of new technologies should follow the POST-principle: First People, followed by the Objectives and Strategy and only then choosing the Technology.

Great companies know how to strike a balance between the use of technology and the motivation of people. It is that balance we need to seek. The technology plays a facilitating, though crucial role in connecting our employees to each other, the customer and the right information at the right time to make informed decisions. One might say that embracing tools like the iPad today is a waste of time due to the infancy of the technology. Yes, one can even wait till the technology is matured. However, one must not forget that tomorrow’s possibilities will be based on today’s initiatives and infrastructure. Time to move on…

Losing my virginity, with FaceTime

Although the iPhone 4 is not yet officially available in the Netherlands, we bootlegged it via the UK. It turns out that you can actually make a phone call with it, so that’s good news. Apart from making a phone call, there’s one other nifty feature on the device, called FaceTime. According to Apple:

People have been dreaming about video calling for decades. iPhone 4 makes it a reality. With the tap of a button, you can wave hello to your kids, share a smile from across the globe, or watch your best friend laugh at your stories — iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 over Wi-Fi. No other phone makes staying in touch this much fun.

But wait, there’s more:

FaceTime works right out of the box — no need to set up a special account or screen name. And using FaceTime is as easy as it gets. Let’s say you want to start a video call with your best friend. Just find her entry in your Contacts and tap the FaceTime button. Or maybe you’re already on a voice call with her and you want to switch to video. Just tap the FaceTime button on the Phone screen. Either way, an invitation pops up on her iPhone 4 screen asking if she wants to join you. When she accepts, the video call begins. It’s all perfectly seamless. And it works in both portrait and landscape modes.

That sure sounds appealing to me. Frequent traveling and having a family at home makes me the perfect FaceTime user. There’s only one caveat: you need somebody else to FaceTime with. And that other person must be on the iPhone 4. Not the 3GS, the 4. Luckey I was smart enough to call a few friends, asking whether they wanted to participate in this little experiment and order an iPhone 4 as well. One of them was Kurt. It took a while, but now Kurt has his iPhone 4 too, and since today he’s operational (OK, to be honest, Kurt did not only wanted the iPhone for FaceTime. There’s more he liked).

So Thursday evening my iPhone rang, with a funny sound. It said: Kurt wants to connect via FaceTime with you. So I picked up the phone, and there we went…

Pretty impressive. Now if only the Samsung Wave would adopt the open source FaceTime technology as well (Apple and Samsung seem to borrow things from each other anyways, lately), Kurt can actually use it with his wife Una, too…

How valuable will this become, once available through 3G networks? Will it change the way we communicate or is it just a ‘nice to have’ and ‘Apple gimmick’. Let us know and drop us a line in the comments below.

The iPhone 4… can you make a phonecall or not?

A few weeks ago we blogged about the launch of the iPhone 4 in the UK. Though impressed by the little device we were not able to take one back, the lines were just too crazy long. And one of the things why an iPhone from the UK is so interesting is because they sell it unlocked (I guess one of the reasons the lines were so long). Fortunately one of our Fellows and good friend lives in the UK, so a phone call later and €738 lighter my iPhone 4 was ordered (thanks Jolanda).

It was an interesting three weeks waiting, especially since Apple held it’s press conference about the ‘Antennagate’ during this period. It’s absolutely amazing how many people told me they heard the iPhone 4 was a flop, a design error and that you can’t make a descent call with it. They asked me for advice…

Well, first of all I’m an Apple fanboy. It took a while to admit, but there’s little the company can do wrong in my undoubtedly narrow view of this part of the world. My view, therefore is biased. However, I do know how large commercial organizations work and I also know the power of digital media. And with that, I explained my view on the case.

First off, I think Steve Jobs is a visionary, a genius in what he is doing and in what he has achieved. Having seen him IRL on stage an absolute rock stars for geeks like me. He is honest and authentic. But he’s also a commercial guy. One thing though he should not do anymore, is start communicating in his direct and authentic way during the rise of a small crisis. Stating ‘Just hold it differently’ in a response to a complaining customer about the lost signal may be authentic, it’s not wise. I’m also not saying that Apple should put an army of silk-smooth PR people on it, but there’s no doubt a way in between. As far as my opinion goes, this is about the only thing they did do wrong. Let’s have a look at the other accusations:

It took Apple too long to respond.
Well, looking at the above example of Steve Jobs they responded rather quickly. Too quickly perhaps. Truth is, they wrote a statement that they were going to update the software, and soon after that they organized this press conference. I’ve worked for a multinational, and I’ve launched pharmaproducts on a global scale. One thing I can assure you, launching products like this is no doubt one of the most complex business processes you will ever find. So many disciplines are involved, and so much internal communication takes place. The company has worked it’s *ss off to develop the product, to make it market ready and to design the marketing campaign, ramping up the production and organizing distribution. Once Day 1 has arrived it’s a matter of keeping your fingers crossed, in a sense. If you then receive a complaint that reception drops you take note of it, but you are not yet restructuring your entire production process yet. Millions and millions of iPhones are being sold in a very short period of time. Of course you have people complaining. You will always have people complaining because some people like that so much.

Then more complaints drip in and with all these digital communication ways it’s difficult to distinct a true complaint (the source), or the many, many stories being written about that complaint (writing about the source). You check the numbers and they don’t seem to resonate with the things you are hearing on the internet. But things get worse and just to be sure you start an investigation. If companies respond internally faster than 2 weeks after the first rumours arise, I think they do an excellent job. I believe Apple did. It took them 22 days to investigate the situation, organized a press conference and came up with a solution (well, sort of).

Apple only organized this press conference because Consumer Reports were burning down the reputation of the iPhone 4 by not recommending it
We will never know for sure, but that could be the case. Of course you will defend your crown jewels if an influential organization such as Consumer Reports blames your product. And let’s face it, not recommending a product reads for many people: ‘don’t buy’. Although not the same (Consumer Reports does have a category ‘don’t buy this’ for crappy exploding stuff) this is what John Doe believes. Also true, Consumer Reports has put itself on the world map. The PR it got from this article is worth millions and millions of dollars. Smart.

I see my bars dropping when I hold my iPhone in a certain way
True, I can see that for myself too. But guess what, I see that on my 3GS as well. To be honest, pre-Antennagate I hardly looked at the bars and I believe most of us didn’t. Post-Antennagate we all seem to have become some sort of antenna-experts, scrutinizing the slightest drop in the number of bars in the teenieweenie small upper left corner of our iPhone (which, by the way, looks stunning on a Retina Display). I really don’t care about ‘bars dropping when I hold it like this or that’. Get over it. It seems that most mobile phones are experiencing this, so what’s the deal anyway? What I am interested in, though, is dropped calls.

The iPhone 4 has much more dropped calls
Frankly, I don’t know yet. What I do know is that if I hold my new iPhone 4 in a certain way (the ‘Death Grip’) I see the number of bars going down, basically the same as with the 3GS. They never go under 1 bar however, so I still have a signal and thus a conversation. With my 3GS I had dropped calls too. Occasionally, when I was commuting to work going through a rural Dutch area, I lost a phone conversation. Just dialed back, blamed the provider and life went on.

According to Steve there are indeed more dropped calls with the iPhone 4 as compared to the iPhone 3GS: less than one per 100 calls. Less than one in business terms usually means 0.9 or so. And if the average drop call rate is, say 2 or 3 per 100, that is still a significant increase. Steve’s own pet theory stating that more people use a case with the 3GS (80%) compared to the 4 (only 20%) might be correct. But put it in another daylight. How many phone calls do you make on a day? 10? 20? 30? Let’s say you make 30 phone calls a day. In about 3 to 4 days you had 2 dropped calls using your iPhone 3GS. Now you have 3 dropped calls. Will your life be over? Can’t you run your business anymore?

If you have a phone that dropped calls several times a day, that’s of course not acceptable. But 1 dropped call every 3-4 days more? Wouldn’t seem to be such an issue for me, especially when you compare it to the new features on the iPhone 4 (Retina Display, speed, battery life, HD video, 5MP camera, front facing camera, FaceTime, thinner form factor, design)

Apple wanted to become rich selling $30 plastic bumpers which have no doubt a cost price of a few bucks
True. But when did you ever blame a commercial company of making money? Don’t like it, don’t buy it. Vote with your wallet. Wait a few more weeks and you have a plethora of bumper, cases and what have you to choose from. No issue anyway, because you get a free bumper now.

Apple is losing it’s grip on the mobile market. Android will win.
We’ll see. And to quote Steve Jobs when asked about the relationship with Microsoft: “I think we have to let go of the notion that if Apple wants to win, Microsoft has to lose”.

I will test the iPhone 4 extensively the next few weeks (that is, I will just use it the same way as my iPhone 3GS) and report back if I see any disturbing shortcomings. For now all seems fine. I’m eager to learn your take on this. Do you share my fanboy-ish thoughts? Do you have experience with the iPhone 4? Good or bad? Let me know and drop me a line in the comments. Or find me on FacetTime 😉

Do you have a moment.. a lot of moments? iPhone 4 launch UK

Crazy. That’s what I can say. How on earth is it possible that one company can make people stand in line for more that 32 hours, for a piece of glass and sillicon? To camp on the streets of London like a homeless person, to fight for the right to enter first, to be one of the few to lay their hands, no, to own a .. phone?

Yep, they did it again. Apple today infused the European continent with their next iteration of the iPhone, creatively named the iPhone 4. That the iPhone was a huge hit may not come to a surprise to many of our readers, but that they could pull it off again is remarkable, to say the least. It clearly shows the effect of state-of-the-art technology in combination with superb marketing.

We were in London to participate in a congress on mobile technologies which was organized *coincidentally* the day after the launch of iPhone 4. We couldn’t resist, being in London the day this device was launched, so we took the sub to Regent Street. Silently hoping two iPhones would be left, waiting to be picked up by two Dutchies.

Our dreams were shattered when entering the proximity of the Apple Store. Crush-barriers were keeping the queu in line, special Stewards were facilitating the immense flow of people, the loooong line, waiting to get in. The first person in line waited for 32 hours, flew over from Dubai and when the doors opened was being held back to let people who preordered the iPhone came in first (whom *only* waited for 16 hours). The guy is pretty pissed-off (although he did get his iPhone) and promised to write to Steve personally.

Obviously we had no time to wait that long, so we had to do it with some tangible hands-on experience with this marvelous piece of technology. And boy, this screen is *crisp*. There is no way you can see that the letters on the display are actually on a display. It really looks like they are printed on the screen. The phone feels solid -may be a bit heavy- and the design is awesome. It does make the 3GS look sooo 2009. The front facing camera will open new possibilities and though we couldn’t test FaceTime ourselves I’m sure we will have a lot of fun with it. We could only ‘testdrive’ it for about 3 minutes. People waiting in line behind us were getting inpatient to touch it themselves. Socially as we are, we let them.

With envies eyes we had to leave the Apple Store. Not empty handed, but with a real Apple iPad case and a pair of in-ear headphones. Silently we took the tube back to the hotel. Dreaming of what we’ve seen, looking forward for what is about to come…

Cool 3D video

History of Apple products related to the imminent launch of the iPad (bummer, not in the Netherlands for the near future). Oh well, we’ll just have to do with these videos to wet our appetite.

Transparent House used its visualization capabilities to create a tribute to a company they greatly admire on the occasion of the iPad release. The idea was to show a glimpse into the history of this product giant by modeling some of the innovative products they’ve developed in their 3+ decade history.

The animation was done entirely using 3Ds Max and V-Ray render and took about 10 days to complete. Professionally done 3D visualization is the perfect tool to present concepts or new products in a beautiful, photoreal style, while creating a mood with music and conveying a message, through on-screen text or narration.

The future of personal communication

Published with permission of Animal Health 2.0


In case you have been living under a rock or just returned from your Mars trip, Apple has just launched their next iteration of personal computing: the iPad. The device is already a phenomenon from a marketing point of view, now it has to live up to its expectations.

Apple placed the bar pretty high. In a 1.5 hour presentation Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO and digital guru, exposed one feature after another. In short, the iPad is a 1.5 pounds, 9.7 inch aluminium embodied multitouch device which runs on the popular iPhone OS. Basically it’s a big ass iPod touch. Good thing is that the device will run the 140,000+ apps from the App Store out of the box. Developers can redesign their iPhone apps to make use of the screen estate, or develop apps specifically for the iPad. And now things are getting interesting.

So what does a product launch of a computer company has to do with Animal Health 2.0? For that, we need to take a step back and look at our big sister, Health 2.0.

Lack of style
The iPad -or at least we think- is trying to compete with several product categories, one of which is used pretty often in Health 2.0: the Tablet PC. The Tablet PC was already identified as a killer product by Bill Gates in 2003, but he was a bit too early. Although used a lot in human healthcare, the available devices always lacked the stylish form factor (take this one as an example) or -obviously- the polished and user friendly user interface. Some companies even designed a tablet specifically for healthcare, such as the C5 Mobile Clinical Assistant Tablet. The advantages for a tablet PC are a plenty: mobility, the ability to present something more easily, no need for a keyboard, lighter to handle.

One of the issues with common tablet PC’s is that the operating system is not really designed for touch. Most Tablet PS’s have to be operated using a stylus and interaction between the user and the software can feel a bit sluggish. Apple seems to have done their homework. As identified by MedicalTabletPC in a recent article, “it’s the Operating System, not the form factor”. They might be right. With the iPad’s multi-touch interface already field-tested by millions of users having an iPhone it sure is a breeze to use. And what about the App Store? With more than 10,000 apps for medical use in the App Store there’s no denying that the medical profession has a certain interest.

Horse manure
What about Animal Health? Are tablet PCs used here too? No doubt some forward-thinking veterinarians are making use of these devices, but to our knowledge this is a minority. Also no activity can be seen on a more commercial level, such as companies developing Tablet PC functionalities for Animal Health. This is strange, because such a device can have a significant value for the profession. Take a veterinarian for example. Many veterinarians have a rather mobile existence. Especially livestock veterinarians who sometimes drive many, many miles to a customer. Diagnosing or helping with farm management often requires access to information via a computer. But conditions are not always optimal. In a stable there are low light conditions, it can be cold and sometimes a lot of things are happening. Just popping out your new Dell laptop just doesn’t do it. Ever seen horse manure between your keys on your keyboard? But may be a iPad without keys might do the trick at those situations. But also showing the farmer the latest results of a lab test while the guy is walking around the premises would be a bit easier when you carry around an iPad.

Learning smarter, communicating better
And what about education? The iPad is already slated for the ‘next big thing’ for the K12 market. Having iTunes U (lectures in video and/or audio from many universities) within the hands of a veterinary student, instant access to the internet, specific apps for the curriculum and having all the study books on one device will have a profound impact om the way we learn.

Next up, the industry. No doubt the iPad will have to find its place between the commonly used laptop and the mobile phone. Will it cannibalize on the laptop or will it be a new product category, just as Steve Jobs is predicting? From a personal communication point of view -something the industry uses to sell their product or service- I can not think of a better device to convey a message to a customer than the iPad. Think of it as a brochure on steroids: interactive, multimedia and flexible. What else could you wish for? It’s common knowledge that the human pharmaceutical industry is exploring the use of iApps, such as J&J for example, and I have no doubt that the veterinary pharmaceutical industry will follow suit.

Talking pills – is there an App for that?
Finally a few words on the potential use of the iPad on the world of science (thus also veterinary science). It takes only a bit of imagination to realize that the ecosystem of the iPad, with the possibility to design specific apps for just about anything, will also spur innovation in this area. Many, many apps for science are already available on the App Store and more will follow now there’s more screen to use. In a recent article in the Economist Novartis invested $24 million to secure exclusive licences and options on drug-delivery technologies developed by Proteus Biomedical, a Californian start-up. According to the article the company has technology “which enables pills to relay data about a patient back to doctors after they have been swallowed”. And that data is being read by mobile devices, such as the iPad.

I personally believe the possibilities are endless. Just two days after the announcement of the iPad the nay-sayers are abundantly present. And albeit the iPad is not perfect yet, it’s pretty clear where this technology is taking us. Many clones will follow, and that’s good for innovation. I was listening to a podcast the other day, discussing the launch of the iPad. One of the guys made a remark that stuck with me: “Since this week, we officially entered the Star Trek-age”.

Here are some more articles on the use of the iPad in the health environment. Let it inspire us for the use in Animal Health.

Apple iPad: Promising Features For Healthcare Use and Medical Education

Five Lessons Apple must learn from current Healthcare Tablets if the Apple Tablet (iPad) is to Succeed in the Medical Industry

How the Apple Tablet (iPad) Could Transform the Way Patients Experience Healthcare

%d bloggers like this: