Thursday, February 26, 2009

Safari, Apple and Crowdsourcing

I am a browser freak!  I have close to 5 browsers installed on my laptop and I religiously update and upgrade them as new releases come out.  And, based on my experience I must admit that Apple deserves a bow.

I stick to using firefox when I am on XP.  However, I realized that on Windows 7, Firefox has a lot of issues and I am not sure why it does not load at all after a couple of weeks !

I installed Safari on Win 7 as soon as the 4.0 came out and it is amazing.  They have taken ipod's user interface and built the browser capabilities around it. The way safari handles search history is simply beautiful - it presents the search pages and bookmarks as what they call "cover flow".  It is similar to viewing music album covers in ipod touch or apps in iphone.  The navigator bar has a smooth fell to it and reminds you of the flipping motion that has become so popular with ipod users.

Apple's strength lies in its ability to match user needs to its product features. What amazes me is how much attention they pay to detail and how fanatically they follow this policy to its depths.

I was at a conference recently where I presented a research paper on product development cycle and factors that influence these stages. Raji Srinivasan, a friend and a professor at UT- Austin pointed out that maybe the iphone apps store is similar in concept to open source community models. That got me thinking - yes I can see some common DNA between the two in the sense that Apple has a base platform on which it open up a few APIs so that developers can write apps and sell it online to users.  The simplicity of the pricing policy and the relatively low cost of the apps is not being a problem for entrepreneurs because the mobile platform itself, ipod or the iphone is selling in huge numbers.  Apple has managed to pull off a user-driven innovation model after losing out to the Microsoft model of licensing computer manufacturers to use its OS on their hardware.

In principle, it seems to me that many of the crowd sourcing ideas have some common DNA.  At the heart of it lies the notion that users of a product or a service can be harnessed for idea generation, creativity and product management.  

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