That's not the only front on which people seem bent on giving free advice to someone who's doing better than they are: Bob Evans of InformationWeek last month dispensed wisdom in which he went so far as to volunteer a name for "Apple's next billion-dollar idea": the iCloud.
I agree with Mitch Wagner's point that "Apple fears not changing." And like all great companies, it has become great by dictating the terms of that change, rather than reacting to innovative moves from competitors. The iCloud could have enormous value for corporate customers and CIOs looking to harness the power and potential of enterprise mobility, and Apple and Jobs can orchestrate the creation of that value and impact without changing who they are and what they primarily do; indeed, this project would enhance their evolving position as a highly disruptive provider of unique services and distributor of high-value IP.
That's why I think the iCloud could be just the sort of change Apple and its mythic CEO need right now to push themselves into the next stage of being insanely great.
I wonder what it is about pundits who feel that it's up to them to figure out what Apple's next move ought to be, lest it lose its edge or fade into irrelevance.
A lot of it came from folks who watched Apple from afar during the lean years of the 90s, when the company clearly seemed to need a little helpful advice, perhaps to make a few tough and galling compromises that it'd never make without some external prodding. When it still seemed as though translucent iMacs and Mac OS X and the iPod were fluke hits destined to be the company's last heroic gasps before the ignominious fate of Be and Amiga, it seemed appropriate to pipe up from the shadows with NPC-like tips for that babe in the woods unexpectedly at the helm. But these days, when Apple has become the bellwether to which the smart tech money adheres and the exemplar of how to create and maintain and grow a captive market, it seems really silly to try to tell Jobs his job.
Remember when the rumor mills kept producing mock-ups of next-generation computers and devices for Apple to produce? A "Sphere" to follow-up the Cube? An iPod that featured a clamshell fold-shut design with the wheel facing the screen across the hinge? More pinstripes and slide-out drawers for OS X? A touch-screen iPod that had a "soft click wheel" that faded into view to give you iPod-like controls? Nobody in the pundit community envisioned the iPhone UI. Nobody realized there was a better metaphor for managing long lists in a touchscreen interface than the physical wheel that they knew worked so well for a non-integrated control. All they could do was extrapolate from what Apple had already come up with. Nobody seemed to have the kind of insight and foresight to know when Apple would totally jettison its past successes—powerful though they might be—in the interest of doing something better. And I guess if they had that kind of mind, they'd have been given an NDA and a business card with an Infinite Loop address on it already.
Will Apple bring out a netbook? Will Apple create an "iCloud"? I have no idea—indeed, I feel less qualified to comment on the subject with each passing day. But I keep getting the feeling that because the things that make Apple so successful today are things that either a) were totally obvious in retrospect or b) have come completely out of left field, the one thing we can bank on is that if someone's suggesting something to Apple that sounds like an evolution of one of their current moneymaking ideas, you can bet that's not going to be what they do.
All I can say is, if anyone sees a skinny buzz-cut guy in jeans and a black turtleneck, loading up a DeLorean with an iPod and an iPhone and a box of other mysterious gadgets and setting the time circuits to 1998, don't get in his way.
I remember when iMacs had 15-inch monitors and we thought that was just peachy.
Twenty-seven inch? Holy expletive.
One thought: is that really an iSight way up there in the top of the bezel? Is everyone planning to iChat with the tops of their friends' heads?
Oh, and look: they put in an SD card slot. Talk about a grudging concession to market realities, eh?
And I love that the 27" iMac's screen can be used as an external monitor for some other computer. Downright practical, that.
Between this and the new supermini (which can be had as a server, almost as though Apple is pandering to the nerdy wish-lists of home-network tinkerers everywhere), it's starting to look like the customer who needs a Mac Pro is a pretty rare beast. Wasn't Apple's whole deal that they were choosing not to play in the low end? They'd better watch out or their high end will get poached away by these middle offerings.
Lessons learned from the Mighty Mouse: pixel-resolution scrollability is a winner, but a gum-up-able mouse ball for your finger (just when we'd settled comfortably into the optical mouse era) is not. Especially when the only way to clean the gummed-up finger-ball is to slice open your hand the mouse with a knife. Multi-touch appears to be the rule across the board now for all Apple devices, which is damn cool; but wireless-only keyboard and mouse offerings give me hives. I don't like the thought of having to stock batteries just to keep my input devices from going mysteriously unresponsive every few months just when I've forgotten about that potential eventuality. (Fortunately it looks like they'll still sell the wired keyboards and the old wired Mighty Mouse.)
I'm glad, perversely, that they stuck with the single-button-but-configurable-as-more-dammit rule of the Mighty Mouse. It always just struck me as such an elegant solution to the one-button-mouse sneerers. Even though you had to retrain your mouse hand to use it properly without accidentally right-clicking when you meant to left-click. God only knows what it'll be like getting used to using the Magic Mouse. And I guess anyone who'd grown used to those side-squeeze buttons is out of luck now, too.
And now that they've tried every other iteration of rounded corners, the new Macbook now has fillets large enough to make the whole edge of the computer into a single unbroken 180° bullnose curve, like a great big iPhone. That's never looked friendlier. I like, though I doubt I'm the target audience. And apparently the sealed-in batteries are a big win in the market too.
Pretty solid lineup. Sure must be nice to be Jobs right about now: better sales results than ever, some damn good product offerings, a healthy lead in all the key markets he's interested in, and a brand new liver to run some champagne through.
Please tell me this is some kind of horrible joke.
On November 8th at 8:30pm, viewers of Fox in the US will watch in horror as the network gives over thirty whole minutes of airtime to a Windows 7-sponsored episode of Family Guy.
Just take a moment to let the horror of that fact settle in your brain. Multi-millionaire Seth MacFarlane – who, by the way, uses a Mac – has decided to sell the soul of his flagship show to Redmond. For money.
Oh wait. It's Seth MacFarlane. Which means it is a horrible joke.