Ahh, reading Slashdot is always fun when people give you a hard time.
My letter to Bill Gates is attracting a lot of derision over there. Same as it did when I published it in December.
I didn't do a good job of explaining it back then, and since then I've learned a lot. It's the end-to-end experience with the iPod that people keep explaining to me. Marketing/Advertising is the first step of that chain.
So, if the first step of the chain isn't world-class how can anything else along the rest of the chain be great?
Hint: it's more than just building a better player. I can make a pretty good argument that there are already better players out there. Particularly when you compare the iPod Shuffle to other Flash-based products. But that's not the point. It's not about building a better player. It's about building a better end-to-end experience. This is where Steve Jobs has done an awesome job.
What's funny is that they see my ranting as some sort of sign of Microsoft's thinking. That's ironic since what I was doing was attacking our own thinking. Interesting.
Anyone miss that Steve Rubel gets mentioned in more press than any PR guy I know? Why is that? Cause he shares his passion in public? Nah, couldn't be. Must be something else. Sigh.
Personally there's no way that 80% of our employees own an MP3 player. I don't know what world that source is living in, but it's not the one I live in.
On the other hand, the reporter did ask me for an interview. I turned him down. For a few reasons. One, I couldn't see that there was anything positive that would come out of talking about a competitor's product. Two, I've just been busy lately and turning down a lot of things. Three, I figured I'd said enough about the iPod in public already.
I see a lot of iPods. On the other hand, I see a lot of other players too. In fact, today on Channel 9 Omar Shahine (who runs part of the Hotmail team) is talking about Hotmail and at the end of the interview he starts talking about some of his geek toys.
But, I agree with Ed that the story is a non-starter. I know a lot of Apple employees who play Halo 2 too. Is that a story?
This Wired News article is the first note I've seen that I'm not supposed to have an iPod.
Am I obsessed? Well, I'm obsessed with building best-of-breed products and services. If you aren't building best-of-breed stuff the marketplace will know it within hours of release. The word-of-mouth networks are just so much more efficient now than they were a few months ago.
Yes, I'm obsessed with learning from companies that get massive market movement. Anyone who says that Apple hasn't done that is fooling themselves and doing Microsoft a disservice.
I think it's a positive thing to study your competitors and figure out what they've done well and look at what you aren't doing well and improve it. Does it do Microsoft any justice to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that Apple doesn't have a better product? No. The market has spoken.
That all said, if there's a product that comes out that's arguably better than the iPod in end-to-end experience you'll be first to know it. Why? I'll be the first to jump up and down and say it.
Hint: end-to-end experience doesn't mean it has a feature that the iPod doesn't have. Having the best end-to-end experience means that everything from the marketing; to the box; to opening it up; to loading media on it; to carrying it around and showing it to your friends; is an extraordinary experience. When we have it I'll tell you.
Howso? Well, for instance, one device that I got a good look at yesterday (you'll see it soon on a Channel 9 video) is the Samsung Portable Media Center. Costs about $500 and is most cool. Charlie Owen showed me his and said he took it all around the world and says it nails the end-to-end experience.
But, why do I know the Samsung is cool? Because I know what an iPod can and can't do.
Lots of interesting things on my link blog. Including a new HP Tablet PC. Personally, it's a lot better to subscribe to the RSS feed on my linkblog than to read it in a browser. But that's just my own opinion.
I posted 105 new items in the past 24 hours taken from 1200+ RSS feeds. The blogosphere really is kicking along. It's getting harder to keep up.
Adrian Sutton thinks that an evangelist must be a Koolaid drinker and that he's blown any chance at getting an evangelist position because he's spoken out against Microsoft. No, no, no!
An evangelist must be an authoritative, and credible with software developers.
Did you miss where I say pro-Apple or Google or Yahoo things and anti-Microsoft things?
Now, credibility and authority come from being able to see the good and bad in any technology. I've never seen a perfect product or a perfect technology yet. If you think you have you're not going to be a good evangelist.
Particularly because as an evangelist you'll need to convince software developers to build software for something that doesn't exist yet. If there isn't a perfect released product there certainly isn't a perfect beta out there.
Interesting responses to my post yesterday about "small things."
Ross asked "will the little things make enough of a difference?"
You know, I do. The more and more I listen to people who are smarter than me or who have done more than me (which is nearly everyone in the industry) the more I'm seeing that it's really the small ideas that make big changes.
Here, let's talk about what I mean. Today personal computers seem like a big idea. But, back in 1976 they were a small idea. In fact, Wozniak tells me he offered his bosses at HP and Atari the chance to make his Apple I. They turned him down. Why? Because it was a small idea.
Fast forward to about six years ago. Remember AltaVista? They thought search was done. They had a monopoly position in search and thought they had the world locked up.
Along came two kids at Stanford who setup a few boxes (seriously, the original stack of boxes is now sitting in the Computer History Museum. You could build that today for a few thousand dollars) and showed the world that search wasn't done. The other day Bill Gates said he was "stupid as hell" because he didn't see the small "next thing." (Thanks to Joe Wilcox for pointing us to that quote in the Wall Street Journal).
Or, go forward to 2000. Remember when Dori Smith and Dave Winer told me to put blogging on the conference schedule at CNET's Builder.com Live Conference? Yeah, I was smart enough to start one but I didn't tell you the rest of the story yet: I didn't put it on the conference schedule because I thought it was too small a thing. After all, I could only see a few dozen people doing blogs back then (and Pyra and UserLand were both seriously struggling businesses).
So, Ross, can small things make a difference?
Well, I'm betting it's the small things that will kick our behind.
Anyway, here's a rundown of the ideas. Which one will turn out to change the world? Let's meet back here in four years and see.
Nicole Simon asked "prevent stealing my focus in Windows."
Joe Hoyle: "win my trust back."
Dave: "add tabs to IE."
Orion: "be wary of DRM."
Eric Bachtal: "fix the MSDN DLL Help Database results."
Ghibertii: "Make quality a core value."
Ross: "Split Microsoft up into smaller more focused companies."
Geoff: "Give me some control over the task bar."
Brian Azzopardi: "+Really+ open up the Office formats."
Tony D: "Fix the way IE tosses focus around."
Brandon Paddock: "Do a better job supporting IE shells."
Brian Azzopardi: "Add/script a shortcut to Visual Studio to switch from a .h to the corresponding .cpp file and back."
Larry: "Create a standard where if I hit Control-G it will immediately grab and paste the coordinates from an attached GPS into whatever application I'm using."
Shaded: "More Camtasia type captures of Microsoft employees solving real problems."
Wilson ng: "Stop being stingy with Hotmail." and "Make it easier to pull Hotmail to our cell phone."
Morgan Schweers: "you should never treat a program's data as code."
Rob Bushway: "Ink-enable Outlook."
Shannon Clark (who wrote a bunch of ideas): "Simplify and clarify products and naming." (Oh, and Shannon, the 2GB limit isn't there in the current version of Outlook).
Eric Bachtal again: "Remunerate me for taking the time to reporting a problem that gets a Knowledge Base article."
Scott Rapsey: "How about an "official" MS RSS aggregator?"
Larry: "Allow the control of a firewire tethered camera via applications." and "Create an open source encryption plugin system for Microsoft Messenger." and " Allow Xbox to route to a VoIP service so I can use my Xbox as a phone."
John C. Welsh (had a ton of ideas too): "Get a mission."
Ross: "Gimme a job!" and "make it so I can specify that all new Windows open maximized."
Whew, lots of great ideas. Think smaller! It's my new motto.
This morning started badly. I pulled my backpack out of the car, flipped it over my shoulder (I hadn't yet had my coffee) and I heard a sound that I had never heard before. Sounded like metal or glass sliding along concrete.
I knew without looking what it was. My Tablet PC was laying on the concrete. My heart sank. It had fallen from at least four feet onto concrete and I knew from the sound it made that it was not gonna be a good day.
On first look the Tablet looked OK. I dreaded opening it up. Upstairs I got the courage to open it up. Everything looked OK. Now for the real test. Would it start up? I switched it on. It booted right up. And has worked all day.
Toshiba's brand just went up in my mind quite a bit. I am shocked that thing is still working. I didn't notice until tonight at the geek dinner that it had a crack along the bottom, though. Drat, I didn't escape without damage. But, I'm typing to you on it now.
Amazing engineering to be able to withstand that kind of impact and stay together.
Anyone else have computer disaster stories?