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We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits. (daringfireball.net)
171 points by mickeyben on July 19, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 89 comments



I don't normally like Apple, but I like their attitude here. Why should they wear certain clothes to a meeting with AT&T? Who cares what AT&T thinks of Apple!? If AT&T passes on Apple, Verizon or Sprint or T-Mobile would pick them up in a heartbeat. The only reason AT&T is still in business is because of Apple. Fuck wearing a suit!

I'm shocked to hear that AT&T is not showering Apple's execs with expensive champagne and corporate jets every chance they get!


" The only reason AT&T is still in business is because of Apple. "

That's a little over the top. Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile are all still in business without the iPhone and AT&T was a very large carrier before they had the iPhone. AT&T would probably be doing worse than they are now without the iPhone but I seriously doubt they'd be going out of business. I'd go so far as to say that AT&T's reputation would be somewhat better without the iPhone since it seems like most of their network problems were caused because of the demands that the iPhone created.


AT&T is gladly functioning as a punching bag for Apple. The phone-contract tie-in has been an enormous revenue driver for AT&T.

The biggest shakeup in the wireless industry will happen when Apple moves forward and releases devices that work on other wireless carriers. Example: if a Verizon Iphone actually hits the market, the shift will be enormous. I suggest it would be a tectonic shift in the wireless industry's provider business.


The phone industry is way too complicated to be able to assume that cause and effect can be simply described.

Losing the iPhone exclusivity might actually end up being good for AT&T. One possible mechanism to explain that:

- All their high usage, low profit (and vocal) iPhone customers go to Verizon.

- Their generally oblivious, high ARPU, low usage customers don't bother to switch... especially since their service will be much better after the high usage people leave.

- Their high-profit business customers get happier since they get the benefit of all the iPhone-driven network upgrades without actually having all those iPhones around to kill the network.

- They get a chance to throw marketing money at pulling in Android customers, which right now has a higher volume and better terms for carriers (better share of revenue, lower handset subsidy) than the iPhone anyway.

Of course it could also end up being awful for AT&T. Or it could wind up being generally neutral. Certainly losing exclusivity in the UK doesn't seem to have killed off O2.

To get a 'tectonic shift' I think it would be necessary for Apple to start selling unlocked, cross-network devices only with no subsidized options. But they have shown no desire to do that to date - they pretty much had to be forced to do so in the parts of the EU where it's a legal requirement.


"- All their high usage, low profit (and vocal) iPhone customers go to Verizon."

That's not necessarily a good thing. Where the leaders of tech go, others tend to follow. Especially since in-network calling saves you on minutes.


Why are high-usage users "low profit"? They charge you money for every megabyte of data you use and every minute you are on the phone.


Even for the 2gb data plan they will be expecting a certain level of breakage (use under 2gb, which is charged but never used).

The same is true of minute bundles. Users which go a lot over (and pay per minute) are fine, users which are a lot under (and still pay for the bundle) are fine. Users who are averaging use of 80-120% will probably be costing the provider more than they pay.


Don't most people just have an unlimited data plan?


AT&T does not offer an unlimited data plan anymore.

On Sprint and T-Mobile, yeah, we have unlimited data plans.


AT&T doesn't offer an unlimited plan anymore, but all the existing users are grandfathered in. They get to keep their unlimited plan as long as they continue to renew it. Most of the people who want an iPhone on AT&T have already got one, so it's not like there are many people left to join and start using a ton of bandwidth.

If Verizon were to offer the iPhone, a lot of the AT&T users with unlimited plans who are using a ton of bandwidth would jump to Verizon, and, if they were to try to return to AT&T, wouldn't be able to obtain an unlimited plan.


Previous unlimited plans have been grandfathered in, so it's probably safe to say that most iPhone users have unlimited data plans.


It does seem that concessions were made. For example, the Facetime app is currently wifi-only. Also, I believe movie rental is wifi-only. Those are understandable restrictions for now, but this article rings a bit hollow in light of them -- It would seem that AT&T won a few of those battles.


Or more likely, the probability of a negative user experience is too high on AT&T's network.

To use a non-#attfail example: The little microwave ISP I use in a rural area gives me 10mbps, but they don't have enough backhaul to support that kind of bit rate in a sustained manner. If I start to watch a YouTube video at a better-than-awful bit encoding the first 10 seconds or so are great, then the routers notice my connection being a pig and fair-queueing or whatever mechanism they are using lowers my allowed bit rate to unwatchable levels.

I have a negative impression of YouTube watching because of my ISP. It is only because I have had experiences on other ISPs first that I don't associate this with YouTube or my browser.

Apple knows better than to let Facetime get a reputation as choppy, unreliable, or generally flakey, which it would on AT&T's network.


FTA, implied to be more of less AT&T's argument: "It didn’t make sense to build phones and offer features that carriers couldn’t support." Message: AT&T expects to solve user experience problems by removing or restricting features, and this is a bad thing.

Your post: "[T]he probability of a negative user experience is too high on AT&T's network ... Apple knows better than to let Facetime get a [bad] reputation[.]" Message: Apple solves user experience problems by restricting features, and this is a good thing.


Message: AT&T expects to solve user experience problems by removing or restricting features, and this is a bad thing.

This is of course in contrast to Apple's usual product design approach, which is to solve user experience problems by removing or restricting features?


The double standard is exactly what I meant when juxtaposing the two quotes.


I have a similar problem with YouTube, but on adsl and with full proper bandwidth available on other websites. YouTube itself throttles the client after the first few seconds, on the theory that many people will quit watching and it's a waste of bandwidth to read ahead too aggressively. But the feature seems flawed in my case, leading to stuttering on an uncontended connection. I often have better luck using a download manager and playing back the flv offline.

Either that, or my ISP is packet-sniffing and throttling video, which seems unlikely since e.g. BBC and ITV can stream fine.


Any chance you're in Laramie, WY?


It would seem that AT&T won a few of those battles.

All of the features you mention are so bandwidth-intensive, that the user experience for them would be non-existant. FaceTime simply wouldn't work on a typical AT&T connection. Even YouTube via 3G is painfully slow now, when it works at all. Add a couple of people downloading 1.5GB movies, and the network would grind to a halt.


It makes for a better story when you don't mention this.


> It would seem that AT&T won a few of those battles.

If AT&T won the battles, it may have been more due to lack of suitable infrastructure, than to telling Apple not to implement something.

I live where AT&T has no 3G (only EDGE). The microwave backhaul link speeds are documented in the FCC database (service type CM). Where I see Alltel (now Verizon) having a link speed of 133Mbps, a similar nearby AT&T link is in the 27-40 Mbps range. Obviously AT&T doesn't have a use for the higher backhaul rate, because they have not upgraded to 3G yet.

Does anyone have decent bandwidth utilization numbers for Facetime ?


Another factor might well be related to avoiding excessive accidental data roaming; e.g. helping to avoid surprise roaming bills, interacting with the EU50 data roaming cap etc. (At present people easily run up bills for several thousands by downloading a single TV episode.)

Intl roaming is quite prevalent in places like Europe so it seems well possible that related sensibilities may also be informing these decisions.


Why is the DaringFireball article here? and why does it have a 100 votes? The guy has just quoted the Wired article without adding anything on his own?


Because it highlights the most interesting points of a much longer article?

I'm no Daring Fireball fanboy (the 1st derivative of an Apple fanboy?) but there is sometimes value in aggregation and summarization.


> sometimes value in aggregation

What do you think of http://kottke.org ?


It is particularly odd since the actual Wired article was already on the front page of HN when this was submitted.


The power of a headline that grabs your focus


He saves us time that's why.


If your time was that valuable, you wouldn't be reading HN right now.


Blindly working heads down in an industry you know nothing about because you don't stay up-to-date isn't a good use of your time, either.


Of course it isn't, but there are many ways to stay up to date more time-efficient than HN and DF if you care primarily about the time expenditure.


Agreed, but it's "Daring Fireball".


Not that I don't ♥ The Gruber™, but the link should probably be pointing at the original article, as all John is doing here is quoting from the Wired piece.


I made an HN submission to the original article 2 hours before this link to Gruber showed up here. The original article was on the front page of HN (and still is: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1529931), but for some reason this submission has twice the points. Guesses:

* Catchier headline.

* Short attention spans mean excerpts are more highly valued on HN (despite lack of context, such as bugs in the original baseband, as pointed out by cligner below).


Several reasons for this.

1. DF sneezes and get's hits. 2. Linkbait headline. 3. Shorter post means people are back here faster and will remember to upvote. Wired article is longer, much better, and by the time you are done, you forget to upvote.


The original article is not accessible.


Weird, it comes up fine for me

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/07/ff_att_fail/all/1

stupidbrokeninternet


I think he typed google into google (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1531590)


I do believe apple has given some opaque concessions. Note that this is anecdotal; I have not scientifically tested this.

I have the nexus one, running on att 3g - the same similar card I used to use in my iPhone 3g. A co-worker just got the iPhone 4.

We both picked up the FCC bandwidth test app.

Testing each phone in succession - not simultaneously - in the same spot, hands free, flat on the desk.

My N1 consistently benchmarked at 2-2.5 mbps down and 1mbps up with a 200ms ping.

His iPhone consistently benchmarked at 1-1.5 mbps down, .2-.4 mbps up, and a 2000ms ping.

Either there truly are antenna issues unrelated to the hand-holding-bars-dropped issue, or the I/O processor cannot handle high speeds, or Apple is throttling bandwidth usage based on geolocation. I don't know which it is Another coworker tested his bandwidth in Vancouver and got over 10mbps.

These tests were performed in Soho. Your miles may vary...


Or it could've been one of the things mentioned in the original article:

"They complain that Apple hasn’t accepted its fair share of the blame. They say — and Apple sources confirm — that the software running the iPhone’s main radio, known as the baseband, was full of bugs and contributed to the much-decried dropped calls. What’s more, Apple had chosen to source the radio from Infineon, whose hardware was used widely in Europe but rarely in the US, where cell towers are placed farther apart and reception is therefore less forgiving."


Tell him to reset network settings. If not fixed dial 611 to reprovision. Known issue with activation not setting right for iPhone 4 restored from iPhone 3, and some new iPhone 4 with glitch in activation.

I get 3 Mbps / 1.5 Mbps in SoHo and the Village.


If the activation didn't set right, wouldn't he not be able to even get on the 3G network? The phone works fine - just, in tests, the network is quite a bit slower than other phones.

Activation would seem to be a binary, not gradient, issue..


No, it's not binary. I saw this happen to several people, including me.

In my friend's case, for example, his data speeds were incredibly low, and he was unable to log onto the 3G Microcell base stations.

I suspect AT&T has custom settings on their end for particular classes of devices, and haven't matched those settings correctly. Could be as simple as not matching the IMEI number, or could be enabling HSDPA/HSUPA, I don't know.

But for me, him, and a couple others, AT&T had to push a reset (phone screen shows an unusual "Ok to power off" type message you only see if they push settings and a reset), and afterwards, speeds shot through the roof.


Assuming you mean SoHo NYC - i think i remember reading something about how there's a problem with AT&T's network currently which is limiting iPhones to 1.5mb/s.

Here's a link:

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/07/att-3g-upload-speeds/


From http://putthison.com/post/833571254/were-apple-we-dont-wear-...:

“We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits.” — Steve Jobs (or a representative thereof, the citation is a little unclear), incredibly rich establishment capitalist businessman, on fighting in 2010 the anti-establishment battles of 1965. Because you know what the problem is? Suits.


>we always said, ‘Fine, we’ll escalate it to Steve and see who wins.’ I think history has demonstrated how that turned out.”

Really? As far as I understand, the AT&T data network still sucks.


And, more tellingly in combination with this, the Iphone is still AT&T exclusive in the U.S., even though making a T-Mobile version would be essentially trivial (different UMTS band) and Apple already has a history of larger radio hardware customizations for carriers (no wifi in mainland China).


Jobs must not get invited to many weddings.


he was the photographer at ellison's, though:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Ellison


And yet strangely enough, this doesn't refute the thrust plusbryan's comment if you take it as a reflection on Job's suite owning status or his general character.


SJ in a tux at the Academy Awards in March. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/08/steve-jobs-oscar-ca...


I get the impression that Apple is not run by a bunch of MBAs, unlike a lot of the big companies around the world.


According to their bios (http://www.apple.com/pr/bios/), every senior exec who isn't doing hardware of software has either an MBA or a JD. More anecdotally, I know at least three people with MBAs working in middle management there. Apple does a good job of maintaining a counterculture image while remaining a pretty average place to work.

Of course, you could make the case that Apple is run by one person, and he didn't even graduate college.


According to their bios (http://www.apple.com/pr/bios/), every senior exec who isn't doing hardware of software has either an MBA or a JD.

So everyone in the business management or legal side of Apple has an MBA or JD? Go figure...


> So everyone in the business management or legal side of Apple has an MBA or JD? Go figure...

Actually, that is significant. I studied undergraduate business and I can tell right away the difference between an MBA-run business and non-MBA-run type business. People with MBA's have a broad base of case studies, so they know how to handle some eccentric but important situations pretty well, but they tend to like formality, business plans, marketing plans instead of "screw it, let's mess around and see what happens" - not sure what the ratio of MBA to non-MBA in Google management is, but Google seems very much like a non-MBA culture. In fact, their CEO Schmidt has degrees in engineering and computer science. They probably have MBA-type people running Adwords, though, you'd almost have to.

Edit: chillingeffects.org and dataliberation.org are backed by Google, which is very much more a hacker ethos than an MBA ethos type move.


I am not sure how many of the upper management have MBA's, but they do hire an awful lot into middle management. It is regularly at the top of the list for places new MBA's would like to work at.


Except that's not true. Phil Schiller (Senior Vice President, Worldwide Product Marketing) has no MBA.

So that's 7 out of 12 of the top execs who have no MBA or JD.

(Also, most of my friends in management at Apple don't have MBAs. If they do get master's degrees, it's usually for the pay grade bump it gives. More anecdotally, I know at least 50 people in middle management at Apple without MBAs.)


It's way below an average place to work: these past years, Apple hasn't made it in the top 100 places to work a single time. Not a single time. In the Top 100.

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2010/fu...

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2009/fu...

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2008/fu...


Those are the "top 100" of companies that were willing to submit detailed statistics to Fortune. It's by no means an impartial or complete sample.

Nobody at Apple thinks it's worth the bother and loss of privacy. And I guarantee Apple isn't the only company that thinks that way.


That's only "way below average" if you re-define average to mean "in the top 100".


That's a strange list and I can't really see how I'd use it to choose somewhere to work. Would you enjoy getting a CS degree and then working at Men's Wearhouse rather than Apple?


Do you get to regularly interact with the dude from the commercials with the creepy, yet soothing, voice?


You could come up with some cool inventory logistics algorithms.

Eh, Thinking about it again, I'd rather work at Apple


Original article reeks of linkbait.

Counterculture versus The Man. Flippant startup versus entrenched corporation. Think different versus rethink possible.

And a bunch of hacker newsers get all excited about a quote about dressing nice.

I love the irony of counterculture groupthink. "we are apple, we don't even own suits." They should finish that with a "we are legion" reference.


I originally misread the quote as "We don't wear suits. We don't even wear suits." I like my misread better. Seems more Apple, even.


You're not the only one. In fact, I went back and read it four or five times because I thought I was missing something. It wasn't until I finished the article that I realized I was wrong.


That must be why Slingplayer and Facetime are wifi-only.



Also, Steve wearing a tux at the 2010 Academy Awards: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/03/08/steve-jobs-big-night-...

For what it’s worth, the dramatic quote is attributed to “one of Jobs’ deputies,” rather than Steve himself.


From the link: "Heres’ the first picture of Steve Jobs in a suit and tie for at least a decade".

That's a pretty long time.


Must be a rental


Does iTunes rent suits now?


Only in the U.S.


And only if it was made with XStitch


If Apple are so concerned with user experience that they are unwilling to throttle the iPhone to meet ATT's network limitations, then why did they partner with ATT to begin with? ATT are pretty generally perceived as having the worst wireless phone service in the USA, and that certainly dovetails with my personal experience.


You have to remember what the carriers were like in 2006/2007 timeframe. Cingular/AT&T was the open carrier at the time. You would use any GSM phone. More importantly, they allowed you to use any feature on your phone. Conceding to Apple control of the apps on your phone was a very radical idea at the time. Typically carriers dictated what application would be on the phone. On Verizon, you had to use their phones (there was some lipservice around this time about allowing any fully compatible phone on its network). In addition, included features such as bluetooth PC syncing, which had zero impact on the network, was disabled on my Nokia candybar. It was simply too much of a leap for Verizon to allow a phone as open as the iPhone (2007 terms, remember) on its network.


T-Mobile USA was just as open, perhaps a bit more because you could use European GSM tri-band phones.


It would appear that they didn't want to develop non-GSM headset, and the only two choices for GSM in US is AT&T and T-Mobile. T-Mobile is even slower to roll out network upgrades than AT&T.


Apple developed and maintained X86 OS X for years when Macs were PowerPC-only.

To me it seems likely that they have CDMA iPhones "just in case" as well.


Why did Apple decide to tie themselves to a single carrier instead of keeping the phone unlocked? Is it because AT&T would subsidize the R&D cost that went into making the iPhone?

And purely in hindsight, was that a good decision?


Unlike Google, Apple realized early on that they would need carrier support to get into the market at all. You only get that by having exclusives. Normally these only last a year. Why 5 years? I don't know but I've heard that ATT was paying Apple part of the data subscriptions.


FACT: They have even fought about wardrobe: When an Apple representative suggested to one of AT&T’s deputies that the AT&Ts CEO wear a turtleneck to meet with Apples board of directors, he was told, “We’re AT&T. We don’t wear turtlenecks. We don’t even own turtlenecks.”


Ha ha ha! Nice! And in our company, only the suits get reimbursed for an iPhone. iRony!


It's not just Apple. It's Silicon Valley. Yet another reason to love living here.


"Fine, we'll escalate it to Steve and see who wins."


Of course Gruber will quote the parts where AT&T is asking Apple to tweak the iphone (trying to shift more blame on AT&T for their network) and now all the parts about how Apple is extremely hard to work with or where the iphone's baseband radio is incredibly buggy and is arguably one of the main reasons for the constant dropped calls.

Gruber is nothing but a hack who's trying to glorify Apple in every way.


Actually I think these snippets reveal the gist of the original article pretty well, and also highlight some pretty basic differences between AT&T and Apple:

1) AT&T wants to cripple features and sacrifice customer experience because it won't invest in it's network fast enough

2) AT&T wants Steve Jobs to wear a suit to meet with it's board of directors. Not only is this something that AT&T seemingly desires, but it needs to have a deputy arrange and suggest the clothing choices of executives before they meet.

So on one side: a company that sacrifices customer experience and makes inane suggestions about clothing suggestions, because appearance matters.

On the other side: a company that releases some bugs in some of it's software.

You pick which is more indicative of an overall company culture. Perhaps Apple seems hard to work with when you come from an aging bureaucracy and an old way of doing business. I can understand how some people might find fighting for the customer and for good products "hard to work with".


>AT&T wants to cripple features and sacrifice customer experience because it won't invest in it's network fast enough

Alternately, AT&T makes mass-market products, and wants to insure a baseline level of usability for everyone, while Apple makes products aimed at the top 10%, and wants the absolute best user experience possible without regard for scalability.

Don't get me wrong, AT&T's network needs work, but I don't think that this sort of design philosophy can necessarily work if all handsets are designed to be 'selfish.' It only works if the expensive handsets/plans are allowed to do that sort of thing.


I'm aware that HN is mostly US focused. But I'm one of those iPhone users that doesn't have any relationship with ATT and I can emphatically say that this phone is not the problem. I'm assuming I have the same baseband and radio as the US version, but dropped calls isn't a problem. And I've had tethering from the day I bought it (no hacks).




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