Never has a single man had a greater impact on a tech company than Steve Jobs. Many would say that his influence stretches well beyond Apple, Disney, and his other contributions, they his style and leadership abilities have impacted hundreds, even thousands of successful companies and millions of individuals.
His resignation as CEO of Apple was felt around the world, yet nobody felt it more than his successor, Tim Cook.
It’s the big chair. There are few tech firms whose CEO has as much power. Beyond the power, there is an expectation to be met. The bar is as high as it can possibly be.
The world will watch every move that Apple makes in the coming months, just as it always has, but now they will be scrutinizing the moves and wondering WWSJD (what would Steve Jobs do)? This has been coming for a while ever since Jobs and his team became acutely aware that his illness would eventually force the change to come sooner than they would have liked, but now that it’s here, Cook has to answer the call.
Apple is at the peak of its existence. Today, it is more powerful and influential than it has ever been. Any drop in prestige, power, or profits will shine poorly on Cook. Success, on the other hand, will be heralded as Steve Jobs’ vision being carried out by his minions. Cook is in an odd situation.
How will he handle it? The months and years will tell. Luckily for him, he gets to start out on top and with everything already rolling in the right direction. It will take some majorly bad decisions to hurt the company and stifle success. There’s a ton of pressure on his shoulders. Do people expect him to be Steve Jobs?
The shoes are going to be tough to fill. Just as Lebron James and Kobe Bryant have fallen short of being as good as Michael Jordan, Tim Cook will likely fall short of being as good as Steve Jobs. At least he has 1 million more shares of the company to play with.
Every day, new uses are thought up surrounding current technologies. The gadgets and gizmos that populate western culture have begun to make expand upon themselves and grow in functionality without improvements in software or hardware.
It’s humanity that can take these devices and make more out of them than what we originally expected. It’s innovation and creation that drives these non-technical technology advances.
Magic, for instance, is something inherent to the devices themselves. Once you add a creative mind to the equation, such as in the case of TEDTalk’s Marco Tempest, something fun can come out of it.
There is little doubt that technology has changed things completely for western society in the last two decades. Computers are smaller and much faster. Games are graphically enhanced to resemble reality. Just about anything we would want to know that used to require a trip to the library can be found on Google or Wikipedia.
The internet might be the most profound technological advancement in the last 20 years, but cell phones in general and smart phones in particular have made the transition to a digitally-driven world much more pronounced. Do you remember what it was like when you got your first cell phone?
This infographic by our friends at the Windows Team gives us a quick look at the changes that have happened in cellular technology over the years and how it has changed the way we do… everything. Click to enlarge.
The problem started when Asa Dotzler, director of Firefox, filed a bug that would remove the version number from the about dialog. Dotzler believed that Mozilla’s user experience team had already made the decision, but as it turns out, they had not.
Alex Faaborg, a Principal Designer on Firefox and head of the UX team, jumped into the controversy surrounding the disappearing version numbers to say that, for now, Firefox would not be dropping the version number from the dialog box. He went on to address the real issue, why anyone cares whether or not Firefox has a version number at all:
I think the reason this debate became so emotional is that some people want to change client side software to behave like the Web (where the user has no control over version), and some people simply aren’t comfortable with that model. The existence of version numbers is functionally kind of peripheral to that debate, but nonetheless served as an effective lightning rod for a growing storm of controversy.
Indeed few users, even those against the proposed change, really care whether the version number is in the About dialog or elsewhere, the real vitriol was directed at the idea that Firefox might not have a version number at all.
The versionless software model works just fine for web apps like Gmail or Facebook, but most people seem uncomfortable with the same idea applied to desktop apps like Firefox. After all, no one controls the web — no one cares which version of Gmail they’re using because no one has any control over it anyway. Desktop software on the other hand has always been something users can control and removing the version number feels to many like removing some of that control.
Web developers in particular have bristled at the idea of a versionless Firefox. One of the easiest ways to track down problems that Firefox users might have when they access your website is to start by asking which version of Firefox they’re using. Without that information it can be difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce and solve the problem.
Couple that with the fact that the new rapid release cycle is causing considerable pain for users by frequently breaking add-ons, and it’s clear that Mozilla is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand the new rapid release model means version numbers are bumped every few weeks, sometimes breaking add-ons. On the other hand, removing the version number from the equation makes life more difficult for web developers (and add-on developers and anyone else who is trying to support Firefox users and needs to be aware of version numbers).
The simplest answer seems two-fold. First Firefox needs to rework its add-on system so that version number bumps do not break add-ons (this has been partially addressed for add-ons hosted by Mozilla). Then Firefox needs a more appropriate version number system, perhaps, as Faaborg suggests in his post, something based on dates. In that scenario the upcoming Firefox 7, scheduled for release in September, would be Firefox 2011.9 or something similar.
While a real solution to all of the issues created by Firefox’s transition to a rapid release cycle remains elusive, at least for now those upset by the loss of version numbers can rest easy.
Mozilla has launched an ambitious new project aimed at breaking down the proprietary app systems on today’s mobile devices. The project, dubbed WebAPI, is Mozilla’s effort to provide a consistent, cross-platform, web-based API for mobile app developers.
Using WebAPI, developers would write HTML5 applications rather than native apps for iOS, Android and other mobile platforms.
Mozilla isn’t just talking about WebAPI, it’s already hard at work. It plans to develop the APIs necessary to provide “a basic HTML5 phone experience” within six months. After that the APIs will be submitted to the W3C for standardization.
Among the APIs Mozilla wants to develop are a telephone and messaging API for calls and SMS, a contacts API, a camera API and half a dozen more.
So, why the new effort from Mozilla? Well, Mozilla’s WebAPI is a part of its larger Boot to Gecko Project, which aims to eventually develop an operating system that emphasizes standards-based web technologies. With that end goal in mind, WebAPI may end up somewhat different than what the W3C is trying to build.
It’s also possible that Mozilla simply doesn’t want to wait for the Device APIs Working Group. Mozilla wants WebAPI up and running in a mere six months, the W3C’s Device APIs Work Group is unlikely to move that fast. But “the idea is to collaborate with W3C and all players and together form a good solution, and not just dump it on them,” says Mozilla Technical Evangelist Robert Nyman in a comment on his post announcing WebAPI.
The dream of write-once, run-anywhere software is nothing new and, if history is any guide, Mozilla’s WebAPI efforts may well be doomed. The open source giant does have one thing going for it that most other efforts have not — the open web. Most write-once, run-anywhere attempts have come from companies like Adobe and were built around proprietary frameworks. WebAPI doesn’t suffer from vender lock-in the way some projects have. WebAPI’s main roadblock is convincing other mobile web browsers to support the APIs.
For WebAPI to appeal to developers, Mozilla will need Apple, Google and other mobile browser makers to implement the APIs so that WebAPI can compete with native applications. Before you dismiss that as an impossibility, bear in mind that Apple’s original vision for iOS app development was based around HTML applications, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a company more eager to embrace web apps than Google. Whether either company will devote any resources to implementing WebAPI remains to be seen. But if Mozilla can get WebAPI standardized by the W3C other browser makers would likely support it.
Pulling examples from Gowalla, which helpfully provides your user id photo, Quora, which immediately offers to create an account if your e-mail isn’t found, and his own Bagcheck, which is experimenting with a drop down list of usernames as you type, Wroblewski’s post is an excellent tour of some of the best UX login forms on the web.
There is one important qualification for these forms — the assumption is that your site has public, searchable profile pages, otherwise exposing user data (like username or photo) would be a privacy no-no. Of course it’s worth considering that, while exposing usernames in the login forms might not actually violate anyone’s privacy (any more than a public profile already does), that doesn’t mean your users won’t perceive it as a privacy violation.
For those worried about security the same caveat applies. If your site already has public profile pages then you’re not exposing any data that can’t be found with a simple Google search. Provided your backend security protocols are built correctly, making a more usable login form won’t make your site any less secure.
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