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Comment You're wrong. (Score 1) 209

You're looking at the stagnating iOS years on, rather than at what Apple did during Jobs' tenure.

I was a Palm user when the iPhone was released, and I thought I was totally satisfied with my Palm devices (which I'd been using for years) and that the premium for an iPhone was pointless. I poo-pooed the iPhone until the 3GS was released and I finally tried one. I was blown away. Full web browser, lots of useful apps that installed *over the network*, fast and complete WiFi support to enable this, large capacity to hold lots of songs and images, a camera capable of producing large images, the list went on and on. It was a HUGE step up from other things in the market at that point. Apple had taken half-measures scattered throughout the phone ecosystem and brought them all together as full "best of breed" measures in a single device. This is what the Jobs Apple excelled at.

NOW iOS is stale in comparison to Android (see my post above), and that's the problem with Apple and why they are rudderless without Jobs, but early on this was simply not the case—the iPhone was remarkable when it was introduced.

I'm a technology early adopter (not necessarily an Apple one) and this happened several times with Apple products under Jobs:

- MP3 players. I'd had several MP3 players prior to the introduction of the iPod, but the classic iPod blew them all out of the water. Far faster, large screen enabling actual navigation of your music library, capacity to hold thousands of songs (rather than just a couple dozen), played just about any MP3 file you could throw at it rather than requiring you to use their own encoder (or, in the case of Linux users like myself at the time, carefully curate and tweak command line for Lame to create files that the device's bandwidth could handle). The iPod was simply far more functional that other MP3 players at the time.

- iPad. I'd used other tablets for years: Vadem Clio, Hitachi eSlate, Fujitsu Stylistic, etc. They had compromised battery life, a resistive touchscreen, an OS that was difficult to work with, had dog-slow processors and little memory, could not run a full web browser (in the case of the CE devices), required desktop sync or a desktop environment, were heavy and difficult to hold for long periods of time and/or to carry around, etc. iPad was hand-holdable, had massive battery life, did not require desktop sync or that you run a desktop environment that suffered as a tablet, and was generally the device I'd been hoping for for all those years as I struggled to make previous tablets work. Again, the iPad was a tablet done *right*, rather than making me buy the "promise" but suffer through the compromises.

- OS X. I switched from Linux. Why? Because OS X gave me a *nix command line environment and infrastructure, robust stability, support for high-end hardware, *and* off-the-shelf retail purchases of software and devices without having to recompile code or worry about compatibility. It's still the only OS that does this.

Jobs had a talent for spotting technologies that were essentially at the "proof of concept" stage but were making headway in a few tiny niches, and were already being sold to (dissatisfied) consumers and riddled with compromises, and getting his team and company to engineer their way around and through those compromises to realize the technology in consumer-ready, appliance form. Other companies released Ford Model T cars (hand-crank start, too many levers to micromanage mechanical functionality, counterintuitive and dangerous gearbox, rotten ride for grandma) and Jobs could look at what was there, spot the potential, and then put his team to work on a car that could be started from the passenger compartment, manage the obvious parts of its own mechanical operation, that had a safer gearbox that matched the way that people think and expect machines to work, and that let grandma work on her knitting in the back seat without poking herself.

He was masterful at (1) identifying potential in new tech that was either failing in the marketplace or had already been dismissed, (2) seeing why this new tech was flagging, and (3) managing his team to solutions to the obvious problems, so that previously taken-for-granted limitations and complications were removed, (4) all within the realm of consumer budgets (even if at the high end of these). He was also very adept at (5) bringing lots of different technologies of this sort together in a single device or system, with all of them significantly improved, i.e. using lots of disparate tech in combination to solve the problems with each and multiply their effect.

This is the "vision" that people talk about. He spotted this stuff, recognized which limitations weren't as obviously necessary as people imagined, and could find a path to release with much upgraded and/or improved design specs, when everyone else thought it was impossible, and maintain the determination and optimism to keep the business afloat and the team working toward the goal in the meantime. These are not small things.

To me, that is innovative, it's just innovative at the process end, rather than at the "invention" end of things. Jobs was process innovator and a UXD innovator, not an inventor.

What Apple lost with Jobs was this vision to see where (a) potential is hidden and (b) the real UX problems lie with high-potential tech.

They are back to being in the business of "accept what already exists and the taken-for-granted limitations, then iterate with evolutionary improvements over the release cycle." They are consciously trying to innovate at the other end, but they are back to releasing half-baked new tech at the essentially proof-of-concept that really only appeals to niches willing to nurse it along. In short, they're just like all the other tech companies again. They are no longer the company that plucks tech that previously only geeks were capable of using or saw the purpose of, then perfects it beyond all expectation and gets mom to buy it for grandma for Christmas, as was the case with the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc.

The Apple Watch is their only post-Jobs attempt, but Cook called it done long before Jobs would have, and the result is that Apple released a product like the Vadem Clio or Fujitsu Stylistic of old that I mentioned above—appealing to a few geeks, but niche, limited, hard to use, and with a small (and often frustrated and product-abandoning) audience in the end.

In short, Apple has become another HP or Compaq once again, just like they were before Jobs came back. They take existing product categories and tech limitations and parameters for granted, build "one of those" to have it in their product line up, release, and hope to compete on build quality alone. Just like they did in the late '80s and early '90s. History says this won't work for them. They have more cash this time, but they're still in a losing position right now.

To maintain the brand, they need to find another person who adopts relatively immature tech that the public doesn't know about, and that those who do know take for granted as niche and limited, and then organizes Apple's huge resources and brain trust to realize them as far less limited consumer devices that work better, and with fewer limits, and more conveniently, and more user-centricity, than was previously imagined to be possible.

Until they find such a person, I'd be short Apple.

Comment This is too bad. (Score 5, Informative) 188

I live in a GF area and love it. There are three tiers, 5 Mbps for $0 (yes, free broadband), 100 Mbps for $70, and 1 Gbps for $90. They have been absolutely bulletproof, the speeds are for real when tested, and the online system and the way that it integrates with their WiFi router is awesome.

I have had multiple providers over the years, including Comcast and Verizon, and Google Fiber's product and service are easily better than the others.

If Google can't make this work, there may be no hope for anything better for a long time to come. I just hope I don't lose it here!

Comment Yup. Apple products used to be focused around (Score 4, Interesting) 209

enabling the user to do things they otherwise wouldn't know how to do or be able to do. Since Jobs left, they've steadily slid into the old game from the '90s and '00s that the tech majors (HP, Compaq, and so on) used to play—"innovation" becomes another word for "throw gadgety gimmicks at the wall and see what sticks," but without well-thought-out reasons why users might want the device, or an understanding of the ways in which UX friction impacts the device's usability.

Compared to the rest of the marketplace and competing products at the time, the original iPhone, the original iPod, the original Intel Power Macs, the original LaserWriter, the original Macbook Pro models, the original iPad, etc. were all towering improvements that enabled users far more than competing products did.

Now, the trend is the opposite.

On the consumer end, iOS phones and tablets feel arbitrarily constrained next to Android
Current Mac OS machines are generally limited in serious software and upgradeability again relative to Windows machines
On the pro end, Apple's application ecosystem is weak once again compared to pro-level Windows applications ...and so on.

It used to be that you paid a premium for Apple products but got much more or at the very least something highly differentiated for your money (esp. in the cases of early iPods vs. other MP3 players, iPhone 1 vs. other smartphones, iPad vs. other contemporary tablets, etc.).

Now you pay a premium either for less or for something that is largely undifferentiated (and often negatively so in the minor differences that do exist).

It hasn't always been the case that you're simply paying double for brushed metal and a glowing Apple logo, but it certainly feels that way now. People still want to pay for quality (hey, the aluminum case and better QA are nice), but now they have to consider the tradeoff—I can pay a lot more and get a nice metal Apple device, or I can pay a lot less and get a phone that's more configurable and flexible.

That's my own feeling, anyway. I'd love to have the nice finish of an iOS device, but even if there was price parity I couldn't give up the flexibility of Android. I don't want to be tied down to Apple's visuals, Apple's icon positioning, Apple's version of KHTML, Apple's take on the (non-)filesystem and so on. I love Mac OS as well, or at least I have done since OS X, but the new Macbook Pros are limiting and I'm seriously considering getting a Windows laptop for my next purchase, just so that I can access hard drive, memory, and so on.

Apple has begun to fetishize itself, rather than fetishize overall UX.

Comment Re:That's exactly how it SHOULD work! (Score 1) 242

You are correct, however the concern is what happens when large parts of the workforce become essentially unemployable. Increased productivity and free trade are good things, but they do create winners and losers. We need to be more mindful of the losers and help them adjust to the changes.

Comment Re:So says every SJW attacking Peter Thiel (Score 1) 418

You realize why, right? Those people think it's wrong to give Trump money.

I think Peter Thiel is an asshole, and I'm happy to give any company shit that employs him or takes money from him or helps him in any way. That's my right. Your right is to think the same about Zukerberg. Don't use Facebook. Don't give him or any company he has an interest in any money directly or indirectly. That's completely fine by me.

Comment You broke it, you bought it (Score 1, Troll) 418

It's been part of the "conservative" orthodoxy for decades that corporations have First Amendment rights and money = speech. Remember, "Corporations are people, my friend"? It's unseemly for them to want to cry now because Democrats have done better under those rules.

I don't remember hearing anything from them when a top Trump donor (or Trump's son-in-law) used their newspaper to push pro-Trump stories, or when the Koch Brothers (and ALEC more broadly) were influencing elections from the national level down to local school boards.

Anytime they want to overturn Citizens United or pass a constitutional amendment asserting that only natural humans have guaranteed civil rights, I'll be glad to start taking them seriously.

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