Posts tagged “steve jobs”.

iPad: Back to the future

February 2nd, 2010

Apple iPad

Apple finally introduced the iPad tablet computer last Wednesday, confirming rumors that have been circulating since before I started Newton Poetry a few years ago. From then to now, I’ve read article after article and rumor after rumor – everything from claiming this new device was the second coming of the Newton to a giant iPod Touch.

Sometimes keeping track of everything was exhausting. Even more than the iPhone, the mythical Apple tablet kept rumor sites in business for years. Then, when so many confirmations gelled together, most Apple fans knew what was coming when Steve Jobs hit the stage on January 27 in San Francisco.

Many, many tech writers invested in a lot of detective work to flesh out this device, and I think a lot of credit goes to them for softening the holy-crap blow that this device would’ve otherwise caused us to have. The iPad’s introduction was nothing like the iPhone introduction because we had all seen and heard it before. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Nothing remarkable, nothing earth-shattering – just steady progress, and tiny chips brushed away from the mobile sculture Apple is crafting.

This project, the giant move to mobile computing Apple has been working on since the day of the original PowerBook and Newton MessagePad, has essentially come to fruition in the form of the iPad. Jobs mentioned (and reports back him up) that Apple is primarily a mobile device company. It’s the powerful combination of a touch-based interface, a world-conquering application platform, and – most of all – the opportunity that is still to come.

That’s the key. I think the earth-shattering part will come in the form of something we haven’t even seen yet. We might even have trouble knowing it when we see it.

For some, the iPad doesn’t seem like much now. But just wait, says Steven Fry in a much-linked post:

In the future, when [the iPad] has two cameras for fully featured video conferencing, GPS and who knows what else built in (1080 HD TV reception and recording and nano projection, for example) and when the iBook store has recorded its 100 millionth download and the thousands of accessories and peripherals that have invented uses for iPad that we simply can’t now imagine – when that has happened it will all have seemed so natural and inevitable that today’s nay-sayers and sceptics will have forgotten that they ever doubted its potential.

All ready, I’m seeing fantastic ideas about what the iPad can become, given some time.

The iPad, like the original Macintosh, ships with basic task-oriented software titles, like iWork, that make it a capable machine. With the Mac, the explosion in innovation came when desktop publishers realized what a powerful machine they had sitting on their desks. With the iPad, a similar spark will happen.

The tech echo chamber is resounding this notion that the computer-as-appliance has finally arrived. The iPad is the computer your grandma can use without calling you for tech support every week. The details have been abstracted away – and use whatever car metaphor makes you comfortable here.

And that’s probably true. But something tells me the future is brighter than grandma. The iPad will gain mutant electro-superpowers after the proverbial lightning strikes.

Storms a-brewin’.

Behold! The tablet descends

January 27th, 2010

From Ken Fager on his Flickr account, drawn with an MP2100.

Steve Jobs descended to the base of Mt. Yerba Buena and unveiled the tablet to the gathered unwashed masses…

Today’s the big day, eh?

[Via @kenfagerdotcom.]

Newton quote of the week – 60,000 units sold

April 16th, 2009

“If Apple had sold even close to 30 million Newton OS devices in its first 18 months, Apple would not have been ‘beleaguered’, they would not have bought NeXT, and Steve Jobs never would have been brought back. Instead, IDG reported that Apple sold a grand total of only 60,000 Newton units in all of 1996, the Newton’s third year on the market. That’s about how many iPhone OS devices Apple sold per day — per day! — for the first 18 months after the iPhone went on sale.”

– John Gruber at Daring Fireball, on Apple’s too-intent focus on the Next Big Thing during the 1990s.

Newton in list of Steve-less Apple innovations

January 19th, 2009


Steve Jobs and crew have some great ideas, but not all Apple innovations have come under his watch.

That’s the basis behind Mac|Life’s “Top 10 Innovative Apple Products – That Steve DIDN’T Dream Up” post.

Two items on that list are familiar: the Newton platform, and the eMate 300. Dreamed up by Apple’s Steve Sakoman, Steve Capps, and Larry Tesler (with help from then-CEO John Sculley), the Newton MessagePad and eMate were creations Steve Jobs had nothing to do with.

Mac|Life wonders: “And if Jobs hadn’t come along and killed it, who knows what might have been?”

[Image courtesy of State of the Ark.]

Apple history for the rest of us

January 8th, 2009


For history buffs, Apple is a natural attraction for how modern technology companies evolve, behave, and operate. Since its founding, Apple has attracted pirate programmers and designers, a dedicated fan following, and tons of media attention. In just 30 years, the company has ridden a roller coaster of success and near-death – multiple times – has today lives on as a super-successful electronics company.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Mac, and as Wired’s Steven Levy puts it, Apple will look forward instead of back.

Which is just as well. While doing research on some design work for my day job, in the design archives of AIGA, I stumbled upon Jeff Goodell’s Rolling Stone article, “The Rise and Fall of Apple, Inc” (part two is here). Goodell writes in 1996:

The story of Apple’s decline is a morality tale for the Information Age. It is not, as one might expect, a story about how quickly the technology moves, or about how unforgiving and brutal business has become in Silicon Valley. In fact, Apple had many, many chances to save itself. But it didn’t. It was the company of the future that failed to see what was right in front of its nose. And while Apple will no doubt reinvent itself in the years to come, the central idea that animated the company for so long – that Apple is a revolutionary force, that it could change the world – is dead.

Not any more, it’s not. But there is a weird feeling of dread and uncertainty, not unlike what a lot of people are feeling about the economy, or about Steve Jobs’s succession plan, and a lot of it stems from what we don’t know about Apple. What’s the “next big thing?” What effect will the economy have on Mac, iPod, and iPhone sales?

“There is no happy ending here,” Goodell writes. At the time, it must have seen certain. But soon after Rolling Stone published that article, Steve Jobs returned, and things turned around. Taking the long view, Apple has been in far worse situations (coincidentally, mostly when Jobs was absent).

One thing hasn’t changed, with or without Jobs. The theme struck me, after I watched an interview with Bill Atkinson during the launch of Apple’s HyperCard “erector set” programming application, was that Apple truly puts the power to create in peoples’ hands. As in “for the rest of us.”

Think about it. HyperCard was designed as a application builder for non-hackers. As Atkinson put it in the interview:

A whole new body of people who have creative ideas, but aren’t programmers, will be able to express their ideas – or their expertise in a certain subject.

The original Macintosh was designed to be intuitive. Its design and interface has functioned as the standard since 1984. VisiCalc, on the Apple II, gave people the power to create spreadsheets. Apps like Garage Band and iMovie and iWeb give users a simple way to be creative (actual talent helps, of course). PageMaker was the app that launched an industry, and my very profession. iTunes and iPods give us the ability to manage and enjoy our music library like never before. It’s music, or design, or information, or programming “for the rest of us.”

Even the Newton was a product ahead of its time, giving business professionals and regular folks the ability to manage their day-to-day data in a simple and intuitive way.

As a history buff, I like reading about Apple’s early successes and tribulations. It shows a company constantly growing, constantly in flux, and – for the most part – learning from its mistakes. The common thread that runs through Apple’s story is a company setting out to make machines and applications that make our lives easier.

I almost typed “better” there, but I don’t think that’s true: if we didn’t have the iPod, we may not miss it.

But simple. Easy. More intuitive. Even fun. That’s what Apple has given us the past 30 years. The success of the Mac is a testament to that ideal.

So while Steve Jobs and Apple in general may not celebrate the Macintosh’s birthday this month, us Mac fans can in our own way. We do, everyday, when we wake our iMac up from sleep, or scroll through our music library on our iPhone, and live our lives a little easier.

My dream office, starring an iMac G4

January 6th, 2009

Tons of books and all. I wish my own office were that clean and tidy.

Happy Macworld Keynote Day. I’ll probably be catching the live blog feed somewhere (Gizmodo usually does a nice job) and hoping for some kind of cool announcement. I actually thought about going to Macworld this year, and just as I was about to hit the “purchase tickets” button, the news hit that Steve Jobs wasn’t going to be there.

Much like Apple, my decision was financially-based: can I really afford a trip out to California?

So I may have missed my chance to see Steve Jobs deliver a “one more thing” announcement forever. But hey, there’s always WWNC.

[Courtesy Remodelista.]

‘Steve Jobs and the Portal to the Invisible’

November 14th, 2008

From Esquire, by Tom Junod:

Like the iMac, the iBook was designed not to be an instrument of utility but an object of desire; like the iMac, it was designed to be a pleasure both to look at and to use; like the iMac, it was designed to be designed, and by introducing it a year after he introduced the iMac and two years after coming back to Apple, he made it clear that he was not going to play the same game as those whose idea of technological innovation was beholden to the number of transistors that could fit on an integrated circuit.

Amen. The iBook G3 clamshell is still a joy to behold, even though the translucent plastic look has been gone since the G4 series. It was rugged, truly portable, and very Apple.

Later in the article, Junod quotes someone on the Newton:

“Like Newton. Remember Newton? It was the first PDA. It might not have worked, but it was the first. That’s not what they do now. Now they start with what makes an existing experience crappy. And that’s where Jobs is a genius. That’s where his ruthlessness comes in. He’s ruthless with himself, ruthless with other people — he’s also ruthless with technology. He knows exactly what makes it work, and what makes it suck. There were MP3 players before the iPod, but they sucked. So he’s like, Okay, what do we have to do so that they don’t suck? Same with the iPhone.”

“It might not have worked” is a pretty strong statement, don’t you think? Is the Newton experience “crappy”?

NewtVid: the iPhone cometh at Macworld 2007

November 5th, 2008

This Macworld keynote from Steve Jobs, as he announced the original iPhone in January 2007, remains one of the best ever.

Now we learn that Apple has breached the 10 million iPhone mark, with 7 million iPhone sold last quarter alone, I think it’s pretty cool to look back and see how all this started. It still gives me chills when he lets his crowd in on the joke.

Apple quarterly results: Number of the night

October 21st, 2008


That’s how many people (half of 596,000) bought a Mac at an Apple retail location who have never owned a Mac before. Three hundred thousand people just last quarter, shopping at Apple’s 247 retail locations, who have embraced the Mac way of life.

That’s about 2,400 Macs per store, per quarter. Overall, Apple sold 2.6 million Macs this summer.

It’s amazing. So many people are switching, Apple is having record-breaking quarters (read the full transcript of today’s quarterly earnings call).

That, and with 13 million iPhones in the hands of users – more than 10 million sold this year alone – an increasing number of people are switching to the Apple way of doing things. More Macs, more iPhones (about 7 million last quarter), even more iPods (11 million sold).

Says Steve Jobs:

We don’t yet know how this economic downturn will affect Apple. But we’re armed with the strongest product line in our history, the most talented employees and the best customers in our industry. And $25 billion of cash safely in the bank with zero debt.

Who can argue with that? And zero debt? Apple is living the Dave Ramsey lifestyle and they probably don’t even know it yet.

Those 300k new users? Let’s embrace them, and welcome them with open arms. Their life is about to get a whole lot more fun.

AppleTV is a modern Newton, says marketer

September 24th, 2008

A product that takes longer to explain than unbox? It could be you’re talking about the Newton MessagePad or the Apple TV, says marketing pro Eric Friedman:

The fact that explaining the [Apple TV] takes so long makes this somewhat of a marketing problem as well as we technology problem…Now we all have some form of PDA and nobody can imagine NOT getting e-mail on a Blackberry or an iPhone – yet the Newton pioneered a lot of this thinking despite being panned by a some critics.

Eric’s point is that no one really knows what to do with an Apple TV until they get one, which he says is the same problem the MessagePad faced. Apple releases a great idea, and then fails to capitalize on it, helping competitors succeed where the Apple TV/Newton failed.

Steve Jobs has called the Apple TV a hobby project, which is how the Newton seemed for a long time. Is Eric right? Does Apple have a “great idea” with the Apple TV, and will it last long enough to be successful?