Saturday, January 13, 2018

No, Apple doesn’t need to be at CES →

Jeremy Horwitz for Venturebeat on Apple’s CES presence:

My position: Apple’s 2009 withdrawal from trade shows may have been justifiable back then, but the overall impact has been negative. Additionally, Apple’s related decision to move most of its product launches to a single quarter each year has damaged the brand, despite the strength of Apple’s sales and stock. However, unless certain highly improbable changes are made at CES, this particular trade show is not the right venue for Apple. Instead, the company should leverage its incredible retail infrastructure to do something different.

Not sure how it has damaged the brand, specifically. He goes on to address Apple’s ‘boring calendar’:

On a highly related note, Apple never formally said that it was going to stop staggering major new product releases across the year, but that’s effectively what happened: Since Tim Cook took over, Apple has announced almost nothing of significance until WWDC in June, and the vast majority of new products are released during a narrow window from mid-September to early November.

And:

Some people have suggested that fewer events are the natural result of maturing products — version 1 deserves a splashy event whenever, but no one will care to show up for the “special” debut of a slightly slimmer version 2, or a waterproof version 3, which could arrive via press release. That’s Apple’s problem to remedy, partially with more breakthrough products, and partially with developer engagement and marketing to show how seemingly small changes — say, adding a game controller and games to the Apple TV — could disrupt an entire industry.

Alright, here we go. Products are ready when they are ready, even if they are delayed (e.g. Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod). Furthermore, Apple isn’t the same company it was ten years ago, where they could release more throughout the year at a much smaller scale. Everything they make now has to be produced in massive quantities. Care and precision is key and extremely difficult, as we’re seeing by delayed products.

Jeremy’s proposal on changing things up:

Perhaps Apple’s “goodbye, Macworld” press release had the best idea of them all: Since Apple’s retail stores see millions of visits per week, why not bring them all together once or twice a year for global-scale special events?

Live from Apple Park’s Steve Jobs Theater, the company could simultaneously broadcast a keynote to all of its retail stores, complete with a window of limited hands-on time with new products for press and customers. Imagine the lines and the local media coverage; they would be off the charts, and diversify the voices offering perspectives on new Apple products.

The full list of reasons why this would never happen is a big one, so I’ll cut it down to a top few:

  1. Apple would never allow just anyone who shows up to have hands-on time with unreleased products, whether they be hardware or software. It’s a huge part of their M.O. — one that I don’t see ever changing. Allowing first-look experiences for YouTubers in a controlled environment is as close as we’ll ever get to this idea.
  2. Just imagine the damning press and social media calamity if someone were to record a device failing, malfunctioning, or worse.
  3. Having these events would send a confusing message to the uninitiated, perhaps encouraging the idea that all announced products will be available for purchase immediately following the keynote.
  4. Shutting down a large portion of the store, if not all for approximately two hours is a terrible idea for the world’s top retailer in sales per square foot.

Apple doesn’t need to be at CES and they don’t need streamed events to their own stores. Here’s what they really need to do:

  1. Keep making exceptional products.

That’s it. There are definitely areas of improvement that will get them there, such as:

  1. Making better hardware for pros. This includes fixing the host of concerns with MacBook Pros. They are already on the right track with iMac Pro, to be followed by a new Mac Pro.
  2. Dialing in the supply chain for increasingly-complex components. Notice how fast iPhone X caught up with demand? Good sign of improvement, wouldn’t you say?
  3. Increasing software Q.A. efforts to cut down on bugs and security holes.

As long as Apple continues to focus on making the best products for their customers, something tells me they’ll be alright with skipping a trade show.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Fatherboard Episode 004: Appearing Out Of Thin Air

Summary

Join us for discussion of iPhone 8 reviews and thoughts, more on iPhone X, and a recap of Lance’s Watch Series 3 review (spoiler alert: it’s the best Watch yet).

Topics

  • iPhone X Follow-Up
  • iPhone 8 review coverage
    • More on the A11 Bionic chip
    • Lack of lines at Apple Stores
    • Glass-back design
  • iPhone X
    • Launch production quantity reportedly hovering around 12M units.
    • Space Gray vs. White/Silver
  • Digressions about music.
  • Lance’s Apple Watch Series 3 Review
  • Waiting on more HomePod and iMac Pro info

How to Listen

Contact/Follow Us

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fatherboard Episode 003: It’s The Ferrari Of The iPhone

Summary

We’re back with an in-depth discussion about everything Apple announced at their September 2017 keynote. Oh yeah, and we now have an intro theme!

Topics

  • Apple Park and Steve Jobs Theater
  • Angela Ahrendts’s keynote debut and Apple Stores as Town Squares.
  • Apple Watch Series 3
  • Apple TV 4K HDR
  • iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X
  • New accessories.
  • Surprises and offline discoveries.

For a more detailed expansion on these show notes, refer to Lance’s Key Notes for the event.

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How to Listen

Key Notes: Steve Jobs, iPhone X, 8, Watch Series 3

Welcome to Key Notes, where I highlight all the stuff that catches my attention after an Apple keynote.

Apple announced a good helping of stuff today, most of which was confirmed over the weekend by the unexpected leak of the iOS 11 Golden Master for iPhone X. Apple didn’t let that stop the magic, though, juxtaposing a mood that ranged from somber to excitement.

Key Notes for September 12, 2017

Steve Jobs Dedication

  • Tasteful, somber, and heartwarming all at the same time. This was the best introduction to a keynote Apple has ever had. Tim Cook nailed the speech.

Retail

  • Angela Ahrendts took the stage to talk about Apple Stores being referred to as town squares. It’s a narrative they’ve pushed before, but it’s coming across a little forced. Apple Stores are usually always at capacity. People will stumble across all the Apple Today stuff by happenstance.

Apple Watch Series 3

  • Cellular is an obvious progression. Obviously Apple would ensure battery life wouldn’t be an issue.
  • Streaming music directly from the Watch is going to be badass. Makes the Watch essentially an LTE iPod.
  • Phone calls are in and your number is shared with your phone. Glad Ming-Chi Kuo got this one wrong.
  • I love the red dot on the crown, and red/grey are my favorite color (bet you couldn’t tell). However, it makes me wonder if all future LTE models will have have a red-dot crown? I think eventually it’s possible all Apple Watch models will just come with LTE. Definitely a curious design choice, nonetheless. It’s almost as if Apple decided they needed a way to differentiate the product since the casing is the same.
  • Apple says it has an ‘upgraded’ dual-core processor, which is short of saying it’s a whole new SOC. Sounds like a small speed bump, which could be OK.
  • I want the Ceramic Grey Edition model so bad.
  • I wonder how fast apps that use LTE will respond.

Apple TV 4K HDR

  • Logical upgrades. UI will definitely benefit in terms of responsiveness from the A10X chip.
  • Finally, the Apple TV will have a Gigabit Ethernet connection, although the fourth generation still ships with an inexcusable 10/100 jack.
  • Can’t believe they didn’t redesign the Siri remote’s button layout.

All three new iPhones

  • We’re back to the glass sandwich design, just like the iPhone 4. This is a natural evolution of the iPhone 6 design to accommodate “wireless” charging (read: Qi charging). Hopefully the stronger glass holds up better to falls unlike the iPhone 4. The stronger glass is most likely the reason Qi charging took them so long.
  • True Tone display makes it to the iPhone. Very nice. After using it on my iPad Pro 10.5-inch for a few months, I can say I much prefer it to my iPhone 7’s screen.
  • Black, Jet Black, and Rose Gold finishes are no more. Kind of perplexing, especially for the iPhone 8. Rose Gold has been a huge hit.
  • Portrait Mode selfies and Portrait Lighting are great. No longer need another person to take a great Portrait Mode picture of yourself.
  • 4K 60fps video recording is insane for a phone.

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

  • It seems pretty clear this form factor will remain until such a time when iPhone X’s design is more affordable/possible to produce in mass quantities.
  • 25% louder stereo speakers is a nice little addition.
  • Poor iPhone 8 was immediately overshadowed by…

iPhone X

  • Why, oh, why are they pronouncing it “ten”??? I was wrong about this one. So many people will still call it iPhone “ex”, anyway. What happens in two years when we have ‘iPhone 10’?
  • Dat screen. Can’t wait to see this thing in person. They did, indeed embrace the notch. The clip of Spider-Man they played looked odd with the video playing above/below the notch. No Pro Motion (120Hz) refresh rate, though. Wondering if it will cheapen the experience any.
  • Face ID is futuristic and way more than just a backup plan for Touch ID. I also accurately predicted much of how it will work. It’s hilarious how many folks apparently thought Apple would just do basic image comparison to identify your face.
  • The iPhone line now has glaring UX differences for everyday actions (unlocking, going home, switching apps, etc.). I think Apple framed it well in the sense that this is what all iPhones will be like in the years to come. Maybe implementing these changes on the entire line in one fell swoop would be too drastic.
  • On a similar note, Apple didn’t completely do away with a home indicator, but I really like the move to gestural navigation. Getting into the App Switcher looks like a replacement for the 3D Touch left-edge gesture that was removed in iOS 11. Only sad thing is the iPhone 8 and below won’t have it, but Apple must have felt it crucial to not further complicate the UX across the entire line.
  • I’m surprised there weren’t any features on the lock screen that only turn on part of the display to take advantage of OLED.
  • Animoji look like hilarious fun. I’m stunned how well the mouth tracking worked in Craig’s demo.
  • The A11 Bionic chip is fucking insane (both the specs and branding). That is to say, branding it as ‘Bionic’ is just strange.
  • Apple is now making its own GPUs. Game changer.
  • Not much focus on real AR, which I thought was a glaring omission.
  • AppleCare+ will be a whopping $200 by itself.

Other

  • AirPower mat to charge iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods is something I need in my life. Too bad it’s not coming until next year.
  • I wonder how much the new AirPods inductive charging case is going to cost.
  • No mention of HomePod was a surprise. Possible October event to announce availability along with iMac Pro?

Podcast

  • Stay tuned for a new episode of Gaddgict’s podcast, Fatherboard coming later tonight! My Dad and I are going to discuss all this and more.