Critiquing the WWDC Critics: Why They Think Apple is Doomed

| Particle Debris

In many endeavors these days, outsiders have a louder voice than the people doing the hard work. It's so bad that scientists have to take classes on public speaking. The same goes for Apple. The people inside of Apple, designing and selling great products that are snapped up immediately by customers, are under a barrage of criticism by outsiders who boast loudly that Apple is failing. Why is this so?

There are several answers. First, many writers don't want to appear to be an Apple lackey. The distinct aura of an independent, neutral voice is sought, but then that only results in Apple being an equal opportunity victim.

Second, being critical is not the same as critical analysis. But some authors depend on the readers not knowing the difference.

Third, it's very hard to analyze from the outside, without perspective driven by facts. All some writers know about Apple is what they see in the WWDC Keynote.

Apple has stated their vision very, very clearly. Despite that vision, so well executed that Apple's retail stores are constantly mobbed and WWDC sells out in 71 seconds, outsiders insist that they have better answers than Apple.

For example, we have this tirade on the color scheme of iOS 7, slamming it for being a girly, estrogen driven OS. Oh, Puh-leze. The article was, itself, written by a juvenile. And then there's this low-insight article that goes through the obligatory list of WWDC announcements, but then, with a blind eye, declares that Apple produced no game changers in the Keynote. And then there's this slightly better article, by a writer who should know better, who declares that data services alone dictate Apple's fortunes.

WWDC Reality

Apple did a lot at WWDC that some observers haven't noticed or wanted to explore. Each item could be an entire article.

  1. Introduced (for those who have no vision) very clear vision statement in a video, linked to above.
  2. Launched the first totally new product in the Tim Cook regime, a new Mac Pro.
  3. Renewed their commitment to technical professionals with the Mac Pro and Mavericks.
  4. Took a huge risk in the redesign of iOS 7.
  5. Showcased Craig Federighi as the new father of iOS and OS X integration, not iOS-ification.
  6. Exhibited a calmer, cooler, buckle down company, tempered by the stable, intelligent personality of Tim Cook and a visible commitment to fix a lot of nagging problems instead of adding gratuitous features to their OSes.
  7. Celebrated and inspired 5,000 developers (and many more without actual tickets) who see a gold rush where the naysayer writers see a blind alley.

The developers we've interviewed see a world of promise. They've often been inside Apple. Some, many have worked for Apple. They've seen how Apple operates. They know that Apple has created an ecosphere that nourishes their business. They understand how Apple works. And while they admit that Apple has flaws, they don't see it as signs of a fatal disease, merely blemishes to be treated.

In time, Apple will use its talent and vision to build the Next Big Thing. The fact that Apple didn't do it on schedule, on demand, doesn't mean the company is doomed. It just means that writers who aren't deep on Apple are frustrated and anxious.

Meanwhile, Apple just keeps on building products customers love. If Apple were all that hosed up, they wouldn't even come close to meeting their guidance for revenues in this June quarter. But watch, Apple's practical, honest projection for $33.5 to 35.5 billion in revenue will be fulfilled and spot on. Here are some more numbers to ponder.

Some Good Analysis

I've looked at some dreck here, but I must say that there is a lot of excellent work out there. Much more in fact. The customary Tech News Debris fell away this week because there was so much positive discussion of WWDC. So, for balance, I'll list here some recommended items from a few of my favorite authors. They should provide some good insights for your Saturday reading.

iOS 7 is the most skeuomorphic, most liberating version ever

WWDC Opinion: Fall will be Apple's Harvest Festival

Apple Should Press Delete On Phablets, iPad Maxis And Cheap Phones. Here's Why

WWDC: Now it looks like Apple's going to take out the console market

Apple's security strategy: make it invisible

Apple’s WWDC: Instant Analyses

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Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event of the week combined with a summary of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.

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15 Comments Leave Your Own

Constable Odo

It wouldn’t be so bad if only tech pundits and the news media thought Apple has no future but what’s really bad is that Wall Street wholly agrees with them.  Apple can’t give away its stock to investors because they don’t want to get burned again.  iOS 7 is seen as not being able to sell more iPhones in any greater quantity than iOS 6.  Apple doesn’t seem to be making any progress in the mobile industry while Android is going like gangbusters.  iOS 7 appears to be the equivalent of Windows 8 which is practically sinking the Windows computer industry.  Considering Apple has $150 billion in the bank, it needs to do a hell of a lot better than it has been.  Apple’s share price continues to sink, so Apple really needs to do something positive to interest investors.

mhikl

An early pot of coffee brewed,
My laptop poised upon my knee
The kids are asleep
Whilst the wife dreams of me
Doing what I’d prefer you not see.

Actually she snores like a tank; well, that’s what I and the older boy tell her. Regardless, looks like a humdinger of a Particle Debris.

dswoodley

” iOS 7 appears to be the equivalent of Windows 8 which is practically sinking the Windows computer industry.  “

I’m sorry, but this is ridiculous.  Windows 8 completely changed how you interact with the OS.  iOS 7 is a skin change with a few new gestures.  People hated the OS X icons at first and actually thought the OS9 icons were better.  If the iOS 7 icons were the first-ever iPhone icons, people would have loved them and then if they were replaced by the icons we know and are used to today, people would say “OMG! these are horrible”.  Most people are afraid of change and what’s different.  It will all pass.

mhikl

C.O. Really!*

Here’s a tricky question: Why on earth should Apple care, worry, spend a moment’s time to do anything positive to interest investors? It job and interest is to continue making fabulous products that everyone with a brain desires, insanely.

I’m quite serious. My head’s in the sky when it comes to financial matters but one thing seems assured: Apple has more money than MS, Google, Facsimile Sam and a gang of lesser evils. It has profits that defines envy and leaves any chance anyone catching up far off in the forth millennium, great products that sell like free hotcakes for the hungry, and the company continues to endlessly grab all the headlines, good and bad, and has so many sites screaming its name in headlines that surely indicates from every possible mountain top that Apple (and its products) aren’t being ignored into bankruptcy.

I bet Tim and Jon sleep as carefree, but quieter, as my wife, and are in no need to cash-in their sacks of stock safely stuffed in their mattresses, car trunks, back yards, car trunks, back pockets, etc .

* ! of “What are you thinking! :->)

Just sayin’
(My third time to try to post this puppy.)

Bryan Chaffin

mhikl, technically Apple’s executive’s job is to create shareholder value. They do so by creating great products, but their first responsibility is actually to shareholders.

It’s one of the good and bad thing about our system of publicly owned companies.

Mind you, IMNHO, Apple will create the most longterm shareholder value by staying focused on the job of making the best possible products. When sales and profits once again increase—as I believe they will—Wall Street will again think Apple is the bee’s knees.

I just thought it important to point out that Apple’s executives and board of directors absolutely have a responsibility to, “care, worry, spend a moment’s time to do anything positive to interest investors.”

Lee Dronick

It seems to me that a lot of tech writers, pundits, and such, like devices that are “tech” more so than easy to use for the non technical type of person. Not to mention the primary function of a reporter is to get viewers with attention grabbing stories, kind of like Apple’s primary responsibility is to their stockholders.

daemon

Bryan,

There are other ways to create shareholder value than by simply increasing the cost of buying more stock. You could for example issue dividends out of the profits you earn, rather than taking out loans.

I’m also not a fan of pastel colors.

skipaq

Thanks for the links, John. The two articles by Jonny Evans at Computerworld provide the best analysis of WWDC that I have read thus far. These conferences and keynotes are very carefully designed to present a message. It wasn’t only about iPhone and iPad. This fall Apple TV will grow up as it opens up to apps with new hardware. The new iPhones will be released first. Then in the October or early November time frame Apple will present the big things Cook said were coming this fall.

ibuck

Lee Dronick; the primary function of a reporter is to get viewers with attention grabbing stories

It’s sad that journalism has devolved to this. Remember when reporters put the W’s (Who, What, When, Where, HoW and Why) in the first paragraph of a story?  And then explained in the subsequent paragraphs? Now the media fails to do their most basic job.

Even good writers have attention grabbing headlines stuck atop their work by some hack who appears to have not even read the story. And the writers can’t do much about it. Too many news arbiters filter out honest analysis and fair reporting. In his last years, Steve Jobs denigrated this sorry state of “journalism” and hoped to improve it by recruiting better journalism for iPad.

daemon

“It’s sad that journalism has devolved to this.”

@ibuck: What? When were you born? What era of journalism ever put anything ahead of getting attention and more viewership?

skipaq

The news of the 1950’s would bore today’s audience to death. I remember and it would be refreshing for this old man to see it again.

gnasher729

Two things, a minor one first: About this “shareholder value” thing. A few years ago, Apple was valued at about 7 billion dollars. Today it is _valued_ at $400 billion, but considering that $400 billion is the same as Apple’s cash plus five times last year’s profits, that number is just ridiculous. With these numbers in mind, Tim Cook should tell any analyst that wants to cricisize him: Who the f*** do you think you are? What makes you think that you with your puny little brain know better than the people who made Apple the most successful computer company ever? (Not that Tim Cook _will_ say that, but he surely should).

The big one: At every developer conference, I get some feeling where things are going. Sometimes the feeling is that all is fine, sometimes things are a bit dubious, and very rarely you get the feeling of change. This one is the second time that I got that feeling in many years.

Background: When iTunes 11 was released, it was different. There was change for changes sake. It was rubbish. Then Forstall left. Then iTunes 11.0.1 came and it was changed and better. iTunes 11.0.2 came and it was changed and better. 11.0.3 and 11.0.4, and the same.

At this WWDC, I see serious improvement everywhere. Apple’s energy saving initiative. Enterprise support (MDM), some serious work being done there with amazing results. iCloud and Maps, where Apple pushed something out and now _keeps pushing to make it better_. Apparently unnoticed: Apple declared war on Google. By going with Bing (and there is war between Microsoft and Google as well), by continuing to improve Maps, and through the cloud version of iWorks. And the one number that counts for the people who count: 75% of app payments to developers were made by Apple, 20% through Android, 5% elsewhere. Two new MacBooks that make you wonder why _anyone_ would buy an Ultrabook. The new Mac Pro, a very, very powerful token. It is actually quite incredible what Apple has achieved in the last year.

So I have rarely been more optimistic for Apple than right now.

ibuck

Nilay Patel of The Verge is partly right that Apple needs to master data and services. On one hand, the iTunes store and the OS X App Store work well. So do Time Machine and Airport. On the other hand, Siri, Maps, and iCloud need improvement. Undoubtedly Apple is working diligently on these, and we will probably see improvements by the time consumers experience iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks.

With the new Airport Extreme and Time Capsule, new revs of all Apple hardware to accommodate 802.11ac, are sure to appear soon. With better battery life and security for the portables.

And now that iAd has reduced the entry price to $50, don’t be surprised to see increased advertisers and revenues there for Apple. Even without any TV development, sales, revenues and profits will probably strengthen for Apple this year, and that will drive the share price up as well. The rest of the year looks bright for Apple customers and investors.

John, Thanks for turning us on to Jonny Evans’ blog at Computerworld and John Kirk at Tech.pinions: both are interesting reads.

John Kirk:  Apple doesn’t strive to be the first, they strive to be the best. Apple is quick to discard the old, slow to adopt the new.

Critics, especially those with an agenda, are the opposite: often quick to adopt the new (usually ignoring obvious flaws and problems) and slow to discard the old. So they seem to oppose Apple at every opportunity.

Lee Dronick

  The news of the 1950’s would bore today’s audience to death. I remember and it would be refreshing for this old man to see it again.

Right now I am watching the movie The Public Eye which is about a 1940s era freelance photographer noted for his lurid photos of crime scenes and street life. It is based upon the work of Arthur Fellig, known as The Famous Weegee http://museum.icp.org/museum/collections/special/weegee/

There are probably a few good journalists and reporters still out there, but probably not as much as the old days.

 

Lancashire-Witch

True; some of the stuff makes poor reading. But looking at the screenshots in the tirade I know which I prefer.  The iOS7 “housestyle” looks like something you might find on a box in Toys R Us.

As for the rest - new hardware and the world’s best operating system named after gambling cowboys - I’m fine with it.

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