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Leaving an everlasting imprint on technology

5 Nov, 2011 By: Sand Sinclair, Editor imageSource

Our cover article on Steve Jobs, who sparked a revolution in technology, is not intended to be a bio on him but more on what his genius produced and how it changed the way we do business. The company Jobs co-founded into one of the world’s great industrial design houses, transformed business devices that catapulted us into the 21st century at a warp speed that has now set in motion, a slew of electronic innovations that can thank Jobs for his pioneering vision and products (notably the “i” series of products). His “blueprints” are the incentive for future technology endeavors fast underway from both Apple and competitors.

With Jobs’ recent passing, we realize this man’s indelible handprint will remain, and though he seemed larger than life, was human after all – creating with his team, an avalanche of brilliant inventions - and a few noteworthy missteps used as springboards to new and improved products.

We glimpse at both to show that dedication to invention doesn’t falter, but rather, thrives and moves forward on inspiration.

We knew at first sight that the slim visionary in the black turtleneck was none other than tech guru Steve Jobs, the mercurial CEO who co-founded Apple in a Silicon Valley garage then built it into the world’s leading technology company, Apple. Ultimately, in the years Jobs was at the helm, he’d lead a computing & mobile device revolution that would totally transform how we incorporate technology into our lives – in business and personal pursuits. Now gone, Jobs’ legacy will continue, leaving an everlasting imprint.

Entire industries, including the office channel, rely on or have integrated electronic devices and mobile products to expedite business processes, loving the remote flexibility 24/7, claiming they are “indispensable” tools today. From groundbreaking Apple and Mac computers to where Jobs ultimately became the undisputed “i” in iPhone, iPad, iMac, iPod, iTunes and more, Jobs helped permanently change how we use and define technology today.

Beyond personal use, mobile devices are now tools for sales reps, service technicians and field operators in a variety of industries including the office trade, and are expediting services conducted through hand held devices such as smartphones, tablets and PDAs.

Jobs, an iconic American leader, whose impact has many comparing his innovations to the genius of Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, or auto magnate Henry Ford, has indeed altered the global culture through advanced technology. Jobs brought simple, elegant electronics to the masses and leaves behind an indelible incandescent center of a tech universe that future inventions will learn from. His pioneering of current products helps us live and work efficiently in the “digital age” and has influenced and launched an avalanche of innovative companies and entrepreneurs that will take us far into the century ahead of us, further changing the course of how we integrate these devices into our businesses and lives.

Big things come in small packages

Upon co-founding Apple with Steve Wozniak and a third partner, all becoming millionaires with the first “consumer friendly” Apple 1 computer, the company is now a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Jobs made dropping out of college to pursue his own passion for technology another rags to riches story, but unlike those that settle for just fruits, he kept planting new trees to climb, revealing varieties unlike any seen before. Talk about changing the landscape.

The world knows about hard-driving Jobs pioneering the concept of the personal computer along with his adversary Bill Gates, navigating onscreen images with the click of a mouse. In more recent years, Jobs introduced the iPod portable music player, yes, the iPhone and the iPad tablet - all of which changed how we consume content in the digital age. Many are convinced that the mobile iPad as well as competitive tablets will become the reliable ‘must have” device, lessening dependence on laptop computers due to its weight and convenient size. Smart phones, including the ramped up iPhone, Blackberry and ‘droids with apps galore, lead the charge in mobile devices yet their small window isn’t always conducive to writing and reviewing info at length as the larger screened tablet device, where demand is growing.

Regardless of device, mobile applications provide astonishing data transfer speeds, transforming our voice-driven (and keypad friendly) mobile phones into a wide range of data-driven communications applications. Perhaps the next “big thing” will be named “iComm” for that matter.

All this current technology ushers in an era of other wireless devices that will find a paradigm shift from voice-driven wireless phones, which will make business and personal lives more efficient. This leads to other things to consider, such as LTE Advanced (LTE-A), a mobile communication standard for radio technologies for mobile broadband. LTE-A mobile broadband give us the bandwidth needed to deliver tomorrow’s wireless networks. It will enable wireless devices to “talk” to each other quicker, cheaper, and longer. According to Dr. Satwant Kaur, this mobile broadband standardization will be instrumental in unleashing the innovation of future wireless sensor networks that will further affect the way you and your customers conduct your lives and business. Thus unleashing a whirlwind of B2B applications that will transform the way businesses operate.

Now and in the future, just about anyone, including office dealers, resellers, manufacturers, IT VARs, researchers, consultants, and the average business person will be able to run a business D2D (device-to-device) or M2M (machine-to-machine) effectively and affordably, with higher productivity, becoming less worker-dependent.

Smart ideas to rework

Innovator Jobs, without question, created the smartest and most remarkable products on the planet. But being mortal comes with many challenges, growing pains, and yes, sometimes inventive prototypes that fall flat. From these learning experiences better, improved products are borne thereafter, so let’s rewind back to the 90s, when Apple, and Jobs in some cases, had a few missteps with a few ill-conceived product lines. Hard to imagine for this company but sometimes great ideas forget mass consumer marketability. Often there’s a “learning curve” in some cases. Consider that the following were smart ideas but didn’t hit their mark for various reasons, and were ultimately killed off for their poor alignment with consumer needs. Like all inventors, even Jobs with his discerning eye, they’re not immune to having to deal with a few lackluster product decisions. Here are four products or missteps that he and/or Apple smartly discontinued early on:

Apple developed Pippin as a multimedia platform based on PowerPC Macs, running a pared-down version of the Mac OS. The system was intended for more “general purpose” media use. The only Pippin was discontinued in 1997, and fewer than 12,000 of the $599 systems were sold in the US between 1996 and 1998.

The Newton predated Jobs’ return to Apple by some years, with the first MessagePad released in 1993. The platform was initially conceived as a range of tablets, including a 9” x 12” model priced at $5,000, but eventually leadership feared competition with Macs and launched only the smallest version, a 4.5” x 7” handheld model.

Apple fully embraced the release of a $9,995 desktop celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary in March 1997. From the limo delivery to the white-gloved home setup by a man in a tuxedo to the custom Bose sound system, the TAM was an exercise in excess. Alas, the PowerMac 6500 introduced a month earlier had a nearly identical configuration for a fifth of the price and the model was discontinued.

Back in 1994, Apple decided the best way to expand its seven percent market share would be to start licensing its operating system to other manufacturers. Contracts were drawn up with licensing fees and royalties for each “clone” computer sold by OEMs such as DayStar, Motorola, Power Computing, and UMAX. When the clones arrived on the market, Apple saw that the licensed OS wasn’t expanding the company’s share at all—it was just eating into the company’s already modest hardware sales. The licensing agreements covered only Apple’s System 7, so when Jobs returned to Apple, he openly criticized the program and let the contracts expire, offering no new licenses for Mac OS 8. Control of Macs returned to Apple, whose computer has since flourished thanks in part to the business’ vertical integration. Smart decision, move on.

Jobs leaves behind an indelible legacy and an incandescent center of a tech universe that all future inventions will revolve around.Flash forward to today. One successful device after the other, more on the horizon. Can we even function without most or all of these smarter, more enhanced wireless devices that have embellished our lives as well as building Apple into the mega-tech giant whose stock is the most coveted on the globe? Not likely.

Jobs is gone less than a month. The world is stunned. Yet his legacy is in our hands. Every day that we use our iPhone to call an associate or friend; pop in an iPod ear bud while computing on a Mac, or print wirelessly from our iPad at lunch, the father of technology is there. Jobs said simply that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed ours. President Obama said reverently that, “Jobs redefined entire industries and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.” Need I say more?

Wireless Service Operations

Wireless Service Operations Solution providers /copier dealerships are continuously looking for ways to improve operations and provide customers with the best possible support. Countless dealerships have invested in technology such as smartphones, wireless laptops, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) for its service technicians in order to speed the flow and enhance the accuracy of information to and from the field. Some have been resistant to change or have concerns about cost or reliability, but using wireless technology to expedite services will soon become common place.

If your business grows, service staffing and costs must increase to keep up with rising customer demands. If most of your customers are under contract, as most are in the copier/ printer industry, you are receiving a fixed fee that obligates you to deliver service whenever and wherever needed. Anything you can do to meet this obligation with less labor, fewer manual steps and errors, and greater efficiency increases profits. And fewer service glitches such as missed response times, recalls, improperly prepared technicians or inaccurate billings always translates into satisfied customers.

Make a move toward a more efficient and productive field service operation. There is far more to improving day-to-day operations than just buying some laptops, PDAs, Blackberry’s, however. You need to follow some guidelines; often based on the experience of others—both good and bad—to get your service organization up and running effectively with the latest in wireless technology. To make
progress you will need to have a well thought out plan of how to incorporate technology, its costs and savings over a period of time, to transform your business model and thrive in the competitive, electronic solutions of the 21st century.

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