Apple did not punk Google

This has already been sufficiently mocked, but it’s worth repeating – Apple did not “get what it wanted”.  It wanted Google to open up its navigation APIs and tiles to iOS via the native app.  Apple did not want to go into the mapping business for itself right now.

But, it had to, because GIS is the linchpin of mobile these days, and Apple needs to “control essential technologies“.

RIM not dead to the government?

ICE is giving RIM another chance with Blackberry 10.  This is good – competition is healthy, and it sounds like RIM is taking some good steps forward in BB 10.  We’ll find out soon whether it’s too late.

The Magazine’s success

Marco Arment, on the success of his publishing venture, The Magazine:

The Magazine works because I based decisions not on what everyone else was doing, but on what would be best for this magazine. Every publication has its own unique needs, audience, economics, and style, so their apps should reflect that.

The Magazine “works” because Arment has an identified market of 400,000+1 discriminating buyers who have proven that they are willing to pay for content, and the content is written mostly by fellow Blue Wall bloggers who are similarly well-known to that same group of buyers.

Kudos to Arment for identifying this opportunity and executing on it.  Ascribing the success to the format of his app is disingenuous.

  1. That’s a conservative estimate, based solely on the number of subscribers John Gruber’s Daring Fireball has.  Gruber often links to Arment’s pieces, and he promoted The Magazine to his followers.

Goose and gander

Jakob Nielson wrote a pretty scathing review of Windows 8, based on real-world usability tests.  At the end, he included a disclaimer to preemptively refute the “you’re just a fanboy” comments that would inevitably follow.  John Gruber’s commentary on this?

[I]t sounds defensive to include this disclaimer.

I’m sure he has a similar post in the wings ready to chastise MG Siegler’s similar disclaimer in his much less unbiased Windows Surface review.

There is developing a blue wall of influential tech writers, and it’s a bit disturbing.  They all appear to be very insightful and articulate individuals, but a too-large number of their posts seem to serve simply to pat each other on the back.

Having a group of individuals you can trust is important, and you should give deference to those who have proven themselves over time.  But treat all writers impartially and watch out when you take down someone not in the inner circle for some ticky-tack offense that one of your cohorts has likely committed as well.

Cake eater

MG Siegler:

Yes, I love almost all Apple products and the iPad (and now iPad mini) in particular. May a thousand “BIASED!!!” comments bloom in the cesspit below this post — I’ll give you plenty of fertilizer. But at the end of the day the fact remains that if I rip apart a product that’s actually good, that looks bad on me. My aim is simply to point out what I believe to be the best products. In recent years, in my view, those have been Apple products. But that hasn’t always been the case. And that won’t always be the case.

But then toward the end:

Look, the Surface is not as awful as I’m making it sound.  But in no way is it good.

Is this consistent?  Of course, he’ll say, because the product isn’t good, and that’s all he committed to distinguishing between.  But that’s not the test.  Journalistic integrity is not dividing products between “good” and “bad”, and then making the “bad” sound unusable in your review.  It’s accurately representing the product.1

Siegler seems to want it both ways – to be viewed as unbiased, yet able to unjustly trash a product beyond its faults.  Now, I have no idea what in his review is real and is hyperbole.  So I have to file the entire article right next to Siegler’s Surface.
  1. I’ll add that I agree with Ben Brooks, that a review should have an opinion in it, too.

RISC? Never heard of it.

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu:

While we believe it is inevitable that Mac + OS X and iPhone + iPad + iOS merge at some point, we don’t believe it will likely happen for a few years. From our understanding, the key reason is because OS X is optimized for [Intel] x86 processors while iOS is for ARM RISC (reduced instruction set computing). It will likely take some time to optimize OS X and hence Mac for ARM.

Apple released OS X for Intel in 2005, after running on the PowerPC platform for years.  PowerPC was a RISC family architecture.1  Before publicly switching to Intel, Apple had OS X running on x86 processors for years.  Chances are there is an ARM-based machine in Cupertino somewhere running OS X.

Wu should have led with his next point, which is most likely the reason Apple is a long ways off from merging iOS and OS X:

In addition, [Intel] processors are much more powerful for running compute-intensive Mac applications and for development.

  1. Granted, ARM and PowerPC are completely different designs, but the point stands – RISC-to-CISC (and vice versa) is not a showstopper.

Because Jobs said so

John Gruber and Dan Frommer list a number of good reasons why Apple did not release the iPad mini first, but they neglect the number one reason: because Steve Jobs didn’t want to.

Gruber suggests Jobs was badmouthing the Samsung Galaxy Tab and not smaller tablets in general.  I think Jobs was pretty clear:

Apple has done extensive user testing on user interfaces over many years, and we really understand this stuff. There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.

Jobs misjudged a nonexistent market as he was leading the charge to create it – nobody could realistically fault him for that.  But I believe that history will show that he was, in fact, wrong about the minimum size required for a tablet.  The iPad mini is fantastic – I picked up the 32GB model on Friday (black, natch), and I have already sold my iPad 2.

Ship when ready applies to software, too

Apple seems to be forgetting one of its core principles and something that has helped them distinguish themselves from the teeming hordes of would-be Apple killers – announce products when they are ready, not when marketing tells you to.

First, there was Siri (admittedly announced and released as a beta product).  Next was Maps, which may have been the final nail in Scott Forstall’s coffin (via Daring Fireball).  Next, Apple pushed the release date of iTunes 11 to November, after promising it in October during the iPhone 5 announcement event.  Now, 9-to-5 Mac reports that LTE iPad minis are being delayed.

It could be that supply constraints caused by the Wifi iPad mini launch are to blame.  There is no questioning Apple’s prowess in the hardware arena.  However, Apple is sucking with unexpected regularity on the software side.1  There is no explanation for the Maps issues and the iTunes 11 slippage, other than that Apple announced products that were not ready.

This all feels very un-Apple-y.

  1. I didn’t even mention MobileMe’s launch problems.