Apple still does laptops, Microsoft does tablets and Google does iOS Apps

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9 July 2012
Craig Beattie
So June 2012 was an incredible month in the world of technology. Firstly Apple opened it’s developer conference with an hour dedicated to it’s PC era products – the MacBook. The iOS announcements seem to hint at a growing divide between Apple and Google preferring to go with a hand picked set of partners. One partnership pointed to a significant Apple decision: Apple doesn’t do social networks now, firmly integrating itself with Facebook. Then Microsoft announced it’s bridge to the post-PC era offering – the surface tablet and discussed it’s mobile OS at length. The tablet is a perplexing one, with many waiting to see the price to see the impact. Low price will show Microsofts commitment and provide a real contender for the iPad, but will upset the manufacturers of PC’s, Microsoft’s key current route to market. A high price will throw the gauntlet down for Microsoft’s partners to do better, but perhaps consign the surface to nothing more than a lightweight high end netbook. Finally Google announces that not only does it do social (Google+ seeing investment), Google really does hardware (a streaming media device, 7 inch tablet and Google Glasses), Google also does iOS apps - notably it’s chrome browser and drive cloud products, which looks like a reasonable response to Apples announcements. Now there has been a heating up of rumours of a 7.85 inch iPad being launched later in the year now we have the Google Nexus 7 on it’s way. Does this mean 3 apps for these devices, with different views for a 4 inch, 7 inch and 10 inch screen? (not going to discuss 5 inch for the new iPhone 5 (alledgedly)). In the hotly contested smartphone space a few observers have noted it’s Apple and Samsung who are taking the bulk of the profits. I wonder how concerned Samsung is now that the key software partners seem to be in bed with or building their own hardware – Google with Motorola and now Microsoft is in bed with Nokia and making it’s own tablets. So that's iOS, Windows Phone and Android - perhaps they’ll take up MeeGo in their line up now some ex-Nokia employees are looking at bringing the project back to life. In fictional tech news Minority Report hit 10 years old prompting this article in Wired on what technology in the film has come to pass. A few tidbits that are relevant to the insurance industry:
  1. Iris scanning – India has 150m irises on file. UK, US, Canada are using irises for passports. Could we be seeing personalised insurance quotes offered just by looking at an advert?
  2. Self-driving cars creating personalised individual mass transportation. The Google car and advances in safety technology are making this seem much closer than a decade ago, still perhaps a while to go. See Celent’s report on the end of auto insurance.
  3. Not quite spider bots but the military is using robot fleas and dragon flies – something the US military is deploying with help from British aerospace apparently (economist article linked, BA reference from Wired article). Advances in the use of aerial drones since the start of the Afghanistan conflict are now meaning this technology is being considered for mainland US security purposes. Perhaps in a decade we’ll see police forces using today’s military robots. Having said that, cyber-security paranoia may rise after some students recently hijacked a drone on a bet.
  4. There is a very interesting bit on predictive policing and forces using predictive analytics to look for future crime hotspots. Could insurers use this data? Might we see this in the UK in the future, “Your insurance premium has gone up because south Yorkshire police believe your house will be the centre of a crime hotspot in 3 months.”
  5. LG working on flexible plastic e-paper based on OLED – the article reckons 5 years. There are a few companies working on this and actually, Apple’s recent patent on wearable technology has sparked some interesting design work on flexible wearable phones.
  6. Personal flying machines – while the article is dismissive there are groups working on the devices and the standards required. Perhaps personal aviation insurance may replace auto insurance in the future.
Of course the greatest benchmark for the future comes from the Back to the Future series, particularly Back to the Future II which will be 25 in a couple of years and 26 when the 2015 it envisions comes to pass. Sadly, flying cars and hover boards are likely to take a little longer to become mass market. Clearly the pace of technology change is in no way slowing. Key assumptions about what major players build, make and how they operate together are being challenged as consumer technology re-orients itself around mobile devices and cloud services. Meanwhile, insurers and all industries are looking for methods and partners to help them keep up.


  • Oh, and now Amazon does maps ...

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