Apple is like Abercombie and Fitch? Deep.

  • Posted: 27 March 2012 04:21 AM

    The title is a teaser. Hi I haven’t been here forever and this feels overdue.I only ever posted a few times because I was working at apple as an employee from 1995 until 2008, mostly in a group called cpusw, which is tasked with the software bits to drive whatever new hardware was up and coming. The whole non disclosure thing. We did firewire and adc and boot camp to name a few.

    I also haven’t posted much because I’m not a finance guy I’m a math guy. I greatly enjoy this forum and have benefited from it in incalcuable ways.. Thank you.

    We used to say “apple is a hardware company” to remind us of the core of our operations. Invention. Apple has the top hardware geniuses. I was lucky to mostly test their stuff. Not only does apple have the best hw and sw engineers but they work in an environment that makes it all gel. I attribute that 100% to SJ because trust me that part of the magic got really dusty (beige) while he was away.

    Okay that was my preamble.

    the web which is the wonderful construction that will propel all of this great future value forward is laying on top of an ocean which is all of the hardware which floats it.

    apple has done more to parse and calm that ocean than a lot of other hardware companies and has the patents to prove it. To extend the metaphor and introduce a pun apple has also built a lot more safe, open ports than pretty much any of the others.

    Etc.:  what apple does to and for UNIX. Or for the excitement that turns this all into a global human interaction palette as opposed to that new great spreadsheet app for managers.

    It’s still a big ocean (and growing) and there is huge opportunity for companies that can make it into a navigable medium. Who’s best positioned to do that? IBM? NFLX? AMZN?

    I’m really only posting now because of redge’s abercombie and fitch thing. Not to be a dick but redge do you know at all about pasemi, or arm or the ppc chip or altivec? Apple has amazing innovations under its belt and up its sleeves and in its (prada) handbag. They’re fun to learn about even on wikipedia. Get ready for more.

    I’m sitting on 8000 very long shares and I say cheers to you all. Thanks especially to dawntreader, tommouk, sleepygeek, mercel and omacvi. Love you guys

         
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 04:41 AM #1

    Hey, a former Apple employee!

    You know this is on the way (no, not THAT one…the other one), so I might as well get out in front of it.

    So if you don’t mind a quick interview:

    How was life at Apple?

    Why did you decide to leave?

    Ever interfaced much with Apple senior management?  Your general impressions of them?

    Is Target Disk Mode FW-only because of the FW architecture and if so, could TDM be going the way of the dodo?

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    Thanks, Steve.

         
  • Posted: 27 March 2012 05:54 AM #2

    Mav, I forgot to thank you personally too. You post so much I take you for granted.

    Life at Apple was so great that it was all I cared about for way too long. That also answers your second question.

    Senior Management changed more than I did. I met a few over the years and was intellectually impressed by Bertrand, Avie, TC and Steve. That’s some of them smile

    Met TC once at a beer bash and had a conversation abut cross country running, not work. He is wicked smart and extremely personable.

    Saw Steve around campus occasionally and also running sometimes and he would usually acknowledge me, like a good neighbor. I think he remembered me because I worked on that round dvd controller trip of his(nostalgia). Got the chance to tell him he is my hero when I ran into him once on the way to the cafe, standing on the path waiting for Jony to catch up to him to get lunch, and I had to say something ... “My Hero”. He said “watch out for that”  with a real big smile on his face.

    TDM I guess they could do it over thunderbolt maybe but it’s not possible with usb.

    Thanks!

         
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 08:42 AM #3

    Delighted to “meet” you, William!! smile

         
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 10:24 AM #4

    lovemyipad - 27 March 2012 11:42 AM

    Delighted to “meet” you, William!! smile

    +1

    Insights from one who has been in the game are always interesting.  Please post more, even if just anecdotes.

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  • Posted: 27 March 2012 11:37 AM #5

    Thanks for sharing your Apple experience.  If many of us lost the chance to meet S.J. in person, your account somewhat alleviates that unmet goal.  It takes less imagination now. 

    And you are so right about Apple’s potential from here.  Apple is growing not because of its packaging, style and such other dismissive, superficial reasons, but because it’s creating better quality products that meet the needs and wants of its customers on so many levels.  Simple.

    Welcome!  If you’re ever up to Seattle/Bellevue, please drop me a line.  grin

         
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 01:03 PM #6

    Come on, admit it. You guys just slacked off and let marketing do all the work!

    But seriously, thanks. Investments aside, it’s a better world with Apple in it.

    Loved the “my hero” and smiling “watch out for that” response.

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    Posted: 27 March 2012 02:19 PM #7

    The idea that IBM is in another league probably comes from their abundant resources directed at research. While IBM seems to focus on more “pure research” akin to Bell Labs or Xerox PARC, Apple is on a quest to enhance user experience and customer satisfaction. The effort and raw talent is probably at the same level, just directed with more focus.

    In the past year I’ve been fortunate to visit Apple HQ twice. And I hate being under NDA! But the magic there is real. I’m actually surprised not to have seen more from the half dozen news/rumor sites I follow about the new HQ building. Edison had Menlo Park. Apple will have their spaceship.

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  • Posted: 27 March 2012 02:40 PM #8

    rezonate - 27 March 2012 05:19 PM

    The idea that IBM is in another league probably comes from their abundant resources directed at research. While IBM seems to focus on more “pure research” akin to Bell Labs or Xerox PARC, Apple is on a quest to enhance user experience and customer satisfaction. The effort and raw talent is probably at the same level, just directed with more focus.

    In the past year I’ve been fortunate to visit Apple HQ twice. And I hate being under NDA! But the magic there is real. I’m actually surprised not to have seen more from the half dozen news/rumor sites I follow about the new HQ building. Edison had Menlo Park. Apple will have their spaceship.

    No doubt that IBM is as hard core research as you can find anywhere.  These guys are dealing with the basic physics associated with circuit technology.  So I agree with your thinking on where the perspective is coming from.

    I have my first visit to Apple HQ next week, and am very much looking forward to it.  I doubt I will get to see anything interesting though, as this visit is more about them looking at what we have from a possible customer perspective.  Nonetheless, still should be interesting though.

    William - welcome to AFB.  Your perspective is already helping.  I too would not compare Apple to Abercrombie and Fitch .

         
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 03:30 PM #9

    I’m grateful to redge, if only for saying something so outrageous that it brought you out of the woodwork.

         
  • Posted: 27 March 2012 04:07 PM #10

    Prazan - 27 March 2012 06:30 PM

    I’m grateful to redge, if only for saying something so outrageous that it brought you out of the woodwork.

    +10

         
  • Posted: 27 March 2012 05:00 PM #11

    Worked at Apple UK myself for a year in 2000. But it was a disheartening joke. Like a remote sales office. The real stuff happened back in the USA. And the UK employees were 95% non-believers, with Windows PC’s at home. Apple was just a job with good benefits.

    About target disk mode. It’s so sad that USB ever existed. Firewire was first, and far, far better. But Microsoft and Intel wanted to be in control, and imposed horrible USB. Even then, when it was present on all new PC’s, customers wouldn’t use it - until it was rescued by Steve Jobs putting USB on iMac and taking off everything else (ADB, serial, floppy), kick starting a viable market for USB devices.

    (In fact kick starting progress is something Apple did repeatedly for Wintel).

         
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 05:15 PM #12

    I don’t hate USB _that_ much.  It’s fast enough and is half-decent for iOS syncing.

    FW400/800 just never caught on much in the mainstream.  At least I can still get FW800 drives.  Maybe I should buy a new one soon just in case, though.

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    Posted: 27 March 2012 05:21 PM #13

    A “contrarian” question, Will:

    You loved it at Apple.  Others claimed to have hated it.  Personal perspective on why the difference if you noticed burnt out or disaffected coworkers?  We can all guess not-quite-compatible personality/career objectives, maybe worked for a different team under different management, department with less freedom/communication/trust level, a higher-up was a genuine ass, Torched By Steve(tm), etc.  But reading some anonymous Apple employees’ accounts you’d think it was hell on Earth sometimes.  Or that Apple was more ruthless than the norm.  As an Apple employee spanning multiple eras you’re in a unique position to provide a more complete assessment.

    A predictable question I know but I’ve always been a little curious about polarization within Apple.

    [ Edited: 27 March 2012 05:23 PM by Mav ]

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    The Summer of AAPL is here.  Enjoy it (responsibly) while it lasts.
    AFB Night Owl Team™
    Thanks, Steve.

         
  • Posted: 27 March 2012 05:40 PM #14

    USB has definitely improved over the years. IMO USB 2.0 is acceptable for data but really is still insufficient for isochronous transfers like uncompressed audio. Workaround is big buffers ...

    I think two additional reasons fw is challenged by usb: cost (every link is a controller and requires hardware to support that), and packaging size, power consumption.

    Hopefully thunderbolt brings us back all of that fw robustness. I haven’t really played with it much, still using 4 year old mac hardware for the most part ...

    I have another Steve story, related to me by my manager at the time. Background: Infinite Loop is six buildings in a more or less circle with a big grass and tree area in the middle. In order to get from building to building you pretty much have to go outside and walk around the loop. We had those grey plastic tupperware carts to move hardware from place to place. Since most of what we were working on was classified units had to be covered with these black drapes when moved outside of engineering. So anyway, it was always hard to find a cart when you needed one as they would disappear into other groups and never return ... so our secretary bought a bunch of little multi-coloured pom-pons and hot glued them onto our carts to discourage anyone from taking them.

    So my manager was taking a prototype desktop to the Final Cut team to work on a bug, no black drape required because it was in the standard aluminum case. FC team lived in IL1 up on the third floor, dangerously close to Steve’s office. Manager gets into the elevator and Steve is in there on his way up. He takes one look at the decorated cart and with a look of utter disgust says “What’s up with THAT?” Mortified perspiring explanation of the disappearing cart dilemma. Steve said “that’s stupid” and got out of the elevator ... Dave was shaking when he came back and told us the story. We listened like hearing the tale of an encounter with a balrog. “Dude you made it back alive”.

         
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    Posted: 27 March 2012 05:55 PM #15

    Steve would never travel with little ribbons or decorations on his luggage to tell them apart, I guess.  Maybe he shipped it air freight? smile

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    The Summer of AAPL is here.  Enjoy it (responsibly) while it lasts.
    AFB Night Owl Team™
    Thanks, Steve.