John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

To Be Honest, the ‘.Crap’ Jokes Were Really Starting to Get to Us

jobsfiddling.jpgWith .Mac’s mediocrity so impressively well realized, it was only a matter of time before Apple wised up and improved the archaic online services suite.

And some observers are wondering if it already has. Perhaps in partnership with Google. Over at Wired, Fred Vogelstein suggests Apple may use its Worldwide Developers Conference next week to announce a major upgrade to .Mac, one based on Google Web apps like Gmail and Google Calendar, Docs and Spreadsheets. “Hints from Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO and Apple board member and from Apple boss Steve Jobs point squarely in that direction,” Vogelstein explains. “Schmidt said in April in an interview with me that he envisioned just such a relationship eventually. ‘We’re a perfect back end to the problems that they’re trying to solve,’ Schmidt told me. ‘They have very good judgment on user interface and people. But they don’t have this supercomputer [that Google has], which is the data centers. What they have is a manufacturing business that’s doing quite well.’ “

And there have been other hints as well. In fact, at D5 last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs spent a bit of time discussing Apple’s effort to port Google Maps to the iPhone and talking up the marriage of Apple’s interface and usability savvy with Google’s back-end chops.

I’ll give you a concrete example. I love Google Maps, use it on my computer, you know, in a browser. But when we were doing the iPhone, we thought, wouldn’t it be great to have maps on the iPhone? And so we called up Google and they’d done a few client apps in Java on some phones and they had an API that we worked with them a little on. And we ended up writing a client app for those APIs. They would provide the back-end service. And the app we were able to write, since we’re pretty reasonable at writing apps, blows away any Google Maps client. Just blows it away. Same set of data coming off the server, but the experience you have using it is unbelievable. It’s way better than the computer. And just in a completely different league than what they’d put on phones before.

“And, you know, that client is the result of a lot of technology on the client, that client application. So when we show it to them, they’re just blown away by how good it is. And you can’t do that stuff in a browser.

“So people are figuring out how to do more in a browser, how to get a persistent state of things when you’re disconnected from a browser, how do you actually run apps locally using, you know, apps written in those technologies so they can be pretty transparent, whether you’re connected or not.

“But it’s happening fairly slowly and there’s still a lot you can do with a rich client environment. At the same time, the hardware is progressing to where you can run a rich client environment on lower and lower cost devices, on lower and lower power devices. And so there’s some pretty cool things you can do with clients.”

Almost makes you think this partnership Vogelstein’s predicting is a done deal, doesn’t it?