In the midst of a lovely evening in Freemont, California, this past Thursday night Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, introduced the world to Tesla's latest electric car. The Model 3. Consider the automotive world changed with the clock ticking for most every auto maker in the world. Compete with Tesla or get blown away. Think I'm kidding? Like the era of mainframes and IBM dominating the computer industry, only to have Apple change the paradigm, Tesla is the Apple of the automotive world.
Apple's big un-secret of exploring the automotive industry is well known, but will the green light be given for Apple to actually enter the car market? The answer seems to be an overwhelming yes. Tesla's Model 3 is now the car to beat, but Apple's known this for quite some time. Over the past several years Apple and Tesla have been prying employees away from one another, thus an obvious assumption is that Apple has known what they will need to achieve in order to top Tesla's first attempt at a quasi-mass market four-door sedan. So when, exactly, will Apple's own vehicle arrive?
Call it a sophisticated workstation, call it a silent powerhouse or video editing marvel, but now-a-days, do not call it relevant. Apple has again let its cutting edge flagship Mac Pro tower languish into obscurity due to a lax approach to updating, reminiscent of predecessors. How relatively lax you may ask? Since its release on December 13, 2013, the Mac Pro has had not three, not two, not one, but zero updates — as in none.
The good news, according to financial site The Motley Fool, is that the long overdue refresh may be arriving soon. Today is supposedly the day Intel will release its 14nm "Broadwell EP" lineup. As workstation class chips go, the Broadwell-E looks to be impressive as ever, sporting up to 10 cores per processor, with an overall 18% raw speed increase. But Intel has seen delays with this processor refresh, and as of yet there has been no press release for the processor. Will Intel suffer upon us yet another delay, thus delaying the Mac Pro update?
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.
With the arrival of the 9.7" iPad Pro and its starting price point of $599, I began to wonder for whom is this product targeted? For starters, the new iPad Pro has many of the same features as its larger 12.9" sibling coupled with a few extra goodies, such as Apple's latest 12-megapixel iSight camera technologies, 4K video, and a higher resolution front-facing FaceTime camera. Technology aside, the answer that will – or will not – drive 9.7" iPad Pro sales is going to all about the screen size. Is it worth saving $200 to settle for a 9.7" display, or is it best to wait, save and purchase the original 12.9" iPad Pro?
I have a son who is battling this very question. He could certainly get into the iPad Pro 9.7" much sooner than saving and waiting to get the 12.9" version, but he is also an artist, and the extra screen real estate is likely to make a big difference over time. The questions for him are, how big a difference, and will he regret the smaller screen once he purchases it? If he purchases it?
Sometimes you can learn just as much about a company by what is not said as opposed to what is said. Case in point is Tim Cook & Co.’s most recent special event held this past week. At the special event we were dazzled by an updated iPhone line and a new iPad Pro size. Like a magician, Apple said, “Look over here!” However, what one product line — product category — did Apple not talk about at all, as if it didn’t even exist. Macs.
Every model in the Mac product category is now over a year old — even their newest items. Some Macs, like the Mac Pro are now over two years old. It seems like the Mac line-up has been relegated to cash-cow status and therefore Apple is putting as little effort (aka little money) into Macs as possible and reaping as much margin and cash as possible. Or is something else afoot?
During Apple's Monday special event, CEO Tim Cook unveiled all-new Apple Watch wrist bands, but unfortunately, no new Apple Watch was unveiled. It has been a year now since it's release, and while new watch rumors appeared roughly six months ago, on stage, Cook only revealed a modest $50 price drop to the iOS accessory device. Has a new Apple Watch been delayed?
When Apple Watch was first unveiled specifications were light, and battery life quickly became the conversation of discussion. When Apple held an actual launch even last April for the watch, the stated battery life was up to 18 hours of use. Many questioned the need to recharge the device nightly, and battery life questions lingered on in the media as being a possible deal-killer. By Mid-summer rumors emerged claiming Apple was going to keep the same Apple Watch form factor, while reworking the internals to accommodate a larger battery. But rumors of such a move have grown cold over the past several months. And while battery life seemed to be a possible issue for the watch when launched, few are complaining about it being an issue now.
Say it ain't so but DigiTimes may have just pulled a rabbit out of their hat, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. The publication's latest rumor claims Apple will be launching all-new MacBooks during the second calendar quarter. Of course, DigiTimes may only have this partially correct.
During Apple's special event on Monday no new MacBook graced the stage, leaving many wondering when the now aging year old product would receive an update. I've speculated that a 14" version, complimenting the 12.1" model would make a great fit to the lineup, but nothing has yet to materialize.
We are nearing the one year anniversary of Tim Cook’s spring time special event. In 2015, Cook gathered the media to promote a product developed under his watch, Apple Watch (pun intended). While he announced it and showed the new device off to the world in October 2014, during the spring special event fully reviewed the watch as well as gave us a launch date. At the same event he showed us a new entry to the laptop lineup, MacBook. This sleek, 12" retina display Mac came with stunningly fast SSD, great battery life, a brand new keyboard and an all-new trackpad technology Apple calls force touch.
While neither of these products launched as everyone had hoped, both being in short supply, they were two brand new products. What most did not notice is that during the fall of 2015, Apple had only one special event, when in years past two were common. One event for iPhone and another for Macs. If Cook holds to a new pattern it means that we should expect a special event in March, then the WWDC in June, mostly focused on software, and then a final special event in September.
If you are in the market for a new Mac, now is probably the worst time in recent history to purchase one. Following Apple for over two decades now, it is clear that the culture of our favorite fruit company allows it to only really focus on one major project at a time. While the iPhone is on an annual update schedule, Macs updates have fallen by the wayside like the ugly step sister from the fairytale Cinderella.
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.