Is Apple Lost? by A. Michael Noll

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Is Apple Lost?

A. Michael Noll

December 29, 2016

© 2016 AMN

Has Apple been too successful – and overly arrogant in believing only it knows what is best for its customers? Will Apple become the next Yahoo, slowly sinking into oblivion?

Has innovation for Apple become abandoning things, such as leaving out the audio mini-jack in its iPhones? The original iPod was a great music player with its fabulous click-wheel interface – ingenious. But Apple abandoned the iPod click-wheel, rather than updating this product with solid-state storage. Will Apple soon abandon all its iPods? If so, it would be a great opportunity for Sony to acquire the iPod product line and continue to innovate with new features and storage.

The iTunes program tries to do everything: music player, iPhone synchronizer, and iTunes store access. It is challenging to do all these well in one huge program. The different purposes should be different programs, but with sharing across them.

The iWatch promised much – but what did it deliver? I have yet to see someone using one. And the need to recharge it every day is a big chore. The iWatch seems to be just an extension of the iPhone.

Apple has become a one-product business: the iPhone. It is challenging to survive today as a one-product company. Apple’s complete product line (other than the iMac) would easily fit in a backpack. Apple is not a diverse product company – it has become a niche company.

Amazon, meanwhile, is innovating and expanding, such as its new voice-activated Echo product. This clearly is the kind of innovative product I would have expected from Apple. Meanwhile Apple’s iTV remains a challenge to discover what it actually does and how to use it.

Has the Apple that was the past innovator become today a copycat, such as the rumors that it too is working on a driverless car? More significantly, is Apple itself driverless and has it lost its way? Apple possibly needs new directions – a return to innovation – or a re-invigoration of the current paths.

Apple should renew a commitment to legacy products, such as the click-wheel iPod, updating them with newer technology and enthusing their original excitement. Give consumers more control over how things are displayed and used; and change the attitude that Apple knows best.

A. Michael Noll

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What If No Electrical Grid? by A. Michael Noll

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What If No Electrical Grid?

A. Michael Noll

December 8, 2015

© 2015 AMN

Alternative futures are sometimes enlightening to contemplate. Thus the need to ask the question “What if?” The specific question to be asked is “What if today’s electrical grid did not exist – it was never invented or implemented?”

The alternating current (AC) system (pioneered by Tesla, Westinghouse, and Edison a century ago) was based on a centralized power plant with electrical power then distributed by wires over distances to homes and businesses.

Suppose this system was never invented or implemented. Suppose a button was pushed and all the electrical wires running down streets on poles all disappeared. Suppose then that an inventor appeared proposing a system with the need to run cables across the country with electrical distribution wires running down every street in the country. The cost of wiring the entire country would be staggering — the proposal would be considered absurd. Yet that is the system that exists today.

But if we did not have an electrical distribution grid, how then would homes and businesses obtain electricity? Clearly each home and business would need its own source of electrical power. The electricity would need to be generated from solar energy, geothermal energy, biological sources, or other efficient local means. Each home and business would be self-sufficient – there would be no wires running down streets – no electrical distribution grid across the country.

Energy independence is more than just domestic sources of energy. It should also include decentralization from the centralized system invented decades ago by Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse. They simply did not have the right technology a century ago for such local generation, and we are today stuck with the past – with its inherent inefficacies.

A. Michael Noll

A. Michael Noll

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