Apple Pay, competition watch, Phire glass, and Raspberri Pi

Oh steward, another cocktail please

JetBlue announced this week that they’re adding in-flight Apple Pay functionality. That means no more wrangling with crumpled dollars in the bottom of your carry-on as you try to scrape up the $9 for that thimble-sized bloody mary. But even better, we hear that you’ll be able to upgrade your seat during the flight. So the next time you’re seated next to a smelly/noisy/otherwise offensive passenger, you can simply take out your iPhone (or iPad, or Apple Watch if you’re reading this from the future) and beat a hasty retreat.

Watch out for the competition, Apple

Former coolest-brand-ever Swatch is looking to compete with the Apple Watch, by releasing an Near Field Communications-enabled watch. A lot of brands are following suit, including luxury manufacturers like TAG Heuer and Montblanc. I admit when I first heard about the Apple Watch, my response was a lukewarm “meh”. And seeing so many respected names in fashion enter the ring against the watch seems strange. Smart watches are fleeting; what’s useful and must-have this year will be useless next year (just thinking about how big and old your iPad 1 feels now). Plus, watch manufacturers know about fashion and timepieces and literally nothing about manufacturing software or the Internet of Things (IoT) strategy. Trying to compete against the vertically integrated Apple or the manufacturing juggernaut of Samsung is an exercise in futility.

These brands are scrambling to enter the wearables market, but they forget one thing. We don’t hire a Swatch, or a TAG Heuer to tell time. We hire it as a status symbol or a fashion statement. We’ve used our phones to tell time for years now, and these major watch brands are still around. Trying to go head-to-head with electronics giants feels like a move borne of utter panic and fear. Relax, guys. You’ll still be around.

Phire at will

A few weeks ago, we reported on the bankruptcy of sapphire glass manufacturer GTAT, and Apple’s heavy-handed and repellent contracts which eventually caused the manufacturer to implode. With GTAT’s collapse, Apple scrapped plans to go with sapphire-glass screens in its iPhone 6. But this move was also a strong signal that Apple is not satisfied with the quality of their current glass: Gorilla Glass made by Corning. Sapphire is the second hardest substance on earth which makes it amazingly scratch resistant but prone to shattering.

This week Corning announce “Message received!” Now Corning has set out to produce Phire, a substance to touted to be as strong as Sapphire, with the same miraculous scratch-resistance as sapphire glass but far better shatter resistance. With Apple’s sapphire ventures put on hold (at least for now)  Corning’s Phire may have dodged a fatal blow and come out on top.

Is Microsoft actually capable of …. innovation?

We’d devoted more than a few words to Microsoft and their fiercely anti-innovation, stuck-in-the-past, profits now attitudes. Well it seems that someone at Microsoft has apparently felt the strictures of the corporate structure and is determined to do something about it. We deemed the purchase of Fait Accompli a futile gesture, and wondered at the reasoning behind the funding of Cyanogen, but we may have to change our tune after this week’s news. On Wednesday, the software giant announced that it had acquired Sunrise, the much-lauded creators of the eponymous calendar app called “the best calendar app for iOS and Android.”

Add to that the news that they’ve extended their IoT developer program to Raspberry Pi 2, and you have all the signs of a sea change happening in Redmond. We’re seeing a whole new side of Microsoft, one that embraces disruption and is willing to invest in asymmetrical, even competitive products to diversify their offerings and respond to growing threats in the market. We can only hope that this less-insular Microsoft is going to continue to gain ground, and save them from sinking into obscurity.

You Might Also Like…

The FTC’s Next Strike on Data Privacy

Remember last week when we talked about the new avalanche of lawsuits against Facebook? Well it gets worse for the social media giant (whether or not it’s better for us remains to be seen). Yesterday, the FTC made a move that could signal future regulation of data handling: They demanded all of it. The data, […]