Good Reads for January, 2017

Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of intelligently instigated reads about the wonderful world of Apple. Normally they don’t appear as part of the daily news, even though the news covered tangentially-related events, such as the iPhone’s first tenth birthday, or Apple’s 2016 in review. All I know is, you’ll need to bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.

  • If we’re starting this edition of Good Reads off with anything, we’re starting it with a story about the history of the iPhone. The internet history podcast takes us back to 2007, when Apple Computer, Inc, was riding on a wave of iPod-related successes, and the Mac was flourishing because of that. Then the iPhone was announced, Apple dropped the “Computer” part of its name, and, well, you pretty much know the rest.

And so, a skunkworks tablet project became a skunkworks phone project. At the very least, by 2003-4, in the form of various initiatives, Apple was hard at work on some sort of portable device that would merge the iPod with a phone and become an all-encompassing unitary device.

  • Apple’s 2016 in review by Chuq von Raspach reflects the negative tone that has taken over Apple commentary of late. It’s plausible that Apple are victims of their own success, now failing to live up to everyone’s expectations, but some of the criticisms are at least justified against a company of Apple’s size. Missing ship dates and languishing product lines are merely by-products of Apple’s own internal issues, even though the company still wants to put on a show. As an aside, John Gruber’s take has no commentary about Apple leadership or its supposed internal issues — just some levelled criticisms against the lack of AirPort and Mac Pro updates.

Apple’s always been a data driven company, but I think they’ve gotten overly reliant on data to drive business decisions. Spreadsheets can tell you where the sweet spots in the market are and how to hit them, but they struggle at finding and bringing forward strategic areas that also need coverage.

  • Over at Medium, Dan M’s Apple Inc pre-mortem breaks his analysis down into Apple’s current focuses, which just so happen to be it’s most marketed products. The Apple Watch, the iOS platform, Apple TV, Apple services, and Apple as a company all have some part to play in Apple’s overall strategy. Some products require a little more direction on where they’re headed, others, like the company, are in danger of losing some of the culture that makes Apple great.

Jobs and Forstall openly acknowledged the shortcomings of MobileMe and iOS 4, while Apple pats themselves on the back at almost every turn now — including their increased number of press appearances. Apple must not fall head-over-heels in love with their own products, or pride themselves in their accomplishments, lest they become blind to their shortcomings.

  • As Chuq points out in his review above, this isn’t the fault of Apple CEO Tim Cook. Dan M writes that Cook is an execution/operations CEO, not a product/creative one like Jobs was, so in some respects, grading Cook is an impossible task. Neil Cybart writes that Apple is in the unique position where Cook is judged unlike any other company in the world, both through the lens of the once-in-a-lifetime iPhone, and off the back of the best-selling smartwatch in history.

There is one missing piece pertaining to Cook’s inner circle. Who is in charge of the most important thing at Apple, the product? This is where Jony and the Apple Industrial Design group enter the equation. Cook and his inner circle have given much more power to Jony and the Apple Industrial Design group in recent years.

  • Normally Good Reads aims to take items published within the last month, things that can’t necessarily be read through in a few minutes. But seeing as we’re making the iPhone’s first tenth birthday, we might as well take a look back. Engadget’s Kyle Orland, at the time, was looking forward to iPhone gaming, and tens years from that, iPhone gaming is one of the most lucrative markets in the world.

While Jobs didn’t specifically mention any gaming applications for the iPhone during his keynote speech, we think it’s only a matter of time before some form of interactive entertainment is announced for the device. At least, we hope it’s only a matter of time. Please?

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