Tuesday, September 15, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple Leadership Bubblegum Cards

John Gruber:

My biggest question and deepest concern regarding Apple’s leadership, especially now that Ive is gone and Phil Schiller has moved on to a fellowship with only the App Store and events on his plate, is whose taste is driving product development? We know the actors, we know the writers, we know the cinematographers, but who is directing? Who is saying “This isn’t good enough” — or in the words of Apple’s former director, “This is shit”? When a product decision comes down to this or that, who is making that call?

Previously:

10 Comments

The enthusiasm shown by many of the principals in today's Apple video was forced to the point of feeling uncomfortable. The contrived nature of a pre-produced marketing video probably lends itself that way, but I also feel that the lack of genuine excitement speaks to a waning of taste and tight direction to which Gruber alludes. I was slightly disappointed this morning, but I wasn't surprised.

Gruber doesn’t get it, corporations mature when the founder moves on. As long as they don’t “mature out” to M&A by another fish (Like Sun did, gobbled by Oracle). “Taste” isn’t the problem, “focus and simplicity” is.

Schiller? Kicked upstairs. Cook? Trial ballooning “succession.” Of *course* they’re thinking of succession.

Forstall? Not coming back. Cook didn’t want a “this is shit” guy, they’ve been “doing without one” for so long.

Start looking at the COO if you want to know where Apple is headed next. If the COO leaves uh oh.

I like Cook “subdued.” Maybe the Epic thing and the situation with developers made him blink. He’s not a “tastemaker” anyway, there are people still driving that, maybe Jony and Schiller protégés not quite ready for “public view” yet.

The enthusiasm shown by many of the principals in today’s Apple video was forced to the point of feeling uncomfortable.

I think it was really hit and miss (and, honestly, maybe mostly miss?).

Cook was hard to believe this time. Really, you personally use your Watch for all these things? Check the weather, read messages and news alerts, work out, open your garage, unlock your door, turn on the lights, stream music? I find it much easier to believe that you wanted an unnecessary, inauthentic rundown of core Watch features than actually tell a personal message of what this product means to you.

Williams was quite incoherent and didn’t feel energetic. There are actually a few interesting tidbits I missed because the Watch section was so poorly-edited. Lots of switches back and forth between presenters for no apparent reason. Ultimately, there just wasn’t much to show, so I guess they thought this style of presentation would serve as a non-obvious means of padding? With how poorly-edited this felt, I wonder if they had to drop a feature at the last minute. I thought there were keynotes in the past where Williams was far more interesting to watch. This wasn’t one of those.

Lisa’s presentation was better, but lacked structure and, hey, please install Keynote on her computer so we can look at slides to follow what she’s talking about.

The Apple One presentation had an awful 1990s corporate meeting style to it. Again, this felt unnecessary to me? It’s not that it’s a bad offering, but it just isn’t presented well. The music, the fake excitement. Just give Jay (the Fitness+ guy) a few extra lines after he shows the Fitness+ price tags: “but we think what most of our customers will choose instead is our new Apple One bundle” and introduce that for a few minutes. Boom, done.

Generally speaking, Jay’s demo was so much better. It was helped by being new, but he also seemed genuinely excited to show the service, and actually explained things. (If blood oxygen is the only thing new in the Series 6, why was there almost no explanation whatsoever why we are trying to measure it?) This was easily one of the high points.

The two iPad sections were OK. A bit formulaic old-school ca-2005 Apple, but not necessarily in a bad way (just not in a memorable one either). I’m not sure why Ted was a voiceover for a pre-recorded UI demo. Show things live instead. Take some risks.

Tim (not Tim Cook) is your teacher today, being unapologetically nerdy about what’s new in the A14. Sit down and listen. I thought this was a good segment, although making it sound as though Apple alone came up with the 5nm process seemed unnecessarily dishonest.

There was a brief d-jay hand gesture demo? It kind of… went by before I understood what was happening. Weird choice there not to show it a bit more?

The Pixelmator demo was pretty good. The game demo was as forgettable as most of them tend to be.

The Craig cameos were cute, I think. Not too much. I think like the Upgrade folks said, he could’ve improved the Watch section by being shown walking to the restroom and washing his hands. Just a silly little reminder that this watchOS 7 feature exists. Why not?

TL;DR: Fitness+ demo was a B+, iPad (incl. A14 and software) demos were a B-. Watch and Apple One demos were more of a D+. Overall, too much padding, too many presenters, not enough of a coherent story.

Gruber doesn’t get it, corporations mature when the founder moves on. As long as they don’t “mature out” to M&A by another fish (Like Sun did, gobbled by Oracle). “Taste” isn’t the problem, “focus and simplicity” is.

If Apple loses taste, people will migrate to competitors who have it.

>making it sound as though Apple alone came up with the 5nm process

TSMC is actually making the chips, right? Apple has nothing to do with that. It always strikes me as a bit odd when people like Gruber say things like "good time to be a computer maker who has taken its destiny into its own hands with CPU design and fabrication." Apple *does* own fabs, afaik, but they're not making the chips that go into their high-end products.

>making it sound as though Apple alone came up with the 5nm process

This reminded me of when I was standing in line for the iPad 2. I was talking to the guy behind me and when the conversation turned to the then-new Smart Cover he said, "Was it just me, or was Steve acting like Apple invented magnets?"

I think about that a lot.

@Ben Kennedy

>The enthusiasm shown by many of the principals in today's Apple video was forced to the point of feeling uncomfortable.

Exactly this. I wish they would stop trying so hard and faking it. For years Tim Cook try so hard to sound enthusiastic but with many of the recent event it is now sounding a lot of hypocrisy and sarcasm. ( And he lies quite often. )

We would probably never know if Steve Jobs was faking it as well, but if he did he would have won the Oscar every single year.

There is also one bit I really really loathe.

In Steve era, he constantly talks about *Great* Product. The best product to "Our" customers. These two sentence are used so often I think most would have heard him saying it if you have been watching his videos.

In Tim era he constantly talks about "enriching" "peoples" life.

The Tim Cook speech are basically the same play book as Google's Do No Evil. It is all good if you are a priest. Except you aren't. And you so often get caught, all of these sounds very much as hypocrisy.

making it sound as though Apple alone came up with the 5nm process

TSMC is actually making the chips, right? Apple has nothing to do with that. It always strikes me as a bit odd when people like Gruber say things like “good time to be a computer maker who has taken its destiny into its own hands with CPU design and fabrication.” Apple does own fabs, afaik, but they’re not making the chips that go into their high-end products.

Apple does design these chips, and deserves credit for being way ahead of the more common ARM Cortex design. At the end of the day, you can argue they achieved this by throwing tons of money at the problem, but nonetheless, someone around 2008 had the foresight to develop a very-long-term plan to invest in custom CPU designs, when they didn’t really have to.

At the same time, Apple is not a CPU manufacturer, and relies on Samsung, TSMC, and others to do that job.

That’s why I said “Apple alone”: they did design the A14, but they wouldn’t have been able to actually ship it without TSMC.

This reminded me of when I was standing in line for the iPad 2. I was talking to the guy behind me and when the conversation turned to the then-new Smart Cover he said, “Was it just me, or was Steve acting like Apple invented magnets?”

I think about that a lot.

I think that’s different. It’s like MagSafe: a lot of people seem to love and miss it, but you can also argue “so you designed a cable plug mechanism that’s… magnetic. Big freaking deal. A high-schooler could’ve done that”.

It’s not about inventing magnets; it’s about thinking outside the box and wondering, “maybe this tablet cover would be better if the shut mechanism were simply a magnet, and maybe we can also use that, in turn, to lock/unlock the device?”.

@Sören

Apple likes to take credit for everything. Personally I find it very off-putting.

They took credit for 5nm. 5nm is a real achievement. And it's TSMC's achievement. Intel can't do it, Global Foundries can't do it. Making 5nm work is really extraordinary work. Designing a fast CPU is good, but it isn't extraordinary work like TSMC's 5nm is.

They took credit for "Apple Silicon". Well they're using an ARM derivative. They could claim credit if they had created the debugging tools, the CPU verification suite, the compilers, the instruction set, the entire ARM ecosystem from scratch. But they didn't. They relied on all this preexisting work done by others. So it isn't "Apple Silicon", it's just a good ARM CPU implementation.

The fact Apple's been dishonest for a long time doesn't make it any better. It's very annoying to everyone who knows they are dissembling. They would be so much more honest if they just claimed credit for what they did:

* we designed the best ARM chip so far, leveraging ARM and TSMC's great technology to do it.

* Our new iPhone silicon leverages this tile-based architecture GPU design by Imagination Technologies which makes this great performance possible on a portable device. And we've improved it far beyond anything else available on the market.

* We created Objective-C using the free Gnu Compiler suite. A lot of macOS is third party software, which we lovingly tailor to create the best experience for you, our customers.

* We're leveraging the deep-learning expertise and infrastructure developed by others and make it possible to run on your portable device very efficiently with our Neural Engine.

* Although the category of tablets is not new, we think this one, the iPad, is better integrated and will be a great success, solving actual user needs. And same with the iPhone for that matter (think Sharp Zaurus PDA, or LG Prada phone).

* We solved the PowerPC to intel translation problem using Transitive's great technology which we bought and tailored to our devices to make it seamless.

Instead they continually rewrite history to make themselves appear more wonderful than they are: "before the App Store the only way you could sell software was in stores", ignoring pre-existing internet sales through services like Kagi. I find it annoying, narcissistic and delusional.

Historically they're been good at integrating and marketing stuff, i.e. making good products. And that's perfectly honorable. They do it well, taking existing designs and tuning them to market needs: better derivatives. Yet their presentation is always that they made this alone.

They took credit for “Apple Silicon”. Well they’re using an ARM derivative.

Apple Silicon (not a fan of the name, but whatever) isn’t a “derivative”. It’s an entirely custom CPU design that just happens to conform to the ARM ISA. If it weren’t for backwards compatibility with third-party code, they could just switch to an entirely different ISA. And they still might. I wouldn’t be shocked if they never implement ARMv9, or maybe ARMv10, and instead go custom in another 5-10 years.

They could claim credit if they had created the debugging tools, the CPU verification suite, the compilers, the instruction set, the entire ARM ecosystem from scratch.

Of those, ARM basically only does the instruction set, and Apple has been a major contributor to debugging and build tools. lldb and clang basically started inside Apple.

They relied on all this preexisting work done by others.

They did, but… that’s always the case. CPUs rely on tons of previous research from computer scientists, for example.

They still do benefit from the ARM ISA insofar as it allows easier porting of Linux tools that already run on arm64, but I think they would’ve survived if they went custom. Or, heck, if they had gone with RISC-V, which has far, far less support right now.

Our new iPhone silicon leverages this tile-based architecture GPU design by Imagination Technologies

Well, they would certainly disagree with you on their GPU leveraging an Imagination design.

Although the category of tablets is not new, we think this one, the iPad, is better integrated and will be a great success, solving actual user needs. And same with the iPhone for that matter (think Sharp Zaurus PDA, or LG Prada phone).

This is just getting silly.

The greatest success the LG Prada phone ever had was as a talking point for trolls who can’t acknowledge the massive design work that went into the iPhone. Any actual review of the LG Prada phone makes it look terrible.

And if you really want to go to the Sharp Zaurus, you can go further back to the Apple Newton. Or even further back to the Knowledge Navigator. Heck, Apple could make the argument that Siri, developed at Stanford, was really based on ideas from a 1980s’ John Scolley video.

But that would be silly, just like arguing that Objective-C wouldn’t have happened without GCC is silly.

You wanna credit Staples and 3M for design notes on a desk when creating the Mac, too?

Instead they continually rewrite history to make themselves appear more wonderful than they are: “before the App Store the only way you could sell software was in stores”, ignoring pre-existing internet sales through services like Kagi. I find it annoying, narcissistic and delusional.

Yes. I don’t know if they actually believe that, but either way, that’s just their disingenuous (and maybe poor) strategy in trying to win this court case.

Usually as part of your ARM license you get a verification suite. That checks your CPU does what it's supposed to. It's a big help. Making your own is a big undertaking -- been there, done that. lldb isn't an ICE level debugger, have fun debugging a CPU with it. Developing an ecosystem from scratch is a lot harder than reusing an existing infrastructure, software that already exists as a testbench for instance.

My point with the LG Prada phone was that it uses the same model of interaction with fingers: it had the first capacitive touch screen. As to trolling, I guess you are better versed in it than I, since I had no idea it was a standard "troll" argument. I'm making a hardware argument.

But I guess arguing the merits of a case is not your strong point, since you obviously don't care where ideas came from. Which is precisely why Apple taking credit where it is not due pisses me off: it works on ignoramuses who fawn all over it and who cares if the actual innovators disappear?

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