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Apple, Transparency, Maps, and Made-in-USA iMacs
December 6, 2012 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Tim Cook's Freshman Year: The Apple CEO Speaks Prior to his death on Oct. 5, 2011, Steve Jobs made sure that the elevation of Tim Cook—his longtime head of operations and trusted deputy—to Apple chief executive officer would be drama-free. “He goes, ‘I never want you to ask what I would have done,’” recalls Cook. “‘Just do what’s right.’ He was very clear.” ... In his most wide-ranging interview as CEO, Cook explains how Apple works now, talks about the perception that he’s “robotic,” and announces the return of Apple manufacturing to the U.S.
posted by The Deej (144 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 


Apparently some iMacs now being sold are marked "Assembled in USA," a bit mysteriously.
posted by enn at 8:04 AM on December 6, 2012


I'm eager to find out why Apple bringing (some) manufacturing jobs back to the US is a bad thing. Please illuminate me metafilter.
posted by schwa at 8:08 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I really need to start loading up on AAPL.
posted by empath at 8:12 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It’s not known well that the engine for the iPhone and iPad is made in the U.S., and many of these are also exported—the engine, the processor. The glass is made in Kentucky. And next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013

And

Again, if you look at our North Star, we’re focused on making the best products, so ours is very product-centric. We care about every detail. We’re also marrying hardware, software, and services

Also some Jony Ive love.

I love my iPad but I'm still not bullish on apple. They have no answer to Active Directory. They will always be at the mercy of fashion and public opinion. Tomorrow some other gadget could replace the iPad, iPod and MacBook as the fetish item.

The problem I see now is that consumer complains that were one written off as "your doing it wrong" and "Steve knows best" now go unanswered. Ive certainly has almost as much "taste cred" as Jobs did, but he isn't the public face of the company.

They aren't a charity, so if bringing more manufacturing to the states will hurt the bottom line, they will stop. My bet is they are actually investing in automation, not setting up human assembly lines.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:12 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought that was a great interview and I do have deep respect for Cook, but I found this quote exceptionally jarring in the context of talking about the top people at Apple: "We really value diversity with a capital D."
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:13 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a bad thing for stock prices, not a bad thing for you or I.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:14 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought that was a great interview and I do have deep respect for Cook, but I found this quote exceptionally jarring in the context of talking about the top people at Apple: "We really value diversity with a capital D."

Jonny Ive is white, male and *British*.

What more do you people want?
posted by jaduncan at 8:14 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jonny Ive is white, male and *British*.

And he's a fucking knight! In Steve's Service! \m/
posted by entropicamericana at 8:16 AM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


If Apple wants to succeed moving forward, it needs to quit patent trolling, and get out of the content/media distribution business. It's a conflict of interest, and their products have suffered as a result.

Apple needs to take a long, hard look at itself if it doesn't want to turn into Sony.

I'm also curious about what their big ideas are for TV. Yes, the traditional broadcast model needs to die, but we already have Roku and Apple TV -- what else does Apple think it can change?

Also, Windows 8 is very good. Touch has a ton of potential on the desktop, and Apple seems to have completely missed the boat. The company seems very rudderless right now, especially compared to Microsoft, who have shown a surprising amount of direction and confidence in their recent product launches.
posted by schmod at 8:16 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a correlation not causation schwa. Apple stock is falling because they are now facing stiff competition in both the phone and tablet markets and their maps blunder, which they have apologized for but not actually fixed, highlighted the risk of Apples dictatorial walled garden to a lot of users.
posted by srboisvert at 8:17 AM on December 6, 2012


They have no answer to Active Directory

LOL
posted by empath at 8:18 AM on December 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


Apple needs to take a long, hard look at itself if it doesn't want to turn into Sony.

Exactly, I was thinking Sony myself. I think jobs was always very taken with Sony. Down to trying to institute Sony style uniforms.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:19 AM on December 6, 2012


They have no answer to Active Directory

LOL


Do they? Or do you mean a method, however shitty, to manage tens of thousands of desktops in a corporate environment is a joke? AD is Microsofts cornerstone,not Office.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:21 AM on December 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Apple has zero interest in selling to corporate buyers.
posted by empath at 8:22 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm eager to find out why Apple bringing (some) manufacturing jobs back to the US is a bad thing. Please illuminate me metafilter.

Presuming they don't raise prices on items it means lower profit, which a certain group of shareholders don't care for. Costco's higher than normal wages in their sector, for example, are held up as bad thing by investors. Costco could be making more profit by paying Walmart level wages. It's all about the margin and bugger the consequences to anyone who doesn't profit from the margin.

I imagine manufacturing will be like the Nexus Q with parts from all over the world but more than usual in the States for a change.

As for televisions, though the new SmartTVs are functional, separating display and increased functionality (sort of like html/css) is a better model I believe. Let the television be the display medium, and let whatever you hook up to it (there are a ton of options out there now) be the engine that has the fancy stuff. More flexible that way (and there are far more flexible solutions out there already than Apple's own Apple TV). That said, I understand the appeal of an all in one and many people are somewhat satisfied with the SmartTV engines.
posted by juiceCake at 8:24 AM on December 6, 2012


Apple has zero interest in selling to corporate buyers.

That is fine, but like I said, they will always be subject to the fickle desires of the public, like Sony was.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:24 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just saw Tim Cook's latest talk. Pretty good.
posted by orme at 8:25 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


empath: "They have no answer to Active Directory

LOL
"

You laugh, but this is a very big deal. With the (unannounced and basically overnight) discontinuation of the XServe, they effectively wrote off much of the business world (and OS X's AD integration has never been elegant or simple). AD might have drawbacks, but the AD/Exchange combo fits the needs of most large organizations very well, and nobody have had even a remote glimmer of success competing with Microsoft in this space, despite many competent attempts.

Yes, the traditional AD/Exchange customers are very entrenched, but nobody has been able to offer a compelling alternative.

Apple might not want to sell to corporate buyers, because it doesn't fit their image. However, they do need to sell to education clients, and those guys love AD/Exchange just as much as the suits do.

With the stagnation of the Mac Pro product line, and the unbelievable clusterfuck that was Final Cut X, Apple's also writing off its amazingly successful professional product line, and alienating its most loyal customer base. I suspect that this will also hurt Apple's image in the long-run.

Apple's products are now primarily equipped for media consumption, despite the company's prolific origins and success in the areas of media creation. I'm really not sure that Apple wants to turn into a Blockbuster/Sony hybrid.
posted by schmod at 8:27 AM on December 6, 2012 [16 favorites]


Apple's products connect to Active Directory just fine, though.
posted by mikeh at 8:33 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Apple might not want to sell to corporate buyers, because it doesn't fit their image. However, they do need to sell to education clients

What percentage of their sales is to education and corporate clients --- what percentage of their profits?

Take a look at this graph. Why do they need to invest money to get into a hypercompetitive segment where if they took 100% of it, it would barely be a blip in their profits?
posted by empath at 8:33 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why do they need to invest money to get into a hypercompetitive segment where if they took 100% of it, it would barely be a blip in their profits?

Because somebody on the internet said they should, of course.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:36 AM on December 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


They have no answer to Active Directory. They will always be at the mercy of fashion and public opinion.

Will there ever, in the entire future history of the tech industry, come a time when these discussions can be had without some equivalent of "No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame." peppering the thread, unintentionally testifying to the nerdworld's discomprehension of what normal humans want from computing devices?
posted by RogerB at 8:38 AM on December 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


peppering the thread, unintentionally testifying to the nerdworld's discomprehension of what normal humans want from computing devices?

Hey, I'm just pointing out that it is dangerous to rely on every product you produce being a must have product. They are already under assault by Android on the phone market. Who can predict what "normal humans" want to buy next week, next month , or next year. I can however, predict what corporations will buy 5 years from now.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:40 AM on December 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


"No one ever got fired for buying IBM!"
posted by The Deej at 8:42 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Who can predict what "normal humans" want to buy next week, next month , or next year.

No one, except Apple for the last dozen years.
posted by snofoam at 8:45 AM on December 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


As I recall, most corporations had standardized on Novell in the 1990s, but it didn't take very long for Active Directory to come along and utterly destroy it. Certainly less than five years. Corporations can be fickle, too.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:45 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


schwa:I'm eager to find out why Apple bringing (some) manufacturing jobs back to the US is a bad thing. Please illuminate me metafilter.

I don't think it is. It may be a good move.

both from The Atlantic:
Mr. China Comes To America
What I saw at these Chinese sites was surprisingly different from what I’d seen on previous factory tours, reflecting the political, economic, technological, and especially social pressures that are roiling China now. In conjunction with significant changes in the American business and technological landscape that I recently saw in San Francisco, these changes portend better possibilities for American manufacturers and American job growth than at any other time since Rust Belt desolation and the hollowing-out of the American working class came to seem the grim inevitabilities of the globalized industrial age.
The Insourcing Boom
In the midst of this revival, Immelt made a startling assertion. Writing in Harvard Business Review in March, he declared that outsourcing is “quickly becoming mostly outdated as a business model for GE Appliances.” Just four years after he tried to sell Appliance Park, believing it to be a relic of an era GE had transcended, he’s spending some $800 million to bring the place back to life. “I don’t do that because I run a charity,” he said at a public event in September. “I do that because I think we can do it here and make more money.”
Shorter turnaround, better quality control, and more integration between designers, manufacturers, and product testers, means locating in the States can be a good idea. But those jobs lost to automation are gone forever.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:45 AM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


No one, except Apple for the last dozen years.

*cough* AppleTV *cough*

posted by Slothrup at 8:49 AM on December 6, 2012


"No one ever got fired for buying IBM equipment!"

My point exactly, IBM is still doing ok thanks to corporate clients.People still buy thinkpads even after IBM sold the line to Lenovo.

I'm not sure why you guys are getting all defensive. I have nothing against Apple, I use their products daily. I just want to see them improve their business mix.

As I recall, most corporations had standardized on Novell in the 1990s, but it didn't take very long for Active Directory to come along and utterly destroy it. Certainly less than five years. Corporations can be fickle, too.

Apple has already ceded the market though. Corporations can't afford to be fickle if Microsoft is the only game in town.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:49 AM on December 6, 2012




Also, Windows 8 is very good
Snort. I wouldn't call Mountain Lion the end all, be all, but W8 plainly reflects Microsoft's internal organization. That is, a clusterf*ck of competing interests.
posted by smidgen at 8:53 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Without getting into the usual Apple flamewar, being some combination of first and best at tablets AND smartphones is a significant asset that will ensure the company's profitability for easily the next 10 years.

I mean, sure, they have to do something with those profits and with the giant war chest they've already got. I wouldn't be shocked to see them buy a TV network. But the company has consistently made great choices for the last 20 years, and it's a folly to attribute them all to Jobs. They'll be fine.
posted by downing street memo at 8:53 AM on December 6, 2012


Apple doesn't target the corporate market, and they've made more money than anyone else by going after consumers. I think they'd be perfectly happy to have Microsoft continue to sell to price-sensitive corporations, while they make huge margins on Macbooks.
posted by Dasein at 8:55 AM on December 6, 2012


They have no answer to Active Directory

That's because Apple is far too smart than to try to compete in the low end Enterprise market, where nobody makes any money with the possible exception of Microsoft. Given the number of chargeoffs I've seen in recent quarters, I'm even wondering about them.

Big metal guys -- IBM, EMC, Oracle, etc. -- can make money. Desktop guys? Why do you think HP is doing so poorly? Why do you think IBM spun away Lenova.

There are far, far, far, more SOHO than Enterprise seats, and they are nothing compared to consumer seats.

And yet, you want Apple to bend their entire system to servicing a tiny market? Dude, that's what almost killed Apple in the late 80s/early 90s.

Or do you mean a method, however shitty, to manage tens of thousands of desktops in a
corporate environment is a joke?


In terms of profitability of a PC maker? Yes, it is a very bad joke. It is a horrible joke. If you suggested wasting my resources on that incredibly tiny market, I would seriously wonder about your competence at analyzing markets.

Do you really think I should waste time on so few sales?

Do you know how little of the market is affect by this problem? Yes, it affects the Fortune 500. That's 500 companies. Compared to individual purchasers, that number is so small as to be completely and utterly ignored by any company wanting to remain profitable.

For small to medium networks, there's the Apple Configurator tool. For the Fortune 500 sized problem, it is literally not worth Apple's time to try to gain any traction in that market. They might make, oh, 100K more sales a quarter if they became the default line in the huge corporate market. Compared to the 4M Macs they sell a quarter, 100K isn't worth going for if it's going to involve massive code efforts.

Esp. since they're getting entry into that market anyway with BYOD and exces saying "Fuck you, I want a Mac." Why should Apple worry about Enterprise integration when the Enterprise market is being forced to do it anyway? Classic "Let a third party handle that exception" market.

Remember: Apple not only sells a bunch of Macs, they make a big profit on each one. They are not willing to trim that profit for anything less than, oh, a 50% total increase in sales. And you are not getting 2M sales per quarter from large enterprise networks on 3-5 year hardware replacement cycles. They may have 10K machines on the desk, but there aren't that many of them, and they aren't replacing anywhere near all of them in one year. Indeed, many of them have been trimming buys.

And, of course, you aren't going to get your regular margin selling to them. They're going to say "We're looking at lots of these, and if you don't shave the price down aren't, we're going to walk." So, the suckers that do sell to them sell at incredibly tiny margins, and if anything goes wrong, they lose money on the deal. All the big corporate market cares about is spending as little as possible. Apple, smartly, doesn't want to shave profit for that small market.

Stupid companies go after markets that are, at best, fractionally profitable. Apple is anything but stupid.

And, given what Apple has accomplished in the last dozen years -- and how fantastically profitable it has become in doing so, when Apple decides that they are not interested in a market, I'm going to assume that they're right in assuming that market is not profitable.

I can however, predict what corporations will buy 5 years from now.

Then, if you think you can, go make them and make money. Good luck with that.

Apple would rather try to build a product that everybody wants and make the Enterprise handle dealing with it, rather than making a product the Enterprise wants and try to make everyone else deal with it.
posted by eriko at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


The Apple TV is a stunning success with over six million sold with basically no marketing and that it continues to be underplayed by them is a glaring tell as to how they and NetFlix are going to take over Pay TV in the next five years. They're going to do it by stealth, as a fait accompli. One day in 2017 cable company executives are going to wake up and find themselves dead, or worse, irrelevant.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm eager to find out why Apple bringing (some) manufacturing jobs back to the US is a bad thing. Please illuminate me metafilter.

Add the NYTimes to that list.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:59 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Today we learn that corporate and education are tiny markets.
posted by gilrain at 9:02 AM on December 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


One day in 2017 cable company executives are going to wake up and find themselves dead, or worse, irrelevant.

It could be said that cable companies are going to become irrelevant anyway, as iTunes video, torrents, and similar models drive customers towards a la carte viewing habits. I suspect this is really why Apple is getting into the TV business. They are always thinking ten years into the future, and they want to position themselves with the hardware to be able to make revenue off of already-changing television consumption habits. Within a decade, I'll bet Comcast spins off its NBC ownership to focus on making its network service profitable, or vice versa.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:06 AM on December 6, 2012


Today we learn that corporate and education are tiny markets.

Seriously? No one has said corporate is small, just that it's not Apple's target; education is small relative to Apple revenues (and is probably shrinking).
posted by downing street memo at 9:08 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is it just me or has Apple totally been going downhill for the last 2 or 3 years? It seems like every release of their OS X gets worse and worse and worse.

The last 3 iMacs I've had have all had major issues--every one of them the optical drive died on after about a year. The latest one, a 27" that's just two years old, is a freaking paperweight. Won't read discs, drives, nada. Just a spinning Apple launch screen forever.

I love the form factor of my 11" Air, but I hate the computer itself. Here's a list of problems since installing their latest OS--all came into effect pretty much as soon as the warranty expired:

1. Running Apps don't appear on the Dock. (Tried all the fixes that are online and the problem comes back next reboot.)

2. iPhoto has vanished and the iStore wants to charge me $15 to get it back.

3. Sometimes the Esc key bypasses the user login screen.

4. Sometimes you have to open the computer multiple times for it to unsleep. Trying to wake it with the keyboard can take a minute or more. (What ever happened to "instant on"?)

5. The USB slots only provide a charge to my phone randomly.

6. Watching something on Youtube or Vimeo causes the machine's fans to go into crazy overdrive and the machine gets very hot to the touch.

Basically, the thing is 14 months old and it's a frustrating piece of garbage. I prefer to write on my phone, it's so annoying--which is ridiculous. I had multiple Apple machines between 2002 and 2008 as I'm the dumb type who likes to upgrade, and they all worked like a dream, but I'll do my damnedest not to buy anything from them again.

Google ever comes out with an Android OS for a laptop, I'm jumping ship immediately. My Nexus 4 is a dream compared to the iPhone I used to have.
posted by dobbs at 9:14 AM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Apple has zero interest in selling to corporate buyers

That's very convenient, considering corporate buyers have zero interest in buying from Apple.
posted by rocket88 at 9:18 AM on December 6, 2012


Apple would rather try to build a product that everybody wants and make the Enterprise handle dealing with it, rather than making a product the Enterprise wants and try to make everyone else deal with it.

You guys may be right. Contrary to what some people may think I am a normal human too, it isn't like I am demanding they support Ogg Vorbis.

I just think diversification is smart. It lets you weather a few storms. I don't think it is smart to put all your eggs in one basket even if it is milled aluminum and designed by Jony Ive.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:21 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


downing street memo: Seriously? No one has said corporate is small, just that it's not Apple's target.

eriko said that corporate is small (rather, he called it tiny. twice) 5 comments above yours.

I don't like the way Apple handled the Final Cut Pro X thing, or how they seem to be using their success and billions in profits to be a patent troll, but they do seem to be quite successful, so I guess they are doing something right.

I think it will take a few more years before we can get a clear picture of how post-Jobs Apple is doing though.
posted by grandsham at 9:26 AM on December 6, 2012


Apple ignoring the corporate market is a smart decision, and always has been. But ignoring the media professional market makes me very nervous.

Apple has always survived by having the Next Big Thing, while sustaining themselves with professional media sales in between Big Things. The Apple 2 was a big consumer hit, and when it wasn't a hit anymore, sales in desktop publishing kept them profitable until the Macintosh. And when the Macintosh went out of fashion and the very bad years began, graphics professionals kept Apple alive until the iMac brought them back to stardom. Then they moved into professional video, aggressively wooing a lot of film and television professionals, and I figured the plan was that if iPods/iPhones/iPads/iMacs fell behind, post-production houses would sustain Apple while they R&D'ed the next hit.

But the FCPX debacle and the delay on the Mac Pro has been a pretty clear statement that they don't care about professional post houses anymore, and want to stay focused on the consumer market. That's fine when everything's working, but it means there's no backstop if your new product isn't a hit. I'm a video editor, and like a lot of editors, I'm transitioning to Avid or Adobe, either of which I could run on a PC for less money. Apple doesn't need my computer business right now, not least because I already own an iPhone and an iPod. But if their iDevices go out of style, there's nothing to prevent a free-fall.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:32 AM on December 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Education has never been important to Apple because of revenues. It's all about product placement.

They could give the computers away for free, and it'd still be a great deal for them.
posted by schmod at 9:33 AM on December 6, 2012


Although one thing that NY Mag link makes clear is that Apple's plan is to sustain itself between hits by investing the cash it builds up when things are good. Which is kind of an interesting strategy, but even more unstable than counting on media professionals.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:36 AM on December 6, 2012


Education has never been important to Apple because of revenues. It's all about product placement.

Why does everyone in this thread seem to think it's still 1987?
posted by empath at 9:36 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've always been terribly amused at how agitated people get by their choices in product purchasing.

...I have no idea why I am not selling window stickers of Calvin pissing on Google, MS & Apple logos. You could put them on your trucks, right next to the one where he's pissing on a Chevy logo. One for each company you hate. Gotta let everyone know where your corporate allegiances lie.
posted by aramaic at 9:41 AM on December 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


But if their iDevices go out of style, there's nothing to prevent a free-fall.

Far be it from me to defend Apple, lord knows I shake my head at a number of their dumber decisions and some really shitty software - but even the iPod wasn't a success until iTunes came along.

My mom hated her first iPod. But she bought the second, and third and fourth because iTunes. All her stuff was in iTunes and making it not in iTunes was too much work. All the stuff she wanted to buy was in iTunes and nowhere else.

And that's their key, there. iTunes. They're making money coming and going on stuff they don't produce or market.

iTunes is the key to Apple's success. The no longer compete against Microsoft. They compete against Amazon. And as long as they are able to be the middleman between consumers and producers, they'll do just fine.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:45 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect this is really why Apple is getting into the TV business. They are always thinking ten years into the future, and they want to position themselves with the hardware to be able to make revenue off of already-changing television consumption habits.

Which puts them ten years (or more) behind Netflix, Amazon, et al.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:45 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why does everyone in this thread seem to think it's still 1987?

I don't really. That is what makes me nervous. Let's say all apps move to the cloud. I have google everything. What reason do I have to stick with Apple besides they make nice machines?

I can just as easily access google drive, gmail, facebook, what have you from the 5-6 $99 chromebooks I have stashed around the house. Or I can maybe do everything from my Android "phablet" or even my x-box and a wireless keyboard.

If computers are really going to be ubiquitous commodities, and data cloud based, Apple is now competing agaisnt the world, anyone who can throw an Android netbook together.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:45 AM on December 6, 2012


What reason do I have to stick with Apple besides they make nice machines?

As long as they keep making better machines than everyone else, what's the problem? They're not selling commodity hardware, they're in a different business.

I think the real weakness of Apple is their terrible web services and the fact that they seem to want to compete with Google at tasks that Apple sucks at (mapping, search, etc).
posted by empath at 9:49 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


The company seems very rudderless right now, especially compared to Microsoft, who have shown a surprising amount of direction and confidence in their recent product launches.

Confidence and $3 will buy you a cup of coffee. Microsoft is clearly more focused than they have been in the past, and is spending a gazillion dollars on marketing/retail/product placement for Windows 8, but the early return on this investment in terms of actual devices sold (tablets, phones, new PCs) has been disappointingly small. At least at launch, the Win8 lineup is not resonating with consumers. Of course Microsoft can't/won't give up here--Win8 is a 'bet the company' move--but their success is far from assured.

Apple has zero interest in selling to corporate buyers

That's very convenient, considering corporate buyers have zero interest in buying from Apple.


I beg to differ. The difference is that Apple has focused--with success--on the 'front office' rather than the 'back office'. iPhones are increasingly showing up int eh enterprise and displacing the incumbent, RIM. One of the hottest topics in enterprise mobility is the shift to BYOD ('bring your own device').

But let's be clear, Apple is playing in a tremendously competitive set of (increasingly interlinked) markets and has its work cut out for it if it's going to continue to lead in revenue and profits (it does not lead in market share or unit volume). I think the two most formidable competitors it has to deal with are Amazon and the (different) Android/Google ecosystem. This piece sums up a core weakness of Apple (focusing on Google but you could add Amazon in there as well), though I don't agree with the recommended solution.
posted by donovan at 9:49 AM on December 6, 2012


I think people should think of Apple less as a technology company and more as a design company. Then you could imagine Apple entering a whole lot of markets that don't make sense if you think of them as a computer company. TVs, cars, etc. Hell, Steve Jobs was in the hospital dying of cancer and thinking out loud about redesigning medical equipment.
posted by empath at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


As long as they keep making better machines than everyone else, what's the problem?

Thats a big if. Nobody can make hits forever. I just think the consumer market, while undoubtedly huge, is incredibly fickle as well as incredibly sensitive to downturns in the economy.

I think people should think of Apple less as a technology company and more as a design company.

I think that could be smart. I also think they can leverage their incredible supply chain management and investment in domestic manufacturing to manufacture all kinds of devices besides iPads.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:56 AM on December 6, 2012


You laugh, but this is a very big deal. With the (unannounced and basically overnight) discontinuation of the XServe, they effectively wrote off much of the business world (and OS X's AD integration has never been elegant or simple). AD might have drawbacks, but the AD/Exchange combo fits the needs of most large organizations very well, and nobody have had even a remote glimmer of success competing with Microsoft in this space, despite many competent attempts.

Umm. Things have changed in the past three years.

1) Servers are now virtualized. Unless you make large scale systems designed to host as many VM's as possible, you aren't going to make any money building server hardware. XServe is no longer being made because its entire class of machine is largely obsolete.

2) Apple's already broken the AD stranglehold. BYOD is a very real thing in almost every enterprise these days - mostly because people love them some iOS, tho Mac and Android users are also pretty big drivers. Network authentication and security is now done by the Aruba controller, and it will deal with AD for all of your oddball clients.

3) SOHO is coming to the enterprise. It's already here. Everyone I work with uses Drop Box and Google Docs. Authentication services are for SSO access to web resources these days - traditional filesharing is too much of a PITA, especially over a VPN - and everyone does some work-from-home.

4) Apple is banking on big boosts to CPU power too arrive soon - the same market forces that allowed x86 to murder the small RISC workstation platforms are now being brought to bear against x86. My guess is we're one or two hardware generations away from the consumer-grade ARM devices being able to match their deskbound competition. What's the point in having a special line of "Pro" devices, then? (Cue expansion and peripheral panic - which we experienced before when Apple killed ADB and SCSI and the Serial port. Relax.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:00 AM on December 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Thats a big if. Nobody can make hits forever. I just think the consumer market, while undoubtedly huge, is incredibly fickle as well as incredibly sensitive to downturns in the economy.

I don't have much of a dog in this fight, but it strikes me that most of your comments about this are like this, a bit of opinion with some received wisdom and then a point that should support what you're saying but doesn't. In this case, you're ignoring the actual economic data (poor economy) and Apple profit data (astronomical profits) in favor of an opinion that seems reasonable but for which the data are disconfirming. Similarly, you keep commenting as if Apple has just been lucky, and as if it doesn't understand the basics of the market, but of the two companies, Apple is the one eating Microsoft's lunch, and that's been going on for a long time. I tend to agree with you re diversity and the problem of producing hit after hit, but your comments read like partisan talking points rather than as conclusions from the evidence.
posted by OmieWise at 10:05 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Similarly, you keep commenting as if Apple has just been lucky, and as if it doesn't understand the basics of the market, but of the two companies, Apple is the one eating Microsoft's lunch, and that's been going on for a long time. I tend to agree with you re diversity and the problem of producing hit after hit, but your comments read like partisan talking points rather than as conclusions from the evidence.

Well, I think they have been good. But I don't think they can do that forever. Of course I already said that, And of course nobody else can either.

You are right. I am saying the same thing over and over in different ways and not convincing anyone so I will back off.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:12 AM on December 6, 2012


Apple is the one eating Microsoft's lunch, and that's been going on for a long time.

Yeah, Apple went through a rough patch in the '90s, due to bad decisions to follow rather than lead the rest of the market, and have been consistently hitting it out of the park since the introduction of the first iMac when they reversed that. Steve didn't design the iPod or the iMac, or invent the music player or all-in-one PC - he relied on what his designers told him, and trusted his company's UX and market research, and then ruthlessly made sure everyone stuck to the plan. Tim Cook can do that, too.

My only concern is that Ive's a little too hung up on brushed aluminum - Apple's hardware design language is starting to look a bit fusty, and the lookalikes from competitors are getting to be a little thick on the ground.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:18 AM on December 6, 2012


Which puts them ten years (or more) behind Netflix, Amazon, et al.

Netflix doesn't make hardware, but runs a website. Amazon does not yet make a television set or set-top box. Other than its 7" tablet, it makes no hardware to consume its media products, and instead relies on end users having computers running Flash or Silverlight — software it does not own or control.

In this respect, an Apple television set would be a quite unique bit of hardware and would position them where software companies like Netflix and AMZ have not gone and could not go without major retooling of their efforts. It's pretty telling what Amazon's strategy has been when it is committing billions of dollars to long-term licensing deals, instead of investing in hardware, which is not its strength.

There are other companies which provide set-top boxes, but looking back at the history of these things, one could see a parallel with Apple using the iPod to reinvent what an MP3 player could be: easy, convenient, well-designed, and generally usable with the broad array of media people have, instead of one set-top box for handing each proprietary web service.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:19 AM on December 6, 2012


BYOD is a terrible idea and I hope employees start calling it by its real name: a pay cut.

To say nothing of the increased tax burden and assumption of risk by providing your own work equipment. I haven't seen an office yet where employees would be better off through a BYOD plan.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I find it cute that someone actually suggested in this thread that a successful company like Apple got successful by predicting what consumers WANT rather than by TELLING CONSUMERS WHAT THEY WANT. You don't follow the market.... you make it. You think people wanted cars before Ford made sure there were roads to drive em on?
posted by spicynuts at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


One day in 2017 cable company executives are going to wake up and find themselves dead, or worse, irrelevant.

Except for the fact that they own the pipes in many markets so they can just cut Apple / Netflix / Hulu / etc. off at the knees any time they want. The only way to prevent this is to get non-content provider owned broadband into those markets. So far Google Fiber seems to be the only glimmer of hope, and it's going so slowly and will likely hit so many barriers to entry along the way it will probably be 3017 before it's widespread enough to limit cable companies' power.
posted by Potsy at 10:21 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The company seems very rudderless right now, especially compared to Microsoft, who have shown a surprising amount of direction and confidence in their recent product launches.

They cut their Surface orders in half, if suppliers are to be believed, and the scuttlebutt I'm hearing in Seattle is that MSFT developers and managers are leaving in larger numbers to go to other tech companies in the area (and that they are making things worse for developers at those companies by making questionable engineering and management decisions — perhaps of the same sort that have lead Microsoft to where it is now). A lot of what I hear is that morale is bad and few want to acknowledge that there are problems. It seems unclear why Ballmer is still in charge.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:30 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except for the fact that they own the pipes in many markets so they can just cut Apple / Netflix / Hulu / etc. off at the knees any time they want.

Here is where I think Apple has an opening -- a lot of people are cancelling cable and going internet only. I think a large part of that is because every cable box/dvr out on the market right now fucking blows. I just moved into a house with FIOS after not having cable for a while and I want to throw the remote at the screen every time i use the piece of shit. Apple can save the cable companies from themselves with even a moderately competent UI overhaul that untangles that clusterfuck.
posted by empath at 10:34 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


BYOD is a terrible idea and I hope employees start calling it by its real name: a pay cut.

It started out that way, but my company bought my Mac and will be reimbursing me for my Android phone and wireless bill if I go onto the on-call rotation or on travel often enough to require it. This is part of the BYOD program. BYOD nowadays means "run what you like" rather than "run what you brung", at least in companies with larger, dynamic IT shops... with the benefit that you don't need to hand in the phone at the end of your time with them. (They will wipe their data, but leave yours alone.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:37 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: " and instead relies on end users having computers running Flash or Silverlight — software it does not own or control."

or they rely on the user a Roku box, or an iPad, or any Android tablet, or a PS3, or an Xbox360, or a TV with an Amazon Video app, or a Blu Ray player with the same...

I get that you don't like Flash or Silverlight, but that is not an accurate representation of Amazon's media offerings at all.

AppleTV doesn't have to come in and "innovate" an all-in-one set-top box, Roku and Samsung and the other players in the market have already done that.

I can play all of my purchased media on one device hooked up to my TV, except what I've purchased from Apple.
posted by grandsham at 10:38 AM on December 6, 2012


Roku and Samsung and the other players in the market have already done that.

What are their sales like?
posted by empath at 10:44 AM on December 6, 2012


Apple can save the cable companies from themselves with even a moderately competent UI overhaul that untangles that clusterfuck.

You expect this from the company that makes iTunes? I don't even...
posted by srboisvert at 10:47 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would you rather download a movie on itunes or find a PPV on your cable box? Not even a question for me.
posted by empath at 10:48 AM on December 6, 2012


empath: What are their sales like?

I don't really care? you can look them up yourself. I was talking about how you can watch Amazon Instant on a plethora of devices.

That said, I'm sure between iPads, Xbox 360s, PS3s, Samsung televisions and Roku boxes, the installed base of people who can watch Amazon Instant Video is pretty large.
posted by grandsham at 10:51 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's fine when everything's working, but it means there's no backstop if your new product isn't a hit.

When you've got $100 billion cash on hand, you have a backstop, one of the size of freaking Texas. Apple's probably pulling in $2 billion a year just from sitting on all that money.

The pro graphics market might be worth, what, a few hundred million a year? Maybe? To us normal people, that's real money, but to the biggest tech company in the world, that's almost rounding error.
posted by Malor at 10:54 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good interview, but I'd have loved to hear more insight into Tim Cook as a human being. He has a right to a private life, of course, but I'd love to hear his thoughts about being a gay man running the largest company on the planet, in a field that does not traditionally value variety of that sort (with exceptions, here and there). When he talked about diversity, I wish the interviewer had pushed him to expand on that and, perhaps, into his own life experience.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:05 AM on December 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Apple is diversifying their production, which is nothing but smart. Good P.R. for domestic consumers, and a hedge against their foreign manufacturers raising prices in excess.
posted by nickggully at 11:26 AM on December 6, 2012


Netflix doesn't make hardware, but runs a website.

Netflix doesn't just "run a website," they run a service, and while Apple also runs services, they're not running the kind of services to the extent Netflix is.

Amazon does not yet make a television set or set-top box. Other than its 7" tablet, it makes no hardware to consume its media products, and instead relies on end users having computers running Flash or Silverlight — software it does not own or control.

And yet the tablet is merely a couple years old and doing quite well, while maintaining a very tight hold over the infrastructure. I'd be surprised if the iPad and iTunes Video were near that level of synergy. Apple makes a set-top box and runs a video service, and yet it's not the one taking over the video industry.

In this respect, an Apple television set would be a quite unique bit of hardware and would position them where software companies like Netflix and AMZ have not gone and could not go without major retooling of their efforts. It's pretty telling what Amazon's strategy has been when it is committing billions of dollars to long-term licensing deals, instead of investing in hardware, which is not its strength.

Really? The only thing telling about it is that they're aware that the future isn't in hardware, but a confluence of the hardware and the services. And what Netflix and Amazon are doing is getting a huge headstart on the services side of things and then introducing hardware and/or partnerships that build on that and in many cases cut off avenues for Apple. Just take a look at the Disney/Netflix deal. Not only does Netflix get a good deal of exclusives (via timeframes or just in general), but they got it from a company that Apple has many long-standing historical connections with, not the least of which is Pixar.

As of 2016, Apple customers without Netflix won't be able to access newly-released Disney content for months at a time. I don't know if you have kids or spend much time with them, but they don't like being told that they have to wait months for things. If this is the beginning of a trend that Apple is shut out of, then there's no amount of hardware investment that will help them.

There are other companies which provide set-top boxes, but looking back at the history of these things, one could see a parallel with Apple using the iPod to reinvent what an MP3 player could be: easy, convenient, well-designed, and generally usable with the broad array of media people have, instead of one set-top box for handing each proprietary web service.

You do know that these already exist, right? Roku, X-boxen, Playstations, and Wiis all play content from multiple media (not web) services. Again, Apple is not and (barring some tectonic changes) will not be ahead of this, and are already falling well behind.

They cut their Surface orders in half, if suppliers are to be believed, and the scuttlebutt I'm hearing in Seattle is that MSFT developers and managers are leaving in larger numbers to go to other tech companies in the area (and that they are making things worse for developers at those companies by making questionable engineering and management decisions — perhaps of the same sort that have lead Microsoft to where it is now). A lot of what I hear is that morale is bad and few want to acknowledge that there are problems. It seems unclear why Ballmer is still in charge.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you're one of the last people here that has a good track record on unbiased information about Apple's competitors, to say nothing of industry rumormongering.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:43 AM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Malor, that's a good point about the cash being a potent backstop. But if you've been around long enough to remember the bad years, you know that money can vanish awfully quick if your new product isn't a hit and your R&D department is burning money trying to find the next thing, and Apple is not at all immune to that. The media professional market is only worth a few hundred thousand a year, and that isn't much when you're on top, but when you're not on top, it can be enough to keep the lights on. That's how Apple's always survived in the past, and what makes me nervous is that they don't seem to have a plan for what to do if they don't make a hit.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:54 AM on December 6, 2012


As of 2016, Apple customers without Netflix won't be able to access newly-released Disney content for months at a time. I don't know if you have kids or spend much time with them, but they don't like being told that they have to wait months for things. If this is the beginning of a trend that Apple is shut out of, then there's no amount of hardware investment that will help them.

Yes, Apple is obviously the only company to ever miss out on content exclusives. Why, just yesterday, I was watching HBO on Amazon Instant and the West Wing on Netflix.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:57 AM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


they don't seem to have a plan for what to do if they don't make a hit

No-one does. At least publicly. Serious, where's Microsoft's "What if Surface tanks?" plan? What's Ford's "What if people hate the next F150 plan?" Companies don't advertise plan B, they want you on-board with plan A.

I would doubt very much if Apple doesn't have a plan B for any given strategy, and they've had misses under the Jobs administration that Apple was heavily invested in (G4 Cube, iTools-.Mac-MobileMe most notably) and these mis-steps haven't run the company into the earth.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:06 PM on December 6, 2012


Yes, Apple is obviously the only company to ever miss out on content exclusives. Why, just yesterday, I was watching HBO on Amazon Instant and the West Wing on Netflix.

Which...doesn't address my point regarding hardware vs licensing or the pitfalls Apple could fall into by focusing on the former as opposed to the latter.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:07 PM on December 6, 2012


Netflix doesn't make hardware.

Thankfully. It makes software that can run through a browser, or on a variety of operating systems and set top boxes so you don't need to buy Netflix hardware. This software accesses their Internet based application. This is a fabulous thing. Consumers get a choice. My father recently picked up a WD TV Live which plays any file format we've thrown at it (no need to convert files to a supported format like a certain set top box) and comes with a number of entertainment services, all running on a customized version of Android for the set top box. Very nice interface. Of course much the same can be gotten with a PS3 or an XBOX and other hardware. Being a big fan of iOS he would have gotten the Apple TV except it's more of hassle to use. Thankfully, Apple can change this with the software that runs on their hardware.

Having these services make their own hardware makes very little sense. Why would they want to get into the hardware business?

As for Apple or Microsoft having trouble down the road, doubtful for a very long while. The Surface could be a complete failure and Windows will still be the dominant operating system on desktops world wide and they will continue to make money, just as Apple will in the tablet/smart phone space for years to come.
posted by juiceCake at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2012


Apple has not answer to Active Directory

WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK!

Um, yes they do, and it's called Open Directory, and it's based on LDAP, just like AD, which is why the Mac OS has been able to integrate with AD since 10.2. No, it doesn't have every nitty gritty level of lock down that AD has, but it is based upon the existing LDAP standards for directory management.

Holy shit, are people so seriously so clued out of computers that they've never even done the basic research into what Apple actually offers?

Now I'm sure people are going to tell me that they've used Mac OS X Server and it didn't work with some cross-platform something or they couldn't manage 10,000 users with it as easily as they could with AD. This is stupid. Any *nix admin worth their salt would look at Open Directory, go "ok, cool" and be done with it. GAH.


Sorry. This just boogles me as to how this technology has been around for nearly a decade and it's constantly overlooked and denegrated because people won't take the time to even look at it. It's there, it works, and when you say that Apple doesn't do something, you better damn sure be able to prove to me that it doesn't, because I've been doing it for 10 years now.
posted by daq at 12:12 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK!

Um, yes they do, and it's called Open Directory


I'll read up on this. If it supports anything like group policies and centralized deployment of installation packages I owe Apple an apology.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:20 PM on December 6, 2012


Interesting perspective on Apple's onshoring of Mac production, including a comparison to GE's recent decision to bring some of their appliance manufacturing back to the U.S.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:29 PM on December 6, 2012


A funny aspect of BYOD is that it kind of means "B.Y.O. [Apple or Android] D." in a lot of cases. And that means that you have to run more standards-compliant software than when you only had Microsoft or BlackBerries or whatever unitary, proprietary platform in your shop.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:32 PM on December 6, 2012


Which...doesn't address my point regarding hardware vs licensing or the pitfalls Apple could fall into by focusing on the former as opposed to the latter.

I'll be honest, I thought your point was just "APPLE! GRAR!"
posted by entropicamericana at 12:33 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Perhaps if you'd addressed the comment as a whole rather than taken part it out of context you wouldn't have run into that problem.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:40 PM on December 6, 2012


Like what you did with my comment.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2012


Ad hominem:
Yes, and yes.

They are not structured in the same manner as AD group policies, but you can lock down and control settings for computers, users, groups, etc, etc through the Open Directory.
As for centralized deployment of installation packages, there are a suite of tools for this, PackageMaker, Apple Remote Desktop (which allows you to push package installs to remote machines en masse) and a centralized Software Update mechanism that allows you to control when software updates are installed on client machines, and allows you to have the server pull and host the updates on your network so that each client doesn't have to go and pull it from the internet. And these have existed in OS X Server for years.
posted by daq at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Like what you did with my comment.

Yes, responding to the entirety of two comments is exactly like responding to a fraction of one comment. Sure.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:50 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are not structured in the same manner as AD group policies

Cool. In my defense, I can't know everything about computers.

Anyway, sorry Apple, you have an alternative to AD.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:54 PM on December 6, 2012


Look, if you want to argue that just by virtue of putting out a piece of hardware Apple will somehow dominate the world because they're so totally awesome, that's your call. But this is not 2002, so any direct correlations to the iPod and iTunes don't really wash. The popularity of the iPod was very much predicated on the prevalence of MP3s and how well the iPod and iTunes operated with them, and the popularity of iTMS came from not having significant direct competition and the iPod already well on it's way to being one of the most popular media consumption devices ever. Neither of those situations exist for Apple right now. Existing video formats are not anywhere near as popular as MP3 was for video, and Apple's video devices don't necessarily play well with anything outside their ecosystem, and there is significant and ever-increasing competition in the video services market that Apple hasn't kept up with. Apple's got a good head of steam in the devices department, but not ones that do a good job of either keeping media consumption within their own walls like Amazon has done or that are designed to work around video content not created by Apple or Apple products. Ergo, the Apple TV is not the magic bullet Apple enthusiasts have been saying it would be for several years now, and unless Apple works on making licensing and hardware work together, it's not going to be. It certainly doesn't help your argument when you claim that Apple would essentially be the first to make a device that is "easy, convenient, well-designed, and generally usable with the broad array of media people have" and that all others only work with individual services when that's demonstrably untrue.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:06 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ad hominem: Anyway, sorry Apple, you have an alternative to AD.

From limited exposure, it's pretty weak. It's not really a replacement. it's probably better than nothing, but when I was giving it a lookover a few years back, I came away quite unimpressed. It appeared to be LDAP with a couple of bells on, maybe a nice ribbon in its hair. It wasn't even vaguely as powerful as what Microsoft offers.

Now, Active Directory wasn't all that great when it first came out, either; they've been iterating on it now for about a dozen years, and it's gradually grown into quite the beast. So Apple certainly could be improving OpenDirectory, just like Microsoft fixed up its offering, but I haven't seen any real sign that Apple's particularly interested in it anymore.

ThatFuzzyBastard: The media professional market is only worth a few hundred thousand a year

Well, keep in mind that a Silicon Valley engineer is probably going to cost $150K for a run of the mill person, probably $250K for someone who's really good. If the media market is really that small, you'd probably be lucky to employ five actual programmers in the division. I don't see any way that it could meaningfully keep the lights on at Apple.

I think that, in reality, this market would have to be much larger. Adobe's not exactly tiny.
posted by Malor at 1:27 PM on December 6, 2012


I think that was a mistype... someone said a few hundred million earlier, which sounds more right.
posted by grandsham at 1:32 PM on December 6, 2012


Is it just me or has Apple totally been going downhill for the last 2 or 3 years? It seems like every release of their OS X gets worse and worse and worse.

It is now official. Netcraft has confirmed: Apple is dying.
posted by chillmost at 1:43 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


For people who think enterprise corporate IT is a large market, you are not seeing it correctly.

Corporations will never, ever as a collective group, buy 400 million devices over the lifecycle of a platform. Maybe 5 million?

The market is ludicrously small for a company like Apple.
posted by roboton666 at 1:44 PM on December 6, 2012


Corporations will never, ever as a collective group, buy 400 million devices over the lifecycle of a platform. Maybe 5 million?

I was talking about nearly all white collar jobs worldwide. I'm not sure I see HR people and receptionists bringing in MacBook airs, especially outside the US. Dunno, maybe that is a small market to some.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:55 PM on December 6, 2012


One of the other issues at the F500 level is that most of them are locked into ridiculously long-term contracts with hardware providers. At Citigroup, for example, their desktop purchase contract with Dell doesn't go into renewal mode until 2018 (!), and that contract's been in place since 2005. Before that it was HP.

Add in that the companies will go to ridiculous lengths to keep the machines from being replaced (I was on an Win2K box until 2009 when they gave me an XP box so I could run software to do my job), and that they get the absolute lowest power boxes that can still run the software (I'd start my machine up, go get breakfast, and sometime the login screen wouldn't be up yet) and the corporate level is almost certainly not going to be a winner for Apple to move into.
posted by mephron at 2:57 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


The corporate level is almost certainly not going to be a winner for Apple to move into.

Apple doesn't have the support infrastructure for enterprise anyway, and their support for professional verticals has taken a nose dive in terms of reputation lately. That's fine, they're not interested in that anymore. Focusing almost exclusively on the consumer market is just fine. There's lots of cash in it. Look at Walmart. Different companies, different focus, different sectors, different people. No company is all encompassing. I don't see Apple bothering for the same reason we won't see Netflix making hardware. It would be absurd.

Add in that the companies will go to ridiculous lengths to keep the machines from being replaced.

Sure, for some, and not for others. Most of the medium to large enterprises I work with update laptops every couple of years and there has been a big move to examine, though not necessarily use Linux on the server side of things, though of course Windows remains the default and probably will for years to come.

There's plenty of money to be made in a number of markets and fortunately, with all of us being individuals, we have some choices to use what best suits us. It's unfortunate that some people identify with companies but only in the way that it's amusing and a little strange once you're no longer a teenager. Companies love it when people identify with them of course.
posted by juiceCake at 3:53 PM on December 6, 2012


BYOD is a terrible idea and I hope employees start calling it by its real name: a pay cut.

I don't want to carry two phones. Ever.
posted by flaterik at 4:07 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone should keep in mind that the amount of money Apple has invested in manufacturing is (not coincidentally) about as much as it would have cost to run a nationwide advertising campaign for a few weeks.
posted by anewnadir at 4:15 PM on December 6, 2012


I don't want to carry two phones. Ever.

I remember the days I had to carry a work pager, my crummy Motorola cell phone/brick and my iPod. I don't really miss those days much. The future has been a fair trade.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:50 PM on December 6, 2012


Ergo, the Apple TV is not the magic bullet Apple enthusiasts have been saying it would be for several years now, and unless Apple works on making licensing and hardware work together, it's not going to be.

I'm past the age where fanboying publicly for the company who makes my favorite computers seems like a good way to spend my time, but there have been numerous reports for a year/year-and-a-half that Apple has been meeting with content distributors to talk TV arrangements. Nobody knows what those arrangements are, exactly, but we know that those meetings have happened.

19, by the way. 19 is the age.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:20 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


bunch of talk about how Apple doesn't have ActiveDirectory or domain controllers.

search thread for "Samba" -- 0 hits.

C'mon people. Apple has some kind of equivalent functionality in OS X Server built on Samba, with the desktop version having a native client, and if you really wanted to you can use it (or Samba itself, probably, with some effort) to bind an OS X machine to a Windows domain controller.

No, it won't work perfectly in terms of version level parity with all features supported by native AD clients. I guess Apple will have to pass up the corporate workstation market. Considering that they've almost abandoned the desktop computer market in its entirety, I'm not sure they care.

That's my complaint--the never-ready-for-primetime mirage of Desktop Linux was basically shoved to the side by OS X. I've become accustomed to OS X as my desktop OS, and Linux as my server OS. The apparent plan to make everything into an iDevice leaves me cold. (Which is why I'm still running 10.6.8 and don't have any immediate plans to "upgrade.") See also notebook hardware revision to foreclose user upgradability and reduce longevity, or the refusal to update the Mac Pros. (Good think we have OSx86.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:41 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, with the thin client architecture in place in a lot of corporate environments, it only really matters if the VM--i.e. the Citrix session--you're logging into can talk to AD. The machine sitting in front of the user is just running a glorified version of VNC.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:47 PM on December 6, 2012


Better two phones than cluttering up my personal phone with work business: that way I can leave the work phone at work.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:07 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


My office said that I could BMOD as long as I agreed that they could remotely wipe my phone at any time. I passed on that offer.
posted by octothorpe at 8:27 PM on December 6, 2012


I'm eager to find out why Apple bringing (some) manufacturing jobs back to the US is a bad thing. Please illuminate me metafilter.
It proves all the people who said "but they can't make them here" wrong and thus they are all butthurt about it.

Oh and of course it means more money for American workers, and less for wallstreet bankers, so of course it's going to impact the stock price. It will be good for them in the long run, but not next quarter, which is all that matters for them because if apple goes down long term they can just sell their shares and invest elsewhere.
If Apple wants to succeed moving forward, it needs to quit patent trolling, and get out of the content/media distribution business. It's a conflict of interest, and their products have suffered as a result.
That killed Sony, but you're being a little overdramatic. Apple makes a ton of money of content distribution. They're not making the content, they're just distributing it at preposterous margins - it costs them almost nothing and they get 30% or whatever of the sale price. Why on earth would they want to get out of that business?

Also, I don't see why Apple would want to go after the corporate market either, given the fact that they make way more money than the companies that does go after the enterprise already. Why would they care?

Besides, if you just make everything "cloud based" what do you even need something like active directory for? I know office drones love their Microsoft files, but do you really think five years from now it's going to matter what hardware you have while accessing whatever boring biz related software corporate IT puked out?
I'll read up on this. If it supports anything like group policies and centralized deployment of installation packages I owe Apple an apology.
Yeah, but why will this matter when everything is cloud based? If you were starting a company from the ground up, that's how you would do all your IT. Maybe it's not great for dealing with legacy crap, but who cares? If they have a bunch of legacy crap, they'll stick with windows anyway?
Today we learn that corporate and education are tiny markets.
It's not that they're small, it's that the profits are a lot lower, compared to Apple's premium stuff. Selling one unit for $200 profit is better than selling ten units at a $16 profit.
Yeah, Apple went through a rough patch in the '90s, due to bad decisions to follow rather than lead the rest of the market,
The Newton wasn't "leadership"?

Apple's problem in the 90s was that they had a crap CEO and sold garbage. Despite what a lot of people seem to think, they don't have a magical switch they can just flip and make hardware that's actually just better then everyone else's. Apple's hardware and OS in the 1990s was crap.
You think people wanted cars before Ford made sure there were roads to drive em on?
Yes? Obviously people wanted cars. How that is even a question? The model-T could navigate the same terrain that a horse carriage could. And a lot of the smooth roads were initially built to accommodate bicycles, not cars.
When you've got $100 billion cash on hand, you have a backstop, one of the size of freaking Texas. Apple's probably pulling in $2 billion a year just from sitting on all that money.

The pro graphics market might be worth, what, a few hundred million a year? Maybe? To us normal people, that's real money, but to the biggest tech company in the world, that's almost rounding error.
A lot of people in this thread seem to no sense of scale.
Malor, that's a good point about the cash being a potent backstop. But if you've been around long enough to remember the bad years, you know that money can vanish awfully quick if your new product isn't a hit and your R&D department is burning money trying to find the next thing ...
Yeah again. They have $100 billion in the bank. They could make more money investing that in US government bonds then they could by selling film editing software. A lot more. A company the size of Apple could coast for decades before they went out of business.
posted by delmoi at 8:40 PM on December 6, 2012


octothorpe: My office said that I could BMOD as long as I agreed that they could remotely wipe my phone at any time. I passed on that offer.

I just read, in the last day or two, that they're planning to bring virtualization tech to phones, so you'll be able to separate it into 'personal' and 'business' partitions. The business data and apps can be wiped by your employer at any time, but they won't be able to see or tamper with your personal stuff. Likewise, there will be an attempt at protection of the corporate side, though I believe that will probably be trumped by constant physical access to the device, much like jailbreaking on iPhones.
posted by Malor at 10:14 PM on December 6, 2012


It's not like Win95 and 90s wintel hardware was very good either....
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:19 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yesterday I was setting up to give a presentation on a big LCD television. I plugged in my video cable and a popup appeared on the screen asking if it should switch to that input. I reached out my hand and tapped on Yes. Nothing happened.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:25 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple's hardware and OS in the 1990s was crap.

No, it was workstation quality gear, and lead the industry in stuff like service life and DOA rate - immensely better than the PC's, and almost a match for Sun, who was at the top of the list at the time. (I was doing warranty work on a contractor basis in the mid '90s, and dealt with Dell, HP, IBM, Toshiba and Apple gear... we kept numbers on that stuff.)

However, it was worse than Apple gear from the '80s, in order to lower costs to catch up with the PC on price, and perception is reality.

Speaking of which, Mac OS 7 and 9 were actually not that bad at all... I really preferred the interface on 9, especially, even to OS X. Stability wasn't terrible when compared to the PC... especially on notebooks. PC notebooks still have problems with sleep and resume.

But programming for Classic Mac was a tremendous gigantic PITA. Even with CodeWarrior. OS X and Objective C, with command line tools available in a real live console window - well. I believe the pleasant programming environment is what allowed the platform to flourish: robust and clever applications and utilities, and a developer base who's as rabidly Apple-Fanboi as the user base.

The Newton wasn't "leadership"?

It blazed a new path into handheld devices that wouldn't fit in a pocket or synchronize easily with a desktop. Market Research fail. The Palm Pilot was underpowered, fairly dumb, buggy, under-featured and painfully slow. It also fit into the pocket and synchronized effortlessly.

The proper response isn't "We made it with a faster chip, and also a notebook version!" The proper response should have been "Smaller, eh? Syncs effortlessly, eh? We can do that =and= keep ahead of 'em in features."

Which is how Apple killed Blackberry and Symbian with the iPhone.

The Mac of the '90s was trying to make its boxes look like PC's, and was reluctant to take a risk on anything until it was already obsolete. SCSI and ADB were well past their "Best By:" date when the iMac came along.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:47 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


there have been numerous reports for a year/year-and-a-half that Apple has been meeting with content distributors to talk TV arrangements. Nobody knows what those arrangements are, exactly, but we know that those meetings have happened.

And we also know the general landscape of things in relation to those arrangements. As already mentioned, Disney (and by extension all of Pixar and Lucasfilm, and most of Marvel and ABC) is going with Netflix. For the foreseeable future, priority for NBCUniversal content will likely stay with their stablemates at Hulu. Amazon just signed a deal with Epix, which gives them first grabs at Lionsgate, Paramount (including CBS), and MGM. That just leaves Warner and Fox as the big studios left. Of those, Warner and Fox's TV divisions have deals with Hulu, and apart from a comment by a guy at TWC--the one division of Warner that makes no content--that they would like an Apple TV, it's been fairly quiet. That's not to say that nothing will happen, but it's not moving in Apple's direction right now.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:02 AM on December 7, 2012


there have been numerous reports for a year/year-and-a-half that Apple has been meeting with content distributors to talk TV arrangements. Nobody knows what those arrangements are, exactly, but we know that those meetings have happened.

I'd love to see an extensive review of Google Fiber TV, where apparently services like Netflix and others are bundled with traditional broadcast television over the Internet, and supposedly all searchable, being Google. If it proves to be a successful model it may take.
posted by juiceCake at 6:08 AM on December 7, 2012


No, it was workstation quality gear, and lead the industry in stuff like service life and DOA rate - immensely better than the PC's, and almost a match for Sun, who was at the top of the list at the time. (I was doing warranty work on a contractor basis in the mid '90s, and dealt with Dell, HP, IBM, Toshiba and Apple gear... we kept numbers on that stuff.)

It was definitely sturdier and better assembled and all that. But it was during the 90s that you probably paid the most to get the least in terms of performance and currency of architecture. Excepting current high end stuff that Apple doesn't even really seem to want to deal with any more.

SCSI and ADB were well past their "Best By:" date when the iMac came along.

SCSI not so much.

ADB -- and ADC (Apple Display connector), AAUI (Apple's oddball pre-BaseT ethernet interface), their weird serial ports ("Apple modem port"), definitely yes.

I have fond memories of using OS 9, to the point that a used 68k mini is on my List of Stuff to Find on eBay so I can run Classic, but it really was showing its age in terms of limited multitasking, lack of memory protection, drivers, etc.

I still have my Macs from growing up, aging silently on the top shelf of my closet (a PC-style Centris and a pizza-box Quadra. I had a DayStar monstrosity that never worked and was abandoned during college. I had previously donated our first computer, a ][gs -- now I kinda wish I hadn't. I never really appreciated that machine, but I would now.) I probably need to get around to dumping those old drives realsoonnow if I ever want to see that data again.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:04 AM on December 7, 2012


As already mentioned, Disney (and by extension all of Pixar and Lucasfilm, and most of Marvel and ABC) is going with Netflix.

Those are all streaming deals, as far as i know. Apple has never offered a streaming service.
posted by empath at 8:45 AM on December 7, 2012


No, it has iTunes instead.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:54 AM on December 7, 2012


Those are all streaming deals, as far as i know. Apple has never offered a streaming service.

I was responding to a series of posts concerned with streaming (and VOD, for that matter) services and the hypothetical Apple TV version thereof.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:57 AM on December 7, 2012


SCSI not so much.

SCSI as a peripheral interconnect? Old and moldy. In addition to external drives, people used it for scanners, high-end printers, CD-ROM drive, a extra floppy drive, a removeable media drive, a... oops. Only six devices. Connected with a giant fat cable you could barely bend.

SCSI as an internal storage connector? Old and moldy. Mac drive upgrades were stupid expensive, while also smaller and slower than the IDE drives of the time.

SCSI as a high-end storage interface? Heavens no! But that wasn't what the Mac was equipped with... it was plain old SCSI 2 with a DB-25 connector that would kill the mobo if you didn't power down before messing with your SCSI chain, and wouldn't work if you forgot the terminator. Internally, on the last of the pre-Jobs boxes, it was Fast SCSI, which wasn't terribly fast by the time it was rolled out to the Mac.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:17 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was remembering that my DayStar beast had some kind of high speed external SCSI. But I think it was on an Initio PCI card whose drivers never worked properly under OS 9. I mean, softraid under OS 9...what could go wrong....

I'm sure you're right about the Apple branded machines of the time. I just mentioned it because SCSI, generically, is one of those evolving standards that has been surprisingly/surpassingly long lived.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:24 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tim Cook was also interviewed by Brian Williams on Rock Center.

Video

Transcript
posted by The Deej at 11:40 AM on December 7, 2012




The Williams interview was a bit weak. Why start out by saying the company is doing bad things to society and that it is going to go bankrupt? What is the media fascination with continuing what must now be a twenty-year-old bit of mythos, that Apple is awful and that it will soon go under? It's a bit, I don't know, detached from reality? Tiresome? You work for NBC and you are given the privilege of landing the first mainstream media interview with Cook, and that's your open. More of the same lame, decades-long attacks against Apple and its users. Weak sauce.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:23 PM on December 7, 2012


What are you talking about? As far as I can tell, the word bankrupt is never used, the only mention of anyone going under is a single phrase about the lifecycle of companies in general, and the only detriment to society mentioned is a single throwaway line about personal interaction. In fact, the general tone of the interview is fairly positive towards them. The perfectly valid and much-discussed issues with Siri, Maps, and the accessories get literally a few seconds each of airtime. And all of this is mixed with praise and a little bit of awe regarding the company and CEOs. Here's the transcript for anyone who wants to get an idea for themselves.

Sure, the interview doesn't paint Apple and Jobs and Cook in the glowing light of impending beatification by a multitude of angels, but surely that's not cause for supporters to raise their hackles. At the very least, that's the job of high-powered PR firm, not an independent journalist and media company.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:57 AM on December 8, 2012


As far as I can tell, I never said this:

"Look, if you want to argue that just by virtue of putting out a piece of hardware Apple will somehow dominate the world because they're so totally awesome"

So if you want to have a good faith discussion about the Williams interview, I'm willing to do that, but it has to go both ways.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2012


I think that the Apple TV a screen and tuner, as opposed to an AppleTV, a small streaming device, has a huge amount of potential. The TV hardware industry consists of utter fools. Samsung, Sony, Motorola, all of their products are utter crap. Picture quality is one thing, great that they're focusing on that and screen size, but the devices themselves are trash. I really mean that vitriolic word. If it takes your device more 500ms to fully respond to a press of the remote button, your device is a failure. It's why everybody hates their TVs and their cable boxes.

What I mean to say is that if you think the only metric on which to evaluate TVs is screen size and picture quality, you need to get out of the business. The human factors are at least as important, and a TV with worse picture quality, that is 25% to 50% more expensive than similar sizes in the market, but actually responded to user input and gave at least half a damn about the user would see significant uptake. Most people won't be able to say why they dislike their current devices, so user surveys are mostly useless for this. But if you actually pay attention to people like Apple usually does and the rest of the industry usually does not (though this is improving, thanks Google and Microsoft!), then you can make something that people really love even though they don't know why they like it better. And if a company actually does understand these principles, people will accuse the company of being a "fashion" company rather than a technology company. Hilarious.

Some obvious and huge problems that the TV industry is barely working on solving, if they even know the problem exists:
  1. Aspect ratio. an entire generation has grown up with horizontally stretched, washed out, blurry images. If you think picture quality is important to customers, go and actually look at how TVs are actually used: people would rather have that crappy image than the black bars on the edges of their TV. Somehow the entire industry has ignored effectively solving this problem and making the aspect ratio correct automatically.
  2. Response time. My TV takes about 3000ms to change the LED from red to green when you press the On button. I'm not talking about turning on the screen and tuning to a channel, that's about 20,000ms. For an unreliable transmission like using a remote, this is not remotely acceptable. Even 300ms is borderline acceptable, but really if it's anything more than 30ms then your engineering team sucks, or your management team has no idea how to direct engineering. Feedback to acknowledge receipt of user input must be instantaneous, and if you can't get the full action done in 300ms, then you need to provide transitions. Changing channels is even more important than turning on the TV, yet virtually every TV I encounter takes at least 2000ms or more to switch. Changing channels is one of the primary functions of TVs, and they're absolute shit at it. If you want to flip through channels, it's pretty much impossible these days.
  3. Input sources. Most TVs are now talking to multiple devices, yet input selection is a complete pain in the ass. Why do I have to press the on buttons on two devices? Why in the world do I have to map a number to a device? Why can't I know what signal is coming in? Why can't I just see what's coming in from all the inputs? That this blindingly obvious feature is not available anywhere (at least as far as I know) is enough to know that TV makers are acting like idiots at the moment.
  4. Remote controls. Look at the uniformly terrible design of remote controls, in addition to the proliferation of number. People talk about this all the time and yet the TV industry does nothing about it.
It's odd to see an entire industry be clueless about their product and what they're actually selling, but that was the case with phones six years ago, and very few people who comment on message boards would even acknowledge that problem. Android and iOS have demonstrated that all those blathering message board naysayers were wrong about the iPhone. Recall five years ago, if you thought Blackberry stood a chance, you should reevaluate your ability to understand the technology market, even if you are extremely talented with technology. And really, if you are particularly talented with technology, you should probably completely discount your own ability to understand the market, because you are not like most buyers.
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:17 AM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why discussing the Williams interview is contingent on a totally unrelated point, but okay. Here's what you said:

In this respect, an Apple television set would be a quite unique bit of hardware and would position them where software companies like Netflix and AMZ have not gone and could not go without major retooling of their efforts. It's pretty telling what Amazon's strategy has been when it is committing billions of dollars to long-term licensing deals, instead of investing in hardware, which is not its strength.

You're saying that just releasing hardware would automatically make Apple "unique" and suggesting that it would easily vault them to the front of the field. Neither of those is correct, as streaming services and networked media capabilities are pretty much the de facto standard for HDTVs and Blu-ray players, and have been increasingly so for several years. So, as I said, Apple would be neither unique nor the leader on the capabilities alone, and would be well behind others. And then we have this:

one could see a parallel with Apple using the iPod to reinvent what an MP3 player could be: easy, convenient, well-designed, and generally usable with the broad array of media people have, instead of one set-top box for handing each proprietary web service.

As I pointed out in my original response, the iPod/iTunes parallel to 2002 doesn't really exist anymore. You also mischaracterize Netflix et al as merely websites or web services several times, and then posit that non-Apple media devices are limited to one service each and are difficult to use or understand. At no point do you offer any rationale other than just releasing hardware before suggesting that Apple would be technology and market leader, despite the fact that everybody has already beaten them to the punch in terms of providing hardware that does everything you're talking about.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:47 AM on December 8, 2012


Thank you for the explanation, but, again, none of that has anything to do with your statement:

"Look, if you want to argue that just by virtue of putting out a piece of hardware Apple will somehow dominate the world because they're so totally awesome"

I never said that. The quotes you now offer do not show that I said that. And, yes, the William interview is relevant, because you just did the same thing with my comment about that interview, too.

I'm not going to discuss this in any further depth, because I get accused of derailing Apple threads and I'm not going to let that accusation happen again. My comments here have been on-topic and polite, and I intend to keep them that way. Thank you for your time.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:59 AM on December 8, 2012


I think that the Apple TV a screen and tuner, as opposed to an AppleTV, a small streaming device, has a huge amount of potential. The TV hardware industry consists of utter fools. Samsung, Sony, Motorola, all of their products are utter crap. Picture quality is one thing, great that they're focusing on that and screen size, but the devices themselves are trash. I really mean that vitriolic word. If it takes your device more 500ms to fully respond to a press of the remote button, your device is a failure. It's why everybody hates their TVs and their cable boxes.

This is why I think my previous analogy with the iPod is useful, because the MP3 players before the first iPod were almost uniformly poorly designed. Physically clunky, poor user interface, few significant storage options, bad music management software, short battery life. So many aspects of digital music players were addressed with the iPod that it's fair to say it was a significant reinvention of the device that laid made it possible for many more people to enjoy and have their lives enriched by digital music.

In a lot of respects, today's televisions are very similar. Not so much in terms of clunkiness — most flat panels look nice — but the user interfaces within the television are poor, working out connectivity with external gadgets can be difficult, and unless you spend more on a universal remote, you're often stuck with a brick in your hand with a complex and numerous set of buttons. Then you start adding one set-top box after another (cable box, Roku, etc.) and you have remotes for those, too. There is a lot of room for improvement here and I think Apple has the hardware, software and the engineers to offer a compelling and significantly improved solution.

Siri alone would probably eliminate the need for most remote control functionality. I've set up a UPnP server on my jukebox computer and the client on a PS3, and that interface is absolutely atrocious with music and video libraries of any significant size, having to drill down through a long tree with files named Foobarba... etc. and having to guess at what I'm selecting. If one imagines being able to run something like a simplified iTunes media manager on a television, and being able to control it without a remote, that would be compelling to a lot of people.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:22 PM on December 8, 2012


Thank you for the explanation, but, again, none of that has anything to do with your statement

I explained exactly how it did.

And, yes, the William interview is relevant, because you just did the same thing with my comment about that interview, too.

Except for the part where you really did say the interview accused them of going bankrupt, doing bad things to society, and was generally antagonistic.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:46 PM on December 8, 2012


Aspect ratio. an entire generation has grown up with horizontally stretched, washed out, blurry images. If you think picture quality is important to customers, go and actually look at how TVs are actually used: people would rather have that crappy image than the black bars on the edges of their TV. Somehow the entire industry has ignored effectively solving this problem and making the aspect ratio correct automatically.

I'm not sure how Apple would be able to do this any better than anyone else, especially since a lot of the problem comes from the signal. FWIW, my Panasonic does a reasonably good job of detecting this on everything but the occasional forced squash-screen from networks.

Response time. My TV takes about 3000ms to change the LED from red to green when you press the On button. I'm not talking about turning on the screen and tuning to a channel, that's about 20,000ms. For an unreliable transmission like using a remote, this is not remotely acceptable. Even 300ms is borderline acceptable, but really if it's anything more than 30ms then your engineering team sucks, or your management team has no idea how to direct engineering. Feedback to acknowledge receipt of user input must be instantaneous, and if you can't get the full action done in 300ms, then you need to provide transitions.

The pixel and power response is a function of the display hardware, which is not something Apple has control over at the moment. The requirements for a 50" screen to power on and display a picture are going to be quite a bit higher than that of a 5" one. So if there's someone who's got a way to do this faster, I'd be surprised if they were holding onto it for a competitor's product.

Changing channels is even more important than turning on the TV, yet virtually every TV I encounter takes at least 2000ms or more to switch. Changing channels is one of the primary functions of TVs, and they're absolute shit at it. If you want to flip through channels, it's pretty much impossible these days.

This would be an incredible improvement, but it depends on where the problem is. If it's a problem with the tuning of signals, that's something that'll have to wait until new tuning standards are implemented or is beholden to the cable/fiber/etc providers and there's nothing Apple can do to change that for their own devices. If it's the hardware itself, that's another thing I don't see a company not implementing in favor of handing it over to Apple, so they would have to be already working on adding a new area to their chip design and manufacture fields.

Input sources. Most TVs are now talking to multiple devices, yet input selection is a complete pain in the ass. Why do I have to press the on buttons on two devices? Why in the world do I have to map a number to a device? Why can't I know what signal is coming in? Why can't I just see what's coming in from all the inputs? That this blindingly obvious feature is not available anywhere (at least as far as I know) is enough to know that TV makers are acting like idiots at the moment.

Actually, there is an existing solution for multi-control (CEC, which is part of the HDMI standards) that is in use on a lot of TVs and players, it's just very poorly explained or displayed, which is in it's own way even more idiotic. I know that it's enabled on most if not all current Samsung and Sony devices, and likely on the other big names. But if Apple has a way to make this easier to use and understand, that'd be an impressive coup.

Remote controls. Look at the uniformly terrible design of remote controls, in addition to the proliferation of number. People talk about this all the time and yet the TV industry does nothing about it.

Well, there's an obvious reason for the proliferation, because they have to ship a remote with every product. There is nothing that will solve this short of locking people into a single brand for all their hardware, although you could argue that this is Apple's unspoken goal. Remote design is a low-hanging fruit and an area that I can see Apple really excelling at, but it only solves half of a relatively insignificant problem. Both of these are something that a number of companies, notably Logitech's Harmony line, already work to solve, complete with touchscreens and online setup tools.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:13 PM on December 8, 2012


Well, there's an obvious reason for the proliferation, because they have to ship a remote with every product. There is nothing that will solve this short of locking people into a single brand for all their hardware, although you could argue that this is Apple's unspoken goal. Remote design is a low-hanging fruit and an area that I can see Apple really excelling at, but it only solves half of a relatively insignificant problem. Both of these are something that a number of companies, notably Logitech's Harmony line, already work to solve, complete with touchscreens and online setup tools.

The lack of vision is pretty astounding here. You really can't imagine a different way of interacting with your television? Remotes are dead technology. Making a better remote is like making a better cordless phone.
posted by empath at 9:02 PM on December 8, 2012


I'm not sure what your point is zombieflanders. My point is that TV and cable box manufacturers have little clue what they are doing. All those reasons you list are excuses that current TV makers might bring up to prevent themselves from addressing the pain points with current systems, but that has little bearing on them being solvable, and all of them are. Apple is the type of company that ignores silly excuses like those and engineers around the technical barriers, or vertically integrates around the market and product boundary barriers. It's what they're known for, and while they sometimes fail, they have a pretty good track record lately.
posted by Llama-Lime at 9:19 PM on December 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


An easy way for Apple to get its foot in the door would be to put an external IR port and internal RF blaster in the AppleTV. And maybe the airport express for rooms without an ATV? Then you can have fancy universal remote apps on your iPhone (and some basic zone control for airplay in iTunes). I think someone (maybe Harmony) tried making a standalone networked IR/RF blaster for use with an iPhone app but last I checked (i.e. last I read avsforums) it wasn't popular. But I bet if it were built in to Apple devices and officially supported in iOS you'd see more interest. The question then would be whether Apple would open it to third party developer use.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:51 AM on December 9, 2012


There's about a 0% chance that Apple is going to do a kludgy work around like that to make your peripherals work in a sane way. They'd rather you just throw away everything you have hooked up to their tv that they didn't make.
posted by empath at 11:10 AM on December 9, 2012


Apple has not answer to Active Directory

Aww, damnit! I missed the Apple v. Microsoft v. Android Block War again!

Same time next month?
posted by FJT at 2:42 PM on December 9, 2012


But I bet if it were built in to Apple devices and officially supported in iOS you'd see more interest. The question then would be whether Apple would open it to third party developer use.

Apple probably wouldn't waste energy on revolutionizing yesterday's technology for a handful of IR hackers, when it can add voice controls that will make it easy to use and a compelling purchase for millions of buyers. I'll bet Siri is at the core of this — or is at least a major component — and it will be why Apple will get a head-start on the next generation of sets for a few years (until Samsung, Sony, et al. copy it, at least).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:52 PM on December 9, 2012


I suspect Samsung and Sony will just end up using the Android stack for that type of voice/gesture stuff.
posted by jaduncan at 8:38 PM on December 9, 2012


The WD Live of course already integrates with Android and iOS devices for remote control. Manufacturers, if they want to sell more expensive televisions, will include the chips and Android in the television itself. Further integration is logical but I hope we can still get sets without all these features so we can add them ourselves using the devices of our choice.

Lenovo already has a Android based television with voice recognition. Others will follow, including Apple (though of course they won't be using Android).
posted by juiceCake at 9:43 PM on December 9, 2012


Just as an FYI, if you have FIOS, you can use your iphone/ipad as a remote control right now. It's only marginally less shitty an experience than using the regular remote, mostly because the tv listing view is so much snappier on the phone (though they designed it so you can only say like the first 3 words of any TV show for some stupid reason.)
posted by empath at 8:29 AM on December 10, 2012


Voice and gesture interfaces already exist for a Samsung model as well as LG and reports of Sony to follow, and of course Apple. That Apple will be credited with everything is par for the course of course.
posted by juiceCake at 10:30 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple will get a head-start on the next generation of sets for a few years (until Samsung, Sony, et al. copy it, at least).

Yep.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:42 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, entropic, Motorola may turn out to have been a bit overpriced.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:57 AM on December 10, 2012


But perhaps the bigger story there is that it suggests cable is on the wane, and that there is a spot for a company that can make a better mousetrap, one that steps in where set-top boxes leave off.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:00 AM on December 10, 2012


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