Tag Archives | Apple

This Just In: Apple Hiring a Swiss Watch Salesman Has Nothing to Do With the iWatch’s Country of Origin

Swiss watchWhen I read reports on unannounced Apple products, I often come away confused–but I don’t think it’s because I’m a numbskull.

Case in point: CNBNC has a story up by Jenny Cosgrave reporting that Apple has hired an unnamed sales director from Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer as it gets ready to roll out the wearable gizmo which Cosgrave, and most everybody else, is calling the iWatch.

(Update: 9toMac’s Mark Gurman reports that the TAG salesguy in question is Patrick Pruniaux, VP of sales and marketing.)

Fine. Interesting scoop. But here’s the part where I get confused:

Apple’s plans to hire Swiss watch experts are an attempt to market its product as “Swiss made”, which senior luxury goods analyst at Bernstein, Mario Ortelli, said is a label that is synonymous with quality when it comes to watches.

Um, hiring a sales director from a Swiss company doesn’t mean your watch is Swiss made. Actually, hiring an infinite number of employees of Swiss watch companies wouldn’t let you make that claim. Unless those employees stay in Switzerland and, you know, make your device. I can’t imagine why anyone would believe otherwise.

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Sorry, Everybody, Your Feelings About the iWatch Are Meaningless

Piper Jaffray recently conducted a survey about consumer sentiments towards wearable devices–including the “Apple iWatch” which, it now seems certain, will be released later this year. As Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports, 36 percent of respondents would pay between $100 and $200 for the iWatch, 14 percent would pay $350, and 14 percent wouldn’t buy one at any price. DeWitt says that those numbers prompted the author of Piper Jaffray’s study to estimate that Apple could sell between five and ten million iWatches in the device’s first year on the market.

Can we just say it? Research of this type doesn’t tell us anything worth knowing about Apple’s device and how well it might sell, because the survey respondents who said they would or wouldn’t buying it were expressing opinions based on insufficient information.

Even if you’re paying really close attention to rumors about Apple’s wearables–such as these ones and these ones–you know very little about the device, in part because rumors can be false, and in part because scuttlebutt about specs tells you virtually nothing about what the experience of using an iWatch might be like. And the respondents to Piper Jaffray’s survey presumably aren’t maniacally refreshing MacRumors and AppleInsider to stay on top of the latest news.

Even after a company announces a product, gut instincts about it don’t tell you all that much. Especially when the company in question is Apple, which has a better track record of redefining categories than any of its competitors, in ways that can be difficult to understand at first. Recall, if you will, the reception that the iPhone got after Steve Jobs unveiled it in January of 2007: It wasn’t the least bit difficult to find people who thought it would flop.

In a rational world, 100 percent of the people who Piper Jaffray asked about their iWatch-buying intentions would have answered “How the hell should I know at this point?” They didn’t. So it’s incumbent on us to remember that none of us know enough about Apple’s wearable to form opinions about it–including whether we want one.


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Our Impression of How Apple is Doing is a Lagging Indicator of How Apple is Doing

Apple software honcho Craig Federighi cheerfully waves to the WWDC audience as he takes the stage in San Francisco on June 2, 2014

Apple software honcho Craig Federighi jauntily waves to the WWDC audience as he takes the stage in San Francisco on June 2, 2014

Lots of people–journalists, bloggers, analysts, random bystanders–love to to make grand pronouncements on where Apple is going. Very few are good at it. And part of the problem is that it isn’t even all that easy to understand the state of Apple right this very minute.

I’ve been thinking about that as I ‘ve read coverage of the news which the company has made over the last couple of weeks–which has included its acquisition of Beats and a WWDC keynote which, while devoid of new hardware, was bursting at the seams with wildly ambitious plans for software and services. Apple as of mid-June of 2014 is interesting in ways which I don’t think anyone was predicting even in late April, before the Beats scuttlebutt emerged and it became clear that WWDC wasn’t going to involve major hardware announcements.

Which means that even the best commentary on recent Apple developments–such as Joshua Topolsky’s “Meet the New Apple“–is playing catch-up with developments which Apple has been secretly working on for months or, in some cases, years. (The new Swift programming language began as a personal project in 2010.)

Topolsky’s piece is full of words which very few observers would have applied to Apple even the week before WWDC: fun confidence, buoyant, giddy and even open. If it’s reasonable to apply them to the company now–and I believe that it is–it’s not because  a switch flipped at the WDDC keynote. It’s because Apple was already changing in ways we didn’t yet understand.

Of course, the same basic dynamic is an issue with nearly all analysis of almost every company: When Google holds its IO conference later this month, it’s entirely possible that it will reveal something which will render some of our current impressions of the company obsolete.

But perception lagging reality is a bigger factor with Apple than with most companies, for several reasons:

  • Apple really is going through a big, unpredictable shift, not just because Tim Cook isn’t Steve Jobs but because he has a new team. (As Ben Thompson of Stratechery points out, nearly 60 percent of the company’s current top managers weren’t in their jobs in 2010.)
  • Apple spends less time talking about its future–even in broad strokes–than most companies, which sometimes leaves those of us on the outside blissfully ignorant of where it’s headed until it’s well on its way to getting there.
  • People tend to have deeply-held attitudes toward Apple–be they positive or negative–which they have trouble putting aside even when the facts suggest such attitudes may need reassessing.

I don’t mean any of this as a knock on Apple commentators. (At least the smartest ones, a group which certainly includes Topolsky and Thompson.) There’s no shame in only being able to articulate things about a company once the evidence is in.

Actually, that’s a far better way to shed light on Apple than the blustery predictions which so often pass for analysis–and which, to the extent they’re taken seriously, mostly serve to damage the world’s understanding of Apple rather than increase it.


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At Last, Apple’s Wearable Enters the “Yes, It’s Coming Soon” Phase

iWatch

Exclusive Technologizer visualization of likely appearance of Apple wearable device

At first, people idly wonder whether Apple might enter an emerging category of gadgets. Then there are rumors that the company is entering the category–but they come from sources without a great track record for accuracy, or involve alleged facts which don’t ring true.

And then at some point someone trustworthy reports that the new Apple product really is on its way within the forseeable future. That’s when it’s reasonable to assume that it’s not a mass hallucination or a hoax.

The cycle happened with the iPhone and iPad. And now it’s happened with the wearable gizmo that everybody calls the iWatch.

John Paczkowski of Re/code, who’s on my exceedingly short list of reporters whose Apple scuttlebutt I reflexively believe to be true, says that Apple is planning to ship a wearable device in October. He doesn’t have a lot of detail beyond that, but does say–although it scarcely needs saying–that said device will hook into the HealthKit fitness platform which Apple announced during its WWDC keynote.

Yuichiro Kanematsu of Nikkei Asian Review is also reporting that the wearable will arrive in October, and provides some more color–although as is often the case with stories about unannounced Apple products, it isn’t always clear where the reporting stops and the speculation starts:

Though the details of services have yet to be released, specs for the new product are being finalized, according to industry sources. It will likely use a curved organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touchscreen and collect health-related data, such as calorie consumption, sleep activity, blood glucose and blood oxygen levels. It will also allow users to read messages sent by smartphones.

Apple appears confident of the new product. According to a parts manufacturer, it plans monthly commercial output of about 3-5 million units, which exceeds the total global sales of watch-like devices last year.

I’m not convinced that everything in Kanematsu’s piece is automatically accurate. For instance, that “likely” gives me pause, in part because it’s not clear whether it’s Kanematsu’s sources who are deeming the tidbits that follow to be probable, or whether it’s Kanematsu’s own guess. And it isn’t even clear which of the tidbits the “likely” applies to.

I am, however, officially assuming henceforth that Apple plans to unveil a wearable device this fall. Almost everything about the product remains mysterious, but even just feeling confident that it’s fact rather than fantasy is a big deal.


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Ah, But I Was So Much Older Then, I’m Younger Than That Now

[FURTHER UPDATE: As commenter Jdoors explains, I can see the video I uploaded when I'm logged into YouTube. But I'm the only one who can see it--for everybody else, it's blocked.]

[UPDATE: The original video, with Dylan soundtrack, is still playing for me here at home in Daly City, California. But Network World's Paul McNamara, commenters, and others are saying that it's blocked for them. Sounds like the geolocation technology that YouTube uses has decided that Daly City isn't in the U.S. Or something like that.]

Back in October, shortly after Steve Jobs passed away, I uploaded a wonderful video to YouTube. It was called “To Steven Jobs on his thirtieth birthday,” and was a film created by Jobs’ Apple coworkers in 1985 to show at his birthday party. (Craig Elliott, who worked at Apple when it was made and shown, was the generous soul who shared it with me.)

I’d never seen the video or many of the Jobs images it included, and thought they deserved to be more widely known. Now they are: The YouTube version has been viewed almost 240.000 times.

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iPad 3, Coming About When You Expected It?

AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski, usually not a spreader of wild rumor, says that Apple will announce the iPad 3 in the first week of March and release it shortly thereafter:

As for the next-generation iPad itself, sources say it will be pretty much what we’ve been led to expect by the innumerable reports leading up to its release: A device similar in form factor to the iPad 2, but running a much faster chip, sporting an improved graphics processing unit, and featuring a 2048×1536 Retina Display — or something close to it.


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The Case Against Thin

iPhone

Over at the Atlantic, Robert Wright is being sacrilegious. He says he’s unhappy with the trend–seen in phones, laptops, and other products–to make gadgets as thin as possible:

Remember when Jobs first unveiled the Macbook Air? I do, because I had long been a fan of the small, lightweight computers that had until then been available only on the Windows platform. Jobs brought the machine onstage in a manila envelope, because the thing he wanted to wow the audience with was its thinness.

I thought: Who cares how thin it is? Thickness isn’t the dimension that really matters when you have to fit a computer into a tiny backpack or use it in a coach seat on an airplane. And, anyway, more important than any spatial dimension is weight. Sure, to the extent that thinner means lighter, thinness is good, but if you make thinness an end in itself, you start compromising functionality.

Bob has several specific beefs with whisper-thin gizmos. He points out that all things being equal, a thin case leaves less room for the battery, thereby leading to shorter battery life. He says that overly svelte devices are harder to hold and easier to drop. With laptops, he says, engineering for thinness leads to compromises in keyboard quality.

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Which Phone OS Crashes More? It’s Not Android

The argument that iOS is a much more stable operating system than Android has been repeated on the blogs and even in the comment threads of stories about the two operating systems. There’s a problem, though: the data indicates that is untrue.

Mobile app monitoring company Crittercism released data Friday on crash reports from the period December 1 through December 15, and saying iOS has stability issues is putting it nicely. By a 2-to-1 margin, iOS crashes much more frequently than Android, according to Crittercism’s report. The biggest offender is iOS 5.0.1, accounting for 28.64 percent of all crashes.

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The Galaxy Note Get Samsung’s Apple-Bashing Ad Treatment

Samsung’s Super Bowl commercial for the Galaxy Note, directed by a Farrelly brother, is like a fancier, less entertaining parody of its earlier Apple fan-bashing spots:

While the first ads featured the Galaxy S II phone, a direct competitor of the iPhone 4S, this one is for the Galaxy Note. With its huge screen and pen, it’s both an anti-iPhone and one of the most distinctive phones on the market. So the gag feels a little muffled, and the Note doesn’t get enough explanation.

I’m still curious how the Galaxy Note will do–it strikes me as neat, but a niche. But the fact that Samsung plowed money into a Super Bowl spot presumably means that it thinks the phone can be a mainstream hit.


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More on Apple’s New Retail Boss

Bobbie Johnson of GigaOM has a good piece on John Browett, Apple’s new Apple Store guy:

Immediate reaction to the news was intriguing, because it was split down the middle. On one side were those who read Browett’s credentials and the PR puffs. To them, it looks as if Apple has just hired a man who has succeeded at most things he’s tried, and spent the last five years steering a large retail business with more than 1,200 stores through a difficult period for the economy.

On the other hand, for those who know Dixons as it exists in the real world, the reaction was somewhat different: the most common refrain I saw was “Has Tim Cook ever been in a Dixons store?”.


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