On Tuesday I wrote an article with the premise that Microsoft, from their marketing arm to product offerings are mirroring Apple amazingly well, surpassing Cupertino's technologies in many ways. Immediately, Apple apologists were decrying the Surface Studio as a wannabe, gimmicky iMac, and that the price was unjustifiably high.
Yesterday Apple launched the all-new MacBook Pro, with innovative touch bar, complete with built-in Touch ID. The new technology looks well refined and thoroughly thought out. Touch bar makes sense in hundreds of different use cases and the rest of the MacBook was given highly effective refinements throughout. Apple may have stemmed any creative pro tide away from it's notebook shores with the new MacBooks, but there is still trouble within Apple's desktop offerings. The competition knows it and is attacking in full force.
Say it ain't so, but then again is it really all that wise to question Mark Gurman of Bloomberg? According to Gurman, Apple's Bob Mansfield, heading up Apple's car aspirations, has drastically scaled back the program guiding it towards an autonomous only, software-based state. The project, running under the not-so-secret code name Project Titan, once on track to be a grand electric car, could realize itself as little more than autonomous driving software technology to be licensed to automotive manufacturers. Evidently, the door is open for the technology to be worked back into a fully developed Apple car in the far future. But currently any "Apple car or bust!" direction is now off the table. Or is it?
If Mansfield has indeed dialed back Project Titan, focusing only on autonomous driving for the time being, it would be hard to view it as anything less than a massive failure within Apple's leadership. We previously discussed how Apple has lost momentum in many categories, missing complete launch cycles due to Project Titan brain-drain. For the car program to be scaled back in this fashion, while hurting the company in other areas, will be utterly unacceptable from many within Apple's investment circles and beyond, striking another blow to Tim Cook's leadership abilities.
If you believe the Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 release was nothing to take note of, you might be surprised to learn that Apple's watches are flying off the shelves.
Two Guys and a Podcast conducted spot checks this week with several Apple retail stores, and all were completely sold out of Apple Watch series 2 versions (some stainless and ceramic are available), with some Series 1 watches still available for purchase. Apple has a hit on their hands, and it may be the big gift of the holiday season.
Over 895 million people flew on planes within, or in and out, of the U.S. in 2015. The number of passengers set another an all-time record, which is estimated to be broken again in 2016, with over 900 million people having flown in U.S airspace. And on every flight, before takeoff, and without fail since mid-September, a special announcement to all passengers is given, ordering them shut off their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones and store them in the above compartments or in a carry-on, below the seat in front of them.
I’ve been on six flights since mid-September, and while the wording from different airlines has been slightly different, the message has been abundantly clear; “Completely turn off and hide your Samsung Note 7. You will not use or charge it on this fly, potentially burning us all out of the flippin’ sky!" Every time I've heard the instructions, a semi chuckle has broken out with passengers looking at their neighbors to ensure they do not have a Galaxy Note 7, and if they do, making sure they shut them down.
Ka-Boom! Did you hear that Verizon guy, or is it the Sprint guy now?... That's the sound of the U.S. being blown apart, bit by bit, via Samsung devices. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which has already blown up in a little boys hands, set a man's pants on fire and burned down a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Let me be perfectly clear; I'm making fun of a whole slew of Samsung devices.
Just this past week, a Samsung Galaxy Note 2, not 7, but Note 2, caught fire in an overhead bin compartment on an airplane forcing an emergency landing. Of course, it's a week later, so what what other devices does Samsung engineer and sell that could possibly ignite and destroy something, somewhere? That would be Samsung's exploding clothing washers. Of course, there may be a completely logical reason for this.
Tuesday, at Apple's September special event, CEO, Tim Cook and crew revealed iPhone 7. Among it's biggest new technologies was the omission of a legacy feature – Apple has done away with the industry standard 3.5mm audio jack, and for a slew of good reasons. But none more impactful than the fact that Android makers are now torn in what to do with a standard Apple just ditched.
Apple VP of World Wide Marketing, Phil Schiller, pointed out new digital advantages for moving past the the analog standard. Yes, the move brings wireless headphone technologies towards becoming the new standard. Yes, it saves space within iPhone. Yes, the removal of the jack eliminates another area for water and dust ingression. The shift to using iPhone's Lightning connector for headphones certainly ushers in the digital age for Apple's headphones, but the initial pain it brings to the competition is greater than the benefits within iPhone 7 in and of itself.
It seemed like an eternity for Apple to move to an iPhone display form factor larger than 4-inches, but then it happened. In the threat of Samsung and Android gaining massive market share against Apple's stodgy belief that a 4-inch iPhone was the perfect size, Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and changed the course of the smartphone market.
Like going back to the future, today there is now the iPhone SE, which is chalk full of iPhone 6S power and abilities, all housed within a 4-inch display form factor, and costing only $399 off-contract. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has explained to CNBC's Jim Cramer, the iPhone SE is seeing better than anticipated sales. Despite iPhone SE's lower price point, Apple is likely to quietly push sales of the phone in Asia, and for good reason.
It is clear Apple is focusing on the iPad Pro line, trying to re-ignite a market segment it started with the original iPad. Lately, Microsoft has made a lot of noise in this market with its 2-in-1 Surface 1, 2, 3, and now, 4 models. The sell is you can have a real Windows computer but also a tablet when you want one. Instead of carrying two devices around you can just use one.
It is an old debate, but one worth revisiting at Apple. Does hiring the best employees result in becoming politically incorrect? And if so, will Apple sacrifice political expediency for the best employees? It does not necessarily have to be a false argument, as Apple could, theoretically achieve both, which is what Apple appears to be striving for.
Market dynamics dictate that companies should hire the best employees it can, in order to maintain and achieve a competitive edge over its competition. If a company hired a majority of Japanese, Russians, Hindus, or Latinos, it makes no difference to the corporation, so long as those people are most qualified to do the job. However, in today’s society, if a company practices such policies — hiring the best of the best — and the results of those hired does not match the race or gender (and perhaps soon religious) demographics of the country, these companies are increasingly coming under political fire that the company may be racist or bigoted. Apple is in such a position of prominence, it is rapidly becoming a target for such scrutiny.