(You're reading all posts by Leander Kahney)

About Leander Kahney

Leander Kahney Leander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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Woah! Check Out The Beautiful Curved Front At Apple’s Refurbished Stonestown Store

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Photo by Jeffrey Lam

UPDATE: There’s no glass on the front of the Stonestown store. Earlier reports indicated the store was fronted by glass, but it’s actually wide open. It has a big metal gate that is closed at night. “Comes right out of the walls. Pretty nifty,” says one shopper who visited the store.

Apple just reopened its retail store at San Francisco’s Stonestown mall, and just check it out. It’s one long piece of curved glass. spectacular!

Here’s another shot:

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Tim Cook: How The Klan, MLK and Bobby Kennedy Shaped Me

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While accepting a lifetime achievement award from Auburn University, his alma mater, Apple CEO Tim Cook told of how The Ku Klux Klan, Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy shaped his passion for human rights and equality. ”Growing up in Alabama in the 1960s, I saw the devastating impacts of discrimination,” Cook said in New York on December 10th. “Remarkable people were denied opportunities and treated without basic human dignity solely because of the color of their skin.”

He recalled childhood memories of watching crosses burn on neighbors’ lawns in Alabama. ”This image was permanently imprinted in my brain and it would change my life forever,” Cook said. “For me the cross burning was a symbol of ignorance, of hatred, and a fear of anyone different than the majority. I could never understand it, and I knew then that America’s and Alabama’s history would always be scarred by the hatred that it represented.”

You can watch the full speech below the fold:

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Who Wants a Video Tour of Apple’s Secret Design Studio?

Apple's secretive Industrial Design Studio is on the ground floor of Infinite Loop II, one of the main buildings of Apple's Cupertino campus.

Apple’s secretive Industrial Design studio is on the ground floor of Infinite Loop II, one of the main buildings at Apple’s Cupertino HQ.

Ever wanted to take a tour of Apple’s secret Industrial Design studio in Cupertino? Now you can — a virtual one, anyway — just for writing a review of my new book about Jony Ive. It doesn’t even have to be a good review!

Located on the ground floor of Infinite Loop II behind frosted glass windows, the industrial design studio is where Ive and his team of design elves cook up Apple’s awesome products.

Few have been inside — even some of Apple’s own executives haven’t seen it. Rumor has it that the former head of iOS, Scott Forstall, wasn’t allowed inside, even when he was developing the iPhone’s operating system. Only one published photograph has ever been taken inside the studio. And no, Blue Peter and the Objectified documentary weren’t filmed there, contrary to popular opinion.

Now you can take a tour. I had a 3-D model of the studio created, based on detailed descriptions and diagrams by former designers who worked inside. I used it to create a video tour of the studio, showing the layout and explaining how everything works. I think the video turned out great, and here’s how you get a sneak peek.

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Apple Blocks Historical Documents, Designer Reveals at Book Party

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SAN FRANCISCO — Apple is blocking the donation of 30-year-old documents to a museum, claiming they contain valuable trade secrets.

“It’s silly,” said Hartmut Esslinger, the design guru recruited to help Apple become a leader in design in the early 1980s.

Speaking at a Jony Ive book launch party on Thursday night, Esslinger explained that Apple has prevented him from donating some historical old documents to a museum.

Esslinger’s design firm, Frog Design, was hired by Steve Jobs to bring world-class design to Apple. Esslinger’s “Snow White” design language, characterized by elegant off-white plastic cases, influenced the entire computer industry for more than a decade.

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Who Deserves More Credit for Apple’s Phenomenal Success?

Steve Jobs was a genius — no doubt about that. Apple was six months from bankruptcy when he took over as CEO in 1997. Under his leadership, Apple became one of the world’s most powerful companies, the most trusted brand, and disrupted entire industries. He didn’t have an easy career. He spent many years in the wilderness, and even when Apple was bouncing back, he didn’t get the credit he deserved. It was only late in his career, after the iPhone became a smash hit, that he started to be lionized as a business genius. And after his death, he was deified.

But was it all Steve Jobs? Is the company doomed without him? What happens when one man gets all the credit? The truth is more complex. Apple wouldn’t be Apple without Steve Jobs, but it wasn’t just him. Jobs didn’t design anything, and he didn’t write any code. The creative work was done by others, though he had a hand in guiding it.

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Apple Has Pulled My Jony Ive Book Trailer

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I had a jokey book trailer made to promote my new book about Jony Ive, Apple’s head designer. And Apple’s had it pulled off YouTube!

The video wasn’t even public. It was unlisted. I offered a sneak peek to readers who pre-ordered the book, which is being released next Thursday November 14.

The video pokes fun at Jony Ive, Apple and myself. But last night I got an email from Google saying that it had been disabled because of a copyright claim from Apple.

I had hoped that the video was protected by fair use. The rules of fair use are ambiguous, but in general, you are allowed to remix and re-use previous material, as long as the resulting work is “transformative.” If it adds “new expression or meaning” to the original, then it’s fair use. I think the book trailer did. It’s a classic remix of several previous Apple product videos. A parody. And parody is a form of expression generally protected from copyright claims.

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Ex-Apple Designers Ask: What Product Saved Apple?

Fast Company's panel of ex-Apple designers. Photo: Leander Kahney.

Fast Company’s panel of ex-Apple designers. Photo: Leander Kahney.

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple went from being chump of the tech world to champ, and what was the product that turned it all around?

That was the question posed to a panel of ex-Apple designers at a special event here in the city.

The answers might surprise you.

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Pre-Order Jonathan Ive Book, Get Sneak Peek At Secret Video

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I’m pleased to formally introduce my new book on Apple’s head designer, Sir Jonathan Ive — Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products.

Published by Penguin Portfolio on November 14, it’s the first full-length biography of the worlds’ most-celebrated designer.

I’m super psyched about it. It turned out great. I managed to talk to a bunch of inside sources, who reveal some of Apple’s most guarded secrets about how the company really works.

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iPad Air: The Lightning Review

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I picked up one of Apple’s new iPad Airs on Friday. I didn’t think I’d be impressed — but I am. It’s light, fast, and beautifully constructed. Is it the perfect tablet? It’s pretty close. Here’s all you need to know:

  • It’s amazingly light. It almost feels hollow. It’s much lighter than you expect. Which means that it’s effortless to hold for reading and carrying around. It’s a big and important difference. It’s super portable.
  • It’s plenty fast. Annoying little lags on previous iPads — like slow rendering Web pages with multiple tabs — are gone. It’s much more useable than my iPad 3.
  • Battery life is great — more than 10 hours of continuous use.

And there you have it. It’s almost as light as the iPad mini with the speed and big, beautiful screen of a full-size tablet. Go get one. It’s great.

Why Apple Isn’t Sabotaging Your Old iPhone [Opinion]

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The term “planned obsolescence” has achieved negative connotations, but it originally referred to a long-standing tradition of changing designs to sell more products.

It was coined by the car industry in the 1930s to refer to annual model updates. Over the years, however, the term has taken on a darker meaning. But planned obsolescence is a good thing. It’s the driving force behind much innovation.

This morning, New York Times reporter Catherine Rampell accused Apple of breaking her old iPhone 4 with the iOS7 update, which made it unbearably slow. “It seemed like Apple was sending me a not-so-subtle message to upgrade,” she wrote in a piece entitled, Why Apple Wants to Bust Your iPhone.

According to Rampell, Apple is feeling the heat from Samsung, HTC and others, and is resorting to sabotaging older iPhones with a software update and force users to upgrade their hardware.

This is bullshit from every angle. The iOS7 upgrade isn’t obligatory, it’s voluntary, and pissing off customers isn’t a good way to keep them as customers. There’s no mention that Apple sold a record-smashing 33.8 million iPhones last quarter.

Truth is, Apple’s products are so far ahead of the curve, it’s a constant criticism leveled at the company: that it is a willing practitioner of planned obsolescence.

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