Good Reads for October, 2016
Every month, we’ll be bringing you a selection of fashionably featured reads about the wonderful world of Apple. At times, they’ll have commentary on whether Apple’s oldest product lineup still matters, or an explanation of why Tim Cook is the new Steve Ballmer. Other times, it will be well-reasoned commentary on how Apple has no idea what its doing anymore, or an explanation of why your next iPhone won’t be made of ceramic. All I know is, bring your own Instapaper account, because this is Good Reads.
- When Apple teased invites to its October event with the “hello again” tagline, it kind of set people up for disappointment. I mean, there’s no way Apple wouldn’t have known what those words meant to the Apple faithful — once the tagline of the 1984 Macintosh, to see it used for marketing what turned out to be an entirely unworthy set of updates is heartbreaking. Not only was a third of the Mac lineup updated, but updated in such a way that some are saying Apple has no idea who the Mac is for.
It’s strange — there’s nothing actually wrong with what Apple announced: USB-C on the Mac is great, a thinner, more powerful machine is intriguing and, while it’s too early to say, the Touch Bar could possibly be a gimmick, but it could be useful for helping people discover what shortcuts exist as they use the computer.
The thing is, I can’t figure out who this is for other than those who are on really old machines.
- CNET’s timeline of Mac portables-slash-interview with Apple’s Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi, and Jony Ive explores the question of whether the Mac still matters. Those who have used it agree: years of work has gone into the Touch Bar, the new flagship feature of the MacBook Pro range. Whether it will become a defining feature, one that truly changes the game, when competitors are offering better specs at lower prices while Apple are still obsessed with thinness remains to be seen.
“The calendar isn’t what drives any of the decisions,” Schiller says in a 90-minute briefing at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. “We challenge the teams to do great work and sometimes that great work can be done in one year, sometimes it takes three years… What we really care about is creating new innovations in the Mac and continuing the story that has really defined Apple for so many years.”
- For the first time in a long time, I have read a piece about the potential downfall of Apple that seems plausible enough. Steve Blank’s comparison of Tim Cook to Steve Ballmer makes a lot of sense, once you think about it. Both companies lost visionary CEOs, coasted for a while, and in the case of Microsoft, experienced a period of downturn from their former glory. The short clip from Steve Jobs about content versus process really drives home the difference between what makes a good company great.
Execution CEOs value stability, process and repeatable execution. On one hand that’s great for predictability, but it often starts a creative death spiral – creative people start to leave, and other executors (without the innovation talent of the old leader) are put into more senior roles – hiring more process people, which in turn forces out the remaining creative talent. This culture shift ripples down from the top and what once felt like a company on a mission to change the world now feels like another job.
- If you’ve seen one in person, the new ceramic Apple Watch looks amazing. It’s a truly unique material that we don’t often see, and as it turns out, there’s probably some very good reasons for that. The reasoning behind why your next iPhone won’t be made of ceramic is partly because Apple is far too dedicated to aluminium to make any of its products of out anything else in anything near the required quantities, much less the iPhone.
In fact, if we scale the numbers used in the booklet up to iPhone size devices and cycle times, Apple would need 2 football field’s worth of kiln space for each ceramic iPhone to sinter for the requisite 36 hours. For the 2 hours of hard ceramic machining to finish the case details, Apple would need to go from 20,000 CNC machines, to 250,000. They would need another 200,000 employees to perform the 2 hours of hand polishing to “bring out the strength and luster.”
- Anandtech’s review of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus tells you all the stuff you already know, and then some. What I enjoy the most is that their “initial review” covers “just the basics” in more depth than many other reviews combined. I, for one, look forward to their deep-dive on architectural minutiae.
Because our analysis on a few deep-dive items is going to take a bit longer – both the new low power CPU cores of the A10 Fusion SoC and wide color gamut of the new cameras present us with some particularly interesting scenarios – rather than hold everything back we’ve split things up. Today’s review of the iPhone 7 is just that, a review of the phone. Meanwhile we’ll be publishing a deep dive article later this month on A10, Hurricane, A10’s GPU, wide color gamut photography, and the rest of those fine architectural details that we like to dig into.