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Apple is being taken apart by Capitalism

I’m right, right of center that is. I love capitalism’s quirks. But I despise consumerism. That being said, Apple sucks!

I’ve used Apple products since 1980 and they stood for something. But I believe what made Apple great was precisely what Tim Cook has come to destroy…it’s passion for being different, just like its 1984 ad!

I started programming for Apple in 2009. I had programmed for Windows and I even got into Android and it just blew! Crappy IDE’s, multiple, unstable, buggy SDK’s galore, sluggish, unresponsive hardware to go with it.

Well I’m sad to say that’s what Apple is now in 2014. I’ve lived through 6 major versions of the IDE Xcode and 5 versions of their iOS. Not to mention the minor versions in between. All this time of course, I have needed a Mac to program for iOS. Throughout this time I’ve seen all three: iOS, Xcode and the hardware, literally go down the drain.

Who is to blame? Capitalism of course. Capitalism is great, a great broth for innovation and re-invention. But let’s simplify what happens with any new ideas in our capitalistic ‘free’ market nowadays.

1. Someone has a great idea. Jobs had one. Although it was technically Woz’s idea. Jobs idea was to market it to everyone.

2. To have that idea take off, you have to put some money into it. Takes money to make money, right?

3. Now the idea takes off. People say: “Hey, that’s a great product! Do you sell other stuff? Do you sell those in Europe? Will you have a new product next year? Man, your products are so good I’d buy anything from you!”

Sound like anything that crossed your mind after buying something from a good company? Be it computers or great coffee.

But let’s take those each in turn cause this is where things go awry. (1). You don’t sell other stuff. But now those very few consumers who made you $100,000 profit this year, want to buy something else from you. Let’s make a new product, we need money for that. So take those 100k and put them into a new product division. (2). You don’t sell anywhere else but from your garage. So we need to expand, so we need money for that. Oh and since we need to ship things now, we not only need more overhead but also more things to make our product last more, be it packaging for products or chemicals for food (oh yeah, your product is looking really nice now). (3). You hadn’t thought about a new product but now your customers asked for it. The lure of money is too strong.

Add to all this that you may take your company public to make money and grow. This makes other people have a say in your company. You might think taking a company public just brings in money, but it does something worse. It brings in pressure from shareholders to squeeze more out of every revenue dollar or even worse, spending cuts or re-engineering investments which basically take a wholesome product like Corn Flakes and adds carcinogenic preservatives; or a great burger into a pitifully sized cardboard filled meat pie; or a truly different iOS/OSX software into a bug-laden, unstable-multi-versioned beachballin nightmare!

Capitalism might be great in a free market. The problem is Adam never really defined ‘free’. The forces acting in the market today are as dark and sinister as any Sith or politician.

Tim Cook took over a great company and is riding it’s innovation wave. Unfortunately he is the perfect sequel to an original innovator like Jobs. The innovator set the wheels in motion and creates a truly unique product and possibly a few aggregate products around it. But then a calculating suit takes over and starts growing too fast, investing in non-value adding projects and divesting resources from wow-factor generating winners.

Yes, Apple is making but loads of money. But It’s not very innovative. And it will run out of steam eventually.
Sure, Cook may have gauged just how much momentum Apple has and could be waiting until he really needs umph. He might even get his calculations right. But it’s just not Apple anymore…it’s more like IBM! Looks like Apple’s 1984 was actually 30 years later ūüė¶IMG_4561.JPG

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What does Apple, an iDeathStar and an iSatellite have in common?

It’s a great time to be alive.

Apple’s Own Satellite Network, Space Insurance, A Fully Operational Death Star! What I would give to see what the next 10 years will bring.

It has been proposed that Apple needs to produce a more expensive iPhone (http://www.cultofmac.com/207383/why-apple-needs-a-really-expensive-iphone/). The idea behind this proposal is that Apple has made the iPhone SO mainstream that it is no longer a Quality-Differentiated product but rather a Volume product which makes profit based on Sales Volume rather than high margins.

It makes sense since Apple was a company which stood out based on its high quality Customer Service and High End products. Curiously, as its Founder and CEO took his company through his belief of “giving power to the masses”, he inadvertently made the company produce devices available to the general public. This made the iPhone mainstream as well as its iPad, products responsible for over 50% of its sales and profits! At the same time this made their OS more popular and as such, more vulnerable to hackers. Soon, the famous idea that macs don’t need antivirus become nothing more than a fleeting wish.

Finally it’s popularity may have driven quality control down the drain as devices begin to falter (home buttons, power buttons, LCDs) and its software was not left behind (Apple Maps). Now the company is passed on to a CEO who has always focused on Operational efficiency, as that is what he was entrusted to do in the first place. However the pressure to innovate is higher than ever as more competitors enter the marketplace.

As demand for Apple products surges, both QC pressures as well as Innovation pressures mount over a CEO who so far has not had much to show for either. Thus the theory that Apple needs to go back to producing a high end, top quality product which focuses it back on the road of fewer, richer customers instead of massive amounts of windows-like users.

Apple needs a new product to drive its product offering into a niche market again. Yes a new product such as a more expensive iPhone could do the trick. A shiny new service however could also work wonders. How about a space project? Some have proposed a Death Star (http://mashable.com/2012/12/13/death-star-petition/). Why not? iDeathStar? Or iSatellite?

The US has the best space program in the world, at least right now. The Chinese, Europeans and Russians are biting their heels. Its something the US has excelled at and other have failed so far. It’s engrained in the American way of thinking, doubling and tripling up on everything. It has led the US this far and now they are losing everything (jobs, money, ideas) to their competitors oversees. As suggested in this article (https://quique456.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/usa-nasa-mars-exploration-global-recession/), the US is in the unique position to offer their greatest service to humanity so far. The iDeathStar would be a perfect coalition of ideas. Or what about Apple’s own iSatellite?

Apple has a load of cash and some of the best technological engineers on the planet. The US has the unique knowledge. What better combination to save the US economy, save the planet and save the human race! ūüôā

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My Cover Letter for a Job Application at Apple: You will be missed Steve

I believe the best Cover Letter I can write is based on my love for Apple.¬† I can’t tell you I have ever sat in line for days waiting for a product launch because I don’t have the luxury of living in the US and our “quasi-Apple” stores in Honduras suck to say the least.¬† However, I can say 3 things with great pride:

 

First, that I have been an Apple fan since the Apple IIe, simply because that’s around the time I was born and have recollection.¬† We used to spend summers in San Francisco at my uncle’s house.¬† He worked for United Airlines and had a simple house but not without his Apple computer.¬† My fondest memories of summers in San Fran were programming those cheesy loops used to make hearts and faces on the screen by printing out characters in a certain order; and the other, playing Where in the World is Carmen San Diego!¬† God I loved that game.

 

Second, that i have been shunned for being an Apple user and I enjoyed it.¬† Although I used my first Apple at my uncle’s house in the 80’s, I didn’t buy my own first Apple MacBook Pro until 2000, just before entering my MBA program.¬† As a business school, it was all about pragmatism, and compatibility issues and out dated versions of software were all but damning because everyone made fun of me.¬† A professor joked about me having paid a Coke’s worth for “that ugly thing” as he put it and still gotten change in return.¬† He joked about how its resale value was zero and how Apple would die just like betamax, since it was one of the case studies we worked on.¬† I remember how in reviewing that case study we were told how when 2 competing technologies tried to dominate the market, the winner was the one that was able to surround itself with accessories which made it indispensable.¬† And 10 years later Steve Jobs went ahead and did just that!¬† Id like to meet that professor again and show him my shiny new 2011 MBA, a market breakthrough product, not a follower.

 

And third, that I love Apple products, am a fan-boy, love converting people, believe our products are a work of Art and would buy my milk from Apple if you had a Milk Division.¬† I can appreciate the customer attention to detail Apple has.¬† Its not really customer service because a service almost implies something that is paid for and in return, because of the commitment acquired by the employee, he provides that service.¬† I live in a country where even franchise-trained personnel doesn’t provide good customer service.¬† This is my life 360 days of the year.¬† Then all of a sudden I go to Miami and rush to an Apple Store, not always for a product, just for the experience.¬† I love walking into a place and have someone walk up to me and genuinely ask me if there is anything they can help me with.¬† Even if I didn’t have anything in mind before I walked in, I think of something, anything, just for the “feeling of satisfaction” I get when they solve a problem for me or recommend something that ends up making my life easier or what not.¬† That truly is priceless.

 

I love converting people because when I pick up my old iPhone 4 and show it to someone, I take off the banged up protective case in order to show the brand-new product still intact.¬† I remember I used to buy Ford trucks and people would ask me why I preferred them over Chevy.¬† My answer always came back: “Because of the quality of sound the door makes when you close it”.¬† It just tells you its a quality truck.¬† The same thing happens when you hold an iPhone or iPad or Mac or accessory…it just feels good.¬† I can feel the quality and appreciate the workmanship that went into creating that “device”.¬† Yet its not just a device, and I can tell because when I sell an old model to get a new one, the buyer gets his iPhone with the original plastic cover sticker still on the front and back, or white sheet of paper that comes with a macbook pro.¬† I do it because I want that new Apple user to become a fan boy by having the same experience I did when I got it new!

 

You know what, even if I never get a job at Apple, I would just like Steve Jobs to get this cover letter.  It would be enough satisfaction for me to know that he received this letter as a compliment and a big Thank You for how you have affected the life of this one customer and how grandly I think of Apple and its people.


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Android vs iOS

A friend of mine recently send me an email with this link from extremetech.com listing the 5 Android features that leave iOS in the dust.  Here are my thoughts in response:

1. ¬†Homescreen/widgets. ¬†These drain battery life, which is why iOS doesnt have them. ¬†I’ve been learning to code in Android and their OS can run as many background services as apps that contain them. ¬†This drains battery and consumes bandwidth. iOS’s solution is APNS or push notifications which a server running on the internet can send to the device instead. ¬†Its not as fancy as Android, I agree, but ill trade it for battery life anyday. ¬†When hardware manufact can come up with a battery that will last for days, Apple’s iOS is a few code snippets away from implementing all those features. ¬†Im sure its probably coded already. ¬†Apple is a very business as well as tech savvy company. ¬†They know how to release features and products when the market is ready. ¬†Take their strategy on iPhones. ¬†They could have left Android in the dust a few years ago but everyone wondered why Apple would limit their iPhone to ATT only. ¬†They know the advantage the first comer has and how long they can make that lead last without it hurting their business. ¬†Which is why Apple is so profitable aside from being so cool and market leader etc…

2. ¬†Flash. ¬†Please, as they say in my country, “y vuelve la mula al trigo”. ¬†Loosely translated it, it means “not that again!”. ¬†I have enough user experience to know that Flash is buggy and causes problems. ¬†You dont need to know anything about coding to know this is so. ¬†Just load a page that is loaded with Flash ads and see how slow i loads, slow it scrolls and often skips. ¬†Flash is nice, but its not that important to the internet. ¬†Moreover, with HTML5 coming round the bend, its clear this “nice feature” & “advantage” will be shortlived at most.
3. ¬†Customizability. ¬†This is true, Android is more customizable. ¬†Apple’s response, it listens to customers and eventually puts things into play, as it has with a lot of features like the flash, twitter integration, notifications and so many others. ¬†Its not as quick to market with these features but they make it into the iOS soon enough to make users think, “Hey, i thought of that!”. ¬†The other side of the coin to me is much more worth it; the OS stability. ¬†I have been coding for Android for about a month and iOS for about 3 years. ¬†Anyone who has done so can easily tell you the tools and debugging and overall stability of iOS is far better than that of Android. ¬†This results in better quality products. ¬†Id rather have a stable mobile device OS than one where programmers can control your device in many ways you may not even know about and have no supervision over what programmer’s apps can do, see, send, delete, create and poke around in your mobile device.
4. ¬†Voice Control. ¬†I have been playing around with Dragon for a while and other apps that give voice control functionality to iOS, including Google’s own Google Mobile App. ¬†Plus with Apple’s move into Nuance, thats just like saying…”I just got the latest Buck Rogers action figure”….”Great, Im gettin mine tomorrow!”.
5.  Google Accnt Integration.  Alas, an actual advantage.  The afore mentioned were comparative advantages.  They dont really represent a core, solid, durable advantage.  Anyone in business will tell you, they are simply features that can be copied and implemented.  This on the other hand is indeed a real advantage because its not easily reproduced.  I love gmail and so does the rest of the world so unless Apple came up with a back-end solution for this in their new Cupertino Spaceship campus, but it would be better to simply buy Google out :).  (Im kidding).  But it would be better to just play nice with Google on that.
In conclusion, far from leaving iOS in the dust with 4 features, the one real advantage Google Android has over iOS is their integration with their own back-end services. ¬†Nothing a little money and an alliance can’t remedy. ¬†Just ask the motown 4 [the 4 major record labels Apple signed up for their iTunes Cloud Service]. ūüôā