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Apple’s Relentless Strategy, Execution, and Point of View (learningbyshipping.com)
123 points by elsewhen 8 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 99 comments





> 15/ It is incredibly clear that everyone at Apple puts strategy requirements above anything “local”. When you wonder why there isn’t more new in Notes or why Mail is missing stuff it’s because supporting a multi-year strategy trumps individual teams and that’s a good thing.

I don’t know anything about internals at Apple but I have been wondering constantly how they manage to be successful over and over again. If I had to bet, I’d say is this. I’ve worked for many companies where the ego of a product or service line boss always trumped overall strategy. It was about them not the company. Somehow Apple has succeeded in damping down this effect (I am sure it’s there but just on different level than in other companies).


One downside I can think of is that some ambitious engineers might not like being unable to make their mark on a product with an idea they have. For what it's worth, I've known too many Apple engineers decamp to Google, et al., after they got sick of the top-down management style. Google is, of course, the other extreme where products can essentially be the external manifestation of an engineer's effort to get promoted.

For a long time the biggest ego in the room was Steve, whose ego was behind the overarching strategy.

And for someone with that big an ego, a remarkable willingness to change his mind.

He definitely was a clever guy. He had an enormous ego, but he knew when it was wrong (despite him probably never accepting he was wrong in the first place)

It's easy to change your mind when you can just pretend that you'd always thought that, and nobody's game to call you on it.

Pretty much. There’s no big secret. Just a bunch of uncomfortable hard work to not ship junk and get everyone on the same page. It helps that title for product managers is “Vice President.”

Somehow Apple has succeeded in damping down this effect

I don’t know how Apple is organized internally but if I may be allowed to speculate, I think the way to avoid these ego issues is by moving people around constantly. If you don’t allow any team to establish a “territory” on a particular product, you may be able to get away with it.


This is not how Apple works, unlike FB or Google people stay on their teams for a long, long time.

Based on my knowledge of the company, it's pretty heavily top-down led. That would be my guess on why it's able to execute against its strategy.

But I am not sure it's particularly better at it than other tech giants. My guess for the main reason Apple is so successful is its strategy, not their execution of it: Sell expensive top-class products (even if that means being late to market), and establish strongly walled ecosystems between those products.


Sell expensive top-class products

Yes, I'm guessing margin is everything for Apple. If they can't make 30-40% on a product then they will leave it for someone else.


That strategy didn’t work for manufacturers of workstations. The PC eroded their market from below.

Somehow, Apple manages to prevent that from happening.


I don’t think those teams have had a major shakeup…

I think people over-estimate Apple's success. As a non-American Apple was never really popular until the iPhone came. The Macs never made it to the East, most of the world was dominated by PCs. Even with the iPod, most saw it as Walkman 2.0 rather than a completely new disruptive technology. Here in Japan, where iPhone has the highest market share than any other country on the planet, Macs are a rare sight, Airpods are not as ubiquitous as they are in NY, and I only started seeing Apple watches after they launched a tie-up with Suica.

> I think people over-estimate Apple's success.

Leaving aside the unique qualities of the Japanese market, I think this depends a lot on your definition of success.

If you believe that a major consumer products company can only be "successful" if they have universal global penetration and a user base in the hundreds of millions, that's certainly a difficult standard to meet. It's also, I'd argue, a very modern standard - nobody would've thought that way in 1995 (or even 2005).

On the other hand, if you define "success" as repeatedly shipping good and innovative products that users love over a span of ~40 years and being (mostly) insanely profitable while doing so, then it's hard to argue against Apple's success.

Apple also has a market cap of $1.5 Trillion, with a T, so there's that.


Oh yes, that's right. To me a business is successful when they are big enough in their domain that a new tech doesn't suddenly wipe them out. And they have enough money to pivot and adapt and still remain in business. That didn't happen for Apple when they were making Macs, they were same as HTC or Blackberry. Microsoft is a true success, they failed completely at Mobile market and yet here they are, doing just fine.

> Apple also has a market cap of $1.5 Trillion, with a T, so there's that.

The stock market hasn't been representative of real world for a long time now.


> The stock market hasn't been representative of real world for a long time now.

Read as: [their revenues] haven’t been representative of real world for a long time now.

Hmm. $260B in revenue in FY2019 and $55B in profit with $206B cash on hand.

I think their (current) $1.5T current valuation is probably fine.


Valuation is fine, but as mentioned, that is short-term success. Enron was good at that. Myspace was good at that. RIM/blackberry and the nokia phones had that. And almost overnight, it's gone.

Apple is a fad that got propped up by phones. They're behind all other major computer vendors. They have a very small marketshare for phones. They have the biggest profit margin out of anyone, and it's because of literally a couple of products.

People who go for things with a huge profit margin (overpriced things) do so based on emotional response (a fad) as opposed to logical reasoning. This is why they buy a phone wrapped in glass - it's shiny. That makes them liking your product volatile. A company enjoying 15 minutes of fame on limited SKUs is not a successful company. It's a rich company, that won the lottery from people who like shiny things.

Yes, they do make things that "just work" better than the competition. They limit choice, put you behind a wall, give you no control - and there is that group of people who want that. The problem is, that group will overnight change to some new fad phone vendor that comes out, and apple will become uncool overnight. Same thing will happen to facebook, instagram, twitter, etc.

If you do take microsoft or google for example - they have a thousand eggs in a hundred baskets. This is stability. Heck, even amazon - cloud services and selling goods, book store, mechanical turk - they're in everything. Apple is selling a phone and a computer.


> Apple is selling a phone and a computer.

Even if this were true I don't think it would matter because Apple sells a lot of phones, but anyway this is a gross oversimplification of what Apple is in 2020. The services business alone - App Store, iTunes, etc. - is almost $50 billion a year. Apple nets as much money selling digital goods as Samsung does from its entire line of business.

They also make the only smartwatch consumers care about, headphones that have become status symbols, the canonical tablet (everything is an iPad even if it isn't), one of the most popular STBs in the world, and a metric ton of accessories and peripherals.

The money doesn't come from accounting fraud or tricking people; it comes from making really good stuff that lots of people want to buy.


you are exactly proving my point. they sell a lot of phones. which means a huge chunk of their revenue is 1 product. app store is not a separate product. phone goes away, store goes away. itunes? I'm sorry, but it's an archaic piece of software that people install because it's the only way to get music onto apple playback devices. you know - the iphones. phone goes away, itunes goes away. there are a million other places to get all the same music.

the apple watch? the one that only iphone users have, because they have an iphone?

headphones? who buys apple headphones for their android phone again?

ipad? the thing that runs the os and the store from the iphone, which no one who isn't interested in phones would buy? people who don't like iphones won't buy an ipad. it is literally the same target market. whoever makes the new 'cool phone to have' is going to also make a new pad. phones and pads are tied.

and the accessories for all that - again, dependent on the phone 100%.

lots of people want to buy it (if by lots you mean a tiny fraction of the people). margin is high - it's not tricking people, it's selling the product as 'premium.' that tiny percentage of people agree. it's not actually premium for everyone else, since you don't own the device, and features are limited. when's the last time you chromecast hn to your big tv screen from your iphone again? how about plugging into a friend's computer and grabbing a music folder? he doesn't have itunes, and it's not a mac. how about storing your presentation meetings and some vm images for a product demo you want to do for work - or do you need a usb flash stick for that.

it's not 'really good stuff.' it's 'fad' - who in their right mind would wrap a phone in glass - those things fall a lot. would you buy a car made of glass?

everything you gave as an example is a fad that goes away in a minute when it's not cool anymore. it's no mark of a successful company. it's like calling a guy with a #1 hit a success. do you remember 'who let the dogs out?' so does everyone else. now, the iphone is no dog. it's pretty and shiny. a better example is rico suave. he makes shampoo now i hear.


> Apple nets as much money selling digital goods as Samsung does from its entire line of business.

Can I see source for this claim? Both Samsung Electronics and Apple do $200B+ revenue every year.


It's not a perfect comparison but with the most recent easily google-able quarters:

Samsung Q419 net operating profit: KRW 7.16 trillion (US$5.92 billion) [1]

Apple Q220 services revenue (net cost of sales): US$8.6 billion [2]

1. https://news.samsung.com/global/samsung-electronics-announce...

2. https://www.apple.com/newsroom/pdfs/FY20_Q2_Consolidated_Fin...


Why are you comparing revenues to profits?

Because I'm trying to quickly compare net income across two businesses that operate under different accounting rules in varied industries but if we want to be pedantic about it and proportionally attribute OpEx to services, too:

Apple services net sales: $13.3B

Apple services cost of sales: ($4.6B)

Apple OpEx, 14%[1]: ($1.3B)

That's ~$7.4 billion in net income from services, which is as close to a 1:1 expression of services' contribution to "operating profit" as you can reasonably get in the five-minute financial analysis I'm willing to perform for an HN comment. For reference, Apple booked $11.25B profit for this quarter overall.

1. Services account for 14% of the total cost of sales, so I attribute the same amount in OpEx.


So why is Samsung, who makes similar kind of revenue not up there with $1T market valuation? Walmart makes double that revenue.

Stocks are valued by their earnings largely.

A stock’s price is theoretically the current value of a long term stream of income adjusted by the risk factor around its growth (positive or negative).

Revenue is interesting but only to the extent that it indicates earnings. This is because any two people can create two companies with a billion dollars in revenue but it is much more difficult to build one with a billion in earnings.


Valuation has only a fleeting relationship with revenue. In the traditional sense valuation is essentially the cash returned to shareholders discounted over time. Walmart’s margins are thin. That’s why their valuation is much lower

Because their "expected" future profit margins are significantly lower than Apple's.

Caveat: "Expected" does not mean fact. But it is understandable why investors believe this.


> Caveat: "Expected" does not mean fact. But it is understandable why investors believe this.

Yes, this is what I said. Stock markets factor in future potential (a little too much I think) and not just current performance. Hence their growing diversion from reality.


Except that Apples current performance demolishes Samsung, Apple is and has been far more profitable. Apple has never been highly valued either, it spent most of the last decade well below the markets average price to earnings ratio, the market was continually saying it didn’t think Apples earnings could grow, or even last.

It hasn’t been till the last year where Apple finally broke the market average and squeezed into a low 20 PE ratio. Fir comparison, Amazon hasn’t been below 60 in forever.


I don't see how? Samsung made $45B profit in 2017 vs $48B in 2017 for Apple. 2018- $49B Samsung vs $60B Apple. Even in worst cases Apple made 2x the profits as Samsung. Which means they should at least be worth half as much as Apple by your logic? But they are 5 times less than Apple right now in market cap.

Samsung has much lower quality profits. They have lower margins, and have much higher capital reinvestment requirements please, ie are forced to reinvest more of their profit back into their manufacturing plants. Essentially their profits are overstated.

Samsung's net income would only be overstated if their capital spending was unsustainably low. I don't know if that is actually the case.

Or if they were run by a felon in a country where accounting and governmental employees are highly motivated not to criticize said felons accounting practices. Then you might think twice about taking them at face value.

Apple is seen as the one to sustain those profits. The models for Samsung either see lower profits or discount them more steeply in their risk adjustments.

Sorry but there's a bunch of inconsistencies here:

>> Windows worked just as fluid as iOS when they finally got it right, but they were there too late.

Of course it was fluid - Apple was already tied down by legacy hardware by the time Windows Phone released, whereas Microsoft had the huge benefit of a higher-baseline due to exponential hardware advances.

MS weren't merely 'late' - they had no vision in this space (see: Windows Mobile pre-iPhone).

>> Apple's success is more of lack of a good competitor more than anything else

Their competitors include literally the biggest company in the world.. If what you mean is that the iPhone specifically lacks a good competitor - even though both Microsoft and Google tried everything to rectify that - then isn't that reflective of Apple's incredible execution of the iPhone strategy and not, as you suggest, that Microsoft/Google/BlackBerry/Palm/Nokia/Samsung aren't good competitors?

>> To me a business is successful when they are big enough in their domain that a new tech doesn't suddenly wipe them out

Even under this subjective definition, Apple view their 'domain' as consumer electronics, not 'mobile' or 'computers' or 'mp3 players' (something they recognised back when they renamed themselves to Apple, dropping 'Computers'). So ironically, Apple don't merely fit the 'success' criteria under your definition, but Microsoft actually don't - they had to exit their once-primary domain - Windows and consumers - and pivot to enterprise and services (which of course has worked out great for them - but by your definition it's not a success as Apple and Google's new tech would've otherwise wiped them out)


This feels like an odd definition of success but at any rate - Apple has never been wiped out, though they've come close, so I'm not sure how you can argue against their success on this basis either.

Out of curiosity (since you seem to be Japanese) how would you rate companies like Toshiba or Sharp on this scale?


> since you seem to be Japanese

I'm not

> how would you rate companies like Toshiba or Sharp on this scale

Successful. Because they survived transition from electrical->electronics->semiconductors. Although Sharp may be coming to the end of it's life now because of their LCD tech.


Well Toshiba was an inch from bankruptcy and Sharp was sold to Foxconn to stave off its own impending dismemberment so now I really don't understand this definition of success.

maybe "they were successful in a period that comes quite close to where we are now"? People forget that success is not an immutable attribute - it is the sum total of hard work and decisions that are put in every week, every month, every year, over a longer period of time. But as much as it is the product of a longer period of time, success can wax and wane throughout the decades and a company can be wiped out or acquired on less-than-favorable terms if they fail to adapt to the next large-scale change in the industry.

To declare Apple's model as a success, they will have to survive a lot longer. 3 decades into existence isn't enough to evaluate. Their model failed in desktop computers but worked well in handheld devices. Let's see how well they do in the next computing platform before we are sure of it.

But Microsoft is a "clear success" and only one year older than Apple? Does Apple only need to survive one more year to be a success?

Microsoft survived huge failures and also when governments came after them. And they did it in their first attempt. Apple survived only by sheer luck, not because their products or business model was designed to survive. They could be the next scapegoat of the trade war and it will take them back to their Mac days.

And Microsoft is not alone, Google essentially became MS 2.0 when they launched Android. Following MS footsteps to become successful. Which just further proves Microsoft's model.


Wow this just gets more and more confusing. Google, at 22 years old, is "MS2.0" and "successful" even though just a post ago 3 decades (though it's actually 4.5 anyways for both MS and Apple, but who's counting) wasn't enough.

Even though that's also approximately as long as Apple has been on its current success cycle anyways? If Apple had been "born" in 1998 would it be a "success" now like Google because the mac era never happened but things took off with the iMac and then the iPod?

This kinda feels like you decided on a conclusion and are now trying to backfill an explanation into it. :P


Okay so when I meant Google is "successful" was that they successfully beat MS in smartphone race and became a dominant player in the industry. They are definitely not even close to being a proper industry stalwart like Microsoft is, and it's quite possible they won't even survive the next decade if Government starts regulating them.

Apple owns the high end of the laptop and desktop computer market, their average sales price is triple everyone else. Mac sales give it over 10% of industry revenues, but even better Macintosh as a stand-alone business is by far the most profitable PC maker in the world and has been for nearly two decades.

In fact the Macintosh lineup profits are likely more than the rest of the pc makers combined.


"Handheld devices", I think Iphone and Ipad are a different category of devices. Apple watch (wearables) also seems to be becoming huge.

I think going from almost bankrupt to a trillion dollar valued company would make Apple an unqualified success though no?

No doubt iPhone got them there more than any other product


Yes, definitely. But the article seems to suggest that Apple has enjoyed continued success for past 3 decades. But in reality they only established themselves with the iPhone. Apple's model already has a proven weakness - Microsoft. Had Microsoft created good Mobile OS around 2008-09 iPhone wouldn't have seen much success IMO.

So Apple's success is more of lack of a good competitor more than anything else. High end Android phones + Fast, stable, long term supported OS from Microsoft + Developers would have done the same thing to iPhone that PC did to Macs.


> Had Microsoft created good Mobile OS around 2008-09 iPhone wouldn't have seen much success IMO.

It sounds like you're not giving Apple enough credit for good hardware. iOS isn't the reason to get an iPhone, the physical device, the actual phone, is the reason.

If Apple allowed people to install Windows Mobile on iPhone, I think I'd still get an iPhone, and maybe would install Windows on it.


For geeks yes, but majority of the world doesn't care about specs. A Nokia or HTC phone has the same quality hardware as an iPhone. Heck HTC even licensed their unibody design to Apple which they are still using till date on the new iPhone SE. And Windows worked amazingly smooth on low end hardware like 510 too, so majority wouldn't have noticed any difference between a Snapdragon or A-series chips.

The "normal" people care more about the aesthetics of the iPhone than the hardware. Although, everyone places the phone in a case. The outer appearance helps a lot when people are buying and the software animations are still arguably better than android. Basically, Apple has somehow made a complete visual experience pleasing throughout the years and while a Nokia or HTC device can mimic functionality. They still don't give the same impression for "normal" people.

The iPod already established the Apple brand as a status symbol, so the iPhone had that leg up.

I think the issue is less that Apple did amazing things, than everyone else was being sloppy as hell with supply chain and quality control. If you look at post war consumer goods, many have great Craftsmanship. But the lure of planned obselessence and cheep outsourcing ruined most product design and execution, and Apple somehow realized there wasn't a risk of not getting the benefits of planned obselessence in making a fancier-crafted project while hardware was still improving.


They still are. PC manufacturers still can’t get touch pads right in 2020. They still ship notebooks that feel janky and don’t have the same solid feel like a MacBook does.

It’s just not in their DNA. That says something


Are we talking about the same company who couldn't get Keyboards and thermals right?

Why I said "fancier-crafted". Apple does tons of crap, especially in software. But it is still better than the even more abysmal competition.

I was talking about a hypothetical scenario where it was Microsoft vs Apple in the mobile space instead of Google vs Apple. Windows worked just as fluid as iOS when they finally got it right, but they were there too late.

> The "normal" people care more about the aesthetics of the iPhone than the hardware.

That's exactly what I said. iPhone 6 to SE 2020 unibody design is from HTC. They made the same kind of phones on the outside.


This article was written by a former VP of software at Microsoft. You are simultaneously saying that MS is successful in some way that Apple is not and also saying that one of the folks that helped lead MS to success over the last 20 years isn’t competent enough to comment on just how competent and successful Apple has been for the last 15 years. Just drop the bitterness and read the dude’s writing, he knows what he is talking about.

There have been lots of product blunders. Maybe as many as Google has. The iPhone subsidizes it all, just like advertising does for Google, or Windows did for Microsoft, etc etc.

The crappy keyboard was Johnny Ive’s idea! The world’s best industrial designer has created a completely unaccounted for liability, Apple has been trying to buy back those shitty computers now through trade ins or hopefully waiting people out, because the whole Mac unit is going to go into the red if there’s no plan to minimize, in a defiantly anti-consumer way, mass keyboard recalls. A mote of dust breaks them!

The HomePod. Apple Music - but maybe all subscription music services are unsustainable and bad. A $1,000 monitor stand and $700 wheels. Aperture. Feedback Assistant. Xcode. Numbers. Messages. A camera that still doesn’t save to DNG? $3 for 100GB iCloud. The overpriced SSD storage that haunts every user in existence. Batteries that bloat; batteries that are not user replaceable; batteries that are drained when the device is using more power than the boxer adapter provides. Security through obscurity, like FaceID and the Secure Enclave. Lack of security - people’s passwords are so easy to guess, and iCloud contains everything. Apple Maps. Siri. iCloud versions of their productivity apps. Remember CloudKit?

These are all from the last decade. As long as the iPhone sells none of it matters.


Of course, "success" in this context also comes with a Point of View.

I am both a developer of "creative" (cross-platform) software, and a participant in several different online audio-software-related communities, I'd say that Apple is currently at an all-time low as far as the happiness within the union of the development and user communities for audio software on macOS.

Apple doesn't have to care ... but this was once a group that they explicitly identified as among their core target audiences. That can change over time, but it would be honest to acknowledge that whenever one is talking about success.

OTOH, despite the level of unhappiness about recent Apple macOS/hardware developments, most of the current macOS user community will keep buying Apple hardware. So ... success? Depends on that Point of View, I suppose.


I'd say that Apple is currently at an all-time low as far as the happiness within the union of the development and user communities for audio software on macOS.

These sort of communities (and I include HN in that list) are always a giant whinge-fest. I'd take zero notice of that and instead look at some figures you can trust.

Despite all the complaining I've heard here over the last few years Apple's share of the PC market hasn't moved.


What was the last sentence of my post saying?

can you elaborate what exactly your community is unhappy about? hard to tell from your comment so hard to empathize

there's a pervasive feeling that Apple doesn't really care about professional creatives in the way that they once did.

it likely started with apple killing firewire (which immediately ended numerous product lines and EOL'ed many people's devices).

it continued with the redesign of final cut, which was clearly done to appeal to new(ish) users rather than people who used it all day.

the arrival of AUv3 has been somewhat half-assed, with poor documentation and inconsistent experiences among developers. developers using higher level audio APIs have also found things changing with no clear reason or announcements.

the mac hardware has continued to become less and less competitively priced if you care about CPU cycles/unit-of-currency.

the demise of connectors on macbooks was hard on many musicians who were performing live with their machines.

continued subtle OS-level changes continue to break many pro-audio/music creation apps in not necessarily deep ways, but the breakages still have to be addressed by someone.

there have been repeated reports of significant worsening of performance of various types of audio interfaces as macOS has moved from version to version. i tended to dimiss these initially, but they are becoming too common to completely write off. the machines are becoming more and more sensitive to the entire state of the USB bus(ses), and although they were never entirely safe in this respect, things have gotten worse just as USB connectivity for audio has become more and more important.

that's a sampling ...


sorry to hear all this. maybe in 10 years someone will come along and fill this hole left by Apple.

I read that the T2 chip really messed with some audio hardware by saturating the USB 2.0 hub. That might be one thing?

https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/02/19/pro-audio-glitch-...


> Wildly unprecedented execution

It takes me back to when I was younger and every well polished presentation, jazzed me up like it does, this author.

I remember buying first gen. 27" iMac and marvelling at the resolution - I couldn't see the individual pixels!

Now I'm old and grumpy and not a single announcement from Apple or any other tech company for that matter, has made me giddy in years. Many announcements and ongoing blunders, have jaded my soul, bit by bit :)

I imagine some innovation, not iteration, is around the corner, because it just can't be that this is all we've managed to accomplish with all the opportunity that we've been given.


If you eat the same food over and over and over again it eventually tastes bland.

>TheSpiceIsLife

Does it? Don't you hone your perception and you are able to taste subtle differences instead of getting a kick from its novelty?


Ah, yes.

It depends what you’re trying to see, right?

Eventually your senses will be saturated by the mundane, physical realm.

True happiness lies in contentedness.

To be content is to have enough; to be full.

Only when we realise we are full—when we see we were born full—are we ready, willing, and able, to give.

Only through giving can we become full.

To give is to be content.


We're definitely spoiled.

The first iPhone was very impactful. Now everybody has something much better on their pockets and it's just meh.


Like I keep saying:

I hope when I’m on my deathbed I remember to say something like:

I wish I’d spent more time being frustrated at on-screen keyboards;

Or:

Most of my best writing went unnoticed.

;)


This isn’t scrum or agile or… — most would call it waterfall BUT IT IS NOT. It is planning, iterating, prioritizing, discarding, restarting, and more.

I don't understand why this isn't waterfall. Because ... sometimes Apple changes their plans?


I think his point is that you can't label their process with any one standard methodology because it's uniquely Apple - it's all of them and none of them at the same time.

It may feel like waterfall from the outside because it seems like they do a lot of planning up front and then execute on those plans, but that's too simplistic a view of what actually happens internally.


That's not unique to Apple. No company adopts cookie-cutter standard methodology either. There is always compromises.

There are definitely shops that adopt e.g. waterfall processes wholesale throughout the org, but broadly I agree with you that most companies can't be painted with a single brush.

That does't stop people from doing it, though, and I think he's just trying to make sure that readers don't learn the wrong lesson (eg no course corrections! plan everything and stick to it no matter what!) from this analysis.


Okay, but surely out of every major tech company, Apple is the closest to waterfall-style? Given what a bad name waterfall has now, that's surely notable.

It seems to me that the reason Apple succeeds with a (relatively close to) waterfall style approach is the long term planning / strong point of view the author describes. The more the goalposts move, the more agile you have to be.


Setting realistic deadlines is already a big win.

In the startups that I have worked with, most of them don't give nearly much time to devs.


What I took from point 21 (for me the most interesting of all) was the focus – in the context of something long term – on “iterating, prioritizing, discarding, restarting” to the extent that “planning” doesn’t mean what it does in waterfall.

I've heard it descried (on Twitter) as Agile on steroids, haha

The big selling point of the Apple Mac computers line is that they are not Windows PCs. You can get stuff done without annoyance or tweaking the system.

The iPhone and iPad are so easy to use that a three year old can use them. Which makes them easier to use for ebook readers in schools.


Even a chimp can use it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTiZqCQsfa8

Yes, it's only the one app - but I think that's a win for usability.

It's the video I think of whenever someone on HN is complaining that iOS is hard to use and that things were better in the past.

I'm not sure what a chimp would be able to do at a command line, but I suspect not much.


Correct. Apple's overall strategy with its short 7-year lifecycles is to use planned obsolescence in order to continue extracting money from its consumers.

An 8 year old desktop running Windows 10 or Ubuntu 20.04 is perfectly functional today, and will continue to be kept up to date for many more years in the future. An 8 year old Mac Mini runs either of those OSes pretty well. Now that Boot Camp will no longer be supported, an Apple Silicon Mac Mini bought in 2020 would have to be thrown away in 2028 since it will no longer receive security patches.

This is... not good.


What drives most of the limited backward compatibility is the amount of testing required. If you want to officially support new features on an older harder platform, you should test that they work. And fix any bugs found. And maybe some of those older machines don't have hardware for a new feature, so you have to devise a way to fail gracefully. At some point you just need to cut off the older platforms and move on. Similar reasons many web developer complained in the past about having to support old versions of Internet Explorer. No one accused anyone of 'planned obsolecense'.

BTW, the author of this article is not ignorant in these affairs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Sinofsky


Apple makes far too much money for this to be a legitimate excuse.

I thought the article illustrated very well why "money" should not be the prime consideration for supporting something (in the short to medium term). They're playing the long game.

Tell that to all the game developers whose games can no longer be played on Catalina.

You act like dropping 32-bit was a surprise.

They had two years to get ready for 64-bit only, though the writing was on the wall for more than 5. They didn't. Either they didn't care, didn't find it worthwhile, or they didn't even exist anymore.


Tell them what? Those developers already know that Apple is known for removing support for aging technologies way ahead of the curve. They also know that being willing to move fast and break backwards compatibility is what makes Apple, Apple. It's a major point of the article:

>There’s a whole book to be written about the “deal” a company makes to [...] promise compatibility. The reward of success is extremely high, but it is almost a Faustian bargain because you will absolutely cede the right to innovate

No one said that there weren't downsides to Apple's approach. The downsides are well known. And, as a user I'm slightly annoyed about the loss of 32-bit support. But if 32 bit support and backward compatibility is important, there's plenty of options including Windows, Linux or dual-booting MacOS versions [0].

Personally, I'm willing to suffer the short term pain of lost backward compatibility because I'm excited about the future of computing. As a user and developer I've already lived through 16->32->64 bit transitions (and similar disruptions). They suck at the time, but they're ultimately worth it. You can't stop progress.

[0] https://www.macworld.co.uk/how-to/mac-software/dual-boot-mac...


I think you are confusing "won't run the latest macOS" with "doesn't get security updates", which simply isn't true. Apple is still providing security updates for Macs well over a decade old.

Ahh, last I checked Apple would only do 1 more year of security updates. Glad to see they've changed their stance.

10 is better than 7 but not as good as the 15+ years Windows and Linux offer.


When on earth did you check??

They are not absolutely wrong. Old macOS versions do get security updates sometimes. Almost all the time when something really critical has bern found, but the most current macOS is receiving much more security updates. And i dont believe that these more security bugs are only in the newest version. Maybe they are hard to fix in old versions because they can‘t be backported?

Apple has by far the highest customer satisfaction in the business. An 8 year old Mini is still going to run fine for years to come.

Apple should put its efforts into creating the future fir those willing to pay for it, not grumps with 8 year old computers too cheap to upgrade to far better hardware.


Ten- and eleven-year-old Macs are getting security updates now. Why do you think that will change with Apple silicon?

Which ones are those? Not the 2009 iMacs that can run, at most 10.11 El Capitan, which stopped receiving security updates two years ago.

macOS High Sierra runs on the following Macintosh computers:[5]

* iMac: Late 2009 or later

* MacBook: Late 2009 or later

* MacBook Pro: Mid 2010 or later

* MacBook Air: Late 2010 or later

* Mac Mini: Mid 2010 or later

* Mac Pro: Mid 2010 or later


And I mean, if you're a company that does planned obsolescence and your users will continue to buy your latest products without caring about repairing them, why wouldn't you continue to use planned obsolescence?

it depends on how much "consumer effort" repairing costs.

Most people seem to replace their phones on a regular 2-3 year cadence. Much less so on laptops -- and surely Macs tend to get supported for long period of time; I can run Big Sur on a 6 year old Mac.

Same with iPhones -- iPhone 6S is going to run iOS 14.

As a consumer, if I were to buy an alternative to the iPhone -- which is practically _only_ Android -- then I'm looking at software obsolescence much earlier;

I mean, look at Android 11 & iOS 14. iPhones released in 2015 are still supported but Android 11 goes only as far back as Pixel 2, a phone from 2017.

So it doesn't seem like Apple is a company that is using "planned obsolescence" from a purely functionality perspective.

Sure, hardware degrades in quality overtime -- but that's a function of physical constraints -- not business strategy to get people to buy new stuff; well, at least for the _most_ (some?) part.


Last time I heard, Apple was an environment conscious company.



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