Apple's Developer Tour De Force And What It Means For CIOs

CEO Tim Cook opened Apple's worldwide developer conference 2012 this morning in San Francisco. The event sold out the Moscone West venue in 90 minutes, a clear indication that Apple's star is still rising rapidly. (Developers are the first to smell a slowdown in momentum and so are a good indicator of the future.)

Here are my quick impressions of what Apple's announcements mean for developers, hence for CIOs and the IT organization.

  • New versions of its operating systems, OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6, just one year after the last upgrade. That pace of innovation coupled with the rapid adoption Apple has created with free or low-cost upgrades and App Store distribution means that most iPhones and iPads will be running the new software a few months after it ships in the fall and many existing Macs will also get it. Developers get a single market to code to (unlike the intense fragmentation and dusty versions of Android). CIOs get confidence that the latest security and features will be present.
  • A significantly upgraded notebook line with faster MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros and a new Flash-based MacBook Pro with a Retina, very high definition screen. (This announcement caused the first unprompted "oooooo" from the enthusiastic developer audience.) Developers will love the powerful machine. BYO computer aficionados will be happy to have even better ultrabooks and notebooks. CIOs will wonder even louder about where HP and Dell and Microsoft are with comparable computers.
  • Facebook integration into iOS 6 (similar to the Twitter integration already there), which surely will help the social network be relevant in the mobile era. This integration is very deep, at the systems level, so you can Facebook update or upload directly from key iOS and even some Mac OS X apps. Developers get the ease of Facebook identity access for their app. CIOs get more anxiety about content leaking out into public.
  • More iCloud features, including documents in the cloud, photo sharing, bookmark sync between devices, and a tighter link between devices. Apple's ecosystem just got tighter, with more use of the Internet to store and sync files. Unlike Dropbox, Apple's approach is very application-centric. So you don't deal with files in a file system. You see your stuff in your app: photos in iPhoto or iOS Photo Streaming, for example. And developers get the APIs to plug into these cloud services. For CIOs, it means another cloud service to tune into and create policy to manage. You can't stop employees from using cloud services. You can help them understand what the risks are.
  • A new Passbook app on iOS to store all your movie tickets, Starbucks cards, airplane boarding passes, and the like. Developers get APIs to add support for this app (which is available on the lock screen so you don't have to log into your phone or tablet to pull it up. CIOs get another service to monitor. But even more interestingly as colleague and friend Charlie Golvin points out, "This is headed towards a digital wallet." With 400 million credit cards on file, Apple's ecosystem just got a new finance building block.
  • A new vector-based 3D mapping app on iOS. I'm intrigued by mapping software because it's where the physical world of mobile meets the virtual world of the Internet -- a perfect blending of native app and cloud service that we call the App Internet architecture and an even more perfect example of mobile engagement, where your physical proximity meets your online services (thanks to Charlie also for this "nexus" connection). For consumers, we get a very cool turn-by-turn direction, a 3D Flyover city experience, and amazing vector-based graphics with maps. For developers, it means adding your stuff onto the map (Yelp is already there). For CIOs, it means the bar just got higher for integrating your services into the mapping app.
  • A smarter Siri. Apple added more domain knowledge likes sports, food, and movies; many more languages, including Mandarin; and much deeper integration. The "Eyes Free" feature will let auto makers add a button on the steering wheel so you can talk to your phone to ask for directions. Apple announced that GM, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes, among others will support this. For developers, Siri integration is about using Siri (or Diction on the Mac OS X) to launch an app (though not to add to Siri's domain knowledge). For CIOs, Siri means that employees will expect the corporate apps you deliver to also have voice control.

I would call this a developer tour de force. But what CIOs should really focus in on is the pace of innovation: these advances come only a year after Apple's last upgrades to this already-powerful software, hardware, and ecosystem. In a world where technology is embedded in how you do business, this is an important point.


Really? This is a Forrester

Really? This is a Forrester analysis for CIOs? This reads more like a hyped fanboy blog writing about his favourite new toys and trying to get the letters C, I and O in his blogpost.
"CIOs get confidence that the latest security and features will be present" - yes, but not for iPad 1. And let's just see how long it takes to crack iOS 6 (i think the last one was jailbroken within hours).
"CIOs will wonder even louder about where HP and Dell and Microsoft are with comparable computers." Well, it might help if they did not just wonder but also check the products. BTW, Microsoft does not build computers. And there are other companies, like Samsung, Lenovo etcpp.
"CIOs get more anxiety about content leaking out into public" I thought "CIOs get confidence that the latest security and features will be present" - what now? This problems already exists and there is a whole industry around it. Just check Wikipedia for "Data Loss Prevention".
"You can't stop employees from using cloud services" Yes, you can. Block them in the Firewall. You probably shouldn't do it, but you can. An analyst should know how to handle words.
"For CIOs, it means the bar just got higher for integrating your services into the mapping app" - Or not, there are still a lot of alternatives and, I confess, I did not read the developer notes for this. But I guess it should not be that hard?
"For CIOs, Siri means that employees will expect the corporate apps you deliver to also have voice control." Bahahaahahahaha. Sorry. this is just too funny. Just read this:
Sorry, but you are not some heck who really likes apple, but you " serve Chief Information Officers". Please get your facts straight, because some people seem to actually take this seriously.

A reasonable criticism, and my thoughts


Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I was perhaps a bit breathless in the analysis done in the moments after the keynote announcements at the Moscone West conference center. But the analysis still feels right to me.

Remember that these announcements are directed at developers who will then build the apps that CIOs will have to deal with. In may ways, CIOs have no choice but to respond to the pressures of this market, which is typically led by vendors like Apple and Google and the developers and entrepreneurs who build innovate apps and products.

But a few thoughts from me:

First, I think the analysis is sound. I am not a fanboy. It is not my job to sell Apple products. But let's be honest. When our global survey of information workers shows that 21% already use Apple products for work, Apple is already an important supplier of business technology. So CIOs must take this seriously. Further, iPhones and iPads have changed the way people expect to get apps and data. The only choice a CIO really has is how to manage those devices and the data on them.

Second, the emerging technologies like Siri (which is still in beta) are just that: emerging. Their ultimate impact is still theoretical. But I would say people talking to their computers is a pretty radical advance. And if the prime use today is asking the phone to make phone calls, that at least establishes the habit of talking to your phone or tablet or computer, and who knows where that will lead. (And by the way, I wish my Cisco desk phone would let me ask it to make a call.)

Lastly, let's not pick nits on words. Of course Microsoft doesn't build computers, but it is the prime innovator on PCs. And the PC makers are stuck with whatever Microsoft offers. Windows 8 on ARM chips, for example, is still an unproven product. I really do hope that the PC makers are able to build great tablets on Win8: 10 hours of battery life, very thin, low-cost, and with all the Micxrosoft plus all the important mobile apps. I hope so, but I'm not terribly optimistic that we'll see that in 2012.

Happy to hear your thoughts here or privately if you would like.