Tuesday Keynotes (Apple, Slack)

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Last Tuesday there were two events with keynotes: Apple and Slack. Both left me whelmed.

Let’s start with Apple. The big reveal of the iPhone X was a big disappointment. Let me count the ways.

  1. Apple has more leaks than the White House. What happened to Apple’s famous secrecy (or the White House’s)?
  2. No home button? Jobs reportedly hated buttons, but he’s dead. The goal was to make the screen bigger, but at the cost of functionality? The camera thing on top takes up a lot of screen too. LG tried the home button on the back and it wasn’t too bad. I don’t get it.
  3. FaceID – I like the feature on my desktop, but I’m not so sure about it on my smartphone. Anyone can grab my phone and hold it up to my face to unlock it? I think the fingerprint sensor was revolutionary. It will always be faster too. Where’s the next iteration of that?
  4. $1000 price tag? Actually, $1149 for the better model. No thanks. I think of smartphones as disposable computers – we lose them, drop them, and their built-in batteries get spent. Put the money to better use.
  5. The new iPhones support fast charging!  It’s just an additional $75 in accessories.
  6. And what’s with the name X (10)? Feels like a trap as only club members will say “ten” when they see the X. Will the next iPhone be 9, XS, or XI? (Didn’t they just abandon OSX in favor of MacOS?)
  7. So much for industry leadership. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has more impressive specs all around. The Samsung supports Gear VR and Google Daydream VR, dual cameras with image stabilization, side x side multi-tasking, fast charging (included), and expandable storage. The Samsung’s display is 6.3″ with 522 ppi density compared to the iPhones’ 5.8 with 458 ppi density. Both are nearly bezel-free. The Samsung is available now and costs less than the Apple’s units in November. Yes, the Samsung also costs a kilobuck – not for me either.

Not far away, Slack simultaneously held its first user conference called Slack Frontiers. It too failed to dazzle.

There were quite a few interesting reveals including international expansion and new metrics. Slack now has localized versions in French, German, and Spanish. Japanese is next (that’s a surprise). What’s important to note here is this is full localization not just translation. It includes marketing, tech support and even local currencies for payments.

The new metrics show that impressive growth continues, though slowing:

  • Over 9M weekly active users, up from the 6.8M it reported in January.
  • Over 6M daily active users, up from 5M in January.
  • 50k paid teams, with 2M paid users, up from 38k and 1.5M, respectively.
  • Slack claims a toehold in 43% of the Fortune 100.
  • Annual recurring revenue (ARR) of $200M. That’s up from the $150M ARR it reported earlier this year.

But the big announcements were Shared Channels and ServiceNow – neither of these features are actually available.

Slack claims that its most requested integration is with ServiceNow, so it’s coming. . . next year. ServiceNow’s System of Action will integrate with Slack. Users will be able to add Slack as a notification channel in ServiceNow’s UI and have new incidents piped into any Slack channel.

The bigger and more complex news is Shared Channels. This one is complicated. If you think you are really going to like this feature, you may want to check out Sameroom Tubes at 8×8 because Slacks’s concept of a shared channel is pretty limited. For example, these shared channels require admins on each site to approve (flashback to federation). Plus it only works with a maximum of two organizations, and shared channels aren’t slated (at least initially) for free or Enterprise Grid accounts.

More on shared channels later – there’s time.

Tough Day for Keynotes

So Tuesday was unfulfilling for me. The highpoints of both keynotes were vapor. Apple created a trophy that Barnum would be proud of. Slack thinks paid subscribers should have the right to talk to just one other external paid subscriber per channel.

My Conclusions

The glory days of the smartphone are over or at least on hold. My current Moto phone is two years old and I’d love to keep it another two, but the battery is shot. The new tech features are not driving me to buy a new phone, it’s the built-in obsolescence of the battery that’s getting me.

On the workstream side it’s the opposite. This week alone Atlassian launched Stride and Microsoft announced Guest Access for Teams. Cisco made about 10 announcements on Spark last month. Rumors are swirling that Teams will be in the spotlight at Microsoft Ignite later this month. Slack’s going to have to do more than this to stay relevant.

Dave Michels