The Apple Mac Takes Its Place In The Post-PC World

PC Resurgent

The PC market turnaround is real. ~ Bob O’Donnell (@bobodtech) 10/15/14


A: No.

Macs are resurgent. Google Chrome is slowly gaining ground. However, sales of traditional personal notebook and desktop computers that run the Windows Operating System and are known as “PCs”, continue to falter.


In the second quarter of 2014, Apple’s Mac sales grew by 18% while overall PC sales declined by 1%.

In the third quarter of 2014, Apple’s Mac sales grew by 21% while overall PC sales declined by 1.7%.


On the other hand according to NPD, PCs went from 75% share to 68% in two years.

Source: “PC market still shrinking, with smaller firms squeezed out“, Charles Arthur

Conflating Apple’s Mac, Google’s Chrome, and Windows powered PCs conceals, rather than reveals, what is happening in the personal computing category. PCs were expected to get a big bump in sales from the end of life of Windows XP. A bump occurred, but it hasn’t signified a recovery, it has only slowed the PC’s decline.

PC Dead

So you believe the Windows PC is dead? ~ Oren Kaufman (@HorhayAtAMD) 10/20/14

PCs dead? I think not…when are people going to finally wake up? ~ Bob O’Donnell (@bobodtech)



No reasonable, rational observer of the tech marketplace is claiming the PC is dead. That’s a straw man — an exaggerated depiction of an opposing argument easily disproven. However, there is nothing unreasonable or irrational in asserting the PC will never again regain its once preeminent position in computing. In 2006, the PC dominated computing with around 95% market share. Today, the PC is but one of three branches of computing and, in terms of market share, it is rapidly becoming the lessor of the three.



Macs Resurgent

(T)his is claim chowder for those claiming death of PC form factor. ~ Oren Kaufman (@HorhayAtAMD) 10/20/14


A: No.

Mac sales are up, but they are not increasing overall desktop and notebook sales. Instead, Mac sales seem to be displacing PC sales. Despite the increased Mac sales, notebooks and desktops as a whole continue to decline.



Windows 8 launched during a time when lots of people said that tablets would kill the PC. Does anyone still think that? ~ Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) 9/30/14

Looks like AAPL made more money on PCs than tablets. What was that about the PC being dead again? ~ Bob O’Donnell (@bobodtech)



We have to keep things in perspective. PC sales are mildly declining. Smartphone sales are rapidly growing. Tablet sales are flat, but they still easily outsell PCs.

There are now close to twice as many iPads as Macs in use. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 9/22/14

Just think about that for a second. Macs have been around for 30 years. iPads have been around for 4 years. Yet already, there are twice as many iPads in use as there are Macs.

Despite the Mac’s recent surge and the iPad’s stalled growth, iPads easily outsell Macs and the iPad’s base is therefore growing much faster. Just look at the sales numbers. In the third quarter of 2014, Apple sold 39.3 million iPhones. They sold 12.3 million iPads. And, in a record breaking quarter, Apple sold 5.5 million Macs. That means the much criticized iPad is outselling Macs by more than 2-to-1 and iPhones are outselling Macs by more than 5-to-1. The surging Mac is not catching up. It’s falling further and further behind.


As the chart above shows, even though iPad sales are flat and Mac sales are surging, iPad sales are still, far, far greater than those of the Mac. The Mac is not going to help the notebook and desktop form factors reclaim their once dominant position in computing. Rather, with every passing day, the notebook and the desktop’s total share of the computing pie becomes ever smaller.

Next quarter, Apple will sell its billionth iOS device (around 950m so far) ~ Jan Dawson (@jandawson) 10/20/14

Apple will probably sell more iPhones & iPads this quarter than there are Macs in use (~80m). ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 10/20/14

IDC said worldwide PC shipments for the third quarter of 2014 were 78.5 million, down -1.7% year-over-year. ((IDC had an odd way of reporting this news. They said, “Global PC Shipments Exceed Forecast with Mild Improvement in Consumer Demand”. Translation? The decline wasn’t as bad as they expected it to be. But it was still a decline of 1.7%.))

Would not be surprised if 90 million iOS devices will ship next quarter. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco) 10/20/14

Let’s try to put the above information in perspective. Last quarter, the desktop and notebook form factor sold 78.5 million units. Next quarter it is likely iOS alone — the minority platform — will outsell the entire PC industry. Add in Android and “other” and it’s no contest.

Apple will pass 1bn cumulative iOS device sold this year. Android will pass 3bn. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 9/18/14


Macs But Not PCs

IMO Mac sales are increasing because Apple is great at leveraging their monopolies. iOS only works with OSX so Mac sales up. ~ Oren Kaufman (@HorhayAtAMD) 10/20/14


I’m certain the “Halo Effect” is a contributing factor to the Mac’s increased sales. The more iOS owners there are, the more likely it is some of them will choose a Mac as their next notebook or desktop computer.

I’m even more certain Apple’s “continuity” feature is going to make Macs ever more attractive to iOS users. The close integration between the iPhone, the iPad and the Mac, makes the Mac a natural choice for many iOS owners.

Having used Continuity, Handoff across MacBook, iPad and iPhone, I can say it’s awesome. I would have expected Microsoft to get there first. ~ Patrick Moorhead (@PatrickMoorhead) 10/23/14

But here is my pet theory as to why the Mac is growing while the PC continues to decline.

In 2006, almost anyone who owned a computer owned a PC. Today, we can choose between a PC and a variety of non-PC computing alternatives, including phones, tablets, Macs, etc. Many people feel little need to upgrade their existing PCs. Others feel no need to own a PC at all.

I still believe the traditional notebook and desktop form factor is overkill for most mainstream consumers. ~ Ben Bajarin

However, many people absolutely and positively need the power and flexibility provided by a notebook or desktop computer. These potential PC buyers differ from those in 2006. In 2006, the PC was (almost) the only game in town, so everybody got a PC. Power users got powerful PCs and people who needed minimal computing power purchased the cheapest PC they could find. Today, people who barely need a PC are opting for phones and tablets instead. That leaves only power PC users as a potential PC buyers.

The power user never has, and never will, buy a cheap PC. They know their computing needs will only be met by powerful computing machines. Here’s the important bit. Many power users are realizing if they’re going to be spending a thousand dollars and more for a computing device, the best PC…is a Mac.

In other words, for the budget conscious, the Mac compares poorly to the budget PC. But to the power conscious, the Mac compares very favorably to the top-of-the-line PC. Macs are a premium product and more and more, the only people buying notebooks and desktops are power users who are shopping for premium computing devices.

[pullquote]Increased Mac sales are not proof the PC form factor is becoming more popular. Rather, it is proof notebooks and desktops are becoming a premium niche[/pullquote]

In my opinion, Mac sales prove the exact opposite of what the “PC-IS-RESURGENT” crowd is contending. Increased Mac sales are not proof the PC form factor is becoming more popular. On the contrary, increased Mac sales are proof the PC form factor is becoming a premium niche.


Maybe we aren’t in a post-PC world. Maybe it’s an also-PC world. ~ Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) 10/20/14



If a person as informed and as intelligent as Farhad Manjoo doesn’t know what “Post-PC” means, then I’m guessing most of us don’t understand what the term means either.

The Stone Age did not end because we stopped using stones. The PC era isn’tending because we stopped using PCs. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco) 10/24/14

Post-PC does not mean the PC goes away. It does not mean we only use phones and tablets to do our computing. It simply means the PC is no longer the center of our computing universe.

“PCs are going to be like trucks,” Jobs said. “They are still going to be around.” However, he said, only “one out of x people will need them.” ~ AllThingsD, 2010

Emphasis added.

Apple has always emphasized the importance of the Mac in the post-PC world. Shortly after taking the reins at Apple, Tim Cook had this to say about the Mac:

[pullquote]As people walk away from the PC, it becomes clear that the Mac is what you want if you want a PC.[/pullquote]

And we haven’t given up on the Mac. A lot of people are throwing in the towel right now on the PC. We’re still spending an enormous amount on really great talent and people on the Macs of the future. And we have some really cool things coming out there. Because we believe as people walk away from the PC, it becomes clear that the Mac is what you want if you want a PC.

Two years later, that statement is looking mighty prescient.

Apple’s position is, whether it be a Mac or an iPad or an iPhone, people should use the right tool for the task at hand. In 2006, we owned one computing device. In 2015, we will own multiple computing devices. Truth be told, we already live in that reality today. Multiple computing devices are the norm not the exception.

Globally, the average connected devices per person is 2. In USA it is 2.8 ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin) 8/21/14

90% of students in the UK own both a laptop and a smartphone. A further 40% have a tablet computer ~ BBC News

Ironically, it was Bill Gates, in 2007, who predicted the multi-device computing world that we live in today:

Mossberg: What’s your device in five years that you’ll rely on the most?

Gates: I don’t think you’ll have one device.

I think you’ll have a full-screen device that you can carry around and you’ll do dramatically more reading off of that – yeah, I believe in the Tablet form factor…

…and then you’ll have the device that fits in your pocket…

…and then we’ll have the evolution of the portable machine. And the evolution of the phone will both be extremely high volume, complementary–that is, if you own one, you’re more likely to own the other.

~ AllThingsD

Now tell me, does that sound like the vision embodied by Microsoft’s 2-in-1 Surface ((If you think the Surface is doing well, you need to read this article by Mark Rogowsky and look at this chart by Jan Dawson.


Source: THOUGHTS ON MICROSOFT’S Q3 2014 EARNINGS)) computer or does that sound more like the vision embodied by Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and Mac portfolio of computing devices? (And don’t forget the upcoming Apple Watch, either.)

To be honest, I don’t much care what your opinion is. The market is the only opinion that matters and the market has emphatically expressed its opinion by overwhelmingly voting for multiple devices. If you don’t think multi-device is the direction computing should be taking, argue with the market, not me.


I believe as we move further and further into the post-PC (or multi-computing device) era, two things are going to happen.

First, the base number of notebook and desktop computers will remain at, or near, current levels. However, the form factor’s overall share of the total number of personal computing devices will continue to shrink as phones and tablets rapidly spread across the globe.

Second, those who need less computing power will eschew the notebook and desktop form factor. Those who need the form factor, but eschew the power and complexity, will gravitate toward devices like the Chromebook. And those who need both the form factor and the power it embodies, will move towards Macs.

What was unthinkable only ten years ago is happening. The traditional Windows PC is being squeezed by Chromebooks from below and by Macs from above and is rapidly moving from monopoly to minority status. The Mac on the other hand is emerging from the shadow of the Windows PC and, among power users, is taking its place as the majority player. ((26.8% of the notebooks and desktops sold in the U.S. between July 4th and September 1st were Macs.))

The Consumer Tablet Growth Opportunity

A great deal of my tablet market analysis has been spent exploring opportunities for a PC in the form of a tablet. Opportunities not fulfilled by a PC in the form of a desktop or laptop. As I explained here, the enterprise or commercial tablet market’s upside is still quite large. But the question about the tablet opportunity for the consumer market looms.

Tablets grew faster and were more widely adopted than any previous electronics device in history. Continued triple digit growth was simply not sustainable. The tablet market slowdown was never a question of if but always of when. As you can see by the following chart, that time is now. ((I’m keeping iPads and the overall tablet market separate due to the extremely high sales of white box, low cost Android tablets sold that are used for nothing more than portable TVs and game players.))

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.23.07 PM

The tablet market, like all markets before it, is normalizing. Growth rates have slowed and now we can wrestle with the question of how much more growth is to be had.

Replacement Market vs. First Time Buyers

I find it helpful to focus on the question of whether the tablet market for consumers is a replacement market or if there is still a market for first time buyers. If the tablet is only a replacement, then it has peaked. However, I don’t believe that has happened. Apple keeps informing us 50% of iPad sales are to first time buyers. Which gives us an indication there are still new owners to be had. So how may that growth in first time buyers be had? I see two possibilities.

The first could be price. My friend Stephen Baker at NPD gave us some insights and holiday outlook for the tablet market. As Stephen points out for the US market, price could be a driver. I think it should be safe to assume that price war offerings for iPads and other tablets will be fierce in Western markets this holiday. Retailers use this pricing to get customers in stores where they hope they buy a plethora of other items. I’m guessing retailers will hope to leverage Apple’s new lineup with this strategy in mind. I believe Apple has a strong lineup from the original iPad mini to the newest iPad Air 2 covering many price points and giving retailers pricing flexibility with their offerings. In general, other branded tablet vendors have been seeing decreasing sales and Samsung in particular. It’s reasonable to assume Samsung tablets will see steep discounts this holiday at retail.

The second growth area is replacements and additions. It is very hard to predict when consumers will replace their tablets and more specifically their iPads. ((I point out the iPad specifically because it is the tablet brand that has the largest installed base by a healthy margin.)) As often is the case with Apple products, iPads are often handed down to other members of the family or to friends. In this scenario, the new iPad replaces the current owner’s device but another person gets their first iPad. Ultimately this is good because it builds the iPad owner base, who we would assume will be added to the future replacement opportunity. Continuing to build a large installed base will yield rewards. Whether the new lineup drives this upgrade and hand-me-down cycle we literally have no idea. But should it hit this quarter, it could be huge. While the iPad 2 is still a perfectly fine device, it has the highest installed base of all iPads. My firm’s estimates for active iPad 2s in use is over 60 million. We believe this base will upgrade at some point in time — we just don’t know when. It could be this quarter or it may not. But, given the price aggressiveness we assume we will see this holiday season, I’m guessing many iPad 2 owners may be enticed. Realistically, there is no better quarter to find deals than a holiday quarter. So this large installed base of iPad 2 owners would be smart to upgrade this quarter or risk waiting another full year. Given the channels I track, I should have a decent sense of what is happening before the quarter ends.

Stealing PC Owners: I still believe the traditional notebook and desktop form factor is overkill for most mainstream consumers. The decent sales numbers of PCs we are seeing are largely coming from enterprise and commercial markets such as education/students. The consumer market has yet to move in mass to upgrade their PCs. We believe at some point in time those consumers will make the move. And the wonderful unpredictability of many consumers leaves us guessing at what they will buy and when. Will they buy another PC? Or will they move to a tablet? This is the tension we will have to live with until we see a market indication of what is happening. The tablet will still have the price advantage this quarter and I suspect Windows 8 is still a hinderance. I do expect Macs to have a very strong holiday as well and, with the new iPhones in the mix, there is a lot competing for consumers’ wallets this holiday.

These are a few of the scenarios I think about when I look at the upside for consumer tablets. This quarter seems very hard to predict right now for nearly everything but for the  smartphone market. For the first time in a long time it’s hard to say with any accuracy how the consumer market for PCs and tablets is going to play out.

Apple Claim Chowder: Business Models

With an Apple Event fast approaching, I’m reviewing critiques of past Apple Events to see how accurate they were. Turns out, not very. Critique is needed and welcome. Repeated errors? Not so much.

Business Models

No one gets more bad advice than does Apple. Apple went from near-bankruptcy to nearly the largest company on earth, all the while being told each step of the way that they were doing it wrong. And now that Apple has done the equivalent of winning ten Super Bowls in a row, have the critics relented? Of course not. Their advice to Apple, as always, is that the only way for them to remain successful is to do the exact opposite of what made them successful.

It’s hard to say who gets criticized the most, the successful person, or the failure but it’s mighty close. ~ Joe Moore

This final section of my Claim Chowder Series focuses on business models. Apple has done all right while employing their own, unique, business model. However, no matter how much success Apple has, the critics insist that Apple is doing it all wrong.

3d joker - puppet, holding in a hand four aces


Apple has done all right while employing a vertical (closed) business model. The critics insist that Apple is doing it all wrong.

There’s something problematic in the idea that platforms with 1.5 billion users and 100 billion+ 3rd party apps installed are ‘closed’. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) April, 2014

…Apple’s ability to sustain an innovative edge over Android will be reduced to months – if that. The collective development opportunities made possible by the fact that Android is Open Source will see to that. ~ Brian Prentice, Gartner, 21 September 2009

Apple will have to make a strategic decision on whether to open up the platform. Ultimately a closed system just can’t go that far. ~ Patrick Lo, CEO, Netgear, 31 January 2011

It’s quite likely that Apple is going to commit the classic Apple mistake of trying to be too controlling and therefore the market gets away from them and people start to move towards Android. ~ Jimmy Wales, Co-founder, Wikipedia, 8 March 2011

Microsoft will ultimately muscle-out Apple as the leader in smartphones and tablets. Apple’s insistence on controlling every aspect of both its software and hardware puts it at a disadvantage to a more flexible Microsoft. ~ Charles Sizemore, Sizemore Capital, 29 Nov 2012

Average Sales Price

Apple has done all right when it comes to maintaining a high average sales price. The critics insist that Apple is doing it all wrong.


Phones and tablets are inevitably following computers into commoditization. Apple may still charge a premium for its products, but it will ultimately have to settle for a relatively small market share as a result, just as it has in computers. There is also a limit to that premium – with the likes of Google and Amazon setting the pace, the respective days of $700 smartphones and $500 tablets are numbered. ~ Peter Nowak,, 28 January 2013

You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out. ~ Warren Buffett

The strong inference from Qualcomm’s earnings report is that smartphone prices are falling so fast that the new low end Apple iPhone is not likely to be competitive. ~ Nigam Arora, Contributor, Forbes, 25 April 2013


Apple has done all right when it comes to maintaining high margins. The critics insist that Apple is doing it all wrong.


The whole sector is priced as if the average player would sustain 25 per cent margin in eternity. It’s bordering on absurdity. This will end in tears. ~ Per Lindberg, MF Global Ltd, Feb 2009

Competition is compressing Apple’s margins. ~ Glen Bradford, Seeking Alpha, 10 July 2011

Apple is focused on defending the high end of the market, and that is becoming harder to do each year. Competitors, such as the Galaxy from Samsung, are starting to catch up. I think it is inevitable that the margin pressure increases. ~ Mark Newman, Director of Mobile Research, Informa Telecoms and Media, 26 Feb 2012

It shows (data chart from Nomura Holdings) that there is no historical precedence for Apple’s gross margins. Check this out. It shows gross margins for Nokia, RIM and Apple over the past ten years and it comes to us from Nomura because it believes the iPhone’s margins are likely 10% above the sustainable levels. ~ Sara Eisen Bloomberg, 15 Oct 2012

Margins are shrinking. ~ Howard Gold, MarketWatch, 1 February 2013

In closing, the price cuts for the iPhone 5c and the shuffling of the iPad lineup do little to address the company’s core problems of its dwindling market share, slower growth, and contracting margins. ~ Leo Sun, Motley Fool, 19 March 2014


Overheard in 2001: “Who would pay $399 for an Apple music player?!?” ~ kirkburgess (@kirkburgess)

Apple has done all right when it comes to charging a premium price for their products. The critics insist that Apple is doing it all wrong.

In Q2, Apple made 68% of mobile device OEMs’ profits (65% in q1, 53% in Q2 13). Samsung – 40% (41% q1, 49% q2 13) Source: Canaccord Genuity ~ Daisuke Wakabayashi (@daiwaka) 8/5/14


The market is already saturated with popular [phones] that are virtually free to consumers. The perceived zero cost of a cellphone like the Motorola RAZR is a serious impediment. ~ Ashok Kumar, Capital Group, 30 July 2007

Free things cost too much. ~ Talleyrand

Bleier believes Apple will have to dramatically lower iPhone prices or risk losing market share to Android-based phones and/or RIM’s Bold, which he believes will be a big hit this holiday season. ~ Scott Bleier,, 24 Oct 2008

Pricing to gain market share simply for the sake of market share is a chump’s game. ~ Bill Shamblin

Who’s going to buy an Apple iPad? Well, not you or me, anyway – not this version, not at $600-800. ~ Bruce Beris, bruceb consulting, 4 February 2010

It’s far better to buy a wonderful product at a fair price than a fair product at a wonderful price. ~ paraphrasing Warren Buffett

Americans now are buying more Android phones than iPhones. If that trend continues, analysts say that in little more than a year, Android will have erased the iPhone’s once enormous lead in the high end of the smartphone market. ~ Miguel Helft, New York Times, 17 October 2010

iPhone owns the US market. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 7/22/14


From July 2012 to July 2014, iPhone share in the U.S. went from 32.4% to 42.4%.

Problematically, the Android competition is just as expensive as the iPad lineup, so Apple obviously feels free to continue gouging consumers on iPad pricing. ~ Paul Thurrott, Windows IT Pro, 3 March 2011

Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it. ~ Publilius Syrus

If an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both believe they will benefit from it. ~ Milton And Rose Friedman

No one had a product that could generate that kind of excitement until HP sparked a frenzy when pulled the plug on its poor-selling TouchPad and slashed the price to $99. It’s an ugly way to go, but sacrificing profits might be the quickest way to rack up big revenues, and blunt Apple’s momentum. ~ Brian Caulfield, Forbes, 30 Aug 2011

There is hardly anything in the world that some man can’t make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey. ~ John Ruskin

Amazon’s willingness to sell hardware at a loss combined with the strength of its brand, content, cloud infrastructure, and commerce assets makes it the only credible iPad competitor in the market. ~ Sarah Rotman Epps, Forrester, 29 Aug 2011

Apple is expected to introduce an ‘iPad Mini; next week, which will compete directly with the Kindle and Nexus, but it seems unlikely that this device will sell well if it is priced at, say, $299. ~ Henry Blodget, Business Insider, 7 Sep 2012

Price – Expensive piece of kit [iPhone 5] ~ Oliver Wolf, Greenwich Consulting, 10 Oct 2012

What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. ~ Oscar Wilde

The iPhone, with its single annual update and super premium price, has been run down from behind by a pack of rivals with segmented product ranges, 6 month product cycles and aggressive price points. ~ Paul Sagawa, Sector & Sovereign Research, 19 Nov 2012

I think they should invest more of it in the margin, in the business. Get lower-priced products out there. Stop going after just the premium piece. Get into the real growth engine of the smartphone market, which right now is Android, its low-priced phones in China and India, same thing on the tablets. ~ Henry Blodget, CNBC, 3 January 2013

Author’s Note: Apple should get into lower-priced products? Why? Because that strategy has worked out so well for Samsung? See chart, below.


As the mobile phone market increasingly offers more quality phones at a range of price points, Apple now faces a difficult choice. Does it try to remain a premium product-premium price company, or does it dive into the commoditized lower priced arena? Neither choice is very appealing. ~ Bob Chandler, Motley Fool, 2 May 2013

Author’s Note: If being a premium business provider does not appear very appealing to you, you need to get out of the business of providing business advice.

Apple’s philosophy has always been to be consumer-centric. It wants to make easy-to-use, broadly-accessible products. But on some level, it’s failing consumers when only 18% of the global smartphone population has an iPhone. ~ Jay Yarow, Business Insider, 24 May 2013

Apple’s vision is to make the best, not the most. Apple is is the cutting edge that breaks the ice and allows others to follow. There are many fast followers (and even more slow followers). There are few pioneers. If you think that Apple is failing consumers, then you haven’t looked at the computers and notebooks and MP3 players and smartphones and tablets that consumers are using. They were all inspired by Apple.

Amazon’s pricing ambition is the clearest indication of its phone playbook: undercut rivals and grab meaningful market share. It is also shows that Apple’s worst nightmare may be coming true: prices could fall not just for cheap phones in developing markets but higher-end ones too. ~ Amir Efrati and Jessica E. Lessin,, 6 September 2013

(T)he pricing of the company’s iPad line as a whole is absurdly high, with Apple’s models often costing at least $100 more than their closest rivals. ~ Troy Wolverton, Mercury News, 24 October 2013

Apple’s new iPads and iPhones will aid the company’s revenue growth going into the busy holiday season. However, Apple’s pricing of iPhone 5c will have a difficult time competing in the lower end of the smartphone market. If Apple products remain expensive the company’s penetration rates will hit a brick wall sooner or later. ~ Ishfaque Faruk, Motley Fool , 26 October 2013


The iPhone 5c appears to be Apple’s red-headed stepchild. The tech giant is selling far fewer units of the 5c than it is of the (more expensive) 5s, according to recent reports. ~ Cadie Thompson, CNBC, 15 October 2013

Author’s Note: So Apple sells more of its premium product than its second-tier product and this is viewed as a bad thing. That reminds me of a joke:

Question: How did the fool try to kill the fish?

Answer: They tried to drown it.

Question: How did the critics try to kill Apple?
Answer: They tried to drown it in profits.

Apple in my view made a huge mistake by not launching a mid end smartphone. ~ Sneha Shah, Seeking Alpha, 2 January 2014

Wars are not won by fighting battles; wars are won by choosing battles. ~ George S. Patton

Note that the average Android price is heading toward $200 and the average iPhone price is heading toward $600. Apple is asking the question, do you want to pay three times as much for our phones? Thus far, 80% of the market has answered ‘no.’ ~ Jim Edwards, Business Insider, 31 May 2014

Twenty percent of the market has answered: “yes”.

For all that Android has improved, and we see the difference as a matter of taste, iPhone still outsells Android at the same price 3:1 ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) ~ 3/30/14

As of June there were 886,580,000 iOS devices sold. 1 Billion sold will happen well before this year is out ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)


Apple has the strongest computing platform in the world. The critics insist that it is an illusion that cannot last.

Over the last year, Google paid devs ~1/2 of Apple’s App Store ($5B vs $10B) on ~2x the devices @BenedictEvans

In other words, each Apple owner is worth 4 times as much to developers as is each Android owner.

Apple’s critics have always been wrong about the how Platforms work. They insist that cheaper hardware will always outsell more expensive hardware and that platform is a game of winner-take-all with the more ubiquitous hardware sales attracting the majority of the developers. You have to admire Apple’s critics for their consistency. Despite having no evidence to support their position and plenty of evidence to refute it, they’ve remained consistently wrong.

There are very roughly the same number of high-end Android and iOS users, yet total Android payout in last 12m was $5bn, where iOS was $10bn. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 8/23/14

Apple will likely have a tough time convincing application vendors to build specialized clients for the iPhone until the volumes are there, and the volumes could be limited by the lack of third-party applications – a Catch 22. ~ Jack Gold, J. Gold Associates, 10 January 2007

Even if it is opened up to third parties, it is difficult to see how the installed base of iPhones can reach the level where it becomes a truly attractive service platform for operator and developer investment. ~ Tony Cripps, Ovum Service Manager for Mobile User Experience, 14 March 2007

Will [Android] be as elegantly executed as the iPhone? Probably not. But it won’t matter to the mobile application developer if there are eight or ten Android handsets shipped for every iPhone. Addressable market will again trump elegance. ~ Brian Prentice, Gartner, 21 September 2009

All the apps that count will be ported to every one of them (smartphone platforms). ~ Microsoft’s chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, at the Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference, 17 November 2009

All the people (including me) who felt underwhelmed by the iPad initially might have missed its true potential. Put another way: the iPad is all about software. Forget the sleek form factor – that’s just a prerequisite. Ironically, it’s the software and services that Microsoft never ‘got’, that Apple totally does get. ~ Dan Wayne, apc mag, 12 February 2010

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger. I hate it. ~ Tim Bray, Developer Advocate, Google, Inc, 15 March 2010

(W)hile Apple’s attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options and customers want to fully access the overwhelming majority of web sites that use Flash. We think that customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple. ~ Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO, Research In Motion, 20 October 2010

Android will become the operating system (OS) of choice for developers rather than IOS within 12 months. ~ Adam Leach, Ovum, 23 Jan 2012

If Apple continues to pursue its current pricing and maximize-short-term profit strategy, it may continue to increase its profits for the next couple of years. (BlackBerry and Nokia grew earnings for a couple of years after some analysts began seeing the writing on the wall.)
But Apple will also continue to lose platform and ecosystem share in most of the world.
Apple fans can talk all they want about how Apple is “like BMW,” but in a couple of key competitive respects, it isn’t. And if the gadget platform market behaves the way other platform markets have (think Windows), Apple and its fans may come to regret this short-term thinking in the end. ~ Henry Blodget, Business Insider, 15 November 2013

Author’s Note: Hardware is the musical instrument. Software is the musical score. Platform is the stage. Ecosystem is the Orchestra that brings the instruments, the music and the players altogether on the grand stage. There is no company on the planet who out orchestrates or out ecosystems Apple.

Until such time as the critics understand that the Orchestral performance — the overall ecosystem — is worth far more than its component parts, they will never understand Apple.

Wall Street

October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February. ~ Mark Twain

Just before, during, and after the upcoming Apple Event, Apple stock is going to take a dramatic turn. And you know what that means about the future of Apple’s current products and about the future of Apple…

…absolutely nothing.

Believing that the direction of Apple stock determines the value of an Apple Event is like believing that a weathervane controls the direction of the wind. ~ John R. Kirk

The stock market is neither a gauge of current success nor a predictor of future success.

Markets reflect perception. In that sense they are always right. For the price to change, perception has to change. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine. ~ Benjamin Graham

We think that markets reflect and even anticipate facts. But markets reflect perception, not facts. And perception is not about reality, it’s about human foibles.

If a business does well, the stock eventually follows. ~ Warren Buffett

Claim Chowder

iPhone which doesn’t look, I mean to me… And I guess some of these stocks went down on the Apple announcement, thinking that Apple could do no wrong, but I think Apple can do wrong and I think this is it. ~ John C. Dvorak, 13 January 2007

The best revenge is massive success. ~ Frank Sinatra

Sell your Apple stock now, while the hype’s still hot. You heard it here first. ~ David S. Platt, Suckbusters!, 21 June 2007

I made a killing in the stock market. My broker lost all my money, so I killed him. ~ Jim Loy

(W)e think investors should also pay close attention to Apple. In addition to the Amazon tablet, Apple faces a growing number of risks. ~ Naked Value, 27 Sept 2011

Cook has been increasingly compared to Jobs and found wanting. ~ Rob Enderle, TechNewsWorld, 26 March 2012

I was talking recently to someone who knew Apple well, and I asked him if the people now running the company would be able to keep creating new things the way Apple had under Steve Jobs. His answer was simply ‘no.’ I already feared that would be the answer. I asked more to see how he’d qualify it. But he didn’t qualify it at all. No, there will be no more great new stuff beyond whatever’s currently in the pipeline. So if Apple’s not going to make the next iPad, who is? ~ Paul Graham, March 2012

Market share analysis presumes a zero sum game but greatest wealth comes from creation of new markets. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

Here are seven events, all of which could hurt Apple’s stock price in a big way:

1. Wireless service providers (WSPs) collectively decrease iPhone subsidy
2. Window 8 is a huge success
3. No surprise in iPhone 5
4. Departure of major executives
5. Lukewarm replacement sales
6. Global smartphone growth slows down
7. Chinese demand of iPhone unsustainable during the last quarter
Gutone, Seeking Alpha, 29 May 2012

Here are four reasons why I don’t think Apple’s stock will see $700 again:
1. Growth in phones is slowing as competition increases
2. Margins are shrinking
3. Apple is losing its innovative edge
4. Apple may no longer be a growth story”
Howard Gold, MarketWatch, 1 February 2013

Author’s Note: Apple’s stock adjusted price passed $700 in August, 2014.

As a value investor, I strongly believe in BlackBerry’s future because the company has several advantages, such as the security, the Q10 and the corporate world. On the contrary, Apple’s potential increase appears very limited in the short run because the company won’t release new products, which can increase the interest of the company. ~ Gillian Mauyen, Seeking Alpha, 28 April 2013

Harvard University, the world’s wealthiest university, has liquidated its stake in Apple Inc. as the iPhone maker’s shares tumbled after reaching a record high of $702.10 in September. ~ Michael McDonald, Bloomberg, 10 May 2013

Author’s Note: One doesn’t have to go to Harvard to know that it’s “Buy low, sell high.” Instead, most investors — including large institutional investors — are inclined to buy stock on the way up and sell it on the way down.

Apple has become a value trap, This is a company with no growth, and profit margins that are way too high vis a vis the competition. ~ Doug Kass, Seabreeze Partners Management, 17 Sept 2013

I will look at taking my profits on Apple stock as I do not think that the company has much upside left at the current valuation and price. ~ Sneha Shah, Seeking Alpha, 25 October 2013

They only have 60 days left to either come up with something or they will disappear,” said Trip Chowdhry, managing director at Global Equities Research. (March, 2014)

Wasn’t Apple supposed to have disappeared by now without the iWatch? ~ Brad Reed (@bwreedbgr) 8/20/14


We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful. ~ Warren Buffett

Lessons Learned And Unlearned

When I find the road narrow, and can see no other way of teaching a well-established truth except by pleasing one intelligent man and displeasing ten thousand fools — I prefer to address myself to the one man. ~ Maimonides

This has been a very long article and this has been a very long series of articles. Have we learned anything from it? I fear we haven’t learned much. As this week progressed, I watched pundit after pundit make the same ridiculous errors that they’ve always made and, I guess, that they always will make. But just because they will never learn does not mean that we cannot profit from their mistakes.

Wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise. ~ Cato the Elder

Here then are seven last lessons learned and unlearned.


Don’t take a butcher’s advice on how to cook meat. If he knew, he’d be a chef. ~ Andy Rooney

Apple is one of the greatest Chef’s of our age. Most critics are butchers. Enough said.


Never offer to teach a fish to swim. ~ Proverbs

Apple seems to be doing swimmingly without our advice. Perhaps we should stop spending our time telling them what they’re doing wrong and start learning what they’re doing right.

There are a lot of people innovating, and that’s not the main distinction of my career. The reason Apple resonates with people is that there’s a deep current of humanity in our innovation. ~ Steve Jobs


The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it. ~ Chinese Proverb

Don’t listen to people who say it can’t be done. ~ Steve Jobs

If something is being done, we should stop saying that it cannot be done and start figuring out how they’re doing it.

Things are only impossible until they’re not. ~ Jean-Luc Picard


“Apple is screwed” – 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. ~ Sammy the Walrus IV (@SammyWalrusIV)

It is a test of true theories not only to account for but to predict phenomena. ~ William Whewell

To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality. ~ Ayn Rand

The prophets of doom have predicted Apple’s demise year in and year out and always they have been wrong. We need to pay less attention to prophets and more attention to profits.


Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally. ~ John Maynard Keynes

It is a paradoxical truism that success comes from unconventional strategies which are, by definition unpopular.


It’s not about doing what you can, it’s about doing what others can’t. ((Excerpt From: C. Michel. “Life Quotes.” C. Michel, 2012. iBooks.

Apple’s critics always want Apple to adopt the strategies employed by their competitors. This, of course, makes no sense at all. The goal is to be different from, and more successful than, one’s competitors.

Apple has no competition who sell what their customers are buying. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco) (3/18/14)

Apple has a monopoly on being Apple. They want to maintain that for just as long as they can.

Long Run

It may not be that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong – but that is the way to bet. ~ Damon Runyon

Apple is in it for the long run. We too should viewing Apple from a long-term perspective.

Apple is run ‘for the investors who are going to stay, not the ones who are going to leave.’ ~ Warren Buffett

When you get up in the morning and the press is selling Apple short, go out and buy some shares. That’s what I would do. That’s what I have done. ~ Steve Jobs

If you’re in Apple for only a week… or two months, I would encourage you not to invest in Apple. We are here for the long term. ~ Tim Cook


CAPTION: Tim Cook and Apple crying all the way to the bank.

Apple Claim Chowder Series:

Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
Business Models

Apple Claim Chowder: Product

With an Apple Event fast approaching, I’m reviewing critiques of past Apple Events to see how accurate they were. Turns out, not very. Critique is needed and welcome. Repeated errors? Not so much.


Apple’s products receive a lot of criticism and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Some of the criticism seems unfair to me but I usually refrain from commenting since values are both individual and subjective. However, perhaps it is worth noting that:

For all that Android has improved, and we see the difference as a matter of taste, iPhone still outsells Android at the same price 3:1 ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) ~ 3/30/14

Some of the criticism of Apple’s products is objectively flawed. The first mistake critics routinely make is to hyper-focus on a single missing or underdeveloped feature and then declare the entire product useless or dead on arrival. The world isn’t black and white. Not every feature is essential and not every flaw is fatal.

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. ~ William James

Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life. ~ Edward L. Bernays

If you see the world in black and white, you’re missing important grey matter. ~ Jack Fyock

The second mistake critics make is even more embarrassing. Critics often flat out get a product’s priorities wrong. They misinterpret the job the product is being hired to do and promote a particular feature or set of features as essential when, in fact, those features are less than essential and are sometimes actually an impediment to the product’s long-term success. I’ve highlighted features such as keyboards and Flash, below, but the “island of misfit features” is very crowded indeed.

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. ~ Goethe

Knowledge is power only if man knows what facts not to bother with. ~ Robert Staughton Lynd

Products get bloated one lazy decision at a time. ~ @destraynor

Critics think the flaw lies in the product but quite often it is the analysis, not the product, that is critically flawed.

3d person - puppet, in a hat of the clown with bells


Sometimes highly technical people forget that the world is not comprised of highly technical people. ~ Wes Miller (@getwired)

Specs are a ceiling. You’ve got to have them in order to get great performance and without them, your potential is limited. However, specs are not a floor. The greatest specs in the world are no guarantee of a great product. Many products have a very high ceiling but a very low floor. In other words, they have great specs but their actual benefit to the user is very low. A focus on specs as the be-all-end-all of a product has led to some poor analysis, as we’ll see, below.

Never underestimate the power of a simple tool. ~ Craig Bruce

    Top iPhone Killers
    1. LG GD900
    2. Samsung Pixon12
    3. Samsung OMNIA HD
    4. Sony Ericsson Satio
    5. HTC Touch HD

    In order to be considered an a iPhone Killer, the phone must have a large touchscreen. And provide something unique that’s not found in an iPhone, whether it’s GPS, higher data rate, vibration feedback, video recording, HD video, higher resolution camera,, 1 June 2009

Author’s Note: Notice how the criteria used to define an “iPhone Killer” is entirely based on specs and features.

    Google phone Nexus One, whose launch is one of the most-awaited ones in 2010, boasts of tech specs that make iPhone look like a wimp. ~ Nick Brown, IB Times, 30 Dec 2009

    Nothing from the iPad specs that I’ve seen really shows any great cause for celebration. ~ John Breeden II, Government Computer News, 28 January 2010

    We very carefully chose our tablet processor, the Nvidia Tegra 2, and to really compete it will take [Apple] some time. You know, [Nvidia] is well known for graphics. ~ Jonney Shih, Asustek Computer, 3 February 2011

    Technically Playbook is already on a par with iPad and the new devices will be based on its OS. ~ John Criswick, CEO, Magmic, 19 March 2012


    Watch the iPhone 5 launch with a critical eye, and you’ll see a device that has a smaller less-brilliant screen than competitors. It has a slower CPU and graphics processor. It’s more fragile. ~ Rob Enderle, Digital Trends, 15 Sep 2012

    Google has beat Apple at its own Retina-display-thumping game. Meet the Nexus 7, the eye-popping 323-pixels-per-inch wonder. ~ Brooke Crothers, CNET, 27 July 2013

Mo(o)re computing power no longer makes technology feel better, so ‘design’ is how we choose. ~ johnmaeda (@johnmaeda)


Engineers want power and they will sacrifice simplicity in order to get it. Giving up simplicity is really not much of a sacrifice for them since they thrive in complexity anyway.

I think a nerd is a person who uses the telephone to talk to other people about telephones. And a computer nerd therefore is somebody who uses a computer in order to use a computer. ~ Douglas Adams

Engineers like to solve problems.  If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems. ~ Scott Adams

Most people do not have the mind-set of an Engineer. They/we don’t want to work on their computer. They just want their computers to work.

    ’RIM didn’t expect iPhone to take off the way it did because it was so badly flawed from Day One,’ the former RIM employee said. ‘They believed that users wanted great battery life, great security, great mail handling, minimal network use, and a great keyboard experience. They never expected users didn’t care.’ ~ Former RIM Employee, according to Reuters, 16 March 2011

[A]s designers and engineers in general, we’re guilty of designing for ourselves too often. ~ Bill Moggridge

People get to buy the products they want, not the products engineers think they should want. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)


Keyboards are a prime example of where the iPhone and iPad critics got it wrong. Critics viewed the keyboard in isolation and concluded that keyboards were superior to typing on glass (which they are). Consumers viewed the product as a whole and concluded that it was worth giving up the keyboard in order to get all the many other advantages afforded by a large, unfettered, touch screen display. The critics’ hyper-focus on features blinded them to the overall benefits being afforded to the consumer.

    iPhone which doesn’t look, I mean to me, I’m looking at this thing and I think it’s kind of trending against, you know, what’s really going, what people are really liking on, in these phones nowadays, which are those little keypads. ~ John C. Dvorak, 13 January 2007

    As nice as the Apple iPhone is, it poses a real challenge to its users. Try typing a web key on a touchscreen on an Apple iPhone, that’s a real challenge. You cannot see what you type ~ Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO, Research in Motion, 7 November 2007

    Not everyone can type on a piece of glass. Every laptop and virtually every other phone has a tactile keyboard. I think our design gives us an advantage. ~ Mike Lazaridis, Co-CEO, Research In Motion, 4 June 2008

    We of course build plastic mock-ups that we show (to customers)…we had a slate form factor. The feedback was that for (our) customers it will not work because of the need to have (a physical) keyboard. These were 14-year-old kids, who, I thought, would be most willing to try a virtual keyboard but they said no, we want the physical keyboard. ~ Mika Majapuro, Worldwide Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Lenovo, 22 February 2010

    The pure slate form factor has failed all these years because, other than for vertical applications, people want and/or need a keyboard for regular use. ~ Jonathan Yarmis, Ovum, part of Datamonitor Group, 6 April 2010

    We’re finding — if you look at the surveys, you can see that large amount of the customers that have purchased touchscreen devices in last two years, they intend to get a device with the QWERTY keyboard on it now, right. I mean, they’ve got into a point where they’ve realize that a touchscreen alone is not enough; so that’s important. ~ Mike Lazaridis, Co-CEO, Research In Motion, Inc, 16 April 2010

    [Computers in Education are] never going to work on a device where you don’t have a keyboard-type input. Students aren’t there just to read things. They’re actually supposed to be able to write and communicate. And so it’s going to be more in the PC realm—it’s going to be a low-cost PC that lets them be highly interactive. ~ Bill Gates, Former CEO, Microsoft, 25 June 2012

    Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution. ~ Clay Shirky


    [Apple’s] decision not to support Flash…will have a limiting effect on the iPad’s sales potential. This is because one of the key use cases of the device, as marketed by Apple, relates to web browsing or consumption of online content. Absent Flash, iPad users will not be able to enjoy Flash-driven content, which is used in a considerable amount of websites as well as web-based games and videos. ~ Francis Sideco, Senior Principal Analyst, Consumer and Communications, iHS (now iSupply), 2 April 2010

    For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field, we know that 7″ tablets will actually be a big portion of the market and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience. ~ Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO, Research In Motion, 20 October 2010

    (W)hile Apple’s attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options and customers want to fully access the overwhelming majority of web sites that use Flash. We think that customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple. ~ Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO, Research In Motion, 20 October 2010

    Such a shame. Add this to the list of interesting places on the Internet you can’t see on your [iPad] device. Of course, if you had a Toshiba Tablet, you would enjoy the entire Internet. Yep, Flash sites too. ~ Toshiba ad when viewed on iPad, 22 January 2011

    Despite Apple’s claims, Flash is and will be important on the Internet for many years. ~ J. Gold, J. Gold Associates, 2 March 2011

    Since the experience of using an iPad is much more like using a computer, Apple’s (well perhaps Steve Jobs by himself) stubbornness to reject flash and not support many standard web widgets makes the experience on iPad inferior to a computer, bar portability. This is not the case for Android (and likely Windows 8). ~ Gutone, Seeking Alpha, 2 July 2012

All great truths begin as blasphemies. ~ George Bernard Shaw


    They are in a pickle. Their pickle is security. When the first big security flaw even happens in one of the large enterprises, you will see this turn around. Wait for the day this happens. ~ Thorsten Heins, CEO, Research In Motion, 29 Jan 2012

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. ~ Upton Sinclair


New products are often dismissed as being nothing more than mere “toys”. Here’s the thing — it’s not much of an insult ’cause people really, really like toys.

The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play. ~ Arnold J. Toynbee

My childhood may be over, but that doesn’t mean playtime is. ~ Ron Olson


Thought exercise: Try to picture the above scene with the participants using pre-2007 phones. Pre-2010 tablets. Netbooks. A Surface Pro 3.

    The iPhone is an expensive toy for the wealthy and self-indulgent… Michael Pachter, Wedbush Morgan Securities, 14 August 2007

    Apple’s iPad 2… (is) still just a toy. ~ 
Zach Epstein, Boy Genius 2 March 2011

    (S)top with the iCoolAde, it’s a toy. ~ Shogan, TechTalk, 5 July 2011

    Apple…doesn’t want you to realize that Steve Jobs’ ‘magical’ toy is really just a Margaritaville frozen drink maker. ~ Rick Aristotle The Motley Fool, 7 July 2011

I remain very confident in the future of anything of which it is said ‘you can’t use that to do real work’ ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)


Lessons Learned And Unlearned

In [computing] as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others. ~ paraphrasing André Maurois

Tech companies — even great tech companies — make two great mistakes. They build great products and they build great products that they, themselves, love.

Doesn’t sound like a mistake at all, right? Only here’s the thing. The twin questions that these companies should be asking is What and by Whom ((paraphrasing Jean Louis Gassee who is, himself, paraphrasing Horace Dediu)):

  1. What is the job the product is being hired to do; and
  2. Who is doing the hiring?

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, no one wants to buy a great product — they don’t care about specs or features. They care about whether the product does the job. And they care about whether the product does the job that THEY want done, not the job the creator of the product THINKS they want to do.

I don’t think the jobs iPads are hired to do in business are understood. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

If it can’t do any useful job then it won’t get hired. Conversely, if it nails an unmet job, it will be blindingly successful. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

Critics who focus on feeds and speeds rather than needs; who focus on features rather than benefits; are never going to get it right because they’re focused on the product when they should be focused on the consumer of that product.

The aim…is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself. ~ Peter Drucker

Apple Claim Chowder Series:

Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
Business Models

Apple Claim Chowder: Cynicism

With an Apple Event fast approaching, I’m reviewing critiques of past Apple Events to see how accurate they were. Turns out, not very. Critique is needed and welcome. Repeated errors? Not so much.


All companies suffer from the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism. However, some companies seem to suffer more than their unfair share.

If a fool has a hump, nobody notices it; if the wise man has a pimple, everybody talks about it. ~ Russian

It is unwise to hold a company in disdain if you are trying to analyze that company. Yet I routinely see Apple labeled and dismissed by the very people who are supposed to be objectively evaluating them.

Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment. ~ Mario Puzo

Many of Apple’s critics think Apple’s success is based upon the foolishness of its customers. It’s a bizarre, but widely repeated — and widely accepted — theory.

A meaningless phrase repeated again and again begins to resemble truth. ~ Barbara Kingsolver

There’s a strong element of cognitive dissonance at work here:

  1. We don’t like Apple’s products;
  2. We’re rational;
  3. Apple’s customer’s like Apple’s products;
  4. Therefore: Apple’s customer’s must be irrational.

We often challenge the perceptions of others, but only very rarely question our own. ~ Dr. Mardy

Cognitive dissonance is a form of mental jujitsu that lets us flip our weaknesses and turn them into the weaknesses of others. If we don’t understand why someone does what they do, we don’t think of it as a lack of knowledge on our part, we think of it as a lack of knowledge on their part. Why should we question our own understanding of how things work and take the time to learn more about how others think when we can confidently assert that they don’t think at all?

Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. ~ George S. Patton

Here’s the deal. Apple has well over 800 million active customers and they’re rapidly approaching the billion mark. That’s an awful lot of people voting for Apple with their hard-earned cash.

Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. ~ Stephen Colbert

Apple’s customers are not part of a cult. They’re not mindless fans or slaves to fashion. Neither are they victims of Apple’s Houdini-like marketing or Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field. They’re not to be mocked or dismissed out of hand.

If we want to understand Apple, we need to understand why Apple attracts so many customers and why those customers are so very loyal to Apple. And if we don’t want to understand Apple, that’s fine too. But if we’re going to stop thinking, we need to stop talking too.

If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much. ~ Ted Williams

Joker with big bone

Claim Chowder


I just have to wonder who will want one of these things [an iPhone] (other than the religious faithful). … So please mark this post and come back in two years to see the results of my prediction… ~ Richard Sprague, Senior Marketing Director, Microsoft, January 2007

I think this will appeal to the Apple acolytes, but this is essentially just a really big iPod Touch. ~ Charles Golvin, Forreter Research, 27 January 2011

For those of us without Apple tattoos, the reaction to Apple’s new iPhone 3G S, announced on Monday, seems to look pretty unanimous. ‘That’s it?’ ~ Nick Mokey, Digital Trends, 8 June 2009

The whole Apple cult is starting to creep me out. ~ Brett Arends, Wall Street Journal, 22 December 2010

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. ~ Proverbs 26:11



It’s the loyalists who keep promoting this device as if it is going to be anything other than another phone in a crowded market. And it’s exactly the crowded-market aspect of this that analysts seem to be ignoring. There is no likelihood that Apple can be successful in a business this competitive. ~ John C. Dvorak, MarketWatch, 28 March 2007

It’ll sell a couple million units to the many people who have wet dreams about Steve Jobs, and that will be about it. ~ Matt Maroon, , 7 May 2007

This morning, the fool’s parade gets started. Apple is taking online “pre-orders” for its iPad tablet, which is supposed to begin shipping on April 3. ~ Galen Gruman, InfoWorld, 12 March 2010

Now with Android better suited to low spec hardware and commodisation of smartphones seeing powerful handsets available at bargain prices, starting with Android could well shift from a cautionary tale to powerful gateway drug. At that point blind loyalty would be almost impossible. Even for self-confessed iSheep. ~ Gordon Brown, Forbes, 21 March 2014

When [logical] ammunition runs low, inevitably the rusty artillery of abuse is wheeled into action. ~ Wallace Stevens


Consumers are not used to paying another couple hundred bucks more just because Apple makes a cool product. Some fans will buy it, but for the rest of us it’s a hard pill to swallow just to have the coolest thing. ~ Neil Strother, NPD Group, 22 January 2007

The iPhone is going to be nothing more than a temporary novelty that will eventually wear off. ~ Gundeep Hora, CoolTechZone Editor-in-Chief, 2 April 2007

That’s really all Apple’s iStuff is — an enormous and very profitable fad. It’s the Pet Rock of the new millennium. ~ Anders Bylund, Motley Fook, 6 Mar 2012

If you’re an image-conscious hipster/rebel/brand-monkey and you don’t use the AT&T network in the SF Bay Area, the iPhone is a great choice, especially if you need obscure apps. ~ Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert, 17 August 2011

Apple does what it does well, and then sluffs off everything else — like getting e-mail and actually making a call on the iPhone. Succeeding with that sort of hauteur and dismissiveness is awfully dependent on charisma and sex appeal, an expensive proposition in a commodified market. ~ Michael Wolff, USA Today, 11 Nov 2012

You can’t use the iPhone 5C to make your friends feel bad about themselves, and that’s creating a problem for Apple. ~ Kim Bhasin, Huffington Post , 23 October 2013

Apple iPad Fad Is Over. ~ Robert McGarvey, Main Street, 14 August 2014

My definition of a stupid person. A stupid person is a person who treats a smart person as though they’re stupid. ~ Errol Morris


I can’t believe the hype being given to iPhone. ~ Richard Sprague, Senior Marketing Director, Microsoft, January 2007

That’s the problem with hyping a product before it comes out. It’s bound to disappoint no matter how good it is… ~ Brent Schlender, Fortune, 30 May 2007 (11 June 2007 Print Edition)

God himself could not design a device that could live up to all the hype that the iPhone has gotten… ~ Harvard computer science professor David Platt told Reuters, 25 June 2007

What an utter disappointment and abysmal failure of an Apple product. How can Steve Jobs stand up on that stage and hype this [iPad] product up and not see everything this thing is not and everything this thing is lacking? ~ Orange County Web Design Blog, 27 January 2010

For all the hype about an Apple tablet, it is at best a niche product. The world doesn’t need an Apple tablet, no matter what the hype about rumored features or regardless of what actually releases (if anything). ~ Joe Wilcox, Betanews, 2 January 2010

Don’t Believe the iPad Hype. Apple has sold out pre-orders of the forthcoming device, but it could all be a marketing tactic. ~ Mike Schuster,, 29 March 2010

I don’t get it. It costs $500 for the basic model, when you could get a laptop with a lot more functionality for about the same price. The iPad hype machine has been in full effect this week, and I still think it’s just that—hype. If I turn out to be wrong, I’ll gladly eat my words, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not wrong. ~ Alex Cook, Seeking Alpha, 3 April 2010

The man who questions opinions is wise. The man who quarrels with facts is a fool. ~ Frank Garbutt


‘Mum, the iPad is not ‘amazing.’ It’s just marketed very well, both by Apple and its culpable partners in mainstream media. ~ Paul Thurrott (in response to comment by Mum), Paul Thurrott’s Super Site for Windows, 26 April 2010

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. ~ Charles Darwin

Reality Distortion Field

From my perch, the market’s very favorable reaction to Apple’s iPhone is yet another example of disbelief being suspended … on the Street of Dreams. ~ Doug Kass, The Street, 17 Jan 2007

The reality distortion field will fade. People will come back to their senses and ask what really matters to them in a mobile. The answers will be basics, like good telephony, long battery life, small size and low price. Which of these attributes apply to the iPhone? ~ Joe Wilcox, Microsoft Watch, 10 January 2007

Apparently Steve Jobs had a lifelong battle with reality, and won ~ Scott Adams


The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks. ~ Matthew Lynn, Bloomberg, 15 January 2007

The iPhone is an expensive toy for the wealthy and self-indulgent… ~ Michael Pachter, Wedbush Morgan Securities, 14 August 2007

It seems like a high priced, unnecessary trinket to me. ~ Paul Thurrott, SuperSite for Windows, 27 January 2010

[The iPad is a] device for people who have more money than brains. ~ Alex Valentine, /dev/null, 28 January 2010

Apple is great if you’ve got a lot of money and live on an island. ~ Andy Lark, Global Head of Marketing for Large Enterprises and Public Organisations, Dell, 29 March 2011

It’s a nice-to-have product, for those of us who don’t have a budget… ~ Ashok Kumar, Analyst, Rodman & Renshaw LLC, 12 November 2010

If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool. ~ Carl Jung

Lessons Learned And Unlearned

I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb…and I also know I’m not blonde. ~ Dolly Parton

Apple is like Dolly Parton in the sense that they know they’re not dumb and they know something about themselves that we haven’t yet discovered. If we want to understand Apple’s success, we have to stop insulting them and their customers and start questioning our understanding of them instead. Here are some lessons to get us started.

First, never assume that what is right for you is right for others.

You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Second, if we don’t understand someone’s motivations, assume that it is due to a lack of understanding on our part, not due to a lack of intelligence on their part. Just because we don’t understand a thing doesn’t mean that it can’t be understood.

The things we know best are those we have not learned. ~ Luc de Clapiers

Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right. ~ Laurens Van der Post

Third, never stop learning, never stop questioning. Certainty ends thinking. Doubt is the beginning of wisdom.

It is easier to be critical than correct. ~ Benjamin Disraeli. ~ Benjamin Disraeli

No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions. ~ Charles Steinmetz

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. ~ Voltaire

Doubt is the origin of wisdom. ~ René Descartes

Apple Claim Chowder Series:

Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
Business Models

Apple Claim Chowder: Killers

With an Apple Event fast approaching, I’m reviewing critiques of past Apple Events to see how accurate they were. Turns out, not very. Critique is needed and welcome. Repeated errors? Not so much.


There is a long, sordid history of products being introduced as iPod, iPhone, and iPad Killers. You know the deal. Product “X” is introduced and it will be an Apple Killer because hypothetical products of the future are always superior to Apple products of today, yada, yada, yada. The problem with this theory is that repeated experience has shown that it just ain’t so.

The only thing experience teaches us is that experience teaches us nothing. ~ Andre Maurois

My rule of thumb is that a product isn’t real until it 1) has a ship date; 2) has a firm price; and 3) has been reviewed by independent third parties.

In the case of news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation. ~ Voltaire

You would think that critics would want to wait until AFTER they had gotten their hands on a product, and perhaps even wait until AFTER they had received some actual sales numbers, before declaring said product a “killer” of anything. But no. Why wait when one can be so wrong, so far ahead of time?

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as Sherlock Holmes, From “A Scandal in Bohemia”

Below is a rogue’s list some past Apple “Killers”, grouped by company. I am quite confident that critics have learned nothing from the past and that they will soom be adding many more “Killers” to the list come this Fall. Critics and competitors alike should remember the words of Helmuth von Moltke the Elder (attributed) before declaring any product an Apple “Killer”:

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.



If everything that we have heard about the upcoming Kindle tablet is true (upgraded Android front end, 7-inch touch screen, $250 price), we think AMZN will have another big product success. ~ Naked Value, 27 Sept 2011

Last year, we wanted to build the best tablet at a certain price. And, this year, we wanted to build the best tablet at any price. Take away the price and it’s still the best tablet. It also happens to be only $499. ~ Jeff Bezos, CEO,, 6 Sep 2012

Feature for feature – the latest Amazon) Kindle Fire is better than the latest iPad. ~ James Altucher, Seeking Alpha, 27 January 2013

Amazon is well on its way to effectively replicate Apple’s business model. ~ Victor Anthony, Topeka Capital, 25 September 2013


blackberry-playbook-amateur-hour-is-over-2But when it comes right down to it, the BlackBerry Storm will be the superior mobile device and represents a true iPhone killer. ~ Andrew Hickey, ChannelWeb, 14 Nov 2008

At today’s BlackBerry developer’s event, RIM announced their iPad-beater: the PlayBook. ~ Brian Barrett, Gizmodo, 27 September 2010

Just the pent-up interest in the PlayBook is really overwhelming. ~ Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO, Research In Motion, 16 December 2010

The launch of Storm 3 gives RIMM the long-awaited answer to the iPhone and high-end Android devices. ~ Michael Li, Investing Blog, 16 January 2011

The sales of the PlayBook have been fantastic, we’ve re-ordered multiple times and it’s exceeded our expectations. ~ Ben McIntosh, Harvey Norman’s Computers, Australia, 22 Aug 2011

‘iPhone Killer’ BlackBerry 10 is here: iPhone is Dead! ~ Bob Brown, InfoWorld, 30 January 2013

Sorry Apple, the BlackBerry Z10 Is Hotter Than the iPhone. ~ Jesus Diaz, Gizmodo, 28 January 2013

BlackBerry 10 will be launching here in the US soon and I think they will increase their share to 3rd place and may even pass iOS in a couple years. ~ Matthew Miller, ZDNet, 14 February 2013


Google plans ‘to market a tablet of the highest quality’ in the next six months. ~ Eric Schmidt, Chairman, Google, 19 Dec 2011

Put simply, the Nexus 7 has redefined the mini-tablet category and raised the bar enough that it doesn’t matter whether Apple releases a Retina-class iPad mini this year or not. ~ Paul Thurrott, Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows, 1 August 2013

If Galaxy Gear quickly creates a buzz, it will be hard not to look at the new iPhone and wonder why Apple is late to the smartwatch party. Samsung’s timing is beautifully calculated to challenge Cupertino. ~ Douglas Ehrman, Seeking Alpha, 5 September 2013

Hewlett Packard (HP)

8 Reasons Why Apple Should Fear HP/Palm… ~ Devin Connors, Tom’s Hardware, 7 May 2010

I hope one day people will say ‘this is as cool as HP’, not ‘as cool as Apple’. ~ Leo Apotheker, Hewlett Packard, 27 January 2011

In the PC world, with fewer ways of differentiating HP’s products from our competitors, we became number one; in the tablet world we’re going to become better than number one. We call it number one plus. ~ Eric Cador, Senior Vice President of the Personal Systems Group, Hewlett-Packard, 21 May 2011


iPad has come under additional pressure from Intel Bay Trail tablets. iPad’s future may hinge on whether ARM foundries can catch up to Intel. ~ Mark Hibben, Seeking Alpha, 30 April 2014

Apple’s A7 64 bit processor was a breakthrough last year, but this year Apple will face competition from Android phones running 64 bit Intel and Qualcomm processors. ~ 
Mark Hibben, Seeking Alpha, 20 June 2014


Apple iPhone Doomed To Failure — Windows Mobile 7 Plans For 2009 Leaked. ~ Mitchell Ashley, NetworkWorld, 11 January 2008

We are not at all worried. We think we’ve got the one mobile platform you’ll use for the rest of your life. They are not going to catch up. ~ Scott Rockfeld, Microsoft Mobile Communications Group Product Manager, 1 April 2008

About 20 million devices will ship with Windows Mobile on it. We will outsell the iPhone. ~ Robbie Bach, Microsoft, 8 June 2008

7 Reasons Why The Windows 7 Phone Is THE iPhone Killer. ~ Jamie Riddell, CEO of Digital Tomorrow Today, 16 March 2010

100910_msft_buries_iphoneMicrosoft workers celebrated the release to manufacturing of Windows Phone 7 last week by parading through their Redmond campus with iPhone and BlackBerry hearses. ~ Microsoft Employees, Microsoft, 10 September 2010

For the first time since its introduction in 2007, Apple’s iPhone is going to take a backseat at AT&T as Ma Bell prepares a glitzy launch of three Microsoft Windows 7 phones. ~ Scott Moritz,, 1 October 2010


The Lumia 900 and its successors will help Microsoft to reclaim the number 2 (replacing iOS) ranking in smartphone operating system market share in 2015. ~ Wayne Lam, IHS analyst, 19 Jan 2012

Having a secure Windows tablet that works with all the Windows applications — we’re hearing a lot of demand for that and we think that will be quite attractive. ~ Michael Dell, CEO, Dell, 9 March 2012

If Microsoft could ship today, Surface would send ripples across the tablet marketplace. ~ Joe Wilcox, Beta News, 19 June 2012

Author’s Note: The Titanic sent ripples too.


Author’s Note: Please be certain to check out the device used to send the above tweet.

Lookout Apple, Here Comes Microsoft: Surface Tablets Break Into Top-5 ~ Gary Krakow, The Street, 2 May 2013

Microsoft can better give what a lot of folks wanted in the initial iPad – a single product solution – and with a price/legacy software tradeoff that Apple doesn’t have in a similar product. ~ Rob Enderle, TG Daily, 30 September 2013

IDC reports that Windows Phone sales dropped by 9.4 percent in Q2 2014 compared to the same period last year. They’re now at just 2.5 percent.

And the Surface? $1.7 billion in losses…and counting.


I believe that this device (Droid) is the best smartphone on the market today. ~ Sanjay Jha, Co-CEO, Motorola, 28 October 2009

iDon’t have a real keyboard.
iDon’t run simultaneous apps.
iDon’t take night shots.
iDon’t allow open development.
iDon’t customize.
iDon’t run widgets.
iDon’t have interchangeable batteries.
Everything iDon’t…Droid does.
Verizon, 18 October 2009

So I’ve got this DROID X. And I have to say, suddenly, I get it. I understand why this thing is surpassing the iPhone as we speak. ~ Paul Thorrott, Paul Thorrott’s SuperSite for Windows, 21 September 2010

iPad Killer: Truly, Really, I mean It. …Motorola’s new XOOM tablet is poised to become THE best non iPad tablet on the market when it ships later this year. ~ Jim Louderback, Huffington Post, 6 January 2011

Given what I’ve seen of Honeycomb and Motorola’s excellent tablet, Cupertino will have some serious catching up to do with their iPad 2. ~ J.P. Mangalindan, Fortune, 4 February 2011


Nokia may hasten the end of the Apple revolution. ~ Kofi Bofah, Seeking Alpha , 30 October 2013


You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two- year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone. Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later. ~ Major Palm investor & co-founder of Elevation Partners, Roger McNamee, 5 Mar 2009

The Palm Pre Will Be an iPhone Killer ~ Ross Catanzariti, PC World, 2 Apr 2009

We have a really good opportunity to become No. 2 in tablets fairly quickly. Possibly No. 1. ~ Jon Rubinstein, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Palm Global Business Unit, HP, 23 June 2011


Imagine Samsung introducing revolutionary new lines of mobile phones and tablet computers with twice the battery life of Apple devices! Imagine colors more vivid than you have ever seen in any display before and half the thickness of Apple devices! The foregoing is not just a hyperbole; Samsung is pouring billions into making this happen. ~ Nigam Arora, Contributor, Forbes, 10 Feb 2012


Dvorak: ”I’m telling you, look at this product coming out of India called the Adam.”
Curry: “A-D-A-M?”
Dvorak: “Yeah.”
Curry: “And it’s a what it’s a pad?”
Dvorak: “It’s an iPad Killer. And I hate to use that term since the iPad is probably dead anyway.
No Agenda Podcast, Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak, 25 February 2010

Our tablet will be better than the iPad. ~ Chang Ma, VP Marketing, LG, 20 August 2010

(W)ith a new, potentially more compelling tablet coming — the Cisco Cius — the iPad’s success in the corporate world could be short-lived. ~ Don Reisinger, Channel Insider, 5 August 2010

We have an extreme focus on the innovation of LePad and LePhone because these products will dominate the future market. ~ Liu Chuanzhi, Lenovo, 27 January 2011

According to data from research firm BITG, checks at 150 Verizon Wireless stores indicate that in some cases the Thunderbolt is outselling the iPhone 4. …the iPhone may have met its match. ~ Ed Oswald,, 1 April 2011

Sony, Lenovo, Dell to Launch ‘iPad Killers’ in 2011. ~ Paul Thurrott, WindowsIT Pro, 28 April 2011

We will prove that it’s not who makes the tablet first who counts, but who makes it better. ~ Howard Stringer, CEO, Sony, 31 Aug 2011

All in all, I am impressed with the new phone (Atrix 2). And I think Apple has reason to finally be scared of the competition. ~ Cullen Roche, Seeking Alpha, 25 October 2011

Exhibit A: Xiaomi’s MiPad. Although we could easily focus on Microsoft’s recently launched Surface Pro 3, Xiaomi’s recently unveiled MiPad is an equally serious, if not more so, threat to the iPad Mini. ~ Andrew Tonner, The Motley Fool, 26 May 2014

That which does not kill me, makes me stronger ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Lessons Learned And Unlearned

First, don’t call anything a “Killer”. That term has overstayed its welcome. There will be product killers in the future, but we’ll only know that after the fact, not before.

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. ~ Andre Gide

Second, can we not just wait until a product exists before we compare it to an existing product? Seriously. What is our major malfunction?

Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is that you’re stupid and make bad decisions. ~ Bill Murray (@BiIIMurray)

Third, unreasonable people should not be reasoned with. They should be mocked.

You can always reason with a Troll. You can always reason with a barnyard animal, too, for all the good it does.

Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out. ~ Sydney Smith

Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone. ~ Ayn Rand

Apple Claim Chowder Series:

Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
Business Models

Apple Claim Chowder: Events

With an Apple Event fast approaching, I’m reviewing critiques of past Apple events to see how accurate they were. Turns out, not very. Critique is needed and welcome. Repeated errors? Not so much.


A book is a mirror; if an ass peers into it, you cannot expect an apostle to peer out. ~ George Christoph Lichtenberg

An Apple event is a mirror too. If an ass peers into it, you cannot expect an apostle to peer out.

Prophesy is a good line of business, but it is full of risks. ~ Mark Twain


Ever since Steve Jobs’ death, there has been an unfortunate tendency by some critics to create counterfactuals that compare the Apple of this world to an Apple still run by a living Steve Jobs. There seems to be an inverse relationship at work here. The less likely it was for a critic to understand and predict Steve Jobs’ actions while he was alive, the more likely it is for that same critic to claim they can channel Steve Jobs’ spirit from the beyond. Ironic, no?

Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity. ~ Frank Leahy

All this talk of trying to figure out what Steve Jobs would have done reminds me of a true story:

    For many years, a Franciscan priest by the name of Andrew Agnellus served as an adviser to the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) on religious affairs. One day, a BBC producer sent a memo to Father Agnellus asking how he might ascertain the official Catholic view of heaven and hell. The witty priest’s return memo said simply:

    Die. ((Excerpt From: Andre Bernard. “Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes.”))

To those critics who truly wish to know what Steve Jobs is thinking now, I extend the same advice.

And he looked at me with those intense eyes that only he had, and he told me to never do that, to never ask what he would do. Just do what’s right. And so I’m doing that. ~ Tim Cook

Premature Predictions

For some reason, people can’t wait until they actually see and use a product before predicting it will fail. It’s like judging a wine before you’ve tasted it. Why we listen to these pre-predictions, I have no idea. But we do.

It’s generally a bad idea to have a strong opinion of a consumer product you have no experience of. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Some past premature predictions:

    Apple is slated to come out with a new phone… And it will largely fail…. Sales for the phone will skyrocket initially. However, things will calm down, and the Apple phone will take its place on the shelves with the random video cameras, cell phones, wireless routers and other would-be hits… ~ Michael Kanellos, CNET, 7 December 2006

    BaF8LuUCYAAqxrm.jpg-largeApple will launch a mobile phone in January, and it will become available during 2007. … After a year a new version will be launched, but it will lack the innovation of the first and quickly vanish. The only question remaining is if, when the iPod phone fails, it will take the iPod with it. ~ Bill Ray, The Register, 26 December 2006

    When Apple introduces its iPhone this month, will it pass the acid test? In my opinion, no. ~ Al Ries, AdAge Blogs, 18 June 2007

    In fact, I’ll go far enough to say that, if the iPhone 5 looks like the pictures that have recently appeared, Apple may be screwed. ~ Henry Blodget, Daily Ticker, 30 July 2012

    With Apple’s next smartphone still months away, fans have been gobbling up iPhone 6 rumors faster than Pac-Man on a power pill bender. However, even the hottest rumor mill in tech can’t turn this device into a winner. ~ Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director, 14 March 2014

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains. ~ Dutch proverb

All great ideas look like bad ideas to people who are losers. It’s always good to test a new idea with known losers to make sure they don’t like it. ~ Scott Adams


If you believe everything you read, better not read. ~ Japanese Proverb

Speculation can be fun. Speculation can even be helpful. However, building elaborate arguments on unfounded speculation is like building a castle on shifting sands.

A foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. ~ The Bible, Matthew

When it comes to speculation, a couple of rules of thumb can be helpful:

It is better to debate a question without deciding it than to decide it without debating it. ~ Joseph Joubert

Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence. ~ Christopher Hitchens

Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt. ~ Eric Sevareid

Taking crazy things seriously is a serious waste of time. – Haruki Murakami


We don’t know what’s about to happen but we’ll pretend that we do. Then — when we’re proven wrong — we’ll still pretend we knew it all along.

If futurism is visionary, history is revisionary. ~ Bruce Sterling. ((Excerpt From: Robert Cottrell. “The Browser Book of Quotations.” The Browser, 2012.))

Here, for example, is what we thought the iPhone would look like:


Image From “iPhone Dreams: Renders from 2006 tell us everything about what we used to think a phone could be.

No one remembers how wrong they were about the iPhone and the iPad. All they remember is the parts they got right — or the parts they re-imagined that they got right.

The human mind is a delusion generator, not a window to truth. ~ Scott Adams

Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian. ~ Lee Simonson

Even God cannot alter the past, though historians can. ~ Samuel Butler


Whenever a prediction doesn’t pan out, we’ll simply claim we were absolutely right on the money, but Apple changed their mind at the last minute. What the Onion writes as parody, some Apple critics take as gospel:

    CUPERTINO, CA—Claiming that he completely forgot about the much-hyped electronic device until the last minute, a frantic Steve Jobs reportedly stayed up all night Tuesday in a desperate effort to design Apple’s new tablet computer. “Come on, Steve, just think—think, dammit—you’re running out of time,” the exhausted CEO said as he glued nine separate iPhones to the back of a plastic cafeteria tray. “Okay, yeah, this will work. This will definitely work. Just need to write ‘tablet’ on this little strip of masking tape here and I’m golden. Oh, come on, you piece of shit! Just stick already!” Middle-of-the-night sources reported that Jobs then began work on double-spacing his Keynote presentation and increasing the font size to make it appear longer.

Claiming that Apple suddenly changed its collective mind is not enough for some critics. Some will go further and claim that that a spiteful Apple changed its plans IN RESPONSE to a critic’s predictions.

When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it. ~ Bernard Bailey

The bottom line is, no matter what shows up on stage at an Apple Event, our predictions are never wrong.

Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love the truth. ~ Joseph Joubert


Here’s another dodge favored by critics — the old “nonexistent product delayed” trick. You know how it goes. We make an outlandish prediction. Said prediction doesn’t happen. Were we wrong in our prediction? Of course not! The predicted product was simply “delayed” almost certainly due to production issues on Apple’s part. The beauty of this claim is two-fold. We weren’t wrong. Apple is incompetent.

Some recent examples of this line of argument:


A fresh report from China’s Economic Daily News believes that Apple has indeed delayed the Retina iPad Mini’s launch until early 2014 because of the troubles it’s having. Apple can’t afford to wait that long. ~ Evan Niu, Motley Fool, 13 July 2013

Continued production issues may force Apple to delay ‘iWatch’ until 2015 ~ @appleinsider

When we risk no contradiction, It prompts the tongue to deal in fiction. ~ John Gay

Lessons Learned And Unlearned

People do not wish to appear foolish; to avoid the appearance of foolishness, they were willing actually to remain fools. ~ Alice Walker

Set aside your predictions and preconceptions. Go into the Event with an open mind. See what is, instead of what is missing, and go from there.

The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind. ~ E. B. White

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it. ~ T.Pratchett

Apple Claim Chowder Series:

Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
Business Models

Apple Claim Chowder: Introduction

Apple has scheduled an Event for Tuesday, September 9, 2014. Apple’s Events attract critics the way a trailer park attracts tornados. Good analysis and insightful critiques are expected and welcome, however many critics merely repeat the same discredited arguments over and over and over again. Some people simply never learn from their mistakes. Which reminds me of a joke:

    An Apple critic with two very red ears went to his doctor. The doctor asked him what had happened.

    “I was ironing a shirt and the phone rang,” he said. “But instead of picking up the phone, I accidentally picked up the iron and put it to my ear.”

    “GEEZ!” the doctor exclaimed in disbelief. “So, what happened to your other ear?”

    “Isn’t is obvious?” the critic replied. “I had to call you to schedule this appointment.”

Perhaps the above joke would be more apt if it were we, and not the critics, who had the red ears, for the critics seem to escape their repeated errors unscathed while it is we who end up getting burned year after year.

History is a very good teacher, but (it) has very few students. ~ Wael El-Manzalawy

This is the first in a series of articles that examines past claims and, having found them wanting, expounds upon lessons learned and unlearned. Future articles will group the critics’ claims into topics, but I’ll get things started by simply serving up some of the juiciest claim chowder of all time. Bon appétit.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Almost all of the linked material comes from the excellent iPhone Death Watch and iPad Death Watch Web sites maintained by AAPL Highly recommended reading.

Upset 3d puppet - harlequin, keeping for a head

Apple Claim Chowder

The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him. ~ Robert Benchley

Is there a toaster that also knows how to brew coffee? There is no such combined device, because it would not make anything better than an individual toaster or coffee machine. It works the same way with the iPod, the digital camera or mobile phone: it is important to have specialized devices. ~ Former Apple Vice President, iPod Division, now with Palm, Jon Rubenstein, September 27, 2005


We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in. ~ Palm CEO Ed Colligan, commenting on then-rumored Apple iPhone, 16 Nov 2006

    In our view, the appearance of the iPhone (or something like it) poses little risk to RIM’s business. ~ Chris Umiastowski, TD Securities, 12 December 2006

…I am not sure how [the iPhone] will stand against Sprint’s Wimax`(when it successfully launches) and its phones, which I am looking forward much more than over-hyped Apple iPhone. ~ Bhaskar Chitraju, Indews Broadcast, 18 January 2007

    The big competitors in the mobile-phone industry such as Nokia Oyj and Motorola Inc. won’t be whispering nervously into their clamshells over a new threat to their business. The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks. ~ Matthew Lynn, Bloomberg, 15 January 2007

Windowscompare$500 fully subsidized with a plan! I said that is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine. ~ Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, 17 January 2007

    The iPhone will not substantially alter the fundamental structure and challenges of the mobile industry. ~ Charles Golvin, Forrester Research Inc, January 2007

The honeymoon is over for the iPhone. ~ Tim Moynihan, Crave, the Gadget Blog from Cnet 11 January 2007

Last year Apple’s iPhone sales alone were larger than the revenues at 474 of the companies in the S&P 500 stock index. ~ Eric Chemi of Bloomberg Businessweek

The iPhone’s willful disregard of the global handset market will come back to haunt Apple. ~ Tero Kuittinen,, 18 January 2007

    I’m more convinced than ever that, after an initial frenzy of publicity and sales to early adopters, iPhone sales will be unspectacular… iPhone may well become Apple’s next Newton. ~ David Haskin, Computerworld, 26 February 2007

Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone… ~ John C. Dvorak, 28 March 2007

Nobody is completely worthless. Some can be used as bad examples. ~ John Tigges

Apple begins selling its revolutionary iPhone this summer and it will mark the end of the string of hits for the company. ~ Todd Sullivan, Seeking Alpha, 15 May 2007

How do you deal with [the iPhone}? How do they deal with us? ~ Ed Zander, Motorola CEO/Chairman 10 May 2007

We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves. ~ Eric Hoffer

What does the iPhone offer that other cell phones do not already offer, or will offer soon? The answer is not very much… ~ Laura Goldman, LSG Capital, 21 May 2007

The forthcoming (June 29) release of the Apple iPhone is going to be a bigger marketing flop than Ishtar and Waterworld combined. ~ David S. Platt, Suckbusters!, 21 June 2007

I may not agree with you, but I’ll defend to the death my right to tell you to shut up. ~ Andy Borowitz

Once the initial fever wears off, however, the bloom will really be off the rose, and sales will be disappointing (at least here in the U.S.). ~ Jim Louderback, PC Magazine. 6 June 2007

We Predict the iPhone will bomb ~ Porges, The Futurist, 7 June 2007

You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty. ~ Jessica Mitford

The iPhone is a sustaining technology relative to Nokia. In other words, Apple is leaping ahead on the sustaining curve [by building a better phone]. But the prediction of the theory would be that Apple won’t succeed with the iPhone. They’ve launched an innovation that the existing players in the industry are heavily motivated to beat: It’s not [truly] disruptive. History speaks pretty loudly on that, that the probability of success is going to be limited. ~ Clayton Christensen, Author of Innovator’s Dilemma, 28 June 2007

There’s a lot of rejoicing at Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile [at the iPhone’s initial sales]. ~ IAG Research’s Roger Entner, 4 July 2007

Some never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge

Let’s face it, the Internet was designed for the PC. The Internet is not designed for the iPhone. ~ Steve Ballmer, Microsoft, 21 October 2009

    The tablet market has only succeeded as a niche market over the years and it was hoped Apple would dream up some new paradigm to change all that. From what I’ve seen and heard, this won’t be it. ~ John C. Dvorak, MarketWatch, 29 January 2010

I added it up and … like 800 people are going to buy the iPad. . . . ~ Molly Wood, CNet, 31 January 2010


If Apple makes a successful tablet, they will have accomplished what no other company before them has ever managed to do, which is why I am not optimistic. If I turn out to be wrong, I’ll gladly eat my words, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not wrong. ~ Alex Cook, Frontier Outlook, 28 January 2010

    Unless Apple has also developed some new type of power source, such as nuclear cells or magical hamsters on tiny spinning wheels for the iPad, don’t expect the claims about battery life to hold true. ~ John Breeden II, Government Computer News, 28 January 2010

You might want to tell me the difference between a large phone and a tablet. ~ Eric Schmidt, Google, 10 January 2010

The true way to be deceived is to think oneself more knowing than others. ~ La Rochefoucauld

You know, I’m a big believer in touch and digital reading, but I still think that some mixture of voice, the pen and a real keyboard – in other words a netbook – will be the mainstream on that. So, it’s not like I sit there and feel the same way I did with iPhone where I say, ‘Oh my God, Microsoft didn’t aim high enough.’ It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it. ~ Bill Gates, Microsoft, 10 February 2010

Nothing is more damaging to a new truth than an old error. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Apple iPad is not going to be the company’s next runaway best seller. ~ John C. Dvorak, MarketWatch, 12 February 2010

The only time he opens his mouth is to change feet.

—David Feherty

The iPad will remain an expensive, niche device compared to all-purpose netbooks…. (N)etbooks sales will still far outstrip those of the iPad. ~ Preston Gralla, PC World, 30 March 2010

The decline of the iPhone has started. And that will become clear long before the year 2010 is gone… ~ Tomi T Ahonen, Former Nokia Executive, Inc, 9 April 2010


(Apple) is not having an impact on Nintendo… ~ Reggie Fils-Aime, President, Nintendo of America, 7 April 2010

I admit, sales of the iPad beat my expectations. I didn’t think that this device would do that well, and I still think it’s an oversized iPod Touch. ~ Alex Cook, Seeking Alpha, 1 June 2010

Never miss a good chance to shut up. ~ Cowboy wisdom

It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I’m okay with that. ~ Kevin Turner, Chief Operating Officer, Microsoft, 14 July 2010

    If a user wants to walk from the kitchen to the dining room in her house, she simply walks through. It does not work like that in mobile–you have to go through the front door to get to the kitchen. iPhone has a home button which works like a go-back-to-front-door button. This is not a model that human beings are used to. People are spatial. ~ Peter Skillman, VP Meego User Experience and Services Design, Nokia, 20 September 2010

There could literally be millions of first-generation iPads gathering dust in people’s home offices already. This product is the tech industry’s biggest MacGuffin yet. ~ Paul Thurrott, Windows IT Pro, 23 October 2010

What you don’t know would make a great book. ~ Sydney Smith

I cannot see a need for the thing [iPad]. ~ John Dvorak, MarketWatch, 22 October 2010

A salad spinner would have been a better investment, [than an iPad] and I don’t even eat that much salad. ~ John Swansburg, Slate, 18 February 2011

The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind. ~ H. L. Mencken

Apple is a company that has to come up with hit after hit after hit, every 12 to 18 months, but once you do the iPhone on Verizon, what’s the next thing past this? ~ Patrick Becker Jr, Becker Capital Management, 7 March 2011

    The reliance by Apple and Android phones on the ‘app’ as the central metaphor is outdated. ~ Chris Weber, President, head of North America, Nokia, 10 August 2011

As more developers reach consumers through platform-independent technologies such as HTML5, Apple’s app store could be cut out of the loop as customers gain freedom to transfer their chosen applications from one device to another. ~ Michael Holt, CFA, Morningstar, 28 Dec 2011

What we see is that youth are pretty much fed up with iPhones. Everyone has the iPhone. ~ Niels Munksgaard, Director of Portfolio, Product Marketing & Sales , Nokia, 13 Dec 2011

Nobody goes there anymore—it’s too crowded. ~ Yogi Berra

The following are three reasons the new iPad will be dead on arrival (DOA)… ~ Michael Li, The GadgetMasters, 11 March 2012

    I don’t think anyone has done a product that I see customers wanting. ~ Steve Ballmer, Microsoft, 25 Nov 2012

Siri could signal the beginning of the end for Apple. ~ Greg Satell, Forbes, 26 March 2013

    (Android) Not secure? It’s more secure than the iPhone. ~ Eric Schmidt, Google, 8 October 2013

Apple’s iOS 7 launch is fast becoming its most troubled mobile operating system update, increasing concern that the technology giant has lost some of its magic touch since co-founder Steve Jobs passed away two years ago. ~ Scott Martin and Alistair Barr, USA Today, 17 October 2013

iPhone accounts for 41.9% of US smartphone subscriber base, up from 31.3% a year ago – Apple CFO Luca Maestri, via @macjournals

[Android phones] are a great Christmas present to an iPhone user! ~ Eric Schmidt, Google, 24 November 2013

I know there’s a lot of noise because Apple did [64-bit] on their A7. I think they are doing a marketing gimmick. There’s zero benefit a consumer gets from that. ~ Anand Chandrasekher, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Qualcomm, 1 October 2013
Anand Chandrasekher has been quietly reassigned — and removed from the company leadership page on its website as of 25 Oct 2013.

My prayer to God is a very short one: “Oh God, please make my enemies ridiculous.” God has granted my wish. ~ Voltaire

Lessons Learned And Unlearned

True wisdom is less presuming than folly. The wise man doubteth often, and changeth his mind; the fool is obstinate, and doubteth not; he knoweth all things but his own ignorance. ~ Akhenaton

The lesson here is to not take things on faith. Question everything. Facts should underlie every argument and logic should support that argument’s structure.

A man is getting along on the road to wisdom when he begins to realize that his opinion is just an opinion.

Beware the opinions of critics who are too sure of themselves, for it is most likely that they are also too full of themselves.

Doubt is often the beginning of wisdom. ~ M Scott Peck

Further, while it is always wise to question every opinion, it is not always wise to have an opinion on every question. Some things can only be answered in time.

Who is there who can make muddy waters clear? But if allowed to remain still, it will gradually clear itself. ~ Lao-tsu

Apple Claim Chowder Series:

Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
Business Models

Counterpoint: Tablets Were Never Supposed To Be The Next Smartphone

I’m (supposed to be) on vacation this week, but I saw an article by Peter Bright of Ars Tecnica, that got my dander up: “Op-Ed: Tablets really are the new PCs; nobody needs to buy them any more.”

Peter Bright’s article looks for trouble, finds it where it doesn’t exist, diagnoses it incorrectly, and applies the wrong remedy. So here’s my (not-so-very) quick ((Apparently, even my “quick” responses are over 1,000 words.)) response.

I need a six month vacation…twice a year.

Some Joly Analysis

    “The tablet market is tapped out. We saw signs of this when Apple reported that its iPad sales were down year-on-year and we’re seeing a similar message from retailers. Re/code’s Walt Mossberg recently talked to Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly, who said that tablet sales had “crashed.””

With all due respect, Hubert Joly doesn’t appear to know the difference between “flattening” and “crashed.” It is fortunate for us all he is not an air traffic controller.


    “Global tablet sales are still rising—though less quickly than they once were…”

Again, “rising” is very different from “crashing”

    “…but in developed markets the tablet boom may be over.

That’s a mighty big “may”.

    “…Joly reported that PC sales—which the tablet was supposed to kill—have picked up. He attributed that resurgence partially to the end of support of Windows XP.”

One of these arguments is not like the other, one of these arguments doesn’t belong…. ~ Sesame Street

Tablets Aren’t The Next Smartphone

    “The computer industry has to face an uncomfortable truth. Tablets aren’t the next smartphone. They’re the next PC.”

Agree and disagree. Tablets were never the next smartphone. Phones are smaller, fit in our pockets and are expected to be with us at all times. Plus — “duh” — they’re telephones. This means they will be ubiquitous.

Smartphones are the first stage of computing where the addressable market isn’t a segment, group, industry or demo, but everyone on earth. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 7/13/14

If anyone ever contended that tablets were the new smartphone, the blame falls squarely upon the faulty analysis, not upon the tablet.

Tablets Aren’t The Next PC

As for tablets being the next PC? Well, that isn’t really true either.

Apple sells more iPads each quarter than PCs were being sold when Windows 95 was launched. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

There are at least twice as many iPads as Macs in use today. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 7/24/14

But let’s set aside the fact the four year old tablet market is already about to eclipse the sales of the 40 year old PC market and continue with Peter’s analysis:

    “The low-hanging fruit of easy incremental improvements [for tablets] seems to be tapped out. Short of an unpredictable revolutionary new feature, our staff felt that they’d stick with their tablets until they broke, their batteries became useless, or they ceased to receive software updates.”

Gee, Peter. It’s August and that prediction could be proven wrong by as early next month when the Fall tablets arrive.

Tablets Aren’t The Next Netbooks

    “Unable to win sales by making PCs substantially better, the OEMs slashed prices. Netbooks epitomized this; they cut dozens of corners in screen quality, keyboard size and quality, thickness, and even performance. But they sure were cheap.”

Yeah, about that. iPads are not netbooks. Netbooks were HATED. Tablets are not only respected, they are, by many, adored.

(W)hat’s most important to us is that customers are enjoying their iPads and using them heavily. In a survey conducted in May by ChangeWave, iPad Air registered a 98% customer satisfaction rate, while iPad Mini with retina display received an astonishing 100% customer satisfaction rate. ~ Tim Cook


Tablets Are Not Big iPod Touches

    “A large screen smartphone can do all the things a smartphone does (including important things like fit in your pocket and make phone calls) and it can do all the things a tablet can do… just with a slightly smaller screen. And among large screen devices, the laptop always has the edge as the richer, more capable device.”

    “Who needs tablets?”

Wow. I’ve stepped into a time warp and it’s 2010 all over again.

“There is no surprise with this device; it is just a huge iPod touch. ~ John C. Dvorak, MarketWatch, 26 March 2010

Adoption Cycles

(H)ere’s what that S-curve of adoption looks like. It puts saturation of the market for iPads sometime around 2018, not 2014. … Something like half the people who will someday own iPads haven’t even purchased them yet. ~ Horace Dediu


Tablets Are A Separate Category

Is there room for a third category of device in the middle? Something that’s between a laptop and a smartphone? ~ Steve Jobs

In order to really create a new category of device those devices are going to have to be far better at doing key tasks. Better than the smartphone, better than the laptop. ~ Steve Jobs

Let’s keep this analysis simple. For many tasks, a larger screen is better than a smaller screen. The end.

Not believing a bigger screen is important is the same as not believing in gravity and I’m not going to waste my time arguing with you about either.

It’s so much more intimate than a laptop, and it’s so much more capable than a smartphone. ~ Steve Jobs

When the iPad appeared in 2010, it had its doubters. For a humorous look back, check out The iPad Death Watch. Apparently four years of experience has taught us nothing. The doomsayers have retaken the forum.

The only thing experience teaches us is that experience teaches us nothing. ~ Andre Maurois

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. ~ Douglas Adams


Here’s the thing. Despite its recent lull in sales, the tablet is BELOVED by many. You can’t pry it out of the hands of most owners (and especially seniors).

I think I have become addicted to my iPad. — my mom ~ Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie)

Sometimes tech people outsmart themselves. You’ve got two pieces of evidence before you. Customers love their tablets. Tablet rates flattened for two quarters. For one to assume that tablet growth is over, one has to ignore the former and put all of their analytical weight on the latter.

There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them. ~ George Orwell

Post Script

For an excellent analysis of what’s really happening in tablets, check out “Why Ipad Shipments Aren’t Growing, But Might Start Again Soon” by Jan Dawson.

iPads At The Border

I believe (nearly) every child that comes to America seeking refuge should be welcome. I fully understand if you disagree. It is a complex issue after all. 

We are told tens of thousands of children are showing up at America’s southern border hoping to be allowed permanent entry. The President has requested many billions of dollars to help address this pressing entanglement. The opposition party has similarly offered up many billions, albeit far fewer than the President says are necessary.

What then?

Assuming some, most, or all of these children are allowed permanent entry into the United States, what then?

I have no answer for this. I do have a suggestion, however: I think we should give every single one of these children – every child in America, in fact – a tablet, preferably an iPad.


What would my proposal cost?

Estimates, which vary wildly, suggest 100,000 children will seek refuge in America this year, and another 100,000 next year. An iPad mini with Retina display retails for $400. Sold in bulk, and for goodwill, Apple may be ready to part with these for $200. Certainly, other tablet vendors would be so willing.

$200 x 200,000 children = $40 million

But let’s not give tablets only to new entrants, but to all children in America, at least those of school age. There are approximately 45 million children, ages 6-17, in the United States. Thus:

45,000,000 x $200 = $9 billion

Yes, that’s a staggering sum. Except, Americans already spend over $650 billion every single year on public K-12 education and another $350 billion every year on  higher education, at minimum. An iPad mini is reasonably future-proof, and likely to last at least three years, for example. Even if we factor my potential tablet spend against only one year of K-12 expenditures, that’s:

$9,000,000,000 / $650,000,000,000 = 0.014

That’s less than 1.5% of one year’s K-12 spend. With this, 45 million children have a tablet — a tablet that can come preloaded with literally thousands of free books; books which reveal America’s history, greatness and failures. Books that teach, warn, inspire.

That’s just the start. There are thousands of free apps that promote creativity and collaboration. We can preload twenty or so on every device. Already, Apple includes iMovie, GarageBand, Pages and Numbers, among others, with every iPad.


Should the child be fortunate enough to have access to WiFi, YouTube offers amazing resources for self-directed learning. All free. iTunes U similarly offers a wealth of free courses for those with access.

Perhaps Fox will donate the entire Cosmos series toward this effort, helping us to inspire a generation to embrace science, discovery and their innate smartness.

A front facing camera will enable every child to take a picture of themselves and their surroundings, offering a document of their life and their world unmatched in scale.

The Diamond Age

Why do this?

Two reasons:

This is very likely the first and only time in human history where a nation can afford to provide every single child with a fully accessible, easily manipulated tool that contains or can retrieve nearly the entirety of that nation’s history, culture, great works of fiction, film, television, lectures, puzzles and knowledge.

Let’s seize this amazing opportunity!

In his Hugo-winning work, The Diamond Age, author Neal Stephenson posited a future where a young girl, poor, living on the margins, came into possession of a interactive book — what we now call a tablet — that educates and empowers her, leading her to achieve what was once assumed unattainable.

There are only two such ‘books’ in Stephenson’s future world. What a much better world we have now. In fact, in our present day reality, there are already hundreds of millions of such tablets. Even better: almost every one of them can be used, misused, manipulated and managed by nearly any child of any background without any prompting or guidance.

This is profoundly revolutionary.

The System Of The World

The second reason is self-directed learning has many lasting benefits.

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have famously credited Montessori schooling for spurring their entrepreneurial success. Montessori adheres to a self-directed learning model. Children follow their interests and avail themselves to information and knowledge in their own way and on their own time. Per Larry Page:

“I think (founding Google) was part of that training of not following rules and orders, and being self motivated, questioning what’s going on in the world and doing things a little bit differently.”

 Will Wright, video game pioneer and creator of The Sims, stated this of his self-directed Montessori education:

“Montessori taught me the joy of discovery. It showed you can become interested in pretty complex theories, like Pythagorean theory, say, by playing with blocks. SimCity comes right out of Montessori.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also attended Montessori school as a child.

Correlation is not causation. What leads a child toward success is no doubt a multi-variant process. But tablets can expose children to untold learning resources, creative opportunities, collaborative play and work. This seems like an opportunity the country should not pass up.

Recently, two villages in Ethiopia were provided with (Motorola Xoom) tablets preloaded with various apps, ebooks, movies, drawing programs and alphabet games. The First Grade children who received the tablets were illiterate, had never used paper and pencil, yet within a few months had taught themselves to read.

“Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android.”

It almost seems unjust to not provide every child with a tablet.

I know there are questions. Who will pay for this? What about theft? What about illicit online activities? Who decides which books to embed? Will the children spend too much time with their tablet

These are all answerable. Yes, really.

The larger question: Will it work? Haven’t laptops, PCs and other technologies in the schools failed to incite a learning revolution?

Perhaps. But at no point before now has there existed reasonably affordable, highly interactive tools that are personal, mobile, configurable, pose almost no barriers to operation, and which can store truly stunning amounts of knowledge and learning resources — all of it accessible with the swipe of a finger.

The children are here. The opportunity exists. Let’s be willing to fail with this.

Thoughts On iPhone Inc

The iPhone is bigger than McDonald’s. That seems a useful demarcation for how we should view the iPhone in particular and Apple in general.

The iPhone is that once-in-a-generation product that alters daily reality for at least a century. The Model T production line, overnight shipping, indoor plumbing and the credit card are other such examples. I fully expect the iPhone will enable Apple to become the world’s first trillion dollar company.


There is a cost however, at least for we users. Almost certainly, iPhone will diminish Apple’s ability to create new game changing products.

Why? Because being irrational is hard, really hard. It’s rational to do everything in your power to maximize a product that has the legitimate potential to help you become a trillion dollar company. To do anything — anything at all — that might alter that path is irrational. Steve Jobs could be irrational at times. Tim Cook cannot. At least, I have witnessed no evidence of this. Apple is now iPhone. iPhone is now Apple. Just like Windows is Microsoft.

The Long March

No one ever got fired for buying Apple computers from IBM.

An iOS-based, touchscreen-enabled laptop, priced around $799, and sold by IBM to the enterprise seems an obvious product Apple should offer. It also seems like the kind of product that could destroy numerous existing giants.

For too long, iPhone users have not had their much desired iPhone “phablet.” A reason for this is because an iPhone phablet would gut iPad sales. Considering the iPad sales numbers for the past year, this is a fear Apple no longer possesses.

You will not give up your iPhone. You will not give up your Mac. You may give up your iPad. At this juncture, iPads are simply not must-have devices for nearly anyone. That’s the primary reason for the diminishing sales gains.

Easy prediction: We will almost certainly get an iPhone phablet this year and, likely by next year, a larger iPad.

I am regularly surprised at how bad Apple is at app discovery. That Facebook app ads are my current best source for app recommendations is a clear market failure. I hope the purchase of Beats, Swell and BookLamp signal that Apple is finally willing to get serious about content curation and recommendation.

I have no idea if Swift is a superior language. I am not a developer. I do know however, Apple is big enough to demand its use.

Despite the iPhone’s incredible array of features and functions, we mere mortals no doubt spend far too much time obsessing over which apps belong on the home screen.

Bugs And Features

The smartphone is the computer. Your app is your business model. Every business is impacted by iPhone. Know this or perish.

That Touch ID can’t read my thumbprint if there’s just a tiny bit of water on it seems more bug than feature.

It’s 2014, fourteen years since Y2K. Still, iPhone users can’t have their preferred calendar app list the date on the app icon. This is the equivalent of how the DOOR CLOSE button on any elevator never seems to work.

Samsung ads mocking iPhone users have been brutal and highly effective. Yes, I have had Android users (justly) mock me for having to scour an airport in search of an available outlet. The iPhone battery deserves its poor reputation. However, Samsung’s latest ad where they mock Apple users for not yet having a large display iPhone strikes me as desperation. Almost certainly, there will be a large display iPhone. What then, Samsung?

Amazing iPhone games are available for $5.99 yet millions refuse to pay such ‘outrageously high’ prices. There is much to celebrate and decry with this.

Using the same OS for the iPhone as for the iPad has some obvious limitations. On the small smartphone screen, getting into an app, grabbing the data, then exiting, a singular app occupying the entire screen makes obvious sense. Not so with the iPad. I want at least two windows open on my iPad almost always. Kindle and Twitter are the most common examples. Email and web browser are another. Even while gaming, I prefer two windows open. I can’t imagine buying an iPad until Apple offers this feature.

The Sincerest Forms Of Flattery

The almost laughable copying by Xiaomi of the iPhone and iOS 7 is all the evidence you need as to why Tim Cook must expend significant resources on building the luxury appeal and premium status of the iPhone; all those hard-to-define elements beyond actual quality, reliability and usability.

There are few people better at this, if any, than Angela Ahrendts.


Confession: it’s hard for me to watch the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie and not think of Steve Jobs and Apple.

Rumors Jony Ive was in a Flock of Seagulls cover band are completely unfounded.


Input method is now a more important consideration than processor, OS and software. No one seems to understand this more than Apple.

More Is Less

Lost in the bubbly talk of an Apple iWatch is the fact everything about it seems wrong. We do not need yet another thing. I want my iPhone — or any smartphone — to serve as my ID, car keys, credit cards, TV remote, glucose reader, everything. Apple should focus its genius on making the iPhone devour more of those things, not create new ones.

The newest version of PayPal appears to equal, possibly usurp, Apple’s Passbook vision: Payments, money transfers, loyalty cards, information on nearby shops, it’s all there. Apple certainly wants the iPhone to be used for payments, though maybe they have finally decided enabling payments and not powering them is the way forward. This may also explain the company’s recent decision to once again allow Bitcoin apps in the App Store.

I actually read app update notes. This recent update from Yelp made me laugh.


Jan Dawson made a strong case for why Apple should stagger launches of its major products. Commenters offered additional insights as to why Apple does not (or should not) heed his advice. Not stated, however, but which I think is at least worth considering, are the possible impacts of corruption. Nearly all assembly of nearly all Apple products takes place in China, where there is a less-than-transparent relationship between the government and business. It seems the implications of this should at least be examined.

I am surprised by how few iPhone users seem to ever use AirDrop to transfer files or data to one another. Perhaps personal iPhone-to-Mac AirDrop sharing is the superior use case.

I am unaware of the age, gender, race or LGBQT numbers at Apple Inc., Apple in Cupertino, or of those who work solely on the iPhone. But together, these people have created something positively impacting lives. And they keep making it better. I tip my hat to them all and hope in some way, my words can ever do the same.

More Than One Jony Ive At Apple Now

Does Jonathan Ive really want an iPhone “phablet”? I have doubts. Ive resisted increasing the size of the original iPhone, yet today’s larger iPhones (5/c/s) seems far too small for much of the world. Ive’s iconic design will doubtless change yet again, soon, driven not by design principals but by market demand. 

This is to be expected. The market never sleeps.

What I had not expected, however, yet which appears now almost certain to happen, is that Jony Ive likely won’t be involved in several major Apple hardware designs. Apple has simply become too big.

In yesterday’s earnings call, Tim Cook said he “can’t wait” to introduce several new products and services to the market. Ive may have overseen the design of all of these, but that’s not likely to remain true. What does this mean for Apple products going forward?

Mostly good things, I believe, with an explosion of not only new products, but new looks and new identities.

Cook Brings In Ringers

Does anyone really expect Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine to have their (Beats) headphones, speakers and related audio accessories conform to any Jony Ive preferences?

Yes, Ive is Senior Vice President, Design, in charge of software and hardware design. He has certainly earned his reputation as a peerless product designer. But I think Cook is right to bring in ‘ringers’ as the company steadily moves into new markets, new products and new regions, propelled by the world’s insatiable appetite for the high margin iPhone.

As Jan Dawson‘s latest chart reveals, iPhone revenues simply dwarf everything else at Apple — practically everything else everywhere.


Tim Cook has no intention of allowing this trend line to falter on his watch. More iPhones are to be sold to more people, with iPhone sales and margins protected by a range of hardware accessories. Beats, wearables, watches; these will be the start. Not all new hardware design will be overseen by Jony Ive.

Consider these Beats headphones. What will be Ive’s input into future Beats designs? Will he have any input? 


It’s not just headphones and speakers, of course. Angela Ahrendts, the new Senior Vice President, Retail and Online Stores, has brought to life numerous fashions and accessories for Burberry, a company she almost singlehandedly rescued.


Ahrendts proved her deft touch in determining what products would sell to discerning customers, particularly in China — factors extremely important to Tim Cook’s grand plans. It seems silly to believe the future Dame Ahrendts will only be involved in the look and feel of Apple Stores given her uncanny ability to understand fashion, luxury, design and desire.

In fact, there may be no one at Apple with a stronger intellectual and emotional connection to Steve Jobs than this newest member of Apple’s executive team. Consider these quotes from a Vogue interview with Ahrendts:

Upon her arrival in London, she discovered that there weren’t many high-level Burberry executives who shared her enthusiasm for the label. Within a year, she sacked the entire Hong Kong design team and closed factories.

The label was in need of a dramatic overhaul, its famous plaid having become diluted by wide-spread, cheap copies.

Ahrendts and Christopher Bailey have taken (Burberry) back to its pure heritage.”

Ahrendts bought back 23 licenses that Burberry had sold to another companies, which had meant other firms could use its signature check on products such as disposable nappies for dogs. “I feel like I spent my first few years here buying back the company – not the most pleasant or creative task,” she said. “But we had to do it. If you can’t control everything, you can’t control anything, not really.”

Just like Cook didn’t acquire Beats solely for its margins on headphones, he did not bring in Ahrendts simply because she understands how to optimize profits per square foot.

A New Apple Design Template

I believe we are on the cusp of a product explosion at Apple. Given the new hires and acquisitions, I think a design explosion is also percolating inside Apple.

Just look at the talent.

This is a new Apple and one person, not even one team, can design every product for every market segment. Is Ive really best for each of these — or all of them?

  • Tablets and laptops
  • iWatch and wearables
  • iPhone cases and accessories
  • The look and feel of CarPlay — including built-in hardware — in vehicles ranging from a Mercedes AMG to a Chevrolet
  • iBeacons. iPods. Beats.
  • iPhone (all versions)

Putting Ive in charge of all of this is like putting Elvis in movies. Suboptimal results all around. Cook knows this. Therefore, he brought in significant talent from the outside. Ahrendts, Iovine, Dre, men and women with design experience in watches, fitness bands and wearables. Men and women with a keen, proven ability to attract Chinese consumers. Those with a keen ability to attract urban youth. Those who desire fashion and those who demand function.

Prediction: The iconic look and feel of Apple products will likely no longer be the single, driving element behind the company’s hardware. Rather, the depth of its integration to the iPhone. The days of ‘universal’ Apple products designed to satisfy everyone are coming to an end.

The future Apple will release some duds, no doubt, but I think there will mostly be an incredible range of beautiful, functional products. 

Microsoft Removed Chesterton’s Fence

On Saturday, I explained why The Smartphone Is Not Merging With the PC. Apple and Google are moving in almost opposite directions from one another. But Microsoft? Their personal computing design philosophy is taking them nowhere fast. And one of the reasons for this failure in design is Microsoft is guilty of removing Chesterton’s Fence.

Chesterton’s fence is the principle that you should never take a fence down until you know the reason why it was put up.

The paraphrased quotation, was ascribed to Gilbert Keith Chesterton by John F. Kennedy in a 1945 notebook. The correct quotation is from Chesterton’s 1929 book, The Thing, in the chapter entitled, “The Drift from Domesticity”

      In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it. ~


For a decade, Microsoft tried, and failed, to master the tablet form factor. In April 2010, Apple introduced the iPad. In less than six months, Apple had sold more tablets than Microsoft had sold in the previous ten years. How could this be?


Apple built a Chesterton’s fence between the desktop and the tablet. The desktop used a mouse to enter pixel specific input. The tablet used a finger to enter touch input. Each form of input was separate, one from the other.

Remember, the iPad — especially in comparison to the Windows’ tablets that had preceded it — was wildly successful. However, Microsoft treated that success with utter disdain. They gaily came upon Apple’s method of using separate inputs for separate form factors and said: “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” They did not “go away and think”, they simply took the fence down without knowing the reason why it was put up in the first place.

Bill Gates’ Interview

The truth is actually a little more ominous than this. Listen to what Bill Gates had to say in this 2007 AllThingsD interview conducted by Walt Mossberg:

      MOSSBERG: What’s your device in five years that you’ll rely on the most.

GATES: I don’t think you’ll have one device…

I think you’ll have a full-screen device that you can carry around and you’ll do dramatically more reading off of that – yeah, I believe in the tablet form factor…

…and then you’ll have the device that fits in your pocket…

…and then we’ll have the evolution of the portable machine. And the evolution of the phone will both be extremely high volume, complementary–that is, if you own one, you’re more likely to own the other.

Sounds a lot like the iPad and the iPhone, right? And it doesn’t sound at all like the 2-in-1 Frankenstein’s monster Microsoft is trying to foist upon its unsuspecting customers.


The truth is, Microsoft didn’t take down Chesterton’s fence because they didn’t know any better. They took it down DESPITE knowing better. They took it down because they had to — because Apple’s separation of desktop and tablet inputs conflicted with Microsoft’s Windows business model. And having now removed the fence, Microsoft is seeing why it was put there in the first place. And so, in closing, the principle of Chesterton’s fence remains:

Never take a fence down until you know the reason why it was put up.

The Smartphone Is The Computer

I have spent the past three weeks in Detroit, a city possessing a rich history and an unremitting present. The vagaries of Silicon Valley count for little here. When I heard a young man ask — for real — if the Samsung Galaxy S5 was an iPhone or an Android, I knew there was much to glean if I simply put my smartphone down and listened.

Here then are my thoughts, insights and observations from the past one score and one day…

There are no smartphone wars. Rather, just amazing, affordable and truly expansive opportunity. Android versus iPhone means nothing to nearly everyone I speak with.

It is hard to overstate just how much television will be disrupted by the combination of children, tablets and YouTube. Free, always accessible content uniquely tailored to their own self-driven interests, available from any location is now possible — and the young will accept nothing less.

Facebook, not smartphones, not telcos, not automobiles, not Disney or ESPN, is connecting the world. Facebook is the new oil. If there is any ‘next Steve Jobs,’ it is Mark Zuckerberg. For whatever confluence of reasons, Zuckerberg divined the power of social media from the start, just as Jobs did with computing. No matter how rich, no matter how many struggles, I expect Zuckerberg to devote the remainder of his life to Facebook and all it represents.

There is middling outrage over the Facebook ‘user emotion’ study. As for me, this represents little more than A/B testing. In fact, I’m more angry over the iPhone keyboard. It’s so terrible. Is this some sort of secret Apple study? I mean, what other possible reason could there be?

Sheryl Sandberg

I am in the place where cars and mass production altered the course of humanity. Now, it is smartphones, social media, mapping, and code; these are re-making the planet as much as the automobile did in the 20th century. We are at the start of a new future. That’s just awesome.

I was often asked the best way to become a professional writer. It’s such an easy question to answer.

Marry well.

Oh, and should you be so fortunate to have an opportunity to write about what you love, for an organization with no concern for page views and provocation, as I am at Tech.pinions, then do not fritter away such a blessing.

I first learned about the SCiO from Techpinions. Point this device at a piece of fruit for example, and it will tell you what it is and even provide data on its composition, such as how much fat and carbs the item contains. Every single time I read more about this device, I think it is absolute magic. I told so many people about it that I now desperately hope it works as advertised.


I have nothing but good things to say about the Amazon Fire Phone. Yet, I can’t possibly recommend it to anyone. Why would I? In the US, at least, there is almost no reason to recommend any smartphone other than the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone faces a similar fate as Amazon’s Fire. Fair or not, can you imagine any outcome for Windows Phone other than failure? How does Microsoft start over? What amazing technologies, hardware and combination of services can they possibly deliver to make the world care about a device that is not iPhone or Android? I do not have the answers.


If I were in charge of Microsoft I would simply continue to make quality devices, offering great Nokia design, great Nokia imaging, incorporating Skype, OneDrive, HERE, Office and other Microsoft-owned products and services. Plodding along, hoping more and more Android vendors exit the business, picking up the scraps, all while leveraging my enterprise install base and security, identity and productivity tools, hoping users discover my superior value.

It won’t help. The smartphone market is lost to Microsoft.

The screen market, however, is barely in its infancy. Microsoft should forget smartphones and focus instead on screens. Screens will become like power outlets, we only notice them when they cannot be found.

Perhaps no company — not Apple, not even Google — possesses the breadth of services Microsoft offers. The problem, of course, is these services are not exposed for all the world to use. They are locked inside unwanted PCs, shoved inside tablet abominations, buried beneath the content we actually seek from our Xbox systems, sold mostly to IT directors, attached to products and platforms we do not need, and hidden behind an incomprehensible UI. Microsoft has built an anti-moat around its services, not locking us in but keeping everyone out.


The World Cup has introduced to millions the joys of live sports streamed to our smartphones and tablets. This is so in Detroit and around the country. It has never been more clear we all want to watch what we want to watch when we want to watch it where we want to watch it and on the device we want to watch it on. This is simple, obvious and unstoppable. It’s only a matter of time before we have a difficult time explaining to our progeny how it ever could have been anything else.


Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook very happily took part in the San Francisco Pride Parade. Also, Hobby Lobby successfully won the right to provide only certain forms of contraception for its employees. What do these have in common?

Values equal profits.

Companies are publicly declaring their values, even going to court to defend and promote their values. This is only start. The technologies of Silicon Valley are breaking down barriers, bringing corporations to their knees and empowering individuals and groups around the world. With smartphones in hand, with continuous, real time, location-aware connectivity always available, we become our own corporations — with Uber, AirBnB and others merely pointing the way. We will work for ourselves and we will live by our values.

This is good. But it will be messy. Very messy.


Hype aside, can you envision a situation where you use Bitcoin over, say, your iPhone ‘wallet’ linked to your secure iTunes payment data? iPhone offers ease of use and peace of mind. That’s a powerful combination. Still worse for Bitcoin, is that it is essentially digital cash in a world addicted to easy credit. Learn about the blockchain. Bitcoin itself is merely a bystander.

Given Android’s headstart in wearables, it’s hard to see Apple winning any wearable app wars. Given the limitations of its market reach, it’s similarly difficult to see Apple winning the “smart home” market without buying its way in. Sonos would be a good start.

Smartphones are borderline magical. That said, the iPhone 5s battery and the HTC One (M8) camera are embarrassingly bad.

In the past week, I’ve rented two movies from iTunes. I failed to finish both in the first sitting and was not able to watch either until after 24 hours later. iTunes refused, insisting the rental period had expired. This was true, though did not mitigate my anger. I may abandon iTunes rentals altogether. The lure of non-legal downloading is strong.


How much of Yahoo’s Alibaba riches is Marissa Mayer prepared to spend to get us to visit Yahoo? I suspect all of it. Nowhere I go does Yahoo seem to matter.

Idle prediction: Apple will not kill off the iPhone 5/c/s form factor this year, nor will Apple offer three simultaneous iPhone form factors. Yes, that means I am predicting only one large-display iPhone.

Not a prediction, just a thought experiment: In 2024, when a chid is born, they will be assigned either an Android or an iPhone. This will control everything.

There will be over 1 billion (American) Android activations this year, and several hundred million (Chinese) Android (AOSP) activations. Android is a stunning success story. All those involved in Android have long since earned our respect. That said, some analysts, bloggers and even industry insiders still have not grasped the obvious: Smartphones are the first screen. Smartphones are the primary computer.


The CEO of Yahoo is female. The CEO of HP is female. The #2 at Facebook is female. A man runs Android, the world’s most popular OS. He is from India. The CEO of Microsoft is from India. The tech sector points the way forward not only with its products.

Be smart. Work hard. That’s true everywhere.

Losing My Apple Religion. Seeking Salvation At WWDC.

I have crazy-high expectations for Apple’s worldwide developer conference. I expect, at minimum:

  • An iPhone phablet
  • iPad split-screen multi-tasking, necessary for the enterprise, awesome for gaming
  • Touch ID APIs to support mobile payments
  • Seamless inter-app communications
  • Apps that can actually push data onto the home screen — because we are adults and this is the 21st century
  • 25GB free iCloud storage per device

That’s just for starters.

What I mostly expect from WWDC is neither new products nor long-overdue enhancements but rather, affirmation. Too often of late it appears that:

  • Ecosystem trumps product
  • Brand usurps technology
  • Growth precedes usability
  • Margin before accessibility

Does anyone else feel this way?

The creeping doubts refuse to leave — even as I happily work on my MacBook, play on my iPad and yearn for that large screen iPhone.

WWDC Pilgrimage

Today, we mark our annual pilgrimage to WWDC. We learn of the many new products, the updates to Apple’s operating systems, extensions to the platform, the new and better paths to monetize content and services. Everything, no doubt, will be better than before, better than what can be had anywhere else.

That should be enough. Why is it not?

Because we long time users — the Apple faithful — have always held Apple to a higher, more personal standard. Apple is more than a business, even as it has become the world’s biggest business. Why else would we care so much about a developer’s conference?

Apple will never again be run by Steve Jobs. Pirate Apple has become Corporate Apple. Understood. Nonetheless, we want Apple, more so than any other company, and no matter how big, how global, how rich it becomes, to stay motivated not by profits but by an absolute and unwavering:

  • commitment to innovation

Even as iPhone implants itself at the center of our computing life, we expect Apple to:

  • disrupt everything

Is this true of today’s Apple? WWDC will affirm our faith, or dash it.

Clearly, we hold Apple to an impossible standard, not merely a higher one. If Elon Musk can build a reusable space capsule capable of ferrying astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station, why can’t Apple? Why must Apple spend the equivalent of 150 Dragon V2 spacecraft on a single headphone company?

dragon v2

These are the wrong questions.

Apple cannot do everything, cannot be everything. It’s simply unfair and unproductive to make Apple our litmus test upon which to judge all technological advancement and innovation. They make computing products and services. Nonetheless, we can’t help but demand Apple, especially Apple, relentlessly innovate, incite countless new revolutions, lift humanity to ever greater heights, with little more than screens that connect us to the world and connect us to our talents, the parts known and the parts yet-to-be discovered.

Believe Different

Belief sustained the Apple faithful through the dark times. It is this same belief that is now called into question. We want badly to believe in today’s Apple, and not merely admire its many products.

We want to believe blocking our messages was a bug, not hubris.

We want to believe China is not just about more billions, but about bringing the best of American technology to the world.

We want to believe CarPlay and “HomePlay” and “HealthBook” and Passbook are about making our lives simpler, better, not merely add-ons to enrich the ecosystem.

We want to believe that positioning the iPhone at the center of our digital life is empowering, not lock-in.

We come to WWDC to be inspired.  

WWDC faithful

One Of A Trillion

As Apple continues along its inexorable path toward a $1,000,000,000,000 valuation, we hope the company remains personally connected with each of us, somehow.

In a world of big data and globe-hopping algorithms, driverless cars and autonomous bots, we expect Apple, more than any other organization, to power personal connections and accelerate human ingenuity throughout the world. We want it all to just work, exactly as we desire, even as the company extends across a billion customers.

That Apple will introduce more and better devices and services at WWDC is a given. Success is assured. The iOS moat is already so wide, so deep, as to make the company practically unassailable. The company’s shimmering glass headquarters will soon rise over Cupertino, its future set for decades to comes.

It’s not enough. Not for me, not for many of us, I suspect.

Fair? Of course not. But past performance influences present expectations. Which is why I say: Be a crazy one once again, Apple. Show us you are fully prepared to disrupt yourself just as you gleefully disrupt the world. Make us believe that you do now and always will think different.

WWDC has begun. The floor is yours, Apple. No pressure.

The Terrible Tablet Tantrum, Part 2


Yesterday, in The Terrible Tablet Tantrum, Part 1, I raged at the notion that tablets were dead and enumerated facts that refuted that erroneous contention. Today, I take a deep dive into the two philosophical questions that seem to be perplexing Tablet Naysayers the most:

— Is the Tablet good enough to replace the PC?
— Is the Smartphone good enough to replace the Tablet?

The Tablet Is a Lousy PC/Smartphone

Many of the Tablet Naysayers justify their disdain for the Tablet form factor by pointing out the Tablet makes for a lousy PC or, on the other hand, it makes for a poor Smartphone. Jared Sinclair, in his article entitled, “Giving Up On the iPad” sums this argument up nicely:

      The iPad can’t get better at these tasks without becoming either more like an iPhone or more like a Mac. For the iPad to become just as good as the iPhone, it would need to be smaller, equipped with a better camera, and sold with carrier subsidies and mobile data plans. But this would turn it into “just a big iPhone.” So this can’t be iPad’s future.

For the iPad to become just as good as the Mac, it would need to be larger, faster, equipped with expansion ports, and powered by software that supports legacy features like windowed applications and an exposed file system. But this would turn the iPad into a Macbook Pro with a touch screen and a detachable keyboard. This can’t be iPad’s future, either.

I can’t find a way out of an uncomfortable conclusion. In order for the iPad to fulfill its supposed Post-PC destiny, it has to either become more like an iPhone or more like a Mac. But it can’t do either without losing its raison d’être. ~ Jared Sinclair


The future of the iPad is not to be a better Mac. ~ Ben Thompson

Here’s the thing the Tablet Naysays don’t seem to grok. THE TABLET DOES NOT ASPIRE TO BE A NOTEBOOK PC. The iPad is not, nor does it want to be, a Notebook replacement. It has much higher standards than that.

Further, nobody (outside of the fine folks living in Redmond) buys a Tablet in order to use it as a Notebook replacement. If anything, people buy Tablets in order to AVOID using it as a Notebook PC.

Timothy Leary once said:

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.

Similarly, Tablets that seek to be equal with PCs lack ambition. The Tablet is so much more than the PC — why would it try to emulate it?

With the right approach, an iPad can do anything. You just have to stop thinking like a desktop user. ~ Darren Davies (@darrendotcom)


      “A smartphone is a great device for what I call ‘guerrilla usage’ — many different impromptu activities you can quickly perform with one hand, while walking, when idle at a bus stop or waiting somewhere, etc. All activities that make a smartphone the best tool for its (relatively) small size and practicality (one example for all: taking photos). But when I’m out and about with just my iPhone, for example, and I have time to sit and relax in a café, I’d like to have a bigger device for longer sessions of whatever I feel like doing (browsing, email, reading, writing, etc.) and the iPhone is not enough — and a 5-inch smartphone wouldn’t be enough either, sorry.” ~

Riccardo Mori

Let’s get the discussion of screen sizes back in perspective. People DO NOT WANT smaller tablet screens. They TOLERATE smaller screens.

People want the largest damn screen they can have. But they don’t want a large screen at the price of pocketability (If Microsoft can make up words, then so can I), one hand use, weight and inconvenience. When pocketability is not at issue, people choose the larger screen most every time.


The truth about Tablets: We’re still figuring out how they fit. ~ Ryan Faas

People keep forgetting the modern Tablet is only four years old. It’s barely past the toddler stage. It has a lot of growing left to do and it has a lot left to show us.

That’s why I love what we do. Because we make these tools and they’re constantly surprising us in new ways what we can do with them. ~ Steve Jobs


The role of the Tablet is, in part, misunderstood because we metaphorically sandwich it between the Smartphone and the PC categories.


However the tablet category is not bound by either of those categories. The Smartphone, Tablet and PC are on a one dimensional computing axis. If you add another axis and label it “life activities”, the Tablet has far greater breadth and depth than either the Smartphone or the Notebook will ever have.

The whole idea of the Macintosh was a computer for people who want to use a computer rather than learn how to use a computer. ~ Steve Jobs

You have to learn how to use a Notebook. You have to learn how to use a smartphone. (If you don’t think that’s true, try handing a Smartphone to your grandmother.) I believe the ideal of a computer we don’t have to learn has (almost) been achieved in the iPad.

The older people all want to know how it does what it does, but the younger people just want to know what it can do. ~ Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs made that statement in the eighties. I think it no longer holds. With today’s modern tablets, children of all ages no longer ask what it does, they simply ask what it can do.


Normally we do not so much look at things as overlook them. ~ Alan Watts

What a crock this whole “The Tablet Is A Lousy Notebook” argument is. Have you seen the iPad’s satisfaction numbers? They’re consistently in the nineties. People wouldn’t feel that way about a device that left them wanting. It is only geeks like us that find the Tablet wanting because what we really want is something other than the tablet. (This geek tragedy of asking the tablet to be what it is not and never was intended to be is embodied in Microsoft’s latest Surface efforts.)

The Tablet Is Altogether Unnecessary

Of late there has been a huge groundswell for the idea that the Tablets are unnecessary, were always unnecessary and will soon be absorbed by the PC from the above and disrupted by the Smartphone from below. Here are some quotes culled from yesterday’s article that support this contention.

The (Smartphone and the Tablet) are nearly identical in their technical specifications. They’re constructed from similar materials. They have the same operating system, chips, and sensors. It seems they differ only in size. ~ Jared Sinclair

While good at some of the things and pretty to look at, iPad (and other tablets) aren’t particularly useful. ~ Javed Anwer

Young people are growing up on the mobile phone as their primary computing device, which has fundamentally changed the way they use and think about the internet. Tablets are simply unnecessary for them… ~ Dustin Curtis

Young people don’t use tablets because they don’t see them as necessary ~ Owen Williams

Contention: people are discovering that tablets are not really a thing, and that in general, the gap between phone and PC barely exists. ~ Peter Bright (@DrPizza)

As battery life gets better and screen sizes grow, it’s likely tablets and smartphones will eventually just converge into one device that can be simply slipped into a pocket, instead of two devices that overlap each other in many areas. ~ Owen Williams

I don’t think tablets will ever disappear, but for mass-market use, they’re going to keep getting squeezed from both sides: larger-screened phones and smaller, lighter laptops. The percentage of people whose primary computing device is a tablet may have already peaked

Over the next few years, I suspect an increasing number of people will choose not to replace old tablets, instead just choosing to use their phones for everything… ~ Marco Arment

I think the future of the iPad is for it to disappear, absorbed at the low end by iPhones with large displays and at the high end by Macs running a more iOS-like flavor of OS X. Perhaps it won’t disappear completely. After all, for certain niche uses – especially those listed above – the iPad is great because it’s neither a phone nor a PC. But these are still niche uses and can’t possibly sustain the long, bountiful future that many hope the iPad has. ~ Jared Sinclair


To understand why the Tablet is not going to go away, let’s first look at how it arrived.

The modern PC arrived in the late 1970’s. It wasn’t as powerful or as versatile as the Mini-computers that preceded it, but it was much cheaper, could sit on your desk, and could be used by an individual. Thus the term “personal” entered the lexicon of computers, which gave us the Personal Computer (PC) we now know, love and love to hate.

The modern Notebook arrived approximately 20 years later in the late nineties. It too wasn’t as powerful or as versatile as the desktop PC that had preceded it, but its one great strength was transportability — you could pick it up, take it with you and use it at work or at home or on your way to and from work and home. It disrupted the PC, just as much as the PC had disrupted the Mini-computer before it.

In 2007, the iPhone arrived. Most people view it as a mobile phone replacement, but it’s really a pocket sized PC. It was clearly inferior to the Notebook computer in many ways but it wasn’t just transportable — it was pocketable as well. Pocketable made it mobile. Cellular antennas made it always connected to the internet. This changed everything.

In 2010, Steve Jobs famously introduced the iPad tablet and asked whether there was room for a new category of device between the Smartphone and the Notebook. The answer, obviously, was yes, but it is important to understand why so many people originally answered that question with a resounding, “NO!”

Study the past, if you would divine the future. ~ Confucius

The Tablet As A Separate Category From The Notebook

The benefit of an iPad was its simplicity. The touch user interface made computing accessible to the nine month old, the ninety nine year old and every age in between.

[pullquote]The computer geek defines “everything” as “everything a computer can do”. The Normal defines “everything” as “everything I can do.”[/pullquote]

The PC appeared to be able to do everything an iPad could do and more but only if you use a very stilted definition of what “everything” is. The computer geek defines “everything” as “everything a computer can do”. The Normal defines “everything” as “everything I can do.” The Notebook did more computer tasks than did the Tablet and it did them better. However, the Tablet did more life tasks than the Notebook could ever dream of doing.

The things we humans wish to do are so much more varied: sing, play, dance, even, I suppose, make spreadsheets. It is a spectrum, of which traditional “compute” activities are only a small part. ~ Ben Thompson

When the PC was the one and only computer we had, it was a generalist. It literally defined what could and could not be done on a computer.

When the iPad arrived, the PC became a specialist. The PC is really, really good at spreadsheets and tasks that require more processing power and tasks that require multiple or larger screens. The iPad — with its simpler and more approachable user interface — became the new general computer. It couldn’t do the edge cases nearly as well as the PC or the Smartphone, but it could do a whole lot of things that were never, ever, envisioned by the Notebook and it did them with a much shallower learning curve.

The Tablet Is The New General Purpose Computer. ~ Matthew Panzarino (@panzer)

The Tablet As A Separate Category From The Smartphone

We can take the very same analysis we just used to explain why there was room for a Tablet category beneath the PC to explain why there is room for a Tablet category above the Smartphone.

The benefit of the Tablet is still its simplicity. The larger screen real estate makes most computer tasks far easier to perform on a Tablet than on a Smartphone. That is the main reason why older people quickly gravitate to the Tablet while the young — who are more nimble and more willing to tolerate the inconvenience of a smaller screen (and who have less money) — gravitate to the smartphone. (But don’t be fooled into assuming the young prefer the Smartphone over the tablet. As soon as they enter the workforce, their tablet use begins to increase.)

At first blush, a Smartphone appears to be able to do everything a Tablet can do and more but at the cost of additional complexity. This is a totally acceptable tradeoff to make when we need to have our computer (Smartphone) with us at all times. Conversely, it is a totally UNACCEPTABLE tradeoff to make when no tradeoff is required, i.e., when we’re at home or when we otherwise have access to both our Smartphone AND our Tablet.

[pullquote] We choose efficiency when we must. We choose effectiveness when we can.[/pullquote]

Let me put this another way: Smartphones excel at mobility and efficiency. Tablets excel at effectiveness. We choose efficiency when we must. We choose effectiveness when we can.


The tablet Naysayers are simply wrong. The facts are against them and the analysis is against them too. Remember when the Tablet was born, both the Smartphone and the Notebook already existed. Why the Naysayers now contend no one really wants to use a tablet when consumers just spent the last four years throwing their dollars at Tablets is beyond me. What do the Naysayers think — the people who bought tablets were too stupid to realize they could have purchased Smartphones or PCs instead?

I return to my mother. She first looked at the iPad as cool, but foreign. Now you can barely pry it out of her hands. It is her computer. ~ MG Siegler

People adore their tablets. If you think the tablet is going away, it is because you think too highly of thinking and you don’t think enough about the awesome power unleashed by feelings.

Peering Inside The Apple Rumors Prism

Steve Jobs fully understood the value in surprise, the wonder of magic, and the awe a beautiful, functional, highly personal computing device can evoke when unwrapped for the very first time. Rumors, particularly a stream of unceasing rumors of all kinds, tend to sully this ideal.

Not much can be done about it, unfortunately. Not only because Jobs is now gone but because Apple is far, far bigger than it has ever been. The company now comprises ten of thousands of employees, a massive retail chain, strategic partnerships with nearly every big name in media, relationships with automakers and contractors by the score. The Apple ecosystems spans nearly half a billion active users, a global supply chain that touches 4 million workers, hundreds of suppliers, and 18 worldwide final assembly plants. Leaks and rumors are inevitable.

Apple suppliers

In addition to leaks, there may be story plants, trial balloons, media spin, hurt feelings from those let go, false leads from those gunning for a promotion, snapshots from an anonymous line worker in China, misdirections from a savvy executive and slip ups by trusted employees. Given the scope of today’s Apple, shutting down the rumor-media industrial complex is simply not possible.

The end result of all of this?

We don’t know what we don’t know and we aren’t always sure what we do know. To be sure, all the rumors and all the talk may help whet our appetite for the next great Apple product. It can also lead to far too many brain cells preoccupied with even the most ridiculous Apple tales.

For example…iRing. Yes, leading Apple sites have written about and thoroughly dissected the very real possibility of a computerized ring, forged by Apple, which could be, it is presumed, a means to support digital payments, possibly serve as a remote control for the wearer’s music collection, and all manner of other nonsensical functions.

This will not happen. There will be no iRing. None. If for no other reason than should Apple even dare release such a product, every sneer, every cutting remark made by any and every Apple hater everywhere since the beginning of time would instantly be made whole. I can barely write the word ‘iRing’ without laughing.

I am certain, however, that talk of an iRing will persist.

The Apple Rumor Prism

Like it or not, expect no end to the Apple rumors and tall tales that emerge from the amorphous flotsam the media periodically feasts upon. This is all exacerbated by the fact Apple PR, whom I have been in contact with on many occasions, nearly always refuses to comment on any rumor. Realistically, they have little other choice.

Which begs the question: Is there a way to pre-determine the veracity of a Apple rumor?

(Wait for it…)


The best we have so far are a few very well connected Apple writers, such as Jim Dalrymple, who can deliver a yay or nay but only at certain times and only for certain rumors. With Apple, rumors are like weeds, and no one person can stomp down all of them.

For example, thanks to the ongoing court battles with Samsung, we recently learned Apple has been rather concerned over the sales growth of large display smartphones, which it does not yet offer.


Surprise! Days later, we are treated to pictures of new iPhone molds suggesting a larger iPhone! Is this a plant from Apple? A false lead? Or some kid in Taiwan not very good with Photoshop? We don’t know. Worse, we tend to latch onto any data point, such as it is, that confirms our biases or affirms our hopes.

What then, is the best means of determining if a rumor is even merely likely when Apple refuses to say and the best Apple sources can’t (yet) verify? I focus on what I do know with a high degree of certainty and run the latest rumor through that prism. This may lead to some dead ends or errors, but it typically keeps me on the right trail.

I know with a high degree of certainty that…

  • Tim Cook is firmly in charge of Apple
  • Jony Ive is firmly in charge of the look and feel of Apple products — all of it, inside and out
  • Tim Cook has essentially removed Jony Ive from the bowels of the Apple design labs and made him a quite respectable SVP, which almost certainly means Ive won’t be as intimately involved with each and every product, manufacturing process and innovative material going forward
  • Cook’s big name hires have been in retail and branding, though he’s also hired veterans from the fitness and medical devices industry
  • Apple works on products and prototypes for years before it believes everything is just right for launch
  • iPhone margins are massive and counter to the direction of the marketplace
  • Apple cannot go down market 1
  • Apple is comfortable with offering seemingly confusing choices for consumers (e.g. iPad Mini RD vs iPad 2 vs iPad 3, I think)
  • Core Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad and the Mac are typically replaced by users every 1-5 years, and many of these are not junked but rather re-sold by the original customer or a third party
  • Apple possesses a near religious fealty to the notion of continuous product improvement
  • Optimizing and innovating all hardware in pursuit of product improvement — and product margins — is hardwired into the company’s DNA
  • Apple’s relationships with IT decision makers and procurement personnel in government, the enterprise and businesses with more than 20 employees is woefully lacking
  • Apple is worth more than $450 billion and is sitting on approximately $160 billion in cash and equivalents

These guide me whenever I dare pick apart an Apple rumor or chase down the latest crazy Apple tale.

Caution: these ‘knowns’ are not equal!

The majority of Apple’s revenues come from the iPhone. The addressable market for the iPhone is radically larger than the market for any other extant Apple product. Each fact from above, even if entirely true in isolation, is not inviolable should it ever even potentially bring harm to iPhone sales and iPhone margins.

iphone revenues

The Apple Rumor Mill

Running rumors though this iPhone prism serves as my handy guide in understanding if a rumor has legitimacy or not.

For example:

An iWatch should almost certainly integrate with (and be made most useful by) the iPhone. An iWatch will likely demand a keen sense of style, luxury branding and retail sales savvy. Given what I know, iWatch rumors are absolutely within the bounds of certainty.

An Apple television would not be appreciably enhanced by the iPhone. Televisions are kept in use far longer than five years. There’s little to justify this rumor, no matter its persistence.

A line of wearables or ‘smart’ accessories that all tie back to the iPhone? Absolutely. These enhance the iPhone’s value and should extend iPhone sales.

That Apple has to do anything this month, this quarter, this fiscal year to ensure its success? Complete nonsense.

A revolutionary new product that just might “disrupt” the iPhone? No. Repeat after me: No. For Apple to even consider disrupting its golden iPhone goose would not only be foolish but darn close to a dereliction of duty. Buttressing this is another fact: there is nothing on the horizon, nothing at all, even remotely ready to replace the iPhone (or any high end smartphone). Nothing. Not Google Glass. Not Oculus Rift. Nothing. We are in the early days of the smartphone market. Do not make me repeat myself. 

Within a week of reading this, probably sooner, you will hear yet another rumor about Apple. Before considering it, pro or con, first make sure you run it through your list of knowns. Most of the time, you will immediately recognize the rumor as utter nonsense. On rare occasions however and no matter the source, you will stumble upon a rumor more true than not.

Such is life for those that follow Apple Inc and the hundreds of millions who love its products. The true story of Apple does not begin or end at product launch. Those are merely two data points in an ongoing and very rewarding chase.

1. [Feel free to counter my claim Apple cannot go down market. Remember, however, even the ‘cheap’ iPhone, the iPhone 5c, is one of the most expensive on the market, and note also the major Apple retail hires come from luxury brand companies.]

Rebuttal: 10 Reasons To Not Buy A Windows Tablet

ZDNet posted an article entitled: 10 Reasons To Buy A Windows Tablet Instead Of The iPad Or Android.

[pullquote]If you haven’t got anything good to say about anyone, come sit by me. ~ Alice Roosevelt Longworth[/pullquote]

The ZDNet article proves to me you’re never too old to learn something stupid. The justifications used to support the proposition one should buy a Microsoft tablet are as stupid as they get.

Let’s review, shall we?

1) It’s all about choice

    “Having options available is always a good thing…”

That just ain’t so. Options don’t matter unless they’re GOOD options or, more specifically, unless they’re better than the options already available. Benedict Evans is fond of saying that some people suffer from “Technology Tourette’s” — a baffling disease that causes some technology enthusiasts to grow neck beards and shout out random tech memes like “Open!” and “Choice!” at inappropriate times. That seems to be what’s occurring here.

Choice is not an end, it’s a means and it’s the quality of one’s choices — not just the availability of choice — that matters. If you demonstrate Windows tablets are better, fine. But just claiming they’re different from what’s already available doesn’t cut it as an argument.

2) Plug it in

    “Windows tablets are full PCs. Most can do anything that their bigger siblings can do, and that includes letting owners plug peripherals in to do stuff.”

[pullquote]When it’s three o’clock in Cupertino, it’s still 1995 in Redmond.[/pullquote]

That argument is like a marshmallow — easy to chew, but hard to swallow. ((Inspired by Alberto Nikas))

First, most everything listed in the article can now be done wirelessly — no cables required.

Second, didn’t Microsoft just spend the last decade stirring up apathy about the wonders of having a full PC on a tablet? How’d that work out for them?

Third, didn’t the iPad become a computing phenomenon without all those cables?

160_F_31117682_7sZOFRNgAwbAjqfA4bMyMcFR9KPkmkekMicrosoft claiming their tablets are equipped with the full PC experience is like a hooker claiming she is equipped with a chastity belt. It’s neither a feature nor a benefit.

3) Keeps getting better

    “Windows 8 wasn’t that great on tablets when first introduced, but that’s a thing of the past.”

I think we can agree. The past is over. ~ George W. Bush

That reminds me of a joke:

Morty comes home to find his wife and his best friend, Lou, naked together in bed. Just as Morty is about to open his mouth, Lou jumps out of the bed and says, “Before you say anything, old pal, what are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” ((Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar, Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein ))

So who are you going to believe, ZDNet or your lying eyes?

Apparently the Windows 8 design team believe if two wrongs don’t make a right, try three…or four…or five…

  1. Saying Windows 8 is getting better on tablets is like saying one’s rash isn’t as noticeable anymore (although it still itches like crazy).
  2. Windows 8 is so bad that if it had been introduced 2,000 years ago, it would have been stoned.
  3. Windows 8 is so bad that if it were your lover it would give you an anticlimax. ((Inspired by Scott Roeben))

And Windows RT (also known as “I-have-no-idea-what-they’re-calling-it-now?”)? Well, that reminds me of another joke.

Q: What do you call a dog with no legs?
A: It doesn’t matter because it’s not going to come anyway.

It doesn’t matter what you call Windows RT because it’s a dog and its got no legs.

4) Double duty

    “Many tablets are available in hybrid form, a slate (screen) that plugs into a dock that turns it into a laptop. These are tablets when you want one and laptops when you need one, as Microsoft is fond of telling us.”

Double “doody” devices are a great problem, masquerading as a great good.

If you’re on a camping trip, you might want to use a Swiss Army knife. But if you’re at home, you won’t ever use it to carve the turkey, open a can or a bottle of wine. You’ll have better tools available.

Similarly, if you’re a road warrior, you may want a two-in-one. Like the Swiss Army knife, it’s a convenient, but compromised, tool. If sales totals mean anything to you — and they certainly mean something to the rest of the world — it appears that even most road warriors would prefer to carry both a tablet and a notebook rather than endure the compromises inherent in a hybrid computing device.

I think well-known-tech-reviewer, Abraham Lincoln, may have best summed up the problem with hybrids:

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee. ~ Abraham Lincoln

5) Then there’s Office…

    “A lot has been said about the need for Microsoft Office on tablets, and while there are decent alternatives to Office on the other tablet platforms, there’s no solution as complete as the genuine article.”

First, many — nay most — do not need to use Office.

Second, there are numerous Office alternatives available.

Third, if you need to use Office, you’ll be much happier using a notebook than a tablet. Office is not optimized for touch.

Fourth, Microsoft is soon going to bring Office to the iPad.

So what was the point ZDNet was trying to make?

6) Do some real work

    “You hear a lot of discussion about what constitutes real work, and while I can do my work on any tablet, some need Windows.”

ZDNet conflates two arguments here. If you need to use Windows, then by all means, buy a Windows machine. (Although some contend “The Best Windows PC Is An Apple Mac.”) However, Windows desktop programs aren’t optimized for touch, so a notebook would probably be more appropriate than a tablet.

If you really need to know if your computer is doing “real work,” then first you have to know what the definition of “work” is and even before that, you need to know what the definition of “definition” is.

“Definition” is “an exact statement or description of the nature, scope, or meaning of something.”

You use a definition to define an object. You do not use an object to define a definition.

Defining “real work” by comparing it to what one can do on a PC or Windows tablet is the same argument — and the same erroneous argument — PC aficionado’s used to make when they contended tablets weren’t “real” computers. They looked at their PCs, listed all of its attributes and then excluded from the definition of computing anything that didn’t have all of those attributes. This is akin to looking at a cow and claiming anything that doesn’t have all of the characteristics of a cow isn’t a mammal.

“Work” is an “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.”

The “purpose or result” is defined by the user, not by the tool. It’s the user, not Microsoft, who gets to define whether the tool does the “real work” or not and the fact 95% of all Enterprise software on tablets runs on iOS should put to rest Microsoft’s pompous contention that non-Window’s tablets don’t do “real work.”

Unbelievably, here’s the screenshot that ZDNet used as support for their claim one can do “real work” on a Windows tablet.


Yikes! If that’s what ZDNet means by “real work”, you can keep it. ZDNet couldn’t have parodied their argument better if they’d tried.

PedalSkatesI suspect if Microsoft had been in the bicycle business at the turn of the last century, they would have offered “pedal skates” as their alternative to Apple’s roller skates, all the while claiming their pedal skates were “real” bicycles because they had “real” tires.

Sigh. It’s a “tired” argument that falls flat. ((There’s probably a RIM joke in there somewhere too.))

7) Lots of apps

Well, that’s just a damn lie. App support for Windows 8 is third of three, so it’s a reason NOT to buy a Windows tablet, not a reason TO buy a Windows Tablet.

One could contend Windows apps are “good enough.” One could contend it, but it still wouldn’t make it so. There are not only huge holes in the Windows lineup, but the apps that are available are often mere shadows of the originals – unoptimized for touch or poorly implemented copycats.

Windows 8 has less apps, the apps it has are less useful and Microsoft is porting its own apps to Apple devices. So how exactly are “apps” a reason to buy Windows tablets?

Microsoft app not only in the Mac App Store, but featured as Editor’s Choice. Different era, I know. Still weird. ~ MG Siegler (@parislemon)


The above ad came out yesterday. Notice anything missing? (Hint: It’s Windows 8.)

8) Run any browser you want

Geez, that’s some awfully weak sauce. Let’s tease out the reality.

First, most users don’t care about multiple browsers on their mobile devices.

Second, most browsers are optimized for their mobile devices. (Tip o’ the hat to @jseths)

Third, the browsers available on Window 8 are not touch enabled. Which kind of puts a serious crimp in the entire contention Windows 8 tablets come with multiple browsers.

Fourth, even the browser users are pulling out of Windows 8.

Fifth, if multiple non-touch optimized browsers are what you really want on your tablet then by all means the two of you should go out and buy a Windows tablet.

Regarding Firefox Metro, you can complain when devs don’t support Metro, but when they do and see no usage, hard to complain if they kill it. ~ Paul Thurrott (@thurrott)

9) Multi-tasking on the screen

    “Those who do two things at once on an iPad or most Android tablets are all too familiar with having to swap between the two app screens. Bouncing back and forth is OK, but it would be much better to have the two apps displayed side-by-side on the tablet screen. Windows tablets have you covered in this regard, as snap view lets you put two apps up at once.”

Well, on the one hand, many apps do not work with snap view. On the other hand, I really like snap view and if it’s a big plus for you, have at it on your Windows tablet. However, I strongly suspect that design-wise, mobile is made for full screen use. As the world-famous designer, Dieter Rams put it: “Less, but better.”

I’m comfortable letting the market act as the judge and jury on this one.

10) Long-term viability

    “Companies come, and companies go, and that’s especially true in the mobile space. Buying into a mobile platform with any device is making a leap of faith that the platform and the company behind it will be around for the long haul.That’s not a concern with a Windows tablet, as Microsoft is certain to be around for a long time.”

[pullquote]He’s a very competitive competitor, that’s the sort of competitor he is. ~ Dorian Williams, horse show commentator[/pullquote]

Whoa, whoa and whoa!

What a bizarre argument. First, saying Microsoft will be around in the long run is not the same thing as saying Windows 8 will be around in the long run.

Innovation is a process. Innovativeness as an attribute of a company is a measure of its processes not its assets. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

Second, saying Microsoft is committed to Windows 8 tablets is not the same as saying Windows 8 tablets will be around in the long run. I’m pretty sure IBM was committed to OS/2, Palm was committed to WebOS, and RIM was committed to Blackberry. The crucial question is not whether Microsoft is committed to Windows 8 but whether the developers are committed and the answer to that question is a resounding “no.”

Guardian: Firefox on Windows 8 Metro only had 1,000 daily users. ~ Charles Arthur (@charlesarthur)

(Perhaps it’s not so much developers are rats deserting a sinking ship as they are ships deserting a sinking rat.)

[pullquote]Microsoft is like the guy at the party who gives everybody cocaine and still nobody likes him. ((Inspired by Jim Samuels))[/pullquote]

Firefox says Windows 8 is a black hole, kills its Metro app ~ Sameer Singh (@sameer_singh17)

Mozilla pulls the plug on ‘Metro’ mode Firefox browser for Windows 8. Windows 8 isn’t a failure? You’re kidding right? ~ Bhaskar Bhat (@bhaskarsb)

Windows Tablets have long-term viability? Au contraire. Windows 8 has the life expectancy of a small boy about to look into a gas tank with a lighted match. ((Inspired by Fred Allen))


There are two kinds of writer: those that make you think, and those that make you wonder. ~ Brian Aldiss

This article makes me wonder what the writer was thinking. Let me put it this way. If this author had been the Captain of the Titanic, he’d deny the ship had hit an iceberg and say they were only stopping to pick up some ice.

[pullquote]Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is that you’re stupid and make bad decisions. ~ Parody Bill Murray (@BiIIMurray)[/pullquote]

The fundamental problem with Windows 8 hasn’t changed: you’re still working in two operating systems at once. And it can’t be “fixed,” it can only be undone.

If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is the ultimate strategy tax. The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world. ((Malcolm Gladwell)). The last thing Microsoft wanted to do was to start anew. They wanted to leverage their existing desktop Windows monopoly. Instead, Windows 8 is an anchor so big it’s sinking not only Microsoft’s mobile hopes but their desktop franchise as well.

Which reminds me of one last joke:

      A magician is working on a cruise ship, but there is one problem. The captain’s parrot watches every show he does, and after figuring out the tricks, the parrot has started yelling out the secrets of how the tricks are done.
The bird says, “Look, it’s not the same hat!” or “Hey! He’s hiding the flowers under the table!”
The magician is enraged. But it’s the captain’s parrot, so he can’t do anything about it.

One day on a long cruise, there is an accident. The boat crashes and sinks. The magician and the parrot find them themselves clinging to the same plank of wood in the middle of the ocean. For days neither says anything. Finally, after a week, with no hope in sight, the parrot says, “Okay, I give up. Where’s the boat?”

[pullquote]Anyone can win, unless there happens to be a second entry. ~ George Ade[/pullquote]

There is no boat. And there is no salvaging of Windows 8 either. You can “parrot” Microsoft’s PR all you want, but it’s like they say:

Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

But Apple Is For Old People! Where iWatch And Apple Have The Last Laugh.

Anybody still recall when Apple’s chief competitors went about mocking the company for being, well, technology designed for older people? Those attacks came to an abrupt end in large part because Apple kept on printing money. I suspect, however, there is a second reason: iWatch.

iWatch may be the perfect personal computer for boomers, seniors and the elderly, yet Apple’s competitors, desperate to prove they are cool, have only now clued into the importance of this demographic. If at all.

Yes, the Apple iWatch does not exist. Rumors abound nonetheless, most insisting either that Apple iWatch will be the greatest computing revolution ever, or the latest batch of prognostication, an odd sort of tamping down of expectations, as if we should prepare ourselves to be disappointed.

Spoiler alert: neither of these groups knows.

We do know, however, that there is a massive, untapped market for an Apple iWatch: older people.

Consider that a device roughly as we imagine the iWatch to be, can at this very moment, serve as a tracking beacon, a camera, a heart monitor, an exercise monitor, pulse oximeter, a voice-based notification service – “time to take your pills” – a non-invasive glucose monitor, and a possibly a method of alerting the wearer to an impending heart attack.

All of which would be extremely valuable not simply to fitness freaks, but to baby boomers, seniors, elderly — certainly anyone over 60.

Bonus spoiler alert: there are a lot of older people. They positively abound in core Apple markets, including China, Japan and the United States.

The Bleeding Edge

Change comes fast to technology. The irony here is that the next insanely great market for computing tech, wearable devices, may reside within the demographic long considered furthest from the bleeding edge: older folks.

About time.

But first, a trip down memory lane.

“Apple is for old people.”

This glib statement has been a surprisingly persistent refrain from the media ever since the rapid mass market ascendency of the iPhone. Over the past 24 months, a “brand perception measurement” firm noted that Apple’s “biggest fans” hail from the older end of the spectrum. Bloomberg was happy to repeat this gospel: “Older people use iPhones, younger people use Samsungs.”

HTC — remember them? — mocked Apple back in 2011:

iPhones are not that cool anymore. We here are using iPhones, but our kids don’t find them that cool anymore.

Samsung famously mocked iPhone’s appeal to the older crowd in a series of blistering televised attacks:

Not wanting to feel left out, Microsoft joined in on the action, wondering if the mean old lady was nonetheless (wink wink) too young to have an iPhone:

As a way to limit Apple’s growth, this line of attack has simply not worked. Indeed, I think this mocking of Apple – and by extension, all their older users – will come back to haunt the perpetrators.  As this Digital Trends analysis reminds us:

Older consumers tend to have more disposable income and be less price sensitive than young consumers.

In addition, older people, happy and content with their iPhones and iPads, may offer Apple a sly path into the enterprise:

Having a positive perception among older consumers can also have indirect benefits to Apple’s business, since older users are more likely to be able to influence purchasing and technology policies and purchasing at schools, businesses, and enterprises.  

The technorati continue to miss the big picture: whether or not “old people” are a natural Apple customer, we keep making more of them. Lots more. Just in the US, we will have 55 million people age 65 and over by the end of the decade. China is already approaching 200 million people aged 60 and older. This number is growing — fast.

What’s Old Is New Again

Note the graphs below documenting the aging of Japan and China, in particular. These aging populations will require innovate support, services and technologies to meet their unique needs.


Breaks down like this: More older people, living longer, possibly living alone, and with a greater need for health (and health monitoring) services. Think of the massive potential of an iWatch or similar device for this group.

Thus, while Apple is aggressively pushing into China, I suspect there is far more at stake than sales of iPhone. As Bloomberg noted last year:

More than two decades of record economic growth turned the Chinese into the world’s top consumers of cars and smartphones.

Yes, yes, smartphones. And yet, that very same Bloomberg report noted:

As the almost 200 million population of over-60s more than doubles in the next 40 years…

Forget talk about Apple building a “phablet” because China consumers will demand it. I can’t help but think an iWatch is the most logical product for Apple to build for China (and beyond). An affordable tracking device that monitors pulse, breathing, glucose, offers reminders, its data instantly synched to the cloud, accessible by health authorities, shareable with children or caregivers, could prove invaluable.

Again, it’s not just in China.

The US is similarly gaining extraordinary numbers of older people, as this PBS report noted:

(Starting in 2011) the first of the estimated 79 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 will turn 65 years old this year, at a rate of 10,000 a day. (emphasis added)

It gets better — if you’re Apple and if you’re working on an iWatch:

The number of people enrolled in Medicare will grow from 47 million in 2010 to roughly 80 million when the last of the baby boomers turns 65 in about two decades, while enrollment in Social Security is expected to rise from 44 million to some 73 million. At the same time, the ratio of workers paying taxes to support the programs to beneficiaries will drop.

Our healthcare industry, and our seniors, are going to be tasked to do more with less. Something like an iWatch, priced under $500, say, could prove a rather innovative means to save money on health testing, monitoring and possibly even visits to the doctor.

The Case For iWatch

It may seem like smartphones are everywhere, but even in the US the latest data shows that less than 20% of people over 65 have a smartphone. Likely, they find little need. But an iWatch, as imagined, could prove to be a near-necessity. Ask yourself: who is best equipped, anywhere in the world, to build a highly functional, reasonably affordable, startlingly intuitive, wearable personal computing device? My money’s on Apple.

Almost a year ago, CEO Tim Cook said “I think the wrist is interesting. I’m wearing this (Nike Fuelband) on my wrist…it’s somewhat natural. But as I said before, I think for something to work here, you first have to convince people it’s so incredible that they want to wear it.”

I do not know if Apple has reached that “incredible” stage yet, nor when they might. But a device that older people can legitimately operate and will use, offering valuable and personalized health data, could prove to be yet another massive market for the company.

I predict the iWatch will usher in a entirely new personal computing paradigm, flipping the early adopter/late adopter convention on its head. For the next phase of computing, build first for the old, that’s the bleeding edge, then let the technology drift out to the rest of the market in due time.

Unified OS Advocates Are Out Of “Touch” With Reality

Last week, Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi and Bud Tribble were interviewed as part of the Mac’s 30th anniversary. They — in no uncertain terms — slammed the door shut on the idea that Apple was planning on merging iOS (the operating system for their phones and tablets) with OS X (the operating system for their notebooks and desktops).

“We don’t waste time thinking, ‘But it should be one [interface]!’ How do you make these [operating systems] merge together?’ What a waste of energy that would be,” Schiller said.

“To say [OS X and iOS] should be the same, independent of their purpose? Let’s just converge, for the sake of convergence? [It’s] absolutely a nongoal,” Federighi said.

“And that”, I thought to myself, “finally puts an end to that discussion.”

Boy, was I wrong.

The Loyal Opposition

Brian S. Hall makes an impassioned case for operating system unification, right here at Tech.Pinions:

I want my various “computers”…to essentially operate as similarly as possible, preferably with a unified user interface and application set across all.

It’s troubling to me that the world’s biggest computer company (Apple) can’t seem to make this work. When I hear Apple execs mocking Microsoft’s UI strategy I think it’s an opportunity lost.

(I)t bothers me that it is Apple which seems so determined to accept multiple OSes across multiple form factors. Here’s a case, frankly, where I hope Microsoft wins.

Kyle Russell, of Business Insider, reviews the various operating system comments made by the Apple executives and comes to a similar conclusion, here:

As much as a well-executed touchscreen MacBook could make for an amazing device — maybe even “redefine laptop computing” — it seems that Apple doesn’t want people to get caught up on the idea, even if it is true.

(Emphasis added)

Do you fully grasp what both of these commentators are implying? It’s not, they contend, that Apple CANNOT create a unified operating system, it’s simply that Apple REFUSES to do so. If only Apple would not be so gol’ darn stubborn and get on the unified operating system bandwagon, Apple could not only make a device that would run on a unified operating system but they could make a unified device that would be totally AWESOME!

Bull hockey

[pullquote]A word to the wise is infuriating. ~ Unknown Source[/pullquote]

I VEHEMENTLY disagree. Operating system unification is not a “lost opportunity.” It’s not an “opportunity” at all. It’s a disaster because A TOUCH OPERATING SYSTEM IS WHOLLY INCOMPATIBLE WITH A DESKTOP OPERATING SYSTEM.

We have at least the courage of our convictions to say we don’t think this is part of what makes a great product; we’re going to leave it out. Some people are going to not like that… ~ Steve Jobs

The Interview

Metaphors Matter

“An incredible amount of thought and creativity went into the original Mac metaphor,” Tribble said.

A Tool Should Work The Way We Think, Not Make Us Think About The Way It Works

(T)he underlying principles behind them—that the Mac should be easily approachable and learnable by just looking at it, that it should bend to the will of the person and not bend the person’s will to the technology—those underlying threads also apply to our other products.

One Size Does Not Fit All

And I think what we are focused on is delivering the tailored, optimal experience for those kinds of ways that you work, without trying to take a one-size-fits-all solution to it.

No Touch Screens on Notebooks or Desktops

“It’s obvious and easy enough to slap a touchscreen on a piece of hardware, but is that a good experience?” Federighi said. “We believe, no.” ((Dr. Drang (@drdrang) has a thoughtful essay, here, on why touch screens WOULD work on notebooks and desktops. MY TAKE: This issue confused me for a while. It was clear to me that the input methods for notebooks and desktops were, and should remain, distinct from those of phones and tablets. On the other hand, it was also clear that phones and tablets were training us all to touch our computing screens. Ultimately, I concluded that metaphor mattered most. Using touch on a machine designed for a desktop metaphor only works SOME of the time and would ultimately cause confusion in the user’s mind. Better to make a clean break and have users to gestures on a touchpad, instead.))

The Personal Computer Has Been Honed To Work With A Keyboard And Mice; The Tablet Has Been Honed To Work With Your Finger

“This device,” Federighi said, pointing at a MacBook Air screen, “has been honed over 30 years to be optimal” for keyboards and mice. Schiller and Federighi both made clear that Apple believes that competitors who try to attach a touchscreen to a PC or a clamshell keyboard onto a tablet are barking up the wrong tree.

“The reason OS X has a different interface than iOS isn’t because one came after the other or because this one’s old and this one’s new,” Federighi said. Instead, it’s because using a mouse and keyboard just isn’t the same as tapping with your finger.”

The Metaphysics

Aristotle drew a distinction between essential and accidental properties. The way he put it is that essential properties are those without which a thing wouldn’t be what it is, and accidental properties are those that determine how a thing is, but not what it is.

Touch is ACCIDENTAL to a Personal Computer. It may enhance its usefulness but it doesn’t change the essence of what it is. Touch is ESSENTIAL to a Tablet. It’s the essence of what it is.

Pixel specific input is ANATHEMA to a Tablet. It destroys its very essence. A Touch device can literally not work with pixel sized input targets. But pixel specific input is ESSENTIAL to a Personal Computer. A Personal Computer can literally not operate without it.

A touch input metaphor and a pixel input metaphor not only should be, but MUST be, wholly different and wholly incompatible with one another. It’s not just that they do not comfortably co-exist within one form factor, it’s also that they do not comfortably co-exist within our minds eye.

In plain words, it’s no accident that the operating systems for tablets and notebooks are distinctly different from one another. On the contrary, their differences — their incompatibilities — are the essence of what makes them what they are.

Motorcycle-Motorcar ((Why Motorcar instead of car or automobile? Because I like alliteration, that’s why.)) Metaphor

A car and a motorcycle are both motor vehicles but they employ two very different user interfaces.

On a car:
— You use your left hand to steer;
— You use your right hand to shift gears; ((At least, you did before automatic transmissions came into vogue.))
— You use your right foot to accelerate and brake; and
— You use your left foot to keep time with the radio.

On a motorcycle:
— You use your left hand to work the clutch;
— You use your left foot to shift the gears;
— You use your right hand to work the front wheel brake; and
— You use your right foot to work the back wheel brake.

[pullquote]The mythical unified operating system is an insoluble problem, masquerading as a great good.[/pullquote]

You could put a hand brake on a car or a steering wheel on a motorcycle or a foot clutch on a car or a stick shift on a motorcycle — but none of those additions would make much sense. All would be confusing and most would be dangerous as all get out.

Unifying the features of a motorcycle and a car or a tablet and a desktop is not the goal. User understanding and usability IS the goal.

The Theory In Practice

That’s the theory. So what’s the reality?

Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play. ~ Kant

The Tablet — Sans Desktop Interface — Is A Runaway Success

The iPad — and all the derivative tablets within the Android operating system — have only one operating system and only one input (touch) and they are fantastically successful.

By the end of 2014 the install base of tablets will be just over half that of PCs. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

Take a deep breath and re-read that again. It only took FOUR YEARS for install base of tablets to reach half of that of Personal Computers!


If the tablet is only half-a loaf — if the unified operating system is the Holy Grail of computing — then why has the tablet been SO successful and why has Microsoft’s 2-in-1 effort been such an abject failure?

The failure of Apple critics is not that they don’t understand that Apple’s iPad/iPhone are selling. It is that they don’t understand why. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)


The Surface 2-In-1 Approach Is A Train Wreck

Design makes what is complex feel simpler, and makes what is simpler feel richer.

[pullquote]Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is as pure as the driven slush.[/pullquote]

Ask yourself this question: “Is Windows 8’s 2-in-1 user interface simpler?” Heck no, Why, Microsoft can’t even get their own flagship apps to work well on Windows 8.

I’m really not sure that there’s a worse app to use with Windows 8 tablets than Outlook. The idea that MS thinks this is acceptable is crazy. ~ Ian Betteridge (@ianbetteridge)

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad in 2010, he asked “Is there room for a third category of device (between the phone and the notebook)?” Now Microsoft is trying to introduce yet another category between the tablet and the notebook. If it is to succeed, then it must pass the same litmus test that Steve Jobs proposed for the iPad:

The bar’s pretty high. In order to really create a new category of devices, those devices are going to have to be far better at doing some key tasks. Better than a laptop. Better than a smartphone. (Author’s note: And better than a tablet.)

[pullquote]You can’t sit on two horses with one behind. ~ Yiddish proverb[/pullquote]

Now let me ask you this: What tasks is the Surface FAR better at?

The Surface, which is the embodiment of combining two operating systems into one, has failed and failed miserably.


It turns out that Apple had long-ago asked — and long-ago definitively answered — the question of whether they would be combining a tablet with a notebook. And that answer was “Yes”:

QUESTION: “What would happen if a MacBook met an iPad?”

ANSWER: The MacBook Air. ((New MacBook Air announcement))

[pullquote]Microsofts strategy and products will appeal to millions while Google and Apple’s will appeal to billions. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)[/pullquote]

Tablet and notebook interfaces are not combining because it simply won’t work. Great products are not defined by the absence of weakness, but rather, by the presence of clear strengths.

In 2007, when the iPhone was introduced, Steve Jobs famously said:

(A)re you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.

When it comes to phones, tablets and notebook/desktops, we can reverse that and paraphrase Steve Jobs by saying:

Are you getting it? This is not one device. These are three separate devices, and we’re calling them the smartphone, tablet and notebook/desktop.

Phil Schiller put it this way:

“It’s not an either/or,” Schiller said. “It’s a world where you’re going to have a phone, a tablet, a computer, you don’t have to choose. And so what’s more important is how you seamlessly move between them all…. It’s not like this is a laptop person and that’s a tablet person. It doesn’t have to be that way.”


Wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise. ~ Cato the Elder

[pullquote]It is hard to get to the summit, harder to stay on it, but hardest to come down. ~ Aleksander Fredro[/pullquote]

Apple showed Microsoft the way to do tablets right, but Microsoft refused to follow Apple’s example because they knew that it would mean the end of their existing Window’s monopoly.

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Microsoft thinks they’re in the Windows business. They’ve forgotten their mission, their purpose. They’ve forgotten that they’re in the computing business.

ctrl-alt-delMicrosoft should Control-Alt-Delete their attempts at a unified operating system, but I don’t think there’s any chance that that will happen. Based on the statements coming out of Redmond, Microsoft is doubling-down on their current strategy which, in my opinion, is a tragic mistake. Besides, asking Microsoft to fix what’s wrong with Windows 8 is like making them the detective in a crime movie where they’re also the murderer.

Yogi Berra once famously said:

It’s not over until it’s over.

It’s over.

Inverse Innovation Inanity

At Forbes, Chunka Mui ((Coauthor of “The New Killer Apps: How Large Companies Can Out-Innovate Start-Ups”, “Unleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominance”; and “Billion-Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn from the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years”)) writes:

[pullquote]If you desire a wise answer, you must ask a reasonable question. ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe[/pullquote]

Will Tim Cook Be the Next Steve Ballmer?

His initial premise seems reasonable:

Like Ballmer, (Tim) Cook’s legacy will be defined by whether he successfully launches new post-Jobs killer apps. … (T)o be truly successful, Cook will have to innovate beyond iPhones and iPads.

What Is Innovation?

Wikipedia defines Innovation as:

“the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different rather than doing the same thing better.”

[pullquote]Some people see innovation as change, but we have never really seen it like that. It’s making things better. ~ Tim Cook[/pullquote]

I would add this caveat. Too often “innovation” is judged from the perspective of the engineer, rather than from the point of view of the consumer. We are seduced by the wonderfulness of the technology, but it is the market, not the maker, that is the ultimate arbitrator of what is and what is not innovative. It is the value of the product — as judged by the consumer — that matters.

If something is truly innovative the consumer’s first thought isn’t, “I was asking for this.” Their first thought is, “Of course,” because — although it’s something they didn’t even know they wanted — now that they see it, it’s seemingly self-evident.

Myth #1: First To Market Matters Most

(The) field is crowded. The biggest technology companies and numerous start-ups are already in the race. Google has invested heavily in Google [x] projects like Glass and its Self-Driving Car, and it just bought Nest for $3.2B. Samsung has already launched two generations of its Galaxy Gear smart watch. Both GE and IBM are pursuing massive Internet of Things initiatives. ~ Chunka Mui

[pullquote]In a forest, there are many plants. but only a few are destined to be trees. And of all the forest trees, only one is destined to be a California Redwood.[/pullquote]

Really? The field is crowded? Crowded with what? A lot of throw-it-at-the-wall-and-let’s-see-what-sticks experiments?

Take a look at five of Apple’s greatest innovations:

  1. Apple II
  2. Macintosh
  3. iPod
  4. iPhone
  5. iPad

Now ask yourself: Were any of the above products first to market?

No. No they were not.

[pullquote]I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things. ~ Steve Jobs[/pullquote]

In every case, those products came out many YEARS after others had tried to establish their respective markets.

Malcolm Gladwell put it this way:

“You don’t want to be first, right? You want to be second or third. Facebook is not the first in social media. They’re the third, right? Similarly, you know, if you look at Steve Jobs’ history, he’s never been first.”

LESSON UNLEARNED: It’s not first to market that matters, it’s FIRST TO GET IT RIGHT.

Myth #2: The Path Of Innovation Has Been Identified

History tells us that the new technological landscape that will likely define both Apple’s next horizon and Cook’s legacy is somewhere at the intersection of wearable computing and the Internet of Things. ~ Chunka Mui

Say what? History tells us nothing of the sort.

Pundits keep predicting that Apple will go into wearables or television. Why?

— Did anyone predict that Apple would veer into MP3 players?

— Most everyone predicted that Apple would make a phone, but by phone they really meant a flip phone that would also work as an MP3 player. Did anyone predict the pocket computer — complete with its own operating systems and, eventually, an app ecosystem — that Apple produced?

— Most everyone predicted that Apple would make a tablet, but no one predicted the tablet that Apple introduced and few understood it at the time or even understood it long after it was placed on sale. Heck, a lot of people STILL refuse to understand it, despite all its subsequent success.


It is an open secret that Apple is working on an iWatch wearable device. ~ Chunka Mui

So what? did any of Apple’s previous major innovations look or act or feel anything like the products that preceded them?

— Did the Apple II look anything like its non-monitor competitors?
— Did the Macintosh look anything like the line interface operating systems that preceded it?
— Did the iPod click wheel work anything like its MP3 competitors?
— Did the iPhone have any resemblance to its keyboard heavy smartphone predecessors?
— Did the iPad touch interface have any relationship to the stylus-driven, Windows tablets previously offered by Microsoft?

[pullquote]Predicting a wrist device from Apple as “a Fuelband, but better” is equivalent to predicting an iPhone with an iPod click wheel. ~ Zac Cichy (@zcichy)[/pullquote]

No. No they did not. In every case, these products were a significant variant from what then existed in the market.

Entrepreneurship is essentially identifying the path that everyone takes; and choosing a different, better way. ~ Sheldon Adelson

LESSON UNLEARNED: The innovative product that solves a significant problem WILL NOT LOOK OR ACT OR FEEL like anything on currently on the market.

Myth #3: History Says Apple Will Be Disrupted

(The) incremental, extend-the-ecosystem approach makes all the sense in the world—to Apple. (It) fits very nicely with how customers interact with the Apple world today—and how Apple hopes that they will interact with it in the future.

It could be entirely rational for Tim Cook to take this view. Every one of his key lieutenants, who are responsible for the day-to-day defense and extension of Apple’s iOS ecosystem, must be even more whetted to this point of view. If there is any fight for resources, mindshare, talent, etc., you can bet that they’ll want to invest as much as possible to iOS. History also tells us that industry analysts will focus on today’s sales, margins and growth forecast at those important quarterly conference calls.

Momentum will drive Tim Cook and Apple down this path—as similar forces drove Steve Ballmer and Microsoft down the path of defending and extending the Windows/Office ecosystem at the expense of smartphone/tablet/cloud dominance.

Who doesn’t think that would the natural strategy for it to follow? ~ Chunka Mui

Oh, oh! Me, me, me, me! And anyone who’s been paying even the slightest attention to Apple and Apple’s history.

[pullquote]Never underestimate a pundit’s ability to underestimate Apple’s ability.[/pullquote]

Apple’s EVERY ACTION since Steve Jobs returned in 1996 argues against their being disrupted by falling into the trap described, above, by Mui.

“Design (not profits) is where Apple products start,” writes Lashinsky. “Competitors marvel at the point of prominence Apple’s industrial designers have. ‘Most companies make all their plans, all their marketing, all their positioning, and then they kind of hand it down to a designer,’ said Yves Behar, CEO of the design consultancy Fuseproject. The process is reversed at Apple, where everyone else in the organization needs to conform to the designer’s vision. ‘If the designers say the material has to have integrity, the whole organization says okay,’ said Behar. In other words, a designer typically would be told what to do and say by the folks in manufacturing. At Apple it works the other way around.”

[pullquote]If anybody’s going to make our products obsolete, I want it to be us. ~ Steve Jobs[/pullquote]

Ben Thompson puts it this way:

“Apple’s focus on user experience as a differentiator has significant strategic implications as well, particularly in the context of the Innovator’s Dilemma: namely, it is impossible for a user experience to be too good. Competitors can only hope to match or surpass the original product when it comes to the user experience; the original product will never overshoot (has anyone turned to an “inferior” product because the better one was too enjoyable?). There is no better example than the original Macintosh, which maintained relevance only because of a superior user experience. It was only when Windows 95 was “good enough” that the Macintosh’s plummet began in earnest. This in some respects completely exempts Apple from the product trajectory trap, at least when it comes to their prime differentiation.

Indeed, it seems that Apple simply isn’t very interested in moats. They do what they think is right by the user, strategy nerds like me be damned. This kills them on Wall Street, but perhaps is the only possible route to avoiding stasis, and ultimately, disruption.

This is why Apple is so fascinating.”


Caesar defied historical prohibitions and marched his army across the Rubicon River. In doing so, he toppled the prior regime and enabled the flowering of a new Roman Empire. Will Tim Cook dare to cross the Rubicon? ~ Chunka Mui

[pullquote]In a company that was born to innovate, the risk is in not innovating. The real risk is to think it is safe to play it safe. – Jony Ive[/pullquote]

Are you kidding me? Will Tim Cook dare to cross the Rubicon? He and Apple have already constructed a four-lane highway over and across that Rubicon and left it far behind. Apple may have many a problem to deal with in the future, but playing it safe — not cannibalizing themselves — will not be one of them.

Steve Jobs himself may have said it best when he was recruiting a job applicant:

We are inventing the future. Think about surfing on the front edge of a wave. It’s really exhilarating. Now think about dog-paddling at the tail end of that wave. It wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun. Come down here and make a dent in the universe.

How The Tablet Made An Ass Of The PC

[pullquote]If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself. ~ Einstein[/pullquote]

Many tech watchers STILL don’t understand what a “disruptive innovation” is. I’m no Einstein, but I’m going to try to explain it in terms that even a six year old could understand (and with pretty pictures too!).

A disruptive innovation is:

an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.

If that still doesn’t resonate with you, that’s okay, because we’ve just begun and…

Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge. ~ Khalil Gibran

(Author’s Note: For the sake of simplicity, I’ll be using the term “PC” to describe both Notebook and Desktop computers, i.e, any computer with an attached keyboard.)

The Analogy

[pullquote]If the King’s English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me! ~ Ma Ferguson, former governor of Texas[/pullquote]

The new often disrupts the old, which is somewhat akin to saying that the new often makes an ass out of the old, which brings us to my analogy:

The PC is like an Elephant and the Tablet is like an Ass (in the biblical sense).

ignorant donkey

I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming.


[pullquote]The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously. ~ Henry Kissinger[/pullquote]

Suspend belief for a moment and imagine that the PC is an Elephant and that the Tablet is an Ass. (That wasn’t so hard, now was it?) Imagine further that you lived in a land where the only pack animals were Elephants.

If you only have one tool, then that is the tool that you will use for most every task. If you only have one pack animal, i.e., the Elephant, then that is the pack animal that you will use for most every task. (Similarly, if you only have one type of computer, i.e., the PC, then that is the computer that you will use for most every computing task.)


Now imagine that the Ass (Tablet) is introduced into your Elephant-only (PC-only) ecosystem. If you were a purveyor of Elephants (PCs), would you feel threatened? Would you even care?

Of course not.

  1. An Ass can carry goods. So can an Elephant.
  2. An Ass can give people rides. So can an Elephant.
  3. An Ass can pull a cart. So can an Elephant.


There is nothing that an Ass (Tablet) can do that an Elephant (PC) cannot do and do better. Not only that, but an Elephant (PC) can do many things that an Ass simply cannot do at all.

— An Elephant (PC) is far more powerful than an Ass (Tablet).

— An Elephant (PC) can pull tree stumps and clear forests. Try doing that on your Ass (Tablet).

— An Elephant (PC) comes with special options like a built-in trunk. All you get with a Donkey (Tablet) is a bare Ass.

— An Elephant (PC) is so big, it can make its own shade.

Elephant in the desert with umbrella.

— An Elephant (PC) is self-cleaning. (Let’s face facts — sometimes Donkeys stink).

Elephant bathing, Kerala, India

— An Elephant (PC) can carry heavy loads and add additional storage.

3d elephant isolated on white

— An Elephant (PC) will figuratively — and literally — go to war for you.

War Elephant - Antique Greece/Persia

In other words, the owners and purveyors of Elephants (PCs) would never have any fear of the Ass (Tablet). They would, instead, mock it. They would treat it with disdain and consider it beneath contempt.

So why on earth would anyone ever consider using an Ass (Tablet) instead of an Elephant (PC)?

Reader Alert: This is the part where we try to understand why disruption occurs.

[pullquote]Q: What’s that gooey stuff between an elephant’s toes?
A: Slow running people.[/pullquote]

An Ass is:

  1. Cheaper to buy;
  2. Cheaper to feed;
  3. Easier to stable;
  4. Easier to train;
  5. Easier to discipline;
  6. Easier to pack; and
  7. Easier to ride.

In other words, an Ass (Tablet) does most everything you use an Elephant (PC) for and does it cheaper and easier too.

The Four Stages Of Disruption


[pullquote]The speed of a runaway horse counts for nothing. ~ Jean Cocteau[/pullquote]

The problem starts when the Elephant (PC) begins to over serve its customer’s needs. The consumer only needs and uses a smidgen of the Elephant’s (PC’s) many and mighty powers. A feature means NOTHING to the end user if it isn’t useful. In fact, it’s a burden, both in added price and complexity.


At first glance, the Ass (Tablet) SEEMS to be far inferior to the Elephant (PC) but, in reality, the Ass has several disruptive advantages — including lower price and lower complexity — over the Elephant (PC).

The Elephant (PC) can do everything that an Ass (Tablet) can do but an Ass (Tablet) can do everything that the consumer wants and needs to do and it can do it easier and cheaper too.


“But, but, but,” you say, “there are some tasks that the Ass (Tablet) simply CAN NOT do and that ONLY an Elephant (PC) can do. That’s a deal breaker!

True enough.

However, it turns out that if 96% of consumers only need the power of the Elephant (PC) 4% of the time, then they will find a work-around that allows them to get by with the cheaper and easier to use Ass (Tablet). That’s the 4% solution ((Why 4%? It’s the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule), redux. It’s 20% of the remaining 20%.)) .

For example, if you only need to use an Elephant once in a great while, you can simply borrow one from a neighbor, or rent one, or get by with the aging one that you already own.

[pullquote]I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. ~ G. K. Chesterton[/pullquote]

This is highly counter-intuitive, yet crucial to the understanding of disruption. The Ass (Tablet) doesn’t need to be all things to all people. It only needs to be most things to most people.


Over served customers — gradually at first, then more and more rapidly — gravitate to the seemingly inferior solution that:

1) Best meets their needs;
2) Is cheaper; and
3) Is easier.

The customers leak away from the incumbent — whether it be an Elephant or a PC — until the incumbent is left high and dry, serving only the 4%; the “power users”; who truly do need the added power — and the added cost and complexity — that the incumbent’s product provides.


[pullquote]The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply. ~ Khalil Gibran[/pullquote]

The reason people don’t see disruption coming is because they compare one product to another when they should, instead, be comparing the needs of the consumer to the product that best serves those needs.

If you compare an Elephant (PC) to an Ass (Tablet), there is no question that the Elephant (PC) is superior. But that’s missing the point entirely. Because if you compare the task at hand – say, riding into town, or sending an email – to the available tools, then the lowly Ass (Tablet) kicks the Elephant’s (PC’s) keister ever time.


The Next Steve Jobs Will Destroy Apple

Apple is the biggest tech company in the world, worth at least $100 billion more than either Microsoft or Google. Apple has over 350 million active users. Within a few short years, I suspect a billion people will be using Apple computers every single day.

How did this happen? Thus: Steve Jobs proved us all wrong.

steve_jobs-wideIn so many ways, ways we now take for granted, ways that Google and Microsoft are rapidly trying to copy, it was Jobs who showed us the way — even as we all were convinced of his wrongness. Jobs proved us wrong not just on technical matters, but on profound aspects of both technology and business.

A few examples of Steve Jobs proving us all wrong:

  1. Building a global retail chain
  2. Requiring customers to pay for content
  3. Demanding high-margins for hardware
  4. Choosing margin share over market share
  5. Emphasizing design over commoditization
  6. Building a touchscreen-only line of computers
  7. Banishing pornography

All of these were business decisions that went against the accepted order. All were correct.

In this same way, Jobs taught us — for we did not initially believe — that:

  1. The big money resides at the top of the pyramid
  2. Walled gardens and well-controlled APIs are the future of the web
  3. Existing standards and popular features are of almost no consequence
  4. There is more money in consumer computing than the enterprise
  5. Set prices, clearly stated, benefit buyer and seller
  6. The web — websites, web pages, web standards — is less important than apps
  7. More users, more developers, more content providers directly benefit from a closed ecosystem than an open one


And here we are today, following decades of Jobs wandering the wilderness, steadfastly implementing the many and varied pieces of his mad grand vision.

Now, developers choose Apple first, others second (if at all).  Apple towers above Microsoft. Apple isn’t just the biggest computing company, it may also be the world’s biggest, most popular, most profitable gaming company. Symbian, BlackBerry, Palm, Motorola and Windows Phone have been crushed by iPhone. Dell has gone private. HP remains MIA. Jobsian tremors are still being felt across multiple industries as content, data, apps and services all collapse inside the iPhone — or its copiers.

In what turned out to be one of his very last shareholder letters, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke with language clearly influenced by Jobs:

“We will continue to work with a vast ecosystem of partners to deliver a broad spectrum of Windows PCs, tablets and phones. We do this because our customers want great choices and we believe there is no way one size suits over 1.3 billion Windows users around the world. There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface. In all our work with partners and on our own devices, we will focus relentlessly on delivering delightful, seamless experiences across hardware, software and services. This means as we, with our partners, develop new Windows devices we’ll build in services people want. Further, as we develop and update our consumer services, we’ll do so in ways that take full advantage of hardware advances, that complement one another and that unify all the devices people use daily. So right out of the box, a customer will get a stunning device that is connected to unique communications, productivity and entertainment services from Microsoft as well as access to great services and applications from our partners and developers around the world.”

And, breathe…

Understand, I do not come here to mock Ballmer. Nor should the Apple faithful: Tim Cook is probably more like Ballmer than Jobs, after all. Besides, Ballmer did far too much to benefit the company he so dearly loved. And yet, in that single paragraph above, where Ballmer references billions of users, seamless experiences, delight, the integration of hardware and software, sounding so much like Steve Jobs, he grounds everything in the obvious, and the near-term. Contained within that same single paragraph Ballmer specifically mentions…Windows, PCs, tablets, phones, Windows, Xbox, Surface, Windows, Microsoft, partners, partners, partners, partners, and developers.

Ballmer’s statement is the beatification of the current product set, the glorification of the existing order, and fully aligned with the rational. This is not surprising. It’s nearly impossible to not be rational. Certainly this is true if you are the CEO of a publicly traded company.

Steve Jobs was not rational. His vision of the future was not dependent upon existing products, existing form factors, partners, developers, nor the established wisdom.

I lived through the years when Microsoft absolutely controlled the direction of personal computing. I was there for the rise of Google — and its destruction of the value of content and user privacy. I would not have dared believe that the radical visions of Steve Jobs would so thoroughly flourish in this world. It’s all so profoundly non-rational.

Steve Jobs was firm in his vision, proudly revolutionary, shrewd enough to avoid the trappings of both success and failure, and fully prepared to prove all of us completely wrong, no matter how long it took.

I am sorry for ever having doubted him.

All of which is prologue to the obvious: Apple is today’s monolith. All must acknowledge, possibly fear, every move Apple makes, each market it enters. We hang on the company’s every word, spin tales from its silence, and have grown comfortable in the knowledge that, as is the new natural order of things, Apple will succeed with each new release, each blessed launch.

Which is prologue to the less obvious: The next Steve Jobs, when she or he finally arrives, will have Apple squarely in their sites. Then blow it to bits.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Or more.

Alex Greer posted the following picture on Twitter under the caption:

I turn around and find my parents at the kids’ table at the @apple store. ~ @alexpgreer

BcJWbqDCYAAKsZhNow what can this picture teach us?

1) The learning curve on the tablet is so low that Seniors find it easy to use.

2) The learning curve on the tablet is so low that children find it easy to use.

3) Very important: Both seniors and children (and those in-between) are attracted to the tablet and ENJOY using it.

Extrapolating from there:

4) Whole new classes of people are being drawn to computing. Salesmen on the go, park rangers, kiosk owners, presenters, school children, soccer moms and seniors who never before felt a need (or felt competent enough) to own and operate a computer.

Speculating from there:

5) Our devices are mere windows to our data stored in the cloud. We don’t choose the one tool that does it all or is most powerful, we choose whichever tool works best for the situation at hand.

But I’ll say no more. I’ll let the picture speak for itself.

Lessons Learned (And Unlearned) From The iPad’s Success

[pullquote]The man with a new idea is a Crank until the idea succeeds ~ Mark Twain[/pullquote]

I tripped across a January 2010 article that absolutely skewered the introduction of the iPad, and it was just too, too, delicious for me not to stop and partake of its bittersweet irony. As my holiday gift, I wish to share my discovery with you. But rather than spend our time gleefully binging on the folly of others (and pretending that we, ourselves, knew all along of the iPad’s impending success), I think that we’d be better served by biting off small, discrete pieces of the article, and slowly chewing upon them, so that we might savor the lessons learned — and unlearned — and profit from the mistakes of others (since we, ourselves, so seldom profit from our own mistakes).

And so I present to you — in all its pristine glory — but smothered with a thick, syrupy coating of 20/20 hindsight: Apple iPad: bashed by bloggers around the web.

The iPad turned out to be, at bottom, an iPod Touch with a big screen.

Very true. Or maybe not true at all. Depends on how you look at it.

[pullquote]Products evolve based on assumptions that eventually become outdated. This is every incumbent’s weakness and every startup’s opportunity. ~ Aaron Levie (@levie)[/pullquote]

LESSON #1: Size Matters

No matter what the tech pundits (or the ladies) say, size really does matter. The iPad IS just a big, big iPod Touch — but it turns out that bigger is — perhaps unsurprisingly — a very big deal indeed. As anyone who has used a tablet will tell you, the user experience on the bigger screen of a tablet is totally different than the user experience on the smaller, phone-sized screen.

Who knew? No one, it seems, but Apple.

I think we can cut ourselves some slack here and forgive ourselves for missing this one. In hindsight, the importance of the larger screen size was a subtle lesson indeed. For example, there’s a big difference between a 13-inch notebook and a 27-inch desktop screen but, with few exceptions, developers don’t write software optimized for each screen size. However, that’s exactly what developers do for the phone and the tablet. The iPad has almost a half-a-million iPad-optimized apps and that optimization has made all the difference between the iPad being a wonderful addition to our stable of computing devices as opposed to having it relegated to the dreaded status of being “just” being an oversized iPod Touch.

(The iPad) failed to offer a magical new 3D interface, or an OLED screen, or a built-in projector, or any other revolutionary features.

[pullquote]If you’re willing to fail interestingly, you tend to succeed interestingly. ~ Edward Albee[/pullquote]

LESSON #2: Typing On Glass Is A Feature, Not A Drawback

This lesson certainly came as a surprise to me. Unlike many others, I immediately saw the advantage of eliminating the keyboard and adding in all that newly available screen real estate to the computing experience. However, I thought that the key to the iPad would be the addition of some sort revolutionary new way of inputing text. I was right in theory but completely wrong-headed in practice. I was thinking of a new type of virtual keypad or some kind of voice input. Apple was thinking of typing on a virtual keyboard. “Ugh,” I — and about a million others — thought, in unison.

One thing I didn’t know at the time was that even a slow typer can input text on a virtual keyboard much faster than they can write by hand either in cursive of in block. Why didn’t we know this? It seems so obvious in hindsight. Talk about thinking inside the box.

The other thing we didn’t know — and I guess we can be forgiven for missing this one too — was that the vast majority of users would come to gladly accept the disadvantages associated with not having a tactile keyboard in exchange for the far greater advantage of having a larger, more usable, screen layout.

Indeed, (the iPad) doesn’t even have basic features such as a webcam, microphone, USB port, SD card slot, HDMI port,…standard mobile phone SIM slot (no support for Flash, no multitasking, no networking [printing and file sharing], little storage space, no CD/DVD drive, no stylus, no keyboard.)

I think there’s (at least) two lessons to be learned here — let’s call them two sides of the same coin.

[pullquote] It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not. ~ Andre Gide[/pullquote]

LESSON #3: Distinguish Between The Essential And The Incidental

What’s truly amazing about the items on the list, above, are the many, many things that STILL haven’t been glommed onto the latest iteration of the iPad (USB, SD card, HDMI port, Flash, networking, CD/DVD, stylus, and, of course, tactile keyboards). Yet, somehow, someway, the iPad just keeps on rolling along. If all — or even any — of the things listed above are “basic”, then how can that possibly be?

Well, of course, it turns out that NONE those things, are “basics,” at all. Some of the things on the original list (like a camera) were nice, inessentials, that were added later, but none of them were essential to what made a tablet a tablet.

On Tuesday I wrote an Insider piece on Aristotle’s distinction between the essential and the accidental, and how that applied to Tablets. If you’re a subscriber, you can read it HERE.

The key takeaway is that some things make us what we are and other things simply adorn us. My car has a radio and an air conditioner and I surely wouldn’t buy a car that didn’t have either of those things. But the owner of a Model-T would have.

Radios and air conditioners are not the “essence” of a car. They’re adornments. Things like an engine and four wheels — now THEY’RE part of the essence of a car and the Model-T had all those things, and more.

Likewise, cameras, etc. may be extremely nice to have, but they’re adornments, not essentials. When we bought the Model-T of tablets, it had all the Tablet essentials, and more.

[pullquote]A keyboard case seems to enhance the typing use case of the iPad at the cost of basically ruining every other use case. ~ Fraser Speirs (@fraserspeirs)[/pullquote]

LESSON #4: Compare A Tool To The Job It Is Being Asked To Do

The all-too-common mistake we make is to compare one thing to another; to look at what it has not; to deem it inferior, without having first bothered to ascertain what job it is being asked to do.

For example, a horse makes for a lousy cow. But if you’re a Pony Express rider, rather than a dairy farmer, you’d much rather have the speedy horse than the milk-producing cow.

Further, the very same feature that makes a tool useful for one task can actually be quite detrimental when the tool is applied to another task. Udders and speed are quite useful, in their place, but neither large udders on a horse nor great speed on a cow are considered to be desirable traits.

Similarly, while multiple ports, Flash and multi-tasking may — like udders — be eminently practical and useful additions needed to milk the best computing experience from our notebook and desktop machines, they may also be udderly useless when one’s ‘express’ goal is to ‘horse’ around with their mobile computer with the expectation that they can ‘ride’ their battery on a single ‘charge’, all the live long day.

[pullquote] Analysts are the jesters of the corporate court. ~ Horace Dediu @asymco[/pullquote]

No Flash means no Farmville or similar Facebook games.


There’s probably a great lesson to be learned in there somewhere, but I’m laughing far too hard to discern it.

Gizmodo, the influential gadget blog, has a post – 8 Things That Suck About the iPad – that says No thanks! and gives the device the thumbs down.

Yeah, about that Gizmodo article. I tried to follow the link, but the article has been taken down. Now why do you suppose that is? Update:[Found the link to the Gizmodo article]

[pullquote]I am certain there is too much certainty in the world. ~ Michael Crichton[/pullquote]

LESSON #5: We Judge Too Quickly

This one simply isn’t going to change. To paraphrase Carrie Fisher, instant analysis takes too long ((Instant gratification takes too long. ~ Carrie Fisher)). We want our answers and we want them now, Now, NOW.

The problem, I think, is that one of the most intolerable things in life is uncertainly. We simply hate that feeling of not knowing. But if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that nothing we know is for sure. If you want to be smug, make snap judgments. If you want to be wise, learn to tolerate uncertainty.

One aspect of the iPad was that some saw it as Apple’s answer to the netbook – a cheap form factor that millions want but Apple won’t supply. CNet argued that the iPad wasn’t the answer, in 10 Things Netbooks still do better than an iPad.

[pullquote]There are no right answers to wrong questions. ~ Ursula K. Le Guin [/pullquote]

LESSON #6: Ask Better Questions

I’m guessing that if the iPad wasn’t the right answer, then CNet wasn’t asking the right question. Again, the iPad was definitely NOT a good Netbook. Then again, the Netbook was definitely not a good anything. So why compare the two?

As Horace Dediu and countless others have constantly reminded us, we should be comparing the tool to the job it is being hired to do, not comparing the tool to other tools that do other jobs.

In “The Case against the iPad,” Timothy B Lee wrote: “I’m not impressed. I’m a lifelong Mac fanboy, so I’m not averse to buying Apple stuff. But I don’t understand who this product is marketed for…

[pullquote]In these days, a man who says a thing cannot be done is quite apt to be interrupted by some idiot doing it. ~ Elbert Hubbard[/pullquote]

LESSON #7: Just Because We Don’t Understand It, Doesn’t Mean It Can’t Be Understood

We should never assume that our lack of understanding constitutes ignorance on the part of others. If we don’t understand it, then we need to learn more, not assume that other’s know less.

The iPad name also attracted derision…

Yeah, funny how all those “pad” jokes quickly faded away, right? The lesson here is that:

[pullquote]Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you made puerile jokes about the iPad’s name; but I repeat myself. ((Inspired by Mark Twain))[/pullquote]

LESSON #8: Success Cures (Or Conceals) All Woes

The iPad was successful so the name is now acceptable. The Kin and Zune were flops so their names are derided and mocked. See how that works?

Silicon Alley Insider had so many negative posts that it headlined its link post Wow, Did Apple Just Blow It?

[pullquote] Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.[/pullquote]

LESSON #9: Betteridge’s Law Of Headlines Is A Really Useful Shortcut For Ending Nonsensical Discussions.

‘Nuff said.

Fake Steve Jobs (actually, Dan Lyons) summed it all up in his live-blog of the launch:

11:01– and i know what you’re thinking – we came up with a new device and all we could think to do with it is run the apps that run on your iphone, and have a clone of Kindle, and now run iWork apps? um, yes. that’s all we could come up with.

11:04– good lord, did i really say this is the most important thing i’ve ever done in my life?

Wow. Just wow.

[pullquote]Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. ~ Albert Einstein[/pullquote]

LESSON #10: Too Much Cynicism And Snark Can Ruin One’s Perspective

I readily acknowledge that Dan Lyons is a lot smarter than I am and a whole lot better writer than I will ever be. But man-oh-man. In his ever-more-desperate attempts to discredit and demean Apple and Steve Jobs, he’s lost his way and gone right off the rails.

Yes, Dan. The iPad may well have been the most important thing that Steve Jobs ever did. It was right there for you to grasp — and instead, you sneered.

“Finally, Apple went too far, and the emperor is totally naked for all of us to see. Ridiculous product. Absolutely completely ridiculous.” ~ Dave Winer

[pullquote]When expressing their opinions, people make two major blunders: never stopping to think and never thinking to stop. ~ Dr. Mardy’s Aphorisms[/pullquote]

LESSON #11: Putting Your Thoughts In Writing For All The World To See May Sometimes Be Both Inadvisable And Unwise

But not everyone took such a negative view. Some reckoned it really was a new type of device, and the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg argued that ultimately the iPad would be about the software and media, rather than the hardware.

Good for you, Mr. Mossberg! You stepped back from the trees and took a peek at the forrest instead. Well done.

[pullquote] There’s an explosion that’s starting to happen in what you call post-PC devices, right?…We’re getting to the point where everything’s a computer in a different form factor. ~ Steve Jobs[/pullquote]

After an attention-grabbing (but silly) headline — “The PC Officially Died Today” — Nicholas Carr claimed: “we’ve entered a new era of computing, in which media and software have merged in the Internet cloud”.

You know, in hindsight, that headline doesn’t look so silly after all. The PC didn’t die on that day in January 2010, but its reign as the primary computing device in our lives, did.

At The New York Times, David Pogue’s The Apple iPad: First Impressions said the iPad bashing “will last until the iPad actually goes on sale in April. Then, if history is any guide, Phase 3 will begin: positive reviews, people lining up to buy the thing, and the mysterious disappearance of the basher-bloggers.”

Wow. Kudos to Mr. Pogue. I think you got it about as right as right can be.

Maybe the iPad will find a market among marketing people, old people, parents…What (Apple’s fanboys are) really saying is that it’s the computer for idiots. I agree.

[pullquote]Without wisdom, knowledge is more stupid than ignorance.[/pullquote]

LESSON #12: Just Because Computing Is Getting Easier Does Not Mean That We Are Getting Dumber

You know, when I was a kid, my uncles were endlessly playing around with their cars. Today, almost nobody does that. The reliability of the modern car has improved dramatically. The average miles driven and time on the road for cars has doubled in the past 50 years. And guess what? Few people miss having to open the hood to check the spark plugs and tweak the engine every month. We don’t WANT to know anything about our cars. We just want to get in a vehicle that will take us to our destination in comfort and ease.

Same with computers. We’re not becoming stupider just because our cars and our computers are becoming smarter. We never wanted to work ON our cars or ON our computers in the fist place. The car and the computer are just tools to get us to where we want to go. They’re the means not the ends.

I’ll almost certainly buy (an iPad). But unless I’m missing something, I’ll still travel with the Asus that I’m typing this review on.

You’re missing something alright. A BIG something.

[pullquote]We’ve transitioned from using the computing device we hold dearest to us, to using the computing device we hold nearest to us.[/pullquote]
LESSON #13: We Live In A Multi-Device, Multi-Screen World

We used to argue over which ONE computer we would own. Now we, almost all of us, own a phone AND a tablet or notebook or desktop. Some of us own three or more different computing form factors.

Lessons Learned Or Unlearned?

Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom. ~ Herman Hesse

So, has the unexpected success of the iPad truly taught us anything? Perhaps, perhaps not. It seems that some lessons have to be learned over and over again. But maybe I’m being overly pessimistic. Maybe this time, the lessons will take.