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A Great Week for Apple Fans

It’s been a crazy week in the technology world, and I’m just getting around to sifting through the news out of Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference earlier this week.  The computing giant unveiled a new operating system for its iPhones and iPads along with a new version of its MacBook Pro laptop computer, among other things. Nobody merges technology into a lifestyle brand better than Apple, and there have been countless fan boys and girls expounding the beauty of these new software and hardware wonders.  But what about the impact Apple’s news will have on other brands in the technology industry?

Fast Company’s @kiteaton has a great article (here) dissecting the news and how it will impact everyone from search companies to car companies.  Here’s a brief synopsis of some of the ways Apple is changing the world this week:

  • Apple’s new mobile operating system – iOS 6 is what the industry calls “backward compatible.”  That means you can use it on almost every iPhone – even your iPhone 3GS from 2010 (which it still sells today).  This sets a precedent that anyone can have the latest software systems and apps, even on low end devices.  It could be a game changer for the entry level smart phone market.
  • Siri gets serious.  Eaton points out in his article that Siri is a gateway app – it makes it easier to use a whole bunch of other apps – from planning to navigation tools.  Now, with an open API for Siri, expect to see a new generation of apps emerging that will be richer and more dynamic than what we’ve seen in the past.
  • Oh yeah – and Siri queries get routed through Apple servers, not Google servers, so guess who doesn’t get to collect your search data first if you use Siri…? That’s right – Apple gets your search data first and then chooses where to send your query – so Google may or may not get a search from Siri.  It’s interesting that Google moves down a notch in the search data hierarchy.
  • Not that business users needed any other reason to use Apple products – every business person I know has an iPhone – but, Apple added a host of innovative and useful business-friendly functions.  These include new cloud editing features for working on documents on the go, the ability to move IM discussions from laptops to tablets to mobiles, video conferencing capabilities over cellular networks and even a do not disturb function for multiple Apple devices.
  • Lastly, the sleek design of the MacBook and the awesome Retina display now available across the line up means that other hardware manufacturers – think mobile, gaming, tablet and computer – are on notice.  The bar has been raised and some will struggle to keep up while others will be just fine (cough, Samsung, cough, cough).

In the immediate future and in the long run, the consumer benefits the most from Apple’s news this week.  The company is continuing to push the envelope for mobile computing and enhancing the user’s experience across all devices.  The news also puts additional pressure on competitors, but that is good for the market overall – in my opinion.

Happy Shopping Mac Fans!  It’s gonna be a great year for you.

Welcome to the Pro Pool: Lochte Like Gold for Brands; Thorpe Questioned on Spending; Phelps Eats Right for the Wall Street Journal

Things are definitely heating up in the world of Olympic swimming.  As we get closer to the London games, the headlines are focusing more intensely on the training, lives and livelihoods of the elite swimmers and their prospects for medaling this summer.

Front and center in the Australian spotlight is Ian Thorpe.  The five time Olympic champion has been hard at work on a comeback – which is great for him and the sport.  But the national swimming organization in Australia, Swimming Australia, has reportedly spent $150K (Australian dollars) on his conditioning – about ten times the amount other athletes have received.  The money reportedly went to specialized training in the Middle East and Switzerland, while other athletes have trained at home.  Thorpe has denied getting preferential funding, but he’s still had to address the issue to the press.  Hopefully this hasn’t diverted his attention from training.  Critics are already giving him low odds of medaling or even making the team this year.  I hope the critics are wrong – it would be great to see the Thorpedo in action again this year.  More on Thorpe’s training/funding issue here.

Here at home in the U.S., Ryan Lochte is proving to be gold for brands like Speedo, Gatorade, Ralph Lauren, Gillette and Mutual of Omaha.  Lochte, a longtime teammate of 2008 Olympic star Michael Phelps, is expected to bring home around five gold medals this year.  Brands foresee another Phelps-like moment with golden boy Lochte showcasing a chest of gold medals.  Lochte is a bit of a stand out; most brands see Olympic athletes as a bit of a risk for two reasons – first, there is no certainty that an athlete will medal and second, the public’s focus on an Olympic athlete tends to fade between games.  Good luck Lochte – I do hope you bring home the gold, but even if you don’t you’re probably set for life.  Read more about Lochte’s sponsors here or follow him on twitter here: @ryanlochte.

And speaking of Phelps, he’s eating again.  Actually, his eating was featured in the Wall Street Journal’s health blog again.  The Journal originally featured a piece detailing the elite swimmer’s 12,000 calorie per day diet during the height of his 2008 Olympic glory.  To celebrate the fifth anniversary of its health blog, the Journal re-posted the story this week.  With more than 475 comments on the post, it seemed like a fittingly popular piece to re-run.  Incidentally, Phelps cleaned house at the Columbus Grand Prix swim this past weekend, taking home three golds, including one in the 100m freestyle event.  Check out the diet post here or follow Phelps on twitter here: @michaelphelps.