On Tuesday, September 8, Apple unveiled an all new iPad, the iPad Pro. It sports a gorgeous 12.9" display, and works in concert with the amazing new Apple Pencil. iPad Pro combined with Apple Pencil will be a graphic artist’s dream. However, the media seems obsessed by one comment made by the late Steve Jobs in 2007. The media think they can play Jobs’ comment against Apple’s current leadership team to show how wrong Apple was in launching Apple Pencil, and get plenty of attention while doing so.
In January of 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. The iPhone had no physical keyboard, just a 3.5" multi-touch display. It was, at the time, a radical approach. During the unveiling Jobs explained how users would interact with the device. A stylus was out of the question. Jobs infamously stated, "Who wants a Stylus? You have to get 'em, and put them away and you lose them. Yuck. No one wants a stylus." Jobs clearly mocked the idea of using a stylus. Or did he? With the advent of Apple Pencil, the media has climbed all over the idea that Jobs would never have approved a stylus for iPad Pro. They couldn't be more wrong.
What made the original iMac, iPhone, iPad — and now Apple Watch — shine is that they were game changers. An industry was going one way but then when Apple entered the market, boom! The industry shifted direction to follow what Apple was doing.
Lately things have not gone so well for Apple — not that they have been disasters, but for about 8-10 years there was nothing our favorite fruit company could do that wasn’t a gigantic success. iPhone, iOS SDK, iPad, Mac transition to Intel, OS X,... just to name a few. That does not mean Apple did everything right (kill Xserves for example), but overall their successes far outweighed any shortcomings.
However 2015 has been a different year for Apple. With much promise, Apple Watch was going to be that “new product” that everyone was wearing. It was supposed to be the year that whether you went to the mall, to church or to the airport, you would always spot several people wearing Apple Watch. Nearly five months in, that just is not the case. Apple Watch is for sale, but even Apple hid its sales numbers for the device in their last quarterly earnings report (expect the same for this quarter’s as well). That is not something you do for a product that is flying off the shelves.
When the MacBook launched this spring, it answered everyone’s questions about what Apple was going to do with the rumored 12-inch screen. Or did it? While the MacBook does use a unique 12-inch screen size (in comparison to Apple’s other notebook offerings) is that the only purpose for the 12-inch screen?
Some suggest Apple is working on a 12-inch iPad Pro device. This product would launch in the fall of this year in conjunction with the release of iOS 9 — which will allow for split screen computing. iPad sales figures have been disappointing in recent quarterly reports earnings. If these rumors are true, it appears Apple may be trying and reignite the iPad’s mojo with a larger device.
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?
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.
If you are looking to purchase a new MacBook, perhaps it would be best to order it online, but be prepared to wait until June to receive it. According to Apple's online store, MacBook orders are still backlogged by as much as 4-6 weeks, and they are unavailable at any retail location. Apple claims this is due to incredible demand, but is the backlog due to incredible demand or incredibly slow productions times leading to few, if any, available MacBooks?
Apple packed a host of new technologies into the new MacBook. Force Touch trackpad, layered batteries, a new keyboard design, and efficient retina display are all new Apple-led inventions that put the MacBook in a category unto its own and could be weighing heavily on production. But perhaps the biggest problem isn't Apple's new display, keyboard, trackpad or battery. What if the biggest hold-up in MacBook availability is because of Intel.
Have you ever been on a camp-out or a backpacking trip and during breakfast, lunch or dinner someone pulls out a spork? You know, a spoon that half-way up becomes a mini-fork? For advanced sporks the side can also be used as a knife to cut food. Microsoft’s Surface 3 is the perfect spork, but would you use it beyond your digital campsite?
A spork’s not a really good spoon, and it’s not really a good fork, but it’s functional enough, given an outdoor hiking/camping situation. If you lose the spork it isn’t a great investment gone south — it’s just a spork!
Apple Watch goes on pre-order sale April 10, and the new MacBook is available for in-store pickup on the same date. But Microsoft just tried their best to crash Apple's party, announcing a new Surface tablet/laptop product which effectively replaces the failed Surface RT. Will Microsoft's long-term endeavor to convert customers from using a laptop or tablet, to using their merged device pay off? Despite a massive ad campaign, Surface Pro 3 December quarter sales resulted in only 1 million units sold and the Surface RT product was canceled as a nearly $1 billion write-off earlier in the year. Yet Microsoft seems to be beyond stubborn in continuing to pushing their idea.
The immediate temptation is to compare the new Surface 3 to an Apple iPad Air 2 or an 11" MacBook Air, as this is exactly what Microsoft wants it to be stacked up against. Their marketing clearly positions certain strengths against the iPad and others against the MacBook Air, in an attempt to blur the lines that the Surface 3 is both a great tablet and ultrabook laptop. But is Surface 3 a great tablet and ultrabook, or something that is less than the sum of it's parts? It's time to take a look at the areas of Surface 3 that Microsoft isn't spinning.
If rumors come true, expect Apple to send out invitations tomorrow for a Special Event to take place on Tuesday, February 24th. Recently Apple has given short notice between announcements for Special Events and the actual event itself. While seven day is cutting it close, the reasons make sense. First, this Special Event would coincide with what would have been Steve Jobs’ 60th birthday. Second, we needed to get beyond the long-holiday Valentine’s Day/President’s Day weekend in the U.S. Any invitation sent out before then would have had less impact. Announcing tomorrow makes sense in that there will be few, if any, distractions.
Why Apple would hold a Special Event in the middle of the quarter is two fold. First, Apple would spend some time reviewing Apple Watch and showing us a bit more how it works and why we all need one. Apple would also reveal more specifics on pricing, so people can know what their desires will cost them. Second, Apple would use the event to introduce a new 12" device. There has been much speculation that a forthcoming 12" device could be a MacBook Air (to replace both 11" and 13" models) a MacBook Pro or an iPad Pro (here and here).