Category: Apple commentary

Apple, take my (employers) money!


I’m currently the design studio manager of a small Mac-based in-house design studio, which is part of a much larger, PC-based company. 

Every 3 years I refresh the Macs as the AppleCare run’s out. 

Last refresh I moved all users to 27″ iMacs, leaving behind a collection of cheesgrater MacPros of various denominations.

Apart from the odd screen quality issue it was the right decision. 
Speed, small footprint, a lot less cables to worry about, identical installs and less dust, all make managing those Macs a lot easier than it used to be. 

I’m not sorry that the cheesgraters were discontinued, as the iMacs are perfect for what we need. 

However there is one left, a venerable cheese grater MacPro RAID, that handles all the file serving, backup etc.

I can’t replace that, because, well, Apple hasn’t got anything to sell me that would replace it. 

I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a big SSD with thunderbolt and hooking that to the network, but it’s a bit of a kludge. 

So the money stays in my pocket. 

And so the iMacs. 

AppleCare runs out next year, so I’ve looked at what’s on offer. 

And, well, there’s nothing to replace them with. Current iMacs are not that much different from what we’ve got. 

So the money stays in my pocket. 

Upwards of £20k, and Apple just doesn’t want it. 

Next year, let’s see who does. 

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Chuq’s advice for Apple…

A long time Apple commentator and ex-Apple employee, gives his view.

I listened to Chuq on the Appletalk podcast and his point about Apple, “cutting the ends off the bell curve” is a really good point.

The marketing & finance people have taken over at Apple and they are drowning in data.

They’ve looked at the data and like all marketing people, want to be spending their money on things that are likely to return on the investment.

They’ve looked at the usual market sectors, and because nobody in marketing actually does any serious heavy lifting, they don’t understand those that do.

There’s a current illness in marketing where any market they can’t measure, they just don’t see, and marketing is full of people who can only truly understand people like them.

They look the all that data from sales, social, email, web and the only data that is shown by that are trendy millennials sat in coffee shops.

They respond to social, email, branding etc., so the data marketing collects is full of them.

The real pros who rely on Apple’s kit to make a living are too busy working to ‘respond to branding cues’, they just buy Apple every few years, because it works.

Problem is with all that data, it seems like servicing these pros is a waste of money.

The data doesn’t show the mindshare and influence that pros give Apple.

Marketing doesn’t care about that because you can’t measure it, and in their view, they don’t want pro’s evangelising and advertising Apple – that’s marketings’ job.

Problem is with all that data, it only tells what people have done, not what they will do.

Problem is relying on data, you lose your gut instinct – that ‘Steve Job’s’ effect where Apple entered markets because they wanted to create a great product, not simply did what the marketing’s data was telling them to do.

You make the odd insanely great mistake, but that’s what made Apple great.

I do sincerely believe that Apple is changing from a company that used to service professionals creatives, into a company that simply wants to be a dumbed down, lowest common denominator, lifestyle company.

We’ll see what this year brings, from what I can see it’s just minor updates to the iMac.

Next year we are promised more – new processors and a big jump ahead in terms of performance.

After that, 2019, we’ll all know what company Apple wants to become, because by then, they will certainly be there.

Whether the pro market is with them remains to be seen – I not that hopeful.

Apple Will Murder Microsoft and Bury It With BlackBerrys Corpse – Rocco Riffs – TheStreet

Have a nice day...

Apple Will Murder Microsoft and Bury It With BlackBerrys Corpse – Rocco Riffs – TheStreet.

This is a significant article.

I’ve written at length for my distrust of Microsoft, representing in my view, a road that personal and business computing should have never gone down.

Microsoft got lucky with DOS – everything else, Windows, Office, Sharepoint, .Net, Exchange – it’s all momentum from that huge mistake that IBM made all those years ago, letting Bill Gates provide a disk operating system he didn’t even own at that point.

It allowed ‘computing for the rest of us’ to be a ridiculed statement made by a company that didn’t understand what ‘business’ needed.

Over the years, Apple has struggled on, sometimes lacking any direction, sometimes having the odd big success, but even that was dismissed as transitory – the mantra being that Apple needs a hit every year or two, otherwise it would just fade away.

Meanwhile Microsoft soldiered on, knowing that their army of IT people whose jobs depended on Microsoft staying in pole position, would keep them healthy.

An almost parasitic dependancy on each other developed, Microsoft need those IT managers to keep fooling company’s into believing there is no alternative, and those IT managers need Microsoft to keep the technology just opaque enough so that their jobs are safe, the rest of us suffered, or worse, carried on, not even knowing there was an alternative.

One thing they didn’t bank on was BYOD – bring your own device. Even in my little corner of the world, away from the US and even London, I’ve seen the effect. More people are choosing ‘anything but Microsoft’ for their personal computer and phone needs.

It’s still early days, and I don’t see a Mac on every desk anytime soon, but the article puts it perfectly:

“These days consumer preference dictates enterprise decisions. If you’re not powerfully out in front with the consumer, you’re going to end up getting hurt in the enterprise. That’s why it was smart for IBM to partner with Apple. Led by Apple, they’ll bury Microsoft in the same grave BlackBerry cluelessly fell into.”

Apple’s joint enterprise with IBM is very significant, as is this article. I’ve never seen any commentator dare even mention this as an option. I’ve also never seen anything like this from Apple either.

The enterprise doesn’t mention Macs, but I can understand that. In the eyes of business, the Mac brand is tainted (even though it’s a world away from the Mac of 1984).

However it doesn’t matter – the juggernaut that is iOS is the Mac OS underneath. Everyone knows that, Microsoft knows that, IBM knows that. What they don’t know is what iOS devices Apple will release in the coming years, which will be automatically part of the agreement.

If you consider that iOS and Mac OS will merge at some point and what the device Apple will merge them on will look like, you can start to see a future where we will all be using devices that run iOS.

Any IT manager still clinging on to Windows will use it in the server room where it belongs – just don’t let any normal person near it.

And I haven’t even mentioned the software services that Apple offers as part of this agreement – why would you choose Office when (an admittedly enhanced) iWork is free?

 

 

Apple goes all ‘Deckard’…

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I’m going to destroy Android…

An early sneak peek of Walter Isaacon’s Steve Jobs biography, let’s slip the reasoning behind Apple recent moves to sue Samsung and others.

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,” Jobs said. “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

That ‘wrong’ clearly being allowing Eric Schmidt on the board at all.

It’s well documented that Google did a 90 degree turn when then first saw the iPhone. Their phones up until that point were Blackberry clones, after the iPhone shook up the industry, their phones discarded the keyboard, became multi-touch capable and basically, ripped off the iPhone.

Now, lots of people argue that this ‘ripping off’ is hogwash and there are numerous viewpoints that support and go against that fact.

One thing that seems to have been forgotten, is that whilst Eric Schmidt was on the board at Apple, they hid the iPad’s development from him.

This is very significant.

Why? Well it’s also well known that Google have had a lot of trouble in re-imagining the Android OS for a tablet form-factor – it just wasn’t built from the start with a tablet in mind. It has had to be hacked to get it there – and it shows.

To me, this points towards the fact that the Android OS was built to be a phone OS, not a mobile OS that could be re-scaled easily.

The reason for this is because when Eric Schmidt took the iPhone to Google and said “this is the future – copy it”, they copied what they saw – a phone, not understanding the underlying construction to be scaled at some point into a tablet.

That’s because Eric didn’t know the tablet existed.

Siri is the future…

Multitouch

I’ve posted before about the future of the iPad – I feel that in another 10-15 years time, we’ll all be using 20″+ tablets with multi-touch versions of Photoshop, InDesign etc.

I need to add another aspect to this – Siri, the A.I. that ties it all together.

Although a huge multi-touch tablet has been my dream, a nagging doubt has always been at the back of my mind, do I really want to multi-touch everything, all day, everyday, even for the most mundane tasks?

Probably not. Imagine choosing a particular font from a list of 200, cutting out an image using the pen tool, typing on an onscreen keyboard – all day.

Even with the most efficient, elegant OS, this would be tiring.

Imagine now that Siri could do most of that, just by listening to you. Combine with that a seasoned multi-touch user, and you have a seriously productive workflow.

And it all belongs to Apple.

iOSification of the Mac…

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I haven’t upgraded to Lion yet.

At work I have a very complicated set up, ranging from PPC G4’s (yes G4’s – still working as print servers), through to 10+ PPC G5 main workstations (running Leopard) and a new Xeon MacPro running Snow Leopard Server.

At home, I have a very well used and happy 2010 iMac (Pre-Thunderbolt), running Snow Leopard.

I haven’t upgraded to Lion mainly because of software – Lion doesn’t run Rosetta, so a few pieces of software are currently a dead-end.

What has forced encouraged me to upgrade is iCloud.

I want/need iCloud, but seeing as MobileMe tied together work and home systems, a lot is going to have to be rethought.

I’m not exactly happy, but they are the cards we’ve been dealt – and I ‘aint moving to Windows.

All that upheaval is for another post however, this post is about what has happened to the Mac OS – what’s been called, iOSification.

A lot of what is deemed bad about Lion is to do with the iOS UI elements that have infiltrated the Mac OS. I’ve yet to have a hands-on with Lion, but in reading reviews, things like the scroll bars, Mission Control, Launchpad, Multi-Touch Gestures etc are all there for a very good reason.

iOS has become a force of nature at Apple. Let’s face it, they’re on to a winner here. The sheer sales numbers speak volumes – anything with iOS on it sells like hotcakes, usually beating all records.

Apple sells computers as well, but they just aren’t as popular as the iOS devices, and they want that to change.

What better way to get your average iPhone/iPad user to switch (or to actually feel that a computer is for them after all), than to make the 2 OS’s as close as possible?

It has to work – some would say it’s already working with 13%+ market share and climbing.

So although as a Mac user since the late 1980’s, I’m more than happy to see a few UI elements creep in from iOS (you can turn most of them off), if it means more and more people choose a Mac as their next PC.

Life goes on, Apple goes on…

iPad

Referencing the previous statement again from PKD, I’ve got more to say on this:

“Eveything I see is plastic and glass, and gaudy colours and strangely made… the natural question therefore comes to mind is –who made it? why is it so crummy? why is it so degraded and falling apart?”

I think Apple would add to this in agreement:

Why doesn’t it work?

Why is it cheaply made?

Why do companies sell defective products?

Who says it must be this way?

Why can’t we do this differently?

It seems to me that only Apple thinks this way. Because Apple is the only company making ‘the whole widget’, maybe it’s only Apple that can think this way.

That Apple ‘something’…

Apple

Apple

It’s very interesting being surrounded by people who don’t ‘do the Mac’, or ‘the iPhone’.

I’m not talking about your dyed-in-the-wool PC evagelist, but the neutral people, who didn’t even realise that having an opinion on whether your computer was a PC or a Mac (or a RIM or an iPhone) was even an option.

I’ve recently observed with interest a guy who decided one day that an iPad just might be of use to him in his work.

He travels overseas a lot and needs to view PDF’s and other documents at trade shows and finds even a netbook to be just too bulky.

He asked his IT Manager for an iPad, and basically got, “ugh, what is this Apple iPad of which you speak?”.

Not deterred, he bought one himself, from his own money, and manages and troubleshoots it himself.

It’s the comments he gives when you ask him about it that surprises you.

When you ask anyone about some new toy or gadget they have, their reaction is functional and technological – “it’s got lots of memory, it’s really fast” and err, that’s about it.

His reaction to his iPad isn’t like that, it’s an emotional response.

“It’s just amazing, it’s fantastic, it’s incredible, it’s wonderful” is his response (I expect a ‘magical’ will come along eventually).

He doesn’t know about the chip it uses, how much memory it has – it really doesn’t matter to him.

He’s found the app store and he’s gone ‘app crazy’. I’ll tell him about updating to iOS5 maybe next week and we just might get a ‘magical’ out of him.

They really don’t know…

IPhone_Calling

 

A lot has been said about Steve’s passing, and even more will be said about whether Apple will continue it’s meteoric rise, and continue hitting the ball out of the park.

 

To tell you the truth, nobody can predict the future, (although I’m sure there will be an app for that eventually), all we can do is observe and comment.

 

I observed recently 2 friends who were exclusive Blackberry users. They didn’t use them at work, they were their personal phones and chose them mainly for the hardware keyboard, with the comment that, “they could never use one of those touchscreens.”

 

Well I met them recently for a meal and guess what? they both pulled out iPhone 4’s.

 

I wasn’t too surprised, but what did surprise me were the reasons why they chose one.

 

Their contracts were up for renewal and they walked into their local phone shop, and were persuaded by the staff to get an iPhone.

 

Their comment was, “we didn’t go in wanting an iPhone, but they let us play with them for a while and we’re hooked!”

 

Since then, they have gone ‘app crazy’ showing me various cat apps, apps for Halloween, Christmas, joke apps, you get the idea.

 

I showed them Shazam whilst in the restaurant – they were gobsmacked and downloaded it immediately.

 

This isn’t really unusual, as Apple’s user experience is excellent, but the thing to take home here is this:
  • They don’t know who Steve Jobs is
  • They don’t know Apple’s history
  • They don’t know (yet) how the Mac differs from Windows
  • They just know what they like

You could say that the reason why people choose a Blackberry over and iPhone and a PC over a Mac, is because of the legacy of opinion that surrounds both topics.

It’s going to be pretty easy to topple RIM, they haven’t had a chance to get ingrained into people’s habits.

The reason why the Mac is finding harder to topple Windows, is because it’s been around much longer, and has had a chance to get into people lives, habits and personalities.

Just give us time.

Research In Motion?

It’s been an interesting few days for RIM. How things can change in such a short time.

 

Apple release the iPhone 4$ and almost in parallel, RIM has it’s most serious outage in it’s history.

 

Nobody seems to think that the proprietary, walled-garden of RIM’s messaging network could ever be a bad thing (those thoughts are saved for the Apple platform generally, and especially it’s new iMessage service).

 

It seems as long as the IT Manager says that RIM’s closed-off network is OK, then it must be fine, don’t worry.

 

Where I work, I’m surrounded by Windows and RIM devices, running a small Mac-based studio, and usually when this happens, people just give the ‘Microsoft’ response, which is, ‘oh well, watcha’ gonna’ do? Get used to it, it’ll come back on eventually.’

 

The IT staff grunt, and the normal users just go and make a coffee, stand around the water cooler, talking about how their PC at home does just the same thing, so this is nothing unusual.

 

This time it’s different. For the 1st time ever, the chorus has been, ‘When are we going to get iPhones?’

 

Director’s and Chairmen are having semi-heated discussions with IT Managers as to why this has happened. Some are satisfied with the, “it’s RIM’s problem and it’s worldwide”, some are not, even at my very conservative company.

 

Towit – a few ‘key’ staff now have shiny new iPhone4’s in their excited little hands.

 

A couple of staff members have brought their iPad’s in and use them extensively (keeping them hidden when the IT staff sniff around of course).

 

How things have changed – and will continue to do so.

How Steve thought differently…

Getting the work done

Andy Inathko’s CWOB recently posted a piece about his experiences at his local Apple Store, and all I can say is that the store training must be very good, because my recent trip was scarily similar.

Having purchased a shiny new iPhone 4 after my 3GS contract came to it’s end, I started to experience a dodgy home button.

Every now and again the home button didn’t work. I ignored it, but after it had gotten so bad that I had to hard-restart the phone, I took the problem more seriously. After a trip to www.apple.com/support, various workarounds were:

1) Pressing it really hard (not a good idea)

2) Blowing on it (it worked sometimes)

3) Plugging in the connector (that seemed to work almost every time)

But after the phone was about a month old, with the problem getting worse, I decided to visit the place I bought it – The Carphone Warehouse.

I entered the store and waited for nearly an hour, whilst the 4-5 people in front of me each in turn sat down at the 2 desks available, and each salesperson in turn, sold them a phone.

And a maintenance contract. And a phone cover. And a broadband service. And a maintenance cover for their phone cover and ther broadband service.

I finally sat down and they grunted at me that they would only swap it out if it was less than a month old. Did I want to pay to send it to their repair service. Did I want phone cover. Did I want a maintenance cover. Did I want broadband.

I did not. I did leave. I did though decide to visit my local Apple Store.

I made an appointment online, a visited the store late one rainy Thursday evening.

The store was packed, and I mean packed. My local store is very small, probably no more than 7 metres wide, by 30-40 metres deep, just about enough room for 2 long tables down either side and a central walkway down to the genius bar at the back.

As I entered I saw a few blue shirts walking around and after chatting, and the blue shirt confirming my appointment on an iPad, I was guided to the genius bar, where I was advised they were running about 20 minutes late.

That was fine, I was in no rush and I played around with Lion on a huge 27″ iMac for a while.

After a few minutes I started to people watch and several things struck me:

1) A very old disabled couple (one in a wheelchair, one with a zimmerframe) were being shown by a very patient blue shirt, a brand new MacBook Air’s Universal Access feature. After they were happy, the blue shirt guided them through the very busy store out to a seat opposite the store where they sat with them for a while until their family came along to collect them.

2) 2 teenage girls came along with their mother with a battered old 3GS that had quite clearly gotten wet (it had rust for goodness sake). They walked away with a brand new iPhone, giggiling insanely.

3) A girl came with a MacBookPro that was extremely hot, and kept shutting down. They identified her issue was a keyboard cover that had got moisture behind it. She walked out with a new MacBookPro (she had AppleCare).

It was then my turn. I explained my problem, but when they blue shirt tested it, he couldn’t repeat the issue (it was intermittent). He swapped it for a brand new iPhone, no questions asked.

Whilst I was there, the store never emptied of smiling happy people, playing with the Mac’s, and seeing what they could do with them.

I left the store a happy customer, and I suppose the other 1000’s of customers that visited that rainy Thursday did too.

The iMac I am now typing this article on has just turned one years old and I have spent the money to buy Applecare.

I hopt I don’t have to use it, but in someways I do, because I want that experience again, and I know I’ll get it.

What Steve did with the Apple Stores doesn’t seem that difficult does it? He just put the customer first. He made the whole experience a good one. No scratch that – an awesome one.

I’ve explained the experience I’ve had to various PC-types, and bar none – they don’t believe me.

It seems that places like The Carphone Warehouse have convinced the buying public that putting the customer last and extracting as much money out of them as possible is  the norm.

And people wonder why Apple is the most valuable company on planet earth.

IT’S TIME TO BEGIN AGAIN…

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My last post was almost a year ago, and I must admit, I thought I was done with blogging.

Twitter had seemed to replace much of what I wanted – blogging is all about you, it’s your personal spin on events, and what better (and quicker) way to do that, than to post short messages with a link to the event in question.

The past 2-3 days have made me realise that I’m not done with blogging, and I have much more to say regarding all things Apple and tech in general.

Of course, as you’ve probably realised, the event that has spurred me on, is the sad death of Steve Jobs.

I’m based in the UK, and I learned of his death in the most abrupt and weird way possible. My iPhone awoke me at 5.45am with an alarm, and I had set up notifications on The Boy Genius Report app, and there, in a little sad blue box were the words, “Breaking: Steve Jobs dead at 56”.

Numbness and the day’s working trawl followed. I quickly went to MacDailyNews to confirm, and then left it at that, not really wanting to confront it.

I surfed Twitter occasionally through the day, looking at other’s inevitable reaction, but I didn’t want to react myself.

The next day, I tried to listen to Mac OS Ken Live, but could only get through about ten minutes of it – too upsetting.

The Mac Geek Gab is the first content I fully absorbed regarding Steve’s death, and it was a great show – 2 ordinary guys talking about how Apple changed their lives. In many ways this was the final reason I was looking for to start commenting again.

I’ll post again as often as I can, I may comment about Steve in more detail, I may not, but I’ve tried to come up with a sound bite that sums up what Steve Jobs means to me, and I’ll say this:

PhilipKDick was once quoted as saying,

“Eveything I see is plastic and glass, and gaudy colours and strangely made, and [therefore] human beings begin to take on the same sort of plastic oddness, and our eyeballs seem to take on a glassy look. The entire world seems to take on a fake, artificial ‘made’ quality. The natural question therefore comes to mind is – who made it? why is it so crummy? why is it so degraded and falling apart?”

The unique technologies that Apple and Steve Jobs create, driven by innovation, passion and the desire to make devices that not only look beautful, but act beautifully as well, stop that statement from becoming true.