Cloud computing giant Marc Benioff has praised hailed Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s new head of retail and online sales, as the “future Apple CEO.” Referring to her in a Tuesday tweet as “the most important hire Tim Cook has ever made”, Benioff’s toasting of Ahrendts has left analysts asking whether it is simply a show of support for Burberry’s outgoing CEO — or evidence that Benioff knows more than he is letting on, following disappointing fourth quarter numbers for Apple.
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CNNMoney has hit out at Apple by saying that it should momentarily forget about its position as an acclaimed product manufacturer and instead “focus on its mediocre software.”
While acknowledging that Apple builds some of the most coveted laptops, tablets, and smartphones around, writer Adrian Covert nevertheless singled out the company’s suite of software applications as the “one dark cloud” which looms over Apple. Although apps like iPhoto, Pages, iCal and Mail are functional enough, Covert claims, better alternatives exist, while iTunes and defunct social network Ping are varying degrees of broken.
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.
Apple’s product announcements used to be the most exciting events in technology. Nowadays they’re boring, awkward and cringeworthy.
The prospect of a shiny new Apple TV product makes everyone think of a radical new Apple TV box with crazy new user interface options, or an actual Apple TV set, both of which people have been predicting for years.
And then that Scrooge MG Siegler comes along to say he’s hearing that the Big Apple TV Update has been delayed, and that maybe there will be a minor update to the existing product.
Whether something grander has been delayed or not, I think TV will be the most interesting product at the Tuesday announcement — not because of hardware, but because of a new software interface and new deals I think Apple will announce.
For years, home automation has been the exclusive province of the very rich or extremely technical.
Companies you’ve probably never heard of, such as AMX, Control4, Crestron, Elan, HomeLogic, Colorado vNet, Vantage and Zenpanion have provided the platforms and many of the fundamental products, while integrators took care of the installation and service for many people.
Or, very dedicated and technical DIY enthusiasts have cobbled together their own ingenious solutions.
Recently, the major phone carriers have gotten into the act, and rumors suggest Google, Apple, Microsoft and other consumer electronics companies are working on home automation.
The reason everybody’s jumping is that home automation is in the process of making a transition from “hardly anybody” to “pretty much everybody.” So everybody wants a piece of what will definitely be a massive new industry.
In five years, the majority of homes in the United States are likely to have significant home automation happening in their homes — voice-controlled thermostats, Bluetooth-unlocking door locks, lights on self-learning timers, automated pet feeders, doorbells that ring your phone rather than a bell in the house and much more.
The reason? Kickstarter, mostly.
Apple bought the Google Now-like app Cue this week. The reason has a lot to do with Apple’s strategy to out-Google Google in the coming war over wearable, and also the future of mobile.
Here’s why the Cue acquisition is really going to matter.
FaceTime just keeps getting better. The recent addition of audio calls in iOS 7 is great news, right? Well, sort of.
There are plenty of apps in the App Store that let you make calls over your data connection rather than through the carrier’s phone network.
FaceTime audio calls are great — something that Google+ Hangouts have had for a long time. (Hangouts actually lets you add a voice call to a group video Hangout.) They enable free international calls, for starters. The protocols underlying FaceTime enable high-quality audio calls.
More importantly, they give users one more reason to get into the FaceTime habit.
Unfortunately, FaceTime has a fatal flaw. It’s still — inexplicably — an exclusive phone system for Apple customers to call each other. What kind of phone system is that?
The din of offhand, dismissive criticism from the Android fan base that Apple never innovates should be silenced, at least for awhile, given that Apple now sells the only dual-tone LED flash; the only 64-bit mobile CPU; the only 64-bit OS; the fastest touch-screen performance phones by far; the only wide-scale deployment of Multipath TCP; and the only useful, usable and widely used fingerprint scanner ever placed on any consumer electronics device.
Yes, there’s plenty of petty grousing. And who knows what competitors will ship tomorrow?
But today, it’s clear that Apple rules the smartphone market.
The Android fan critics now also have to contend with a razor sharp, concise rebuttal to the cacophony of general criticism of Apple by Apple VP Craig Federighi: “New is easy. Right is hard.” He said that after referring to Samsung by saying that Apple “didn’t start opportunistically with 10 bits of technology that we could try to find a use for to add to our features list.” Ouch!
Unfortunately, iOS 7 is going to cause some huge problems that nobody is talking about yet, but will do when the unwanted bricking epidemic starts.
Apple disappointed Wall Street by announcing an iPhone 5C that isn’t cheap. As a result, Apple’s stock price took a hit.
That’s the polite way to say it. Let’s usher all the financial industry people out of the room so I can tell you the blunt truth. Ready?
Wall Street has systemic blind spots and institutional biases that make it incapable of appreciating where Apple is headed. And they demonstrated all that this week by focusing on all the wrong things.
In general, analysts were expecting a $400 iPhone 5C. But Apple announced one starting at $549 — not a budget or low-cost phone by any measure. Apple’s stock price dropped about 5% and stayed there.
Overemphasizing the wrong information — whether or not Apple would compete in the budget smartphone category — speaks volumes about Wall Street’s myopic, misguided and clueless understanding of consumer electronics and Apple’s role in it.
Here are the five reasons why Wall Street is wrong about Apple.