Category: Steve Jobs

Sounds like a lovely place to work…

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The new Apple campus sounds like a collaborative hellhole…

From the article:

“The new building features open floor plans and few traditional offices”

So the staff who are crap at their jobs can hide behind those workhorses that do all the work.

“management must be at a vice president level or above to get a formal office”

So that those same staff can then leapfrog over those silent hard-workers and grin at them from shiny, quiet offices.

“The new campus will include bench seating, long work tables, and open cubicle spaces, potentially irking employees used to quiet office environments”

So that nobody can take credit for any one task (even though it’s usually the hard work of one, quiet person that creates ‘innovation’), and that person cannot then rise through the ranks, jeopardising the roles of senior management.

“Apple’s presentations to the city of Cupertino have indicated that the open floor plan designs are conducive to collaboration between teams”

Ewww. Collaboration.

A word created by those who have never created anything in their entire life, but have found that if they stand in the same place where that creation is happening, it will be assumed by management that they were part of it.

You know, what I’ve found over the years is that the only reason executives love this fashion of open plan, collaborative workplaces is so that no-one stands out.

No single person can be attributed to creating something, and rise above the rest.

We’re all winners.

We’re all a team.

All working ‘collaboratively’

And because no one stands out, no single person can rise to executive level and make those executives look dumb.

It’s a protective response by senior management who know that they aren’t fit for the job, but they don’t want the investors to know about it from a bright, innovative, hard working person. Just ‘yes men (or women)’ here please.

Steve Jobs ‘secret sauce’ was in part, all about people, small teams of smart people and one person in that team where the buck would stop.

Tim’s Apple doesn’t sound like that, it sounds like every other large company I’ve heard of.

Steve once said:

A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”

It looks like Apple’s going to be full of B & C players, but at least they will all work collaboratively.

Maybe they’ll get around to figuring out how all those engineers who’ve now left Apple, who created the MacPro managed to do it.

I’m sure they will all get around that long work table, pull up a bench and nod, like they’re understanding what’s actually going on.

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Gruber nails it… 10 times…

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Apple’s 10 biggest problems as outlined by Gruber, via Fortune.

I have immense respect for John Gruber and his blog Daring Fireball, having been an avid reader since its inception.

He imparted his opinions (10 of them) recently at Macworld 2010, and it makes very interesting reading.

I sometimes spend fruitless hours trying to find something to blog about in which I have an opinion that I’d like to share – and then Gruber comes along and gives me almost 10.

Gruber’s 1st point, Steve Jobs:

It can be argued, Gruber maintains, that Steve Jobs’ most important product — the thing he’s spent the better part of his energy building since he returned to Apple — is not the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone or even the iPad. It’s Apple Inc., the company. The pessimistic dig on Apple, says Gruber, is that it’s a supremely well-organized company organized around one irreplaceable guy. The optimistic view is that Jobs has structured it to run like his other company, Pixar, which manages to turn out hit after hit, year after year, without a charismatic celebrity leader.

I remember many years ago when Steve went on stage at Macworld, and gave us the ‘one more thing’ that Apple sorely needed at the time – THINK PROFIT.

Apple made, on a previous quarter’s loss of $700 million+, a meagre profit of $34 million – and the crowd went wild.

That, in essence is Steve’s most important product. Doesn’t matter about market share, it doesn’t matter about simply filling existing markets, it’s about creating product they want to make, and market them to make LOTS OF MONEY.

What’s Apple going to do with that money? – that’s the unanswered question.

$39.8 Billion…

Via MacDailyNews via Businessweek:

Way back in 1997, Apple was very nearly history.

I remember back then that I seriously thought of getting out of the graphic design business for good, I could not face a career having to use, what was then, Windows 95/NT.

I decided to hold on and hope for the best, but even I never thought that Apple could go this far.

If there’s one thing that defines Apple, since 1997, since Steve Jobs came back, it is that everything they do, and I mean everything they do, MAKES THEM MONEY.

A sh*tload of money.

Profit margins on their hardware that others can only dream of (around 40% for the Mac).

Software – since Steve Jobs returned, Apple makes the best software in their target markets (please Apple, take on Adobe!)

Content – the iTunes store makes profit on music, movies and apps.

Apple Stores – have the best profit per square foot of any retailer.

Next we have the tablet, and with the rumours of more content deals and that huge data centre built for some as yet unannounced reason, we can expect that to rake in even more cash.

But as the MacDailyNews/Businessweek articles states, what is it for?

Apple have spent a little here and there, acquiring one or two businesses that make strategic sense.

But there’s a lot of money left and it’s looking very unlikely that Apple are going to give that money to their shareholders (with a dividend), or it’s users (by reducing that profit margin).

So what’s it for?

Take a look at the graph at the top of the page – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

An insight into Jobs…

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People in the know speak about Jobs…

Recently on CNNMoney, 8 people gave a rare insight into Steve Jobs, and it makes enlightening reading – choice quotes are:

“He does it in a very black-and-white way, while the rest of the world gets caught up in the gray — or caught up in themselves.” – Andrea Jung
“It struck me that there wasn’t furniture good enough for Steve in the world. He’d rather have nothing if he couldn’t have perfection.” – Larry Ellison
“He set the performance standard for product thinking and product execution that all the rest of us should aspire to hit.” – Marc Andreessen
And this is why we don’t see a tablet from Apple – yet. Many tablets have been created – and rejected.
I’d rather have nothing at all, than a tablet-like product looking for a market to fit into.

Welcome back…

How many CEO’s get a standing ovation just for walking on stage, before they say a word?

Welcome back Steve, good health & good luck.

It’s all the more odd then to see the ever stranger posts by SJ’s alter ego, the bitter, twisted and let’s face it, just plain jealous Daniel Lyons at The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs.

His posts are getting just cruel; and the way in which he keeps posting about Pogue & Gruber? he exhibits the behaviour of a stalker.

His angle on Jobs seems to portray him in an seemingly ever worse light, totally at odds with the YouTube clip above.

Maybe he has an axe to grind, maybe he’s having some sort of mid-life crisis. Whatever it is, he’s parading his psyche on full view – not sure I want to see that.

Safari 4 beta

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Apple surprised everyone recently by announcing Safari 4.0. It’s released as a beta, put don’t let that put you off, it’s every bit as stable as the previous version.

Opinion is divided on some of the new features, with some people hating the fact that the tabs have moved to the top (as Chrome), the ‘Top Sites’ feature not being particularly useful, and the intrusion of ‘Cover Flow’ into bookmark & history browsing.

Other people love these features, but I think it’s a mixed bag. The feature that wowed me first was the ‘Top Sites’ feature, however this enthusiasm has faded as I realised I cannot seem to find it useful. Time will tell.

The feature that I hated at first was the ‘Cover Flow’ intrusion. I don’t like Cover Flow, I don’t use it in the OS, or iTunes, however it seemed to make more sense in Safari, because it’s better than what it replaces, and I’m warming to it.

The traditional way, by earching your history by looking at hundreds of similar named bits of text, is not user-friendly at all, however quickly skimming through thumbnails of those pages is much more intuitive.

Thurrott is having a bad time in finding anything to like in Safari 4 beta. This isn’t surprising, but he seems to blow lukewarm to cold on Apple, depending on whether he needs to up his site visits. I’m purposefully not linking to his article.

Everyone seems not to mention the speed. The stats seem incredible, and although they seem to be true and not exaggerated, (they have been independently tested and confirmed), the average surfer won’t see much difference.

The question for me remains, is why are Apple introducing more (albeit useful) eye-candy into Safari? It’s a browser, and shouldn’t it be lean, fast & mean?

It comes down to pushing the hardware. I do most of my personal surfing on a little iBook G4 and it’s beginning to show the strain. Apple need to keep selling their hardware, so they keep pushing the specs, to make you upgrade.

I’ve held off, because, like most I can’t afford to upgrade my hardware every time Apple releases new Mac’s.

I put it off for as long as possible, and I’m planning to purchase a MacBook when Snow Leopard is released.

It seems that Apple are heading towards Snow Leopard as the pinnacle of what they can achieve, after they threw away OS9 all those years ago.

Snow Leopard seems to be everything that Steve Jobs has been aiming for – a lean, mean OS, with no legacy code. A good foundation to build upon.

I predict that after Snow Leopard has been released, together with the hardware that’s designed to take full advantage of it, Steve Jobs will announce his retirement, with the knowledge that his job is done.

However it will be sad when SJ retires. To most new Mac users he has significant, but not irreplaceable influence.

When he does go, I’m sure that Apple will carry on, and be better off in the long run, but the Apple that I have grown up with (since System 6) – my Apple – will never be the same again.

Safari is all part of this, and it’s apparent that Apple are slowly putting the pieces together to make the Mac best tech-experience, bar none.

Macworld 2008…

Time Capsule

So it’s been and gone. This year’s Macworld was amazing and slightly-less-than-amazing in equal amounts.

The problem that Steve Jobs faces now is that Apple announcements seriously affect the share price. This is partly Apple’s fault, but at one point in the past it was worse, because Apple attended various trade shows, the date of which was out of their control, and they had to have a ‘whizz-bang’ product at every one.

Now, at least, Apple has 2 main shows, the WWDC, which announces (generally) software and pro-hardware related items, and Macworld which (again generally) announce consumer hardware and software.

Notice that Apple announced the Mac Pro update, before Macworld because it doesn’t fit at Macworld. Notice also the ‘one-more-thing’ was just a musician, not a product.Steve has to back off from the hype that ‘one-more-thing’ has become famous for.

Product expectation at Apple from its users has now reached ridiculous levels and cannot be sustained in the long term, and believe me, Apple is in this for the long term. 

As I said, all this hype is Apple’s fault, but they can now be seen to be in the midst of managing these expectations.

On the one hand we have loyal users and bloggers in the media who whip everyone into a pre-event frenzy, but post-event are reasonable in their critique of the products announced.

However, on the other hand we have a group of rabid anti-Apple bloggers and journalists, who also whip everyone into a frenzy, but for different and more sinister ends.Witness the drivel that the likes of Enderle, Dvorak (who seems to have calmed down a bit), and the lesser known (globally at least, but well known in the UK), Jack Schofield who blogs for the guardian (http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/).

They either bless us with faint praise (pretend to actually like Apple, but…), or (in Jack’s case) are still stuck in 1997 and are seemingly quiet when Apple has good news (no mention of their last stellar quarter), but all over us like a fly on sh*t when they can extract something negative out of say, the MacBookAir.

Which brings us to Macworld 2008.

Out of all the announcements the MacBookAir seems to be a ‘good’ product (not great). I think Apple purposely produce products like this that stir up differences in opinions.

Any publicity is good publicity Jack, so blog all you want please.

My stand-out product at Macworld however was the ‘Time Capsule’.

Of course, the likes of Jack Schofield remark that this product isn’t revolutionary, you can create it yourself with the right hardware and know-how.

Much as in the same way you can create anything that Apple produces, if you’re a narrow-minded Windows user with 10 years+ experience in how Windows and technology works.

But as we all know, that misses the point completely. Windows users like this cannot be reached with the ‘just plug it in and it works’ mind set.

The point here is that Time Machine ONLY works with Time Capsule. You can’t use Time Machine wirelessly with just any hardware.

This facility was present in builds of Leopard but was pulled at the last minute. Reasons for this are that Apple wants to sell a lot of Time Capsule’s, or that using third party hard drives just cannot be made to work reliably.

I think it’s a bit of both personally, but it comes back to the  ‘just plug it in and it works’ angle.It goes beyond ‘plug-and-play’, because ‘plug-and-play’ actually means, ‘Install Drivers, Restart, Configure, Plug It In, Hope It Plays, If Not Try Again‘, at least on Windows, I know, I work next a Windows based IT department that do this daily.

I think I’ve just discovered a new buzz word for Windows –  INDRCPIIHIPINTA!

Don’t think it will catch on though, do you?

My thoughts on ‘thoughts on music’…

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Steve Jobs’ unexpected ‘Thoughts On Music’ posting took not only the tech world, but the music world by surprise. If any one thing demonstrates the power that Apple have today it’s statements such as this. When Steve speaks, the world listens, when Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Rob Glaser, or other tech luminaries speak, the world barely glances in their direction.

The statement that Steve made, boils down to this:

For some reason, the wider media have assumed that the reason why the iPod and iTS combo have DRM built in to every item purchased from it, is because Apple desired it, and they desired it because it locks iTS software content, to iPod hardware. This results in the concept that the more content you buy from the iPod, the less likely you are to buy competing hardware.

This apparently isn’t the case.

iTS content is locked to the iPod, and does have the side effect of locking people in to the hardware, but what most, if not all, tech columnists fail to mention, is that this DRM is easily circumvented (and FULLY supported by Apple – no hacks required), by simply re-ripping the DRM’d tracks to CD and re-importing them in to your competing players’ software.

This sounds a little long-winded, but is a walk in the park compared to stripping the DRM from Microsoft’s DRM, which is all but impossible for the average user, and certainly isn’t documented in any way by Microsoft.

Somebody should really let the Norwegians in on this little secret, but I feel that they are perfectly aware of this already and are simply acting on behalf of a certain group of privately owned businesses – I wonder who they could be?

No, the reason why DRM exists on the iTS, is because the music companies demanded it, and not only demanded it’s inclusion, but also demanded that Apple actively fix it, should it be broken.

I myself (unlike the BBC), believe him (by and large).

There are a few questions however. If Steve is so against DRM, and the only reason he agreed to it was to get contracts for the iTS, then why does he not allow DRM-free music on the iTS from indie labels, who are quite happy to give contracts out (such as for eMusic), right now, with no DRM in sight?

Who knows. It could be that the contracts that were signed by the big four, specifically exclude DRM-free music such as this, but even I admit that I’m reaching here.

Or, more likely, Steve was quite happy to go with DRM-free music, but when it was forced on to him by the big four, he saw the potential to sell more iPods and could not turn it down. Don’t forget Apple is a public company and has a duty to it’s shareholders – you cannot turn down the chance of increased profits no matter what your principles.

So, I think that the reason why Steve did this was to clear up the blame for DRM, and to point out to certain European Marxists that it ‘aint Apple’s fault – they need to talk to the big four.

And also, as a little, tiny, eeny-weeny side effect (if this results in DRM being abandoned), it also completely destroys, from top to bottom and inside-out, Microsoft’s entire business plan.

Sorry Bill, what can we say, except ‘whoops’?