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Is the age of Apple over? iPhone speculation and delays

Apple’s 2020 iPhone launch plans seem to have been undermined by coronavirus, with both its anticipated smartphone launches delayed, possibly for months.

Hey Siri, what on earth is happening?

If everything had gone according to plan (it didn’t), Apple was expected to introduce an iPhone 9 in March and the first 5G-enabled iPhone 12 in September.

However, as the human, economic and societal damage wrought by COV-19 reverberates across a planet on which the leading nations can’t even agree on what to call the disease, Apple may delay both launches. Nativism is clearly making the world more fragile to global challenge.

Apple hasn’t fully committed to delay. A report on Nikkei says it is “considering” the option.

What’s driving the question is executive concern at multiple challenges: logistics, component supply, market weakness, consumer confidence.

In the background, we’ve heard the company is intensifying its work to manufacture components in multiple countries, breaking its reliance on China. Yet India, where some manufacturing was expected to begin in earnest this year, has also gone into lockdown as central government attempts to mitigate the human and economic cost of the virus on its people. This has halted production there, creating yet more challenges for the company’s Operations team.

Social isolation means consumer electronics sales are in free fall as the world’s stressed out shoppers stay home.

Not only aren’t most shops open (including all Apple’s own retail stores outside China) but given hundreds of millions of people have had to make income sacrifices, new smartphones aren’t particularly high on the ‘must buy’ list when people are more concerned about mortgage/rent payments, health and food.

Coronavirus has fractured the social and political landscape, probably forever. We’re seeing a shift in consciousness, and it hurts.

So, is the age of Apple over?

To answer that question, we have to see what emerges from the disaster.

We may end up with a planet on which people have a deeper understanding of the global interrelationships between everyone who lives here, or we may find ourselves stranded on isolated islands defined by arbitrary national borders.

The truth is we’ll probably have a bit of both, with some nations resolutely locking the gates and hiding behind nationalist doors. Though doors offer no protection against flood, famine or disease.

In this patchwork of philosophies, Apple will need to dance delicately. It is, after all, a global company based on a multi-national supply chain.

It is, however, also an American-first company: Its headquarters are in the U.S.; it supports tens of thousands of U.S. jobs – and the company nearly always introduces new products and services to the U.S. first.

This means that however global the company’s supply chain, the majority of the benefits of that chain go to the company’s home country.

At the same time, Apple is also a global company that works to provide some support in all the nations it does business in.

That’s a perfectly reasonable position for any enterprise to take – indeed, enterprises that lack such values tend to have a tougher time attracting and keeping talented staff. In what feels an increasingly nihilistic age, people seek out employers who evidence values they agree with.

However, within this context the human and economic scars of the pandemic will take time to heal, and we don’t yet know what consensus reality will be shaped like yet.

Why would we?

Most of us are still in shock.

Apple’s challenge will be in defining its business around the primary values of the post-pandemic society, and we have not arrived there yet.

What I think will happen

I think Apple may delay introduction of iPhone 9, but I’d urge it not to delay that launch too long.

People will still need mobile devices, and introduction of a lower cost iPhone may not achieve the sales volume the company originally anticipated but will send a message that the company understands the needs of consumers in a contracted economy.

It’s more complex with iPhone 12.

The big pull of that device (other than the huge changes in its design) will be 5G networks and services.

However, 5G infrastructure deployment will inevitably slow as carriers instead invest in beefing-up existing services to accommodate growing work from home demand.

That’s point one, point two is how interested mass market users will or won’t be in high bandwidth services that demand they invest in additional monthly fees.

I believe demand and deployment of the technology will be muted in comparison to where we expected it to be by the end of the year.

Humans have got bigger things on their mind at present than fast mobile broadband. Everyone is at home, for a start. In other words, 5G is going to be a hard sell.

Meaning and relevance

In the end it’s all about relevance.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs understood relevance.

The iMac – a uniquely designed computer with internet access inside – was the epitome of relevance in consumer electronics. The iBook introduced the world to real mobility. The iPod and iTunes captured the zeitgeist and iPhone changed the world.

The problem when it comes to future iPhone launches is that at this point in history what the world is becoming is harder to see than before.

All we do know is that the future has become more uncertain and no one really knows what values and philosophies will define tomorrow.

These challenges make it incredibly difficult to design relevance into the heart of any product, let alone the world’s most sophisticated device.

But we do know that humans have a tendency after disaster to attempt to create meaning. In the UK, that’s why we ended up with the National Health Service following the dark terror of the Second World War.

Apple as a follower strives to do the right thing. That’s commendable. Doing the right thing (if there is a right thing) is the right thing to do, by definition. But, as a leader, Apple must dig deeply into its corporate DNA to figure out not what the world needs today, nor what it needs for its business, but what we’ll all need tomorrow.

Delivering this is where its success always lies.

Leadership has consequences. 

Good luck.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Enterprise mobility 2019: Dawning of the age of UEM

Unified endpoint management (UEM), a strategic approach that unifies and centralizes the way enterprises manage their deployed devices, is finally becoming a reality.

Over the past decade, enterprise mobility platform vendors have been evolving mobility management tools from simple mobile device management (MDM) through mobile application management (MAM) and enterprise mobility management (EMM) into UEM, which encompasses phones, tablets, PCs, and even IoT devices. The market has arrived at the point where companies can use the latest mobility software to manage their mobile environments in perhaps the most comprehensive and effective way ever.

“A few key vendors have made UEM technically possible, with solutions mature enough to support enterprise-level UEM deployments,” says Andrew Hewitt, an analyst at Forrester Research. Those vendors include VMware, Microsoft, IBM, Citrix, and MobileIron, which can all technically manage the main mobile operating systems, Hewitt says. VMware and Microsoft have the most customers using their offerings for full UEM, he adds.

“We’ve even seen some larger companies successfully move to a fully unified model, inclusive of Windows 10 management,” Hewitt says. “It’s no longer just vendor and analyst driven.”

However, “there are still notable gaps in many of the vendors, in particular with macOS and Windows,” Hewitt says. “The vast majority of companies are still using multiple management platforms, with less than 5% actually using UEM.”

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Is Minecraft Safe for Kids? Minecraft Age Rating Explained for Parents

Minecraft is one of the most popular games for children. But is it safe to play? You’ve heard about problems with other games, security and privacy concerns, child safeguarding issues… but what about Minecraft?

Is Minecraft safe for kids? What should parents know about Minecraft and its suggested age rating? Read on to find the answers.

Does Minecraft Have an Age Rating?

It doesn’t matter what game you child is playing, you should know about the age rating. When it comes to Minecraft, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. After all, it’s just a sandbox game featuring mineable building blocks. So, do age ratings really matter?

Well, yes they do.

In North America, the rating is agreed on by the ESRB, while in Europe, PEGI determines the rating. Ratings are decided upon based on the suitability of a game for an audience. They’re the video game equivalent of movie ratings

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The ESRB has declared Minecraft’s age rating should be 10+. Meanwhile, in the PEGI area of Europe (including the European Union, United Kingdom, and non-EU countries to the east), Minecraft is rated 7.

Is Minecraft Safe for Kids? What You Need to Know

These judgments are clearly based on the mechanics of the game as well as the content. While it is important to follow ESRB and PEGI guidelines, the decision is ultimately yours.

If you feel your child can handle Minecraft, then it should be suitable for them to play. And you can always play along with them if you want to (more on that below).

So, Minecraft is aimed at kids and is suitable for children aged around 10 years old. But is Minecraft safe for kids?

Minecraft has several game modes. These let you switch between the single player mode, local multiplayer, and remote multiplayer. It is the final option that can cause child safeguarding problems.

What Parents Need to Know About Minecraft Online

Two play options are available in Minecraft (in addition to Survival, Creative, and Adventure modes). The default is single player, in which a world is generated on the device you’re playing on. This can then be explored, mined, and items built and crafted.

Public servers can have child safeguarding issues on Minecraft

However, two multiplayer modes are also available. These can either be hosted on your child’s device, or a remote public server. Local multiplayer is usually hosted on a single device, with other users running Minecraft able to connect. This is relatively safe, as everyone playing is on the same network, and probably in the same building.

Playing Minecraft on a public server, however, is a different matter. This is where things can become challenging from a safety point of view.

Cyberbullies and people who pose a risk to children can use game time on a public server to target children. There should, therefore, be a serious conversation between parents as to whether a remote public server is a safe gaming environment. If Minecraft can be as much fun with local gameplay, then accessing a public server is pointless.

Minecraft Risks: Bullying, Grooming, and Malware

It might offer a great gaming environment, but things can be unpleasant in Minecraft. It only takes you (or your child) a moment to select the wrong server, and suddenly, a world of bullying, malware, and worse can appear.

Bullying in Minecraft

As with any online gaming environment, Minecraft has a bullying issue. If you’re letting your kids play Minecraft online, take the time to check out a server beforehand. Some are great environments for play, while others tend to be dominated by cliques. The result of this can be targeted bullying and unsociable behavior, with some kids lured and manipulated into death scenarios.

Meanwhile, some Minecraft YouTube videos concern bullying and other unsuitable and unfair Minecraft behavior, so these should be avoided too.

Grooming and Inappropriate Contact in Minecraft

Several cases have been highlighted over the years of children being targeted by adults while playing Minecraft online. This typically uses the messaging service provided by Microsoft which can be managed and disabled using Xbox Live’s parental settings.

If you’re prepared to let your children play online on Minecraft, at least take the time to disable messaging. Do this in the app via Settings > Profile > Manage who can send you invites. This will take you to the Xbox Live privacy and online safety screen. Find the Others can communicate with voice, text or invites option and set to Block. You might consider Friends an acceptable option.

Tweak Minecraft messaging settings for a safer experience

For the best results here, you should set up a child account.

Malware in Minecraft

Kids love skinning Minecraft, but this can be an avenue for malware to spread onto your computer. Malware can be disguised as skins, maps, and mods on third party websites, resulting in a data security nightmare.

This typically affects Windows users, although there is a strong chance that Android devices might also be infected.

The answer is to ensure that only official skin mods and other add-ons and enhancements are downloaded for Minecraft.

Minecraft Offline Gaming Is Safer for Kids

In its basic single player mode, playing the game locally is safe, no more taxing than using Lego. There is no risk, mentally, or physically, from playing Minecraft in this way.

Really, this should be the default option for children, at least until they have got to grips with the controls. There is no need to be concerned over the presence of others in your child’s world in single player mode. It exists purely on the tablet, phone, console, or computer, with no option for online multiplayer.

Note that local multiplayer is available on consoles. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have two player mode options for Minecraft, allowing your child and one other to play in split screen mode. This multiplayer option is far safer than online multiplayer modes.

Playing Minecraft With Your Kids

Although Minecraft is aimed at children, it is a fun experience for all ages. As such, you might consider spending some time playing it when your kids are at school. This will give you the chance to get to grips with the game. What next? Well, why not play along with your kids?

Create your own Minecraft server

Better still, you can set up local multiplayer on difference devices. Rather than the split screen multiplayer of a console, use a mobile device to host a game. You can even set up your own Minecraft server on a Raspberry Pi

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, an inexpensive hobbyist computer.

However you do it, hosting your own Minecraft server lets you set the rules, control who accesses the game, and generally stay in control

Make Minecraft Safe for Your Kids

Undoubtedly there needs to be better controls over how Minecraft servers are managed. But you’ll find the game has enough controls to help you manage any issues. But it’s not worth banning Minecraft. The game has huge potential for education, not least with the Minecraft Hour of Code.

For a safe Minecraft experience, take advantage of single player and local multiplayer gaming and eschew remotely hosted games.

Want to know more about your kids are playing? Check what every parent should know about videogames

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The age of iApple is over

Once upon a time there was a company with a few weeks left to live in desperate search of leadership and a good idea. That’s the Apple story that got us here:

Change is here

The Apple that gave us the iMac reflected a time when liberal individualism was at its highest point.

In this context, it made sense that a firm led by what was promoted as a pair of tech industry Svengalis (Steve Jobs and Jony Ive) would somehow reflect the zeitgeist and introduce products that defined their age.

That product was the iMac. It was followed by a succession of other systems that also helped define a future, climaxing in the iPod-nurtured iPhone.

The iPhone bought the world together.

Of course, bringing the world together has consequences – look at the electoral interference many see as generated by social media.

“If you built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos,” as Apple CEO, Tim Cook puts it.

Those consequences aren’t just negative, they are also positive.

Digital transformation of everything

Think about how connectivity is driving collaboration up, how new industries are evolving and new models forming.

For good and ill, every industry and almost every part of life is being changed in this connected age.

All this change is also being reflected in the dominant philosophies of our time. 

Under the surface there is a mass movement that favors collective responsibility and wealth redistribution above reactionary denial of a changing age.

These battles are currently being played out in real time and there is no telling which way the final hammer will fall.

What has this to do with Apple?

This has so much to do with Apple.

This is what I think:

  • Apple’s resurgence was led by a benevolent dictator in the form of Steve Jobs.
  • The media loved this story – Jobs’ time in the wilderness, hippy background, his huge success in turning Apple around.
  • Apple’s PR departments fed the story, adding Jony Ive as the creative face to Job’s visionary zeal.
  • A company of thousands became the story of just two men.

But, Apple never really was just two men – though at a time when liberal individualism was everything, its leadership story meant its products fit the time.

Times have changed.

The new deal

Just as the times have changed, so has Apple.

Today’s Apple is about shared values, corporate responsibility and constructive engagement with real challenges.

A company that strives to make a difference.

Apple’s transformation into a company coalesced around such values is a natural reflection of how the enterprise is changing worldwide.

In general terms, most consumers seek out shared values, prize human connection and want to do the right thing for the world.

Why do you think everyone in retail keeps going on about such changes? They aren’t fantasising. Today’s consumers truly are connected.

And have values.

These are also the values today’s Apple is building itself around – collective, progressive, responsible.

Making a difference.

These values are not about individualism.

They reflect a form of supra-individualism in which groups of highly independent people find constructive ways to work together for the collective good of all.

Apple’s move to reflect these values means it is no longer the province of any individual but represents the shared efforts and aspirations of all its people.

There is no ‘I’ in team

Seen in this context, the departure of Jony Ive seems as inevitable, simple and intuitive as the iPod Clickwheel.

His vision around definition of the word “I” quite naturally laid the foundations for products that reflect a global world view based on “all”.

While it seems unlikely to be an easy transition, in this new epoch we are all Jony Ive – and his thoughts on design will continue to define this age.

The age of the iApple is over.

We are entering the age of Apple+.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

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5 Signs That Web Design Is Reaching Its Own Industrial Age

The Internet as a concept, and as a community, is much like a teenager: it’s struggling to establish its identity, everyone is trying to tell it what to do, and it tends to lash out at both people who deserve it as well as those who don’t. It does so at random, and you’re not its real dad, anyway.

The practice of designing websites, however, has gone right past the teenage years and blown past the whole human-life-span metaphor entirely. Web design is, in my opinion, reaching an industrial age, of sorts. You know, the era of smokestacks and Charles Dickens’ really depressing novels.

Let’s see how:


Increased DIY Capability

The sewing machine was invented in 1755, about five years before the “official beginning” of the industrial age. This machine, and others like it, heralded the beginning of that age and the massive machines that would come after, but they also drastically expanded the production capabilities of individuals working at home, or in their place of business.

It started with software like FrontPage and Dreamweaver, and now we’ve got Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Duda, Webflow, and a host of other options. They’re all designed to enhance the output of the individual, the hobbyist, the business owner, and the freelancing professional. Work that once might have taken a very long time for one person, or a reasonable amount of time for ten people, is all being done by one person, in a lot less time.

And if you’re a purist, you can always sew the buttons onto your web page by hand.


Increased Automation At The Professional-Level

Think of the massive looms in old factories. Now it’s not particularly easy to automate creative visual work, as such. Most of the automation in web design is done at the coding stage, in both front and back end. But even with such simple tools as Symbols in Sketch or Affinity Designer can drastically reduce the work required to produce a large number of designs.

Or at least something like a large number of buttons. It’s not a perfect analogy to the factories of old, but the tools we have are making it consistently easier to produce designs of consistent quality, even if they also have pretty uh… “consistent” layouts and aesthetic styles. This sort of drastically increased output is the very definition of industry.


Expansion Of The Digital Middle Class

Increased DIY capability and automation in the industrial age led to a dramatic expansion in what people could afford. The increased amount of work in general meant that more people could afford that stuff, and thus, the middle class was born.

The same thing is happening in web design. For the hobbyist or professional building sites on the cheap, shared hosting can cost as little as a few dollars a month, and code editors are free. For less code-focused hobbyists and business owners alike, code-free website builders are attractive and largely affordable options, too. Plenty of platforms offer a straight-up free plan.

Getting a web presence of some kind has literally never been easier, and it’s going to keep getting easier.


Outsourcing And Subcontracting

Then, of course, there’s outsourcing and sub-contracting. These come in two major forms: software as a service, and labor. SaaS in particular has become exceedingly popular as a way to build a product that constantly pays for itself, leaving you to focus on maintenance, and improvements. The train engineers of old wish they could have worked on their trains while they were still running.

While few websites are, I think, built by orphans trapped in smoke-filled factories, we should not ignore the fact that there is a lot of cheap labor out there. And you know what? A lot of them are actually really good, and are only cheap because of the economic disparity between nations. This actually leads me to my next point…


Poor Enforcement Of Industry Standards

One of the downsides of industrial ages as they happen all over the world is this: the constant push for progress sometimes leaves much to be desired in the way we treat our fellow humans. Of course, this isn’t happening to web designers in a bubble. The “gig economy” is often used as an excuse not to provide benefits for employees. Cheap labor is often taken advantage of in the worst ways. Overworking people to near-death is accomplished not with whips, but with Instagram and Twitter feeds praising the eighty-hour work week.

And the actual standards meant to ensure the quality of the product are often ignored. The W3C does a lot of good work, but they don’t actually have the power to enforce HTML validation. Well… that’s probably for the best, all things considered, but as we’ve seen, governments are also poorly equipped to provide QA for the Internet as a whole.

However, I should note that I greatly appreciate some of the government-led work done in the field of accessibility, particularly in countries that require WCAG compliance.


Fear Of Obsolescence

The proliferation of industry created a lot of jobs, and killed a lot of others. Design, however, is still a creative discipline, and thus there will always be room for good designers. Even so, automation and code-free design tools have people worried, and I can understand why. That said, lots of people will actually hire you to use Wix for them, so… shrug.

People outsourcing relatively easy tasks might save us, yet.


It’s Not All Doom And Gloom…

We call hand-crafted websites… well… that. Sometimes “bespoke”. Perhaps a better word would be “artisanal”, and we should just get used to being hipsters. I’m only mostly kidding.

In every industrial age we’ve witnessed, things got bad, and then they got better. We haven’t gotten rid of all the smoke stacks yet, but the world is in most ways a much better place than it was, and the Internet is developing faster than the rest of the world. It may be an industrial age now, but imagine what it will be like when they invent computers.



Featured image via Unsplash.

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