So Phil Schiller gave a second eve-of-Galaxy-S4-launch interview, this one to Reuters reporter Poornima Gupta. The headline (“Apple’s Schiller Blasts Android, Samsung on Galaxy’s Eve”) is spot-on, but here’s the second paragraph:
The marketing chief’s rare attack on a rival, on the eve of the Galaxy S4’s global premier in New York, underscores the extent of the pressure piled upon a company that once stood the undisputed leader of the smartphone arena, but ceded its crown to Samsung in 2012.
Before I got to that final clause, I thought Gupta was on the cusp of making a salient point with regard to what’s going on with Apple and the news media today. Like most first-generation Apple products, the original iPhone was greeted by much skepticism. Needs a keyboard. Needs a removable battery. Costs too much. Only on AT&T. Then, after a few years, it became obvious that the iPhone was in fact the way all modern smartphones should work — a touchscreen with very few hardware buttons and an app-based system, more computer-with-phone-features than phone-with-computer-features. And Apple had no serious competition. None. This is the period, from 2009-2011 or so, where Apple’s stock rose coincident with its profits, at a steady consistent pace. But as time goes on, I’m ever more convinced that many observers — including investors and reporters (especially those in the business press) — developed three bad assumptions:
Daring Fireball: When All You Have Is an ‘Apple Is Doomed Without Steve Jobs’ Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail
I’m not sure what’s worse, the content of this piece by Sam Gustin for Time magazine, or the pun in the headline, “Google Hits ‘Glass’ Pedal as Apple Returns to Earth”:
In short, Apple expectations are returning to Earth. “Apple has had a tremendous run from 2001 until the end of last year,” says Kessler. “People want the company to invent a new category. In the past, they’ve done that so frequently and successfully that when they don’t seem to do it as much or as profoundly, questions arise.”
The iPod in 2001, iPhone in 2007, iPad (which many critics pooh-poohed as “just a big iPhone”) in 2010. So, so frequently — it’s a wonder how we ever kept up with Apple’s new category inventions.
Meanwhile, Google is hot. For example, Google’s new Chromebook Pixel laptop is garnering positive reviews. (“Thank you, Google. For obsoleting my MacBook,” as one CNET writer put it.)
That would be the aforelinked Brooke Crothers, a CNet opinion columnist. Here’s the official CNet hardware review of the Pixel by Seth Rosenblatt, where it garnered a meager rating of “OK” and this bottom line:
The bottom line: Despite impressive hardware specs and solid industrial design, the Chromebook Pixel’s high price and cloud OS limitations make it impossible to recommend for the vast majority of users.
I really don’t understand all of this negative press about Apple. It seems that tech writers are so eager to write the best “Apple is Doomed” article that none of them care whether they can back up the assertion with data and facts anymore. Thanks to all of these articles and a difficult time in the 1990’s, even Wall Street is buying into the fantasy that Apple is dead in the water. Meanwhile, Apple devices continue to sell like hotcakes and Apple’s profits continue to soar.
The iPhone 5 is really nice.
It feels great, looks great, has the best display I’ve seen at any size, runs noticeably faster, networks noticeably faster, is way thinner and lighter than any of its predecessors, takes better photos, and, in my six days of testing, gets totally decent iPhone-4S-level battery life.
Surprise - he likes it.
The gist of Mike Daisey’s defense is the idea that, though the pieces of his story weren’t actually true, they combined to make for a story that painted a larger truth. Wrong. Daisey was not getting at a larger truth. He was instead painting a big lie.
I’ve only quoted the first paragraph. A beautifully crafted piece that clearly and completely addresses the whole Mike Daisey fiasco. Get thee hence and read!
The retina display is amazing, everything in the UI feels faster, and the price points remain the same. What’s not to love? It’s that simple.
Gruber examines all of the key new features and the overall experience of the new iPad. He likes it. A lot.
A week ago, John Battelle wrote a curious response to this Wall Street Journal report about Google circumventing Safari’s (and, notably, Mobile Safari’s) default setting only to accept cookies from visited websites.
All major browsers give the user control over cookie permissions. Usually, with three options:
Accept cookies from anywhere (i.e., allow third-party cookies)
Accept cookies only from visited websites (disallow third-party cookies)
Don’t accept any cookies at all
The difference with Safari is in the default for this setting. Most major browsers default to the first option, allowing all cookies. Safari and Mobile Safari default to the second, allowing only first-party cookies.
What the WSJ discovered is that Google (and a few other ad networks) found a way to store third-party cookies in Safari and Mobile Safari even when the option was set only to accept cookies from visited websites, as it is by default.
Read it all if you are interested. The reason that Google is getting heat over this is because they specifically wrote code to circumvent Safari and Mobile Safari’s default setting of disallowing third party cookies so that they could track users across websites. That should not have happened. That is Google at it’s worst.
What is Apple at heart: a software company, or hardware company?
This is a perennial question. The truth, of course, is that Apple is neither. Apple is an experience company. That they create both hardware and software is part of creating the entire product experience.
But, as a thought experiment, which is more important to you? What phone would you rather carry? An iPhone 4S modified to run Android or Windows Phone 7? Or a top-of-the-line HTC, Samsung, or Nokia handset running iOS 5?
What computer would you rather use? A MacBook running Windows 7, or, say, a Lenovo ThinkPad running Mac OS X 10.7?
For me, the answers are easy. It’s the software that matters most to me. I’d pick a Nokia Lumia running iOS 5 over an iPhone 4S running any other OS, and I’d pick the ThinkPad running Mac OS X over a Mac running Windows. No hesitation.
What do you think Steve Jobs would have chosen, facing the same choices?
Well worth reading for it’s insightful analysis of the creative thinking that drives Apple.
Daniel Glazman, co-chairman of the W3C CSS Working Group, has a detailed technical analysis of the iBooks Author file format:
The iba format clearly extends CSS (and therefore EPUB3) to offer the following features:
Template-based layout including special areas (gutter)
Ability to control the size of each column and column gap in a multi-column layout
Something equivalent to Adobe’s Regions and Exclusions.
He thinks these nonstandard extensions are a strategic mistake on Apple’s part:
When a piece of software is so well designed from a UI point of view and could become such an attractor in terms of usage, I feel this is a totally wrong strategy. Opening up everything and using only carefully chosen standards and matching the version of WebKit used by Safari would have given an immense and almost unbeatable competitive advantage to Apple, would have attracted even more people to the Mac platform and would have turned the iBooks Store into the primary online choice of publication for all new books.
It should surprise no one that the co-chair of a W3C working group deems standards compliance to be more important than does Apple. And he may well be right that it will prove to be a strategic mistake. But it’s worth noting that the e-book market leader, Amazon’s Kindle, uses a proprietary format.
Yesterday the NPD Group issued a report on U.S. tablet sales in the U.S., from January through October of 2011. Worth noting up front is that the numbers in this report are about sales — actual tablets sold to actual customers — not “shipments” from the factory to stores and warehouses. Much-reported on is that second-place went to HP, after its fire sale on the discontinued TouchPad. What hasn’t gotten much commentary is the extraordinarily contorted way that NPD reported these numbers.
Apparently the NPD group thinks there are two tablet categories - Apple tablets and a separate category for non-Apple tablets. Very odd way to present sales figures.
This is the easiest product review I’ve ever written. The iPhone 4S is exactly what Apple says it is: just like the iPhone 4, but noticeably faster, with a significantly improved camera, and an impressive new voice-driven feature called Siri.
About the only thing not upgraded is the design.