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Apple's ADD or Lack of Focus


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Apple's ADD or Lack of Focus
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Brave Ulysses
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2016-01-29, 15:53

Wanted to revive this thread in light of recent "Apple is doomed" news.

Greatest quarterly performance in corporate history but it is clear that iPhone growth is flat and the Apple Watch and new Apple TV have not had a meaningful impact on creating new growing revenue sources.

Also a poorly written guardian article on Apple struggling to retain talent and hire new talent.... while the article is poorly done, the point of it is valid.... Apple will be getting to a point (if not already) where top engineers do not consider working on the 10th iPhone or the 5th Apple TV to be as appealing as working on a true start-up's next big thing.

At this point all the top engineers are getting thrown ridiculous money from anyone. Apple needs to keep the ideas and their mission fresh and innovative and I feel like Tim Cook's incredible focus on operational efficiencies have resulted in a lack of raw innovation. Apple continues to innovate in incredible ways that help make their existing products and ideas better and more refined. But his version of Apple sure as hell seems to lack big picture innovation and creativity.

I've gone up and down about being excited about an Apple car but I have a feeling the recent rumors of that project hitting a major speed bump are likely very accurate. it seems like a "me-too" idea and less of an original idea that is a true passion of its leader. If Tesla meets expectations with it's Model 3 release in March I foresee Apple's car project being dead before it even is made public.
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Chinney
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2016-01-29, 17:03

Maybe in that case Apple should invest in Tesla. There were serious reports a year or more ago that Apple was considering buying Tesla or at least getting an ownership stake, but backed out. Maybe Apple should reconsider, assuming that Musk would be interested (which is by no means a given). In any event, building an affordable and practical electric car is an exciting and groundrbreaking consumer product development project. The Apple Watch, not so much. Admittedly, a car is out of Apple's comfort zone, but I still think that Apple could bring things to the development table in the event of a partnership, including Cook's expertise in operational efficiencies.

When there's an eel in the lake that's as long as a snake that's a moray.
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PB PM
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2016-01-29, 19:36

It will also be interesting to see what Apple does with VR tech, which they are rumored to be working on. VR is supposed to be the next big thing, although to be honest it's not terribly exciting to me, not yet anyway.
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Brave Ulysses
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2016-01-30, 00:07

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
It will also be interesting to see what Apple does with VR tech, which they are rumored to be working on. VR is supposed to be the next big thing, although to be honest it's not terribly exciting to me, not yet anyway.
That seems to have more potential.... great technology that no one has figured out the right application to bring it to the masses.

Much more in line with Apple's traditional strengths than making a better electric car than Tesla can.
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kscherer
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2016-01-30, 10:37

So, if iPhone growth is flat (by the way, 1 quarter is no indicator of growth/decline) and remains flat for the next, say 4 quarters, who would complain, other than the pundits? Apple's earnings over the past year are records, so if they only have a "flat" year, they would *only* tie the record for best year ever?

How horrible!

Oh, and those Apple TV/Watch businesses? The revenue generated by "other" is vastly superior to most Apple-sized company's P&L statements by itself. Short of Wall Street whiners, I can't think of a better trajectory outcome for Apple than to have a flat year. Just silly.

Those idiots have absolutely no idea what's going on inside Apple's labs.

"What have you done for me lately, Apple?"

What a terrible position to be in!

Boise State! … Boise State! … Boise State!
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PB PM
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2016-01-30, 14:05

Investors don't care about the future of Apple, or any individual company for that matter, all they see is right now, because all they want is growth. Flat does not make their pockets deeper.
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Eugene
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2016-01-30, 14:40

Quote:
Originally Posted by PB PM View Post
Investors don't care about the future of Apple, or any individual company for that matter, all they see is right now, because all they want is growth. Flat does not make their pockets deeper.
The vast majority of investing, whether buying stock or providing a line of private equity is probably what you would consider "long term."

Last edited by Eugene : 2016-01-30 at 15:24.
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PB PM
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2016-01-30, 16:46

Sure, but long term investors tend to avoid tech companies, since the market has proven to be far to volatile. Now I'm sure companies like Apple have better retention of long term investors, but compared to the non-tech sector? Maybe things are changing, but most of the investment advice I've received from financial advisers is to get into natural resources, banks (in Canada since they are very stable), etc and avoid the tech sector, unless you have room for high risk.

(Anyway this is getting off topic...)

Last edited by PB PM : 2016-01-30 at 16:59.
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Eugene
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2016-01-30, 19:30

What do you think venture capital is? Where do you think angel investors like Musk, Bezos, hell even Ashton Kutcher turn to first? Tech startups.

For regular people like us, the vast majority of our investments should be in diversified mutual funds or ETFs...never been told to stay clear of tech.
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drewprops
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2016-02-09, 08:24

Our voices are being heard by outlets like the Los Angeles Times:

"Apple takes its eye off the ball: Why Apple fans are really coming to hate Apple software"

I wonder if anybody at Apple who has the power to do something can effect change?

I am looking at you, Tim Cook.

Are you anything more than a glorified deliveryman?





...

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
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Ryan
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2016-02-09, 10:33

I actually do think someone at Apple has taken notice. Their efforts in recruiting software engineers have stepped up significantly over the last twelve months—we've lost three people to Maps and Siri just in our department. They're pretty tight-lipped about exactly what's going on (unlike the rest of the big SV firms, where there are no mysteries about tech stack—everyone knows the underpinnings of Twitter and Netflix), but based on who they've been hiring lately—skillsets, experience—it's clear they're making efforts to improve quality and reliability.

Even just reading their recent job listings, their underlying tech stack is clearly moving away from Apple's own tech and towards major open-source efforts. Part of their historic difficulty in recruiting software engineers is that their tech is completely unlike everyone else's, so engineers start at zero and build up their knowledge—introducing plenty of bugs along the way, I'm sure. Moving closer to the rest of the industry should reduce some of that ramp-up time and improve operational reliability.

Turning around a ship that size can take a long time and of course it's possible that whoever is spearheading that effort will fail. But I think somebody over there is trying to make a difference.

With the rest of Silicon Valley on the rocks, Apple is going to find it pretty easy to pick off talent from everyone not named Google or Facebook, as engineers seek refuge in firms with enough cash to weather the coming storm.
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PB PM
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2016-02-09, 19:07

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan View Post
I actually do think someone at Apple has taken notice. Their efforts in recruiting software engineers have stepped up significantly over the last twelve months...
And yet the quality of software in the last 12-24 months has only shown the opposite to be true. I think the problem people have is not just that newer version versions are buggy, but they are worse than what they replaced overall. iMovie, Photos, Final Cut etc, have all taken a noise dive since they were "rebuilt from the ground up". I think they need to start over again, and make those apps usable again. Lets not even start about iTunes, it's been going down hill since version 6 or 7. I'm just waiting for Apple to ruin Garageband, even though I don't use it, I know many who do.
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Kickaha
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2016-02-09, 19:23

Software has significant inertia. If they've been correcting the recruiting in the past 12 months, then the benefits won't be seen for another 12-24 months out. It's a slow recovery process.

The current software is indicative of the development environment of a year ago, not now.

My other brain is hung like a horse too.
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Old school is being able to say 'finger me' with a straight face.
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Ryan
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2016-02-09, 20:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kickaha View Post
Software has significant inertia. If they've been correcting the recruiting in the past 12 months, then the benefits won't be seen for another 12-24 months out. It's a slow recovery process.

The current software is indicative of the development environment of a year ago, not now.
^ What he said.

Apple is probably 2-3 years from producing world class software. That said, the recruiting I know about isn't for consumer software, it's for the infrastructure and data science behind Maps, Siri, etc. Maybe they're also shifting recruiting for consumer apps as well—I don't know, those aren't circles I move in—but they've been hiring like crazy for their newer services, most of which didn't seem to pick up until long after those were launched.
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Eugene
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2016-02-09, 22:33

I've been beating this drum ever since OS X 10.0 Public Beta. Apple started loosening up on their UI standards then, and it's gotten progressively worse in the past 16 years.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2016-02-10, 12:49

My biggest beef is that apps I've used (and loved) - and have taught others to use and love - over the years are shittier, harder-to-use and more "WTF?!?" - than they were just five years ago.

I defy anyone here to concisely convey exactly what the flaming hell a) Photos is supposed to do/be, and b) how it is, in any way whatsoever, an improvement over even the worst version of iPhoto.

Take your time, get back to us when you can.

Last edited by pscates2.0 : 2016-02-10 at 13:43. Reason: Tired of bitching about Apple. :( Short and humorous works better...
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2016-02-10, 13:38

But seriously...are we not far enough along in robotics, A.I., synthetic skin, voice filtering/matching, etc. that they can't just create a RoboSteve clone thingie...and put him in charge? Can we just pretend 2011 never happened, and things were like they used to be? Please...?

I'm not big on the whole crowd-funding racket, but I'd write a $1,000 check today if it helped push things along in any way.
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Luca
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2016-02-10, 17:34

It's on more fronts than UI design (which is still declining). Overall performance is bad, and updates seem to make things worse every time. My parents are both on older iPads (my dad has an iPad 2 and my mom has an original iPad Mini) and they have both refused to take any further iOS updates past 7. It's a good thing they're sticking to the old software too, because my wife's own original Mini is almost unusable now on iOS 9. We're talking 5-10 seconds of lag from when the keyboard comes up until it starts working. Every time an update comes in, I hope that they've fixed it, and every time, it only makes it worse. But there's no way to roll back so I'm stuck.

Apple has leveled a lot of criticism at Android phone makers for not supporting their phones with OS updates, but I'd rather be stuck on an old version than forced (with constant, annoying nagging) to update to a new OS that basically ruins my device.

Combined with the new "Error 53" BS, Apple has successfully gotten my parents, who have been loyal to the company since getting their first Mac in 1986, to completely swear off iOS devices. My wife and I too. My parents are using cheap Moto G Android phones, which cost about $50 each without a contract, and they are very happy. They actually DO "just work."

I switched away from Macs a while ago, but my parents are still sticking with them... for now. I think they're running Snow Leopard (or is it Mountain Lion? One of the two) and they're too afraid to upgrade because they haven't seen a good new piece of Apple software in a long time, and they actually use their Macs for work. I certainly can't see any reason for them to "upgrade" beyond where they're at now. My dad has already told me as soon as he retires, he wants to just get rid of all his computers and gadgets and lead a simpler life. Can't say I blame him.
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kscherer
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2016-02-10, 17:36

Unfortunately, Mac OS X is being driven along by iOS. Most OS X consumer Apps have been dumbed down to mimic their iOS counterparts. Basically, it must be feature-paired with the iPhone/iPad counterpart.

Where Microsoft is trying to shoehorn "the full Windows experience" into everything, Apple is trying to shove "the full iPhone experience" into everything.

Pages '09 was awesome. This new thing is, well, much less than awesome. But, hey, it has the same features as the iOS version. Yay us! iPhoto was awesome. Photos doesn't even warrant an eye roll.

Apple says they want the desktop to be true to the desktop, and the touch experience to be true to that, but the fact that they feel the need to force feature parity says something quite different. I don't think it's as much to do with the "quality" of the software. I think it has more to do with a lack of focus for the Mac platform and what it is supposed to be.

Remember, guys, the Mac is the truck! Trucks drive on the same roads, maybe they're harder to control, a bit ungainly in the corners, but they carry a damn heavy load. Apple seems determined to force the 18-wheeler's cargo into a VW Beetle's trunk, while simultaneously loading the 18-wheeler's trailer with two heads of cabbage and a turnip.

And, no, I have no idea what the hell Photos is supposed to be/do, either. I don't think anyone does.

Boise State! … Boise State! … Boise State!
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Chinney
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2016-02-10, 20:07

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luca View Post
It's on more fronts than UI design (which is still declining). Overall performance is bad, and updates seem to make things worse every time. My parents are both on older iPads (my dad has an iPad 2 and my mom has an original iPad Mini) and they have both refused to take any further iOS updates past 7. It's a good thing they're sticking to the old software too, because my wife's own original Mini is almost unusable now on iOS 9. We're talking 5-10 seconds of lag from when the keyboard comes up until it starts working. Every time an update comes in, I hope that they've fixed it, and every time, it only makes it worse. But there's no way to roll back so I'm stuck.

[...]
A clean install of new releases of iOS (after backup and return to factory settings) can help with this problem. Fixed it up on my iPad 2, in any case, which was not working very well with the original iOS 9 install (not clean - actually I had never done a clean reinstall) and then worked happily after the reinstall.

Actually, I am not sure that I would fault Apple at all on this particular issue. They are actually pretty dang good on backwards compatibility. If my iPad 2 runs well on iOS 9, when it was originally released on 4.2, that is quite good. It is unrealistic, however, to think that it will run as snappy as the latest Air 2 on the same software.

[Full disclosure - I actually also own an Air 2 now and have given the old iPad 2 to my young son for day-to-day use. That said I did use the older iPad just yesterday, and it still felt pretty good, though clearly not as fast as my Air 2]

I do fault Apple for some other recent software issues though, especially the end of the line for development of Aperture and the rise of Photos. What for??

When there's an eel in the lake that's as long as a snake that's a moray.

Last edited by Chinney : 2016-02-10 at 22:03.
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tomoe
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2016-02-10, 21:49

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0 View Post
My biggest beef is that apps I've used (and loved) - and have taught others to use and love - over the years are shittier, harder-to-use and more "WTF?!?" - than they were just five years ago.

I defy anyone here to concisely convey exactly what the flaming hell a) Photos is supposed to do/be, and b) how it is, in any way whatsoever, an improvement over even the worst version of iPhoto.

Take your time, get back to us when you can.
Haven't used Photos much, though I've had these same sentiments about iTunes for the past decade or so. At this point, I avoid iTunes like the dumpster bin plague it is and only use it when absolutely necessary.
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Brave Ulysses
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2016-02-12, 18:22

Disappointed to hear Eddie Cue and Craig on "The Talk Show".

I was really expecting them to agree with complaints about their software quality but their strong denial and claims of "that's the price for progress" and "bold decisions" seems to suggest they aren't listening or even acknowledging that their software sucks across the board.

and jesus... gruber throws softballs.

Last edited by Brave Ulysses : 2016-02-12 at 21:07.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
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2016-02-12, 19:44

Well, fuck them. They're wrong.

And that sort of arrogance and oblivitardation will bite them hard at some point.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
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2016-02-13, 17:38

Thinking about it some more, it really doesn't surprise me that the two people who appear to put most of their effort into schtick/entertainment during their keynote and presentations would say this. They're already a little hard to take with their constant yuk-yuks/hijinks, so not taking legitimate issues seriously - or even having the awareness and humility to acknowledge they exist - is really not shock.

It's sad, but it's not some gigantic surprise.

And, yes...anytime Gruber is in the presence of anyone from Apple, he keeps his lips wrapped around their johnson for the duration of their time together. He knows where his bread is buttered, and what would happen to his access or other perks if he ever pushed too hard or didn't engage in the requisite fawning, glad-handing and softball-tossing. He's hardly the person to be pushing any Apple higher-ups on any of this.
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Luca
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2016-02-13, 17:49

Apple has taken bold stances before, pulling everyone forward despite their protests. It has often worked out in the past. But I think some people just assume that anytime Apple does something they don't like, they MUST have a larger plan in mind and it's for the greater good. That's definitely not always true, especially now that Jobs is gone.

The flip side is of course people who scream that Apple is doomed whenever they do something they disagree with. Isn't it possible to like something and still be critical of it?
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drewprops
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2016-02-14, 08:47

Well crap.

Now Gruber, Cue, and Federighi are provoked... Craig said I was trolling them!!



This is what I get for thinking the little names on Twitter aren't real people.

I wonder if they'll calm down if I tell them I know the producer of Silicon Valley?

Anyhow, I need to fit listening to the 'cast in my schedule.



...

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
Captain Drew on Twitter
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Brave Ulysses
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2016-02-14, 16:31

Quote:
Originally Posted by pscates2.0 View Post
Thinking about it some more, it really doesn't surprise me that the two people who appear to put most of their effort into schtick/entertainment during their keynote and presentations would say this. They're already a little hard to take with their constant yuk-yuks/hijinks, so not taking legitimate issues seriously - or even having the awareness and humility to acknowledge they exist - is really not shock.

It's sad, but it's not some gigantic surprise.

And, yes...anytime Gruber is in the presence of anyone from Apple, he keeps his lips wrapped around their johnson for the duration of their time together. He knows where his bread is buttered, and what would happen to his access or other perks if he ever pushed too hard or didn't engage in the requisite fawning, glad-handing and softball-tossing. He's hardly the person to be pushing any Apple higher-ups on any of this.
It just makes me sad.

I really was capable of producing cooler things, much easier, and with a more pleasant experience with iLife and iWork in the early 2000s than with the same software today despite the immense increase in computer power and capabilities.
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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2016-02-25, 14:33

On a related note...

Translation: we're going to make it do all the stuff iPhoto did, wonderfully, six years ago.

Progress(?).

I can only imagine some of these meetings inside Infinite Loop...

"Guys, we need to be sure to take all our existing, beloved stuff that customers have used and enjoyed for years...and royally fuck it up to the high heavens for the flimsiest of reasons. Then, after a few years of burning all our goodwill, confusing/angering most everyone and forcing people to look for other solutions, we'll up and stick the missed features back into the shitball replacement we conjured up on that drunken iTeam-building retreat a few years ago. That'll keep 'em on their toes and really throw them for a loop! Sound good?"
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drewprops
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2016-04-26, 23:18

iPhone Sales Drop, and Apple’s 13-Year Surge Ebbs

Well, it's not like we didn't see this coming.



...
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Luca
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2016-04-27, 00:19

It's impossible to grow forever. Apple is still a massively profitable company.
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