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The Tortoise And The Hare And The Hare And The Tortoise
April 28, 2011 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Apple's revenues and net earnings for the first calendar quarter of 2011 both beat the reported sales and profits of its rival Microsoft for the first time in recent history. It's been an epic rivalry between these two computer tech giants. Apple had an early lead, was overtaken by Microsoft in a rather spectacular fashion. And then, slowly, like a guerilla campaign from distant provinces, Apple came back. At least by one measure - earnings - a measure that seemed destined to always be in Microsoft's favor, Apple has now taken the lead.

"Over the last three quarters, Microsoft has posted less revenue but greater profits on its software-oriented businesses than Apple.

However, in the most recent quarter Microsoft has posted total revenues of $16.428 billion, compared to Apple's reported revenues of $24.67 billion, and net income of $5.232 billion compared to Apple's net profit of $5.99 billion.

Microsoft noted an increase in revenues over the year ago quarter of 13 percent, jumping from $14.5 billion to $16.4. In contrast, Apple's revenues were up 82.7 percent from $13.5 billion in the first calendar quarter of 2010.

Microsoft's net profits were up 30 percent from $4 billion a year ago, while Apple's profits were up 95 percent from just over $3 billion in the year ago quarter."

But what does this mean? Does it mean that Microsoft's world-wide dominance is waning? Is Apple becoming a dominant company on a world scale? Should Microsofts earnings even be put in the context of Apple's earnings?
posted by VikingSword (336 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Suck it, Ballmer.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:24 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm sure Ballmer is totally crying about clearing $5.2 billion and 30 percent profit growth.
posted by kmz at 3:29 PM on April 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


If Microsoft could charge the kinds of fees to develop for Windows that Apple gets away with charging to develop for iOS, this wouldn't even be a contest. Double standards produce skewed results.
posted by kafziel at 3:30 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does this mean I can feel even more smug about never having purchased an Apple product?
posted by COD at 3:30 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ironic that in 1997, Bill Gates provided Apple with $150,000,000 and arguably kept them afloat.
posted by Danf at 3:31 PM on April 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


What did you say about my vegan God?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:32 PM on April 28, 2011


Does this mean that people will finally stop writing the irritating M$ thing on the internet?
posted by Aizkolari at 3:33 PM on April 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


This makes my 2 percent raise totally worth it!
posted by boo_radley at 3:36 PM on April 28, 2011


Of course, in some ways they barely compete. Apple makes almost all of their money from iOS and iTunes. Microsoft makes very little money from Windows Phone OS and Zune, instead it's Windows / Office / XBox.

Of course, if iOS replaces "real" computers for average people (not clear to me that it will happen, but a possibility) it will be bad for Microsoft (and people in general, IMO).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:36 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Aizkolari: "Does this mean that people will finally stop writing the irritating M$ thing on the internet"

APP₤€?
posted by boo_radley at 3:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [28 favorites]


for some reason, I thought this happened last quarter ...
posted by mrgrimm at 3:37 PM on April 28, 2011


Does this mean that people will finally stop writing the irritating M$ thing on the internet?

No, but they will also start writing Appl€.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


DAMMIT.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


if it wasnt for msft there might be no apple today :

http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/05/apples-stock-rise-could-have-meant-5-billion-for-microsoft.ars
posted by 3mendo at 3:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Microsoft could charge the kinds of fees to develop for Windows that Apple gets away with charging to develop for iOS

Can't wait to get a refund for my Android Market account!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:38 PM on April 28, 2011


Is this where Apple starts to really suck?
posted by psycho-alchemy at 3:39 PM on April 28, 2011


Apple is so mainstream now, they really sold out. These days I've gone back to my IBM 360. Magnetic tape as a storage format just has a much warmer feel to it.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:40 PM on April 28, 2011 [29 favorites]


He also throws Lex Luthor into the sun. So, y'know, there's that, too.
posted by boo_radley at 3:40 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


kafziel: On the other hand, every PC maker that ships a machine that runs Windows still has to pay Microsoft for the privilege, so... there's that.

COD: Absolutely.

Danf: That $150mil was a token. It did not keep Apple afloat.

Aizkolari: Probably not.

In conclusion: Everybody that made fun of me in high school for using a Mac and a Newton can SUCK IT.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go get lit and put "We Are The Champions" on a loop.
posted by pts at 3:41 PM on April 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


So did anyone else see the new South Park?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:42 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I finished typing this comment, I'm going to grab my two button mouse and click "Post Comment."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:42 PM on April 28, 2011


pts i just heard apple might be slipping, you need to buy another farmville cabbage iPad or you'll be letting your team down.
posted by boo_radley at 3:42 PM on April 28, 2011


Ironic that in 1997, Bill Gates provided Apple with $150,000,000 and arguably kept them afloat.

They did that to keep the Department of Justice at bay, not to save Apple, so much as keep a token competitor around to get the feds off their backs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:43 PM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Just the excuse I need to watch Pirates of Silicon Valley again.
posted by kersplunk at 3:46 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course, if iOS replaces "real" computers for average people (not clear to me that it will happen, but a possibility) it will be bad for Microsoft (and people in general, IMO)

My parents got their first computer ever, an iPad. They have called me a total of once to ask how to use that, and that was how to have an internet connection put into their house. They would have never in a million more years ever bought a "real computer." I've read plenty of articles about Grandma's first computer being an iPad, too, so they're clearly not unique.

So I'm not sure what you mean. It works well for them, and it works well for me, and I'm at the "I own computers that I have never seen" level on the geek hierarchy chart.

Or are you just trolling?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 3:50 PM on April 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


boo_radley: ha ha nice try jerkface I don't even HAVE an iPad! I just want one really bad is all!

This scotch is fucking delicious, by the way.
posted by pts at 3:51 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ok, but if you used Apple products in the 90s or early 2000s you're still a nerd.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:55 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sigh. Apple, I loved you once, back when you built hardware that wasn't designed to die every 2 years.
posted by yeloson at 3:56 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Or are you just trolling?

Um, no....

First, if we're talking people who would not have bought a computer otherwise, sure it's not hurting anything.

If people are replacing computers with iOS, the biggest harm is the lack of a competitive software market. With only one possible way to buy software, Apple has a degree of control unprecedented in computing. Microsoft never had control over software in this way. I think that, if this were to become dominant, it would severly limit innovation.

There's other things like kids not having access to more complicated devices (which is how most of us learned), issues with ergonomics (tablets are really bad for extended use), etc.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:58 PM on April 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


Or are you just trolling?

No, I don't think he's trolling. If the dominant computing paradigm ends up being a completely closed system like the iPad (or Android tablets, or anything else that the user really can't modify or program), how do people learn to do anything beyond user-stuff? I don't think this is really a criticism of the iPad.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:58 PM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


There are plenty of legitimate reasons to believe that a world where iOS machines generally replaced the personal computer would be a worse-off world:

it would be difficult to transfer files from computer to computer using a USB stick, in the absence of internet

it would be difficult to make backups of a whole computer without a host apple computer with itunes

you couldn't easily load software onto a new computer if it wasn't available through the apple store

you couldn't easily fix something that's wrong with your own computer, or easily fix something wrong with a relative's computer

Just because you don't share the opinion doesn't mean wildcrdj is trolling.
posted by ofthestrait at 3:59 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Apple, I loved you once, back when you built hardware that wasn't designed to die every 2 years.

I bought an MBA last year, and it's the best laptop I've ever bought. I don't think anyone else is building things to last any better.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:00 PM on April 28, 2011


And yeah, with the exception of the market issue these arguments all apply to Android and other tablet/phone/etc devices.

(on a purely selfish note, low demand will drive up the price of commodity PC hardware, which is unfortunate)
posted by wildcrdj at 4:02 PM on April 28, 2011


Apple is that rare thing, a company that does well because it has excellent products and treats its customers like kings. My first Apple was a late 2009 iMac and I love it to death.

I recently bought an iPad 2 and a problem surfaced after a few weeks. When it was clear it was a hardware defect I went into an Apple store and got it replaced on the spot, no bullshit or hassle.

To lose me as a customer, Apple would have to send an employee to my door to hit me with a crowbar. (Ping pong paddle? Tennis racket? I'd keep buying Apple)
posted by fleetmouse at 4:03 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does this mean that people will finally stop writing the irritating M$ thing on the internet?

May I suggest that Mi¢rosoft may now be more appropriate?
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:16 PM on April 28, 2011 [28 favorites]


That cracked me up, Ian A.T.; yes, I am immature.
posted by VikingSword at 4:17 PM on April 28, 2011


I love the iPad and iPhone, but I also think it would be a catastrophe if that was all you could buy.
posted by empath at 4:21 PM on April 28, 2011


Ah, reminds me of one of my (many many) follies when I was young... in high school I actually printed out and bound a whole bunch of Microsoft jokes (from places like wiretap.spies.com) and labeled it the "Micro$oftian Bible" and would show it off at school. Jesus, how was I not punched all through high school?
posted by kmz at 4:21 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


If Microsoft could charge the kinds of fees to develop for Windows that Apple gets away with charging to develop for iOS

A copy of Visual Studio 2010 costs ~$700. MSDN subscriptions are hundreds per year. And of course Windows licenses aren't free either.

It's true that MS gives away tons of free and discounted copies of VS, but professional Windows development isn't trivially free.
posted by jedicus at 4:25 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apple, I loved you once, back when you built hardware that wasn't designed to die every 2 years.

To be fair, I bought the lowest-end MacBook, and it lasted me 4.5 years before I eventually replaced it. Before that, I had an Alienware that had ridiculous problems from the first day I owned it (e.g., would overheat and instantly turn off whenever the GPU was under load), and whose components started to fail about 6 months in. I ditched it after the 1(!) year warranty expired. Prior to that, I had two ThinkPads, each of which lasted ~2 years before dying completely as well.

I'm no fanboy - I've been outspoken against the App Store, I can't imagine ever owning an iPad or an Apple TV or AirPort Express, I think iTunes is bloated, etc. - but come on. Their hardware's more expensive than the competition... but then again, it lasted 2-5x longer than the competition in my experience. Which has turned me into a loyal customer.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 4:26 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fun fact: Apple could run on its cash reserves until 2018. They probably won't need to.

It's weird comparing Apple to Microsoft because Apple is primarily a hardware company. Microsoft does pretty well selling Xboxes and mice, but they're primarily a software company.

Which makes it all the weirder that Apple is beating them both on revenues and profits. You'd think software would have such vastly higher margins that it couldn't be fairly compared to hardware. Apparently not.
posted by adamrice at 4:27 PM on April 28, 2011


I'm sure Ballmer is totally crying about clearing $5.2 billion and 30 percent profit growth.

Well, Ballmer really should be crying. He took over in 2000, with a huge market lead over Apple and a dominant position in desktop computers, mobile devices and phones. Now Microsoft is a utterly irrelevant in the mobile space and increasingly irrelevant everywhere except the enterprise/corporate environment and the XBox, the latter having been obtained at enormous expense.

In a decade, Apple has gone from an also-ran to completely dominating the tablet, portable media player, laptop and cellphone spaces, making hardware that's second to none, and Microsoft is basically only good at the things they were good at before Ballmer took office.

Jobs once said, he's more proud of the things Apple didn't release than the things they did. Microsoft has two different products called "Link", one being spelled "Linq" and the other "Lync", which are utterly unrelated. They had, at one point, three internally competing cellphone projects, all of which sucked and went nowhere.

Remember that mind-blowing SeaDragon demo from a while back? Well, the first place a human could actually play with that was actually on the iPhone. That is, their number one competitor's flagship device.

Microsoft still makes stuff that's incredible, including bar none the best developer tools available on any platform, if you're willing to go looking for it. But nobody cares, because their marketing and upper management is so very, very terrible. Ballmer's been coasting on the three fantastic monopolies he was handed at the beginning of his term - Windows, Office and Exchange - and whatever the numbers say, he's managed to squander every other opportunity Microsoft has been given.
posted by mhoye at 4:30 PM on April 28, 2011 [19 favorites]


It's weird comparing Apple to Microsoft because Apple is primarily a hardware company.

Is it? The huge profit margins on mobile hardware thanks to their vertical integration is definitely not hurting them, but for their cut of iTunes sales they're primarily a billing middleman.
posted by kafziel at 4:33 PM on April 28, 2011


wildcrdj: "And yeah, with the exception of the market issue these arguments all apply to Android and other tablet/phone/etc devices."

Not all. Some devices support USB on the go, which allows a tablet-like device to work in either host or device mode, depending on what sort of device it gets plugged into. My N810 does that. Sadly, Nokia fucked that up with the N900, and a program must be used to put it in host mode.

Either way, it requires a special cable, but that wouldn't be a big hurdle if more manufacturers would use OTG.

And what? Microsoft dominated mobile devices and phones in the year 2000? Are you mad, mhoye?
posted by wierdo at 4:35 PM on April 28, 2011


I bought an MBA last year, and it's the best laptop I've ever bought. I don't think anyone else is building things to last any better.

I was good until my G5 tower died due to motherboard issues... right on the 3rd year after warrantee ended. My iPod Shuffle, the simplest of machines, was bricked by a firmware update.

Meanwhile, my G3 cube still works, except it can't run OSX at any reasonable speed.
posted by yeloson at 4:35 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which makes it all the weirder that Apple is beating them both on revenues and profits. You'd think software would have such vastly higher margins that it couldn't be fairly compared to hardware. Apparently not.

If your revenues are big enough, you can beat anyone, no matter how profitable. Some stats:

AAPL

IBM

GOOG

MSFT
posted by VikingSword at 4:36 PM on April 28, 2011


AAPL Revenue Sources—Q1 2011
iPad 17.2%
iPhone 39.1%
iPod 12.8%
Mac 20.3%
iTunes Store 5.4%
Software/Services 2.9%
Peripherals 2.2%
posted by ofthestrait at 4:39 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


oy vey. There'll be no living with you lot now.
posted by elizardbits at 4:44 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


kafziel: If Microsoft could charge the kinds of fees to develop for Windows that Apple gets away with charging to develop for iOS, this wouldn't even be a contest.

Blazecock Pileon: Can't wait to get a refund for my Android Market account!

Wait, what?

Puts on Blazecock Pileon glasses

kafziel: If Microsoft could charge the kinds of fees to install apps on Windows that that scumbag company Apple charges to put apps in the app store(TM), amazon trademark infringement lawsuit pending, this wouldn't even be a contest. Therefore iOS and Apple totally suck! Everyone should switch to android phones, it's far cheaper for developers and users.

System Notice: You have not yet defended Apple's honour against Google in this thread, and extolled the virtues of iOS and Apple over all competitors. Post now to claim your $5 bonus.


Ohhh. Now it's totally not a non-sequiteur.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:49 PM on April 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


entropicamericana: "Does this mean that people will finally stop writing the irritating M$ thing on the internet?

No, but they will also start writing Appl€
"

DAMN YOU, YOU TOOK MY JOKE!!!!!!!! (I have € in my buffer even! SEE!) *sigh*
posted by symbioid at 4:51 PM on April 28, 2011


Ok, but if you used Apple products in the 90s or early 2000s you're still a nerd.

Pshaw. How about 1984?
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:51 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oops, You done got the joke stolen before you, too! *sigh* We're just so original around here.
posted by symbioid at 4:52 PM on April 28, 2011


Nearly 40% of Apple's revenue is based on mobile phone sales and service revenue from operators. Given how fleeting success at the top of the mobile food chain is (just ask Nokia or Motorola), that's a high-risk position to be in. But Apple has always been a high risk/reward stock to follow. When it does well, it does very, very well. But when it does badly, it truly tanks (and it wasn't so long ago (2004!) that media was full of stories like this).

I'd argue that as well as Ballmer's missteps, a large part of Microsoft's constrained growth over the past decade or so has been as a result of the antitrust settlement and the on-site compliance observes that were embedded for a few years. Consistently since the mid-1990s, Microsoft has been blocked (or was too self-consciously cautious) from making the really *big* purchases that it could have used to bulldoze its way into a huge, new, growing segment (eg, Intuit or Symbian) and instead has been forced to attempt to organically grow (never its strong suit) and to basically dump its excess cash as special dividends and other short-term stock manipulations. This benefits nobody in the long-term. The same kind of antitrust "oversight" was part of the reason IBM was so relatively paralyzed during the 1970s and in the end opted to respond to the PC emergence by delivering a platform that was unusually open (for IBM) with the results that we around us today.

Ironically, despite its current success, Apple has seemed constrained over the last few years not by legal limits but by apparent executive hesitancy, disagreement, or lack of imagination in fully utilizing its ever-growing cash pile. This is now *tremendous* and for a company that does not pay dividends, represents a growing problem. Without making some suitably huge purchases to deplete it, if the pile keeps growing (and if, worse, Apple's revenues sink or plateau) then the SEC takes a dim regulatory view of a publicly traded company that's not in banking or investment sitting on low-yielding cash piles like this. Maybe Apple really should just turn around and buy Netflix, or one of the large media conglomerates.
posted by meehawl at 5:03 PM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Apple's margins are huge, considering. You can buy a perfectly reasonable Android phone for £90, new, with no rebate or contract, and everyone makes their cut. Nu-uh on the iPhone. Or compare how much you have to up your donation to the Steve Jobs Poloneck Fund if you want an extra 16 or 32GB of flash, compared to what you pay elsewhere. There are no microSD card slots in Apple products for a reason, and it's not to make things simple for granny.

I think my main objections to Apple is that it isn't that exciting a company by most normal measures (it makes, what, a handful of things, most of which are like each other and like stuff elsewhere) and that it has an army of fanatics, and that's never good. It's extremely hard to enter into an objective discussion with anyone about Apple: the company itself refuses to engage with anyone about anything except entirely on its own terms (at any level that I've ever had to engage with it, and that's consistent with others I talk to), and the fanbois are... well, as someone said upstream, Apple would have to hit him with a crowbar to stop him being a customer. These things are not good.

What does it have? Extreme focus, and extreme marketing smarts. Not extreme industrial design (go look at Braun if you want to see what's on Jony Ive's bookshelves). Not world-beating hardware or software architecture (Mac OS has ground to a halt, developmently, iOS 4 does what the marketing department tells it to do, and hardware is commodity). It gets away with a lot of things that aren't all that, because it has a huge focus in not doing the things that are actually bad. The actually bad things that it does do, it gets forgiven by 'it'd take a crowbar' et al.

Is this good? The few things it does, it does well, so that's nice, providing you don't worry about the bad stuff. Will it survive Jobs? Not a hope. Is it actually moving the industry on? Not as much as it should, although that's at least 70 percent the rest of the industry's fault.

On the whole, though, Apple's just rather dull.
posted by Devonian at 5:05 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm a bit confused by a couple of comments here stating that Microsoft has a hardware problem. I have never owned a Microsoft computer. I build my own systems. As well I build computers for clients. My systems are rock solid and last way longer than 2 years. How can you blame MS for badly built PCs?

Kuldgey software sure. But the hardware ain't their problem.
posted by Splunge at 5:05 PM on April 28, 2011


Are you mad, mhoye?

Your mobile-devices then were running RimOS, PalmOS, WinCE variants and... Symbian maybe, if we include phones? That was a bad time to be RIM, if I recall. Even then, WinCE and its PocketPC derivatives were on more stuff,
posted by mhoye at 5:06 PM on April 28, 2011


... but I'm totally with you on the N810 thing. Man, I had an n800, and I can't tell you how often I wished for little things, like Skype working with the webcam. Nokia has basically screwed the pooch to death on that front.
posted by mhoye at 5:08 PM on April 28, 2011


But what does this mean? Does it mean that Microsoft's world-wide dominance is waning?

No, it just means that laptops and desktops are becoming less important, and mobile devices are becoming more important.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:10 PM on April 28, 2011


Possibly related: the Microsoft consent decree is about to end.
posted by Slothrup at 5:15 PM on April 28, 2011


meehawl hit it on the nose... but here's my two cents. Apple is a hardware company. Microsoft is a software company.

The boom and bust of Apple completely depends on the popularity of their hardware (the reason their hardware succeeds depends on its tight coupling with its software).

The success of Microsoft depends on its ability to acquire, develop and implement an ecosystem of software (and now software services like the emerging Live offerings through XBL, Office, Sharepoint and Exchange) that are accepted enterprise standards.

I think the two are going to compete rather fiercely in one arena: media content delivery. Zune v. iTunes, which for devices means Xbox 360 v. AppleTV.

As for phones, MS makes the OS, but the competition against the iPhone rests more with the likes of LG/Samsung/Nokia/HTC/Motorola/Blackberry.
posted by linux at 5:16 PM on April 28, 2011


It did happen slowly. So slowly that I often don't take time to appreciate how awesome it is that I have what is essentially a souped-up NeXT machine as my laptop and in my pocket, and a place to publish my apps with what is essentially the world's first practical tip jar for software.

I shudder to think what's going to happen when Apple decides to fire off the $50 billion of gunpowder that it has stored.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:28 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ironically, despite its current success, Apple has seemed constrained over the last few years not by legal limits but by apparent executive hesitancy, disagreement, or lack of imagination in fully utilizing its ever-growing cash pile.

Apple has been using their cash to make key acquisitions and to ensure their suppliers keep the product coming. I don't see what's dumb about that. Maybe they could take a page from the Microsoft playbook and buy a bunch of companies and do absolutely nothing with them; would that be more to your liking?
posted by entropicamericana at 5:56 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Without making some suitably huge purchases to deplete it, if the pile keeps growing (and if, worse, Apple's revenues sink or plateau) then the SEC takes a dim regulatory view of a publicly traded company that's not in banking or investment sitting on low-yielding cash piles like this.

How's Apple's position any different that many other tech companies? Cisco has about the same amount of cash with less than a third market cap. What is the SEC going to do? Maybe Apple's hesitancy to flex its cash muscles is in an effort to avoid the very scrutiny that so effectively has hamstrung Microsoft.

But Apple has always been a high risk/reward stock to follow. When it does well, it does very, very well. But when it does badly, it truly tanks (and it wasn't so long ago (2004!) that media was full of stories like this).

Ugh...an article insisting that Jobs made a mistake by not continuing licensing, predicts the Apple would be driven out of the mp3 player game by the Dell DJ and extols the Dell as a better run company? This is why I don't get any investment advice from Fast Company.
posted by roquetuen at 6:02 PM on April 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


But Apple has always been a high risk/reward stock to follow. When it does well, it does very, very well. But when it does badly, it truly tanks (and it wasn't so long ago (2004!) that media was full of stories like this).

To be fair, the media has been full of stories about Apple's immanent demise for longer than many computer users have been alive.

Reading that article is a prime example: then, Apple had just begun to dominate the music player market. The author tut-tut's the fact that the company still made most of its money from selling desktop PCs and laptops. All their 'innovation' is just hand-waving, and they're really still a meat and potatoes computer company doomed to irrelevance. Today? The lion's share of their profits come from iOS, mobile devices, and iTunes. And that's bad, because it's not as stable as selling desktop hardware.

Predicting Apple's death is pretty much a cottage industry -- there is a pool of people in the tech world who eat those stories up just as eagerly as Apple fanboys eat up announcements about "REVOLUTIONARY!" new features that have been available on Windows for years.
posted by verb at 6:05 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So does this mean that game developers will start porting games to the Apple OS? Or even co-developing them the way that they do for consoles?
posted by Splunge at 6:08 PM on April 28, 2011


SEC takes a dim regulatory view of a publicly traded company that's not in banking or investment sitting on low-yielding cash piles like this.

Cite? I'm curious why the SEC would care about whether a company has piles of cash sitting around, so long as the piles are properly accounted for and disclosed.
posted by Mid at 6:11 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


So does this mean that game developers will start porting games to the Apple OS? Or even co-developing them the way that they do for consoles?

Well, Dragon Age II just came out for the PC, MacOS, Xbox360, and PS3... It's obviously not as common as Win-only releases, but cross-releases of big name titles have been relatively common for a while.
posted by verb at 6:11 PM on April 28, 2011


I've been playing Portal 2 since the day it came out.
posted by ryanrs at 6:11 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay granted, but I'm guessing that it would take a serious money stake for the majority of game developers to have people fluent in both OSes to code for both. The big players have the cash, but isn't it twice the budget to hire people fluent in both?
posted by Splunge at 6:16 PM on April 28, 2011


mhoye: "Your mobile-devices then were running RimOS, PalmOS, WinCE variants and... Symbian maybe, if we include phones? That was a bad time to be RIM, if I recall. Even then, WinCE and its PocketPC derivatives were on more stuff"

The way I remember it PalmOS was by far #1 and WinCE ran on a few things like the HP Jornado and was just beginning to be introduced by Intermec and friends. One would rarely see something like the Zaurus running Linux, and Symbian had yet to be put on a smartphone, although one could find an EPOC device if you looked hard enough. (here in the US, I understand EPOC was much more popular in Western Europe)

RIM hadn't gained much traction by that point because it was still tied to Mobitex and DataTAC/ARDIS/whatever you want to call it. (maybe they had CDPD devices, too, I don't recall..we didn't have CDPD here in my part of the US)

Seems to me that PocketPC 2003 was the first version that gained much traction, and WM5 is what really launched it into something resembling a viable competitor to BB, Symbian, and the dying PalmOS.

Regarding Maemo, Maemo 5 is sufficiently good that it's a workable smartphone OS, although somewhat lacking in software at times. While the initial release didn't enable Skype video, PR1.1 did a few months in. It works a treat, actually. Before my sister moved back from Costa Rica, Skype was our main method of contact, and I don't have Skype on any of my computers. ;)

It's really too bad that Nokia decided to shitcan the Maemo 6 phone. Each version of Maemo has brought significant improvement over the last, so there was a pretty good chance in my mind that it would be truly "there", especially with Qt finally unifying most Symbian and Maemo/MeeGo development. (and the new phone having penta-band 3G)

Oh well, what could have been. At least my N900 still works well.
posted by wierdo at 6:19 PM on April 28, 2011


Now Microsoft is a utterly irrelevant in the mobile space and increasingly irrelevant everywhere except the enterprise/corporate environment and the XBox

.... and the desktop, they're still rather huge in the consumer desktop market.

I can't get excited about any company's profits really. I don't see either MS or Apple disappearing and become irrelevant for years, probably decades to come. The slow climb of Linux outside of the server space is beyond slow though the slow ball continues to gain momentum, and I suspect Cloud services will put a dent in both these monolithic corporations. I won't be sad to see them go.
posted by juiceCake at 6:19 PM on April 28, 2011


Jobs once said, he's more proud of the things Apple didn't release than the things they did.

A few years ago when our school was looking into a 1:1 laptop program, they brought us to Chicago for a week full of meetings and presentations in an effort to get us to go with Apple. The second evening, they bring us out to a really nice restaurant where one of their execs who worked directly with Jobs attended to help wine & dine us. We get talking about Apple history and I mention this oldschool Apple printer, and the exec pops in. When Jobs came V.2 came back to help save Apple from the brink, one of the issues was Apple had its fingers in everything. Spread too thin and really did little well- at least in Jobs's eyes. So Jobs calls each department's head in to give a 5 minute presentation on their product shouldn't get the axe. Jobs obviously wasn't impressed with 90% of the crap Apple was producing at the time as eliminated a number of products Apple was putting out in the time, and we largely have those decisions to help make Apple what it is today.

Our school did end up switching to an all-mac system. Almost all of our students now get Macs when they go to college. Another teacher lives and dies by a Smartboard, but it has issues with the Mac so I hook up an old PC for her to use just with the smartboard (damn you Flash & Apple hate). Talking to her the other day and she mentioned that after 3 years, there's no way she'd ever give up her Mac and would choose to keep that over the Smartboard if forced to make a decision.

I don't see myself getting a Mac at home anytime soon, but I've definitely become a convert to OS X's utility and I much the OS's core over Windows anything now. Not even close. I just wish I could build my own Macs like I can PCs, hackintoshes excluded.
posted by jmd82 at 6:22 PM on April 28, 2011


MetaFilter: I bought an MBA last year, [and it's the best ... I've ever bought.]
posted by jeffburdges at 6:32 PM on April 28, 2011


Credit where credit is due. The iPad is pretty awesome, it is pretty much a flying car for me. Let's get Steve Jobs working on The Metaverse next.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:34 PM on April 28, 2011


Ad hominem: "The iPad is pretty awesome, it is pretty much a flying car for me."

It's more like an exit row seat on an airliner in the year 2000 for me, but that doesn't mean it can't be more to you.

jmd82, I agree with you on the "core" part. OSX's innards are pretty darn good. There are a few places where Apple's focus on the UI and the like shows, but it's not at all bad. I don't care for the UI so much, but I think it's more of an "around the edges" thing rather than a fundamental difference, given how well I've been adapting to Unity on Ubuntu.
posted by wierdo at 6:40 PM on April 28, 2011


It's more like an exit row seat on an airliner in the year 2000 for me, but that doesn't mean it can't be more to you.

Oh come on, when you thought about the future you never imagined an always on computer the size of a spiral notebook. Something you could use anywhere? The iPad is Star Trek type shit. Sure I can't run Visual Studio on it, but it is perfect for what it is, a portable information access device that also runs Angry Birds.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:46 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


There are no microSD card slots in Apple products for a reason

You're tunes a bit out of date. The 13" Macbook Air has an SD slot.
posted by dobbs at 7:11 PM on April 28, 2011


Man it sucks that I hate Capitalism and Apple's closed model. Back in 1997 when I moved to Madison, I was totally hyped via Wired Mag to invest, but I was broke as shit. I can't remember how much they were, but it was pretty damn cheap. I eventually was going to go for AAPL, AMD, NVIDIA... Never did buy stocks. At the time Apple was like... 20 bucks? Less than that? I don't remember, but I know it was pretty good. Shit I just looked. 5 dollars. Had I bout like 20 shares I'd have 60k right now? Damnit. That's insane. Hrmph.

That's ok, I'm a dirty commie bastard who hates Capital and wants to see it smashed. So, I feel completely and utterly justified.
posted by symbioid at 7:12 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


wait, umm, my math sucks. 20 shares would be like 7 k.... Still pretty nice all things considered.
posted by symbioid at 7:14 PM on April 28, 2011


Ad hominem: "Oh come on, when you thought about the future you never imagined an always on computer the size of a spiral notebook. Something you could use anywhere? The iPad is Star Trek type shit. Sure I can't run Visual Studio on it, but it is perfect for what it is, a portable information access device that also runs Angry Birds."

It's a mildly evolved version of stuff I've had since 2002. Sure, the screen is bigger and the CPU faster, but that's a difference in degree, not kind. I wasn't terribly excited by the first subnotebooks, either. And TBH, since I can't pocket the iPad, I might as well have an X40. Something like a Zaurus or a Maemo tablet or phone I can pocket, and so is of greater utility to me.

I've got a really nice backpack I can put a computer in, if that's something I want to do.

If I always carried a bag or always wore my Scottevest (best outerwear evar, second only to Dockers Mobile Pants as far as best of any type of clothing), the iPad form factor might have more appeal to me.
posted by wierdo at 7:37 PM on April 28, 2011


Ugh...an article insisting that Jobs made a mistake by not continuing licensing, predicts the Apple would be driven out of the mp3 player game by the Dell DJ and extols the Dell as a better run company? This is why I don't get any investment advice from Fast Company.

Or Metafilter.

Predicting Apple's death is pretty much a cottage industry

Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:38 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apple's success is based on state-of-the-art multichannel hypermarketing so sophisticated that it turns consumers into devotees. While the mechanics of this mass delusion may sometimes creep me out, it's really not much worse than most religions and sects: indoctrination works. Advanced indoctrination works better. It's not pretty.

However. When, as has occurred here in Amsterdam, these devotees arrange for Apple products to be used in classrooms, allowing children's computer educaton to be hijacked by systems as hermetic and monolithic as Apple's - then yes, I get worried.

For after enticing them with shiny screens, social pressure and carefully managed expectations, Apple aims to lock users in a single department store for the term of their digital lives. This integrated approach has always been Apple's ultimate fantasy: the capitalist equivalent of totalitarian rule.

So what really freaks me out is that a company with such insidious instincts encoded deep down in its dna has become so powerful and ubiquitous.
posted by Bas at 7:44 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


The trolls are out in force tonight. You guys need to dial it back a bit, you're getting a little too obvious.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:54 PM on April 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ha, I bought a little bit of Apple at $17.00 on a dip because of a bogus rumor that they were going to buy Yahoo, and sold it a year later (I doubled my money! WOOO!!) to make a down payment on a car. Two weeks after I had that car paid in full, if got destroyed in a hail storm. FML.

Also, I won an iPad in a raffle about 6 weeks ago, and five days later, The Venerable Powerbook died stone dead. So the fates have replaced my Powerbook with an iPad, and here I am with the thing. It's funny - I went from a 7-year-old laptop that was too slow to run flash to a brand new iPad that's too... ahem. Oh, well, Flash will have lived and died without impacting my computing life much, one way or the other.

It's a pretty nifty device, and I have lots of flying car moments but I really, really miss The Venerable Powerbook. There's definitely still a lot of shit an iPad won't do.

I really, really loved that Powerbook.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:57 PM on April 28, 2011


Apple's success is based on state-of-the-art multichannel hypermarketing so sophisticated that it turns consumers into devotees. While the mechanics of this mass delusion may sometimes creep me out, it's really not much worse than most religions and sects: indoctrination works. Advanced indoctrination works better. It's not pretty.

Maybe this means I'm deluded but it's true that I've owned three computers since 1990, and they were all made by Apple and they all still work. I could get out my Mac Classic with the tiny black and white screen right now and start building HyperCard stacks. My wife still uses the old iMac with the transparent blue case to balance her checkbook. And I'm typing this on my iMac dual core with 10.4 and it (almost) never crashes. Why shouldn't I be a fan boy?

Of course I'm also an outlier. I have no iPhone - in fact I have no cell phone of any kind and don't really want one. Really.
posted by tommyD at 8:04 PM on April 28, 2011


Fun fact: Apple could run on its cash reserves until 2018. They probably won't need to.

It is a weird thing. What are they doing over there with that much cash? Especially considering what kind of return you get on that stuff nowadays.

Microsoft unloaded a ton of their spare cash a few years ago in a big dividend ($3.08, about 10% of the share price). Is Apple going to just sit on theirs forever? AAPL doesn't even pay a dividend at all, and they barely spend any money on acquisitions.
posted by smackfu at 8:04 PM on April 28, 2011


Does this mean that sometime in the future I will be forced to install Linux on an Apple computer too?
posted by Kale Slayer at 8:32 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Possibly related: the Microsoft consent decree is about to end.

Having antitrust regulation come to an end will be good timing for when Microsoft buys Nokia and completes its trojan horse strategy. Poor Barnes and Noble!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:33 PM on April 28, 2011


"Maybe this means I'm deluded but it's true that I've owned three computers since 1990, and they were all made by Apple and they all still work"

All my old PC's still work. And so they should. Why not?

Apple users are always surprised by this obvious fact: hardware should work, and an OS should really never crash. It hasn't happened to me since the wobbly days of W98.

Your remark just shows that the people most vulnerable to Apple's appeal are those that have never felt comfortable with a PC in the first place. Which, as I said, is allright, even if it means these poor souls are condemned to paying a premium to be locked into Apple's user-loving, integrated consumer experience for the rest of their lives.

But I get uncomfortable when the general computer analphabetism that Apple both feeds on and perpetuates becomes the norm, as happens in some Dutch schools. Computer education should be as brand-neutral as possible.
posted by Bas at 8:54 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Microsoft could charge the kinds of fees to develop for Windows that Apple gets away with charging to develop for iOS, this wouldn't even be a contest. Double standards produce skewed results.
Microsoft charges thousands per seat for their professional development tools, and thousands more for MSDN memberships.

Apple ships their full professional development tools for free with OS X, and charges $99 for a developer membership.

But please don't let reality get in the way of your Applehate.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 9:09 PM on April 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


All my old PC's still work. And so they should. Why not?

This.

Plus, the tower I'm typing this on has components (sound card and a firewire card for my video camera) that are somewhere near 10 years old. Do you know what I haven't had to do in that time? Buy a whole new computer. I agree this strategy doesn't work for my mom, but she's happy plunking down 3-4 hundred every few years with Dell. That keeps her well under the Apple hardware premium.

I really like OSX. And I think the iPhone is a nifty piece of hardware. I just have never thought it was worth the money. I paid considerably less for my HTC Evo and I can run all sorts of crazy shit on it. I had a macbook pro last year for a job for a while last year, and it was nice, but the Adobe suite ran better on my 4 year old Alienware, so I usually defaulted to that.

Whatever. Apple knows how to work a market niche, and I may think the stuff is overpriced, but it's not trash, it's quality stuff. And if you play in that walled garden and never want to go out, you'll have fun for sure.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:14 PM on April 28, 2011


Okay granted, but I'm guessing that it would take a serious money stake for the majority of game developers to have people fluent in both OSes to code for both.

Splunge: Not really. A big chunk of game development cost nowadays is content creation (graphics, levels, sounds, etc) and usually the "game" part of it is programmed in a portable scripting language. Macs aren't that bad to port to since there are relatively few hardware combinations (vs. PC)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:39 PM on April 28, 2011


The thing about Apple marketing is that it takes as its premise that Apple is the little guy. If Apple is suddenly the big guy, does it make any sense for them to advocate that people "Think Different"? This isn't just about their marketing, either-- their design is idiosyncratic, which works well when you're selling expensive things to few people, but when everybody has an iphone, alternatives to it start seeming a lot more stylish.

I don't think Apple has run into this problem yet. A lot of their profit is about big margins rather than high volume. But if they continue to do this well, they're going to have to start thinking about how to change their image to support their new position.
posted by nathan v at 10:08 PM on April 28, 2011


I love the iPad and iPhone, but I also think it would be a catastrophe if that was all you could buy.
posted by empath at 6:21 PM on April 28 [+] [!]


You should stop worrying. There are a hundred other smart phones than the iPhone, and the iPad will have it's first competitor when a company makes a tablet pc that doesn't suck. Imagine the tablet market without an iPad. Now that woudl be a catastrophe.

I paid considerably less for my HTC Evo and I can run all sorts of crazy shit on it.

I disagree. Apple is doing great because they make devices meant for everyone (meaning most people). Users that buy an HTC Evo to run 'crazy shit' on it are the niche. For most people, me included, there's no way I'd use an HTC Evo to run some random app while giving up the 100 reasons it sucks next to an iPhone. If there was something I couldn't do on my iPhone that you can do on your Evo, I might second guess my choice. But there isn't.

If Apple is suddenly the big guy, does it make any sense for them to advocate that people "Think Different"? This isn't just about their marketing, either-- their design is idiosyncratic, which works well when you're selling expensive things to few people, but when everybody has an iphone, alternatives to it start seeming a lot more stylish.

More people still use PCs. Eventually, if not now, more people will use android phones than iPhones. In that respect (not profit), there's no need to change their marketing.
posted by justgary at 10:36 PM on April 28, 2011


I think my main objections to Apple is that it isn't that exciting a company by most normal measures (it makes, what, a handful of things, most of which are like each other and like stuff elsewhere) and that it has an army of fanatics, and that's never good. It's extremely hard to enter into an objective discussion with anyone about Apple.

You just called apple users an 'army of fanatics', which beyond being moronic and outdated and just my god it's as old and predictable as writing M$ attacks the side you want an 'objective discussion' with before it even begins. You invalidate the side you want an 'objective discussion' before anything is said. You might wanna leave the glass house before throwing stones.

Will it survive Jobs? Not a hope.

Sure it could. Might not be the same, might have growing pains for a while, but if you think Jobs is Apple you haven't been paying attention. But I mean, Apple has dealt with predicted doom every year of their existence. Nothing new.

Is it actually moving the industry on? Not as much as it should, although that's at least 70 percent the rest of the industry's fault.

But more than the rest of the industry, right? Go check out the smart phone market before apple. Go check the tablet market before apple. I know, I know, it's all about marketing to an army of fanatics... Can we start our objective discussion now?
posted by justgary at 10:45 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree, partially, nathan v, but also disagree. A lot of Apple appeal was created and sustained in opposition to Microsoft. Microsoft was the evil borg that threatened to suffocate all that is good and nerdy and quality. A bit ironic, in that Apple was always a more closed platform where users were dictated to "this is how you do it". But Microsoft unquestionably was an overbearing, and somewhat unethical competitor - the fucking and sabotage with DOS and such tricks - which earned them their monopoly and also wide-spread hate and fear. As Apple's fortunes fell, they became the underdog, and also "the last hope" for "noble" tech people fighting the gray crushing mediocrity of Microsoft. The more Apple fell, and the more Microsoft prospered, the more that psychology was embedded in the consciousness of the public (at least the public that was somewhat computer aware). As a result, Apple coasted to some degree on the good will, their faults excused and overlooked, the reality distortion field working to cause perfectly rational people to deny that Apple was in fact falling behind the tech even on its own merits. Yes, there always was the Apple hating faction, but that merely increased the loyalty of those who took it upon themselves to fight for truth and justice, to the bitter end, even as Apple was dying, like the brave 300 Spartans.

And that David vs Goliath dynamic still obtains today, even in the face of this earnings reversal. Apple is still the poor little guy fighting the good fight. And so, the Apple faithful take all good news in stride, because they've been so conditioned by Apple's decade long near-death experience, that even when Apple is extremely robust, they still tremble with fear that at any time, big bad Microsoft might crush poor little Apple. Of course, this is not sustainable. The new generation knows little of this back story. It sees Microsoft as sort of pathetic - a lumbering giant, that's clumsy and ugly and uncool, and not in the least dangerous. Apple meanwhile is very, very successful, and can stand some hammer and tongs criticism and is in no need of being treated with kid gloves and preferential parking.

But. I think Apple is not all marketing. There is real merit too. For example, it's simply a fact, that they have one thing in their corner, that no other company has with such consistency: an aesthetic sense. And this is entirely, 100% premeditated. The famous Steve Jobs quote: "the problem with Microsoft, is that they just have no taste". In a nutshell. Because aesthetics are important to an awful lot of people. It may not be to you, or any number of techies, but it is important to very, very many. For example, I'm not ashamed to admit, that to me it's extremely important. You may say, how shallow and pointless, it's all about function and what you can do... but no, to me it's more than that, because my productivity is affected by working on an ugly Dell, vs a beautiful MBP. Maybe it's crazy - but it's a real psychological effect - I am more enthusiastic and feel better and more productive working on something that's a piece of art, whereas I feel awful if I'm typing on a bowel movement (most PCs). As long as Apple creates beautiful hardware, I'll forgive a lot - and I regularly do... because I have to admit, there are tons and tons and tons of software that are vastly superior on the PC, and have no equivalent on the Mac. But I still stick with beauty. But then, maybe I'm just a freak.
posted by VikingSword at 10:45 PM on April 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


justgary: "Go check out the smart phone market before apple. Go check the tablet market before apple. I know, I know, it's all about marketing to an army of fanatics... Can we start our objective discussion now"

For someone who wants objective discussion, you sure seem to be relying on nonfactual generalities there. I'll give you the tablet market, but Apple did not by any means create the smartphone market. They popularized it (somewhat) here in the US.

There were a lot of PalmOS, WM5, and Symbian smartphones before Apple. Apple did stick a touchscreen that didn't suck on it, though. Of course, the original iPhone's hardware (and software..no freakin' user-installable applications!) was otherwise utter suck compared to the state of the art (hell, compared to two year old high-end phones), but don't let that stop you.

On that front, the iPhone 4 was the first to really surpass what other people were already selling at its release.

Just being objective...

VikingSword, I find the Thinkpads to be quite pleasing to both the eye and the touch, as well as my geeky innards. However, I have never been accused of having mainstream taste.
posted by wierdo at 11:19 PM on April 28, 2011


There were a lot of PalmOS...

I had an early Palm; I was one of the early adopters. The SDK was a mess, and distribution of applications was worse. In fairness to Palm, the Internet had not yet become a major distribution method for software, which meant vendors had to pass around floppies.

What Apple got right was putting together the best hardware, the best software, and the best environment for developers to make and distribute apps to end users—and make money, which most Palm developers never could manage.

Apple makes money hand over fist because they make the best gear, and people who buy Apple gear and write software for its platforms know it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 PM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oddly, I'm a 20 year Mac user buying my first Windows tablet. It's the right hardware in the right format, beyond that I don't care anymore. I use both at work and they are getting more similar than different.
My biggest fear for Apple at this point is that they stop seeing their computers as a mainline business and more of a media launching and validation platform that can only run valid apple store approved apps.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:07 AM on April 29, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "What Apple got right was putting together the best hardware"

You keep saying this as if repetition makes it true. It is not. The iPhone was years behind what other manufacturers were putting out, hardware-wise on its release. The 3G was a year behind. The 3Gs was about 6 months behind, and the 4 finally saw them meet or exceed everyone else's specs. The iPhone 4 was the first which was in any way worth the premium, if you're just looking at hardware.

Software wise, the original iPhone wasn't much better. It was drastically feature-incomplete even compared to an old Palm, and indeed didn't even allow the user to install third party applications.

Again, they made it better, but they absolutely did not initially "[put] together the best hardware, the best software, and the best environment for developers to make and distribute apps to end users". A year later, they finally figured some of it out. Four years on, they figured out the whole thing. Very Microsoftish, actually, except that their revisions came more quickly.

It's also not true that it was difficult to make money with the other platforms, or at least any more so than it is with the App Store. The App Store's problem for any individual developer is saturation. At this point it's more like a lottery. There were fewer eyeballs, but there were also fewer applications competing for those eyeballs.
posted by wierdo at 12:10 AM on April 29, 2011


The iPhone was years behind what other manufacturers were putting out, hardware-wise on its release

That manufacturers have scrambled to imitate hardware that is years behind their own may explain why they haven't had as much success.

Software wise, the original iPhone wasn't much better. It was drastically feature-incomplete even compared to an old Palm, and indeed didn't even allow the user to install third party applications.

Which was addressed a year later, to such a massive success that the years-ahead-manufacturers and OS makers still seem inexplicably unable to replicate with their own phones and platforms.

It's also not true that it was difficult to make money with the other platforms, or at least any more so than it is with the App Store.

I'm sorry, but since you mentioned Palm, it has to be said that making, distributing, buying and installing applications for one's Palm was a hellish process. The built-in applications were great, but it was never a pleasant platform to write or acquire third-party applications for.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:30 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


A lot of Apple appeal was created and sustained in opposition to Microsoft. Microsoft was the evil borg that threatened to suffocate all that is good and nerdy and quality.

History says otherwise. For many years, IBM played the role of The Evil Empire. It was the faceless corporation with the army of blue-suited consultants who were Very Professional and could fix your company's ridiculously expensive mainframe. The idea of Microsoft as a killer of nerdy good things evolved slowly, and they had time to build up a history of shady competitor-squashing before they took the title from IBM. The 'Cult of Apple' stuff that you're talking about goes back much further, to the days of zealous Apple II fanatics who loved their machines for the very open-ness and hack-ability that mainframes and minis would never have.

You're right that Macs have historically been marketed as appliances for people who want do things that require computers rather than people who want to do things with computers. Jobs fought tooth and nail against the idea of expansion cards in Macs, not because it meant people would have to keep buying new computers but because people shouldn't have to muck around with hardware customization to do stuff. For better or worse, Apple's fortunes seem to track with how closely it hews to that principle. Its darkest days came when it followed the advice of the people who'd been ragging on it, built a ridiculous range of machines with commoditized hardware, licensed the OS to clone makers, and so on.

As others have recounted upthread, one of Jobs' first moves on returning to Apple was to take The Paradox of Choice behind the shed and shoot it. Apple has been rewarded handsomely by users and investors for that choice,
posted by verb at 12:30 AM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


The iPhone was years behind what other manufacturers were putting out, hardware-wise on its release.

utterly bizarre assertion. Apple had a fully performant OpenGL ES stack via PowerVR on the 2007 iPhone. It had a 160dpi capacitative HVGA multitouch display.

These were novel for 2007. Android was sure far away from this, that's for sure.

More importantly, it had the OS and API to drive all this, internally in 2007 and to made available to 3rd party ISVs in 2008. Everyone else was waaay behind on this front.
posted by mokuba at 12:53 AM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's also not true that it was difficult to make money with the other platforms, or at least any more so than it is with the App Store.

and yeah, PalmGear and other proto-AppStore avenues simply could not deliver a userbase to make development a go in the Palm ecosphere.

The platform was simply way too fragmented. I had a Clie for development back then, but no way was their enough Clies in the world to support targeting Clie's great features (high-density display, color, etc).

In 2006-2007 the Smartphone ecosystem was dominated by Java ME Midlets, ie total crap. I want to put a bullet in my head just remembering those bad old days.
posted by mokuba at 12:58 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


and instead has been forced to attempt to organically grow (never its strong suit) and to basically dump its excess cash as special dividends and other short-term stock manipulations. This benefits nobody in the long-term.
Uh, except for it's stockholders. There's no reason a company has to vector towards becoming the hugest company in the world all the time. There's nothing wrong with selling existing product lines and paying dividends. It would be better if more companies did this.

I agree that Microsoft was shackled by the anti-trust suit, but frankly isn't that a good thing? It would be good if the government stepped in and stopped apple's anti-competitive b.s. as well.

Also, apple really is a software company. There's nothing special about their hardware, and they don't even make it themselves. If apple were shipping Windows and Android on their computers and phones, they would be competing with all the other clone makers, and wouldn't be able to justify the price.
Oh come on, when you thought about the future you never imagined an always on computer the size of a spiral notebook. Something you could use anywhere?
I didn't need to imagine, computers like that have been around for years. I mean, Apple even sold one in the 90s. What's annoying about the iPad is that while people talk about it like it's an amazing innovation, it's literally nothing new at all.


Apple doesn't put out "the best" hardware and software. What they do is put out hardware and software and convince people it's the best, which is easy with their legion of fanbois ready to breath down the neck of anyone who disagrees. The first iPhone didn't even have apps, which are the main selling point now. But lots of phones before the iPhone allowed user-installable applications. Multi-touch was the main innovation, but not that exciting given the fact that user's couldn't install programs.
posted by delmoi at 2:45 AM on April 29, 2011


Apple doesn't put out "the best" hardware and software. What they do is put out hardware and software and convince people it's the best, which is easy with their legion of fanbois ready to breath down the neck of anyone who disagrees.

*rolls eyes* Yes delmoi, that's totally it, the fanbois convince everyone to buy Apple products
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:23 AM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's annoying about the iPad is that while people talk about it like it's an amazing innovation, it's literally nothing new at all.

It's the combination of the hardware and software, stupid. (And this goes for Weirdo, too). Only nerds see software and hardware as separate things. To the user, it matters not a jot if your phone has 4G hardware and a Zeiss lens if the camera app takes 5 minutes to start and 1 minute between shots. Likewise, open source doesn't matter if the battery doesn't make it through the day.

When you treat hardware and software as one unified product, then yes, the iPod *is* an amazing innovation, because it's the first tablet that wasn't more or less unusable shit, including all the Nokia attempts. Even without third-party apps the original iPhone was a better buy than even the 3G feature-phones out there because it was so very much more usable.

The 'Apple is just marketing' drivel is just cognitive dissonance from trying to explain why you can be wrong when pointing to X apparently-compelling hardware or Y utterly-relevant software reason that Apple must fail in a given market.

Their marketing budget is smaller than Microsoft's. It's larger than Nokia's, but you think if Nokia spent more on advertising it could pull itself out of the hole it's in? Apple's advertising is almost oblique, to be honest. It's products do the selling.
posted by bonaldi at 3:30 AM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


(and the autoinserting of apostrophes. you never see that in the ads)
posted by bonaldi at 3:30 AM on April 29, 2011


Apple doesn't put out "the best" hardware and software. What they do is put out hardware and software and convince people it's the best,

Well, my three Mac computers over 20 years that are all working are at home. At work, I've always been forced to use a succession of Acme brand computers running Microsoft. They crash all the time and suffer all sorts of weird maladies. Why, I don't know, and don't care. The Macs keep running. Why, I don't know and don't care, and I've never had to open their cases.

And that's what's convinced me Apple is the best.

The only fanboys I know are the IT guys at work who come to fix the Acme/Windows computers when they go wobbly and try to convince me I'm deluded about my Macs.
posted by tommyD at 3:38 AM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I used to find the word fanboy/fanboi really grating, no matter what context, but these days I find it really helpful. If someone has used it as part of their point, it's a pretty good indicator that it's not really worth paying any attention to. A helpful little filter in these information overloaded times.

(I'd put the varieties of Micro$haft, Windoze, and references to reality distortion, turtle necks, walled gardens and other limp shorthand in the same class.)
posted by i_cola at 3:43 AM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Okay granted, but I'm guessing that it would take a serious money stake for the majority of game developers to have people fluent in both OSes to code for both. The big players have the cash, but isn't it twice the budget to hire people fluent in both?

Very roughly, any major title would see an additional development cost bump of about 2-5%, depending on a number of factors. Partly this is because the primary cost of development for big-budget titles is content, and partly because the PS3 uses kinda-sorta-not-really similar APIs (libGCM is basically OpenGL ES + Cg, CellOS inherits from FreeBSD which was where a lot of OSX came from). Most publishers have pretty well-established tech platforms at this point, and the PS3/360 demand a certain degree of rendering API agnosticism.

The question is whether developing for OSX boosts sales by more than 5%. For major hardcore FPS titles the answer is "enh." Apple doesn't push a lot of hardware that is hardcore gaming-friendly from a form factor perspective; most OSX hardware is shaped like a laptop or (older iMacs) stocks an anemic GPU. Mac Pro's a different story, but also an incredibly tiny market segment.

Ultimately these decisions are governed by ROI. Not so much a question of whether you'll see a profit on the investment, but rather if the programmers doing the porting would generate a higher ROI by focusing on core tech for the next title. For casual titles (ie Torchlight, Plants vs. Zombies) the ROI on porting to the Mac is no-brainer. For Call of Duty, Gears of War, etc. it's not a great proposition. Valve and Blizzard both straddle demographics when it comes to stuff like Portal 2 or Starcraft 2, so their Mac ports make lot of sense.
posted by Ryvar at 4:18 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The iPhone was years behind what other manufacturers were putting out, hardware-wise on its release

And that's the reason it never did well with the technically literate, but that doesn't really matter when it comes to sales because the technically literate represent a rather piddly piece of consumer base. What you want is the wide-spread adoption, and for that you need to create the desire for the masses. And nobody does a better job at building sexy hardware than Apple.

The click-wheel is the tailfin of the 21st century.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:23 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apple users are always surprised by this obvious fact: hardware should work, and an OS should really never crash.

Windows almost never comes to the common user in pristine condition. It virtually always comes pre-boned by the OEMs, full of garbage the users don't want or need. The attention to detail Apple has paid to that initial experience of owning their product is amazing. The packaging is well-designed, the first-boot experience is well-designed, the product is elegant and well-designed.

Windows, as provided by most OEMs, comes in a cardboard box that usually looks like it got pulled out of somebody's recycling bin. The first thing most users get is threatened and spammed - install this antivirus, back up your system, use this free offer from AOL, here's a bunch of crapware from Symantec. Professionals have to spend hours unfucking these machines from their as-shipped condition. Typical users just live with it, and assume that's how it is. Some of the veteran users I know won't even boot Windows boxes in their default state - they'll boot off a Windows install DVD, just to get a clean install of Windows on their brand new machine.

Starting a Mac makes you feel glad you bought a Mac. Starting a typical Windows box makes you feel like you've just been given an unpleasant job.
posted by mhoye at 5:46 AM on April 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


I used to find the word fanboy/fanboi really grating, no matter what context, but these days I find it really helpful. If someone has used it as part of their point, it's a pretty good indicator that it's not really worth paying any attention to. A helpful little filter in these information overloaded times.

(I'd put the varieties of Micro$haft, Windoze, and references to reality distortion, turtle necks, walled gardens and other limp shorthand in the same class.)


Indeed, and don't forget hater/haters and you're grandma can't use Windows but she'll know to check "encrypt data" in iTunes on a Mac.

They are just computers, which are tools. I would not be surprised if most people don't give a shit who makes them and what is better.
posted by juiceCake at 5:49 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are just computers, which are tools. I would not be surprised if most people don't give a shit who makes them and what is better.

I'm always amazed at the number of people who refer to Photoshop or Acrobat Reader as "Adobe." WTH?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:50 AM on April 29, 2011


My early experience with software developed by or with Apple that ran exclusively on Macs (Hypercard, early Adobe products) had a huge positive and lasting impact on my life, so any bias I have is understandable. Meanwhile the Microsoft of that era frustrated and scared me. I believed then that with such overwhelming influence — but no appreciation of what mattered to people like me — was truly a force of evil. I'm happy not to see things that way now.

At this point Apple vs Microsoft does not matter. They don't do the same things and Microsoft just doesn't have the same ability to make bad ideas standard that they once had.

Microsoft hires a lot of really great people and some of them will make some relevant products. I try to keep an open mind.
posted by KS at 6:28 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


They are just computers, which are tools. I would not be surprised if most people don't give a shit who makes them and what is better.

Seriously? Are you... are you a tool-user? Of any stripe? People who use tools of any kind day in and day out become extremely attached to the tools that work better for them, and loyal to the people who make those tools, for excellent reasons. Good tools are the difference between a pleasant day of accomplishing good work and a bad day of accomplishing nothing.

There is a reason that right-thinking professionals use professional-quality tools to do their jobs. Yes, they cost a lot more, but you buy them once, and the money comes back to you. Crappy tools save you money you can get back, and cost you time you'll never see again.
posted by mhoye at 6:52 AM on April 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


The whole software control issue with OS is so fucking stupid it's painful to listen to. The second I switched over to using a Mac, the unforeseen benefit was that every time I found I could benefit from some tweak or task specific program, it was immediately available on the web for free or for a small paypal donation. Programs like Burn, or a couple iTunes scripts (Dupin). Handbrake. I can't think of all the others right now. There was the time my kid deleted an iTunes playlist and for 10$ I got something that would take it off her ipod and replace it back in the computer. And not a single time did one of these do anything other than work flawlessly.

On the other hand, just having a Dell at work on the network keeps IT on their toes because once a month they have to come down and rid it of a virus to keep my EHR up and running.
posted by docpops at 7:21 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously? Are you... are you a tool-user?

Well yes, I am. I use a bunch of software tools on primarily Linux and Windows and through browsers. I configure Macs and tools on the Mac for Mac users too.

I apologize that I am not emotionally attached to them. I have my preferences, but just because I favour MODx over Wordpress doesn't mean the guy who prefers Wordpress over MODx is some sort of tool and not a "right thinking" professional. That particular tool is more suited to him than me. No problem with that. I've seen these tools evolve and some of them disappear. I used to have an Amiga, which I was emotionally attached to as a young man. But those days are long gone (I used to be attached to bands and clothes too). Now I couldn't give a fuck who makes my computer as long as it does what I need it to do, at the time. They are a different type of tool than say a high quality hammer, that I don't feel the need to upgrade every 5 to 7 years or so.

I don't see Windows, Mac, or Linux compared to each other as even close to crappy tools and what is crappy for some isn't crappy to me (the search is different in this system than that one and therefore that one is crap sort of thing). Computers are extremely diverse tools that can cater to millions of different people, and they do. I simply don't buy that the general public are idiots for having used Windows but are not for having used the iPad. Which is it? For years they were sheeple but now they are not. Of course the notion of sheeple was ridiculous in the first place. The fine details and differences can appeal to one and not the other but the overall interactive models are very similar, like most cars have steering wheels, some are lower to the ground with stiff suspensions, some have automatic gearboxes while others don't.

Being in production I work with people who use Linux, Windows, Mac, and Solaris (still), oh and FreeBSD. Funnily enough, we can exchange files and data without problem, regardless of the tools we use, and funnily enough, we all get along and don't give a fuck that Dave is using Windows 7 and Diane is using OS X while Peter is using Linux. These are all professional (though I don't know about "right thinking") people who get the job done. We work with people because of them, not the tools they use, unless they insist on using a Vic 20 or programming in an ancient language that is no longer productive.

I apologize but I don't see the issue. I must be missing something. If perhaps I had the vision that you have and I was right thinking I'd be a nice little platformist but I am not.

I am emotionally attached to one tool I admit, but that is the property of myself and my girlfriend and I generally don't talk about it.
posted by juiceCake at 7:21 AM on April 29, 2011


Also, there are tons of after-market parts I can buy for my tractor and power tools. I spend a few bucks more and get the ones made by the manufacturer. I could bitch to the guys at the sales desk how it's unfair, I suppose, that they don't sell them for the same cost as the shitty stuff in the plain wrapper.
posted by docpops at 7:23 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Windows, as provided by most OEMs, comes in a cardboard box that usually looks like it got pulled out of somebody's recycling bin. The first thing most users get is threatened and spammed - install this antivirus, back up your system, use this free offer from AOL, here's a bunch of crapware from Symantec. Professionals have to spend hours unfucking these machines from their as-shipped condition. Typical users just live with it, and assume that's how it is. Some of the veteran users I know won't even boot Windows boxes in their default state - they'll boot off a Windows install DVD, just to get a clean install of Windows on their brand new machine.

From someone who lived through four home machines from HP, Toshiba, and Dell in under a decade this is beautiful.
posted by docpops at 7:28 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


If juicecake's last tool post had been a Turing test tool submission I would have voted him robot, no question.

Funnily enough, we can exchange files and data without problem, regardless of the tools we use
Really? So Peter can open Diane's Pages.app files on his Linux box and Diane can use Dave's OneNote notebooks on her Mac? No? So then it's not regardless of the tools you use, it is in fact "only if we use lowest-common denominator or platform-agnostic tools".

But there are some platform-specific tools that people use because they are the best tool for the job. And it's the ability to use those tools that makes them proselytise for the platform that runs them, both to help out fellow professionals and more selfishly so they can easily interchange with them.

At this level, it has *nothing* to do with teenage Atari vs Amiga bullshit, as so aptly demonstrated when I saw virtually every professional news photographer I know switch from Canon to Nikon in the space of six months. The fans were still arguing the toss in DPreview forums, but the pros had seen that one platform was not like another, and had switched.
posted by bonaldi at 8:05 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nearly 30 years after the debut of Macintosh and I still love me some good Apple vs. Microsoft flamewars.

LOVE.

The distinguishing characteristics of Apple's and Microsoft's corporate cultures is captured in what VikingSword and verb have so far written, with the exception that verb’s reference to "The Paradox of Choice" has not been shot so much as it's been taken out back and hidden behind a GUI.

That is, the "seamlessness" of Mac OS X (this argument does not accommodate iOS) and its simplicity are actually an illusion generated by its twenty-first century era "lickable" interface. Mac OS X's GUI hides its UNIX underpinnings (the shell is located /Application/Utilities, for example). So, users not only can install mainstream third-party software built by the likes of Adobe and Microsoft, but they're also able to (build and) install all manner of open-source software.
posted by mistersquid at 8:06 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Professionals have to spend hours unfucking these machines from their as-shipped condition

Professionals get the machines shipped to them on a pallet. Then they are imaged with one of the many disk images for that machine type. It takes all of 30 minutes or so to go from storeroom to functional computer - and the last time I did that sort of work, I could do 24 machines at a time.

Which is the fundemental problem with lots of Apple stuff - it doesn't scale at all. Open Directory is nice if you have 30 users. It sucks if you have 300, 3000, or 30,000. Sure, it uses LDAP and you can craft your own tools - but why, when Active Directory is so much better ? Apple's HFS+ sucks as a file system. Sure, its great when you've got your 5,000 file Itunes library - it completely falls over if you have 127,000,000 files in a 7 TB file store.

This is why Apple killed off the Xserve. They don't, and won't, compete in the server room.

Which, yeah, is a strategy that works for them. It's bonkers to suppose that Apple's success in certain markets would translate to other fields though. Apple is a niche computer company and their most successful product isn't even really a computer.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:06 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Apple users are always surprised by this obvious fact: hardware should work, and an OS should really never crash. It hasn't happened to me since the wobbly days of W98.

It's also amusing how often AppleCare is suggested for hardware that is otherwise beatified.

I like Apple stuff, I have quite a bit of it by now. It's not the mythical bug free stuff that it is made out to be in these debates:

1) I just had to reset my iPhone yesterday because it said No Service in my apartment. Resetting it got me 3 bars.
2) My Mac Mini is connected to a KVM and won't wake up when I switch to it about 25% of the time. Just shows a blue screen (how ironic). My Windows PC is 100% reliable in this case.
3) My old G4 Mac mini won't even boot past the spinny bit anymore. It probably needs a new HDD but that is just a world of hurt to replace.
posted by smackfu at 8:14 AM on April 29, 2011


>Professionals have to spend hours unfucking these machines from their as-shipped condition

Professionals get the machines shipped to them on a pallet


I think what's being referred to here is hiring a 'geek squad' type person (or the computer savvy nephew) to de-junkify a home computer and not an IT manager-type professional.

That said though, there are plenty of small shops who can't order computers by the cubic yard and don't have access to imaging systems like you describe, or a dedicated IT person to do the work.

Ideally, of course, one purchases a 'business' PC with naked Windows on it in those situations, but that can't always happen either.
posted by device55 at 8:18 AM on April 29, 2011


So, users not only can install mainstream third-party software built by the likes of Adobe and Microsoft, but they're also able to (build and) install all manner of open-source software.

To be fair, it's not as easy as simply running Ubuntu if you're set on grabbing random interesting OSS stuff and building it. On the other hand, in the open source communities I'm a part of, there are only two real choices: Linux or OSX. Trying to do web development (not web design) on Windows is an exercise in pain, with CygWin juggling and WAMP crap and so on. Microsoft has invested huge amounts of money in trying to get its stack up to speed so that OSS projects choose to develop natively on Windows, but there's an entire ecosystem of hosting, toolsets, and so on that they're fighting against.

This isn't a slam-dunk smash for everyone, obviously, but it's interesting that in certain circles the issue of "OSX versus Windows" is a bizarre question, like asking what color of liesure suit you wear.
posted by verb at 8:19 AM on April 29, 2011


wierdo: OSX's innards are pretty darn good.

I'm as much a fan of my Apple gear as the next guy, but... a Unixy userspace without a standard way to uninstall apps, and the de facto update mechanism is to annoy the user when they are trying to use the app (ie, the most inconvenient possible time)? I would hesitate to call that darn good.

As usual, the best solution Apple could offer was to become gatekeeper via an app store. I would be okay with that if I hadn't already used yum and apt.
posted by vanar sena at 8:23 AM on April 29, 2011


a Unixy userspace without a standard way to uninstall apps

Do you mean mac apps (and not unix packages)? The standard way to uninstall a mac app is to drag it to the trash can. It's only the oddball shit like Photoshop that requires an installer and an uninstaller.

Technically this leaves user-land application settings and preferences in your ~/Library/Preferences or ~/Library/Application Support/ApplicationName folders -- but this means you can reinstall the app at any time without re-entering a license key or reconfiguring your settings.

As usual, the best solution Apple could offer was to become gatekeeper via an app store.

Installing an app outside of the app store is at once super easy, and incredibly confusing.

To install (a properly written) Mac app, you download it (or mount a CD/DVD like a cave man) and drag it into your Applications folder. The end. However It's completely unclear that this is the case and completely confuses everyone.

I was just training a new (very smart) guy at work who chose to try out working on a Macbook Pro and he was totally befuddled by this.
posted by device55 at 8:31 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]



I was just training a new (very smart) guy at work who chose to try out working on a Macbook Pro and he was totally befuddled by this.


Or eject a DVD by dragging it to the trash. Every semester one of the students asks "Isn't that going to delete it?"
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:37 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


device55: Do you mean mac apps (and not unix packages)?

Anything that is shipped as an mpkg, yes. There's a lot of that "oddball" stuff around - anything from drivers to audio/video apps, for example. Basically anything that requires anything to be copied outside /Applications. The single-directory .app model is a really nice abstraction that breaks down in far too many normal cases, and the mpkg format is a halfhearted admission from Apple without bothering to attempt a proper solution.
posted by vanar sena at 8:39 AM on April 29, 2011


Or eject a DVD by dragging it to the trash. Every semester one of the students asks "Isn't that going to delete it?"

As far back as version 10.4, as soon as you grab an the DVD icon, the trash can changes to an Eject button.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:41 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which still requires the cognitive step of "hmm, to eject this I probably need to drag it somewhere."
posted by smackfu at 8:51 AM on April 29, 2011


Which still requires the cognitive step of "hmm, to eject this I probably need to drag it somewhere."

More like habit. The only reason it's an issue is because Windows does things differently, neither is inherently better, just a matter of what people "grew up" with.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:57 AM on April 29, 2011


Basically anything that requires anything to be copied outside /Applications.

Oh yeah. That's a mess too.
posted by device55 at 9:00 AM on April 29, 2011


The only reason it's an issue is because Windows does things differently, neither is inherently better, just a matter of what people "grew up" with.

It goes like this : User comes to my desk "how do I eject a DVD?" I say, "drag it to the trash icon". They say "Won't that delete it ?" and hilarity ensues.

It's not just windows. Every other media device everywhere has an "eject" button on it, and clearly delineated. Except the Apple computers. And, you have to boot the machine to eject, so if you forgot to before powering themachine off, you're hosed - no paperclip trick, no quick ejecting before the post.

It's funny that such a simple thing actually ends up being such a pain the ass, but there it is.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:03 AM on April 29, 2011


It's not just windows. Every other media device everywhere has an "eject" button on it, and clearly delineated. Except the Apple computers. And, you have to boot the machine to eject, so if you forgot to before powering themachine off, you're hosed - no paperclip trick, no quick ejecting before the post.

Oh totally, I'm just saying it's not a problem for me and most macheads I know because we were "raised" differently. Seriously, who the hell wouldn't eject a disk before powering off their computer?!

Steve taught us well!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 AM on April 29, 2011


Who the hell would use a disc in the first place, for that matter? It's not 1997 anymore.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:10 AM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I tend to be pretty OS neutral; I have an Android phone, an OSX86 tower, a Windows/ Ubuntu netbook and a fairly high end Macbook Pro living in my house. I just got an iPad, and I like it quite a bit (Flipboard FTW!), but there are certainly some aspects that I can see that Android got more right,

I really suspect that the whole Google (and other) cloud systems will have more bearing on my computing experience in the future more than anything else. It's because of things like that that I can be so OS neutral, as my email, chat, maps, documents, contacts, etc, can be on whatever device I'm using, wherever I am, mostly regardless of the hardware behind it.

Still, it's weird and awesome to be living here in the future.
posted by quin at 9:15 AM on April 29, 2011


And, you have to boot the machine to eject, so if you forgot to before powering themachine off, you're hosed - no paperclip trick, no quick ejecting before the post.

You do have to power it on, but you don't have to finish the boot sequence and log in. Hit power, hold down mouse button; ejects any removable media before booting.
posted by dvorak_beats_qwerty at 9:18 AM on April 29, 2011


Every other media device everywhere has an "eject" button on it, and clearly delineated. Except the Apple computers.

There's one on the keyboard of every Mac in the last three-four years at least.
posted by bonaldi at 9:21 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which still requires the cognitive step of "hmm, to eject this I probably need to drag it somewhere."

More like habit. The only reason it's an issue is because Windows does things differently, neither is inherently better, just a matter of what people "grew up" with.


Well the nice thing about a GUI interface is that it (generally) makes it clear what your options are. When you are talking about desktop icons, your usual options for doing some action are single-click, double-click, click-hold, click and drag, and right-click. Click and drag is usually used for moving stuff around, or saying "I want to use this here", since "here" can be hard to describe without click and drag.

When all you see is a trash icon before you start your click and drag, there is really no "here" that you can see on the screen that intuitively makes sense to drag it to. Whereas if you know that you want to do some single action to the icon, and you know that right-clicking will bring up a list of pretty much all of the possible actions, then intuitively you know you can probably find eject with right-click. It depends on the conventions of the underlying OS to a degree, but a click and drag for an eject option doesn't really make a lot of intuitive sense to someone who hasn't seen that specific convention before. Of course every OS has quirks and people learn those quirks over time, but GUI interfaces being intuitive to someone who has no idea what they are doing is one of the major things that makes them easier to use than something like a command line.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:21 AM on April 29, 2011


That reminds me, that whole "hold down stuff while the system is booting" just drives me nuts, especially when the boot process takes 30-60 seconds. What I wouldn't give for a "Press F5 to bring up a menu" option.
posted by smackfu at 9:22 AM on April 29, 2011


There's one on the keyboard of every Mac in the last three-four years at least.

Even the MacBook Air, which makes me go, "huh?"
posted by smackfu at 9:24 AM on April 29, 2011


Ah, nothing like a Mac/Windows flamewar to prove that if you scratch a Mefite, you'll find a Slashdotter underneath.

I have 5 Macs between home and office, and I got the iPhone 4 on opening day, and this story makes me really depressed. Because 5, 10 years ago, Apple was a financial midget, and they made the best products out there. I realize from this thread that some people disagree, but -- no offense -- you're insane. In 2002, OS X was miles ahead of Windows. In 2008, the iPhone was miles ahead of anything else on the market.

But not so much today. I no longer mock Windows users, because Windows 7 is good enough that choosing one or the other really is a question of taste. Same with Android -- I still think it feels like Linux on a phone, but it really does do most things as well as an iPhone and a lot of things better (or at all).

And Apple really seems to be coasting with regard to their core technologies. I can't think of any recent OS X feature that I use every day, while I still gripe about the Finder on a regular basis. The iPhone is positively stagnant; the things it does better than Android -- primarily the excellent browser rendering, general UX polish, and the ability to go two days on a single charge -- were there in the first iteration. Most of the recent features have been attempts to integrate into the same sorts of "value added" services that Microsoft tried to shovel into its products for so many years.

TL;DR -- financial success and technical ossification go hand-in-hand, Apple has been treading down this path for years, and this is bad news for them and for people who find quality in their products.
posted by bjrubble at 10:11 AM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


As far back as version 10.4, as soon as you grab an the DVD icon, the trash can changes to an Eject button.

Sssh, don't let facts get in the way!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:22 AM on April 29, 2011


Can't we keep a little more civilized than that?
posted by smackfu at 10:31 AM on April 29, 2011


Sorry, that's a feature of the next iOS update.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:38 AM on April 29, 2011


I can think of eight different ways to eject a disk in Mac OS 10.5

Click the little eject icon in the Finder sidebar by the mounted disk's name.
Click the eject button in the Finder Toolbar (putting it there is an option under View>Customize Toolbar...)
Click the eject button in the menu bar (also an option you can turn on in prefs)
Type command+e
Go to File menu, choose Eject
Selection the disk, holding down the control key and choosing eject form the contet menu
Right-clicking and choosing eject from the context menu
Dragging to the eject icon in the dock.

To install (a properly written) Mac app, you download it (or mount a CD/DVD like a cave man) and drag it into your Applications folder. The end. However It's completely unclear that this is the case and completely confuses everyone

A good considerate developer these days will place an alias of the applications folder on their disk images, and name it "drag here to install." Even before that got common, most disk images would have a readme explaining that in a sentence or two.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:48 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I finished typing this comment, I'm going to grab my two button mouse and click "Post Comment."

I use a microsoft intellimouse with an old MBP. Works great.

It is a weird thing. What are they doing over there with that much cash

Scrooge McDuck.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:49 AM on April 29, 2011


Does this mean that sometime in the future I will be forced to install Linux on an Apple computer too?

They could use every install. There are now more iPads than desktop Linux installations.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:00 AM on April 29, 2011


OS X is close enough to Linux for most people.
posted by smackfu at 11:06 AM on April 29, 2011


There's one on the keyboard of every Mac in the last three-four years at least.

Which is the first place I'd look for an eject button. On the keyboard.

No, no, I understand. Can't go ruining those awesome lines on those sexy cases with some ugly button. See also: replaceable batteries.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:11 AM on April 29, 2011


No, no, I understand. Can't go ruining those awesome lines on those sexy cases with some ugly button. See also: replaceable batteries.

Oh come on, next you'll be complaining about putting the card slot and USB and Firewire ports and power button on the back of the Mac Mini.

WON'T YOU THINK OF THE BEAUTY?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:17 AM on April 29, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "That manufacturers have scrambled to imitate hardware that is years behind their own may explain why they haven't had as much success."

Imitating the form factor, sure. The rest of the hardware? Not so much. And I don't know what was so hellish about clicking a button to download a package file and telling intellisync to transfer it. Palm's shame came from not making it easy to do directly from the device once they had PalmOS phones.

My point is that the iPhone is nothing revolutionary. It's purely evolutionary, and in some ways was behind other devices until very recently. I know you think that makes me some kind of Apple hater, but I prefer to think of it as acknowledging the reality of the situation.

mokuba: "Android was sure far away from this, that's for sure."

Android didn't exist at the time, so yeah, it wasn't there. I was primarily thinking of the N95, which had a camera, a faster processor, an equally high DPI screen, and hardware acceleration, and more importantly, had had it for literally years prior to the iPhone. The only thing it lacked was a touchscreen.

There were also HTC devices that were similarly performant that were released prior to the iPhone, but long after the N95. They even had touch screens. Of course, they were hobbled by WM5's stylus-oriented UI.

bonaldi: "It's the combination of the hardware and software, stupid. (And this goes for Weirdo, too). Only nerds see software and hardware as separate things. To the user, it matters not a jot if your phone has 4G hardware and a Zeiss lens if the camera app takes 5 minutes to start and 1 minute between shots. Likewise, open source doesn't matter if the battery doesn't make it through the day. "

See, that's just delusional as to the state of the art in the rest of the industry. This sort of claptrap is why people often refer to people as part of the "ADF" or "fanboys." If you're going to criticize, at least use realistic criticisms.

Suffice it to say that I disagree that Apple always gets everything right. They often get things terribly wrong. Luckily, unlike Microsoft historically, they're often willing to change course when it really is a question of life or death for their chosen path. (See: App Store, OSX, etc.) What bothers me much more than Apple are the people who continually claim that Apple invented every fucking thing on the planet. The iPod, yeah, the click wheel was quite the innovation. The iPad? Fo sho, at least in form factor. Too bad it's crippled in software, but whatever. The rest of it? Copies. Copies that happened to be better than the original.

Apple is great at taking everything around them and distilling it into its most necessary bits. They are not so great at coming up with entirely new ideas.
posted by wierdo at 11:32 AM on April 29, 2011


'geek squad' type person (or the computer savvy nephew) to de-junkify a home computer and not an IT manager-type professional

I do this stuff all the time for my friends and family. These people need to hear the good news about The PC Decrapifier and Ninite.

Within 30 minutes I can clean a system and install an environment of MSE (anti-virus that actually doesn't nag), Firefox (or Chrome) with Flash/Silverlight/.Net and Adobe Reader (or Sumatra or Foxit) plus whatever else they want. The only thing that really slows this process down are the old versions of windows shipped on most retail PCs which can take as much as a couple of hours to get current. It's mostly automatic though, more time than anything.

Setting up a new PC isn't a huge chore anymore. Especially with Ninite, configuring a new Windows XP/7 system is almost as slick as an Ubuntu install (which are now straight-up amazing, except when they go horribly, terribly wrong). Hasn't been for several years now.
posted by bonehead at 11:34 AM on April 29, 2011


One feature I always liked on the Mac, which I wish the PC people had "borrowed" was the power key on the keyboard. How freaking obvious is that?

We still have obscure scroll lock keys thirty years after text terminals were common, but they can't figure out how to hook a power key into the main control interface of the device. Bending over to power on your desktop tower is as stupid a design as starting your car by pushing a button behind the gas cap would be.
posted by bonehead at 11:51 AM on April 29, 2011


We still have obscure scroll lock keys thirty years after text terminals were common, but they can't figure out how to hook a power key into the main control interface of the device. Bending over to power on your desktop tower is as stupid a design as starting your car by pushing a button behind the gas cap would be.

You want to talk about stupid power button design ?

Go turn on an iMac. The other question I get asked every semester : "how do I turn on this iMac?"

It's hilarious.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:57 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Android didn't exist at the time, so yeah, it wasn't there.

http://www.engadget.com/2007/11/12/googles-android-os-early-look-sdk-now-available/

I was primarily thinking of the N95, which had a camera, a faster processor, an equally high DPI screen, and hardware acceleration

The failure of the N95 -- with its OMAP processor it was the functional equivalent of an iPhone -- highlights the underlying failure of the phone biz pre-iPhone -- the core problem was the fragmentation of the market into about one-thousand separate platforms, all mutually incompatible.

In nokia's case IIRC they were reliant on J2ME for their API. Meh. Apple's swingy 3Dish API to handle modern GUI was years ahead of all that, like I said. Also:

"But because Nokia decided to make the gaming platform also available for low-performance phones like the N81 and N73, both running with a non 3D accelerated CPU, all games that are currently available don’t use the possibility of 3D acceleration. That’s why all the games look much worse than they could do."

http://symbianwebblog.wordpress.com/2008/02/17/3d-accelerated-n95-vs-non-3d-accelerated-n81/

Developers couldn't target N95-class features in their games. They couldn't reach the few people who had N95, anyway.

The only thing it lacked was a touchscreen.

aha haa aha ah aha ahaha ha. ha.
posted by mokuba at 12:14 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apple is great at taking everything around them and distilling it into its most necessary bits. They are not so great at coming up with entirely new ideas.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants; it's not as if anyone in the past fifty years has come up with a genuinely new idea in either hardware or software.
posted by verb at 12:16 PM on April 29, 2011


which I wish the PC people had "borrowed" was the power key on the keyboard.

Being able to turn on my Mac IIcx from the keyboard was probably the primary reason I paid $6000 for that system, LOL. 6 years of usage, only cost $3 per chime. Prolly worth it.
posted by mokuba at 12:16 PM on April 29, 2011


...it's not as if anyone in the past fifty years has come up with a genuinely new idea in either hardware or software.

Whaaa, the iPad was the first tablet ever!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:23 PM on April 29, 2011


What bothers me much more than Apple are the people who continually claim that Apple invented every fucking thing on the planet.

the difference is between invention and innovation.

Apple didn't invent the desktop laser printer. That was Canon's invention (leveraging Xerox no doubt) and HP was first to market with the LaserJet.

Unfortunately, the first LaserJet was a glorified daisywheel printer. Apple came in a year later with the full end-to-end solution -- sufficient RAM to support raster graphics, Postscript transport, soft fonts, and the cheap LAN networking of AppleTalk to make its $6000 printer more economical for offices.

This is what neckbeards don't understand -- throwing crap onto the market is the easy bit. Making it work Good Enough as a solid product -- the productization -- is the hard part, and is why Apple has innovated so much since its founding.

The only thing around today that Apple didn't have a hand in innovating is the optical mouse. They were slow on the uptake with that, with Microsoft taking HP's invention and successfully productizing it.

People rag on Apple for stealing PARC stuff with the Mac. The thing is, the Mac team's mission was to productize the GUI at the $2000 pricepoint, which was a non-trivial task, one that they finally reached some degree of success at in 1986 with the Mac Plus.
posted by mokuba at 12:25 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whaaa, the iPad was the first tablet ever!

First touch tablet, yes. The haters really don't get how important losing the stylus was. It really changed everything.
posted by mokuba at 12:27 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


One feature I always liked on the Mac, which I wish the PC people had "borrowed" was the power key on the keyboard. How freaking obvious is that?

I've had them, it must be in the standard but for some reason they aren't in the basic PC keyboards. OTOH, my PC powers back on from sleep by pressing a key so not exactly necessary nowadays.
posted by smackfu at 12:31 PM on April 29, 2011


First touch tablet, yes. The haters really don't get how important losing the stylus was. It really changed everything.

That's uh, not true. A few companies had touch tablets out first. I think it was the first multi-touch tablet.

It's a great product, but similar to all other Apple products, I think I'd rather buy a color nook, and give the other half of the money I would have spent to charity. (you know, if I could afford either right now)
posted by lumpenprole at 12:35 PM on April 29, 2011


That's uh, not true. A few companies had touch tablets out first.

LOL. Can't even remember them, huh?
posted by mokuba at 12:43 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


A copy of Visual Studio 2010 costs ~$700. MSDN subscriptions are hundreds per year.

Microsoft charges thousands per seat for their professional development tools, and thousands more for MSDN memberships.

Wait, which is it, Apple fans?
posted by kmz at 12:50 PM on April 29, 2011


This symbian booster's page has this fun quote:

"This product is simply one of the most OVERRATED, overpriced, and hyped up pieces of hardware on the market ever, which is pretend: "to be revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone" said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. What a ridiculous and arrogant statement without any relevant argument!?"

He has a good chart of the differences between N93, N95, and iPhone.

• iPhone had multitouch input and no keypad or keyboard
• iPhone had 3.5" HVGA vs nokia ~2.5" QVGA.
• iPhone had "some strange sensor" to detect landscape mode
• iPhone had "no" Java but an actual native API designed by Apple that leveraged the good stuff it had been doing with OS X 10.2 ~ 10.4.

Now that NOKIA has just fired the entire symbian group 4 years after this post, I guess Steve can have the last laugh here, as the iPhone did in fact deliver the goods.
posted by mokuba at 12:50 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, which is it, Apple fans?

Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN
Ideal for professional developers in teams requiring access to the fullest set of Microsoft products for development and test, as well as access to a comprehensive set of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools.
$11,899 ($3,799 Renewal)

Visual Studio Professional with MSDN
Ideal for professional developers building applications on Windows, Windows Server and SQL Server.
$1,199 ($799 Renewal)

$799.00
Visual Studio 2010 Professional

Full version ($799.00)

www.microsoftstore.com
posted by mokuba at 12:54 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


LOL. Can't even remember them, huh?

Well, that's because they don't have MAC's marketing department and not at all a comment on the quality of the hardware.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:01 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Visual Studio Express is free, however.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:03 PM on April 29, 2011


See, that's just delusional as to the state of the art in the rest of the industry. This sort of claptrap is why people often refer to people as part of the "ADF" or "fanboys." If you're going to criticize, at least use realistic criticisms.

I realise you're Nokia's Blazecock, but if you think the only difference between the iPhone and the n95 was a touchscreen, you're so far off mark you're in no place to judge "realistic". The N95, like so much else Nokia did before finally imploding, was all hardware and some software cobbled together at the behest of the beards to run it. As a unified product, it was horrible, as the poor hacks in my office that were issued them continually complain.

Hardware spec lists will never beat Apple, because they sell products as mokuba is pointing out. Is the industry never going to learn the lesson of the "less space than a Nomad" quote? It seems to keep repeating versions of it, sure that *this* time it will be true. Meantime the customers are making Apple richer than Microsoft.
posted by bonaldi at 1:09 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, that's because they don't have MAC's marketing department and not at all a comment on the quality of the hardware.

Again, all about the hardware again. When will you neckbeards learn that software execution is at least equally important as the underlying hardware?

AFAIK, Apple was the first company to explore and productize stylus-less tablet UI. It was a bold innovation, one worth, oh, around $200B or so.

I actually worked with ELO Touch touchscreen CRT monitors for several projects I did in the 1990s and had to roll my own touch UI. I even ran these touch CRTS in Windows to get a feel for how eg. Netscape worked with touch input.

I was actually hired by Apple to create what became OS X's CALayer. Unfortunately, I didn't have my head in the right place to create this, but that's another comment.
posted by mokuba at 1:13 PM on April 29, 2011


Check the calibration on your sarcasm detector, friend.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:15 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently Apple fans don't even recognize sarcasm from their own camp.

(And what have beards ever done to y'all to deserve such abuse? Tsk tsk.)
posted by kmz at 1:15 PM on April 29, 2011


Microsoft charges thousands per seat for their professional development tools, and thousands more for MSDN memberships.

To be honest, I thought the original comment was talking about the 30% tax off the top to deploy to iOS. Seems like that dwarfs any spending on development tools.
posted by smackfu at 1:18 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought the original comment was talking about the 30% tax off the top to deploy to iOS. Seems like that dwarfs any spending on development tools.

Indeed, I read it that way too, and holstered my comment gun since competition with the AppStore rake is in fact a good thing for all developers.

30% is favorable for disposable apps compared to Kagi etc. but for anything above $10 it begins to bite.
posted by mokuba at 1:20 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


(And what have beards ever done to y'all to deserve such abuse? Tsk tsk.)

The Linux space just bugs the absolute shit out of me.

I'm contemprary of Linus in time if not space -- I studied the same Minix he did in the late 80s.

My reaction to that wasn't, "gee, I need to roll this Unix for my 386 box" but "damn I'm glad I have a Mac II to get real work done".

It's telling that Linus got started on a VIC-20. I never could get into the Commodore world with all its utterly user-hostile foibles, and the Amiga was pretty much more of the same, but higher in the language stack.

Linux and its proponents just seem perpetually headed in the wrong direction, "down" if you will. The iOS "walled garden" approach just resonates with me and OS X could lose all the Unixy stuff and I wouldn't miss it at all.

Linux just seems like one big, rolling, hack that doesn't really go anywhere interesting, UE-wise.
posted by mokuba at 1:28 PM on April 29, 2011


There's always going to be a quarter to a third of the market who wants a "product" that "just works". However, in two market categories that have at least a few years of sales history, computers and smartphones, there's a majority of the market the can't use or doesn't want that. Apple's stuff is the best of the best, given a few conditions: you want to get working on the device with minimal instruction, you don't care particularly about price and/or you don't need to manage more than a few of them, particularly in a heterogeneous, multi-vendor (even multi-platform) environment. In that box, Macs and iOs devices are kings. Change one of those parameters and they aren't.

Many low-end eMachines/netbooks/homebrew systems have been bought in the past few years by me, my friends and family because no one wants to spend more than $300 or $400 on a system (computers are means not ends; good enough is better than not at all). Corporate systems don't run Apples, because they don't scale well to 1000+ users. Almost no government offices are Apple-based because Macs cost too much, and sole-source lock-in goes against legislated non-discriminatory contracting policies.

I do know people who have Apple computing ecosystems in their lives: iPod/Apple tv/iMacs, etc... These people tend to be relatively well-to-do and small scale. Professors who get to buy their own devices, successful freelancers, doctors in private practice. Apple and AppleCare works great in those situations. Away from those conditions though, and Apple makes a lot less sense.

It's a conscious choice by Apple to cater to that 25 to 33% of the market, but their chosen niche is a hard cap on their potential as a company. Talking about "best" as a buyer is foolish in my view. All you're saying is that you're in Apple's market segment. For people or buys outside of those parameters, other systems will be "best", for both technical and non-techical reasons.
posted by bonehead at 1:37 PM on April 29, 2011


It's a conscious choice by Apple to cater to that 25 to 33% of the market, but their chosen niche is a hard cap on their potential as a company.

Indeed, it is. However, they've demonstrated how much a single company can thrive by focusing, willingly, on that niche. Selling 25-33% of the hardware in a given market isn't exactly a terrible fate: in the model you've described, everyone else is clawing at each other for the slices of the commodity-box pie.

It can also be seen as a sort of symbiotic relationship. Apple can effectively serve as an R&D UX lab for the rest of the industry while the rest of the industry figures out how to drive part prices down for Apple.
posted by verb at 1:56 PM on April 29, 2011


...you don't care particularly about price

No, I care about price, that's why I buy Apple stuff (though admittedly, I stick to the refurbs). It lasts a long time and when there's been a problem, they fix it, easily and quickly. Meanwhile, the PCs I've been using keep going down, to the point where it doesn't make sense, IMO, to spend more than a few hundred bucks on something that is so disposable.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:07 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can and will pay that price though. You care more about the experience than the price. There are many who can't or won't. If you don't value the experience as much as you do price, then the will isn't there. Only at most a third of people are willing to pay the Apple premium, historically.

It's the same argument as buying expensive smartwo0l scoks that will last a few years vs the cheapie 3-pack at Walmart. Some people don't have the luxury to make the choice and some don't care about socks enough to bother.
posted by bonehead at 2:12 PM on April 29, 2011


Only at most a third of people are willing to pay the Apple premium, historically.

Sorry, but it's not a "premium" if you get more computer and a longer lifetime for the dollar. Apple computers aren't even that much more expensive, anyway, and — in fact — the iPad is cheaper than the one other tablet that could conceivably be considered anything like a reasonable imitation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:16 PM on April 29, 2011


The durability of Apple stuff is overblown in these threads anyway, imo. The claims of fragility of PC systems certainly don't match my experience (which is homebrews, Lenovo/IBM and HP/Compaqs, in order of direct exposure). I've had W95 systems (pre-service pack even) with continuous uptimes exceeding five years, for example. Apple doesn't seem to be hugely better (or worse) than any other reasonable quality brand. Which is reasonable, given that many of the base components are the same or very similar.
posted by bonehead at 2:17 PM on April 29, 2011


Sorry, but it's not a "premium" if you get more computer and a longer lifetime for the dollar.

"My values are different from your values." That's not not meant snarkily, btw, that's just the way I see it.

A wee vignette to illustrate:
I just went through this with my mom who was looking for something to take with her to an NGO board meeting to review documents on and to take notes with during the meeting. She wanted something that had long battery life, was light and easy to use. She could afford pretty much anything she wanted.

She did look at the iPad right off, but was turned off by the price and the document sharing peculiarities. We also looked at the BB playbook, but again, too expensive and, in this case, only half-baked. She ended up buying an HP netbook because it had MS office, whcih she is very used to, but mostly she chose the cheapest option, because, to her a computer is not something she really cares about, just something to get the job done. Besides, she doesn't need a warantee, she has a couple of techie sons who can do that for her.

My mom's not a idiot for not choosing the iPad. She's mostly a cheap WASPy woman who won't buy a $25 pair of socks when a 3-pack for $10 will get the job done.

I prefer fancy socks myself, so I'm actually more on the Apple side of the fence, but I prefer mine to be matt black and have titanium roll-cages. Horses for courses and all that.
posted by bonehead at 2:33 PM on April 29, 2011


Sorry, but it's not a "premium" if you get more computer and a longer lifetime for the dollar.

Oh come on. I bought a $400 HP computer from woot that has more hardware than a $2500 mac pro at pretty much every possible point of comparison, and the ones where it didn't, I could probaby get to parity by spending another $200 at most. And don't even get me started on the ridiculous price of their monitors.

I really wanted to buy a mac pro, because I love OSX, but I don't love it for $2000+.

OTOH, their macbooks are a hell of a lot more reasonable, and close enough to me to justify the premium of a couple hundred dollars over a comparable pc laptop, and I'm getting ready to buy my second one.
posted by empath at 2:42 PM on April 29, 2011


Besides, she doesn't need a warantee, she has a couple of techie sons who can do that for her.

In other words, she doesn't need to put real and mental price tags on the hidden tech support costs of Windows, because she gets the value of that product — support — for free.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets tech support for free, and many end up ignoring that non-zero cost when paying "less" up-front, thinking they are getting a good deal when, in fact, they are just ripping themselves off.

I think a major part of what is driving Apple's continued success is that a greater number of people are coming to the gradual realization that better-made things really are worth a little more.

Tired of the hassles of running a constantly-infected and cheaply-constructed Windows machine, they see their iPod Touch or iPhone or iPad just working, quietly and efficiently, and they think, "Hmm, there's a real alternative out there."

She's mostly a cheap WASPy woman who won't buy a $25 pair of socks when a 3-pack for $10 will get the job done.

No offense, but it is these types of analogies that make me roll my eyes in these threads. Spending another $50 or $100 on a Mac laptop is not like buying a really expensive pair of socks, sorry. That's just silly and dismissive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:44 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


No offense, but it is these types of analogies that make me roll my eyes in these threads. Spending another $50 or $100 on a Mac laptop is not like buying a really expensive pair of socks, sorry. That's just silly and dismissive.

No, no. He was just describing the type of person his mother is and why that would inform her decisions, you're being too prickly.

I mostly agree with you about the hidden costs of windows for a non-technical person. My wife has said many times that if she wasn't married to me she'd probably go mac.

But you know, it's not like Apple products never ever need support. I used to have to support a mixed environment, and it was a hassle either way. Genius bars exist for a reason.

(Calling your support section a genius bar? Now that's dismissive and silly.)
posted by lumpenprole at 2:54 PM on April 29, 2011


Really? So Peter can open Diane's Pages.app files on his Linux box and Diane can use Dave's OneNote notebooks on her Mac? No? So then it's not regardless of the tools you use, it is in fact "only if we use lowest-common denominator or platform-agnostic tools".

Such a gracious person to converse with. A pleasure. I wish I worked with you. I never claimed that there are not unique applications (you can't get Scrivener on Linux and quite a few other applications) so of course, I never made the claim that we can exchange proprietary data files across different platforms where the file formats are not supported. We tend to separate data, structure, and design. Our project management system is web based for example, which doesn't require any sort of proprietary platform specific tools. Without knowing what I use or what we use collectively I find it odd that you can call them the lowest common denominator tools and that is what we can only use. We regularly exchange Illustrator and Photoshop files between Mac, Linux, and Windows for example. I think you're more intelligent than you're pretending to be and know that I never made such claim and that tools that are not proprietary or platform specific are not always the lowest common denominator. But perhaps not and I so I will apologize for being a user of the lowest common denominator tools. I only wish I could be as professional as you. It seems I lack the ability, intelligence, and the asshole to be so. I bow before thee.

But there are some platform-specific tools that people use because they are the best tool for the job. And it's the ability to use those tools that makes them proselytise for the platform that runs them, both to help out fellow professionals and more selfishly so they can easily interchange with them.

Sure. Never denied that. As I said, I'm concerned with the work. The end result, in many cases. I don't need access to every fucking Pages file or One Note file those in production make but if they produce a PDF out of it, or move the content to HTML I'm happy. And so are they. They are free to use what they feel is best and what suits them. I have no doubt they feel it's the best in general and that's fine. However, I no longer work with assholes who whine about how person Y is an idiot because they the don't use the same tool or platform they do because it's the best. The work is all I'm interested in.

At this level, it has *nothing* to do with teenage Atari vs Amiga bullshit, as so aptly demonstrated when I saw virtually every professional news photographer I know switch from Canon to Nikon in the space of six months. The fans were still arguing the toss in DPreview forums, but the pros had seen that one platform was not like another, and had switched.

Well since I'm mentally deficient I have to apologize again, but in your case, I feel it is very close to this kind of bullshit. Another, more sophisticated, professional version if you will. I see spouted by blowhard assholes all the time.
posted by juiceCake at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2011


Only Apple can get away with 1) creating user experiences that work so strenuously to make learning about or tinkering with your computer, device, or OS difficult, and to keep their customers at fairly rudimentary knowledge-levels as a result, 2) telling those same customers that if they need what I would consider "average" knowledge of the workings of their computer, device, or OS, they have to go to a place staffed by "geniuses". I've always found the idea of it pretty insulting.

But then again, I'll confess to a rather potent dislike for Apple. I didn't used to be this way, but the last few years have really sparked some discontent.
posted by hank_14 at 2:59 PM on April 29, 2011


creating user experiences that work so strenuously to make learning about or tinkering with your computer, device, or OS difficult, and to keep their customers at fairly rudimentary knowledge-levels as a result,

If you're referring to os x, you haven't the faintest idea why you're talking about.

I'd consider myself a fairly advanced user of windows and while osx hides a lot of crap that you don't need to use 99% of the time, it's a breeze to hop into terminal for all the unix-y goodness, and there are plenty of hooks to script nearly everything. In fact I'd say until windows 7, os x was way ahead of windows in terms of your ability to hack around with it at an advanced level, and has always been about even with Linux.
posted by empath at 3:13 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Such a gracious person to converse with. A pleasure
Your passive-aggressive condescension and faux-humility earns nothing.

I find it odd that you can call them the lowest common denominator tools
They are lowest-common-denominator by definition, it's virtually synonymous with cross-platform. GMail is in my opinion the best email out there, but it's still lowest-common-denominator. (I can think of more than a few ways it'd be massively better in a native Mac version, as I understand the Android GMail app trounces the mobile web version, too.)

As I said, I'm concerned with the work.
Yes, and your point appeared to set this up as a dichotomy between "concern with the work" (the noble, JuiceCake, serious way) and "concern with the platform" (the teenage, fashion-driven way, long outgrown by juiceCake). My point was that this is a false dichotomy. If you're concerned with the work, you will still be concerned with the best tool for that work.

Sure, in a big organisation this should mean a heterogeneous environment, with Linux in the server farm, Windows in accounting and Macs in the art department, but all-too-often it means IT buying Windows for everything (so simple for them to image and manage, which must surely be a key business goal, right?). When that happens, the production guys asking for Macs (or the beards asking their feet for Linux) does not make them "assholes who whine".
posted by bonaldi at 3:17 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only Apple can get away with 1) creating user experiences that work so strenuously to make learning about or tinkering with your computer, device, or OS difficult, and to keep their customers at fairly rudimentary knowledge-levels as a result, 2) telling those same customers that if they need what I would consider "average" knowledge of the workings of their computer, device, or OS, they have to go to a place staffed by "geniuses". I've always found the idea of it pretty insulting.

I am pretty dumb when it comes to computers, at least compared to a lot of the folks here. I'm not a programmer or a developer; I'm a simple user (who uses Windows at work and Mac at home). But even I, computer moron that I am, can open terminal and follow directions to do something in terminal that needs doing. As a simple user, this not something I've had to do often, but when I've needed to do so, it's hardly been difficult.
posted by rtha at 3:24 PM on April 29, 2011


I'm referring less to OS X and more to iOS, but OS X does plenty of hiding. And I can go look for the data, but I've seen even Mac columnists note that the majority of Mac users don't know the terminal program exists, don't know there are hidden files in every folder, don't know where preference data is kept, and so on.

I'd like to think I have the faintest idea, but if you think a better rejoinder is to tell me I don't, then jolly good.
posted by hank_14 at 3:29 PM on April 29, 2011


OS X does plenty of hiding

One could say the same about the infamous Windows Registry database.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:32 PM on April 29, 2011


Yep, the registry on Windows is something of a "don't look here" disaster, but the two systems are hardly comparable when we're talking about the sorts of information being given or not given to users. The registry is really core stuff. Basic error message data isn't.

But again, I'm perfectly willing to admit my antipathy toward Apple as a source of bias on this front, even if the Mac OS is the least of their worst offenders.
posted by hank_14 at 3:37 PM on April 29, 2011


I'm referring less to OS X and more to iOS, but OS X does plenty of hiding. And I can go look for the data, but I've seen even Mac columnists note that the majority of Mac users don't know the terminal program exists, don't know there are hidden files in every folder, don't know where preference data is kept, and so on.

The reason they don't know is that they've never had to find out. That's a good thing. Fuck, I wish I never found out about the Windows Registry. In fact, I wish I could scrub all memory of it from my brain forever.
posted by empath at 3:38 PM on April 29, 2011


Only [everyone that's not] Apple can get away with 1) creating user experiences that work so strenuously to make [doing anything] with your computer, device, or OS difficult, and to keep their customers at fairly rudimentary knowledge-levels as a result, 2) telling those same customers that if they need what I would consider "average" [productivity from] the workings of their computer, device, or OS, they have to go to a place staffed by [the IT department/Geek Squad/younger relative]. I've always found the idea of it pretty insulting.

But then again, I'll confess to a rather potent dislike for [most computers not made by Apple]. I didn't used to be this way, but the last few [decades] have really sparked some discontent.
posted by dvorak_beats_qwerty at 3:38 PM on April 29, 2011


Yep, the registry on Windows is something of a "don't look here" disaster, but the two systems are hardly comparable when we're talking about the sorts of information being given or not given to users. The registry is really core stuff. Basic error message data isn't.

There information is easily found if you care to look for it. Most people don't bother.
posted by empath at 3:40 PM on April 29, 2011


to keep their customers at fairly rudimentary knowledge-levels as a result
Why is this something they "get away with" rather than "finally achieve"? The hoary analogy is to cars: nobody says "only Mercedes get away with creating interfaces to make learning about combustion or tinkering with timing difficult and keep their customers at fairly rudimentary knowledge-levels as a result".

But that's because people don't see being a greasemonkey as some noble thing that every driver should do just out of principle, regardless of inclination. Sure, visit a mechanic's forum and you'll get complaints about those engine covers and proprietary interface ports to car computers, but you won't see them arguing this is a downer for the average owner, just for those hobbyists. But, god, ship a smartphone that doesn't have gcc installed and you'd think they set out to infantilise humanity.
posted by bonaldi at 3:40 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'll be honest. I get revision as parody and reversal, but the rewritten statement isn't remotely accurate. Then again, I guess it depends on what you're trying to be productive at, right?
posted by hank_14 at 3:41 PM on April 29, 2011


entropicamericana: "Apple has been using their cash to make key acquisitions and to ensure their suppliers keep the product coming ... Maybe they could take a page from the Microsoft playbook and buy a bunch of companies and do absolutely nothing with them; would that be more to your liking"

Well, relative to its size, cash flow and cash pile, Apple's acquisitions over the past five years have been the equivalent of me stepping out to buy a coffee.

Then again, the history of megabuys for large tech corporations is almost universally sub-optimal. Oracle seems to be one of the few that can make them contribute directly onto the bottom line.

Apple's culture is so idiosyncratic and centralised that a large buy would imperil either it or the purchase. Maybe that will change, eventually, in a post-Jobs organisation.

And as for "do nothing with them", well, all tech companies are riddled with this. Apple is no exception. Sometimes this is because of poor integration, or reshuffles. Sometimes it is because of a lack of outside knowledge: the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Other times the buy was purely to grab some IP and knowledge, and the business line is superfluous. Example: Lala (and yes, maybe iCloud will be Lala 2.0, but in that case it will surely have taken a while to catch up with the other music streamers and Apple will have "done nothing" for two years).
posted by meehawl at 3:41 PM on April 29, 2011


Bonaldi has it - time spent working on the tool is time wasted. To twist the old adage "Time spent working on my computer is free if the value of my time is zero."
posted by dvorak_beats_qwerty at 3:42 PM on April 29, 2011


And I can go look for the data, but I've seen even Mac columnists note that the majority of Mac users don't know the terminal program exists, don't know there are hidden files in every folder, don't know where preference data is kept, and so on.

This doesn't make OSX special. My Windows box at work has plenty of hidden stuff, and plenty of stuff that I don't know where it lives because I don't know it exists.

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to find an attachment that had come in my email. The email had been tossed, but I knew I had saved the attachment. I *thought* I had saved it to a particular folder on one of the shared drives here at work, but it wasn't there. What I had done - I eventually figured out, with the help of one of the IT guys - was hit save when the default "save to" folder was highlighted (when saving something from Outlook, I guess).

You know where it went? Library-User-App Data-Local-Microsoft-Windows-Temporary Internet Files-Content.Outlook-[numbersandletters file name]

That's totally obvious, right? I mean, any random computer user would immediately know where to look for the default "save to" folder for Outlook attachments!
posted by rtha at 3:43 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd argue it's a problem with cars, too. But it's not a question of noble profession, it's a question of a user's capacity to gather knowledge about the technologies or tools that they own. Apple has achieved a user experience that not only works with low knowledge but that also actively discourages the acquisition of knowledge in many areas. Designing a user experience that works so smoothly that a user tends to not feel any interest in tinkering or exploring the innards of a device is one thing; using proprietary flower-head screws that prevent anyone who doesn't purchase a specially reverse-engineered screwdriver from opening their device or replacing their own notebook battery - that's something else.
posted by hank_14 at 3:46 PM on April 29, 2011


rtha, I can't possibly approve of using outlook, so I've got no defense there :)
posted by hank_14 at 3:47 PM on April 29, 2011


That's totally obvious, right? I mean, any random computer user would immediately know where to look for the default "save to" folder for Outlook attachments!

They might think to try saving an attachment and seeing where it goes.
posted by kafziel at 3:50 PM on April 29, 2011


Spending another $50 or $100 on a Mac laptop is not like buying a really expensive pair of socks, sorry.

The price differential was more like $500 for the iPad to $230 for the netbook. If it really had only been a few dollars, she probably would have chosen the Apple tablet (or RIM---she likes her blackberry). A better than 50% price difference was more than enough to make her mind up.

Anyway, I'm not trying to be dismissive, I'm trying to say that different value systems lead to different choices. When these discussions happen, what's really happening is people are discussing their own choices for defining worth or value. I was simply trying to illustrate that. Rightness and wrongness are not particularly useful concepts in this kind of discussion.
posted by bonehead at 3:51 PM on April 29, 2011


using proprietary flower-head screws that prevent anyone who doesn't purchase a specially reverse-engineered screwdriver from opening their device or replacing their own notebook battery - that's something else.

Yeah, I'm not a fan of that either, and as much as I'd love my iphone, I'd love it more if I didn't have to deal with app store bullshit. That said, I can disagree with some of their decisions without casting them as some kind of techno-super-villain seeking to make people stupid.

i will never understand the apple/pc partisanship. It's just like Sega/Nintendo when I was a kid, except none of you guys are 13 year olds.
posted by empath at 3:54 PM on April 29, 2011


They might think to try saving an attachment and seeing where it goes.

Yeah, here's the fun thing about outlook, when you double click on an attachment in outlook, it puts it into a temp folder first, then opens it. Then if you just hit Ctrl-s to save, it just saves it where it is, rather than asking you where to save it. You have to click 'save as...' to get it to save in a non retarded location. Which I also had to learn the hard way.

It's stupid default behavior.
posted by empath at 3:56 PM on April 29, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "That manufacturers have scrambled to imitate hardware that is years behind their own may explain why they haven't had as much success."

I know this argument runs and runs, and Apple boosters in this ilk such as Marco Arment like to release big graphics selecting Palm-style split-slab qwerty smartphones as the "pre" Apple era, and the Iphone as the vanguard of the revolution. But this ignores the smartphone space in 2005-2007, where vendors of app launchers such as SPB Mobile had already"done" the whole home screen icon launch thing (which Apple copied) and the LG Prada (demoe'd in 2006, launched in 2007) had not just an app launcher home screen which the Iphone copied, but a near-identical form factor *with* a capacitive screen. And HTC had been pushing the whole full-screen slate thing for a while.

I think it's unfair to say that "manufacturers" simply imitate Apple. I haven't seen many except Apple present their two biggest phone advances in 2011 as a CDMA option or a white plastic shell. Have you *seen* the new Samsung Galaxy S II? That is a beast of a phone, super-slim (not as slim as the NEC MEDIAS N04C though), impressive CPU, amazing power conservation, cool wide-angle AMOLED screen to die for. When Iphone 5 arrives, it's got a good chance of looking a lot like this Samsung, except without the USB or the SD, and maybe with some higher resolution. And that's part of the reason Apple is suing one of its biggest parts suppliers over *dress*.
posted by meehawl at 3:59 PM on April 29, 2011


The price differential was more like $500 for the iPad to $230 for the netbook.

I have used both netbook and iPads. I almost bought a Dell Mini 9 last year to run Linux, but after using one firsthand, it just wasn't going to be a good experience: flimsy case and cramped controls. Netbooks and iPads are not really comparable pieces of technology, both in terms of hardware and software functionality.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:02 PM on April 29, 2011


I know that the "stay out of the hardware that you bought" design angle bugs some folks, but it's a tiny slice of the market, made a bit bigger if you include their relatives and friends for which they do free tech support.

I'll be yanking an SSD from my MacBook Pro sometime in the next week in order to swap in a new one - current one has a bad driver installed, and the (windows-only) updater refuses to update the drive, while also refusing to give any sort of error message. Back to the vendor for a replacement.

When I do pull the drive, I'll be using a regular screwdriver. The custom/freaky ones are for opening iPhones, not laptops, as far as I know. I don't think there are too many consumable-serviceable parts in most phones, and yeah, for the folks that want to tinker with the hardware of their phones, Apple's not the best vendor. :-)

As part of this process I booted into Win7 for the first time since January, and for some reason, Microsoft decided I needed to authenticate with them all over again. Find the CD, type in the code. Terrible user experience and a waste of my time, and when I do swap the hard drive in, I bet I get to do it all over again. That's the kind of thing I was referring to in my reversal post. It's just a terribly disrespectful experience that I never have to put up with in OS X. Updaters that don't update, authentication systems that waste my time...

(Apple will sell you a "Family Pack" license of OS X, but it's the same disks as in the single-user boxes; they're basically on the honor system. Do they lose money, sure? But they respect my time.)

For decades, folks were using computers that were the equivalent of Yugos - cheap, broke instantly, and just terrible all around. iPhone hit, and we had a few years where things were getting better. Then google put the same short-sighted, sales-hungry jerks that ruined PCs back in control of the cell phone market and dressed it up as "liberating the masses". Sigh...
posted by dvorak_beats_qwerty at 4:03 PM on April 29, 2011


It's stupid default behavior.

Sure is. The favourite trick of the IT security audit team is to pounce on people for not "daily clearing their Outlook temporary folder" (our written policies at work). It's non-browsable (security!) and hidden from the user, and almost no one knows it exists. Bloody facists.

They were appalled when I created a short script in advance of an audit to clear out people's folders. It took away their best blame-the-stooopid-users trick.

Worst "feature" of OL by far.
posted by bonehead at 4:04 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


But this ignores the smartphone space in 2005-2007, where vendors of app launchers such as SPB Mobile had already"done" the whole home screen icon launch thing (which Apple copied) and the LG Prada (demoe'd in 2006, launched in 2007) had not just an app launcher home screen which the Iphone copied, but a near-identical form factor *with* a capacitive screen. And HTC had been pushing the whole full-screen slate thing for a while.

Which they, in turn, had copied from the Apple Newton, from the early 1990s.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:05 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: "I agree that Microsoft was shackled by the anti-trust suit, but frankly isn't that a good thing? It would be good if the government stepped in and stopped apple's anti-competitive b.s. as well."

I do think it was a good thing. In this case, court battles and on-site regulatory oversight functioned exactly as it was designed to do, and had worked before at IBM: restrained the rapacious, industry-dominating instincts of a monopolist, and enabled innovative new markets to grow around it without being squelched or rented to smithereens. It took IBM over a decade after oversight ended to start getting its mojo back. Don't know if MS will take so long...
posted by meehawl at 4:05 PM on April 29, 2011


Sorry, that was delmoi that said the above. Quote macro fail...
posted by meehawl at 4:05 PM on April 29, 2011


They might think to try saving an attachment and seeing where it goes.

From what I can tell, I can't get there from here.
posted by rtha at 4:06 PM on April 29, 2011


Sadly, the flower-head screws are now on an number of devices, depending on purchase date and location, and include the battery housing of several of the newer macbooks. And, even better, there are three different screw heads, all of which require their own reverse-engineered screwdriver. So, you know.
posted by hank_14 at 4:09 PM on April 29, 2011


Blazecock Pileon:Which they, in turn, had copied from the Apple Newton, from the early 1990s"

Which they copied from PSION. Which they copied from DesqView. Which they copied from PLATO. This could run and run all the way back to abacus. The idea of a single screen launcher with icons is hardly ground breaking. What is really relevant is who was actually doing what kind of products in the mobile space during the years when Apple was researching the Iphone.

In point of fact, integrated mobile home screens vary according to user tastes and fashions. Some people favour a simple spatial icon grid without distractions (feature phones do this a lot). LG did that with the Prada, and took it to monochrome extremes whereas Apple favours a candy colour approach. Others favour the "busy" info portal design ala HTC's sense with all kinds of animations and updates. Google started off with a hybrid desktop launcher, then moved to an icon grid. HTC has been getting busier and busier. One of the designs in recent years to try to integrate the aesthetics of the icon grid with the utility of the info updates has been MS with the Zune/WinPho7 expandable grid, which has itself gone through some iterations and looked better, then worse, and is now kind of good again. It's one of the few genuine truly "new" innovations in mobile UI display over the past decade.
posted by meehawl at 4:17 PM on April 29, 2011


I almost bought a Dell Mini 9 last year to run Linux

I did buy one, to my regret, when they first appeared on the market, a little more than two years ago. Slow and very wonky hardware. Just confirmed my opinion of Dell as bottom feeders who sell cheap components in crappy plastic boxes. Fortunately it suffered a feline-induced catastrophe after only a few months.

We bought a wee Samsung to replace it and been happy with it since. With an SSD in it, it boots almost instantly and has pretty good battery life. This was about a year before the iPad came on the market, but even with the extra drive it still cost less total than the wifi-only iPad in Canada. It's literally been around the world. It's taught university courses. I'm typing this on it. They're quite useful little boxes, in my experience.
posted by bonehead at 4:20 PM on April 29, 2011


Has hackintosh on laptops gotten any better recently? I have a friend who wants to dip his toe into OSX, but doesn't want to drop $1500 on it right away, since he's never used it before. I was going to recommend that he get a cheap notebook and put hackintosh on it to play around with it first, but don't know how much of a pain in the ass it is to get working
posted by empath at 4:22 PM on April 29, 2011


docpops: "Handbrake ... There was the time my kid deleted an iTunes playlist and for 10$ I got something that would take it off her ipod and replace it back in the computer."

Don't know what the others do, but I think HandBrake is available on Windows and even Linux. And if I want a playlist from most of my mp3 players, I plug in a USB cord and drag the playlist over to the host. Total cost: $1 for the cable (but I'd paid for that already). Of course, maybe we're talking about dynamic playlists? I tend to keep backups of those (they're tiny files... go wild!)
posted by meehawl at 4:25 PM on April 29, 2011


when Apple was researching the Iphone

The reality, unfortunate as it might be, is that the touchscreen and the lessons learned from the Apple Newton made iOS and the iPhone wholly new inventions, in ways that Prada and the others could not successfully imitate.

As the Chinese bootleggers are finding, it's not enough just to slap some chrome on the widgets — to be successful, a piece of gear has to be functional in ways that the older gear isn't. The other device manufacturers you listed are finding out this lesson, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:31 PM on April 29, 2011


Handbrake is open source anyway, isn't it? GPL even.
posted by bonehead at 4:32 PM on April 29, 2011


One of the designs in recent years to try to integrate the aesthetics of the icon grid with the utility of the info updates has been MS with the Zune/WinPho7 expandable grid, which has itself gone through some iterations and looked better, then worse, and is now kind of good again. It's one of the few genuine truly "new" innovations in mobile UI display over the past decade.

Wait, so... just to be clear. The iPhone's multitouch gesture-based interface wasn't "innovative", but the WinPhone7's use of a slightly different layout grid was? We need to iron out what constitutes innovation, here, because it's turning into a synonym for "things I like."
posted by verb at 4:46 PM on April 29, 2011


The reality, unfortunate as it might be, is that the touchscreen and the lessons learned from the Apple Newton made iOS and the iPhone wholly new inventions, in ways that Prada and the others could not successfully imitate.

You can't sincerely believe this sentence. I mean you just can't. Can you really believe this?
posted by empath at 4:47 PM on April 29, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "The touchscreen and the lessons learned from the Apple Newton made iOS and the iPhone wholly new inventions ... As the Chinese bootleggers are finding, it's not enough just to slap some chrome on the widgets — to be successful, a piece of gear has to be functional in ways that the older gear isn't. The other device manufacturers you listed are finding out this lesson, too"

If you are utterly determined to ignore the fact that Newton was basically a copy of Psion, then we have reached an impasse in our discussion because our terms of reference are obviously too divergent. It's probably a US vs Europe thing, where the US market basically had no real handheld integrative devices during the 1980s. Except later in the decade, when there was the Gridpad (a Tandy/Samsung combo, from an original Samsug design - see, it has been on this for a long time), the Atari Portfolio (basically a UK-based Psion offshoot), and the Poquet (Fujitsu).

Anyway, I will add that I was under the impression that Mr Jobs killed the Newton with extreme prejudice? Wasn't that one of Sculley's things? I know some people just left in disgust or despair, and didn't a couple go do Pixo for the Ipod? I had friends at Apple at the time working on the emate and the messagepads and they were gutted. The emate was a really nice little "one per child" style instant-on netbookish thing (thanks, Gridpad!), that was based on Newton, and the later messagepads were slick. But except for looting the inking software, Apple did nothing with most of the tech for the longest time, and Mr Jobs squished so many attempts to relaunch a PDA. So Apple Fans had to go nearly ten years without a new handheld device from "their" company. Imagine if messagepad and emate had been improved, updated, rejigged continuously? Then you could have had something like the Iphone around 2004 or so, instead of the ROKR abortion, kids everywhere might have been using emates instead of sidekicks and junky netbooks, and Fans such as yourself would have a more valid basis upon which to claim that everyone doing mobile in the 2000s slavishly copied from Apple without any traffic going the other direction.
posted by meehawl at 5:03 PM on April 29, 2011


Can you really believe this?

I certainly do. You can tell an invention is something special when your first reaction to it is "holy shit!".

And that was my reaction to the iPhone.

Everything about it may have been incrementalism, but, like the LaserWriter vs. LaserJet from the 1980s, sometimes mere incrementalism makes the quantum jump into innovation.

Like I mentioned above, the iPhone had HVGA instead of the prior format of QVGA. But it didn't lose the 160 DPI density which is all my eyes can see at 12" these days anyway.

It had that magical GLASS touchscreen, not the condom-like material that coated eg. the HTC Apache PPC6700 (which I had bought in 2006).

As a PPC6700 owner, the differences between the HTC and iPhone just instantly obsoleted all of what HTC and Microsoft had been doing in the phone space, right along with everyone else, including Danger/Android.

Looking at the Prada specs I see it was:

• TFT touchscreen, 256K colors
• Main Screen Size/Resolution: 240 x 400 pixels, 3 inches

aside from the "imitating" angle, LG just didn't have the software development under the hood to compete with the iPhone OS and API that was in the iPhone.

The Prada was just another java phone that got swept away.

As far as ID goes, I've long thought that Sony was doing great stuff with the Clies. But I'm not talking ID here. The whole point of iPhone was to move beyond ID of the device, to make the device disappear and the app it was running be everything.
posted by mokuba at 5:09 PM on April 29, 2011


verb: "The iPhone's multitouch gesture-based interface wasn't "innovative", but the WinPhone7's use of a slightly different layout grid was?"

I used the word "display" (ie, from machine to you). I think you are talking about UI intention (ie, from you to machine). These are different things.

Multitouch is cool - that's why I hacked it up for a kiosk interface in the mid-1990s (rejected - too expensive!). I also hacked an interface using a skin galvanometer ("MindDrive"), and one using ultrasonics (PowerGlove)- it's so bad). Do I think Nintendo copied me for the Wii? No, because my design was not out there in the marketplace and the probability that anyone on the Wii design team knew of a small student project is less than zero. The same cannot be said for Apple and its relation to its competitors (especially when it is finally preparing to enter a growing new market segment).
posted by meehawl at 5:15 PM on April 29, 2011


I certainly do. You can tell an invention is something special when your first reaction to it is "holy shit!".

That was also my reaction to the iphone. My question was about A) tracing the lineage from the Newton (which was a pile of shit) and B) Claiming that the Prada was an imitation of the iphone, when it was in demo'd before the iphone was.

I sometimes wonder if bp is paid by apple to troll here, but then i think that even apple doesn't use the amount of pravda-levels of hyperbole and propaganda that he does. I mean goddamn I love apple stuff, but seriously...
posted by empath at 5:21 PM on April 29, 2011


If you are utterly determined to ignore the fact that Newton was basically a copy of Psion

LOL. Utterly wrong, again the neckbeards here are looking at the plastics and not the underlying software engineering.

Newton was a research project in portable operating systems and user space applications. It was entirely on parallel tracks with Psion and did many things completely differently.

This is not to say Apple wasn't looking at what Psion was doing, since Psion came into this space first.

But this "copying" thing requires actual copying to have gone on. Apple lifted everything from PARC, but did little copying with the Lisa and Mac, eg. they took the idea of a mouse-controlled bitmapped GUI and ran with it.

Imagine if messagepad and emate had been improved, updated, rejigged continuously?

That would have been good, yes. Apple was perfectly capable of keeping Newton going w/o bringing in NeXT DNA and not doing so was a "mistake".

Then again, what PDAs needed was time for the 1990s technology to get small and efficient enough. The OMAP 2 with PowerVR in mid-2006 was the first to market in this area, with an ARM core mated with a PowerVR renderer.

Whether NewtonOS was still around for this would have been irrelevant.
posted by mokuba at 5:24 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


mokuba: "The Prada was just another java phone that got swept away."

The Prada actually used Adobe Flash for the UI. 2006! I know, pretty weird and kind of avant. I do agree with you that the PPC-6700 was an underpowered, RAM-starved POS (unless you replaced WM with Linux) but its form factor was clearly transitional between the classic split-face qwerty and the classic slate.

And everything gets "swept away" in the end. The real question is what impact it made. You can impact the consumers. Or you can impact the designers. The Prada influenced the designers. It's a top-down thing.
posted by meehawl at 5:26 PM on April 29, 2011


Clie came way before Prada, and I'd like to think Apple was influenced by that ID, since it was so cool I was compelled to get one.

Same thing with Sony's ID in the laptop space in the 1990s . . .
posted by mokuba at 5:31 PM on April 29, 2011


but its form factor was clearly transitional between the classic split-face qwerty and the classic slate

you can't have "slate" until you go full 3.5" LCD. Upon fondling the 6700 on my desk now I see it was proto slate-like if you remove the keyboard/battery part of the assembly, ie 2/3rds the bulk and weight of the device, but the screen is simply too small for a non-stylus UI to work.
posted by mokuba at 5:34 PM on April 29, 2011


mokuba: "
But this "copying" thing requires actual copying to have gone on. Apple lifted everything from PARC, but did little copying with the Lisa and Mac, eg. they took the idea of a mouse-controlled bitmapped GUI and ran with it.


So does this "get out" mean that Google and the Android makers are safe from Apple (the company that once claimed it owned the idea of centered text below icons)? That they just took the idea of a multitouch-controlled bitmapped phone UI and ran with it?

That would have been good, yes. Apple was perfectly capable of keeping Newton going w/o bringing in NeXT DNA and not doing so was a "mistake".Then again, what PDAs needed was time for the 1990s technology to get small and efficient enough. The OMAP 2 with PowerVR in mid-2006 was the first to market in this area, with an ARM core mated with a PowerVR renderer. Whether NewtonOS was still around for this would have been irrelevant"

Chips don't happen in vacuums - they are driven by market demands. If smartphones had picked up volume earlier, there would have been an acceleration in the delivery of power-efficient ARMs with 3D assists earlier.

And in fact, I look on ARM as the revenge of the ][GS, and other high-end 8/16-bit machines from the 1980s - the Iphone is in many ways a handheld ][GS. If Apple hadn't been so gung-ho to abandon the ][ platform in favour of the Macintosh, then we might have seen a similar acceleration of pseudo-RISC designs for 32-bit CPUs ala ARM. ARM is kind of a filial descendent of the Motorola 6502. We might have been spared entire swathes of the diversion into 8086-derived power-hungry pseudo-CISC monsters that met their Waterloo finally in the Pentium 4. Now everyone is trying to look more like ARM (or more like the 6502 from days gone by). If it had happened that way, you can bet that the victory narratives written by Apple Fans would be similar in form, if not in content.
posted by meehawl at 5:36 PM on April 29, 2011


Claiming that the Prada was an imitation of the iphone

I claimed no such thing, I was talking about the Newton, as well.

I sometimes wonder if bp is paid by apple to troll here

Can you knock it off? Just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean I'm trolling or anything like it, ffs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:38 PM on April 29, 2011


Anyway, I will add that I was under the impression that Mr Jobs killed the Newton with extreme prejudice?

He killed a lot a projects, because Apple was very close to bankruptcy, thanks to years of mismanagement. But it doesn't follow that Apple took nothing from Newton's hardware, software and UI designs.

I guess we will just have to agree to disagree about this. From the history I've followed, there seem too many clear differences between the original iPhone and similar offerings, to say that it isn't an original invention in a number of important ways.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:46 PM on April 29, 2011


Anyway, I will add that I was under the impression that Mr Jobs killed the Newton with extreme prejudice?

Yep. Just like the Pippin, and the godawful infinite array of Performa variations (many of which differed in model number only to distinguish between various included software bundles), the cloning/licensing debacle, Copeland, QuickDraw GX and OpenTransport, OpenDoc, PowerTalk, CyberDog, AppleGuide, and an array of amazing-to-demo, shit-to-use next-generation technologies that had languished in labs and sucked Apple's energy for close to a decade.

The Newton had developed a very, very faithful following in a small handful of markets due to some really good third-party software, and it was a very interesting exercise in OS design. It relied heavily on the concept of a "Data Soup" that all applications could interact with, and its UI metaphor was very, very anchored to the idea of an endless scrolling loop of paper that you could scratch a line across to 'scroll up' and start a new document. Unfortunately, its cutting edge handwriting recognition software (cue laugh track) demonstrated that people would happily trade some learning for higher accuracy. When Palm's graffiti debuted, there was no contest. Even as a young Apple Fanboy, I knew that the Newton was doomed and I would be using a Palm for my nerdery.

If you're looking to learn more about what the real internal state of Apple was in the pre-Jobs era -- the time that most real Mac nerds look back on as the dark years for good reason -- this post-mortem by one of the business leads of the OpenDoc team is a fantastic read. Apple's hardware business was languishing as it flailed to keep up with commoditized PC hardware, and its software engineers spent years spiraling off into quixotic attempts to "change software forever." They build new graphics technologies, they invented new paradigms for sending messages, they built new APIs to brew your coffee and fry your eggs, and the fought ugly, bloody turf battles over whose projects would be blessed and see the light of day -- AKA, get jammed into an increasingly bloated OS that was desperately in need of a ground-up rewrite.

Jobs' bloodletting when he came back was a terrible thing to behold in many ways, and for those who saw the promise of many of those early, rough systems Apple had invested billions in building, it was close to sacrilege. But Jobs' principle was simply that Apple wouldn't build anything it couldn't do really, really well in ways that other people weren't. He nuked more projects in his first two years than he's overseen the launch of since then.

And Apple has thrived.

It doesn't make him a God or a genius, and it doesn't mean that his vision for what computing should be is the right one for everyone... But it definitely stands as a testament to what focus can achieve. Having watched Apple as a young zealous fanboy, then an indifferent critic, and now a satisfied user for about a quarter of a century, It's interesting to see how the same patterns of analysis keep cropping up. Everyone keeps recommending that Apple do what failed them in the past, Steve Jobs ignores them, they get angry and announce that Apple is doomed, and Apple keeps growing.

When Jobs eventually moves on, it will be very interesting to see how things change. Not because he's some sort of visionary genius, just because I'm not sure a replacement would be willing to bring the same opinionated, egocentric mono-focused conviction to the company's leadership.
posted by verb at 6:12 PM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


So does this "get out" mean that Google and the Android makers are safe from Apple (the company that once claimed it owned the idea of centered text below icons)? That they just took the idea of a multitouch-controlled bitmapped phone UI and ran with it?

The Android ecosystem has been ripping off iPhone at every turn as Apple's suit listed in its claims.

You won't hear me complain about Win Phone 7 Series or whatever it's called. They went back to the drawing board and their incorporation of XNA and XAML with their UI work shows how a proper non-thieving development process is done, almost clean-room esque in its divergences from what Apple has done.
posted by mokuba at 6:38 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


the Iphone is in many ways a handheld ][GS. If Apple hadn't been so gung-ho to abandon the ][ platform in favour of the Macintosh, then we might have seen a similar acceleration of pseudo-RISC designs for 32-bit CPUs ala ARM. ARM is kind of a filial descendent of the Motorola 6502

wat
posted by mokuba at 6:45 PM on April 29, 2011


You won't hear me complain about Win Phone 7 Series or whatever it's called. They went back to the drawing board and their incorporation of XNA and XAML with their UI work shows how a proper non-thieving development process is done, almost clean-room esque in its divergences from what Apple has done.

And for all my apple-defendin' and Microsoft-knockin' in this thread, I concur that WinPhone7 is a much cleaner baseline phone OS than any of the stuff that MS has released to date. Having used the abominable Pocket PC OS for several years, seeing them empower a team to start fresh and actually ship the thing is really cool.
posted by verb at 6:58 PM on April 29, 2011


mokuba: "In nokia's case IIRC they were reliant on J2ME for their API."

Sorry, no. N95 ran Symbian. There are actually some pretty nifty 3D games for Symbian, including the obligatory GLQuake port. 3D programming on the N95 was also OpenGL ES. Don't let facts get in the way of your opinion, though!


bonaldi: "I realise you're Nokia's Blazecock, but if you think the only difference between the iPhone and the n95 was a touchscreen, you're so far off mark you're in no place to judge "realistic". The N95, like so much else Nokia did before finally imploding, was all hardware and some software cobbled together at the behest of the beards to run it. As a unified product, it was horrible, as the poor hacks in my office that were issued them continually complain."

If you read the post I was responding to, it was specifically about how even the original iPhone was something revolutionary as far as hardware was concerned. It was decidedly not. It was behind the times, as far as hardware went.

And if I were the BP of Nokia, I would be fully in support of their move to WP7. I am not. ;)
posted by wierdo at 2:04 AM on April 30, 2011


It was decidedly not. It was behind the times, as far as hardware went.

It's so far behind, everyone else keeps trying to imitate it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:14 AM on April 30, 2011


The iphone was undoubtedly a step back in terms of features when it was released (ie -- no camera, no cut and paste, etc). Apple made a conscious decision to not support features which had been standard up to the point to focus on getting everything it did support as close to perfect as possible.

This was also what they did with the iPod, and pretty much everything else they make. Apple under Steve Jobs has always put the overall experience over features and hardware -- that's fine, it what makes Apple, Apple.

What people copied from the iPhone certainly wasn't the hardware and features -- most phones were already ahead of Apple there, but the UI and the look and feel. Apple was so far ahead of everyone else on UI, that it was like it was beamed down from another planet. It's really hard to overstate how magical the iphone felt when it came out, but you can't deny that other phones at the time had more features and better hardware in a lot of respects.

The key thing is that having a camera and cut and paste or whatever other check list of features didn't matter a bit if using it made you want to pull your hair out. I've got am older blackberry from work that I'm forced to use that literally makes me want to throw it against a wall every time I use it, but if you want to check off features and specs, it was probably close to the iphone. Intangibles make a huge difference, and make the iphone worth every penny.
posted by empath at 10:30 AM on April 30, 2011


The first iPhone had a camera... Ah, whatever.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:06 PM on April 30, 2011


verb: "its cutting edge handwriting recognition software (cue laugh track) demonstrated that people would happily trade some learning for higher accuracy."

By the late-1990s the handwriting recog was actually pretty good - realtime and impressivley accurate with much reduced learning. I think killing Newton by then had most to do with pissing all over the grave of Sculley's signature project.
posted by meehawl at 12:18 PM on April 30, 2011


mokuba: "meehawl: ARM is kind of a filial descendent of the Motorola 6502

wat
" If you don't know where you came from, how can you know where you are going?
posted by meehawl at 12:53 PM on April 30, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "It's so far behind, everyone else keeps trying to imitate it."

Apple did not even invent the form factor. They did manage to write an OS that was dramatically less useful. Thankfully, they've seen fit to dispense revisions which bring it to near parity in the usefulness department.

Clearly, most disagree with me about what makes software easy to use, so I'll not comment on that beyond saying that I don't consider the iPhone particularly easy to use. If it was, I wouldn't constantly get questions from my users on how to make it do "foo." Interestingly, I have only rarely had to field questions about how to make a Blackberry do something.

But people say it's easy, so I take them at their word. (I think it's pretty much like everything else, just with one less button to press to get to the list of applications)
posted by wierdo at 1:29 PM on April 30, 2011


If you don't know where you came from, how can you know where you are going?

I was reacting more to the iPhone/ IIgs equation, but 6502 was RISC by necessity, not choice.

modelled on everything they liked about the 6502

and a whole bunch of stuff that is more 68Kish, like actual register files and (more?) ISA orthogonality.

I agreed with your larger point about pseudo-CISC, but Motorola's Coldfire came out in 1994 and was an alternative direction not taken, perhaps or perhaps not to our collective detriment.
posted by mokuba at 2:10 PM on April 30, 2011


Apple did not even invent the form factor.

They were first to market with a device that presented a full-screen tappable 3+" UI without an extraneous keypad or extra control buttons, the sole front button on the device serving as an ESC key essentially.

The Prada counts as beating Apple to market with similar product, but if anything LG stole the idea from Apple via industrial espionage means since Apple had the iPhone concept in development before LG's announcement.

You got anything before LG, wierdo?

They did manage to write an OS that was dramatically less useful.

Troll.

Thankfully, they've seen fit to dispense revisions which bring it to near parity in the usefulness department.

Apple's 2.0 release in mid-2008 -- the first with blessed 3rd party apps -- was perfectly functional.
posted by mokuba at 2:27 PM on April 30, 2011


mokuba: "They were first to market with a device that presented a full-screen tappable 3+" UI without an extraneous keypad or extra control buttons, the sole front button on the device serving as an ESC key essentially. "

The Zaurus had essentially the same first-look interface, just unrefined, and with a less sensitive (but still tappable) touch screen. The applications, on the other hand, were not rewritten to have finger-friendly buttons. It was designed to be stylus-and-keyboard, although as with every stylus-wielding device, I almost never used said stylus.

It's not trolling to state that the OS was initially dramatically less useful and continued to be for some time. Lacking things like copy-paste, multimedia messaging, tethering, multitasking, and a whole host of other useful features which Apple now touts as being something barely short of miraculous.

I don't really get why it is that you and others feel the need to insist that Apple invented every bit of the iPhone. Isn't it enough to stick to the factual bits; that the iPhone was the first widely accepted no-stylus touchscreen device? It was, for quite some time, completely marketing driven. At least with the iPhone 4, the device has the technical chops to back it up.

You can claim that I'm just being some kind of neckbeard, but your preferences and interpretations are no more valid than mine. That's why I'm trying to keep the conversation about facts.
posted by wierdo at 2:42 PM on April 30, 2011


but you can't deny that other phones at the time had more features and better hardware in a lot of respects.

This is comically wrong. Sure the N93 was a flagship phone with dualcore ARM, PowerVR, but just look at it.

You've really got to look at the gestalt of the thing. Apple was creating a platform and as such defined and defended a set of functionality -- swoopy UE, native OpenGL ES for game performance and port-ability, high-density HVGA, and the rest of the UIKit APIs that gave developers the ability to actually do all this in software.

The reason phones sucked prior to iPhone was because their APIs sucked. ALL other APIs from 2006 have now been shitcanned -- Symbian, WinCE, J2ME -- and even Android itself had to change directions to conform to iPhone.

Prior to iPhone, OEMs thought they were making phones. iPhone virtualized the phone part, turning the phone into a first-class PDA with phone capability via an app.

Apple's core innovation with iPhone was making the 150,000 pixels of a touchscreen HVGA display *be* the device, virtually of course. Swap out the 150,000 pixels with new content and code, and you've got a completely different device.

Neckbeards simply lack the cognitive ability to see this I guess, just like they didn't get the power of Mac's WIMP GUI (admittedly sourced from PARC) metaphor back in the day.

Everyone else in 2006-2007 had parts of the puzzle, but only Apple was able to put it all together and keep it together to coalesce in an actual platform.

Just like their Mac experience, 1982-1986
posted by mokuba at 2:43 PM on April 30, 2011


Maybe next time I'll figure out how to write in complete sentences.
posted by wierdo at 2:44 PM on April 30, 2011


Anyone who equates good design to marketing is a wierdo.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 2:46 PM on April 30, 2011


mokuba: "Prior to iPhone, OEMs thought they were making phones. iPhone virtualized the phone part, turning the phone into a first-class PDA with phone capability via an app."

Uh, what on Earth do you think Symbian was about? It was a derivative of the OS used on the Psion PDA devices. The phone part was just another application. Again, long before Apple.

You can keep throwing up straw men, but nobody is claiming Apple didn't put some things together that previously hadn't been put together. Sharp did some similar things in the PDA space, but didn't apply that work to phones. Nokia did similar things in the phone space, but wasn't interested in touch screens, except on their experimental tablets.

What I was and am continuing to claim is that Apple didn't invent much at all. The iPhone was an evolution of things that already existed elsewhere. I don't know why that's so offensive to you.
posted by wierdo at 2:48 PM on April 30, 2011


had essentially the same first-look interface, just unrefined, and with a less sensitive (but still tappable) touch screen.

See, that's the goddamn problem. I bought a Zaurus SL-5000D back in 2002 to do development because I was very impressed with the technology and wanted to see what it could do.

It was still a stylus-driven interface. The Apache PPC-6700 was also finger-drivable, but not by design. That reminds me, throw Qtopia on the garbage heap of history, too.

A device can only be stylus-driven or tappable. LG Prada gets first honors for beating Apple in the tappable race, and they sold a lot, but Apple came with a better platform and eventually wiped the floor with LG.

Lacking things like copy-paste, multimedia messaging, tethering, multitasking

copy-paste. Not a biggie. Microsoft shipped Win 7 without it. The phone is a limited device, mostly for reference, not content creation.

MM, I don't even know what that is. Video in email? big deal.

Tethering is a nice feature but not very availalble. Couldn't get my PPC 6700 to tether for shit.

Lack of multitasking was a feature not a bug. Background apps make very little sense in the absence of a multi-windowing GUI. iOS has the foreground app. Multitasking provides corner-case functionality of being able to play streaming audio or some other such bullshit but is not a major deal.

and a whole host of other useful features which Apple now touts as being something barely short of miraculous.

whatever dude. Enjoy your trolls.

At least with the iPhone 4, the device has the technical chops to back it up.

3GS was also very performant. Thing is, so was iPhone OS 2.0 3 years ago. Apple had all the pieces in place very early in the game. Looking at the plastics and specs on paper and not as an actual developer you fail to see how fucking far Apple was ahead in January 2008.

They had EVERYTHING in place by then -- the App Store, UIKit (total rewrite of NeXT AppKit), Objective-C 2.0 (less GC), a solid OpenGL ES implementation, and a toolchain that could simulate all this for ISV development.

The hit a the mother of all tech grandslams in 2007-2008, and their marketing had absolutely nothing to do with it.

The company was laser-focused on iPhone OS in this period, to the detriment of everything else, actually.
posted by mokuba at 2:55 PM on April 30, 2011


Earth do you think Symbian was about? It was a derivative of the OS used on the Psion PDA devices. The phone part was just another application. Again, long before Apple.

Apple went beyond symbian. I was talking about the hardware. Note the LG Prada still had call/hang up hardware buttons.

That's the way the Asian OEMs thought phones were, pre-iPhone.
posted by mokuba at 2:57 PM on April 30, 2011


mokuba: "LG stole the idea from Apple via industrial espionage means since Apple had the iPhone concept in development before LG's announcement."

This kind of baseless historical revisionism does nobody any favours. LG had been churning out featurephones with launcher screens for a couple of years before the Prada. After the Prada, sadly, LG doubled down on the whole featurephone concept - I know that it was still, in late-2007, tragically emphasising FPs over smartphones for resource allocation. You're the same person who said that the Prada was Java-based, when in fact it was a Flash-based UI with WM plumbing, so why should I believe you for this strong claim?

But anyway, LG demo'd a fully functional Prada with form factor, icon launcher etc in Hannover in mid-2006 and won an iF prod design award. Winners get exhibited at the iF tents alongside CeBIT and some Asian trade fairs. It's kind of a big deal, and ensures high-profile for your product among other designers. And not really something that a company using "industrial espionage" could have pulled off considering that in mid-2006 Apple's phone was still half-baked. Instead of your suspicions, considering the evidence of the marketplace, which way, honestly, would an objective observer consider that ideas were flowing during 2006?
posted by meehawl at 3:01 PM on April 30, 2011


mokuba, we're arguing different points.

And yes, multimedia messaging is a big deal. What the fuck do you think sexting is? So is copy-paste. I don't know about you, but I create a great deal of content on my phone. Usually in 160 characters or less.

And my trolling? Call Apple's marketing department. They're the ones touting the "new" features every iOS release.

And multitasking is a big deal to a lot of people. They want their weather app to have the weather when they click on it. They want to play music while browsing the web. They want to take video while using their GPS. It's a very useful thing, even if you refuse to acknowledge that. Hell, even Apple finally acknowledged that multitasking is a useful thing to have on a phone.

I guess that's what infuriates me most about Apple. Anything missing from their products isn't important. Until it's no longer missing, at which time it suddenly becomes revolutionary.

You saw this with MacOS classic lacking pre-emptive multitasking. The company (and ADF) line was "who needs it, if the applications are well-behaved." Right up until OSX. When OSX was launched, pre-emptive multitasking was suddenly all the hotness. They've been pulling the same shit for decades now. It didn't originate with the iPhone and isn't specific to the iPhone.
posted by wierdo at 3:06 PM on April 30, 2011


You're the same person who said that the Prada was Java-based, when in fact it was a Flash-based UI with WM plumbing, so why should I believe you for this strong claim?

LG KE850 Prada

Java Yes, MIDP 2.0

/J2ME/JVM Developer Specifications

MIDP: 2.0
CLDC: 1.1
Platform: Jbed-FastBCC
Java Canvas Size: 240 x 325 pixels
Java Fullscreen Canvas Size: 240 x 378 pixels

which way, honestly, would an objective observer consider that ideas were flowing during 2006?

Sure, the industry was certainly heading for a touch fullscreen form factor in 2006-2007. Apple most certainly didn't "invent" that, what they did was establish it as a viable UE paradigm.

What the fuck do you think sexting is? So is copy-paste. I don't know about you, but I create a great deal of content on my phone. Usually in 160 characters or less.

yeah, not having sexting capability is not a big deal. This is just corner-case shit and not the "dramatically less useful" claim you originally made

Apple compensated for weakness in some functionality areas with great strengths in others.

They want their weather app to have the weather when they click on it.

Nobody needs "multitasking" for this since weather data easily and quickly pollable on launch/relaunch.a
There are some cases were multitsyking is necessary, like keeping track of locations and location-based events. That was a missing piece of functionality that Apple added later, but, again, not that major a deal for the vast, vast majority of the market.

Anything missing from their products isn't important. Until it's no longer missing, at which time it suddenly becomes revolutionary.

More trolling.

The company (and ADF) line was "who needs it, if the applications are well-behaved." Right up until OSX. When OSX was launched, pre-emptive multitasking was suddenly all the hotness.

I still stick with that. CMT was perfectly good enough in the 1990s, and Window's 9X alleged PMT was compromised by the 16-bit thunk lock so wasn't any better in practice than Mac's CMT.

From a programmer's viewpoint the difference between CMT and PMT is rather small really, just an implementation detail, almost.

But nobody claimed OS X's PMT was revolutionary, of course, so your argument here is just troll.
posted by mokuba at 3:23 PM on April 30, 2011


The first iPhone had a camera... Ah, whatever.

Sorry, meant to say video camera.
posted by empath at 3:26 PM on April 30, 2011


I can't believe that people are seriously arguing that the iPhone wasn't missing features that most other phones had. Do you really feel the need to argue every single criticism of apple products? For fucks sake, they aren't perfect in every way. There are good and bad things about every product.
posted by empath at 3:28 PM on April 30, 2011


mokuba: "Java Yes, MIDP 2.0"

Yes, in 2006-2008, MIDP-compliance was one of those "check off" items you had to have to pass go. But outside of bespoke enterprise installs, how many Windows Mobile phones during those years used Java or non-native frameworks for apps? Seriously? On how many WM phones could you even *find* a MIDlet player?

I think you have impressively become MeFi's single greatest "no surrender" Apple Fan in a single conversation thread. Well done!
posted by meehawl at 3:33 PM on April 30, 2011


Nah, there's still the thread where Blazecock was insisting that Apple invented the word "smartphone".
posted by kafziel at 3:38 PM on April 30, 2011


I can't believe that people are seriously arguing that the iPhone wasn't missing features that most other phones had. Do you really feel the need to argue every single criticism of apple products? For fucks sake, they aren't perfect in every way. There are good and bad things about every product.

I know that for my part in the thread, I've been perfectly happy to note that Apple and its products are far from perfect. I'm not sure there's opposition to the idea that the iPhone lacked features that some other phones had, more just opposition to a lot of the "Oh, it was nothing new, everyone else had already shipped phones like that, they just made it shiny and marketed it" tripe.

That's useless in the same way that "Micro$oft Winblows is only successful because they copied Apple!" is useless. I suppose I should know better than to expect honest analysis on either side in a mefi Apple thread.
posted by verb at 3:44 PM on April 30, 2011


seriously arguing that the iPhone wasn't missing features that most other phones had

that is a matter of fact. The actual claim went beyond that, and of course the relevance of this is not really debatable unless you wish to claim Apple somehow succeeds with demonstrably inferior yet overpriced product.

But outside of bespoke enterprise installs, how many Windows Mobile phones during those years used Java or non-native frameworks for apps?

what the hell are you babbling about now? LG Prada was not marketed as a WM phone and going to getjar.com I see plenty of java apps were made for it.

I'm not going to waste any more time running down the LG Prada's app availability in the 2007 timeframe, but AFAICT it was a java phone as far as the user was concerned since that's what it could download.
posted by mokuba at 4:01 PM on April 30, 2011


If I ever find myself calling somebody a troll for not liking a phone as much as I do, I sincerely hope my loved ones will stage an intervention.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:14 PM on April 30, 2011


least I'm not the guy insisting sexting capability is a must-have feature in a phone
posted by mokuba at 4:15 PM on April 30, 2011


mokuba: "least I'm not the guy insisting sexting capability is a must-have feature in a phon"

I don't know why I continue to respond, but here you go: Clearly, sexting is but one subset of the whole "send pictures to your friends" thing. One that happens to get a lot of media attention, but still a subset. Given the volume of MMSes sent and the fact that Apple finally saw fit to include such a feature in iOS, I dare say it is actually a highly utilized feature.

And that was some nice cherry picking regarding the weather thing. Even so, I'll quibble about the detail. I want my weather app to update when it can, because I often find myself in basements or out in the boonies or somewhere were it can't update specifically when I open it. It's the device's job to not make me think about such things.

And you can keep claiming that the multiple "enlightenments" that many Apple fans have expressed regarding features newly added to iOS is trolling, but it's all factual. You're more than welcome to review MeFi posts to see the dramatic changes in people's attitudes.

And yes, there were OSX fans suddenly touting their brand of multitasking as a must have when a year earlier they were busy saying it was unneeded. And boy was it common for them to say it wasn't needed. Their derision began with OS/2, as I recall.
posted by wierdo at 4:31 PM on April 30, 2011


And yes, there were OSX fans suddenly touting their brand of multitasking as a must have when a year earlier they were busy saying it was unneeded. And boy was it common for them to say it wasn't needed. Their derision began with OS/2, as I recall.

Did you actually know any MacOS fanboys, or did you just flip through John Dvorak columns occasionally? The lack of pre-emptive multitasking had been acknowledged as a serious problem for years, and was one of the major features that had languished as Copland's ship date slid out into infinity.

There were DOS fanboys suddenly touting the value of GUIs once Windows 3.1 shipped, too, after years of mocking GUIs as "toys for lusers." Does that mean that I can dismiss anyone who disagrees with me as a Micro$oft loving sheeple?
posted by verb at 4:41 PM on April 30, 2011


Maybe you hadn't noticed, but I haven't accused any poster here of holding any of the contemptible views which I have attributed to some ADF members.
posted by wierdo at 4:50 PM on April 30, 2011


To elaborate, yes, I have corresponded with people who consistently see the value in technological advancements only once Apple has had their go with it. You can choose to believe me or not; it's up to you.
posted by wierdo at 4:52 PM on April 30, 2011


Maybe you hadn't noticed, but I haven't accused any poster here of holding any of the contemptible views which I have attributed to some ADF members.

I never said that you did. Why so defensive?

Now that you point it out, though, in this post you called bonaldi "delusional" for saying that most non-nerds don't care about hardware and software as separate things, just the operation of "their computer." You continued, saying that 'This sort of claptrap is why people often refer to people as part of the "ADF" or "fanboys."'

You can certainly disagree with bonaldi's views, but it's rather disingenuous to pretend that you haven't labeled people in this thread 'Fanboys' and 'ADF' for disagreeing with you.


I have corresponded with people who consistently see the value in technological advancements only once Apple has had their go with it.

If you would like to argue with them, feel free to. If you'd like to talk to people here, try responding to what they are saying. I've corresponded with people who insisted that GUIs were "less productive" than DOS, until Windows 3.1 came out. It would be rather disingenuous of me to lump you with those people simply because I disagree with you.
posted by verb at 5:16 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ahem. Bad markup - the comment I was referring to was here.
posted by verb at 5:16 PM on April 30, 2011


verb: "Now that you point it out, though, in this post you called bonaldi "delusional" for saying that most non-nerds don't care about hardware and software as separate things"

No, you misread. I called bonaldi delusional for believing that before the iPhone phone cameras "[took] 5 minutes to start and 1 minute between shots". Even assuming he was using hyperbole, I can't think of a single cameraphone I've used that has significantly worse performance (speed-wise) than common low-end point and shoot digital cameras that sell like gangbusters.

Even really bad ones like on some of the old HTC WM5 phones were nothing like that.

That sort of ridiculous distortion is exactly what I assert causes people to label others in that way. So no, it's not disingenuous at all, given that I was pointing out exactly the behavior that brings out those labels.

In a more fighty way: English motherfucker, do you speak it?
posted by wierdo at 7:07 PM on April 30, 2011


I want my weather app to update when it can, because I often find myself in basements or out in the boonies or somewhere were it can't update specifically when I open it.

talk about "cherry-picking"! The point was that a 150,000 pixel device generally doesn't need background multitasking because there is only one front-most app and context-switching between them is perfectly performant for the vast majority of cases.

There is some functionality -- background streaming of music while doing something else, location-aware stuff that is enabled by background multitasking, but this isn't terribly important.

And neither was not being able to send video over SMS or whatever.

there were OSX fans suddenly touting their brand of multitasking as a must have when a year earlier they were busy saying it was unneeded

"our brand of multitasking"? the fuck? Just vague bullshit from you here. Mac was horribly late to the PMT party, Windows had it quite properly with NT4 and especially Win2k, years before Macs.

Anyhoo, I'd take a good CMT system over a shitty PMT system any day.
posted by mokuba at 7:10 PM on April 30, 2011


I should clarify that I'm referring to digital cameras which were the particular phone's contemporaries. Clearly performance will generally increase over time, such that comparing a phone camera from 2004 to a digital camera of today would be useless.

Bonaldi also seemed to be claiming that pre-iPhone smartphones didn't last a day on a charge, which also wasn't true in most cases. I've heard of some Android phones having that problem, but Android didn't exist in the time period we were discussing.

mokuba, why don't you go look up some stats on the use of MMS. Clearly, it was important functionality to quite a lot of people. Some iPhone users even complained about it being missing. And you still ignored the list of use cases for multitasking I mentioned. Funny that you accuse me of cherry picking.
posted by wierdo at 7:12 PM on April 30, 2011


I want my weather app to update when it can, because I often find myself in basements

Now, what did I say earlier about being too obvious?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:13 PM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


that pre-iPhone smartphones didn't last a day on a charge, which also wasn't true in most cases.

"smartphone" here is a dodge since smartphones sucked before the iPhone.

The actual quote was:

"Likewise, open source doesn't matter if the battery doesn't make it through the day."

and the point still stands, not whatever fake-point you're trying to argue against.

Clearly, it was important functionality to quite a lot of people.

MMS is a nice to have, but not a must-have. Priority-wise, it's way down the list.
posted by mokuba at 7:17 PM on April 30, 2011


mokuba: "MMS is a nice to have, but not a must-have. Priority-wise, it's way down the list"

Spoken like a true kool aider! MMS is probably the single most common way most of the world's population exchange audio, photo and video with each other, and it has been for the past ten years, and may remain so for another decade. The Arab revolutions. Where do you think all that audio and video came from? You think people were sharing it on social networks with wobbly web apps and straight-to-youtube uploading? Nope, they were broadcasting it via MMS to their contacts (some of whom then probably tweeted it or uploaded it). Every carrier wants MMS, because it can charge usage revenues. Total MMS revenue this year is somewhere between 100 billion and a quarter of a trillion USD - it's the second biggest revenue earner in mobile after voice minutes and used by around two billion people who send close to 5 trillion messages a year.

It does seem very difficult for some "Year Zero" True Believers (ie, 2007) to understand how the rest of the world could *possibly* have enjoyed using smart- and multimedia phones for almost a decade before Year Zero, and how so many people could possibly be using non-Apple kit get stuff done. One thing I noticed when I moved to the US from Ireland was that it was like taking a weird step 5-10 years backward in terms of mobile phone usage, sophistication, and general awareness. I mean, a mobile payments service that's basically a kluge with tiny volume like Jack Dorsey's Square is a breakthrough? In 2011? Please.
posted by meehawl at 8:32 PM on April 30, 2011


yeah, well, popular revolutions aren't really a use case we work with.

In the bad old days pre-iPhone, MMS was a pile of crap and a way for telcos to monetize use of the phone, as you listed above yourself.

Skilled users could and did push video through email and whatnot.

It does seem very difficult for some "Year Zero" True Believers (ie, 2007) to understand how the rest of the world could *possibly* have enjoyed using smart- and multimedia phones for almost a decade before Year Zero

The usability of phones were utter shite before the iPhone. The first-gen iPhone was far from compete, and the OS itself clearly needed another year of work, but the direction was solid and all those wonderful phones you think were so awesome in the previous decade have been consigned to the dustbin of history, put there by the iPhone.

The iPhone turned phones into PDAs. Sure, other companies were trying hard and succeeding to one degree -- Handspring Treo, BB, but they didn't have the actual functional set that made iPhone the dominant phone platform it is today.

I mean, a mobile payments service that's basically a kluge with tiny volume like Jack Dorsey's Square is a breakthrough? In 2011? Please.

you're doing that arguing with imaginary people thing again.
posted by mokuba at 8:53 PM on April 30, 2011


mokuba, have you ever even used a pre-iPhone smartphone? Just curious.

Also, MMS is the same today as it was before (indeed better, my at&t data plan which predates the iPhone by three and a half years includes MMS, SMS, and unlimited data for $20/mo). But apparently it being on the iPhone has somehow increased its functionality?

Also, calling the iPhone the dominant phone platform is patently ridiculous. Feature phones still have the lion's share of the market. Argue it's the dominant smartphone platform if you like, you'll at least be less wrong. Argue that it's the most profitable and you've finally gotten back into reality.

Of course as far as I'm concerned, that profitability comes at the end user's expense (and content makers and cell phone carriers), but that's a matter of opinion, not fact.
posted by wierdo at 10:32 PM on April 30, 2011


have you ever even used a pre-iPhone smartphone? Just curious.

yes, like I said above I bought a PPC-6700 in early 2006. It was, of course, crap, since it was WinMo 5 device and I ate the ETF in late 2007 IIRC. I've also owned a Palm Pilot, Clie T-615C, Zaurus SL-5000D.

Pre-iPhone smartphones didn't understand that they were touch devices. Even the Prada's UI was still a stylus-driven UI, without the stylus, with scrollbar UI gadgets to manipulate.

Contrary to your beliefs above, Apple's big deal with the iPhone UI was not the launch page of icons -- after all, the first Palm Pilot had that exact same approach -- it was pioneering, and committing to, the TOUCH UI paradigm.

Early reviewers had doubts about this, but it was Apple's central innovation with the iPhone.

But apparently it being on the iPhone has somehow increased its functionality?

No, you're just kinda missing the overall point with this. MMS wasn't a priority for iPhone because iPhone people already had PCs to manage data on/off the phone, so its absence was No Big Deal for the first-world community of iPhone users.

MMS was kludgy and I've never farted around with it, having been a Mac owner for over 20 years now, I'm perfectly capable of pulling photos and videos off the phone without sending them through the telco. I'm not that ADD that I need to spam people right off my phone.

Feature phones still have the lion's share of the market.

Yeah, and calculators had the lion's share of computation devices in the 1980s, too.

I'm speaking from a user and an app developer here. Nobody in this position gives a shit about feature phones. We are talking about the future, not the past.

Argue that it's the most profitable and you've finally gotten back into reality.

It's not the profitability that makes Apple shine as the leader of the industry, it's the revenue that flows to its ISVs producing product within its "walled garden" ecosystem.

This ecosystem is really quite something special, something that did not exist at all prior to iPhone, even though the pieces of the puzzle were all there to be picked up by anyone smart and/or big enough to put them all together correctly.

The last time this happened was in the late 1980s, the golden era of classic Mac software design and business. Nobody in their right mind was buying Windows in the 1980s, you could't pay me enough to suffer with that crap, either as a programmer or user. Macs got all the great products first -- Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Photoshop, ACi 4D. Lots of great apps.

Apple did a very good job putting the right pieces together in 2007 -- the PowerVR renderer combined with very powerful UI API support -- CALayer, though I seriously doubt you even know what this is -- UIViewControllers, MVC with Objective-C 2.0 properties, sufficient RAM and flash storage to serve as a proper PDA (the vaunted LG Prada apparently only had 8MB of RAM and zero internal flash storage AFAICT), and the AppStore through iTMS to manage software purchase, downloads, and updates.

Obvious in retrospect, but the work to get all this in one place was genius.
posted by mokuba at 2:16 AM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


mokuba: "No, you're just kinda missing the overall point with this. MMS wasn't a priority for iPhone because iPhone people already had PCs to manage data on/off the phone, so its absence was No Big Deal for the first-world community of iPhone users.

MMS was kludgy and I've never farted around with it, having been a Mac owner for over 20 years now, I'm perfectly capable of pulling photos and videos off the phone without sending them through the telco. I'm not that ADD that I need to spam people right off my phone.
"

I believe it's you who are missing my point about MMS. MMS is not something used only in places like Egypt or sub-Saharan Africa or whatever it is your seeming US-centric mindset is telling you. It was (and still is) used quite extensively in western Europe.

Just because you have never found a use for something does not make it useless. The feature is completely orthogonal to "having a PC." After all, you wouldn't say that SMS can be replaced by writing notes on your phone and downloading them to your PC later?

The MMS thing is getting terribly nitpicky at this point anyway. It was merely one example of things that were useless in the minds of (some/many/pick your number) Apple boosters until suddenly it wasn't useless once the iPhone got that capability.

You're very correct that application developers don't give a shit about feature phones (barring a few game developers who still make a killing on retreads of existing J2ME games like Bejeweled), but if you think users don't care about them, you're blind to reality. I don't care about them (except as a backup to the backup for my backup phone), and you don't care about them, but that's our techie mindset talking.

There are millions of people perfectly capable of affording and understanding a smartphone who would rather have the smaller form factor or literal week of battery life that a feature phone gets them. It's not like they have to have crappy browsers, even. The small screens (physical size, not just resolution) inherent in the category do make them less useful for browsing the web, though.

There are some days I would rather have a week of battery life instead of 2-3 days.

It's funny that you dismiss all other smartphones, but those other smartphones are what allowed me, long before the iPhone graced our presence, to do my work without having to touch a computer for weeks at a time. You know, editing office documents, printing, remotely accessing computers, web browsing, email, sending photos, GPS, most everything I could do on my laptop.

So yeah, the iPhone has opened that up to a lot more people (mostly..if you don't mind being locked in to some of apple's particular technologies), which is just fantastic, but it wasn't terribly revolutionary in and of itself.
posted by wierdo at 4:02 AM on May 1, 2011


I called bonaldi delusional for believing that before the iPhone phone cameras "[took] 5 minutes to start and 1 minute between shots". Even assuming he was using hyperbole, I can't think of a single cameraphone I've used that has significantly worse performance (speed-wise) than common low-end point and shoot digital cameras that sell like gangbusters.

That example came from my 2007 Nokia, which once took exactly that long to operate the camera. It wasn't always as bad as that, but it had somehow got itself into such a state, that I found myself looking at the LG Prada in search of an alternative, even though I knew the iPhone was coming. Anything to get away from it -- and it was by far the best of a shit bunch at the time.

But my point wasn't pre-iPhone as you're trying to make it out to be. It was arguing that if you don't treat the device as a holistic whole, you'll fail in competition with those that do. Phones might have great hardware cameras, but are they easy to use and do they have APIs that mean apps like Instagram can take advantage of them? They might have nerd-friendly software, but do their batteries last?

When the iPhone finally did arrive it was such a massive relief to the torture that soi-disant smartphones had been up until then that it didn't matter a damn to me that it didn't have MMS or 3G, because all the other stuff a)worked, b)worked really well as a combination of software and hardware together.

Interesting to note that it has done this so well it's in the process of killing off those "gangbuster" pocket digicams, too, seeing as it's now most popular camera on Flickr.

When you compare the state of the mobile web and mobile apps from from 2006 to, say, 2009, it's impossible to say there hasn't been a revolution in this industry. And the iPhone caused that, not by marketing, not by copying the LG Prada, but by being the first phone where hardware and software worked together as one total product.

That the hardware was deficient compared to competitors or that the software didn't support things like MMS is utterly, utterly irrelevant. So is the ability to trace the lineage of this or that feature back to something Symbian did in 2002. Nobody had tied them all together before. When somebody did, everything changed. That's revolutionary.
posted by bonaldi at 6:46 AM on May 1, 2011


It was merely one example of things that were useless in the minds of (some/many/pick your number) Apple boosters until suddenly it wasn't useless once the iPhone got that capability.

Also, this? This is number two on the list of stupid fucking Apple arguments, right after "it's just marketing". This is not how it goes at all. How it goes is:

1. Apple brings out product that does what Apple customers actually want, rather than ticking huge feature lists.
2. The tech industry sneers, because it doesn't have feature X, which is obviously fundamental.
3. Customers say, "yeah, turns out we don't care about feature X, because this does all the other stuff really well and isn't that refreshing?"
4. Product a big success.
5. Beards jump up and down about how they'll never buy product until it has feature X.
6. Product gets feature X.
7. Apple customers say "there. Surely it is now even better, it still does all the things we want, and now those you do too, right?"
8. Beards: "AHA! you fanbois used to say this was irrelevant, but now it has it you say it is better! Hypocrisy! Have I told you my theory about how Apple is all marketing?"

(There is a related 2b to this, on things like PPC-to-Intel and no-copy-and-paste which ignores the clamour from Apple customers for those things. App Store is one of these: when Jobs tried to punt the idea of web apps as substitutes for native apps, the entire Apple world told him to gtf, and demanded native apps. But even now you still see weirdo-types posting stuff like "yeah yeah, and web apps were magical and great until the App Store came along and suddenly they weren't." It's moronic.)
posted by bonaldi at 7:05 AM on May 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


mokuba: "Skilled users could and did push video through email and whatnot."

Ah, skilled people? Like yourself, obviously. I see where this stems from. Saying that MMS was "too difficult" ignores the patent fact that half the world uses it quite well, without Apple's imprimatur. And some people (for reasons best known only to themselves) even did video calling for years, similarly without any leave by Apple. Amazing to think about, isn't it?
posted by meehawl at 7:37 AM on May 1, 2011


Customers say, "yeah, turns out we don't care about feature X, because this does all the other stuff really well and isn't that refreshing?"

It's more like some customers say that "On balance, I prefer the iPhone because the things that it does do, it does really well, and I'll just do without for now." While some other customers (like me) say: "I'll just wait until the next generation when iphone 2 adds all the shit that iphone 1 should have had." and some other customers say: "Fuck it, I'll buy an android because it has this feature that's really important to me, and its cheaper, and I don't really care if the US is slightly suckier than iphone"
posted by empath at 9:33 AM on May 1, 2011


US=UI
posted by empath at 9:34 AM on May 1, 2011


I believe, for example, that Iphone 3g sold as many units in 2 months as the first iphone sold in the first year.
posted by empath at 9:45 AM on May 1, 2011


bonaldi: "That example came from my 2007 Nokia, which once took exactly that long to operate the camera."

It once took exactly that long to operate the camera? And iPhones never get themselves into a funk where they need a reset... Mmmhmm...

Here's a little hint for the future: If you're comparing the correct operation of one device to another device which is not operating correctly, you're doing it wrong. All electronic devices, save perhaps the Space Shuttle computers, fuck up from time to time. Even the vaunted iPhone.

Anyway, IHBT. I was talking about ways in which the iPhone was not state of the art upon its release, and somehow we've gotten sidetracked into this BS.
posted by wierdo at 12:51 PM on May 1, 2011


It once took exactly that long to operate the camera? And iPhones never get themselves into a funk where they need a reset... Mmmhmm...

No, I mean it once upon a time got itself into a state where the camera was a dog (and it didn't start all that well, either), a state lasting beyond hard resets etc. Was it hardware? I don't think so. All I knew was I wanted shot of it, and never once have my iPhones acted anything like as woefully as any of the "smartphones" I owned before them did.

I was talking about ways in which the iPhone was not state of the art upon its release, and somehow we've gotten sidetracked into this BS.
No, no, you weren't. You were doing the usual vapid Apple troll of "they did nothing new, nothing revolutionary, other things did X or Y before" with its usual implicit rider of "hence it's all marketing".

Plus then there was a side order of "The ADF (not that I would call anyone one of them, not me, I'm objective) are always saying one thing then changing their mind when Apple does, sheesh, those guys."

Sidetracked into BS? You came in reeking of it.
posted by bonaldi at 1:20 PM on May 1, 2011


Yes, clairvoyant one, please tell me what I meant when I wrote all those words.

Or you could, I don't know, scroll up and see that the first comment of mine in this thread that had anything to do with the iPhone was responding to BP's specific contention that the iPhone had the best hardware on the market at its release, which is clearly not the case.
posted by wierdo at 3:04 PM on May 1, 2011


"What Apple got right was putting together the best hardware, the best software, and the best environment for developers to make and distribute apps to end users—and make money, which most Palm developers never could manage. "

There is nothing wrong in that statement.

Apple shipped the first fullscreen 3.5" multitouch LCD display that I'm aware of. Plus it was shitloads better in color quality than its closest antecedent, the LG Prada, which only had half the color gamut.

So display-wise, Apple was well in front of the pack in 2007.

The guts of the device featured 400Mhz ARM, PowerVR MBX Lite, 128MB of RAM, and 8GB or more of flash storage. This was all OMAP2430-spec and thus the "best" in the industry, though the N95 did have a similar spec sheet, it only came with 64MB of RAM, ~150MB of internal flash storage, and of course its tiny QVGA "smartphone" screen.

So hardware-wise, the iPhone blew away its two closest antecedents, the LG Prada and the N95.

We don't have to get into software, because of course iOS has caused all other alternatives -- Qtopia, Symbian, WinMo, J2ME, to have been discarded as the utter crap they were.

Likewise, the success of Apple's AppStore™ speaks for itself.

iPhone was not state of the art upon its release

Yes, the iPhone was not utterly dominant in all areas, software and hardware. This did not lessen the fact that it was miles ahead of everyone else in overall usability and functionality.

I am, of course, over-defending Apple here. It does generally take Apple two iterations to get to the really good stuff. The Mac was shipped a year or two early, for one. I thought the 128K Mac was a joke, but by around 1986 they'd worked out what it needed and the Mac Plus was a solid enough entrant, except I wanted color so it was a non-starter for me.

Now, the Mac II, that was a machine. . .
posted by mokuba at 4:50 PM on May 1, 2011


Yes, clairvoyant one, please tell me what I meant when I wrote all those words

Er, telling people what you mean is what the words are *supposed* to do when we read them. The pwn I think you're groping for depends on me telling you your motives or intentions in writing them, which I can't know, so I didn't do. Sure looks like the standard nothing-new-here Apple troll, though. Let’s see.

I don't know, scroll up and see that ... and see that your first comment mentioning the iPad dismisses it as a minor evolution of something you've been using since 2002 (ignoring the multitouch and all the software) or your first mention of the iPhone, where its hardware turns out not only to be a bag of suck, but outclassed by phones from 2005. Yup, whbt.
posted by bonaldi at 6:32 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mokuba, Wikipedia is your friend. You may not have noticed, but there were multiple versions of the N95. The ones that were released contemporaneously with the iPhone had 128MB of RAM and 8GB of flash. And of course the ones that didn't have 8GB of flash took microSD cards, so panning them for not having enough storage is weak sauce at best.

Never mind that they had cameras that far outclassed both the original iPhone and the 3G.

bonaldi, do you understand the word "evolution?"
posted by wierdo at 7:58 PM on May 1, 2011


The ones that were released contemporaneously with the iPhone had 128MB of RAM and 8GB of flash

If you mean contemporaneously as "nine months after the iPhone was announced in January 2007", then yes.

And of course the ones that didn't have 8GB of flash took microSD cards, so panning them for not having enough storage is weak sauce at best.

No, see, this is, again, another neckbeardy thing to say.

Never mind that they had cameras that far outclassed both the original iPhone and the 3G.

utterly irrelevant unless you can find the claim from us fanboys that Apple had the best cameraphones on the market in 2007. Good luck with that.

you're just looking for angles to deny the obvious here. Nokia got obliterated by the iPhone, they were in fact 5 years behind Apple. Even after the iPhone came out their flagship stuff was too expensive and simply not competitive, they even orphaned the high-end by abandoning OMAP 2 altogether, which cost them the performant 3D renderer, not that they had the API to really exercise that anyway.
posted by mokuba at 8:06 PM on May 1, 2011


Girls, girls, you're both pretty!
posted by adamrice at 8:18 PM on May 1, 2011


mokuba: "utterly irrelevant unless you can find the claim from us fanboys that Apple had the best cameraphones on the market in 2007. Good luck with that."

Oh Jesus. Seriously? I'm not talking about the claims Apple fanboys make or made. I'm talking about whether or not the freakin' iPhone was in fact "light years" ahead of the rest of the market in terms of hardware. Focus, man.
posted by wierdo at 10:45 PM on May 1, 2011


I'm talking about whether or not the freakin' iPhone was in fact "light years" ahead of the rest of the market in terms of hardware. Focus, man.

Thing is, camera is not a primary use of a phone. We are talking about how Apple established its iPhone OS platform, and part of that success had to do with the synergy between 3.5" multitouch HVGA, performant ARM/PowerVR core, and the new touch-specific APIs and ye olde Mach/NeXT OS to tie it all together.

How sucky the camera component or some random third-world phone feature was did not materially affect how far ahead the iPhone platform was when compared to the best Symbian, WinMo, or Linux smartphones of 2006-2007.

Nokia didn't even know what touchscreen was, until the 5800 was announced a year after the iPhone, and was a half-hearted attempt at copying the iPhone, yet another effort of fragmenting the Java phone userbase. Nokia in their infinite wisdom decided to cripple the 5800 by abandoning OMAP Series 2 with its PowerVR renderer, which meant the phone was no competition for the iPhone in terms of HARDWARE capability.

WinMo, surely we don't need to go into how shitty WinMo 5 & 6 was, right?

Linux phones, what a pile of crap that was too. Still, but then too.

Us fanboys here are just trying to educate you on how the market success of the iPhone happened, 2007-2009. Apple got their first with the most men, and won the battle, at least until Android threw down with its imitation, along with their OEMs figuring out how Apple was doing it.
posted by mokuba at 12:44 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


And of course the ones that didn't have 8GB of flash took microSD cards, so panning them for not having enough storage is weak sauce at best.

No, see, this is, again, another neckbeardy thing to say.

I've seen this come up before, and it remains confusing to me. Is it the possibility of external storage media that makes phones neckbeardish? I had a Sony Ericsson W810i many, many moons ago, and it took Sony Memory Sticks, which provided a pretty seamless extension for media storage - and that was not exactly a neckbeard phone. It had orange foil on the Walkman button. Doesn't get much less neckbeardy than that, surely?
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:11 AM on May 2, 2011


Is it the possibility of external storage media that makes phones neckbeardish?

yes. For one, the memory card slot was under the battery on the N93 or whatever.

Secondly, putting apps on memory cards is way too complicated for normal people to manage.

Thirdly, the 8GB version of the N93 or whatever removed the card slot and just had 8GB internal, like the iPhone.

Bonus flash storage via external expansion is only partially geeky. But, again, thinking this external storage is a net good thing as a platform indicates you don't understand the value in simplifying a a mass-market product to its necessities.

“Perfection is achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint
posted by mokuba at 8:35 AM on May 2, 2011


Thanks for the explanation - that's an interesting perspective. The W810i, of course, wasn't putting apps on the Memory Stick card, so it was a much simpler metaphor (for want of a better term) - it was behaving exactly like the card you put into your camera.

(Plus, since this was back in the dark days of USB1.1, having the option of yanking the card out and putting it in an ExpressCard card reader on my old PowerBook was preferable to relying on the proprietary S-E syncing cable.)

I guess the conceptual fork was where Apple took the iPod Nano's sealed system as the model, whereas the early Google phones followed the Treo model of having MicroSD/SDHC slots. Do you think it's significant that the Nexus S, the high-end reference model for the last generation of Android phones, didn't have a card slot?
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:57 AM on May 2, 2011


mokuba: "No, see, this is, again, another neckbeardy thing to say.
"

In this instance, you are referring to the apparently insurmountable difficulty of *swapping* in and out memory cards.

It's as if there's an entire world where literally hundreds of millions of people, every day, swap in and out SIM cards (Memory cards as well, only probably not as frequently). It's as if there aren't entire retail zones apparently dedicated to the selling of SIM cards, multi SIM card holders, and so on.

But for Apple Fans, SIM cards are apparently too "neckbeardy". Apparently, the way the overwhelming bulk of the world relates to its phones (as utility devices with parts that are easily swappable, either by themselves or by a drone in a corner store) is meaningless elitism.

Yes, the Iphone had some nice hardware in 2007. You seem to be arguing that its display was one of the main things that set it apart. I have to think, then, in the dark days of 2009-2010, when the Iphone's display was low res compared to the newer phones, before Apple's "Retina Display" caught up with the leading edge, that it was seriously lagging? Interesting.

I think a critical part of Apple's success at launching into new segments, and in maintaining an oversized portion within those segments, is not only Apple's huge marketing budget (I mean, there's now apparently a rule that there's an Apple commercial in *every* *single* *ad* *break* on prime time TV - how much does that cost, $500m - $1b/year?) but the willingness of tens of thousands of Fans to advocate for Apple, to explain away or rationalise product deficiencies, to boost new features, and to denigrate opposing products in a totalising fashion. That's exactly what you're doing here, and it's what people from across the spectrum such as Gruber (the polite end) and Dilger (the lunatic fringe) have turned into a career. Apple's army of useful idiots has got to be worth at least several billion/year as a simple marketing force multiplier. Apple's official current marketing, both in terms of its ubiquity and its adherence to simplicity and the rhetoric of mass belonging, resembles AOL's marketing in the 1990s, but AOL never had anything like this army of devotees.
posted by meehawl at 9:52 AM on May 2, 2011


mokuba: "Us fanboys here are just trying to educate you on how the market success of the iPhone happened, 2007-2009. Apple got their first with the most men, and won the battle, at least until Android threw down with its imitation, along with their OEMs figuring out how Apple was doing it."

You seem to be completely uninterested in responding to the points I was actually making, and moreover you don't even get that Symbian doesn't mainly run Java applications, so it seems like you're just being intentionally dense.

Also, the Tube (what became the 5800) was announced around the time the iPhone was released. In typical Nokia fashion it took forever to actually get out the door. It's actually a pretty nice phone, given that it was a third the price of an iPhone within a few months of its release. ;)
posted by wierdo at 1:43 PM on May 2, 2011


Also, there's probably a reason the 5800XM was the top selling MP3 player (not just phone, but MP3 player) and sold in volumes that put the iPhone and the 3G to shame.
posted by wierdo at 1:44 PM on May 2, 2011


You seem to be completely uninterested in responding to the points I was actually making

You haven't made any point yet, you're just gainsaying BP's point that the iPhone obliterated all phones on the market in 2006/2007.

Put up or shut up: pick a hero phone that was on the market in 2007 and I'll go through for you why it was crap compared to the iPhone Mark I.

given that it was a third the price of an iPhone within a few months of its release

just another nokia ghetto phone. It's easy to cut the price when you eliminate the OMAP Series 2 CPU and go for some Freescale POS, a really brain-dead move that utterly terminated whatever platform momentum Nokia was building with the N series.

My application uses OpenGL just to implement a custom look-and-feel and works fine on S60 3rd edition devices (tested on N95, N81, N95 8GB, etc). However on 5800 (5th edition) the performance is absolutely terrible.
posted by mokuba at 2:12 PM on May 2, 2011


You seem to be arguing that its display was one of the main things that set it apart. I have to think, then, in the dark days of 2009-2010, when the Iphone's display was low res compared to the newer phones, before Apple's "Retina Display" caught up with the leading edge, that it was seriously lagging? Interesting.

Resolution after a certain point -- let's say 160 dpi -- is good enough. I haven't upgraded my 3rd-gen iPod Touch yet since my 40yo eyes can't even see the double density anyway.

The first task of product design is to nail down the must-haves. Full-format multitouch (not stylus), performant graphics stack with powerful API backing, and good phone capability were the must-haves for the iPhone.

I'm not sure how much later they figured out they needed the AppStore™ but in retrospect that too was a must-have to secure the iPhone's success in the 2008-2009 period when all the me-toos came out imitating the hardware but not the full iPhone spectrum of utility.

As for iPhone 4, its IPS display is certainly gilding the lily, though it's never a mistake to match if not beat your competitors' technical advance I guess.

But dot density going from 160 to 320 is not as significant as full-color LCDs vs. cheap-ass TFT color that could be found on many if not most smartphones in the 2006-2007 time-period. The IPS is certainly nice, though, it really makes the UI "pop" on the glass.

but the willingness of tens of thousands of Fans to advocate for Apple, to explain away or rationalise product deficiencies

As a new pocket-pda platform, the first-gen iPhone kicked ass. Apple came with the goods 2007-2008 and took the market thereby. Your pop psychology theory is crap, and you would be able to know this by looking at all the surviving smartphone platforms from 2007 that were competing with Apple.

Oh, wait, there aren't any. All of them were fundamentally flawed in some way and got washed away by iPhone and its copycats.

Just like in the 1980s with the Mac & Laserwriter, Apple -- more specifically, Steve Jobs oddly enough -- found and developed the correct mix of technology to revolutionize the industry.

In 1984 it was dogged insistence on losing the keyboard as a CLI input device, and designing the GUI such that this loss would not be felt (they later had to backtrack on this with the addition of arrow keys in 1986). Apple also bumped up the monitor density to a 72dpi standard, and did the engineering to enable what was on the screen to come out onto the page, especially nicely with the 300 dpi Laserwriter, which of course changed how competent people produced non-press output in the 1980s.

In 2007 it was losing the stylus from the portable space. LG/Prada beat them to market with the hardware part (as did some abortive nvidia tablets earlier in the decade) but didn't have the chops to understand they needed to reengineer the GUI paradigm to work with fat fingers instead of the pinpoint stylus.

That was the first boost but what really put Apple over the top was the AppStore&tm; this turned the phone into a universal PDA, and was years ahead of what all its competitors were doing half-assedly that decade.

Note: I didn't even get an iPhone OS device until it was cracked, I got my first iPod Touch in Sept 2007. My perspective on iPhone solely comes from my addiction to new computing technologies I can program -- like I said above, I've owned (and bought the IDEs for) Palm Pilot, Zaurus, and double-density Clie. I even bought a TI graphic calculator in the mid-90s because it had an SDK.
posted by mokuba at 2:46 PM on May 2, 2011


I think a critical part of Apple's success at launching into new segments, and in maintaining an oversized portion within those segments, is not only Apple's huge marketing budget (I mean, there's now apparently a rule that there's an Apple commercial in *every* *single* *ad* *break* on prime time TV - how much does that cost, $500m - $1b/year?) but the willingness of tens of thousands of Fans to advocate for Apple, to explain away or rationalise product deficiencies, to boost new features, and to denigrate opposing products in a totalising fashion.

If the mechanism of marketing actually worked the way you claim here, Motorola's Xoom would be the best selling tablet of all time.

This is just the usual sad, tiresome trope that ends up here on Metafilter time after time, that Apple users are stupid rubes. Apple users are stupid because they don't like being locked into a myopic, neck-bearded world where things don't work without compromises and endless hours of tweaking.

Fact remains that Apple is beating everyone, including the neckbeards, with best-of-class hardware and software that just works, has been doing for since the first iPhone, and people who use it and develop for it know this fact. Sorry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 AM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


...another neckbeardy thing to say...
...myopic, neck-bearded world...
...including the neckbeards...


It's bad enough when a newbie to MeFi does it, but can we all cut it out with these stupid insults? If you have a point to make, make it.

I left fucking slashdot for a fucking reason.
posted by bonehead at 10:32 AM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


If my interlocutors were arguing in good faith, I would lay off the insults.

The first "neckbeard" came in response to this:

What bothers me much more than Apple are the people who continually claim that Apple invented every fucking thing on the planet.

The next:

Well, that's because they don't have MAC's marketing department and not at all a comment on the quality of the hardware

The following:

If you are utterly determined to ignore the fact that Newton was basically a copy of Psion

and:

And of course the ones that didn't have 8GB of flash took microSD cards, so panning them for not having enough storage is weak sauce at best.

and:

but you can't deny that other phones at the time had more features and better hardware in a lot of respects.

was just sheer neckbearded pontification lacking any understanding of the product integration, UE, OS, and/or API advantages that Apple brought to the mobile space in 2007, said knowledge gap that I attempted to educate in my responses. Apologies to the sensitive neckbeards out there.

MicroSD as a serviceable substitute to internal flash is the archetypical neckbeard/geek insistance.

From the geek user side, there's no cost involved, it's all gravy, something listed on the side of the box.

But from the actual product designer side, there's all kinds of corner cases and UE sacrifices involved in providing removable storage.

Apple was trying to move past the file-storage paradigm with the Newton, and the same thing with the iPhone. Once you add the removable storage element, you're re-introducing file storage management issues at the UE level.

Eliminating removable storage forces the phone UE to address the real problem, which is not enough storage for all the media and apps the user has.

It's generally better to solve that problem via intelligent syncing, than the work-around of removable storage. The simplified use case of "in the phone" vs. "not in the phone" is superior to "maybe in the phone or maybe on a card somewhere".

People who understand product design see this. Neckbeards can't, they can handle the task so by God everyone else should too. Above, someone was arguing that people can learn how to manage their storage easily enough. Sure, but neckbeards were saying the same thing about learning MS-DOS, too. People can handle anything, mostly, eventually, but generally the forcing behaviors of the "less is more" approach pays off.
posted by mokuba at 10:57 AM on May 3, 2011


mokuba: "It's generally better to solve that problem via intelligent syncing"

The iPhone certainly lacks intelligent syncing. My neighbor complains to me constantly about not being able to sync it against both his home and office computers. He's not the only one. It must not be that bad, though, as he recently bought an iPad.

mokuba, none of those things you posted are personal insults against you. You have repeatedly called everyone in this thread who doesn't share your view a neckbeard. I don't know about you, but I have been making my points in good faith. I'm calling things as I see them, based on my experience and the complaints my users have about the iPhone. For example, many of my users would like expandable storage, even if only for the camera.

To use the example of the dime-a-dozen cheap point and shoot camera: People have been just fine with removable storage for years and years. Even my aunt who can barely use a computer grasps the concept of how to use a memory card in her camera. Yet somehow Apple thinks that people don't/can't understand it?
posted by wierdo at 11:55 AM on May 3, 2011


If my interlocutors were arguing in good faith, I would lay off the insults.

Oh come on. If you think people are arguing in bad faith, rather than just disagreeing with you, then I suggest not continuing to argue with them. Name calling is name calling, and there is no positive benefit to insulting people here instead of having a respectful discussion.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:09 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You have repeatedly called everyone in this thread who doesn't share your view a neckbeard

incorrect. I've called neckbearded viewpoints (above in bold) neckbearded.

Yet somehow Apple thinks that people don't/can't understand it?

your arguments are just simply full of mischaracterizations like this. We're done here.
posted by mokuba at 12:25 PM on May 3, 2011


It's bad enough when a newbie to MeFi does it, but can we all cut it out with these stupid insults?

If people stopped with the tiresome fanboy/ADF ands similar "useless idiot" insults in every Apple thread, that would be great, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:42 PM on May 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


incorrect. I've called neckbearded viewpoints (above in bold) neckbearded.

I'm afraid that's not all you've been doing:

This is what neckbeards don't understand -- throwing crap onto the market is the easy bit.

When will you neckbeards learn that software execution is at least equally important as the underlying hardware?

LOL. Utterly wrong, again the neckbeards here are looking at the plastics and not the underlying software engineering.

Neckbeards simply lack the cognitive ability to see this I guess, just like they didn't get the power of Mac's WIMP GUI (admittedly sourced from PARC) metaphor back in the day.

I get what your argument is - you are arguing that you have have been doing the neckbeard-related equivalent of calling peoples opinions racist, without calling them racists. But that's not what you've actually been doing. You have been both describing opinions as neckbearded and also calling a class of people, including people in this thread ("you neckbeards", "the neckbeards here") neckbeards.

Let's have the courage of our convictions here, eh?
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:57 PM on May 3, 2011


BUT GUYS I LIKE TO COMPUTE IN A DIFFERENT FASHION THAN YOU LIKE TO COMPUTE!

Also, I'm pretty sure that anybody arguing the pros/cons of using/owing/buying apple gear would qualify as a neckbeard to 99% of the rest of the planet.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:22 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


If people stopped with the tiresome fanboy/ADF ands similar "useless idiot" insults in every Apple thread, that would be great, too.

100% OK with that too. If I never see Fanboy in another Apple-centric thread, it will be too soon.
posted by bonehead at 1:31 PM on May 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Looking back, this thread was very light on "fanboy," aside from some people labeling themselves that way. (and my single invocation of the word in describing someone's line of reasoning)
posted by wierdo at 2:30 PM on May 3, 2011


I've whacked a post into MetaTalk about neckbeards, since it's probably a bit of a derail - I hadn't really noticed how much it had cropped up here until people started counting. I guess "fanboy" discussion could also fit there - although that tends to be about someone who really likes one brand/language/band, whereas "neckbeard" is usually broad-spectrum...
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:36 PM on May 3, 2011


mokuba: "your arguments are just simply full of mischaracterizations like this. We're done here."

I must have misunderstood what you intended to write. You seemed to be saying that most people can't handle things like storage, so the usefulness of the feature needs to go away in the name of UX.

I actually agree that UI should not be needlessly complicated. I guess we disagree on what exactly complicated means. I think it's nearly as complicated to have to drill down through seven different menus to get to some of the functions that were previously two clicks away in Office as it was to have the wall of menus and toolbar icons. Neither the old behavior or the new seems like the best possible solution to me.
posted by wierdo at 4:27 PM on May 3, 2011


You seemed to be saying that most people can't handle things like storage

Here's what I said:

"Secondly, putting apps on memory cards is way too complicated for normal people to manage.

"Bonus flash storage via external expansion is only partially geeky. But, again, thinking this external storage is a net good thing as a platform indicates you don't understand the value in simplifying a mass-market product to its necessities.


The point is with superior design is to eliminate the things that need "handling", since having to "handle" things is an unnecessary hassle if you can design the management issues out entirely.

FWIW, I don't think the camera model really applies here since camera storage is write-only media and doesn't have the ISV element involved. For a PDA it's much better to just establish a platform minimum and stick to it.

90% of this discussion has been us talking past each other about the importance of the platform. That's why I've been dividing the world into WinMo, Java phones, iOS, and Android, since for the phone/PDA market how people get their apps determines what family of phone/PDA it is.

Prior to the iPhone, Nokia was either chintzing out on the internal flash storage and/or not understanding the importance of establishing a fixed, known platform of PDA features that is ISVs could rely on -- fixed storage is an important part of this platform definition.

They made the same mistake of ignoring the platform later on in abandoning the PowerVR capability of their flagship phones, going back to CPU-based rendering, a cost-saving move that took their phon/ PDA platform totally out of the iPhone's league, hardware wise.
posted by mokuba at 5:14 PM on May 3, 2011


Simplification is good, but at some point you get into oversimplification.
posted by wierdo at 9:18 PM on May 3, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "If the mechanism of marketing actually worked the way you claim here, Motorola's Xoom would be the best selling tablet of all time."

When there are Xoom Fans calling everyone else "turtlenecks" or similar and defending *every* *possible* *design* *choice* for that as the One True Way, and there's a Xoom advert on every commercial break, maybe then we can see what the power of marketing can accomplish? I note that Android didn't really get any traction and begin to overtake Apple's huge lead until the not insignificant Droid marketing campaign launched with a period of blanket coverage.

If people stopped with the tiresome fanboy/ADF ands similar "useless idiot" insults in every Apple thread, that would be great, too.

I said, quite deliberately and precisely in a homage to the historical sense of the word usage, useful idiots. It's an attempt to create an allusion between the the tendency to naive Year Zero optimism and the desire for the perfection of the human spirit through "simplicity" that seems to be quite commonly present and/or deployed in many Apple Fans, and their relation to the vast corporate machine that is Apple. I would never accuse them of uselessness. They are very useful - to Apple.

And that other guy, who's still insisting somehow that popping and out temporary storage items is anathema, that's just, well, useful indeed.
posted by meehawl at 11:15 PM on May 3, 2011


mokuba: "That's why I've been dividing the world into WinMo, Java phones, iOS, and Android, since for the phone/PDA market how people get their apps determines what family of phone/PDA it is."

You also like throwing out these pithy lines which do stand up to examination. For instance, earlier you said something about the LG Prada being "Java-based". Then it was revealed that it used Flash for its UI . Anyway, your response to that was to show that the Prada couldn't possibly have been anything *but* a Java phone, because it had a Java compiler, and hey, you can download apps at "getjar.com". Well guess what, getjar.com serves up Java, but it also serves native client apps to specific phones, such as WinCE. It's server-side config choice that's largely hidden from the casual user, controlled by your selection of handset.

So you see, in this case, as with other app stores that pre-dated Apple's app store (such as Handango), people with smartphones not factory locked into a monoculture like Apple's could in fact get multiple types of Apps (WM, Java, etc) from one or more app stores. Their "family" of phones were less atomic and segregated than you claimed.

And I mentioned it upstream, but your hate-on for popping things in and out of electronic devices. Yeah, that's just making you sound sillier.
posted by meehawl at 11:24 PM on May 3, 2011


When there are Xoom Fans calling everyone else "turtlenecks" or similar and defending *every* *possible* *design* *choice* for that as the One True Way, and there's a Xoom advert on every commercial break, maybe then we can see what the power of marketing can accomplish?

Not wishing to be a marketing neckbeard1, but there's marketing and there's branding. You're talking about people who have bought into the brand, which is connected to the marketing but not the same thing. I'm not sure entirely sure what point Blazecock Pileon is trying to make about the Xoom's marketing - that Motorola are spending more on marketing the Xoom than Apple the iPad 2? However, advertising spend is only a fraction of the work done to build a brand.

Motorola has its own brand associations, but in general the Motorola brand isn't as strong as the Apple brand in the personal electronics sector, and I doubt it will become so in the near future. There are things about the Apple brand that really are valuable, and have been carefully weaved together from many different threads. The "I don't fall for any marketing guff - I buy Apple because I know that I am getting the best hardware and software, and thus making an objectively smarter choice" attitude is a triumph of brand association, and is absolute gold dust, because it means that person's sense of self-worth is now tied into their purchasing choice - much like the counterexample, where someone mocks the iPhone user for spending so much money on a vanity phone, when their purchase of a dual-SIM shanzhai phone from a Changi street market makes them the discerning buyer. And various points in between.

Motorola has had and lost that kind of brand dominance at a product level within living memory, with the RAZR, but Apple have it at a much higher level. Indeed, on the product level, Android tablet producers have a plethora of interesting marketing challenges that Apple simply doesn't. If you market the wonders of Android - if it's all about the software - how do you encourage buyers to favor your portal to the Android experience? I know some hardcore fans of SenseUI or MOTOBLUR, but they are definitely the exception rather than the rule.

If it's about the hardware, what marks out the hardware you are offering over all the competing Honeycomb tablets? Consumers may or may not be able to cope with external app storage, but they aren't stupid; they've seen producers - Creative, Viewsonic, Archos - offering tablets running tweaked versions of a non-tablet Android OS, from 1.6 to 2.3, and they've seen how they ended up competing essentially on price at each spec shelf. Why should Honeycomb be different?

In a sense, this is a lot like the problem HP, Sony, Dell and so on2 had in the desktop and laptop spaces: competing while selling similar hardware running the same OS (which they didn't make). Part of the response was loading "value-adding" cruft onto the OS, and part of it was building brand values - for value, style, solidity, industrial design, gamer-friendliness and so on.

One of the things I love about the tablet space at the moment is that, although the default iPad competitors are going to keep looking basically like iPads (with maybe more ports, or a plastic body, or a slightly different price point or screen size), producers are casting around and coming up with a whole range of oddball form factors and differentiators to see if there is a growable niche which Apple hasn't noticed or has decided not to compete in directly. So, you have netbooks with screens that swivel on a gimbal to face upwards when the netbook is closed, miniature tablets resurrecting the stylus, superphones that plug into desktop mounts, tablets with Pixel Qi screens, Android tablets with attachable keyboards, Windows 7 netbooks with detachable screens, quasi-netbooks with a second touchscreen instead of a keyboard, clamshell phones with dual touchscreens ... it's a really fun time.



1 Although a marketing neckbeard is logically better-groomed than a normal person... maybe "a marketing wetshave"?
2 Which is one reason why HP going the Apple route and making their phone/tablet hardware and software ecosystem shared and closed is interesting, if not surprising - although they don't have the brand strength in the phone/tablet space as Apple - who does?
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:58 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was reading the MeTa thread and suddenly my reasoning on why it is I think marketing is a large part of iOS devices' success was distilled to a single word: WebOS.

Simpler than Android by half, not really more complex from the user's perspective than iOS, yet it has been relegated to niche status at best (so far, maybe HP will get some traction). I think a large part of this was the universally panned ads that Sprint was running for it at launch.

Also, Apple didn't really take off in mindshare outside of the usual Apple subculture until the inescapable Mac vs. PC ads. Someone pointed out last year on one of our merry-go-round-like iPhone threads that Apple's iPhone ads serve(d) at least two purposes. One is marketing and the second is training. That definitely can't hurt their success.
posted by wierdo at 3:34 PM on May 4, 2011


Also, Apple didn't really take off in mindshare outside of the usual Apple subculture until the inescapable Mac vs. PC ads.

I think that depends on how you judge taking off - the "Get a Mac" campaign might feel like it went on for all recorded time, but it only lasted 4 years. Before that you had the Errol (Fog of War) Morris-directed Switch ads and Jaguar in 2002, the iPod from late 2001, the Apple Retail Stores from 2001 onwards ... I don't have the sales figures in front of me, but I'd say 1998-2001 was candy colors and stabilization (evening out the spike in demand in the 1999 holiday season and then the crash in 2000, when Apple's travails with optical drives really began), and 2001 onwards was iPods, metal PowerBooks and polycarbonate iBooks, and in terms of industrial design and marketing strategy the beginning of the modern Apple, with the 2001 iPod doing duty for the 2007 iPhone in terms of crazily popular breakout products. Sales grew steadily from 2001 to 2005, and then accelerated in 2006 - which I think was the new campaign, the move to Intel, the launch of Leopard - and, because of the combination of Intel and Leopard, the ability to use Boot Camp. A perfect storm of getting it right, essentially.

Apple have really good marketing people and take marketing seriously. It's not a coincidence that Phil Schiller has been there since the return of Steve Jobs. A man or woman who can divine what people want, how much they are prepared to pay for it and what will tip them over into buying it is a pearl beyond price.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:42 PM on May 4, 2011


Warning: Anecdotal "evidence" ahead.

Among the people I know/work for, iPods were the only common Apple products until the time period I mentioned. The pre-LCD iMacs just didn't sell much around here. You could be correct that I'm conflating the advertising and the switch to Intel, but TBH, few of the people I know who use Macs actually use Boot Camp or Parallels, so that probably colors my opinion.
posted by wierdo at 6:37 PM on May 4, 2011


There's no right answer, I think - but you can basically see Apple marketing post-return of Jobs in three waves. The first is wiping out the commoditization and range-creep, and establishing clear difference through industrial design - the tangerine iBook period, which embraces a surge of demand and then post-novelty fall-off (also driven in part by Apple's reluctance to embrace the DVD burner - something which I think was philosophically defensible, but which wasn't explained brilliantly). The next is retrenching in more conventional markets - creating machines that looked businesslike as well as designy, starting the Switch campaign, setting up Apple Retail Stores, which saw steady sales growth in the product core. At the same time, the iPod was launched, and there's that really interesting process of moving it from the G1, which is almost a reward for buying a Mac, to the G2, where it becomes usable with MusicMatch on PCs, and then beyond, where it becomes a channel terminal for the iTunes music store.

Then, over 2006 and beyond, all the parts move into place and you get a determined strike for the mainstream - with Intel chips, Boot Camp, strategic diversification of the product range and the "Get a Mac" campaign, which in terms of plaudits and cultural impact has to be one of the most successful campaigns ever. You're right that mainstream awareness (measured by sales) really took off in 2006, after steady growth from '01 onwards - but you already had the beautifully designed stores (first opened in 2001, but the current design aesthetic and the big-city flagships really hit around '03), the big events and the queues around the block at the launch of Tiger in 2005, for example. I'd say the first decent-sized wave on the beach was about 2003 - fairly mature iPods, the launch of the aluminium Powerbook, the refit of the Apple Retail Stores to have translucent stairs and pine tables...

That was a long game played extremely well. It always makes me a bit sad when I see the small but vocal group of people who are so heavily emotionally invested in Apple that they hallucinate slurs in order to be able to fight for its honor, Quixote-style - as happens here and here - treating "Apple's success owes much to the skill of its marketing people and its choice of agencies when it outsources" as some sort of malicious slander on Apple, rather than well-deserved praise.

I feel empathy for the Apple marketing people when the very loyal base they have worked so hard to create and maintain claim that marketing is irrelevant to the success of Apple, but it's tempered by awareness that this is also an endorsement of their strategy.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:40 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


they hallucinate slurs in order to be able to fight for its honor, Quixote-style - as happens here and here

In no way, shape or fashion is there any personal slur or "fight-for-honor" in what you linked to. Whatever game you're playing, please knock it off.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:24 AM on May 5, 2011


Well, of course you have the option of asking the moderators to intercede if you feel I am misrepresenting you in a malicious fashion. That's totally fine, and I respect your right to object. I didn't think you'd object, since an older and more experienced member in this thread identified you as the reference model for really liking Apple. I assumed this was a point of pride, or a brand value, for you.

I have absolutely no beef with you, but it does feel as if you are d'Artagnan, Apple is Constance and those who do not share the depth of your courtly passion are intrinsically suspect as agents of the Cardinal. That's cool - we're in an ecosystem, here, and ecosystems sustain forms of life that nourish themselves in many different ways. If you think this is a horrible misrepresentation, I respect that; we've outsourced objectivity on MetaFilter to the moderators, as I understand it, and I would be happy to be scolded by them.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:05 PM on May 5, 2011


Apropos:
Apple causes ‘religious’ reaction in brains of fans, say neuroscientists
The Bishop of Buckingham - who reads his Bible on an ipad - explained to me the similarities between Apple and a religion.
And when a team of neuroscientists with an MRI scanner took a look inside the brain of an Apple fanatic it seemed the bishop was on to something.
The results suggested that Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.
Torrent: Secrets of the Superbrands
posted by meehawl at 9:53 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apple and broadcast Media
posted by meehawl at 10:11 AM on May 20, 2011


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