A very long, but rewarding article about what led up to the release of the iPhone.
Some great quotes in here and it shows that Apple really was betting the farm on this product.
I very much doubt now that Steve is gone, there is anyone with the drive and foresight to do this again.
But with most of the world’s money in their bank account, they shouldn’t need to do that.
However, out of the entire article, one thing stood out for me – and it’s nothing to do with the iPhone per se.
The second iPhone prototype in early 2006 … was made entirely of brushed aluminum. Jobs and Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, were exceedingly proud of it. But because neither of them was an expert in the physics of radio waves, they didn’t realize they created a beautiful brick. Radio waves don’t travel through metal well. “I and Rubén Caballero” — Apple’s antenna expert — “had to go up to the boardroom and explain to Steve and Ive that you cannot put radio waves through metal,” says Phil Kearney, an engineer who left Apple in 2008. “And it was not an easy explanation. Most of the designers are artists. The last science class they took was in eighth grade. But they have a lot of power at Apple. So they ask, ‘Why can’t we just make a little seam for the radio waves to escape through?’ And you have to explain to them why you just can’t.”
This surprised me, (and it also must be a very stressful job being an engineer at Apple.)
A good designer should know all this.
A good designer should understand every aspect and limitations of what they are designing, before they put pen to paper.
A good designer is not concerned with just how it looks, BUT HOW IT WORKS.
I’m semi-quoting Mr Ive here.
It seems that the designers at Apple, who in most cases trump all other influences, aren’t as good as they say they are.
They are just concerned with how things look, not how they actually work.
Jony Ive let the designers under his control waste time in designing something that could not exist in the real world.
That’s not an industrial designer, that’s an arrogant artist with no concern of how the products he designs are used.
Does that ring any bells?
“Thrilled to spend some time with the incredibly talented @JulienFournie, whose exquisite new collection was created with iPad Pro.”
In the wake of poor iPad sales, and the lacklustre sales of the iPadPro in particular, Tim Cook is talking up the iPadPro on Twitter, showing everyone that there is someone who’s using it and nothing else to create their, well, creations.
Apple certainly isn’t giving up on their mantra that the Mac is the past, and the iPad is the future.
Except he’s not actually saying that is he?
He’s saying that the iPad isn’t the future – it’s the now.
You can ditch all those old doorstop PC’s and iMac’s, and MacMini’s with your silly mice, hardware keyboards and ‘pointers’, and do all that on an iPad.
Except you can’t – not yet.
I can’t give up the Mac and I bet you can’t either.
Pro apps, access to file systems and other storage media, larger screens etc, these are all things that are lost on Tim.
I’m not saying that at some point a rich multi-touch OS on a huge screen isn’t part of our future, I know it’s coming.
But to neglect the computer system that you’re trying to replace (the Mac), whilst your replacement has serious shortcomings is arrogant, shortsighted and plainly a bad business decision.
We need a ‘cross-over’ period where the Mac and iPad coexist, until the iPad is the computer system we all want it to be.
We can’t simply put our Mac’s on eBay and turn to the iPad. At least not yet.
Many years ago, back before Steve returned to Apple, he was asked what he thought about Apple, the Mac and what he would do to ‘save’ it.
If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago.
This was 1996 and it’s tempting to think that the iPad is envisaged by the current incumbents, as the next great thing.
But Apple’s own sales figures say otherwise. As Marco’s article points out, it’s been 7 years and sales peaked 3 years ago.
Many have said that the lacklustre figures are due to the buying cycle, i.e. the iPad is more like a computer than a phone and has a 4-5 year replacement cycle.
I’d tend to agree – I still use an original iPad mini, and although it’s a bit slow, in all other regards it’s fine for what I use it for.
Right there is the point – what you use it for.
The reason why the iPad’s sales are poor, is because despite Apple’s efforts, customers aren’t using it as their main computing device and replacing their ‘trucks’ with them.
Customers have a habit of doing that – they tell you how they use your product, not the other way around.
You’d think Apple would realise this and act accordingly, as they have had their fingers burnt with the Apple Watch.
The initial launch pushed the device in one direction, but after the data came in, version 2 changed direction and concentrated on fitness.
So why don’t they do this with the iPad?
Accept the way customers want to use it and build on that?
Instead of listening to customers, their answer has been, “we will just make it more pro” towit, a ‘pro’ version and pencil input.
And still sales fall.
There’s a simple dynamic at work here. Customers would accept the iPad as their main computing device, if the Mac (or the Windows PC for that matter) didn’t exist.
But they do.
Any, (and I do mean ANY) task is easier, quicker, more efficient and less frustrating to do on a device that has a big screen, a keyboard and a mouse.
We really did hit gold here. A screen, keyboard and mouse is the answer, there is nothing better and the iPad will never replace them.
So what should Apple do with the iPad?
I do admit that a multi touch OS is the future, but something like the Microsoft Surface Studio is closer to that future than any current iPad.
But we’re not going to get there by simply releasing a hobbled device that can’t do any task better than the device it’s designed to replace.
When it was first released, the Mac didn’t replace the job that it now currently does.
It was a slow process, and it started by replacing the things it could do better first, and slowly adding, to the point where the entire design process was done digitally.
It took years, partly because of technological constraints, but also because you had to prove to the consumer that the Mac was better.
The iPad needs the same approach.
In order to replace the Mac, it has to work alongside it, helping it do certain tasks, replacing jobs that the Mac did because it can do them better.
Here’s a few examples:
Why can’t I attach a written note to a folder on the Mac? This is something I would literally do dozens of times per day and would help me immensely.
Why can’t I draw alterations on a PDF that’s on the iPad screen and have this mirrored on the Mac’s screen?
Why can’t the iPad see the Macs file system and open files from the Mac?
Why can’t I start a design on the iPad and then throw it to the Macs screen? Adobe has shown Apple the way here.
If the iPad worked with the Mac instead of trying to replace it today, Apple would have a better chance of of being part of the future of computing.
If they don’t, by the time they get their Microsoft will have beat them to it.
And accessing an external file system.
And installing a font.
And simply importing a tif or eps into a page layout.
Basically what I do as a ‘pro-user’ 100 times a day.
Please don’t tell me ‘I’m a niche case’
The entire market is made up of a series of niche cases.
Please Apple, don’t tell me that every Mac user should use an iPad.
I’m quite happy to move to an iPadPro Apple, just make it a true ‘pro’ device.
20″ plus screen, access to a file system and pro apps and make it quick.
Whoops – I’ve just described the SurfaceStudio.