Here’s Apple’s plan to keep from losing the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market

Bloomberg:

In Bengaluru’s busy Madiwala neighborhood, a Poorvika Mobile World shop is plastered with posters for Samsung and Xiaomi and filled with inexpensive phones from brands like China’s Oppo and Vivo. Off to one side is a forlorn display stand with the iPhone 6, 6s, and X, the latter sitting upside down. Despite a zero-interest payment plan and cash-back incentives, Apple Inc. is lucky if the iPhones account for 25 of the 1,000 smartphones the store sells each month, says manager Nagaraja B.C., who goes by one name. “The average budget of a shopper is about 10,000 rupees,” he says, roughly $150. The iPhone SE, the cheapest Apple model, costs almost twice that. For $100, shoppers can get a Xiaomi Redmi 5A with a bigger battery, better camera, and greater storage capacity.

And:

For years, Indian consumers have complained that Siri can’t process their requests in local languages, they have no access to Apple Pay, and Apple Maps can’t give them turn-by-turn directions or identify points of interest.

Apple has long been the high-priced spread, with a focus on tapping the moneyed crowd. The first quote above implies that the pricey iPhone is not a financial match for this particular market. The second quote seems more a result of that mismatch.

Once Apple figures out how to build product that fits this market, once they see the potential revenue here, Apple will no doubt apply their resources to solve the localization problem.

Ex-Apple CEO Sculley: Tim Cook got Wall Street to fall in love with what Steve Jobs built

[VIDEO] I love the title, well said, though that’s just a small part of a large, complex picture.

Two highlights:

“Steve Jobs created a loyalty with users that is unparalleled in the consumer technology world. What Tim Cook has done, he’s built a loyalty with shareholders,” Sculley said on “Squawk on the Street.”

And:

Whereas Jobs cultivated customer loyalty, based on incredible products, Cook used the Apple reputation to build a “brilliant business model,” Sculley said, adding that instead of inventing the best, new technology, Cook buys back stocks, hordes cash, and gives out dividends.

Read the article, watch the video (embedded in the main Loop post).

I have a secret. My father is Steve Jobs.

Lisa Brennan-Jobs:

I tiptoed into my father’s room, careful to step over the creaky floorboard at the entrance. This room had been his study, when he could still climb the stairs, but he slept here now.

He was propped up in bed, wearing shorts. His legs were bare and thin as arms, bent up like a grasshopper’s.

Segyu Rinpoche stood beside him. He’d been around recently when I came to visit. A short Brazilian man with sparkling brown eyes, the Rinpoche was a Buddhist monk with a scratchy voice who wore brown robes over a round belly. We called him by his title. Near us, a black canvas bag of nutrients hummed with a motor and a pump, the tube disappearing somewhere under my father’s sheets.

This is an excerpt from Lisa’s upcoming memoir, Small Fry. I struggled a bit to read it. Not because of the prose, which is excellent, but simply because Steve means so much to me and I’m reliving him leaving.

A new device can hear your thoughts

Rachel Slade, Medium:

Improbably, AlterEgo, the soundless, voiceless, earbud-less device he’d been working on for the last two years had become adept enough at reading his thoughts that he could use it to order an Uber without saying a word.

And:

Kapur wants to perfect a device that allows users to communicate with A.I. as effortlessly as one’s left brain talks to one’s right brain, so that humans can integrate the power of the Internet into their thinking at every level.

And:

One night, Kapur and his brother were testing the device in their Cambridge apartment. Kapur was wearing the device and Shreyas was monitoring the computer screen. They’d rigged the device to track signals in real time so that Shreyas could note the exact moment it picked up something, if anything.

It was getting late. Kapur had been speaking silently into the device for a couple of hours — having programmed it to understand just two words: yes and no — without any meaningful results.

Then Shreyas thought he saw something. A blip on the screen.

To me, this is the sort of device that Big Tech ought to be building, something that allows you to interface with your personal AI and with the world it connects to, all without saying a word, by purposeful thinking.

There are dangers, of course, as those ad companies do their level best to connect directly with your brain. But still, I find this fascinating.

Apple’s trillion-dollar world

Bloomberg:

Now the business founded by Steve Jobs and his pal Steve Wozniak in a Los Altos garage in 1976 truly stands alone. Apple Inc.’s market capitalization was a paltry $3 billion when Jobs returned to the wounded company in 1996, after it had acquired his startup, NeXT. Passing the $1 trillion mark a little more than two decades later puts an exclamation point at the end of a remarkable run of success—one that started with Jobs’s introduction of the iMac, iPod, iPad, and, especially, the iPhone, and was extended by his successor, Tim Cook, who now presides over the most valuable business in modern history.

And:

Jobs took the stage in January 2007, during a now legendary appearance at MacWorld in San Francisco, and said in his usual pugilistic style that smartphones “are not so smart, and they’re not so easy to use.” The iPhone, he told us, “works like magic.”

Terrific read, though one with its share of snark, like so:

Thus was Apple’s winning formula refined: slick, simple products with hefty price tags, accompanied by splashy press events, mesmerizing advertising, and the numbing repetition of words like “amazing” and “phenomenal.”

And:

While the iPhone has altered daily life so much that no one remembers life before it, Apple has also persuaded customers to embrace other inventions they never knew they wanted, such as connected watches that buzz and beep (to cure the distraction of the phone, Apple says) and wireless dongles that hang ridiculously from their ears.

Still, an interesting essay, lots of images of people staring at their phones.

The oldest building in every US state

Barbara Davidson, NetCredit:

The United States is a comparatively young country, but one with a rich and diverse history. From the ancient villages of New Mexico’s Pueblo people and the early Spanish settlers in Florida, to the Russian traders of Alaska and 19th-century missionaries in Utah, each of the 50 states has its own story to tell.

Bucket list for me. I’d love to visit every one of these.

Apple is worth $1,000,000,000,000. Two decades ago, it was almost bankrupt.

Jack Nicas, New York Times:

In 1997, Apple was on the ropes. The Silicon Valley pioneer was being decimated by Microsoft and its many partners in the personal-computer market. It had just cut a third of its work force, and it was about 90 days from going broke.

And:

On Thursday, Apple became the first publicly traded American company to be worth more than $1 trillion when its shares climbed 3 percent to end the day at $207.39.

And:

Apple’s ascent from the brink of bankruptcy to the world’s most valuable public company has been a business tour de force, marked by rapid innovation, a series of smash-hit products and the creation of a sophisticated, globe-spanning supply chain that keeps costs down while producing enormous volumes of cutting-edge devices.

A nice little rags-to-riches appreciation piece from the New York Times.

I’ve bought Apple stock a few different times over the years, just trying to be part of the company to which I’d hitched my wagon. One particular investment sticks out.

Apple was valued at about $12 a share (I believe it was in the late ’80s or early ’90s) and their book value was about $16 a share. In other words, Apple had hit a moment in time where the shareholders valued the company as less than the value Apple would have if they completely liquidated all their assets.

What a turnaround.

Apple’s shift from shared passion to financial calculation

Joe Rossignol, MacRumors:

Apple on Tuesday reported that it sold 3.72 million Macs in its third quarter, which spanned April 1 through June 30, the fewest in any single quarter since it sold 3.47 million in the third quarter of 2010.

And:

There are a number of possible explanations for the decline, including consumers increasingly shifting towards the iPhone and iPad. Together, those devices accounted for 65 percent of Apple’s revenue last quarter, compared to just 10 percent for the Mac. Apple even markets the iPad as a computer replacement.

The bigger reason, however, may have been that nearly the entire Mac lineup was outdated last quarter. Beyond the iMac Pro, released four months before the quarter began, no other Mac had been updated since 2017 or earlier.

I find it no wonder that Mac sales are down. The only updated machines have been dogged by the keyboard reliability issue. As I said yesterday, I think the new warranty and anti-crumb membrane are enough to make me bullish on the new MacBook lineup.

The other Mac elements that need to line up here are the new Mac Pro and the Mac mini. The question is, does Apple truly care about the Mac as more than just a balance sheet line item?

Apple just killed the App Store Affiliate Program. Presumably, the goal there is to maximize services revenue.

Apple is holding fast to a paltry 5GB of iCloud base storage. Presumably, this goes to maximize services revenue as well.

Is this “maximize revenues” logic correct? Apple is not communicating any other message, even in the face of howls from their loyal base.

Is the Mac becoming an afterthought? Will we ever see a new Mac mini? How about a new Mac Pro? And what’s the status on the AirPower charging mat?

My two cents? I think Apple should come out and address all of this. I get playing cards close to the vest, but sometimes you need to let the troops know you feel their pain, give them reason to hope.

We’ve stuck with you through thick and thin. But more and more, the relationship is feeling more like financial calculation than shared passion. Just saying.

Steve Jobs and General Magic

Chris MacAskill tells a wonderful story about General Magic and getting a device in Steve’s hands. Loved every bit of this.

Computer and smartphone latency

Ran across this on Twitter (apologies for the lack of a hat tip, can’t find the original post).

Dan Luu:

I’ve had this nagging feeling that the computers I use today feel slower than the computers I used as a kid. As a rule, I don’t trust this kind of feeling because human perception has been shown to be unreliable in empirical studies, so I carried around a high-speed camera and measured the response latency of devices I’ve run into in the past few months. Here are the results.

Follow the link, check out the charts. Apple simply rocks at reducing latency.

The bullshit web

Nick Heer:

My home computer in 1998 had a 56K modem connected to our telephone line; we were allowed a maximum of thirty minutes of computer usage a day, because my parents — quite reasonably — did not want to have their telephone shut off for an evening at a time. I remember webpages loading slowly: ten to twenty seconds for a basic news article.

And:

With an internet connection faster than I could have thought possible in the late 1990s, what’s the score now? A story at the Hill took over nine seconds to load; at Politico, seventeen seconds; at CNN, over thirty seconds. This is the bullshit web.

This is a tremendous read. I especially loved the take on AMP. Read it all the way to the end. Exceptional writing.

Thoughts on the Touch Bar (cost and function keys)

I just replaced my 2015 MacBook Pro with a brand new 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Lots has been written about Touch Bar over the last few years, so I’m going to focus on two things. [Jump to the main Loop post for the deets]

Marco: Low power mode on the Mac

Marco Arment:

Sometimes, you just need Low Power Mode: the switch added to iOS a few years ago to conserve battery life when you need it, at the expense of full performance and background tasks.

There’s no such feature on Mac laptops, but there should be.

This is a fascinating read and this suggestion would be a perfect add to the System Preferences Energy Saver page.

Steve Jobs 1997 WWDC fireside chat

[VIDEO] Steve is sitting on stage, taking questions from the audience of developers (video embedded in main Loop post).

The whole thing is great but, if your time is short, jump to 4:30, where the questions start. The first one, “What about OpenDoc?”, is a perfect opener. OpenDoc was a much ballyhooed architecture that Apple sold hard. When Steve came back, well, just watch the video.

Apple Q3 earnings call transcript

Here’s a link to the transcript.

One little snippet:

Based on third party research estimates, the App Store generated nearly twice the revenue of Google Play so far in 2018.

Amazing to me how much money can be made, all while prioritizing privacy.

Jason Snell’s Apple earnings charts, and thoughts on the Mac sales numbers

Another earnings call, another excellent, detailed set of charts from Jason Snell.

Jump down to the section of Mac sales:

Mac sales were down 13 percent year over year, and revenue was down five percent. It’s understandable given the environment—the year-ago’s quarter saw new MacBook Pros being released in June, while this year they didn’t release until July, after Apple’s third quarter ended.

That last bit is critical. As you read the reaction to Apple’s earnings, you’ll no doubt run into the “Mac is doomed” take, based on the numbers released yesterday. But, as Jason points out, the new MacBook Pro lineup, with its third generation, membrane protected keyboard and Apple keyboard exchange program in place, kicked in after the 3rd quarter ended.

Too early for sales numbers on the new Macs but, I will say, I’ve been waiting for the keyboard brouhaha to resolve itself and this new warranty and anti-crumb membrane were enough for me to buy in. I bought my new MacBook Pro last week and I am really happy with it.

My experience, as well as chats with other folks I’ve spoken with who’ve also been waiting to buy a new Mac, makes me bullish. I think we’ll see a nice upward slope on the next set of Mac numbers. My 2 cents.

Apple’s official earnings press release, and some numbers

Apple put out a press release, highlighting a few numbers from 3Q2018 and offering some guidance for the fourth quarter.

A few links:

Rene Ritchie’s detailed 2018 MacBook Pro review

Rene Ritchie does an excellent job digging through all the bits and pieces, pros and cons, that make up the new MacBook Pro. If you are considering a new machine, this is a worthwhile, detailed read.

What makes this song great: Roundabout by Yes

[VIDEO] Fan of the Yes song Roundabout? This is a wonderful video (embedded in the main Loop post). Rick Beato does what he does best, taking apart a song, piece by piece, exposing all the complexities and helping you appreciate Roundabout at a whole new level.

Dave Lee reruns his MacBook Pro 2018 tests with Apple’s patch in place

[VIDEO] Dave Lee started this whole thing, and this is him taking Apple’s new patch for a spin to see if things really are fixed (video embedded in main Loop post). Good results, thoughtful take on thinness and compromises.

One side note: The day before this patch hit, I tweeted about a Reddit take on thermal throttling. The Reddit take implied that the issue was an issue with the Voltage Regulator Module and not the CPU. This was the first take I saw that implied that this issue was fixable in software and not an Intel i9 issue, not a hardware heat sink issue (at least not completely).

The Reddit take has also been updated to reflect Apple’s patch. All very interesting. Glad this is resolved.

Rethinking the macOS Font Picker

Sam William Smith:

The font picker is one of the most commonly used drop down menus in any creative application. Despite this, the default font picker on macOS has remained largely unchanged since the early days.

What I like about this relatively simple redesign is that it follows the pattern that Apple established in the Mac emoji picker, with sections for frequently used and favorited emoji/fonts.

I’d like to see this pattern become a standard throughout Apple’s design language. For starters, it’d be nice if the iOS emoji picker allowed you to favorite emoji, as you can in macOS.

[VIDEO] Woz interview back in 1984

[VIDEO] This is Woz, back in the day (video embedded in main Loop post). The Macintosh has just been announced, and Woz is counting his losses from the US Festivals. No real mention of Steve Jobs. Fascinating.

The little things

Reddit user ltethe:

I’ve been a dedicated Mac guy for… I don’t know… Near 30 years? But lately I’ve pooh poohed some of the latest Mac features…

Haptic feedback, touch ID, Touch Bar…

It’ll take me a few years, but inevitably, I’ll get a new model Apple product, and the new tech is bundled in… And… Those features turn out to be waaaaaayyy cooler than I thought.

Interesting read, especially regarding Touch Bar. One of the things I love about Apple’s design sense is the thought that goes into each element. It’s delightful when a new feature shaves a bit of time off something I do on a regular basis.

For me, a perfect example of this is my Apple Watch unlocking my Mac. This sort of thing is Apple at their best.

Good little writeup. Heartfelt.