Tag Archives | Phil Schiller

Phil Schiller is Listening on iPhone Issues. That’s a Good Start.

Phil Schiller is ListeningLast week, Apple marketing honcho Phil Schiller dropped a note to Daring Fireball’s John Gruber on issues with iPhone app acceptance. It said, basically, that Apple isn’t perfect, but its intentions are good and it tries to learn from its mistakes. The e-mail didn’t resolve any outstanding issues, but it was encouraging to hear an acknowledgment that problems existed and Apple intended to do better.

Now Schiller has been heard from again: He e-mailed Mac developer Steven Frank, who is so disgruntled with Apple’s iPhone policies and practices that he’s boycotting the phone. Schiller told Frank that Apple’s listening to his feedback, and that rumors of a sweeping ban on iPhone e-book readers were false.

Strangely enough, I somehow forgot that I engaged in a conversation about iPhone App Store approval with Phil Schiller myself. Back at the iPhone 3.0 special event in March, I asked him a question during the Q&A about the controversy over app approval–which hadn’t yet peaked–and what Apple’s response was. Here’s Brian X. Chen’s liveblog summary from Wired News:

Harry McCracken asks if Apple will give developers clarity about what apps get approved or rejected.

Phil Schiller says, we have a lot of apps, we also want customers to feel comfortable about the quality of the apps they get.  96% approval rating is tremendous. There are some things we need to check and filter for. Simply that it technically works well.
That things don’t crash. Other things: we watch for profanity in applications. pornography. Things that try to violate a customer’s privacy. Those are things customers want us to watch out for. That’s in the developer’s agreement. There’s also stuff about content suitable for children. Parental controls will help manage that.

At the end of the day with 25,000 apps we have a great solution that’s working and we’re constantly making it better.

Basically, Schiller was courteous and made some reasonable points, but didn’t even address the controversy enough to sound defensive about it. His response now is quite different. The best way to judge Apple’s intentions is, of course, through its actions–let’s hope that the Schillergrams hint are a sign of things to come.


12 Questions About Phil Schiller’s Macworld Expo Keynote: How My Guesses Last Week Jibed With Reality

Phil Schiller Macworld Expo keynote imagesI say that I don’t do Apple predictions anymore, but I’m not above musing about upcoming events and expressing opinions about what could happen. Last week, I did just that for Phil Schiller’s first and last Macworld Expo San Francisco keynote, in the form of a dozen questions and attempts to answer them. Now that it’s come and gone, let’s review the questions I asked, the tentative stabs at answers I provided last week, and what actually happened.

Without any further ado…

1. Will Schiller make reference to the unique nature of his keynote?

What I guessed: Yes. But only to joke briefly at the start and break the tension, which will be oozing through the room when the keynote begins.

What happened: Nothing that I remember other than a very oblique thank-you to the audience at the start. Certainly no wacky schtick or self-effacing humor. And if he mentioned Steve Jobs at all, I’m forgetting it at the moment.

2. Will he get all defensive about Apple’s abandonment of Macworld Expo as of 2010?

What I guessed: Nope. It would be startling if he mentioned it at all.

What happened: No direct reference, but a pretty clear dig when he bragged about the number of customers who enter Apple Stores each week, said “I’m sorry,” and pointed out it was equal to a hundred Macworld Expos.

3. Will he announce anything interesting?

What I guessed: Possibly. Everybody’s assuming that nothing any more pulse-pounding than a refreshed Mac Mini will be unveiled, but I’m not so sure. Steve Jobs might be avoiding the show as much because it’ll be a downer as because there’s nothing of note to talk about. Apple clearly wants to shine more limelight on execs other than Jobs. And hey, it’s not inconceivable that even a new Mac Mini could be cool.

What happened: One Apple fan’s snoozer is another’s blockbuster. News today included the end of iTunes DRM (overdue), the new 17-inch MacBook Pro (presumably once meant to launch with its smaller counterparts and with a sealed battery that will be, ahem, controversial), iWork and iWork.com (which are niche products in the Apple world), and iLife 09 (pretty neat looking). There were more things that people reasonably hoped might be announced–new Mac Minis, new iMacs, a 32GB iPhone, a new Apple TV–than were actually unveiled.

4. Will he announce anything hugely newsworthy–on the level of the Intel transition or the iPhone?

What I guessed: Nah. Surely not. Right?

What happened: He didn’t.

5. Will he follow the Jobs keynote format?

What I guessed: No. I’d think he’d want to mix things up to avoid a point-by-point comparison. So the Jobs outline (impressive stats/minor product introduction/bigger product introduction/One More Thing/Acknowledgment of Apple staffers’ contributions/musical guest) will probably not be Schiller’s template.

What happened: It was more Jobsian than I expected, and came pretty darn close to Jobs outline I reference above.

6. Will he pause to gulp bottled water?

What I guessed: Only for yuks.

What happened: I had my head down so I could furiously liveblog for much of the event, but as far as I know, Phil remained parched. Maybe he had a Sprite backstage during one of his breaks.

8. Will he take questions from the audience?

What I guessed: No. Too dangerous.

What happened: He didn’t (but as far as I recall, Jobs never does at Macworld Expo, either–only at smaller events).

9. Will the keynote attract a Jobsian avalanche of press coverage?

What I guessed: Sort of. For one thing, the lack of Jobs is almost as newsworthy as the presence of Jobs. And expectations for Schiller and for the event in general are so low that it shouldn’t be hard to exceed them. I’m guessing that at least some pundits will decide the event wasn’t as bad as they expected it to be.

What happened: There’s certainly tons of coverage of the keynote today. So far, most of the comment on the product announcements I’ve seen has been anywhere from downbeat to extremely downbeat. I haven’t seen much discussion of Schiller as Jobs substitute, but I thought he was OK. (Actually, it wasn’t unpleasant to have a keynote that was low on reality-distortion–though he did refer to the changes at the iTunes Store as “profound.”)

10. Will there be any surprises?

What I guessed: Maybe. It’s not really in Apple’s interest for its final Macworld Expo keynote to be a completely boring downer of an event. If the company can do anything unexpected and upbeat, it might.

What happened: Schiller did treat the iTunes announcements as a “one more thing,” although he didn’t really engage in the kabuki of a real Steve Jobs one-more-thing announcement. (It was more like “Aw, you know we saved one more thing.”) But I’d say the biggest surprise was the appearance of Tony Bennett at the end. He got the kind of response from the audience they usually give Jobs, and was wonderful. (Schiller was received politely. Very, very politely.)

11. Will Apple hold its own independent “keynote” event?

What I guessed: Yes, as soon as whatever wasn’t ready for Macworld Expo is ready to go, and with Steve Jobs. As soon as in the next couple of weeks, and likely by the end of February.

What may happene: I still think this is a likely scenario, although I don’t know how Jobs’s statement that he’s going to spend the next few months reversing his weight loss plays into this.

12. Who will keynote 2010’s Macworld Expo?

What I guessed: It’s gotta be David Pogue. Definitely David Pogue. And you know, he could be great.

What may happen: I dunno. But I’m doing a post-show interview with Macworld Expo show manager Paul Kent later this week–maybe I’ll ask him.

I maintain that what I was doing last week wasn’t making predictions, so I’m not going to give myself a grade. But I will be back with further thoughts about the event…and would love to hear yours. (Thanks, by the way, to the hundreds of people who attended our live coverage today–I had fun, even if this wasn’t the keynote was a little less than historic.)

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Apple’s Brilliant Video Engineer: Anonymous No More

My favorite moment at this year’s Macworld Expo keynote had nothing to do with any of the products that were unveiled–it was was about the unveiling of a person.

At last year’s Macworld Expo keynote, Steve Jobs waxed rhapsodic about the Apple engineer who had gone on vacation to the Cayman Islands, shot video, and had trouble editing it–and who then invented the all-new, simpler iMovie as a result. He couldn’t have spoken more highly about the guy, but he never mentioned his name. I pinged an Apple contact to ask who this brilliant Apple employee was, and got a prompt and polite note back saying that they wouldn’t disclose his name.

After I wrote about this experience and said that I thought Apple should give its developers some glory–as it did in the early days of the Mac–I got an e-mail from someone who said that the iMovie inventor was surely Randy Ubillos, one of the creators of Adobe Premiere. My correspondent provided some pretty compelling evidence. But I decided not to identify Ubillos as Jobs’ video engineer–not because  I was afraid of ticking off Apple but simply because I had no idea if Ubillos wanted to be identified, and didn’t want to invade his privacy or cause trouble for him.

Today, Phil Schiller devoted a meaningful chunk of his Macworld Expo keynote to an ugrade to Ubillos’s version of iMovie that brings back some of the powerful features that folks missed, and adds some interesting extras like the ability to create animated maps. (Let’s face it: Ubillos may be enormously talented but iMovie 08 received a mixed reception at best, a fact Schiller pretty much politely acknowledged today.) But Schiller, who demoed iPhoto himself, didn’t show off iMovie 09–instead, he brought Ubillos onstage. The software’s creator got to do the demo and receive the applause.

Steve Jobs has often compared computer scientists to artists–and it was a delight to see one such artist get some credit today. May some of this colleagues come into the spotlight at future Apple product launches…


First Up from SchillerNote: iLife ’09

Some neat enhancements in iLife ’09 coming out of the keynote so far. Noteably the enhancements to iPhoto are catching my eye, and come in two new features: Faces and Places.

Faces is actually a face recognition algorithm of sorts. Pictures of the faces of your friends are posted on a corkboard. Clicking on that face will actually search through your photos and attempt to locate all pictures with that person in your photo album. It will even ask for new faces and ask you to identify them so it can automatically categorize them.

Next is Places, which incorporates geotagging into the application, then displays where photos were taken on Google Maps, which is built into the application.

Camera doesn’t support geotagging? No worries, you can do it manually. Other enhancements: uploading of slideshows to iPhones or Touche and direct upload of photos from iPhoto to Facebook or Flickr.

iMovie will get advanced timeline control, and new single click themes. Video stabilization is now built in, and you can create Google Earth-like 3D maps of your travels.

GarageBand is also getting a really cool new feature called “Learn to Play.” On-screen video teachers will help novices learn how to play either the keyboard or guitar, which would teach the basics in nine lessons, each costing $4.99.

One of the lessons? John Fogarty teaching you how to play “Proud Mary.” Call me crazy, but I prefer the Ike and Tina Turner version…

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Dueling Keynotes: Phil Schiller at Macworld Expo vs. Steve Ballmer at CES

(if you came here looking for our live coverage of the Macworld Expo 2009 keynote, head over here.)

Macworld Expo 2009 Phil Schiller Keynote

Next week will see two tech trade show presentations by guys who are following very tough acts: Phil Schiller’s first (and last) Macworld Expo San Francisco keynote and Steve Ballmer’s first (and probably not last) Consumer Electronics Show one. Maybe I have a soft spot for underdogs–albeit extremely wealthy ones–but I’m actually looking forward to attending and covering both gentlemen’s speeches. (Trivia: I never went to any of the many, many keynotes by Bill Gates at Comdex and CES conferences that I covered.) I’ve already written a bit about the two keynotes; after the jump, a more formal comparison in the form of a T-Grid.

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12 Questions (and Attempts at Answers) About Next Week’s Macworld Expo Non-Stevenote

Phil Schiller Macworld Expo Keynote ComposographWe’re now just over a week before Macworld Expo–a timeframe that would normally be bulging at the seams with speculation about what the Steve Jobs keynote would reveal. This time, of course, there will be no Jobs keynote–Apple marketing head Phil Schiller will fill in at the final Apple keynote at the show. And there’s little chatter on the Web about the Philnote–and virtually no expectation that it’ll be anything but a ho-hum presentation of ho-hum products.

Me, I’ll be at the keynote as usual, covering it live for this site. It’s in my self-interest to hope that it won’t be a non-event. So I’m already asking myself questions about it, and trying to come up with answers. Such as the twelve after the jump.

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The Silence of the Fans

philschillerMac fan Lesa Snider King is understandably none too pleased with Apple’s decision to pull out of Macworld Expo as of 2010. She’s come up with a unique way to express her ire: She’s organizing Silent Keynote, an effort to get folks in attendance at Phil Schiller’s Macworld Expo keynote next month to remain silent as a form of protest. (Lesa says she’s not ticked off that it’ll be Schiller up there instead of Steve Jobs, incidentally.)

My first impulse was to scoff at the idea–why try to damage Schiller’s demo in reaction to an Apple business decision? But Apple fans are entitled to respond to Apple doings as they see fit. And I can see the logic behind trying to deny Apple one of its most powerful marketing tools: The intense, bordering-on-the-scary enthusiastic response to Apple news. If you’re not happy with Apple, you might not reward it with clapping, hooting, hollering, and/or repeated standing ovations. That makes sense. Nobody can demand that someone express pleasure if that person is, in fact, really angry. (And Lesa King isn’t advocating booing, hissing, or the hurling of rotten fruit and vegetables. That, I think we can all agree, would be inappropriate.)

The strongest argument against Silent Keynote is probably this: It’s very, very unlikely to make Apple reconsider its decision to end support of Macworld Expo. It might even make it dig in its heels.

Of course, Phil Schiller will be operating at a severe disadvantage anyhow, having been born with a handicap shared by most of us: He’s not Steve Jobs. One suspects that the reaction to his presentation would have been on the subdued side regardless of whether there were organized efforts to make it so.

Me, I’m most likely not going to applaud or cheer Schiller’s news, even if he unveils a $200 Mac supercomputer-class netbook that doubles as a personal jetpack: As a member of the press, I almost never give the people I’m covering so much as a polite clap or two, regardless of whether I’m impressed or not. (Hey, it compensates for the throngs in Macworld Expo keynotes who go into ecstasy when Steve Jobs announces things like the fact that Apple wasn’t going to include a keyboard or mouse with the Mac Mini.) As far as I can remember, the last time I applauded Mr. Jobs was in the mid-1980s, when I went to a demo of his NeXT cube–I wasn’t a tech journalist at the time, and therefore let all of my enthusiasm hang out.

But I’m a contrarian to my core, so who knows? I may give Schiller a brief round of dignified applause when he comes onstage. The poor guy will probably need the support. One way or another, it’ll be fascinating to be in that room, even if Apple’s news that morning isn’t fascinating in the least.

Here, by the way, is a preview of what the Philnote may be like if Lesa King’s protest takes off–starting at 2:58 (looks like WordPress won’t let me embed part of a YouTube video):


Schiller vs. Ballmer: The Inevitable, Unexpected Keynote Smackdown

Phil Schiller and Steve BallmerMind if I state the obvious? Steve Jobs is the undisputed master of the tech-product keynote, and if there’s anyone who’s a very distant second place, it sure ain’t Bill Gates. Yet the only other tech keynote that’s got any history to it other than the Jobs Macworld Expo ritual has been the Bill Gates keynote in Las Vegas, a tradition even more venerable than the Macworld Expo Stevenote. It even outlasted Comdex, the show it was given at–Gates simply transferred his act to CES.

But with Gates’ retirement from active duty at Microsoft, next month’s CES will be headlined by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. He’ll give keynote on Wednesday, January 7th–the day after Phil Schiller gives his first and final presentation as Steve Jobs’ substitute at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. In two days, we’ll see two changings of the keynote guard at the only two keynotes that ever mattered.

Jobs and Gates: The two most iconic entrepreneurs that tech has produced to date. Schiller and Ballmer? Not iconic. It’s like seeing Marlin Perkins sidekick Jim Fowler take over Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom the same week that Ed McMahon assumes the duties of hosting The Tonight Show.

In the era of Jobs and Gates, you didn’t have to give a nanosecond’s thought to who would give the more impressive presentation. With Schiller vs. Ballmer, it’s a tougher call. We’ve seen both of them do demos before, but the spotlight has never shined on them quite as brightly as it will in three weeks.

Who will be the new king of the conference keynote? (Yes, I know that Schiller plans to abdicate after one morning.) You’ve got me, but as we prepare to answer that question, we can at least prep ourselves by analyzing existing footage of the two execs ‘ communication styles.







So who would you rather watch at work next month? So help me, I may witness both in person…