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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Was it? Blackberry often co-operated to provide governments with access to BBM message content.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
AMD video cards
Again, what magic does the case add?
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?
> "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 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.
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.
The Watch and Pencil are accessories, like the AirPods.
Apple Music isn't that big of a deal.
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
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.
Speaking of which, how does this not include Swift, which also debuted under Tim Cook? And Metal?
Honestly I'm shocked I missed it too.
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.
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%.
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.
"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."
What trauma-less release would this be?
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
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?
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 , 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 :
"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.
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.
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.
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 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.)
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 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!
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.
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).
It'll be interesting to see if Google overtakes the Echo. I'm not a fan of Google's "no apps" approach.
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).
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.
> (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.
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.
That doesn't mean you're wrong, but it's a misapplication of the principle.
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.
There's good money to be made in pushing existing analytics tech undo AI monikers and sell them repackaged.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
A lot of people are running their AI stacks on aws.
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 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.
This argument would be a lot stronger had Microsoft not begun making such major improvements as soon as Ballmer was replaced with Nadella.
Yeah, there is some good stuff for developers, but their consumer-facing segment is still in shambles.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Funny video — thanks for sharing.
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.
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?
Doesn't that ignore the XBox and the dominance of Windows in the consumer market?
I believe that the hypothesis of the article is that people hated Microsoft because of Ballmer.
However, it is obvious that we are talking about subjective things here, and establishing causality is certainly not easy.
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.
There are developers that actually do enjoy using Microsoft stacks, even though we also have experience using other systems.
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.
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"
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 $300-500 sale price machines from Best Buy.
(This is me appreciating the enemy's skill from afar. I do not personally like Apple products. Just as I prefer wearing paint-stained sweatpants and 10-year-old extra-large t-shirts, as well as running linux on 8-year-old workstation. My favorite "smart"phone is a blackberry classic.)
There's your mistake - next to i-devices, the Mac is simply not a big product line. It's something they need to have around for ecosystem developers, and something of a brand exercise in other sectors. Nothing more.
Apple will be fine either way in the short term. Hell, they have enough cash saved up to run their company for many years even if they make zero income. But their brand reputation is starting to get tarnished when their ecosystems don't get supported. In the long run, having people wondering how frequently the ecosystems they buy into will be supported is a concern.
They really aren't. PC gamers hang out on Reddit and other forums trading info about how to build a PC from commodity parts in order to get the absolute best price/performance ratio. It's not hard at all to put together a machine for less than a thousand dollars that would be competitive with the machines Apple sells for three thousand.
There's no margin for Apple in this space.
That's a complete BS, I want you to give me an example of that. Less than a thousand dollar desktop vs 3000$ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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.
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?
But none of that changes the fact that the Mac Pro is not "still very capable" as stated in the comment I replied to.
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?
It's hard to be happy with that little trash can.
The tower models were great. It's a shame Apple stopped updating those.
They're not powerhouse workstations like they used to be where it's all about performance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the point. 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.
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.
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!
That approach would not have yielded the iPod, iPhone, or Music Store.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
 - https://www.evernote.com/l/ABV1fPm7JnBO76pqevjy990uALmIK39uZ...
 - 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.
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."
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!
Is not about selling more watches and phones. And Aetna alone has 23 million members.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.