Putting Apple Product Development into Perspective

Rick Tetzeli, co-author of Becoming Steve Jobs, interviewed Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, and Craig Federighi for an article about Apple’s approach to product development that was published by Fast Company yesterday. Tetzeli does an excellent job exploring critics’ ‘Apple is doomed’ refrain, putting it into historical context, and exploring what Apple’s long-term approach to product development might mean for the company’s future.

Apple often seems to be criticized for simultaneously doing too much and too little. The ‘Apple is doing too much’ criticism typically points to recent product misses as evidence that Apple has lost its focus under Tim Cook’s leadership and needs to return to its core products. But as Tetzeli points out, product failures at Apple are not a new phenomenon:

Indeed, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad—and the financial success they engendered—obscured the fact that Jobs oversaw almost as many flops as hits during Apple’s resurgence: the circular, nearly unusable mouse that came with the first iMac in 1997; 2001’s beautiful PowerMac G4 “Cube,” which was discontinued after one year; Rokr, a music phone Apple released with Motorola in 2005; the iTunes social recommendation network Ping, and many more.

The complaint that ’Apple is doing too little’ seems to come from fear that Apple is missing out on technologies announced by companies like, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft

There have been a few takes on the Fast Company article that was published yesterday, but the one by MacStories hits it on the nose.

Source: https://www.macstories.net/linked/putting-apple-product-development-into-perspective/

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The iPad’s unfinished business

Jean-Louis Gassée:

The iPad Pro undoubtedly appeals to a more demanding base of users than the smaller iPads. iOS is “growing windows”, a more visible file system and, in a soon to be available version, will provide easier access to documents on a Mac Desktop or Documents folder. We’ve yet to see if these improvements help Mac users actually create more on their iPads, or if they merely make life more pleasant for those fortunate enough to commute between the two devices. In the longer run, progressively beefing up the simpler/cleaner iOS is a better bet than adding more layers of bug fixes and features on top of the noble and worthy OS X, now macOS.

The original iPad and iPad Mini, on the other hand, pretty much fully satisfy the “non-pro” users who don’t need to do much more than message family and friends, navigate social websites, share pictures, watch videos, and so on.

And Dave Marks as part of his reply:

Will the next generation of iPads cross the chasm and offer the interface power and usability of the Mac? Will the next generation of MacBook Pros grow closer to the iPad? What if the iPad added a keyboard case with the ability to attach a trackpad and mouse? What if the next MacBook Pro had a touchscreen and could split like the Surface? Will the Mac ever run iOS apps? Or, perhaps, iOS itself?

Jean-Louis and Dave both have a few good points here. I actually find myself wishing the smart keyboard had a trackpad several times, or sometimes an esc key (and yes, I know there is a virtual esc key, but it’s not always available on some apps so it’s annoying), but it’s workable and lets me do my work without any problem.

Dave’s final question is also good, and has been asked before… Will the iPad become more like the Mac? or will the Mac become more like the Ipad

Source: http://www.loopinsight.com/2016/08/09/the-ipads-unfinished-business/

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Pineapple Peach Ghost Pepper Sauce

We grow our own Ghost peppers and various handy kitchen herbs in our back yard, it’s nice to just walk out and grab what you need to make something.

A recent trip to the local farmer’s market got me a few fresh peaches, and the pineapple, well, that I bought in a store since those don’t grow on trees around here.

This sauce is a mixture of sweet and spicy, and you can switch out the Ghost peppers for any type of hot pepper you like, I also like to use Habanero peppers in this sauce.

This sauce is tasty on just about anything that can take the level of heat with the touch of sweet. It’s a touch on the vinegary side, which works for me for many things. Try it over chicken, or a nice piece of fish, over a piece of sliced pork loin or pretty much anything.

You can even just use some on your veggies if you want.

What you need

  • 5 – 6 ghost peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups chopped pineapple
  • 1 cup chopped peaches
  • 1 handful mint leaves, rinsed
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

How to make it

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Add to a pot and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  3. Cool and strain, if you want a less-chunky hot sauce, if you want a chunkier hot sauce, skip the straining.
  4. Pour into bottles and refrigerate until ready to use!
  5. Makes about 12 ounces.
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Incipio is buying accessory maker Griffin

Incipio keeps on buying up big tech accessory brands. The latest is Griffin Technology, an acquisition that Incipio announced today without disclosing terms of the deal. The purchase gives Incipio an even bigger reach into the smartphone case and accessories market — an area where it’s already a big name.

It’s not the most exciting pairing, but you can see where it makes sense for Incipio from an efficiency standpoint. Incipio’s CEO and founder, Andy Fathollahi, explains the reasoning in a statement:

“As part of Incipio Group, Griffin strengthens our product development and manufacturing capabilities, complements our existing product lines in rugged cases, power and connectivity, and allows our brands to reach a broader domestic and international audience through enhanced distribution in the business-to-business, enterprise, and education verticals.”

Incipio and Griffin merging into one company may not be big news, but it is interesting news as these two are two of the major accessory makers for smart phones, tablets and laptops.

Source: http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/5/12388566/incipio-buys-griffin-technology

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Is iPad-only the new desktop Linux?

Watts Martin:

You like the iPad because it’s simple. But if you’re using the iPad as your primary computer, you may just like it because it’s a challenge.

[..]

And I started using it.

I used it to make revisions to a story and send it to an editor. I used it to create new stories. I used it for editing bigger works in Scrivo Pro, a “Scrivener for the iPad” before the official Scrivener for iOS release. I even used Working Copy to check my company’s documentation out of Git, made changes in Editorial or Textastic, and merged them back in. I switched to Spark as an email client, and Ulysses as a plain text editor.

I have a few months of using it daily now, and using it for relatively serious work. Yes, I like it. Yes, it can replace my Macbook in many regards. Some of what I need to do is easier on the iPad than it is on either the iMac or the MacBook: email triage, for instance, and anything that involves long-form reading. And it’s a good “single focus” editor for writing.

But where it fell down — and will continue falling even with iOS 10 — is when I needed to do just about anything that involves more than one program at once.

Right after I’d gotten the iPad Pro, I had to do something common for fiction writers: review comments from an editor on a short story of mine, accept or reject their changes, make my own copy edits, and then send the file back in a reply to the original message.

[..]

You can argue that I should just stay within the bounds of the ecosystem I’m supposed to be in. Fuck that. This is plain text. A lot of files we work with are de facto standards: JPEG, Word, HTML, MP3. Downloading an image from a web site, resizing and editing it in an image editor, and uploading it to WordPress — these are things that people do all the time and require coordination between multiple apps, yet don’t demand specific apps.

If you’re going to tell me “normal people” don’t do those tasks, please don’t. Quilters run blogs. Salespeople create presentations. And non-techie writers send revisions to editors. It’s us nerds who insist that iOS solves the “problem” of normal people who don’t understand the file system putting all their files on the desktop. But the desktop acts as shared document storage, which is something it turns out normal people sometimes need, and iOS does not solve that problem. Lecture me about the virtues of containers all you want, but there is no world in which having to use Dropbox as a temporary storage medium is a step forward.

I’m not 100% on board all with everything Watts is saying in his post, I’ve been using an iPad as a laptop replacement for years and more and more with the iPad Pro than ever before. As more and more apps start adopting the split screen support (and Zoom, I’m talking to you as an app I use every day for video conferences and still does not have split screen support), it gets even more usable.

I wrote the majority of both the first and second editions of the Twilio Cookbook on an iPad and even managed to read my editor’s comments in Word, But, I can also see where he is coming from too, maybe I’m just used to working within the confines of iOS?

I’ve also been the full-time desktop Linux user, and iPad-only does not feel at all like that for me.

Source: https://medium.com/@chipotlecoyote/ipad-only-is-the-new-desktop-linux-de88b61b6d99#.co7y0rwkx

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An Ode to the iPod Classic

Lindsay Zoladz, writing about the iPod Classic:

“Wow,” a man said to me recently on the subway, “I haven’t seen one of those things in years.” He gestured toward the scuffed-yet-still-sleek, aluminum-colored rectangle in my hand — a 160GB sixth generation iPod Classic. I blinked for a moment. We were not talking about, say, a quill pen, a monocle, or a bottle of Crystal Pepsi, but an electronic device I had purchased in 2010.

I knew what he meant, though. Technology moves at hyperspeed. Apple has created and helped universalize a particular kind of planned obsolescence — its products have to go out of fashion and/or break every few years, to ensure you’ll buy a newer one — and as a result, in the eyes of the general public, Last Year’s Model has never looked like more of an antique. The Museum of Modern Art recently hosted an exhibit called “Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye,” which showcased the successive innovations in music players over the past century or so. As I strolled through, the piece that stopped me in my tracks and made me think, wow, look at that dinosaur! was not an old Victrola or a bulkily primitive jukebox — but a first generation iPod, circa 2001, complete with a clunky pre-touch click wheel and (get this) a FireWire port. “Nothing in the world,” writes Ben Lerner in his 2014 novel 10:04, “is as old as what was futuristic in the past.”

On September 9, 2014, Apple announced that it would no longer be making the iPod Classic. For a seemingly all-powerful corporation, its reasoning was uncharacteristically defeatist: “We couldn’t get the parts anymore, not anywhere on Earth,” Apple CEO Tim Cook later explained. “It wasn’t a matter of me swinging the ax, saying ‘what can I kill today?’ The engineering work was massive, and the number of people who wanted it very small.”

Well, relatively small. He was not wrong about the low sales numbers — especially when compared to a product like the iPhone, which essentially ended the need for a separate mobile music player. But in the weeks after Apple killed off the Classic, something unexpected happened: Used iPods started selling for double, triple, even quadruple their original retail price on eBay. By December, a characteristically melodramatic Daily Mail headline enthused: “iPod Classic which is THREE YEARS OLD is Apple’s hottest item this Christmas.” The Apple Watch never stood a chance.

Who would fork over up to $1,000 (or more; a factory-sealed seventh gen is listed for $1699 on eBay right now) for an old, obsolete MP3 player except a stick-in-the-mud Luddite, resistant to our inevitable progress toward a cloud-based future? I’m not sure. But I think these people were onto something.

I got a lot of use out of my iPod Classic til the battery eventually died, I also got a lot of use out of my iPod Shuffle until it accidentally got washed in the laundry (don’t ask).

Source: https://theringer.com/an-ode-to-the-ipod-classic-629e89681c6e#.meydeub8o

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The giant’s fall: Yahoo’s acquistion by Verizon

One of the saddest scenes in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy is watching the slow-moving Ents – the massive tree shepherds that took days to decide whether or not to react Sauron’s onslaught – are cut down by the wily Orcs. Only a few fall in the battle but when they do the giants of the forests that at first seemed so powerful are exposed to be easily vanquished. They won the battle but we can presume the fallen ones made great kindling for the Orc’s fires.

Yahoo isn’t kindling yet but it – like the mighty AOL Ent on which you’re reading this – has fallen. Mayer’s Old Web property is now part of a phone company, a prospect that would be unfathomable when the first web portals hit the scene.

Think about Yahoo’s mission. Originally a catalog of important things on the web it became what Year 2000 dot-commers called a portal. It was, at its core, a sort of app store with multiple features including chat, weather, mail, and photo storage. It was an early, simple web-based operating system and it was as far away from the backward, boring infrastructure companies that were then trying to figure out a way forward in the online economy.

But infrastructure has one thing going for it: it has revenue, year after year, and that revenue can be used to take down upstarts when they’re weak. That’s exactly what happened here.

Yahoo wasn’t always doomed. It was once, like AOL, a web giant. It still gathers millions of eyeballs and plenty of traffic. But then slowly (then quickly) Google overtook all comers with its superior search and that search revenue helped the company expand away from its core business leading it to create a true app store as well as a truly powerful mobile infrastructure. Yahoo and AOL, for their parts, focused on ad automation and when Facebook ate a piece of that pie they had little left to fight over. The once mighty giants were struck blow after blow and they couldn’t survive.

Interesting read on the Verizon purchase of Yahoo.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/25/the-giants-fall/

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