The Death of Apple’s Magic Touch

A magic hat

Apple’s magic touch is legendary. But perspectives by different people vary. Sometimes a unique, idiosyncratic view is mostly wrong, but thought provoking. And it takes courage to write. This is one of those.

A magic hat

The Particle Debris article of the week is from Medium.

At the heart of the article is a giant paragraph of what’s not magical about many Apple products. (Just skip to that.) It will irritate you. It will provoke you. It will make you think.

My only question is this. How could the inspired author, Simon Helyar, neglect to mention iTunes? The most not magical app on the planet. Or the iOS home page UI? Or Apple’s Mac shipping schedule?

Maybe he just ran out of room. In any case, you have to admire his hutzpah.


More Debris

USA Today discusses how “U.S. border agents can seize your laptop or smartphone when you reenter the country after traveling abroad, and do so without a warrant. Privacy advocates think the practice violates your constitutional rights.” This is a thorny issue. See: “U.S. customs can seize your laptop or phone without a warrant. Advocates cry foul in court.

• This next article is, in my view, an example of what happens when a technology writer doesn’t do any homework. Expectations run aground and bitter complaints ensue. Provided for your amusement: “Why I now hate my Apple Watch slightly less.” It’s reason #719 to stick with Apple technology experts.

• We all need good food. Vegetables. Many areas need more food. No human loves working in the hot sun. And so… robots to the rescue. “Robot farming startup Iron Ox has started selling its produce in California.” This is a Good Thing.

• Speaking of robots, ponder this. Amazon employs many thousands of human workers. And yet, we keep hearing about how robots will put manual laborers out of work. How to reconcile? Here’s what I found. “Amazon says fully automated shipping warehouses are at least a decade away.Years, how they take so long and they go so fast. (Years: Beth Nielsen Chapman)

• Previously, our Charlotte Henry alluded to the Netflix announcement about studio quality audio. To add some additional context, here’s a nice follow-up. “What Netflix’s New High-Quality Audio Means for You.

• Gordon Kelly at Forbes explores what he calls an intentional leak by Apple designed to whet our appetite for the iPhone 11 in September. “Apple New iPhone Plans Go Back To The Future.

Picked up by patent sleuth PatentlyApple, Apple has published a detailed patent of how it will reintroduce a cutting-edge version of Touch ID into its iPhones. And it is fingerprint recognition, unlike anything we have seen before.

This is a very educational read. Check it out.

• Jason Cross at Macworld takes a look at: “How Apple TV Channels prices compare to native apps like HBO Now, Showtime, and CBS All Access.” Bookmark this page for updates to his very nice table of prices.

• Finally, William Gallagher ay AppleInsider shows us what’s good, bad and ugly about Apple News+. “The truth about what’s actually good and bad about Apple News+.

It’s been hugely hyped and roundly criticized, but after more than a month’s intensive use, Apple News+ has proved to have very specific good and bad features. Before you sign up, or before you cancel, here’s a true Pro/Con list for Apple News+.

Good stuff.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

5 thoughts on “The Death of Apple’s Magic Touch

  • The conundrum is that Apple’s rep is based on attention to detail, yet when things get ever more complex and complicated — regular updates, a growing product line — fails are inevitable. Regrettable but inevitable.
    OTOH, the Apple basher clickbait makers can be safely ignored for the most part. I mean, it’s not like Apple went ahead and, for example, put the charging pad into production before discovering (or admitting) that it was a POS. You know, like (for but one example) Samsung did with the Fold (which also was a fine product at $2k while the iPhone X was overpriced at $1,500). For that matter, Apple has been slammed for the charging mat debacle to an extent that Samsung hasn’t been for the fold. But BS is funny like that.

  • Ugh. Writing pablum is not courageous. I’ll give Phil Schiller for credit for trying to spin the removal of the headphone jack given the predictable reaction it would receive before I give Helyar any credit for courageousness.

    Jobs was a unique figure, and vital to Apple’s success but he’s passed. Get over it. Rehashing the “Jobs this — Jobs that” angle is a tired and lame.

    Tim Cook was Jobs’ hand-picked successor. With impossibly big shoes to fill. He’s a different person, and as a result, Apple is a different company. Jobs knew that as well, and told Cook not to second guess himself.

    Had Jobs’ survived, there’s absolutely no guarantee the company wouldn’t have gone down the same course, or found that its incredible streak had to end at some point. Apple is not any more immune to growing old than IBM, HP, or Sony, Jobs’ admired template, were. A natural course of events.

    Jobs also granted Jony Ive an almost unimpeachable position. I’d argue that he can be more reasonably questioned than Cook. Aside from the Watch, much of what he’s done is rehash the same old designs, contributing to stagnation of the product line, and whose obession for thinness that has sacrificed usability and affected durability. Not having Jobs’ ying to Ive’s yang is one place where his presence is missed. Trying too hard to emulate Dieter Rams has gone to his head. Tech devices need to evolve faster than appliances, and even classic designs can’t last forever.

    It nay be hard to accept, but Apple is no longer the renegade pirates, or hammer thrower in 1984. It’s the figure on the screen.

  • Mr. Martellaro said it will irritate me. Didn’t irritate me a bit. I’ve been an Apple user since the Apple }{, albeit exclusively on computers. Haven’t found other products of much interest when they’re outrageously expensive. Sorry the fictional guy was fired. He had something to say.

  • Re: Why I Hate My AppleWatch Slightly Less.
    Uh, yeah he lost me when he called us “Apple fanbois”. Right then I knew he had nothing to say and was working from a biased position of ignorance.

  • The Beatles (allegedly a Jobs favorite and later victim to his stealing the name Apple) -mined gold at first by singing lyrics in 3rd person – She Loves You, I want to hold YOUR hand, From ME to You etc. but after the coffers were full and they got bored they stretched creativity with each LP always changing and daring one to keep up… You understand filling the coffers at first, but then you hope to grow and do the Sgt Pepper later, too. Apple lost the plot with stupid phones and the fascist sandbox bs – toys essentially that are now so moot as part of the fabric of society that nobody cares – it’s a commodity. Apple is rich – but in a Corn Flakes way – no vision, spotty bendy ipads, exploding batteries, dongles that cost 2x and break, laptop hinges, mean spirited bricking of users phone’s batteries on and on… Of course the Apple clones and drones won’t agree but all I say to them is How is that Titan car coming??? Hows that wireless charging going? Tesla just designed a neural network chipset for the next gen autopilot switching from Nvidia to Samsung made from Tesla design – how’s Apple’s little chip going? 📺

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