Will the real Steve Jobs please stand up please stand up

steve-jobs

Which biography do you believe offers a more complete and more completely honest portrayal of the man?

The biography written by the man Jobs himself commissioned?

Which is now being panned by the C-men inside Apple’s headquarters?

Or the biography that Apple Inc is heavily promoting, including having Daring Fireball’s John Gruber lead a meet-and-greet with the authors at the Soho Apple Store?

I confess I’m totally biased. When a big company’s PR agents tell me what’s right, I typically believe otherwise.

Copying bastards are worse even than copying bastards

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Who exactly are the copying bastards?

And why does this matter?

From Loop Insight (March 27):

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Just putting this out there, as I think Loop Insight is typically quite fair and balanced, but…

Apple *copied* the phablet form directly from Samsung. Everybody knows this. It’s a known. It’s pointless to argue otherwise.

The new Samsung has this cool — if yet to be determined relevant — edge screen, that’s quite different from anything iPhone has ever had.

Is it even worth mentioning anymore, now that Apple has sold tens of millions of phablet iPhones, and now that Samsung has sold tens of millions of iPhone “copies”?

I’m far more concerned that giant Apple is stifling innovation by going after those markets that innovators have created, like Spotify and Pandora. Apple can and will give its service far better placement on the platform. Hell, Apple can give away music for years with little detrimental effect, until the innovators starve to death.

The Samsung copied Apple story is over.

Time now to point out not only where Apple is copying but where Apple’s copying is harming the market.

The $189 iPhone

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I primarily use an iPhone 6 Plus. Yes, I was probably the first Apple blogger to insist Apple needed a phablet, even as the echo chamber was *then* saying it was a stupid idea, the iPhone size(s) was/were/are/always will be perfect.

Sure.

I secondarily use a Lumia 1520. No one, with the possible exception of the Blackberry Bold, has ever made devices whose design, look and feel and build quality match the best Nokia devices, of which the Lumia 1520 was probably the last, sadly.

But, for the past month I have been using a shiny new Android phone, available in the United States for under $200, without contract. It is amazing.

No, it’s not as good as the $800 iPhone 6 Plus.

It is amazing.

Great screen, yes, but the many Google services, the ease of use of Android, the amazing flexibility and extensibility of the OS, all the apps, the far better means of establishing notifications, of altering settings within the app, the larger breadth of content, all make it plainly clear that on no universe and probably for no human is the iPhone a better value.

Apple has lost the smartphone value crown.

It gets better.

Apple has lost the services crown. Google, obviously, but other services work better and/or are more accessible and/or are much much cheaper. I must now recommend people buy Android phones in most circumstances. This is not a thing I was expecting to happen.

As a long-time iPhone user, the speed with which Android has gotten significantly better, the way Android has far surpassed iPhone in value, is, well, almost shocking.

Tim Cook is wise to focus on hardware, where Apple can continue to differentiate itself. I think the only other area where Apple can maintain its clear differentiation is through content. Purchase a sports team, buy up the music from top artists, fund a TV channel.

Integration is nice, no doubt, but I don’t think that is enough to tip the scales in Apple’s favor. Plus, “it just works” is much harder to do when you are trying to get your products to do everything, and to run everything, as Tim Cook is trying with the high-margin iPhone.

Hardware and content. That’s the path for Apple.

Jobs At Apple

Tech & Art Intersection

You are what you do.

Apple sells things, lots and lots of things.

So, given all this “relentless focus” marketing speak and that “emphasis on the humanities” that the Apple Echo Chamber keeps telling me is a very special part of Apple’s specialness, I decided to see who Apple Inc is actually hiring.

Turns out, Apple is a retail company. A big one.

With a need for operations.

Oh, and some engineers.

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As for humanities, well, maybe try the Starbucks.

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Tim Cook slams China’s phony new freedom law

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Wow. Bold stance.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly stated that China’s new “freedom” law is really nothing more than –

Brian…

a sham, a way to restrict hard-fought freedoms that will –

No, Brian…

do little more than offer an excuse for China’s ruling party to –

THATS NOT WHAT HE SAID BRIAN!

I know. I know. But wouldn’t it be awesome if the CEO of the world’s richest corporation, created in America, land of liberty, home of opportunity, actually publicly spoke out against the searingly anti-democratic, freedom-denying and plainly bigoted government ruling party of China?

But, no.

Money before values, profits before beliefs.

Despite Apple’s massive, multi-billions-dollar presence in China, Cook keeps silent about this most non-open regime. Instead, he talks about Indiana.

Apple a religion? Stop? You wouldn’t even recognize Apple in the morning.

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Another day, another post from someone who makes their money off the Apple faithful insisting that APPLE IS NOT A RELIGION ONLY SOMEONE STUPID WOULD EVEN THINK IT AND ONLY A HATER WOULD EVEN SAY SUCH A STUPID THING MY GOD WHY DONT THEY LEAVE US ALONE!

Today’s example, the Macalope at Macworld:

There’s no argument here we haven’t seen a million times before.

The best thing about dismissing an entire group of people by claiming they’re all brainwashed cult members, though, is that when they take exception to your brilliant argument that surely has never been made in such detail or with such care, you can point at them and cry, “See how the brainwashed cult members attack?!”

Seen it a million times and it’s just crazy talk.

Totally agree.

So why keep writing about this? Why keep insisting WE ARE NOT A CULT! If it’s silly, let it pass. If you’ve heard it a million times, why write a *long* column about it now?

You’re not a cult, you’re not a religion. Oh, and you’re not special.

You bought a product from a giant company. You (most likely) use that product. It is a fair exchange of value, like those ginseng capsules I got from Amazon. There is absolutely nothing at all special about that in any way.

Apple Inc in 2015 is too big, too rich and sells to way way way too many people for anyone rational to think Apple users are some cult.

Apple Inc in 2015 is too big, too rich and sells to way way way too many people for anyone rational to think Apple users are special.

Computing Everywhere Is Great For Apple Inc But Kills A Primal Apple Differentiator

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Focus

You’ve heard it so many times from Sir Jony Ive, from CEO Tim Cook. The Apple Echo Chamber has repeated this for years: focus.

Focus makes Apple great because focus makes for great Apple products.

Focus is dead.

As Apple gets ever-richer, grows more global, and as computing spreads into our televisions, on our bodies, inside our cars, our appliances, everywhere, possibly the single greatest differentiator of Apple goes away.

Can Apple resist the pull of being everywhere?

It appears they have already decided, and the answer is no.

We have been told Apple is working on a car. At the very least, they are offering CarPlay. We have been told that Apple is working on a VR unit. All the cool stuff, in fact.

It appears very likely that Apple will add at least one new sized iPhone later this year. That’s how many? 4? 5?

There are at least five separate iPads.

Several Watch editions and an untold number of bands.

That new Mac without ports only reminds us just how many Macs Apple sells. At least seven separate lines by my count.

Plus, Apple TV. Plus, streaming TV soon. Payments. A “Spotify killer.” That global retail chain. Remember Beats? iPod? Lots of those. There are hard drives, a litany of accessories. Numerous software products. iPhone and iPad cases.

Go to the Apple store now and count. So many products.

Over the past year, I’ve heard a surprising number of complaints about the quality of Apple products. I think this is unfortunate, but to be expected. Apple is simply making so many products that no one product can be as great as we expect.

I also expect this to continue.

The Shiny Apple Tax Dodge

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Is Apple an American company?

Better question: do they care at all about America?

Nearly every piece of every device Apple “makes” is manufactured outside of America.

To the best of my knowledge, every single iPhone, possibly every single product, is assembled in or near China.

Oh, and they keep an astounding $158 billion parked outside the US, away from the IRS.

Fuckers.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to pay more to the IRS than I have to. Hell, I think our government is too big, too overreaching. Still, America could use that money. ONE HUNDRED FIFTY EIGHT BILLION!

Think if Apple invested a mere 25% of that in the United States, all the good it would do.

Think of all the schools, nutritional programs and infrastructure that could be supported if Apple paid the US government its appropriate share of taxes on all that money.

I am fully aware that Apple Inc is a corporation and that corporations seek to maximize profits, reduce costs, and grow. Still, I can’t help but think that as Apple gets ever-richer, they are purposefully neglecting their end of the social contract.

America made Apple.

More to the point: America made Apple great.

Without America, there is no Apple.

Censoring for Apple. The Strange Case of the Two Marcos.

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Apple blogger, podcaster, developer Marco Arment.

In January:

“I’m scared of having damaged my relationship with Apple, but it wouldn’t be spreading so widely and quickly if it didn’t resonate with many.”

In March:

“No sensible developer should be worried about angering “Apple” by fairly expressing legitimate criticism.”

“Every Apple employee I’ve spoken with has not only been receptive of criticism, but has practically begged for honest feedback from developers. The idea that you’d be penalized in the App Store for being critical of Apple on your blog is ridiculous and untrue.”

Raise your hand if you don’t think Apple keeps track of this stuff.

Anbody? Anyone?

Odds this goes into the “claim chowder” files? Heh.

Without Jeremy Clarkson there is no Top Gear

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I have watched Top Gear since at least 2005, possibly earlier. It’s a great show. One I highly recommend.

But which is no more. Or, will soon be not worth watching.

The BBC has fired Jeremy Clarkson, the Seinfeld of the Top Gear show. Without Clarkson, there is no Top Gear.

I do not know the details surrounding the firing. They may very well be justified. So be it. I will live my life without Top Gear. But I will dearly miss Jeremy Clarkson on the small screen. He was such a cherished rarity.

White. Male. Middle age. Straight. Well off. Smart. Happily British. Blessedly Western.

And he embraced all these wonderful qualities always, never once shying away from them or feeling the least bit guilty over his “privilege.”

The world needs more Jeremy Clarkson — and more Jeremys Clarkson! I hope Netflix, Yahoo or some other company gives him a lot of cash and free reign to create something new and wonderful.

Blogging Apple and Naming Names

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[UPDATE 26 March 2015: I want to make clear re the content below that I am completely unaware of anyone mentioned receiving any remuneration from Apple nor do I believe they are receiving any compensation from Apple.]

Oh my God, Brian! Why do you hate Apple so much!

I thought you loved Apple!

Believe it or don’t but I am asked this on a nearly daily basis.

What follows, as it must be said, is my opinion.

Of course I don’t love Apple. Apple is a giant for-profit corporation based in California with nearly every one of its hundreds of millions of products made in China.

Is Apple even a lovable thing?

I mean, I guess I can “love” my iPhone the way I love an icy cold Coke. I do think of Apple as the tech of Coke, but I’m not sure this is love. I use an iPhone and a Mac for various tasks and these serve me reasonably well.

Who could possibly love Apple? Apple isn’t even Apple. It’s Apple Inc. And the fact that it’s Apple Inc is why I blog about Apple daily.

Apple Inc is the biggest company in the world. It has a user base of nearly 1 billion persons. It has about 600 million computers in active use. It is richer than Exxon or Walmart or Google. It’s smartphones have about a 50% market share in the US and 20% in China, the world’s biggest markets. Apple has a giant global retail operation. Apple has over 800 million credit cards on its servers. It controls the world’s biggest online media platform.

Oh, and…

NO ONE COVERS THE FULL TRUTH OF APPLE!

You deserve better. Even you, the delicate fanboy who cloaks himself in Apple cheerleading.

Nobody covers Apple regularly in a way that exposes the full, unvarnished truth of the company, good and bad.

I am changing this.

Until my site, our options were extremely limited.

Macworld

There are what I call the “home team” sites. These are like Macworld. They cover the news of Apple, are stocked full of talented people, but ultimately — in my view — they are the equivalent of the “sports desk” on the local TV news channel. They root for the home team and that’s a core part of their mission.

Daring Fireball 

Next we have what I view as the cheerleader blogs, such as Daring Fireball. I doubt these sites are lying to their readers. I’m sure they genuinely “love” Apple. But you’re simply not going to get the full story from such sites, not ever.

Please don’t waste our time by insisting otherwise.

What Samsung does —  now — is immediately judged, almost always negatively. Same with Google. Same with Microsoft. Same with, well, you know. Apple, meanwhile, can do no wrong. If Apple Maps suck — now — we are reminded ad nauseam at just how much better they will get. Some day!

If Apple Pay is of limited value — now — we are told over and over that, come the future, it will be transformative.

I would comfortably bet a month’s pay that 99.999% of the people that say I’m a “hater” read several of the Apple cheerleader blogs. The content is often quite good, but it’s one-sided. Think of a great writer who worked only for Fox News or MSNBC, for example.

iMore

Next are what I call the click and buy sites. Read about Apple Watch. Now go buy it! Learn about the new Mac. Now buy it! Check out this cool new app! Download it now!

We are special because we buy the same things.

If that’s what you want, such sites apparently do exist. I will never be that.

Asymco

Lastly are the sites that I am most disappointed with. Analyst sites such as Stratechery and Asymco offer insightful, valuable analysis. Sometimes. But it’s patently obvious — in my opinion — that they are awed by Apple, and well-compensated for saying positive things about Apple, and, once again in my opinion, tend to see only the most glorious upside of Apple.

Watch is good because it will take profits from the watch industry.

iPhone is best because it makes more money than HTC.

I personally find this analysis more troubling than what I read on the so-called cheerleader blogs.

No ads. No sponsors. No cheerleading. 

Yes, I am acutely aware that writing about Apple, not always positively, limits my appeal. I am likewise acutely aware that demanding readers actually pay to read my work is likely a fool’s errand.

So be it.

I believe we deserve the full truth of Apple.

I believe sites dependent upon clicks necessitate a stream of content, of diminishing quality. I believe sites that grow rich on sponsors demand an audience of buyers. These indirect forms of compensation pull us all further from the truth.

I hope my site succeeds. At the very least, I hope it improves the dialogue.

Someone has to cover the full truth of Apple. Might as well be me.