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Why Tim Cook Is Steve Ballmer and Why He Still Has His Job at Apple (steveblank.com)
397 points by ahuja_s 394 days ago | hide | past | web | 291 comments | favorite

The article is short on details why he thinks Tim Cook is like Steve Ballmer, except for saying that Apple is slowly missing the boat on AI.

I don't know what Amazon does for AI, I haven't seen anything convincing from them, but I'll trust the author that they are working on it.

However it's tough to beat Google in this space, because AI and machine learning is what Google has focused on since their beginnings. Google's own Search has always been a limited form of AI on which most humans with access to the Internet have come to depend upon. And it is tough to beat them because they not only have 20 years of accumulated knowledge and talent, but they also have a lot of data on users and haven't been afraid to break users' privacy in order to get that data.

Now say what you will of Tim Cook, but he's nothing like Steve Ballmer, with one big difference being that Tim Cook's Apple is making a stand for privacy and security, which is actually quite rare to witness in this day and age. He's a man with principles and for this I appreciate him a lot, maybe more than I ever appreciated Steve Jobs.

It would also be stupid to try and beat Google on their own turf. It would be like trying to beat Microsoft at Windows or Office, or Amazon at AWS. And for important markets, Apple's secret is that they never had to beat anyone in market share, all they had to do was to take over an important slice of the high-end market, which is something they are really good at.

> I don't know what Amazon does for AI

The Alexa/echo ecosystem.

> However it's tough to beat Google in this space...they also have a lot of data on users...

Agreed, the amount of data is key. This is where Apple will struggle when looking to upgrade Siri/AI capabilities in coming years.

> Tim Cook's Apple is making a stand for privacy and security, which is actually quite rare to witness in this day and age. He's a man with principles and for this I appreciate him a lot

Privacy and security (and, secondarily, a full physical keyboard) was Blackberry's key differentiator before they lost to the touchscreen-enabled iPhone app ecosystem.

Now that competitor's offerings are becoming more powerful (hardware) and refined (software), and the smartphone market is close to saturation in advanced economies, Apple needs a non-technical differentiator. Security/privacy is the perfect talking point.

I have no reason to believe that Tim Cook is acting in the interest of users ("a man with principles") while marketing Apple products as private and secure; rather, he is acting in the interest of shareholders, as he should be given that he is the CEO of a public company. Happily, user and shareholder interests seem to be mostly aligned at the moment - Apple can sell more phones if people trust the brand.

If it makes more financial sense in the future to ditch user privacy (in order to get closer with Facebook & Microsoft so as to compete with Google), he probably will. But don't expect to hear an announcement about it until the info is leaked. It's impossible to truly discern the character of a public company's CEO because they are always acting, and tons of things happen within their organizations without their knowledge.

I disagree. Apple's stance on privacy has everything to do with the personality and life experiences of Tim Cook.

Stop for a moment to imagine what being a homosexual teenager in 1970's Alabama was like. Also it's well known that his career at IBM was torpedoed over a gay "glass ceiling."

Tim Cook is a man who understands that privacy is a human right.

>I disagree. Apple's stance on privacy has everything to do with the personality and life experiences of Tim Cook.

Stop focusing on feelings and personality.

It would be a violation of his role as Chief to lead the business on purely emotional grounds, making decisions based on his experiences growing up.

He has an obligation to return value to his shareholders.

Privacy is a Business Moat[1] for Apple, it's something they can offer to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and frankly: nothing more.

It's a clever moat because Google's moat is the actual opposite. Google says we will take your private data, reorganize it and return it to you in more useful ways. This is a powerful moat because consumers demonstrate that they like the convenience of Google's features.

Apple chose the exact opposite moat: we will respect your privacy and not run advanced intelligence against the dataset of you. It's clever because it turns a disadvantage (Google is waaaaay better at it) into an advantage (Not doing it is a good thing).

You can rationalize the calculus with feelings but that doesn't change the fact that Apple isn't a business run on emotions it's run on rational decisions, like market differentiation to create a perception of value.

[1] http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economicmoat.asp

I hate this argument that companies are completely void of all emotion. You could just as easily say that no one cares about privacy and that taking a stand is a bad financial decision. Given the amount of bad press Apple got for their stand against the FBI, that doesn't seem like a very difficult argument to make.

So given that it's not very hard to make the arguments that standing up for privacy might be or might not be a good financial decision, why would you think the decision Tim Cook chose had absolutely nothing to do with his life experiences?

EDIT: Another comment chain had this quote from Tim Cook in a shareholders meeting that I think illustrates my point. From https://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/tim-cook-soundly-rej...:

""When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind," he said, "I don't consider the bloody ROI." He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader."

It's a completely legitimate argument actually. If ever his personal agenda lead him into conflict with the interest of shareholders in a fashion that was detrimental to Apple's profits, the board would remove him. Simple as that.

There's a difference between a decision being made for a moral/ethical reason that happens to be in line with shareholders and a decision being made only to appease shareholders. Given how hard it is to determine if any one decision is truly good for the short/long-term health of the business, it seems silly to say that the first case never happens.

I used to think exactly like you until recently. Something happened that changed my thinking completely: I come into a position of power, and I was actually inclined to push my personal believes "policy". There was no personal benefits. Maybe not much benefits for the counter-party I was acting for.

I used to think people act completely on self-interest. Well, they do run daily for self-interest but you'll be surprised how much they want to push their "policies"/"believes". And some of them do go really long extra miles and put huge efforts.

Now, Tim Cook might be in for financial reasons. But I'll be surprised if his experiences didn't affect his decision making a LOT.

That's right. Customers aren't human beings.

Maybe. I don't know Tim Cook personally, so I'm in no position to judge his character. I'd like to believe his case for privacy is a moral one, grounded in his own challenging personal experiences. That would certainly be refreshing.

What I do know for a fact is that he is the CEO of a public company, and as such he has a duty to maximize shareholder value. This isn't a judgement of his character, it's simply a description of his job. I believe he is very capable of performing his job.

You can maximize shareholder value by aligning your company to make money while doing the right thing. There's plenty of salable arguments that a CEO can make about the benefits of not acting like a cutthroat psychopath business - just because CEOs like Trump loudly and proudly flout their ability and willingness to fuck over anyone they can in the pursuit of more wealth doesn't mean he will actually succeed.

Building loyalty with both customers and employees is not something that shows up on the balance sheet every quarter, but when you have the loyalty you can do a lot more things than someone who doesn't. I'm planning to buy a macbook pro this thursday at well over $1000 over the price for similar hardware by ASUS/Acer/Lenovo etc because of the perception that Apple has the consumer in mind.

There are many, many ways to maximize shareholder value. Or at least try to. No path is without risk.

He could focus on privacy and discover that for most people it's not a big deal. Or some kind of WikiLeaks/NSA scandal could happen and people decide it's a very big deal. (Oftentime timing is everything. DoubleClick lost a third of its value because of controversies about cookies, but 10 years later Facebook went far, far, far beyond DoubleClick and their market value went up.)

He could decide that price is the most important thing and move all their operations offshore. A recession might come and it turns out low cost is the way to go. Or the economy might boom and people spend money like it's 1999.

Apple has had a pretty golden touch over the last 15-20 years, and it's hard to argue with success. But past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Microsoft stomped Apple and everyone else for 20 years, then went sideways for 10+ (as measured by stock market performance). But it's not like they decided to stop trying to maximize shareholder value. They just had difficulties figuring out how.

Also it's well known that his career at IBM was torpedoed over a gay "glass ceiling."

I guess I've missed hearing this. That's disappointing, especially since I've always thought of IBM as being pretty progressive in that respect.

> Privacy and security (and, secondarily, a full physical keyboard) was Blackberry's key differentiator before they lost to the touchscreen-enabled iPhone app ecosystem.

Was it? Blackberry often co-operated to provide governments with access to BBM message content[1][2].

[1]: http://thenextweb.com/asia/2013/07/10/after-a-lengthy-battle... [2]: https://news.vice.com/article/exclusive-canada-police-obtain...

Both of your sources (2010, 2013) don't apply to Blackberry pre iPhone (2007). Even so, I'm speaking to brand perception rather than reality - BB may might have given out keys/built in backdoors pre 2007 and still maintained the perception of being trustworthy.

Amazon's recommendation engine more or less falls under the umbrella of AI, it's just not one that consumers are really even aware they are interacting with.

> ...he's nothing like Steve Ballmer...

Your response was also short on details with regards to your major point, quoted above.

Meanwhile, here are the points from the article. Like Ballmer, Tim Cook:

- is an executor, not a visionary.

- doubled revenue while also doubling profit for his company.

- announced very few new products.

- has the same kinds of challenges (facing disruption).

- lacks passion for the product.

- takes things personally.

> announced very few new products.

Look it up, he's actually announced plenty. Just they're kinda underwhelming. Off the top of my head: MacBook, Mac Pro, iPad Pro, iPhone+,MacBook HDMI Dongle, iPhone Headphone Dongle, Apple Pay, Apple Music, Apple Pencil.

MacBook, Mac Pro, iPad Pro, iPhone+,MacBook HDMI Dongle, iPhone Headphone Dongle, Apple Pay, Apple Music, Apple Pencil.

These are primarily iterations or extensions of existing products, not new products (in the blue ocean sense) as seem to be defined in the article. This is the complaint the article makes with "execution" executives. As products they're all mechanisms for increasing revenues on existing (re: stagnant) products instead of creating completely new product lines that reflect the changes in the market.

Mac Pro, Apple Watch, Pencil, Apple Music were not iterations. There was nothing similar before them from Apple.

Pencil and Watch were projects in the pipeline around the time Steve Jobs died, e.g. https://web.archive.org/web/20150907064440/http://www.busine... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/apple/watch/11452455/H...

Apple Music is a logical continuation of the Beats Music store: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beats_Music. Mac Pro was released in 2006: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Pro

It's not clear if there's anything new in development at Apple.

I am not sure you understand what I'm saying. I did not say Tim Cook thought of them, I said they were not iterations.

The Mac Pro is an overpriced fancy computer case, nothing more.

That is like saying iPhone is a fancy version of old Nokia phones and nothing more.

Not in the slightest. The iPhone's UI was far superior, as was its hardware.

What's special about the Mac Pro other than its case design? And what would change in how the Mac Pro functions if its guts were instead in the old Mac Pro case?

All of the guts are just an Intel processor, AMD video cards, etc. There isn't some custom magical chip in there.

You should really look at http://www.apple.com/mac-pro/ You cannot just add the components to any case and get the same thing.

There's literally nothing here that you can't put in a normal case: http://www.apple.com/mac-pro/specs/

Intel Processor

AMD video cards

PCIe Storage

Again, what magic does the case add?

For starters, there is the core that acts like a heatsink. Then there is also the smaller profile. I don't know if you've seen the previous Mac Pros, but they were huge.

Also your argument does not add up! Are you saying it is not great because the components are off the shelf? Going by that logic, all the modern cars have the same IC engine. The Mac Pro clearly has more capable hardware, why is that not enough? why does it have to be a magic chip?

My original statement was that the Mac Pro was a fancy computer case, nothing more. You state:

> "For starters, there is the core that acts like a heatsink. Then there is also the smaller profile."

Which is exactly my point.

> "The Mac Pro clearly has more capable hardware, why is that not enough?"

In what way? Seriously. You said it was "off the shelf" components and then it somehow has more capable hardware? How does that work? Because it has a unique cooling mechanism?

>Which is exactly my point

Which is what? It was not just the case, the guts are also different. I never claimed they are unique, but they surely are different. You can downvote me all you want, but saying the current Mac Pro is iteration/just a case and not a different product is wrong.

>In what way? Seriously. You said it was "off the shelf" components and then it somehow has more capable hardware? How does that work? Because it has a unique cooling mechanism?

I know I've said this before, but if you go to http://apple.com/mac-pro/, you can clearly see how it is more capable compared to older generation.

>the guts are also different. I never claimed they are unique, but they surely are different.

Just because they're different doesn't automatically mean that they're better.

>I know I've said this before, but if you go to http://apple.com/mac-pro/, you can clearly see how it is more capable compared to older generation.

What's the point of comparing with the older generation? The technology has advanced, of course it'll be more capable. Unless the user needs to stay in the Apple ecosystem, the Mac pro should be competing with the PCs of the "current" generation.

You and the original commentor both seem to be missing my point. All I said was it is a defferent product, that is more capable than the previous generation. I never said it is the best or that it is unique in any way.

The 2013 Mac pro was a very powerful Mac Mini with lots of terrible design choices. So many pros hated it and Apple hasn't bothered to upgrade it in 3 years.

The Watch and Pencil are accessories, like the AirPods.

Apple Music isn't that big of a deal.

> These are primarily iterations or extensions of existing products, not new products

Some much more than others. If you apply this logic consistently, the only new products Steve Jobs introduced were the original Apple (II), the Mac operating systems, the iPod and iOS. Everything else was an iteration, right?

  These were not just product transitions, but radical business model transitions – new channels, new customers and new markets–and new emphasis on different parts of the organization

Alexa is the perfect example of a product that could have been made by Apple but wasn't, and which ticks all those boxes.

And not just those. Apple's big strength isn't hardware, it's ecosystems. The hardware was always just a front end to a network of unique systems, markets, and services.

The latest Apple offerings seem to have forgotten that. Watch is primarily a shiny widget, not the thin client the iPod and iPad were. The latest Macs are heading in a similar direction. There are more services, but they're less appealing to users because the UI designs have become clunky, and there's no sense of forward momentum among many user groups.

With Alexa, Amazon has proved that it can play the consumer game too. Alexa includes links to content providers, links to hardware manufacturers, and links to other software services.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a crash R&D program to create Apple's own version of Alexa. (I would be surprised, but maybe not completely, if Siri Home appears on the 27th. I'm guessing next year is more likely and 2018 isn't impossible.)

But it may be too late. Amazon has a first mover advantage, and it can only drop the lead by allowing the platform to stagnate.

Amazon may well do that. Bezos seems to suffer from occasional new product ADHD, so he may not follow through.

But there's certainly huge potential to take Alexa much further, and if Apple is going to compete any R&D project has to aim for where Alexa could be three to five years from now, not where Alexa is today.

Which doesn't change the fact that Apple could have made Siri Home first. The hardware was always available. The only thing missing was Cook's lack of vision and drive.

It could also be that Apple doesn't see Alexa as something they need to compete with — that Siri on existing devices (and especially "Hey, Siri") addresses that niche for them.

But they needed to compete on cars?

How does this list not include the Apple Watch, which Cook also announced?

Speaking of which, how does this not include Swift, which also debuted under Tim Cook? And Metal?

Speaking of Metal, understanding the rationale behind keeping a non-interoperable API with other ecosystems couldn't help me from expecting a revolutionary universal low-level graphics API. I've suffered long enough in the GL madness to lose my sanity.

Hahaha because I had actually forgotten it even exists.

Honestly I'm shocked I missed it too.

And iCloud Photo Library. And HomeKit. And …

Azure seems to be doing well and some people expect it to overtake AWS sooner rather than later in market share.

The talk that Microsoft is irrelevant is a bit hilarious, given that they beat google on revenue and income last year. They have morphed from a company that is front and center to one that provides the infrastructure for the digital side of non-tech business. Microsoft Office is absolutely pervasive, and it's not going anywhere.

> Azure seems to be doing well and some people expect it to overtake AWS sooner rather than later in market share.


Edit: Sorry, that was lazy of me. Googled: https://mspoweruser.com/cio-surey-finds-microsoft-azure-will...

A bit of a biased source, "mspoweruser".

Read a bit more.. We'll have to see how the offerings change or evolve in the next 5 years.

Edit 2: https://rcpmag.com/articles/2016/08/02/microsoft-behind-aws-... AWS is still > 30% of the overall market, Azure hitting around ~9%.

It's all based on Morgan Stanley’s "2016 CIO Survey". It doesn't appear to be publicly available.

I've been the drone filling out surveys like this for CIOs in the past. Sometimes those surveys ask these sorts of things indirectly, especially if it's a paid survey. For example, they might assume that O365 utilization drives Azure adoption. (Behind the scenes O365 auth is an Azure service) Another example would be asking if your org has MSDN or an EA. In both cases, that provides some "free"/NFR Azure services.

A few years ago, Gartner pushed a survey like this where 40% of a group of drunken CIO types at some conference claimed that they wouldn't buy PCs or smartphones for employees after 2018. This stuff just isn't that meaningful.

I'll second the "citation needed" for Azure overtaking AWS "soon".

Azure reliability is near the bottom of the market. I doubt they'll be overtaking aws.

That was where I saw it. It seems the market is balancing, rather than AWS pulling away, with YoY growth better for Google than for Microsoft and both better than Amazon:


Who's saying Azure will over take AWS? Last I heard AWS was an order of magnitude larger than its nearest competitors.

Factor 3 according to this with more YoY growth:


My understanding is that Amazon doesn't break out the AWS revenue separately so it is quite hard to gauge.

If you mean separate AWS revenue from Amazon, they definitely do [1].

[1]: http://www.recode.net/platform/amp/2016/4/28/11586526/aws-cl...

The author called out, specifically, how Azure was in his opinion keeping Microsoft relevant

"Nadella got Microsoft organized around mobile and the cloud (Azure), freed the Office and Azure teams from Windows, killed the phone business and got a major release of Windows out without the usual trauma. And is moving the company into augmented reality and conversational AI. While they’ll likely never regain the market dominance they had in the 20th century, (their business model continues to be extremely profitable) Nadella likely saved Microsoft from irrelevance."

> a major release of Windows out without the usual trauma

What trauma-less release would this be?

Satya Nadella was appointed as CEO on 4 February 2014.

The last 2 windows releases were:

Windows 10, released on the 29 July 2015

Windows 8.1, released on the 17 October 2013

So it is safe to assume that the author was referring to the Windows 10 release



> got a major release of Windows out without the usual trauma

I haven't been following the Windows world closely when Windows 7 was released - but wasn't that the least traumatic OS release in a long while?

Windows 7 was a 'tock' release to Vista's 'tick', so I can see why the author would not consider it major. Then again, Windows 10 was also probably a 'tock' release to Windows 8's tick (considering 8.1 was essentially a service pack).

While all this is true, it is also true that this trajectory looks a lot like IBM's after their heyday. It might just be a somewhat more gradual slide down to irrelevance.

For example, I couldn't actually figure out if Tay.AI was an example of supreme idiocy or supreme hubris. Their repeated botching of Windows 10 auto-updates is not getting much attention because the profits have moved towards the cloud, but that it all the more telling considering that MS had quite a monopoly on the personal computing device market not long back.

Remember, it wasn't like they were caught by surprise at some of these innovations - they did start something called Windows Live Search way back when, they did have some of the world's first smartphones (except they were put together in a way that no one wanted to use), they also had the advantage of large piles of cash to use to acquire, say, a YouTube. After they finally ran out of options, they decide to jump on the open source bandwagon because otherwise there was a very realistic chance that they would have actually gone into a serious downward spiral, particularly in the currency that matters most for tech companies - the mindshare of software developers who actually wish to push the bleeding edge farther.

It might seem ironic that, given the majority of Ballmer's tenure was spent not just bad mouthing open source, but actively harassing the open source community [1], that the first thing that Ballmer's exit brought was a sudden embrace of open source. In reality though, their chameleon like stance towards open source - embracing it when it suits them while kicking it when it doesn't - was effectively the only possibility for MS to regain its reputation. After all, it is not as if they innovated their way out of that hole. The general contempt directed at MSFT is well earned by this point, and while they are supposedly trying very hard to make amends, one also wonders if the world might already have good Linux desktops by this time if not for Microsoft's active nuisance-making for most of the previous decade. Yes, the companies are merely trying to maximize shareholder profits, but there are lots of times when MS did things which were just cringe-worthy. See this gem from Bill Gates [2]:

"In the same leaked Microsoft internal 'Challenges and Strategy' memo, Gates outlined a solution to the problem: "patenting as much as we can. A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high: Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors." By 2004 Microsoft was accumulating 3000 patents a year."

And not to mention, the companies which ate away at Microsoft's profits actually came up with genuinely innovative stuff - even today, Bing is no match for Google's search - despite the fact that MS once used to pay people to use Bing (Bing Rewards)? What is MS doing which is similarly innovative? At least with regards to this article, yes, Microsoft is just another software company today which is making a set of the most expedient choices towards profitability.

[1] http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/microsofts-ballmer-warns...

[2] http://www.itpro.co.uk/101743/the-open-source-patent-war

> "In the same leaked Microsoft internal 'Challenges and Strategy' memo, Gates outlined a solution to the problem: "patenting as much as we can. A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high: Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors.

The opportunity costs this guy and his company added to the whole of society through the 1990s and early 2000s are huge, hope he'll finally reach some form of repentance at some point. Maybe what he and his wife are now in doing in Africa will help him in that regard.

That seems very unlikely over the next decade at least.

Azure has 10% marketshare. AWS has 30% marketshare. People who aren't on the frontlines of enterprise wheeling and dealing can't see this but for those who are, it is fairly clear that Azure is out for blood AWS's blood.


Please comment civilly and substantively here or not at all.

I think Apple is making a mistake by taking the privacy first approach. I strongly believe people will be trading privacy for convenience and companies which shamelessly mine the customer data will win.

This could also affect recruiting, since I assume it is more interesting to be working with AI projects in company like Facebook or Google where you have access to was amounts of customer information.

As time moves on, customers get more aware of the privacy implications of everything they do online. I think Apple is ahead of the pack. Google cannot follow them because it's against their business interest. I know plenty of people who do not trust Google and stay away from their products (including Android phones) as much as is feasible.

The cost for Privacy is pretty big in terms of loss of convenience.

If people really cared about it duckduckgo would be huge and gmail would have never gotten off the ground. Facebook would be a desert. Most people feel comfortable sharing and being a mostly open book. Only real privacy people care about is who gets to unlock their phone.

Most people are lost in that their privacy is they are one flake in a snowstorm.

I seriously had friends for year say "Don't put my kids on the internet." After a few years that all goes away due to the ease of sharing life with friends and families.

So when people who own iPhone see Amazon's Alexia and their horrible Siri they buy the Echo from Amazon.

Apple just makes things harder for their customers with their attempts on privacy.

Siri being complete crap has nothing to do with privacy, in fact the original iteration of Siri sent everything to the cloud for processing. I honestly don't know how the meme got started that privacy, out of all things, is hurting Siri.

Siri cannot even remember the subject of the last question. It cannot answer meaningful questions about anything on the internet. Its knowledge of "places of interest" is terrible because Apple's database is years behind Google's. I've given up on "Hey Siri" because it just doesn't work.

If Siri is almost useless when it comes to publicly accessible information, then how would it help to give it centralised access to private information?

(Or the other way around: If Siri worked well, but was limited to publicly available information, it would still be freaking awesome. But I have my doubts about the current iteration of AI.)

> Apple just makes things harder for their customers with their attempts on privacy.

In addition to Siri, what else would you put on the list of things made harder by Apple's privacy positions/implementations?

(Edited for clarity.)

> I strongly believe people will be trading privacy for convenience and companies which shamelessly mine the customer data will win.

I do agree there should be a way to trade privacy for services. Some things can be a lot better when they're personalized.

I'd like to see more granularity and control over the transaction, so it's more of a personal data exchange rather than privacy. Right now it seems to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Privacy first means we can have control over what data is shared. You can still choose to share what you want. That makes it much more of a trade. Right now I don't feel like I'm trading. Right now I feel more like I need to actively guard against people reaching into my "privacy" wallet while I happen to be using services they're offering.

Don't get me wrong: I'm using the services they're providing, and they should be getting something in return. Using Gmail as an example, people think of it as "free email". They're not necessarily aware of the nature -- or extent-- of the exchange. I'm certainly not. I have no idea the extent to which Google is using my data. It doesn't even need to be nefarious. All I'm saying is that I'd like the exchange to be more explicit.

So far we haven't figured out ways of making these kinds of exchanges easy. And I'd much rather see these exchanges happen in the market rather than solely rely on regulations to protect privacy.

I'm sure others have varying opinions on this. If you have an alternate take, please share a comment or a link. Thanks!

I want so desperately to disagree with you but when I think about the average person today, I just don't see them fighting against privacy invasions. They are too brainwashed by the terrorism drum bangers.

This comment may got down voted on HN, but it is reality in real world.

> It would also be stupid to try and beat Google on their own turf. It would be like trying to beat Microsoft at Windows or Office, or Amazon at AWS.

Google and Apple have beaten Microsoft at Windows, by offering better options in MacOS, iOS, and Android. Microsoft is trying (and to some extent succeeding) in catching up to AWS with Azure (look who is growing faster). And if you don't think that dominating the mp3 player market, which allowed for the launch of iTunes, directly leading to the iPhone and the App Store, was important, you didn't pay attention closely.

Also, since the iPhone literally created a market and Android took about 2 years to really launch a competitor, it's pretty flawed to argue that they never beat anyone in market share.

> I don't know what Amazon does for AI, I haven't seen anything convincing from them

Alexa is easily the best voice assistant, at least in terms of actually understanding what is being asked. When it can't help, it's far more often because it can't find a result or because Amazon/the app builder hasn't built Alexa into the product yet (still drives me crazy that asking Alexa to play an HBO show only works with HBO Go, but not HBA Now, for example, but Alexa definitely understands the requests).

I don't know if Alexa is the "best" voice assistant, but up until Google Home ships (has it yet?) it's the "only" voice assistant in the place that voice assistants actually matter.

It'll be interesting to see if Google overtakes the Echo. I'm not a fan of Google's "no apps" approach.

It looks like Google will allow app integration with the Google Assistant: https://developers.google.com/actions/

Maybe. Of some kind. Starting in December.

Here's Tim O'Reilly making the case that Alexa is in a different class (from a UX perspective) than Google or Apple's AI assistants:


I think the point about Alexa's great interactivity coming from having to build for a device with no screen is a strong one. Though I think that the best AI-driven UIs in the future will have to bridge the gap and be able to display content usefully on a screen (or many screens), while also preserving that concept of knowing what the current context is (i.e. "skip" means "skip the track" if I have music playing, but might refer to a different app if I have youtube running).

I agree, I don't know if it's the best. I just know that it recognizes the words I say to it better than any other I have used, oftentimes without needing to speak in the artificially clear voice that most tend to associate with voice control.

> He's a man with principles and for this I appreciate him a lot, maybe more than I ever appreciated Steve Jobs.

Is he really? I mean from a strategic point of view he currently only has to gain from giving that outward appearance. Occam's Razor tells me that he is just luckily able to tread the high road because for him its the one without toll booths.

You can interpret public stances of principle as various ways of making money in the long term, but I do buy that Tim Cook cares about doing the right thing in some areas.

> (An) NCPPR representative asked Mr. Cook to commit right then and there to doing only those things that were profitable.

What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR's advocacy. He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.

"When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind," he said, "I don't consider the bloody ROI." He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.


If I wasn't aware enough about the US political landspace, reading that I'd be convinced that the NCPPR representative could only be a bad plot by Apple for PR. I mean, "commit to doing only those things that were profitable"? It's like asking if he plans to add "Darth" to his name.

Also, the Snowden leaks showed that all the major tech companies were in bed with the Us Govt.

Well, if you're going to apply Occam's Razor, given that as a matter of fact most people don't give a shit about security or privacy, it's actually not in Apple's best interest to make this stand, at least when speaking short term, as it is negating them future revenue opportunities.

And they aren't doing it only in their press releases, but in their products as well. I'd enumerate features of iOS or OS X that have been very well thought out in this regard, but that would make for a blog post.

Occam's Razor actually tells you to take him at his word, as that is the simplest explanation. A major part of Occam's Razor is to eliminate the "read between the lines" gyrations that you're engaging in.

That doesn't mean you're wrong, but it's a misapplication of the principle.

It seems to me the comparison being made between Ballmer and Cook is not in their characters, but in similarities between the directions their companies take under a comparable set of circumstances.

> I don't know what Amazon does for AI

They've always done a lot of consumer analytics. Also, Alexa. I think there's also a lot of AI going on in their logistics operations.

A lot of people in the outskirt of the tech space (investors, analysts) is insisting on AI without really understanding capabilities.

There's good money to be made in pushing existing analytics tech undo AI monikers and sell them repackaged.

"A man with principles" TM.

Do we really know the content of people's characters based solely on what we hear in tech blogs and popular media? Was superior security/privacy/whatever not a selling point for Apple since "lol Mac's don't get viruses"?

I'm not saying Tim Cook is bad, I'm just saying how do we know billionaire execs with PR teams and heavy financial incentives to seem good are in fact good? Did this not bite people in the ass with Holmes?

> Google's own Search has always been a limited form of AI on which most humans with access to the Internet have come to depend upon. And it is tough to beat them because they not only have 20 years of accumulated knowledge and talent, but they also have a lot of data on users and haven't been afraid to break users' privacy in order to get that data.

This is a tech industry shibboleth. Internet search is not particularly good for anyone, and it was better for power users when it wasn't much more than web-grep. Google's innovation was to count the links pointing to a page in order to determine its quality, and once Google became dominant, that technique had been gamed enough to be virtually useless. As far as I can tell, the only algorithmic improvements they've had since then have been net negatives for one's ability to search for things that they haven't searched for before, and the only effective improvements have been from manual tweaking to weed out content farms. Every search I make on Google brings up the same 80 companies that choose to spend most of their effort on SEO, but actually have a business (usually selling me something) rather than copying low-quality content. Google's image search has aggressively gotten materially worse. They've gotten so desperate for improvements that they've been systematically dismantling ethical barriers in order to squeeze out a few more dollars.

I have no idea what product establishes Google as significantly ahead of anyone in AI. They're all just a day ahead of some mathematician who has a sudden insight over her first coffee of the morning. In this, Tim Cook isn't missing anything other than a slight increase in the probability that that mathematician will be working at Apple that morning rather at than the University of Arkansas.

AI is, like it was the first time around, a really speculative bet that will probably disappoint.

IMO, Apple's approach is more honest and has a clear path to profitability. Everyone else is promising the world and not delivering much at all.

This is the truly hard thing with disruptive innovation.

It looks like nothing at all, until it suddenly disrupts everything. It's easy to spot with hindsight, but at the time it's not at all clear what's disruptive and what's nothing.

We'll see. Sometimes it's a bunch of hype and horseshit too.

Apple can provide most of the consumer services on the devices without external services. There's a risk that they cannot execute, but there's a real risk to the Google approach too -- swaths of the business can be wiped out by regulatory action.

> Sometimes it's a bunch of hype and horseshit too.

Yes, I apologize if I wasn't clear. My point was that it's hard to see what is disruptive technology and what is nothing. Plenty of things labelled as disruptive end up as nothing. Plenty of things labelled as nothing end up as disruptive.

I was just saying it's never easy to tell which is which.

We violently agree on that. :)

I'm a big fan of using machine learning to identify photos, etc. Google did it first on their cloud platform, and Apple is doing a pretty good job at it locally on iOS devices.

I'm not a big fan of folks like the Watson marketing team telling me that my IoT fridge is going to replace my doctor and order a gallon of milk for me when I need it. As the Amazon experience with the dash has aptly demonstrated with paper towels that cost 30% more than Costco, that's a way to spend more money on junk!

> I don't know what Amazon does for AI

A lot of people are running their AI stacks on aws.

That doesn't really help them compete in the AI space.

Do they get access to info on how you're using AWS? As in, could they be learning about the perfect stack, hardware/VM optimisations and technologies used in order to jump into the market with a broad knowledge of the current state of the art?

Edit: I guess they don't get any information on success measures, but still, would be interesting if metadata would help them hit the ground running.

My opinion is that the failure of Microsoft has less to do with Ballmer than with the absence of a Steve Jobs.

My experience with large corporations is that they naturally produce mediocrity. The ownership of the final product or service is too diluted, with too many people involved, pulling in too many conflicting directions. They employ people who individually know what "good" means and what should be done in an ideal world. But that knowledge and common sense gets lost with the bureaucracy and the scale of the organisation.

So unless you get someone at the top who will force the company to still achieve something great for their customers, you will end up with an MBA style manager who will make decisions based on options provided by his teams and get products designed based on specs from the top rather than trying to make something great.

A great example is Windows 8. I heard Sinofsky had already been sacked by the time he walked on stage to introduce Windows 8. Microsoft knew it was a shit OS, and decided to push it nevertheless. I have seen this happening so many times in other contexts.

But tablets are another example. Microsoft knew that tablets would be a big thing well before the introduction of the ipad. In fact I remember a pre-ipad interview of Ballmer where he was deploring that the Windows tablets never took off. The problem was that windows-based tablets were too mediocre to create a market.

But Apple is moving in that direction too now. The user experience is deteriorating with every iteration of iOS. I can't think that someone at Apple thinks it's a good user experience to nag their users with all of their services (Apply Pay, iCloud, Apple Music, etc) over and over, with multiple buttons to click to opt out. That will ultimately bite them too. Not overnight, but over 10 years like with Microsoft. Not Tim Cook's fault. That's what large corporations do.

> My opinion is that the failure of Microsoft has less to do with Ballmer than with the absence of a Steve Jobs.

This argument would be a lot stronger had Microsoft not begun making such major improvements as soon as Ballmer was replaced with Nadella.

Have they really, though? I mean, sure, they've got the ole' hype train's pistons pumping and the fanboys woohooing, but they still have produced a version of Windows that is clunky and controversial. They open sourced some stuff, but that's only because they are pushing for the clouds, not some actual change in philosophy. Microsoft's changes are all skin deep.

Yes, they have. I know there is a lot of institutional hatred for Microsoft from the tech sector that will take a while to overcome. But you'll be able to call changes "skin deep" forever if you choose to explain anything positive away as marketing only.

They haven't managed to release a flagship Windows phone for more than a year, Windows 10 is still a disaster, and Surface Book's execution was incredibly botched.

Yeah, there is some good stuff for developers, but their consumer-facing segment is still in shambles.

Windows 10 is not a disaster and never has been.

There's great stuff for everybody. It's the same rock-solid OS that every business depends on, that is still able to run all the software from 20 years ago, yet it also offers a ton of new functionality.

What other desktop OS can you say that about? IMO, there isn't a better desktop OS out there.

Just last night I was actually running some games from 1995 on my 5 year old PC running Windows 10 that is plugged into my brand new 4k smart tv.

Windows 10 is still a schizoid failure to merge the "desktop" and "modern" worlds: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/control-panel-and-settin.... High-DPI scaling is a disaster that is only now being fixed in the Anniversary update: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/askcore/2016/08/16/displ.... There are battery life regressions even on Microsoft hardware: https://www.reddit.com/r/Surface/comments/3isuu4/windows_10_....

Wow. So, your evidence that it's a "disaster" is one random blog post and a handful of reddit complaints...

That's a BIG deal. I guess I should go uninstall Windows 10 from all the High-DPI devices that I'm running it on right now and install...what? I'm guessing that anything that's not perfect qualifies as a disaster in your opinion.

Could you recommend an OS for me? I'll go and make sure that there are no critical articles about it and that the OS manufacturer has never had to fix anything because every major release came out perfectly the first time. Thanks!

I referenced the articles for the facts therein. Are you disputing that Windows 10 bizarrely has two different control panels? Or that it has trouble moving applications between high-DPI and regular-DPI settings?

It's okay to "not be perfect" when it comes to extra features or marginal functions. But stuff like text display, configuration, and power management are things that an OS needs to get perfect.

The article you linked to is talking about a new feature, per-thread DPI awareness, which is something that macOS has never had—NSHighResolutionCapable is per-app (in the Info.plist) and always has been. It seems strange, then, to claim that this feature is needed for HiDPI to not be "broken".

Rather, the problem here is that legacy APIs, which Windows has a lot of, are not HiDPI capable, and attempts to retrofit them are always going to be hacks. Apple has the same issue with Carbon—Carbon is not HiDPI capable either.

The article is also talking about non-client area scaling which is not a per thread issue. Also, it gives the example of the print dialog in Notepad not scaling. That's a first party app!

Sure, Carbon doesn't scale. It was effectively deprecated almost ten years ago when it wasn't ported to 64-bit. Apple rapidly rewrote its first-party apps and they've been scalable for years. Basic first party apps in Windows 10 don't scale properly. I don't know what you can call that other than a disaster.

> The article is also talking about non-client area scaling which is not a per thread issue.

It's talking about that and the per thread DPI issue. And again, it seems to be backwards compatibility that's the issue. Note that you have to opt in to the non-client-area scaling with a special API.

> Also, it gives the example of the print dialog in Notepad not scaling. That's a first party app!

Are you sure notepad.exe can be even changed? It's a tiny wrapper around a comctl32.dll TEXT control. The Print dialog is pure comdlg32.dll, and I'm sure there are backwards compatibility reasons why that cannot be changed.

Wine has to fairly precisely duplicate notepad.exe, so I suspect there is some backwards compatibility reason why it has to be the way it is.

Remember that Win32 is totally based on using exact pixel coordinates for everything. There are a lot fewer apps hardcoding pixel measurements of things in the Apple world (and coordinates in classic Win32 are in integers, not CGFloats as in Core Graphics/Cocoa). Microsoft can't even change the Windows 95 default style of buttons without opt-in without breaking apps!

> Apple rapidly rewrote its first-party apps

Not iTunes! It is still Carbon.

> Windows 10 is still a schizoid failure to merge the "desktop" and "modern" worlds: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/control-panel-and-settin....

Apple's "Lion is a Quitter" botched attempt to merge the iOS file paradigm with the Mac file paradigm was easily worse than this.

I think it's fair to say that both Apple and Microsoft have had difficulties bringing mobile paradigms to the desktop, and I think it's even fair to say that Windows 8 was deeply flawed. But at this point both Apple and Microsoft (heck, even GNOME 3) have gotten over their growing pains in this regard and have made quite usable systems. I switch between Mac, Windows, and Linux desktop frequently and I find that they've all converged to a pretty similar point of usability.

The smartphone ship has sailed long time ago, and no matter what magical flagship Microsoft releases, they would never gain dominance or even notability in the mobile space. Nadella himself as admitted as much. They're probably not going to focus on winning that lost battle, just as they're not going to try to beat Google with Bing.

With all the great execution of Windows and Office, Steve Ballmer bled a lot of money on other businesses, constantly trying to overtake incumbent with generally inferior products that offered too little differentiation. Don't forget the Zune, the Kin and the early Windows phones, Bing, Microsoft Stores and so on. Almost no new line of products released by Microsoft during the Ballmer years actually managed to gain market - the Xbox being the sole exception, since it actually managed to differentiate itself well. At the same time, Microsoft was very slowly, but also very surely, bleeding market share at markets they traditionally dominate like desktop browsers and consumer OS.

I think Tim Cook at the very least didn't get any embarrassing failure on his name yet, and iOS is not stagnating the way Internet Explorer, Office and Windows Mobile did.

Surface Book is a fantastic device. What was botched?

> clunky...

In your opinion.

> and controversial...

Great products often are controversial.

> Microsoft's changes are all skin deep.

It's easy to say so, but where are your actual arguments? I didn't see any.

I challenge you to write an article about how "Microsoft's changes are all skin deep" and post it here on HN.

I am not sure it has. Surface isn't exactly an ipad killer. And the more I use Windows 10, the more I miss Windows 7.

I just bought a refurbished EliteBook that came with Windows 7, after using Windows 10 since it came out. The rose-tinted glasses are real, and 10 is indeed > 7. I need to find my 10 Enterprise MSDN disk.

2 flawed products does not negate everything else that has improved. I say this as someone who still has not bought a Microsoft product in over 5 years.

Windows 8 and tablets are actually related.

Large corps may produce mediocrity, but the issue for MS is not so much that - they have talent, and are operationally effective.

I think large corps fail to grasp industry pivots - and they keep doing 'more of same' - failing to take risks on new, emerging concepts.

Part of this is 'baked in' - large, incumbent entities have more to lose than to gain by innovation.

Protecting MS monopoly is easier than taking the risk of heading in a new direction that does not pan out. Very, very few companies can do it well.

Amazon did a great job with AWS - but that was a spin-off of something they already used internally, so it had at least one 'satisfied real world customer' in a way.

Also - consider Apple without the iPhone. They just would not be what they are. The iPhone was a rare win, and it had a lot to do with leap-frogging BlackBerry - who created the market demand for data services. Were it not for BB making ridiculous amounts of surplus profits, Jobs would have not been able to justify to himself a $200M investment in the iPhone. Of course - MS should have seen this and acted more aggressively on creating a better experience - they missed it.

In the end I think Cook came up through the ranks of Ops, and is a trusted maintainer of the system. Ballmer is a loud, boorish Trump-like figure who I don't think was very liked.

Even if I generally agree with disappointment at the apparent "maintenance mode" of Apple's product line, I am not sure Ballmer is the best analogy. My understanding is that Tim Cook actually is responsible for many of the supply chain innovations behind Apple's dominant product lines. This is an incredibly hard technical feat, not just blustery MBA crap. I suppose it remains to be seen whether Apple can put its enormous cash hoard to work in R&D and new product development. It could be possible for Apple to go the way of RIM but I think it would be very hard to kill them given their unique supply chain efficiencies (not to mention brand and balance sheet).

If you take a look back, Steve Ballmer was responsible for a lot of the success of Microsoft. He mostly got hate because people hated Microsoft. I'm don't think Ballmer's list of accomplishments at Microsoft is fully appreciated particularly compared to the good press Tim Cook as enjoyed.

My impression is that he got less hate and more ridicule.

Sure, Gates looked like the archetype nerd any time he presented something. But not was lightyears better than the whole "developers developers developers" dance Ballmer managed to pull.

Sadly the tech media have over the years blended over into lifestyle media. No longer is the computer or phone something to get a job done and that's it, now its a indicator of how you see yourself and how you want others to see you. And that image goes all the way back to the company making them, and the people that are the faces of said company.

Whilst I agree tech has blended with lifestyle, I don't see it as "sad", its perception being more akin to other aspects of personal identity isn't to be seen as derogatory but celebrated as it's expanded the market and the media interest in reporting on it.

But Tim Cook had tons of bad press. Back when the stock was falling in late 2012-2013, there was a cottage industry of people calling for him to resign.

I wonder if Ballmer really got bad press outside of geeky circles until relatively late in his career, when hindsight showed that Microsoft was missing out on a lot of new products.

He got plenty of bad press, but you're right in that it was countered by (valid) good press about his success in strengthening Microsoft's enterprise business.

No, Ballmer got hate because Microsoft's consumer products consistently flopped. The stuff that those of us who flipped to Apple while he was in charge used (Zune, Windows Vista, original Surface, Windows Phone) were consistently underwhelming. However, Ballmer was simply inarguably an effective CEO from the perspective of investors. He grew the enterprise business consistently (which has a huge amount of value for legacy purposes), and some of the stuff he launched to support that (Azure, notably) positioned the company to grow in new ways that Nadella has really leveraged. He wasn't a visionary at all, but Ballmer was one of the best executor CEOs out there.

For the kids out there: “original Surface” isn’t what you think. It was a “smart table” and its most compelling use case was to present a menu right underneath your place setting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zxk_WywMTzc

Don't forget this classic parody video:


There’s a distinct trend of YouTube commenters who believe that the Surface (tablet) is somehow a descendent of the Surface table, just because their names are the same. Interesting.

Funny video — thanks for sharing.

For me its most compelling use case was as a gaming table. At Origins I got to see it used for D&D. Quite fun, but too expensive an option for the average gamer (who isn't already buying Geek Chic furniture).

Heh, thanks for reminding me of that.

> However, Ballmer was simply inarguably an effective CEO from the perspective of investors.

Reasonably effective, but not inarguably, since investor basically care only about one thing only: RoI. Under Ballmer's reign, the stock generally remained flat. Microsoft paid dividends, so investors still got some RoI, but not even close to what they could get on Apple in the same era. Under Nadella the share prices went up by 50% (100% really if you count from when Ballmer announced he'd be leaving), so Nadella is inarguably a more effective CEO for short term investors by several orders of magnitude. Nadella's strategy may be slightly more risky, so Ballmer might be an arguably better CEO for risk-averse long-term investors.

> Ballmer was simply inarguably an effective CEO from the perspective of investors.

I'm not so sure. Imagine Microsoft had a lazy/disciplined CEO who said, "Windows and Office development only. No Bing, no XBox, no Azure, no Windows Phone, no Nokia". Would the shareholders be richer now?

Especially with declining PC sales.

> No, Ballmer got hate because Microsoft's consumer products consistently flopped.

Doesn't that ignore the XBox and the dominance of Windows in the consumer market?

Let us know what consumer market products you think MS will have by 2018.

Satya Nadella is in charge of Microsoft, not Ballmer, so I don't see the relevance of 2018 for the article.

>He mostly got hate because people hated Microsoft.

I believe that the hypothesis of the article is that people hated Microsoft because of Ballmer.

Mr. Gates was in charge when Microsoft did quite a bit of their hated activities. It was Gates as CEO who rigged it so all of us buying a PC to run a different OS had to pay for Windows.

Apple also did a fair share of evil things, but it managed to be viewed as cool rather than evil.

However, it is obvious that we are talking about subjective things here, and establishing causality is certainly not easy.

Interesting - do you have a cite?

> He mostly got hate because people hated Microsoft.

He was the face of "bad" Microsoft, the unashamedly anti-competitive win-at-all-costs bully. Gates could win some people back with his nerd-cred and things like the mid-'00s "security push". Ballmer was first and foremost a suit, or rather a suit trying to pretend he's down with the nerds just enough to screw them as soon as they turn around, and his "fuck you" attitude wasn't exactly friendly.

> I'm don't think Ballmer's list of accomplishments at Microsoft is fully appreciated

Probably because they were accomplishments for Microsoft rather than for the industry as a whole. Apple gets a lot of leeway because the iPhone really made a difference for the industry, not just winning but drawing a path. Microsoft has not really done anything like that since the Win 95 / Office / IE 5 progression.

Microsoft publishes research, Apple does not. I love Apple via NeXT, but let's be real, Apple is in it for Apple and they don't even treat their partners of any kind very well.

> He mostly got hate because people hated Microsoft

There are developers that actually do enjoy using Microsoft stacks, even though we also have experience using other systems.

I don't have anything personal against Ballmer. Would be interested to know more about his role in building MS.

Generally speaking a product company can't thrive off supply chain innovations. The market will move to commodification at some point.

I was going to say something along these lines (tho more of a "cautionary tale" than absolute "no company can") Having worked for Nokia when they absolutely dominated the supply chain for their phones, this indeed gets you to the position of "top 10 brand in the world" but it isn't enough to keep you there.

That said, I think Apple it much better positioned than Nokia and much more focused on continual disrupting their own position (ipad to phone to tablet to watch is an interesting morph away from single product). So long as they can keep innovating and dominate the supply chain, I believe they will have some long legs.

> Generally speaking a product company can't thrive off supply chain innovations. The market will move to commodification at some point

To stave off commodification, the said company can pivot into a fashion company where the value is derived from the brand itself. Instead of differentiating by feature, it can differentiate by 'brand value' and encourage repeat-sales by ecnouraging seasonal fashion cycles. "Rose Go^w^wTeal is the color of the season this year. If you don't have a teal device, you're so last year"

It seems to me that Apple wouldn't have recruited Angela Ahrendts if it wasn't serious about following this strategy.

If this were true Apple shouldn't be able to sell computers for a premium, and yet they do. 40 years should have been enough for commodification to take effect.

What if they are merely still selling computers at a premium because they merely used to be better and are slowly falling behind?

For me, I want the OS. I grew tired of maintaining my Linux install (and the various hardware issues), and grew tired of Windows (especially as a non-gamer). I wanted a unix-environment, OS X was the easiest way to get that in a reliable, portable system.

And then, through the network effect, my family followed suit because I'm their IT guy (actually, one of the reasons I quit Windows too, but they just keep dragging me back).

But the premium isn't too bad, IMO. I've had my current laptop (MBP, retina display) since 2012 and it's still going strong, even the original battery. I recognize that this is partially because we seem to have plateaued a bit on desktop/laptop capabilities, but I have no major issue running anything I want to run on it (modulo games, whicH I don't play so is a non-issue for me). I've also been able to reliably sell their laptops for a decent amount (could probably get more, but always sell to friends) and end up with a discounted new laptop as a result.

EDIT: Further, my experience with non-tech owners of Apple laptops versus PC laptops has been interesting. I don't know if the PC laptops are just more fragile, or if the Apple owners are more conscientious. But Apple laptops seem to last much longer and end up in much better shape (less the power cords) with "average" users. But this is purely anecdotal. A large part of that difference is probably just that a $1000-2000 PC laptop would last just as well as the same price Apple, but more PC laptop owners get the $300-500 sale price machines from Best Buy.

So who's making better mobile chips than their A series of processors? Or even chips as good?

Their mobile chips aren't in their computers (i.e. laptops or desktops) ... yet.

Apple in the PC market is a single digit percentage point(7.2) participant. Premium niche is a functional business model, but broad market speaking, commodification has taken place, in that 25% of the PC market is Other in most reports. That number is important because it implies that 25% of the entire market is "small" actors that have been able to leverage commodification. If you also consider Dell as a commodity vendor then that group jumps to 40%.

The parent implies that it will eventually drive the margins down. If you're saying that commodification has already taken place then it's even more impressive that Apple's line of computers can still command a premium and indicates that they have some kind of durable competitive advantage.

It's almost like Apple has uncovered a new kind of product microeconomics -- luxury commodity, a commodity product where luxury pricing increases demand. It's a cheap way for consumers to signal upscale fashion.

(This is me appreciating the enemy's skill from afar. I do not personally like Apple products. Just as I prefer wearing paint-stained sweatpants and 10-year-old extra-large t-shirts, as well as running linux on 8-year-old workstation. My favorite "smart"phone is a blackberry classic.)

I'm not sure if you were being sarcastic, but that's called a Veblen Good (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veblen_good) and many luxury items follow the same pattern.

Nitpick, luxury goods and veblen goods are distinct concepts. Veblen goods are generally considered theoretical (with the possible exception of things like stocks). For Apple laptops to be Veblen goods, you would have to believe that they would sell fewer laptops if they were cheaper, not just makes less money. You could make the case that it's all brand fetishism and Apple would sell fewer MacBooks than they do now if they cost $500 rather than $1000, but i find that fairly implausible.

I agree. Premium niche is a very effective business model, and Apple does apply that strategy very well. I was only suggesting that supply chain optimization is more a function of profitability for Apple and less of a market advantage due to total market commodification.

This is why they have invested so heavily in silicon fab and machining.

It's a little weird for me that a company supposedly in "maintenance mode" has been ignoring the Mac for so long. Even a 5th rate computer company can manage to come out with a new model once in a while. How did Apple get to the point where a company in "maintenance mode" ignores a big product line like this for so long? Is Apple not capable of executing on more than 1 project at once?

Actually Apple is organized in such a way that it is not very good at executing at more than a handful of products at a time. Almost all companies comparable to Apple in size, are organized into product divisions, each with their own balance sheet, as well as sales and marketing departments. This is because it allows big companies to scale to a very large number of different products, ensuring that each product line gets the attention it requires. Apple OTOH is organized by function, e.g. hardware, software, sales, marketing etc. This allows products to be much better integrated, and it also means that there are no «sacred cows» product-wise. There was no iPod-division that was incentivized to obstruct the creation of the iPhone for instance. The trade off is that it is very hard to manage more than a handful of product lines.

> a big product line

There's your mistake - next to i-devices, the Mac is simply not a big product line. It's something they need to have around for ecosystem developers, and something of a brand exercise in other sectors. Nothing more.

I am perfectly aware that when compared to phones and other devices, Macs make up a small percentage of Apple's income. But it is still a massive business.

Apple will be fine either way in the short term. Hell, they have enough cash saved up to run their company for many years even if they make zero income. But their brand reputation is starting to get tarnished when their ecosystems don't get supported. In the long run, having people wondering how frequently the ecosystems they buy into will be supported is a concern.

True, but why is that so? Apple wants the high end consumer. Gamers are high end consumers, and yet Apple doesn't sell them high end desktop or laptop machines with gaming capable GPUs. Also no VR/AR gear. This seems like quite a strange omission from their product line.

Gamers are high end consumers

They really aren't. PC gamers hang out on Reddit and other forums trading info about how to build a PC from commodity parts in order to get the absolute best price/performance ratio. It's not hard at all to put together a machine for less than a thousand dollars that would be competitive with the machines Apple sells for three thousand.

There's no margin for Apple in this space.

> "It's not hard at all to put together a machine for less than a thousand dollars that would be competitive with the machines Apple sells for three thousand."

That's a complete BS, I want you to give me an example of that. Less than a thousand dollar desktop vs 3000$ mac.

Now re laptops. My PC friends keep telling me that MacBooks are overpriced And that you can get a faster PC laptop for half the price, but as soon as they start giving me examples like razor blade or some msi laptops, they quickly starting to see that base models of those cost > 1500$ and to get decent specs for gaming you have to shell out upward of 2000$, so in the end you are paying the same money you pay for MacBook.

Laptops are irrelevant to this discussion since nobody builds a laptop from off-the-shelf parts.

The issue I'm talking about is gaming performance. Apple sells Mac Pros starting at $3000. These machines use workstation class Xeon processors with ECC memory and workstation class graphics cards designed for double precision floating point computation. These features are irrelevant to gamers. It is not hard at all to build a cheap machine that can beat one of these workstations in all your favourite games, especially when you consider the abysmal state of OpenGL drivers on macOS.

If you read my comment i was referring to mac desktops, laptops were a separate point in a discussion. Nevertheless you are comparing 3 year old Mac Pro with current PCs, at the time when Mac Pro was released it was on par with PC systems that costed around 3000$ as well.

I'm comparing brand new Mac Pros that Apple is selling right now, today. The fact that Apple hasn't updated this product in 3 years is not my problem. I can't believe you'd think that would not be a point in my favour.

it's actually pretty easy. The biggest cost associated with building a new computer are cpu/gpu. A half decent mb goes for around 150. $700 worth of cpu/gpu will let you place most anything out on high settings. Yeah if you are looking for a titan you're gonna end up paying more than $1000 but even still that computer is going to absolutely take any high end mac desktop to the wood shed for still probably half the price

other companies are moving into this space iirc. external gpu case manufacturers are targeting apple with a pretty perfect idea+execution. macs already have high resolution screens, just lack the gpu processing power to drive games on those resolutions. wolfe/bizon tech are working in this space

Gamers market is a completely different animal. The hate towards Apple products in that market is spread across it, even if Apple releases a great and powerful computer for gaming - most of the high end gamers would not buy it just because they have an anti mac mentality. On top of that high end gamers want customizability when building their PC, Apple can not possibly support many different model and brands of motherboards, processors, ram etc...

Not to mention the lack of certain titles on MacOS.

…and what are the thousand? people in the division doing for years at a time?

Apple does appear to be losing focus.

For example:

Apple has devalued the PRO moniker under Tim Cook's guidance.

By trying to ram it's Mobile OS into a PRO product (iPad PRO). I mean the UI grid is still 4 x 5 on a massive 12 inch display. Nobody noticed it feels more like Fisher Price? And the iPad "PRO" apps are all dumbed down, feature limited versions of actual pro desktop apps.

Then, by stagnating a once well regarded PRO product, the Macbook PRO, they further eroded the PRO moniker. Did they delay significant updates to the Macbook PRO to see if existing users would eventually give the iPad PRO a try first? Or did they simply want to drive Desktop OS marketshare back to Windows?

And what about the slim Macbook with a fancy new port (USB-C) that's still not available on any other Macbook, even 1.5+ years later!!!? Yes, that's exactly how you devalue the PRO moniker. By releasing new, cutting edge tech on your consumer products first. And then wait years before adding that tech to your PRO line (I know, the new Macbook PRO is rumoured to ONLY have USB-C ... sigh).

Don't even get started on the Mac PRO. Ya, that ridiculously underpowered, overpriced PRO computer that you forgot about, that looks like a NYC subway trash can. https://www.google.com/search?q=nyc+subway+trash+can&tbm=isc... Talk about an awesome PRO design.

Talk about losing focus.

Eerily similar to later stage Ballmer Microsoft.

The Mac Pro and MacBook Pro are still very capable, solid, and focused machines. Go into any dev shop on the planet and you will see that's true. The only point your comment is right on is the Pro moniker being attached to an iPad.

I'm one of those devs and I'm sure every dev shop has been itching for a significant Macbook update for quite some time. Macbook PRO hasn't seen a significant update since 2012. Just minor speed bumps and force touch in 2015.

So we're getting one next week - but why not sooner? That was one of the takeaways from this article. Pace of innovation has slowed under Tim Cook.

4 years is right on schedule for redesigns of the Macbook Pro. Not sure how the current narrative about Macs being neglected got started, but they're not behind at all if you look at the previous cadence between redesigns. The Macbook Pro also got a minor speed bump in May 2015.

The only difference this year is that Intel has been having problems delivering on time (and without problems).

> The only difference this year is that Intel has been having problems delivering on time (and without problems).

That is the entire difference. You're correct in that this is the expected time between redesigns, but we also haven't gotten a spec bump in over a year. That's unusual, and it's giving real fuel to the usually-overblown "[product] is so stale!"

Part of the problem is that Intel has been having issues with delivering new CPU's on time. Intel used to be much better about following their tick-tock model and delivering new CPU's regularly, but over the past couple of years things have been really more miss than hit.

The only thing that Apple could have done is bump the CPU, which would have not gained anything in terms of power savings or any other changes, and means now you have one more model you have to stock replacement parts for.

This has been an issue not just for laptops, but also for their Xeon line-up in servers. Due to manufacturing delays the v4 for the Xeon line-up was released earlier this year, and didn't really get started shipping until April.

The Mac Pro is pretty ancient at this point. If you see them in dev shops, it's because they simply don't have any other choice: if you want a powerful desktop Mac, then you buy the Mac Pro, even though it's three years old.

And even that is not necessarily true anymore. The iMac tends to beat it on many tasks now. At this point, people buy it because they really want to bring their own monitor, or they just can't imagine an iMac could be faster, or they are one of the few people doing something the Mac Pro is still better at.

That's the bind Apple's in. The market for the Mac Pro is very small, and it's also extremely demanding, they're never happy.

The iMac has a much broader appeal, the market is demanding but not to the same extreme. Many designers use these machines because they've got great screens and acceptable levels of performance.

I'm not sure Apple can win in the Mac Pro space without losing a ton of money. HP and Dell make high-end workstations, but it's a very tiny market compared to their general desktop and server sales.

Apple likes to focus on products it can sell millions of, not tens of thousands.

I agree that segment is demanding, but there's really only one box we want to tick:

1. I want to legally run OSX on top-of-the-line hardware.

I don't want a fancy design that's unnecessarily difficult to rack-mount or store anywhere, I don't want to try out new ports while abandoning common ones, and I certainly don't want to be 3 years behind.

A matte black rectangle would be a lot better than this. Why the need to be so fancy, to the detriment of your actual users?

I totally agree. I'm not surprised they've let it stagnate, and because of the problems you mention I fully expect them to just kill it outright at some point.

But none of that changes the fact that the Mac Pro is not "still very capable" as stated in the comment I replied to.

Apple's take on that Pro machine was to give it an absurd amount of GPU power, and for Final Cut that's all you need.

It's terrible for rendering on CPU. It's limited in terms of expansion. It will never compete against a self-built machine.

Maybe they will kill it, but it'll be a shame if they do. The Xserve died for the same reasons: They couldn't field a competitive machine.

At some point maybe Apple will offer their OS for use on non-Apple hardware under some kind of "if it works, great" type basis, you know, for enthusiasts and people who need way more power than Apple can deliver. Maybe it'll be called something other than macOS, just like NeXTStep's OS became OpenStep?

> they're never happy

It's hard to be happy with that little trash can.

The tower models were great. It's a shame Apple stopped updating those.

I know many people were happy with how small, quiet, and powerful they were for the sorts of things they were doing: Audio engineering and video editing.

They're not powerhouse workstations like they used to be where it's all about performance.

The fact that you think the "Pro" in "MacBook Pro" is an acronym might be undermining your argument a little...

Tim Cook is a "Bozo" - He has moved the focus away from computers and the companies core professional users and turned Apple into a fashionable health services company. They will coast for a while on their dominant mobile market share but eventually the stagnation and lack of new products will catch up to them.

He built a watch, which was a "me too" product and answered a question that no one asked. Jobs would never have done this because of the marginal increase in utility that smart watches provides users.

He also wasted company time and resources on trying to build a car, which is completely outside Apple's skill sets (the supply chains and profit margins are radically different). It seemed like he was just trying to do something innovative instead of actually looking at the needs and demands of users inside the computing industry where apple should be focused.

Its unfortunate that Jobs didn't see his lack of product development skills when he made him CEO - Jobs always talked about how product companies falter when marketing/sales/supply chain guys run the company and not product guys.

This image http://core0.staticworld.net/images/article/2015/10/slide-06..., to me, simbolizes the recent Apple.

I don't get the hate for this mouse design. Have you ever used it? Actually - have you ever used a wireless mouse in general? You know how rarely you need to change batteries or charge them right?

To design a wireless mouse around the idea of using it while being wired would be a massive design fail. It would compromise the design of the common use case in order to improve the extremely rare use case.

The design fail is not taking the obvious and consistent (albeit spaced out) need to charge the mouse into account. It's not like some people don't have to charge this mouse; everyone will charge the mouse at some point, and they will do so consistently over the years.

With this design, I get a first class experience using it when the batteries aren't empty, but I literally cannot use the mouse when I need to charge it. The idea that a mouse should sacrifice such a basic functionality requirement just for the sake of a slightly better design is hilariously backward.

Once a month I need to flip the thing and plug it in. The amount of hassle is almost zero. It charges quickly enough that on a few minutes of charging it can limp along for another hour or so.

I've had other cordless mice that needed to be charged in a special cradle, which is basically the same thing, and I never heard anyone bitching about "hilariously backwards" design. Most people reviewing the product thought that was convenient.

Do you actually own a Magic Mouse? I do. I only charge it every month and a half, and for less than an hour at that. It warns me ahead of time when its battery is running low. I have absolutely no complaints about the way it charges, and I even appreciate the resulting seamless design.

That image symbolizes Apple to me too. For me it represents how many seemingly poor decisions made by Apple often turn out to be less severe than they initially appeared—many even reasonable.

Magic Mouse happened on Jobs' watch.

Well, it did, but the second iteration happened under Cook.

The original one uses AA batteries while the second iteration, pictured above, uses an integrated battery that needs recharge using the Lightning cable. As you can see, there was no redesign to accommodate this new requirement besides slapping the charge port under the mouse, making it impossible to use while charging.

Which doesn't matter, at all, because the device charges in a few minutes. As everyone who actually uses one knows.

BTW, there WAS a redesign...it's just that you don't like the redesign, which is different. Some of us like the fact that the Lightning port is hidden and not sticking out the side of the device in some ugly way.

This is a vast improvement which saves all the waste and inconvenience of throw-away batteries.

Is there some unsolvable engineering dilemma related to port position, or was it cost-motivated?

This is the point. If an engineer had shown this piece of work to Steve, do you think they'd still work at Apple?

> If an engineer had shown this piece of work to Steve, do you think they'd still work at Apple?

Yes. And it would not have been an engineer, it would have been the industrial designer. The whole point of the design is beautiful seamless surfaces and curves. That's why the charging port is underneath. Which is exactly where the battery door was, BTW.

Steve Jobs is the guy who added a useless pointless screw (it literally connected to nothing) to one side of the iBook to match a (necessary) screw on the other side.

Steve Jobs is the guy who told people complaining about the iPhone 4 "don't hold it that way."

Steve Jobs is also dead, which is convenient for all the folks who like to invoke His Presence to support their personal opinions.

Incidentally, from an engineering perspective, Li battery devices are not supposed to be plugged in all the time. This design very neatly prevents that from happening.

Talk about invoking "His Presence".

Ha, good point--I'm as guilty as anyone, apparently.

You're correct; it doesn't matter. Until it does.

Edit: BTW, you'll eventually have to throw this mouse away because the battery is dead. And there are AA batteries that can be recharged and used many, many times.

It takes courage to make products that can't be used (fully) while they charge. Magic mouse, Macbook, now iPhone.

Some of the best rated non-Apple mice have charging docks. These also prohibit usage while charging.

The same could have been said about the ipod as well. It has little to do with computing and was marketed as a lifestyle product. Apple is notorious for being second to the market with its simplified vision of emerging tech.

"Notorious" or "beloved"? What you're complaining about here is literally a huge part of why they're successful, and the reason so many people like their products. There are people who value "tech done first" over "tech done right", but those people are more known for their hot takes in tech blog comment sections than as a meaningful or lucrative target audience in the consumer electronics and computer industries.

Agreed. I'm having trouble thinking of any product category where Apple was actually first to market.

> Agreed. I'm having trouble thinking of any product category where Apple was actually first to market

The dirty little secret is that the first company to market with a new product category almost never succeeds. No one really knows what the market wants or what will make the whole thing come together and take off. Most of the time the discovery never even makes it to market because no one can figure out how to make a real product with it. Execution is as important as innovation.

The iPod was transformative because it was paired with a music store.

The iPhone was transformative because it was a pocket computer that happened to make phone calls and it broke the carrier's stranglehold on hardware and software.

The Mac was the first widespread easy to use GUI. Yes, Xerox had the Alto. So what? They had no idea what to do with it and it was never terribly successful.

When you take an ultra-reductionist approach you can dismiss anything. Dropbox wasn't the first one to sync files over a network. Oh Uber, it's just a fancy way to order a taxi. Airbnb: just a fancy version of classified ads. Instacart? I can pay anyone to go buy my groceries, rich people have been doing that for years. Stripe? We already have a million payment gateways!

> looking at the needs and demands of users inside the computing industry where apple should be focused.

That approach would not have yielded the iPod, iPhone, or Music Store.

I would actually argue with on on the iPod. Back when they came out digital music players were still considered a kind of cutting-edge gadget, not something you'd expect a random punter to carry. It was in many ways the iPod's success that created that environment.

Your frequent reminded that people have said "They will coast for a while on their dominant mobile market share but eventually the stagnation and lack of new products will catch up to them" about Apple -every- -single- -year- since about 2007. And yet, they endure.

I remember a different Apple around 1994 - 96, almost getting ready to close doors, if it hadn't been bought by NeXT (which is what actually happened).

I was for a while thinking of the case where Apple bought NeXT, but Gil Amelio and later Ellen Hancock stayed as CEO. While PC margins was declining, I was thinking that Apple could mostly focus on the higher-end PC and workstation markets. I wonder how this would have compared to Tim Cook.

> He has moved the focus away from computers...

The market moved away from computers, not Tim. PC sales are imploding, that whole market is a shell of what it used to be.

A desktop computer is not an essential piece of kit any more, and even a laptop is a luxury. Many people survive almost exclusively on their phone or tablet, they have little to no need for an actual computer.

IBM divested itself of desktop computers, HP's flirted with the idea for over a decade, and Dell had to undergo a huge restructuring just to survive. Every single PC manufacturer is getting pounded by dwindling sales.

So yeah, he's a bozo.

I really like the dichotomy Steve Blank uses between "process" people and "creative" people. I've only been working in tech companies for ~10yrs but all my experience working in companies have shown me that the more a person is obsessed with processes and structure, the less they contribute to the real business value (product, design, marketing, etc). Not only in their own time investment in the company but in their influence on others around them, which tends to be high because they usual get managerial roles somehow.

These are the people who obsess over flaws in how work is done rather than the work itself. Which has it's place in larger companies but even there it really needs to be balanced, much more in favour of outward work.

Being a front-end dev I've had to work with many 'product managers' who spent a big chunk of their time on the process stuff and most of the product ideas were just shots in the dark without backing it up with data or experience, or otherwise entirely reactionary to local customer issues or the bosses moods, rather than with a strong vision or focusing on high level trends in customer behaviour. Largely, I believe, because they spent a lot of their finite resources focusing on the wrong things (internal optimization rather than external, ie talking to customers, value prop).

There are many many traps that startups can fall into and this is a big one. Especially when companies get VC and start adding non-core team members, then feel the need to bring in managers.

One important thing that visionaries get credit for, but perhaps shouldn't...

Being in the right place at the right time.

It is a delightful bit of luck that Steve Jobs made it back to Apple. That scenario could have been way different where Apple bought BeOS, and Steve Jobs didn't return to Apple.

If Jobs isn't at Apple, he doesn't have the opportunity or resources to make his vision for the iMac, iBook, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, or iPad a real thing. In fact, he probably wouldn't have had the reason to envision any of the things at NEXT.

Also, you could argue that Jobs being at Apple when ARM got good enough for mass market smart gadgets at scale played into it too. If the tech isn't quite there, it doesn't look as interesting at all.

Without the right tech being available, Apple stalls out at the iMac and Power Mac and so on and is a profitable computer vendor, but not the most valuable company in the world.

So, Tim Cook might not be as visionary, but it might also be a poor time for anyone to be CEO as the opportunities shifted.

I'm not so sure. Jobs learned at lot at NeXT, I think the next company/product he would have worked on would have gotten it right, even if it hadn't been Apple.

I'm not sure he learned much at all.

There is a very clear through-line connecting all the Jobsian products: an aggressively streamlined approach to features, a fascination with high-quality materials and novel industrial processes, and an aesthetic sensibility derived from Bauhaus/Functionalism/Dieter Rams. All these elements are just as present in his misses (Lisa, the original Mac, the NeXT Cube, the G4 Cube) as in his hits (iMac, iPod, iPhone).

What separates his age of mostly misses from his age of mostly hits isn't any change in his design philosophy; it's the passage of time. His misses mostly came early, his hits late.

What this implies to me is that his later success wasn't due to him changing, so much as the world changing around him. In 1984 and 1990 and 1995, he was trying to sell objects d'art into a computing market that was dominated by business/enterprise purchasers, who didn't care if the machines they bought were ugly as sin as long as they were functional and interoperable and cheap. By 2005 the market for tech had shifted away from those buyers into the consumer market, where the priorities were completely different, more like those of the fashion business than of the tech business of old.

Suddenly the Jobsian approach stopped being a liability and started being an asset. But that's not because he learned how to aim better, it's because the targets moved so that they were all neatly lined up in front of him.

Getting it right is not what I'm talking about. I'm saying doing the exact same kind of thing. What if his next company would have been building an online store like Amazon. Does he end up building the iPhone from there? Probably not.

Luck is generally involved in success.

So maybe this is just regression toward the mean and hasn't that much to do with whoever is the CEO.

In other words, every very successful company is bound to be less successful later. Nothing really exciting about this.

That's what I tend to wonder about these visionary types - how much of it is really a skill or talent that they have, and how much is just picking the right thing at the right time. If Bill Gates had stayed in charge, would he have forseen how the industry would change and gotten out ahead of it in time, or be blindsided like everybody else? If Steve Jobs was still alive, would he keep churning out industry-changers, or start to flop? Would either of them do something amazing if they had been born 50 years earlier instead?

> If Steve Jobs was still alive, would he keep churning out industry-changers

If he were alive and well, I think so. With the exception of iPad (which wasn't subpar by industry standards but certainly signaled a descent into mediocrity for Apple, and which I would attribute to Jobs' slowly disengaging with the company due to his health issues), Jobs was on an unbelievable streak between his return in the late 90s and about 2009/2010. In the span of about 10 years, his company did several outstanding feats in holistic hardware/software design, and it can't be a coincidence that the man was then largely healthy and in command.

I do think that would have probably continued until the mid to latter part of this decade had he continued in better health.

I noticed that Apple lost track of usability since Cook came after their release of a new keyboard at first, new arrows buttons on it are completely unusable, on older keyboards they had spacing between the left/right and buttons on top, now they extended left/right buttons and it makes it incredibly hard to "feel" where they are, and the fact that MacBooks pros still have an old layout makes it a night mare to switch between desktop and laptop programming.

Another one is a new lock screen on iOS 10, sometimes the fingerprint does not work or the finger is dirty and i know I want to unlock it with a pin, before I used to be able to just swipe right away and type the pin, now it won't let me and I have to repeatatly press the home button until it figures out that the fingerprint won't work and it has to show me the pin enter screen.

Might be little things but it's what used to separate Apple from the crowd, I don't want them to lose focus on those. And don't get me started on the new OS X, which makes my maxed out 2014 rMBP look like slow PC from 2000.

What keyboard has the arrow buttons you are talking about?

When I place the wrong finger on my touchID and press the home button once, it shows me the pin entry to get into the phone. No multiple presses, nothing. First bad read, shows the pin entry.

The new keyboard on macbook and external keyboard has a different layout of arrow keys [1] vs the older macbook pro keyboard [2]

[1] - https://www.evernote.com/l/ABV1fPm7JnBO76pqevjy990uALmIK39uZ...

[2] - https://www.evernote.com/l/ABVer15u9rhODaV3U5QafcRx8eVu3HVq6...

As for the touch ID - try double clicking the home button with a finger that has no touch ID, it does not show a PIN entering screen. I used to double tap all the time before to quicker unlock the phone and swipe to enter a pin, now its' quite annoying and not as fast.

Double clicking brings up Apple Pay. Clicking once with a finger that doesn't have TouchID brings up the PIN entry screen.

The single useful thing the article could have presented was how or why Cook's/Apple's efforts at AI products will fail while Google's will succeed; how Apple's AI products will be the Windows Phone of Cook's tenure (or, for that matter, how Windows Phone failed or could have been done differently). Without explaining how apparently similar efforts will yield different outcomes, this is all jazz-hands about CEO personalities and Fortune buzzwords.

Man, I only have one thing about the pseudo-AI craze that I'd like to hear from Apple to get my business: Seeing how their current top end SoC is so powerful, stop sending all sorts of data to external parties to offload the compute requirements to make stuff like Siri work.

I thought Apple specifically didn't send your data to external parties. That's one of the reason Siri is behind Google, which does send you data to their servers.

AFAIK that's not correct, which is why it doesn't work offline.

See e.g.: "[Nuance rep] said that Siri has both embedded and cloud technology for voice recognition, but that the feature is overall a cloud solution."


That's completely backwards. If you try to use Siri while your phone is offline, it reads "Siri not available / Connect to the Internet." Google's voice system works perfectly well offline. You can dictate, or you can issue commands that don't require network access.

Siri does indeed send your voice requests off to a server to be 'understood.' But, IIRC, it's all Apple-owned with no third parties involved.

Apologies for this most gratuitous of bikeshedding, but if you're going to use proper superscripts, please sort out the line-heights.

I’ve never thought of this and never noticed it until you pointed it out. And now it’ll probably bother me forever.

I was going to say it's probably like vocal fry, where once you hear it you're supposed to hear it everywhere, but I've never heard it myself. In making sure I remembered the name right and googling it, I found a video and I was able to hear it fairly clearly for the first time. Now I'm afraid I've inflicted myself with this. :/

You should be complaining to your browser vendor. It looks fine in Firefox.

There are clearly many holes in Apple's armor these days, but the one that irks me the most is how Apple's literally handing the Education market to Google. I swear if Apple's hardware announcements this week don't include a Chromebook competitor I'm going to figuratively scream.

Chromebooks are fantastic products but I grew up in the Microsoft dominated 90's and hated it. It feels like Apple's almost trying to make itself obsolete in markets it once owned. Competition please!

He's underestimating their push into medical research and apps. It's $3 Trillion in the U.S. every year and they are further along than any other of the Big Techs.

This: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-27/aetna-to-...

Is not about selling more watches and phones. And Aetna alone has 23 million members.

Apple bought Siri, and then largely did nothing with it. The founders left, and started another AI startup: Viv.


That AI capability could have been Apples.

Instead of concentrating on user experience as a whole, they concentrated on "look and feel" of devices, along with UI.

Those are all good things. But having an iPhone with a useful AI would be a killer.

Instead, Google is pushing hard in this area. And will likely do well. Because they're a data analysis company. Not a "pretty picture" company.

It's also a power game, who gets the next number one spot. People want to have their shot at giving direction to such a big ship. So they make friends with the current boss, ensure loyalty by key employees to themselves, gain authority over important projects. Then you cannot just fire them or put someone else in front of them. I think it's also okay, that companies come and go. If you look at it more closely each company is simply a paper and a bank account. The ideas and people who made the disruptions possible will move on to other paper-account combinations and innovate there.

Applies to Pichai at Google too. Google was a search company that put the browser/mobile guy in charge. You are not going to see stuff like this

http://aurelieherbelot.net/pears/ http://aurelieherbelot.net/how-small-is-the-world-wide-web-r...

come out of Google for the simple reason they are busy playing empire defense all the while the need for a centralized search engine reduces.

Isn't that the whole point of Alphabet? Google can play empire defense while Larry & Sergey make bets by creating subsidiaries and funding them with Google's free cash flow. I think Google's board recognized this phenomenon of large companies becoming risk averse and restructured in this way to try to avoid it.

Really? Sundar Pichai is a product guy and all he is trying to do now is push their AI research and apply existing innovations to all consumer product lines(search,maps,photos,assistant,home,pixel etc) which i think is the need of hour.

Search will be the key thing Google does, but they are strategically building product lines(conversation UI) so that they don't miss out on how people search for stuff.

Nah, Google is first and foremost about ads. Search was just a damn good gateway for pushing those ads. Now you get them pushed on phones and laptops (chromebook) as well.

Hasn't Microsoft done the right thing here though as a company for the long-term: visionary CEO leaves meaning potential for great risk to the company > put someone in place who shores up the finances > once finances are in a great position bring a visionary in and change things around again. It reads to me like Microsoft's long-term strategy as a company is actually really good. They must have known they could not continue their dominance but they could continue to be relevant if they had the finances to back it up. Swapping one visionary CEO for another could is a risk because big ideas don't always work (if executed poorly).

For any company, a charismatic dominant CEO leaving causes instability a board would be foolish not to try and stabilise things at the company before moving on again. A CEO does not act in isolation even though this article paints it like that and takes guidance from their board.

That's a dreadful comparison and makes no sense.

The article mentions Mark Zuckerberg only in passing but it is worth noting that Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are another visionary-CEO + world-class-executor "dynamic duo" in Silicon Valley. Who will replace Mark Zuckerberg after his departure? If it's Sheryl Sandberg, the same Steve Ballmer / Tim Cook scenario will repeat itself and we can look forward to future articles like "Why Sheryl Sandberg is the next Tim Cook and why she still has her job at Facebook".

Funny that the article fails to mention Jony Ive as the obvious successor to Cook. Doesn't it look like Apple has its next "creative CEO" all prepped up?

I'm curious you think it is "obvious"? I've never heard anyone say this of Ive until now with your comment.

Jobs did make sure Apple has no power to ever get rid of Ive for any reason, ensuring him an unbreakable tenure. However, to me, it's far more obvious that he will never take on the CEO role because I think he's prepping to retire from Apple in the next few years as there's a reason we've been seeing less and less of him over the past few years, with his strong desire to move back to England with his family and so on.

The only two people that's more obvious to me is Williams and Schiller but I don't think Cook is going to be gone for another decade.

Next CEO will be an outsider.

I wouldn't say it looks like that. Ive very rarely makes public appearances or speaks on behalf of the company. We know he's a brilliant designer, but this doesn't necessarily make him a good fit for CEO.


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