Apple fires shots at all mobile competitors today, and Microsoft too

The new products and product features announced by Apple today puts the company's mobile competitors firmly on notice that they are coming after them all.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

The two hour Apple keynote today highlighted the changes coming to Apple's main products, iOS 5, OS X, iTunes and the new iCloud. The new products and product features contribute to a solid evolution of Apple's offerings, and puts the company's mobile competitors firmly on notice that they are coming after them all. Even Microsoft got the wind taken out of its Windows 8 sails, a product that is at least a year away.

Apple showed off the new features of OS X Lion, and basically the next version of OS X is a firm marriage of the desktop OS and the mobile (laptop) OS. Multitouch gestures will become a major method of interaction with Lion, and new capabilities like Mission Control will make OS X operate much more like a tablet OS. That's the entire premise behind Microsoft's Windows 8 recently demonstrated. Apple put Microsoft on notice with the pricing and timing of OS X Lion: $29.99 and July 2011. OS X just got economically very competitive with Windows, and will come to market much sooner than Windows 8.

The mobile side of Apple's product line got a major overhaul today, as iOS 5 was detailed for the first time. The newest version of iOS will bring notifications like those used in the Android platform, a feature that goes a long way toward leveling the playing field. New versions of core apps like Mail will also get updated to be more in line with the Android equivalents. Apple is clearly looking to address the primary areas it lagged behind Android with iOS 5, and it appears they have done so. The introduction of iMessage takes firm aim at the last remaining bastion of RIM's offering, BBM, and brings it to the iOS platform in a competitive form. Google and RIM are likely having internal meetings already to discuss iOS 5.

The new iCloud service that Apple rolled out today is aimed at gaining ground lost in its horrible MobileMe debacle, but the "one more thing" mentioned by Steve Jobs today takes firm aim at Amazon. The iTunes Match service that lets Apple customers bring their own music into the iTunes cloud is designed to attract Amazon MP3 customers to bring music now sitting in the new Amazon Cloud Player into the iTunes cloud. One of the hardest things for a cloud service to do is to get customers of competing services to convert due to cost and trouble to do so. The new iTunes Match addresses both of those obstacles, and will likely get some Amazon customers over to Cupertino.

Content lock-in is what every company wants to get, as it makes it difficult or prohibitively expensive for customers to take their business elsewhere. The new apps and document revamp in OS X and iOS 5 takes this lock-in to a new level, by doing away with a traditional filesystem and replacing it with documents that just exist on every Apple system. This is the ultimate lock-in, and it crosses laptops, phones and tablets. It is a brilliant move by Apple for the long term.

Apple detailed dozens of the hundreds of new features rolling out in these areas, and this article is not aimed at recounting all of them. These are the areas that take aim at Apple's mobile competitors, and brings the company's offerings to a level equal to or surpassing the competition.

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