Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom - A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at 88% off. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. ×

Comment Re:Apple's made this kind of decision before (Score 1) 238

They kill off things that aren't strategic. They just killed off their monitor business, presumably because they're better off having lots of strong third-party monitor support than selling Apple-branded monitors. They certainly could have kept selling Apple-branded monitors, and it's certainly profitable, but perhaps not strategic.

Comment Re:Apple's made this kind of decision before (Score 1) 238

First, that's not how bitmapped printers generally work on the Mac - the computer renders everything, and the printer just has to receive, buffer and put the bits onto paper. The challenge Apple had was that while they were making a fortune selling printers (80% attach rate, over $1B/year revenue!) they felt that the Mac was locked into a "ghetto" of a limited number of compatible printers, which they felt limited Mac sales. So they gave up the $1B a year printer business, and in return got HP, etc., to add Mac support, so now Mac's could print with a huge range of printers, and Mac sales went up ($4B in revenue the next year). They didn't have to get out of the printer business - it was huge, growing, and highly proftable. But they felt it held the Mac computer business back, and made the strategic choice to maximize computer sales.

I didn't say that Apple's digital camera was the first, I said it was the first consumer-friendly camera than you could just take pictures, plug it into your computer, and the photo's automatically copied into your photo library. I used early digital cameras, and they were beasts - weird file formats, weird cables, weird software, ... it could all be made to work (and I had a digital camera back strapped to an SLR back in the day) but it was a horrible user experience. The QuickTake was the first consumer digital camera with a good user experience. That showed camera companies what to do, and when enough of them copied the QuickTake, Apple killed the QuickTake and sold the Kodak, Canon, etc., cameras, because their goal wasn't to sell QuickTake cameras, it was to position the Mac as the creative platform for photographers. Which was a brilliant strategy that Apple sold a ton of computers with.

Yes, ethernet predated AppleTalk. But when AppleTalk came out, ethernet interfaces cost hundreds of dollars per device, and thick coax cabling used by Ethernet was very expensive and very fragile (bend with less than a foot radius, and you get to replace your $100 cable), and very hard to get working (with ringing, etc.). In contrast, AppleTalk was very easy, the interface was built into Apple computers and networked printers, and the cabling was cheap and easy to set up. When, after several generations, ethernet got as cheap and easy as AppleTalk, with cat-5 replacing coax, etc., Apple killed off their proprietary networking and adopted ethernet.

Apple's routers aren't targeted to network admins who want to configure every tweaky detail (and I know, I am one). Apple's routers are targeted to consumers who want to plug stuff in and have it work painlessly, which, despite your disdain, their app does a great job of. Normal people HATE linksys routers, and the like - it's by a wide margin the single biggest pain point in getting consumers onto the internet. They don't want to know about DNS and BGP, etc., they just want their stuff to work and be reasonably secure. And the latest generation routers are getting more and more consumer friendly, with (for example) mobile and web apps, to configure and control the router in ways that make sense for consumers who don't want to be network engineers. So while you and I like "real routers" don't forget that consumers really, really hate dealing with that complexity.

I'm surprised that you don't see the relationship between ADB and USB. Apple invented ADB as a bus for connecting devices like keyboards and mice, back when PCs were using serial ports (i.e. not a bus). This gave Mac's a cheap and easy way to plug in multiple human interface devices (keyboards, mice, joysticks, etc.). And when Apple and Intel developed and launched USB, Apple killed off ADB and switched Mac's ports to USB. The logic was similar to with printers - they killed off a proprietary port that was making them money selling peripherals, replacing it with an industry standard that gave Mac computers access to a wider range of peripherals.

As a plus, USB was also fast enough to be used for external hard drives, so Apple killed off SCSI to simplify Mac port confusion and improve the user experience.

Comment Re:Apple's made this kind of decision before (Score 1) 238

Sure, Apple used components from Kodak and Fuji parts, but Apple integrated the end-to-end system. It was the first camera where you plugged it into your computer and your photo's automatically flowed to your photo library. They did it to jump start the consumer digital camera market, because they were focused on the consumer creative market. When the rest of the camera companies caught up, Apple didn't need to make the camera any more, and killed it, because any camera worked well with a Mac, so Apple didn't have to make cameras, they could focus on the part they care about, which is the computer.

Comment Re:Apple's made this kind of decision before (Score 1) 238

Apple sold tons of printers, not just PostScript but also dot matrix (which outsold Poscript). When they killed off their printer business, they had an 80% attach rate, meaning that when anyone bought a Mac, 80% of the time they bought an Apple printer, which was a $1B business which was highly, highly profitable. I had a good friend in that division at the time. They got all the major PC printer companies to add Mac support in the box, so Mac owners could choose from any PC printer, and Apple got them to add the Mac support by killing their own printer line. This was ultimately better for Apple - they list a $1B revenue stream, but they grew the Mac business by working it into the mainstream.

Comment Apple's made this kind of decision before (Score 5, Interesting) 238

Apple's killed off peripheral businesses in order to strengthen their core businesses before.

For example, Apple used to have a $1B/year printer business, which was highly profitable. They killed it, because doing so for them to get all the major printer companies to ship their standard printers with support for both PC and Mac, which ultimately grew Mac sales.

They used to sell a digital camera, the first consumer digital camera that was easy to use with a computer. When the digital camera industry developed some decent standards and became easy for consumers to use, Apple killed their digital camera, and sold Canon, Nikon, etc.

Same for AppleTalk -> EtherNet, ADB -> USB.

Apple introduced their routers when routers were extremely consumer hostile with horrible software, and Apple's routers are well made and very easy to set up and use, making it easy for Mac owners to get online. Now, routers have gotten a lot better, to the point where Apple doesn't need to invest R&D in making them usable.

Comment Re:Wrong (Score 1) 540

Nobody said that automation would happen magically with no effort. So if you're offended by the claim that you imagined, you can stop. Rather obviously, it's a huge investment of effort/money to automate any complex process well, and that's invested because it makes the ongoing economics much better.

And while construction is harder to automate, there are companies automating construction. It's a complex collection of tasks to automate, and construction by definition is done in the field which complicates things, so it's not as far along as factory automation. But there are companies automating production of home components, for assembly on site, which does in fact make home construction much more efficient (and higher quality). And there are companies doing POCs with huge-scale 3D printing (using concrete) and pick-and-place (using bricks) to automate construction.

I'm not sure why you think that construction being fairly manual right now means that millions of other jobs aren't being automated out of existance. Or that construction jobs won't be increasingly automated.

Comment Re:So what? (Score 1) 472

Right. The US still does small-scale manufacturing. It's the large scale stuff (e.g. tens of millions of units a year) that the US isn't capable of. Note that Apple makes their small volume products in the US (e.g. the Mac Pro), just not the cell phones and laptops that they sell millions of.

Comment Re:So what? (Score 1) 472

Nope. Apple was willing to pay above-average US wages. The problem was that the people they needed to hire, experienced manufacturing engineers, didn't physically exist in the US in sufficient numbers to staff a large scale consumer electronics manufacturing plant. They're all in China now, because that's where manufacturing is done.

Comment Re:So what? (Score 1) 472

No, they were willing to pay above-average US wages. There are very few experienced manufacturing engineers in the US, and schools train very few, so they don't exist. Apple would have had to spend years talking US schools into training people for jobs, then waiting years for those people to be trained, then hired them.

In contrast, FoxConn staffed the iPhone manufacturing line with experienced staff in weeks.

This is because US manufacturing destroyed itself. We no longer have that capability, because those companies all wiped out their US capacity and trained China to do their jobs, in order to get hire investor ROI. At least, until the Chinese companies wipe out the US companies. Look for example at how IBM trained Lenovo to make their laptops, then sold the whole business to Lenovo. That made IBM investors money, but wiped out an huge, successful US business. That is, it was bad for EVERYONE other than IBM's investors...

Comment Wrong (Score 2) 540

For most of history, anyone who was able and willing could find a job, because the vast majority of jobs could be done by nearly anyone with perhaps a few weeks' training. There are also skilled jobs, like doctors and engineers, based on deep training.

With automation, the large bulk of jobs can be automated, meaning that people who are able and willing can't get work because the work isn't done by people anymore. For example, look at coal mining - 90% of the jobs were eliminated by coal companies buying huge industrial equipment that can get the coal out at lower cost with 10% of the number of people. Those jobs aren't coming back. And many manufacturing jobs are being automated, because it's cheaper and produced more consistent output.

What that means is that people able and willing to work are unemployed, or at the very least get paid wages 1/2 what people were paid decades ago to do the work (in constant dollars).

And as automation continues to improve its capabilities, and gets cheaper and cheaper, more and more jobs will be automated.

GIven that society can produce things for 1/10th the cost, that means that we could easily provide everyone with food and housing for free. Sadly, in the US, some "Christian" people are so terrified of the idea of anyone getting anything for free, they'd rather force millions of people to be homeless and starve, just because their jobs were eliminated.

Comment Re:Focus on automated assembly (Score 1) 472

Apple's manufacturing lines are highly automated. People only do the parts that people are better at than robots. Last time I saw the number (a few generations back) human hands only touched the iPhone for a few minutes per phone. The rest is all robots - placing chips on PCB's, flow soldering, most of the assembly, etc., is automatic.

Comment Re:profit margins, and protectionism (Score 1) 472

Production cost is not the entire cost of the phone, just the cost of the assembly. That's about $10 per phone, because Apple's manufacturing is highly automated - people just do the steps that humans are better than computers at. Adding $10 to the cost of the phone isn't going to kill anyone.

Comment Re:So let me get this straight.... (Score 1) 472

Apple wants to manufacture in the US, has made many products in the US, and still makes some low volume products in the US, and _tried_ to manufacture the iPhone in the US. But large scale consumer electronics manufacturing is dead in the US. There aren't enough experienced line managers to hire to train and operate enough production lines that can produce tens or hundreds of millions of units a year. It's not about US salaries at all - Apple could easily cover the few dollars per unit cost of higher US wages.

Slashdot Top Deals

You know you've been spending too much time on the computer when your friend misdates a check, and you suggest adding a "++" to fix it.