Took a while, but here it is: “Why Record iPhone Sales Might be Rotten for Apple”

Yes, that’s exactly the title of a text that appeared yesterday at the ABC News website.

Right off the bat, the author condescendingly asks for the patience and understanding of “Apple lovers pillory me and say that I have no idea what I am talking about“. He repeats the attitude a couple more times during the text, and I did decide to give it a shot and read his text with an open mind. But it didn’t work. Turns out that knowing beforehand that you are about to talk out of your ass doesn’t make it better that you’re talking out of your ass.

In case you have the time, read the entire text, especially if you’re in need of a good laugh. If you’re in a rush, here are the highlights:

“To me though, all this over-the-top fanfare and even the record-breaking first weekend of sales could actually be cause for concern.”

Yes. 9 million phones sold in 3 days are a clear sign that there is something seriously wrong. Just as the 5 million units sold last year were a sign, and so were the 4 million the year before that.

“Let’s face it this new iPhone is just an upgrade, a refresh, dare I say a sequel. I am sure that true tech devotees will tell me how wrong I am, that this new device is smarter, faster, revolutionary, etc. But to me and millions like me it seems a lot more evolutionary. It looks a whole lot like the last iPhone and the one before that and the one before that too.”

Indeed. Except for what’s new, it really is pretty much he same as the last one. I’m glad we got that out of theway. I pity these million tech devotees who, contrary to you and millions like you, think it’s enough to buy products that are faster, smarter and better than their last version. Maybe one day they will realize that uhm… evolution is the enemy of innovation… I think?

“And you know what else looks the same, the way Apple staged the release of the 5S and the 5C. Just like every launch since the first iPhone hit the market we watched people wait in line, sleep outside the store and ham it up for the cameras once they got their hands on their shiny new device. (…)

This is no longer the Apple of Steve Jobs. (…)”

Right. Every single iPhone since Steve Jobs was around was unvelied exactly in the same way, and this is why this is no longer the Apple of Steve Jobs.

“(…) do they find a way to create another “must have” new product, new category, new something that we never thought we needed and we can’t live without?

The ball is now squarely in Tim Cook’s court.”

Sandy, here’s a tip: Tim Cook already answered this question even before you asked it. The ball never left your court.

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MSFT priorities and the Surface 2

“We’ve added the Surface logo. You’re using a Surface, you want people to know you’re using a Surface. Let them know.”

Wrong.

I never understood people who buy things just to parade them around instead of actually using them. But when a company comes out and promotes this behavior by physically changing something in their devices, you know that there is something really wrong there..

There is something else that really bothers me here. Is it really Surface users who want “people to know” that they’re using a Surface, or is it Microsoft who wants people to know that there is someone using a Surface instead of and iPad? Because they are so much alike anyways…

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Products, competition, stocks and innovation. Tim Cook’s complete interview to Bloomberg Businessweek

“Well, to some people innovation only equals a new category. And I don’t view it that way. I don’t view it that way at all. I mean, if you look at these products, there are many innovative things in these products, from the fingerprint sensor to the flash to the processing power. IOS is filled with innovation. Seven’s innovation overflows the cup.”

This Businessweek interview is becoming sort of a tradition. Every year they are granted one of those, always very close to a major product release.

It is really worth the read, despite it not bringing new information to the table. It is a sort of reassurance of Apple’s values and attitude towards the market, competition, and the way they want to be perceived.

However I did notice an extra effort into making it clear that Apple has no interest in gaining market share by selling to people who don’t value technology or the effort to deliver a better experience. In several moments Cook refers to those ultra-cheap smartphones as the “junk market”.

Anyhow, do read the interview. And here’s a drinking game suggestion: Take a sip every time Tim Cook says “And so”. If it turns out you find the interview boring, at least you’ll be half-way drunk when it’s over. Unless you’re Jim Dalrymple, who I’d expect to be drinking while reading it anyways.

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Jony Ive, simplicity, and the inevitability of Beethoven by Leonard Bernstein

USA Today released today a really interesting interview with Jony Ive and Craig Federighi. Despite the new products being brought up at a certain point, the interview focuses much more on Apple’s culture and their motivations. At a certain point, Ive says the following regarding the simplicity of his design:

“Simplicity is, well, it goes back to …you’re trying to define the essence of something and come up with a solution that seems utterly inevitable and obvious. I think a lot of people see simplicity as the lack of clutter. And that’s not the case at all. True simplicity is, well, you just keep on going and going until you get to the point where you go, ‘Yeah, well, of course.’ Where there’s no rational alternative.”

This reminded me of a 1954 video where Leonard Bernstein talks about this exact same thing, while he explores the drafts with parts that ended up getting left out of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. It is an amazing video and I strongly encourage you to dedicate 6 minutes of your day to it. But the part that i was reminded of is exactly that where Bernstein talks about the inevitability of the right note:

“The composer has to have an inner roadmap. He has got to know what the next note has to be. A sense that whatever note succeeds the last is the only possible note that can rightly happen at that instant. (…) Imagine a lifetime of this struggle, movement after movement, always this constant dedication to perfection, to the concept of inevitability.”

What I find particularly interesting about this video is that it shows that even the things that to us seem perfectly natural, as the notes sequence in Beethoven’s 5th, didn’t happen by sheer chance. A lot of work was put into it and several paths and alternatives were explored.

Beethoven rewrote some passages up to 20 times until he reached that result that seems so perfect to us, so natural and inevitable, that it actually hides the countless abandoned paths and endlessly re-written sequences. That’s exactly what Ive promotes with his constant exercise in simplicity. Look at your iPhone again. Does it seem different to you now?

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iOS 7, 64-bits and TouchID. This is the beginning of a very cool evolution

iPhone 5s

I am truly excited with the iPhone 5s. The term “Forward thinking” seems like a perfect fit, regardless of what aspect of the device you pick to analyze. From the technical point of view, the 64-bit A7 chip is the best example, of course. Although the iPhone 5s will not carry 4gb of RAM, the A7 is the first step to allow the phone to keep evolving in a pace that up until a week ago we didn’t even think was possible.

The TouchID is another really exciting addition. It has opened the door to countless possibilities not only regarding the way we will interact with the phone, but it could change the way we relate to the whole Web – imagine an integration between TouchID and iCloud Keychain, for instance.

Apple has been extremely careful with the way they intend to store and use the information collected by the TouchID sensor. They’ve already explained that it’s not even your fingerprint that is stored, but little coded pieces of information that come from under your skin. They’ve also promised that this information will never leave the phone, and will be stored in an area of the processor that not even the phone or the rest of the processor itself will be able to access.

I don’t think, however, that this is the whole story. Apple didn’t spend millions of dollars buying a company and developing an entirely new piece of hardware just so you can unlock your phone and buy content faster, did they? I don’t think so. I suspect that these first few months will work as a big test to find out how well the information is really kept. Starting this week, millions and millions of phones will be put to this test every day all throughout the world.

I wonder if it’s possible (and if it is, how long it’ll take) for Jailbreakers to figure out a way to extract this information from the chip. Not that a jailbroken phone would automatically become vulnerable to this sort of data theft, but if the user manages to extract this information from his own phone, this will mean that Apple’s security team will be in for long nights ahead of them, until they manage to add a few more security layers to the whole thing.

It’s a very safe and smart (and obvious) idea to limit the TouchID functionalities to somewhat less harmful activities while the whole thing is put to the test in the real world, before making APIs available for developers so you can start linking TouchID to your bank account, for instance.

Anyhow, I see TouchID as the first step for a level of personalization that has been anticipated and expected for ages by iOS users, and that now can finally be implemented in a perfectly seamless way.

Imagine creating profiles for different users in an iPhone or iPad: one profile for you, one for your kid, etc. The kid picks up the iPad, taps the fingerprint sensor, and it’s done. Only the kids apps show up, along with their wallpaper, songs, movies, and so on. Even parental restrictions are already in place. Now imagine locking the iPad, and right after that you wake it up, touch the sensor, and boom®. You’re holding your iPad. All of your apps and contents are there, but your kids games are gone, and so are all the notifications, iMessage texts, etc.

This is something that has been in people’s wishlist for a while now, especially with people who share their iPads with the rest of the family. Of course that Apple would just love if everyone just got themselves their own iPads, and maybe this is why such a big feature has never been really prioritized up until today in Cupertino. But I also believe that they know that something like this is a bit far from the reality that most of us live in.

Obviously it would be great if iOS 7 and the new iPhones had already brought all of that to us. Thinking about this sort of thing just makes me want to flash forward and see what iOS 8, 9 or 10 will look like. If the iPhone 5s is an iPhone with “forward thinking“, it certainly fulfills its purpose: it makes it clear that this is just the first step of a pretty cool and exciting evolution process, and at the same time it goes back to being one step ahead of everybody else in the smartphone business. Samsung has already announced that they’ll be putting 64-bit chips in their next smartphones. They just left out the part that they’ll be adopting the fingerprint sensor as well.

While everybody else will play catch yet again so they can me-too the features that Apple unveiled last week, the folks from Cupertino on the other hand have already laid out the terrain to implement the features of tomorrow. And I really look forward to them.

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Microsoft admits they went too far with their videos mocking the iPhone 5c and 5s. Really?

Microsoft Fail

Videos pissing on Apple and their products aren’t exactly new. When one doesn’t have something good to talk about themselves one just badmouths someone else. It’s not pretty, but it happens. A lot [1, 2, 3, 4]. But last week Microsoft managed to come up with something so shameful that they pulled it from the web almost immediately after a rare unanimous rejection.

Talking to CNET, the company said that their videos were meant to be “a lighthearted poke at our friens from Cupertino. But it was off the mark“. Oh, come on.

What I still don’t get is how something like this gets planned, recorded, produced, paid for, etc, etc, and only when it airs is that someone decides to be reasonable and pulls the plug on the whole thing. I wonder if the people who actually decide important things only see the work their company is doing when it’s already out.

I honestly think that they knew these videos were just terrible, but they bet on the chance that they wouldn’t be completely bashed even by who usually is friendly to the idea of taking a few punches at Apple. They were hoping to barely get away with it, just like they did with that Scroogled campaign.

Regarding this entire situation, John Gruber nailed it when he recalled what Steve Jobs once said about Microsoft:

“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste.”

I respectfully disagree. This is not the only problem with Microsoft. But it’s one of their biggest ones. The other will be retiring within the next 11 months.

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non: the worst news about the iPhone 5c announcement

I understand that the chromorrhage provided by the iPhone 5c and its cases have an appeal for a specific demographic and that whoever is not a part of it won’t even consider buying this model. However what I don’t understand is how something like this happened:

non

non? What the hell is that? Had these been cases sold at DealExtreme I would understand. But these cases were designed by Apple (in California) and of all the possible alternatives this was one picked out as the best solution. non.

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The M7 processor in the iPhone 5s was the second best news of the day

Without a doubt, the TouchID was the biggest and most exciting news of the day. But the centralization of all the information provided by the accelerometer, compass and gyroscope in a separate processor is plain genius for two reasons: first, because having a separate chip registering all these inputs will provide continuous, much more precise information much faster. And second because this is accomplished without any need for extra battery.

In fact, this will help spare battery, as the M7 will identify when the user is asleep (taking into account long periods of time when the phone has been left untouched) and will tell the iPhone to access the internet less often in this meantime.

The M7 isn’t just one of the best systems for fitness and health apps such as the Nike+, for instance. Its use will be an excellent trial for future implementation in the so-called wearable devices which a few companies have introduced in a pretty messy way.

I bet that Samsung is pretty pissed about not having thought of something like that for their watch, which has a battery that lasts for about a day. I would never buy a watch that needs to be recharged every single day, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone here. But I’m pretty sure that starting today they will start working on something similar to the M7 for their second generation watch.

This processor is exactly the piece that was missing for this market of wearable devices such as bracelets and watches. And soon millions of iPhone users will be testing it out across the planet, helping this technology get even better in no-time.

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About the Samsung Galaxy Gear

Something tells me that the second generation of this watch is going to be fairly different from the one that was introduced today.

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Apple, Mac OS, Erik Spiekermann and flat design in 1992

German designer/typographer Erik Spikermann made a post on his blog featuring a few studies his SF company MetaDesign made for the whole look of the Mac OS back in 1992.

Erik Spiekermann | Mac OS

Despite him not saying what Apple’s feedback was, it’s interesting to notice how the color palette, iconography and flat design ended up being fairly explored paths with an up-to-date look 20 years later.

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