Last week I wrote about whether Tim Cook was the right guy in 2015 to lead Apple forward. I then followed with an article about the stock being in a dulldrums. While comments to both stories were not necessarily positive, both postulations may be true. Sometimes people do not like to hear the truth, especially when it goes against their preconceived ideas. Change is difficult for most, and adjusting to reality is often something people prefer to avoid.
The fact is Apple is in a funk this year. While OS X will add some nice do-dads to its plethora of features and iOS 9 looks to be a welcomed update as well, it hasn’t been since the iPad’s launch that Apple’s luster was shining bright. Sure the stock has done amazing things since the beginning of this decade as has Apple’s savings account. Tim Cook has proven to be a very good manager of what is. Incremental change over time with the direction of the company in an upward direction. But while good for the first four years of the 2010 series, year number five is proving a bit more difficult.
Since its climb in February of 2015 from around $110/share, Apple’s stock has been hovering between $120-$130/share for four months now. Never mind continual profits or record iPhone sales quarter after quarter. No, no. Don’t be confused that actual performance of Apple will translate into actual growth in the value of the company.
It seems like a lifetime ago when Steve Jobs took over Apple for the second time as iCEO. Jobs ran Apple for nearly 15 years before pancreatic cancer took his life. Tim Cook stepped into the CEO position and has run Apple for almost four years. At the time Tim Cook was a good choice. He was a safe choice. He wasn’t going to rock the boat or try to pretend to be Steve Jobs II. He would take what was a growing and great company and drive it forward, building on its success.
That was back in 2011, and times were different. Apple’s needs were different. While Cook has indeed grown Apple’s value and savings account, the question is what kind of leadership does Apple need going forward? Is safe and steady the right formula or does Apple once again need a visionary to lead it into unchartered waters?
When I learned that another new photo editing application was coming, one that claimed it would be able to take on the juggernaut of the industry, Adobe Photoshop, I rolled my eyes. “First this software will need to be able to knock off Pixelmator,” I thought. I downloaded Affinity Photos immediately, and within one day of using the software I realized that Affinity was no competition for Pixelmator – it easily surpassed it.
The company in charge of Affinity is Serif LTD., located in Nottingham, England. Serif has been around since 1987, and has a host of web and creative editing tools, largely focused on the consumer and educational markets. If you have never heard of them, as I had not, there is a big reason for that. Until Affinity Photo, all Serif's software was built exclusively for Windows. However, with the Mac continuing to grow and stay firmly entrenched in the creative markets, Serif set off in a new direction. Affinity Photo was engineered from the ground up for OS X. There is no Affinity Windows counterpart. There no shared code or pallet design ported from the platform best forgotten. Affinity Photo is 100% OS X goodness, and already includes Force Touch capability.
IBM is chief sponsor of the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, the grass championships at Wimbledon, England. For two weeks even novice onlookers tune into Wimbledon, as it scrapes into the consciousness of mainstream sports reporting. IBM is center stage, breaking into every commercial break. Even if a casual TV viewer, one cannot help but notice IBM. But Big Blue does more than just sponsor the tournament, they provide real-time statistics and graphics revealing where players are hitting each and every ball, their service success, and ball angles and heights. With Apple and IBM well into their $100 million partnership, it would be more than obvious the chair umpires would be officiating each match using iPads. That assumption would be wrong.
Chair umpires are using a Panasonic tablet. Specifically, Panasonic's Toughpad, deploying Intel Core i-series processing and Windows 7 or 8. Hawkeye, the system used to track the ball and validates whether the ball is in or out, is not infallible. In fact, it deploys non-high-speed 2D cameras, which must then estimate that track of the ball. Not exactly infallible. Why aren’t Apple iPads in the umpire’s chair, seamlessly working with IBM’s cloud technologies? Why use legacy 2D cameras, that cannot handle an ounce of low-light conditions, instead of showcasing iPhone 6+ and 240fps recording for Hawkeye?
“Cord Cutter’s” are those who have stopped paying $100-260+ USD to cable and satellite companies for hundreds of network channels. It has been two years since I took the plunge and saved myself then $90/month. Mark, the other guy here at Two Guys and a Podcast, was a radical in this cause, never subscribing to cable or satellite services — ever. Both of us are avid sports fans. Both of us news junkies. Yet somehow we are able to get the sports we want and the news we need without these services. How? It’s called the internet.
Apple’s practice of not conducting focus groups or looking to the outside world to decide what products it will make and what features will, or will not be included, is well known. But then is Apple solely working behind closed doors in making decisions for the next amazing Apple products? No. Despite what you may think, Apple does look to understand the consumer, as I personally witnessed via an Apple email survey that arrived in my Inbox last week. The email obviously follows on the heels of my recent MacBook purchase.
When Apple unveiled the new MacBook in March, it both stunned and confused many in the industry. The new MacBook was not just a refined and smaller MacBook Air, but it was lighter with incredible hardware innovations. It also was not an updated MacBook Pro, but it had a retina display. And the new MacBook did not serve every laptop user’s needs, as it only had one port. The mix and match of technologies in the new MacBook push the very definition of “simplify”, but if you are a road warrior, a professional business person, or non-graphic related college student, it may just be the perfect OS X laptop. And yet the new MacBook may prove to be more than just the sum of its parts. Apple may have tipped their hat in showing us what the next generation iPad will be.
The wait is almost over. In a few short hours Tim & Company will take stage and tell us how well Apple is doing and what great things they have been working on behind closed doors. While the theme of this year’s developer conference is “The epicenter of change” this is one of the least anticipated developers conferences in recent history. We are still reeling from a stumble out of the gate on two very exciting new products — Apple Watch and MacBook — so we don’t foresee any new hardware showing being announced. As for OS X and iOS, expect more bug fixes and stability rather than earth shattering changes or gotta have features.
With all of that said, here are the five things you should NOT expect Apple to announce on Monday morning:
WWDC 2015 is just around the corner, but one of the most interesting updates to the Mac product line will not be mentioned on Monday. Over the next year we can expect all new Mac models to begin incorporating Touch ID into their designs.
All new iPhones and iPads have Touch ID, and Apple Watch leverages the technology with Apple Pay abilities. Apple intends to extend the technology to Macs, eliminating the need for laborious passwords. Consider this Apple’s secure One Password solution, only faster, easier, more secure — better. Like iOS, upon reboot, OS X will require the user to type in their password to start using Touch ID (for security) but after that passwords for access to your Mac or Keychain can all be had with your fingerprint.