The Solution to Apple’s New Crisis: Build More Great Stuff. Sell It To Us

3 minute read
| Particle Debris

The Particle Debris article of the week comes from Kara Swisher at the New York Times:

Why this article? This week there were all kinds of doom and gloom articles about Apple’s current plight, iPhone sales in China and the precipitous drop in stock price. Some predict the outright demise of Apple. I’ll skip those. Others, properly, point out that Apple has good expertise at navigating crises. Maybe with not enough sober concern. So I picked the one I liked best. Most balanced—even if the title is overly dramatic.

Apple Park

Great people and products produce great buildings.

Continuing with author Swisher’s theme, the real point may be that Apple led itself down a primrose path. Useful products were cancelled. No more Apple displays. No more Apple Airport Extremes. Lingering inattention to the Mac lineup still plagues Apple. For example, no 2018 iMacs. MacBook left in Limbo. The HomePod didn’t set the world on fire. Siri fell behind as an AI. All along Apple was happy to bask in iPhone glory.

And now that the iPhone caught a cold, Apple has a fever.  But we’ve been down this road before. For some historical perspective, see: “Apple, The Perils of Power and Human Emotion.

No doubt this will be good for Apple. CEO Cook will sternly issue a directive, in memory of Steve Jobs, to innovate out of this crisis. I can’t wait to see the results.

More Debris

• Computing equipment makers, like Apple, don’t want us using low-grade, dangerous USB-C cables, and so there’s a plan to introduce a USB-C authentication progam. Jonny Evans at Computerworld writes: “Apple wants to stop you using dangerous USB-C devices.

The USB Type-C Authentication Program is a scheme in which computers, smartphones, and other ‘host systems’ will be able to identify USB-C cables that don’t meet the grade.

Sometimes, things do get better. This is a great move.

• We have a form of biometric authentication on our iPhones, called Face ID, but the Apple Watch remains stuck using a passcode. That may be about to change. From Digital Trends : “Apple patent hints at biometric authentication for the Apple Watch.” Do we really need this? Is it too annoying to punch in a passcode? This idea seems to fulfill the law of modern technology: If something can be done, it will be done. But it’s only a patent application for now. We shall see if the law is fulfilled.

Face ID facial scanning process

Face ID is easy on iPhone. What can be done with Apple Watch?

• You have a job opening in your company. You post a listing at You get thousands of responses. What to do? Of course! Let your new AI handle it!

• Did Apple get out of the home router/Wi-Fi market at just the wrong time? The TMO staff thinks so. So does Bradley Chambers over at 9to5Mac. Apple exited the home Wi-Fi market at the wrong time.

Since Apple took its eye off of the home router business (The AirPort lineup was dead for many years before the announcement), users have started to buy more expensive solutions. Solutions like Eero , Google WiFi, and AmpliFi have shown that people will invest in their home Wi-Fi. Even solutions from ISPs like Comcast have gotten into the business of upgrading your home Wi-Fi.

Apple can still cash in on its privacy stance and, accordingly, our trust in the company. It’s not too late.

• Closely related is the concept of cutting the cord. The Verge has published a terrific, extensive cord cutters guide. You’ll want to save this one for reference. “The Verge Cord Cutter’s Guide: Hardware, Software, And Services.

• We’re all familiar with the how our consumer AIs just don’t “get” what we’re after. Even if it can pass the Turing test, there’s a lot more to ask of an intelligent AI/robot companion. New tests have beeen proposed. See: “Are Home Health Aides The New Turing Test For AI?

In a series of provocative blog posts, … Rodney Brooks proposes new ways of thinking about AGI that go way beyond the Turing test. … Brooks proposes a new goal for AGI — not the simple, textual Turing test, but rather the home health aide or elder care worker, what he calls ECW. By this he does not mean a friendly companion robot, but rather something that offers cognitive and ‘physical assistance that will enable someone to live with dignity and independence as they age in place in their own home.’

Robot and Frank poster

Credit: Dog Run Pictures.

Yep. Just like the robot in the movie Robot and Frank. What a terrific movie for our time.

Another test is the ability of AIs to assist in the teaching process by identifying what students need most. (AIs as actual instructors are probably the next step, but that’s much further off.) See: “Personalized Learning: Artificial Intelligence and Education in the Future.”

• Finally, do you suffer from KYAPBFTL? Keeping Your Apple Product Boxes For Too Long? I know I do. Here’s the fix. Let’s all do this together in 2019.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article 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.

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John: While I don’t disagree with the gist of the discussion around your lede story from Kara Swisher, and the need to sell products that people will buy, I don’t see this as your most important story in this week’s PD. In that sense, your lede may be misleading (pun intended). In fact, I would argue that neither the topic nor its argument as presented is even interesting or meaningful. @geoduck is correct, in my view, that the press are overblowing this; but worse, too many are failing to set Apple’s new guidance in the appropriate context of what most… Read more »


The exact date that Apple began their stagnation is when they began construction on the spaceship headquarters building. Since then they have not introduced any new products or upgraded versions of existing products until last year with the new iMac Pro, iPad Pro, and Mac Mini. Up till the time those products were introduced, they had sat there untouched for 4-5 years, selling for the original prices for that entire time. I just bought a new iMac, my 7-year old one is now considered “vintage” and could not be upgraded to Mojave, yet the new iMac I bought is exactly… Read more »


Apple should make a true Mac tablet. iOS is a limited jailed sandboxed you. macOS is a true computer with freedom and power. Do not forget standalone Macs (besides Mac mini) like Mac mini TOWER and Thunderbolt 3 displays. Besides WIRED Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad and WIRED Magic Mouse 2. It is a real pain to have to charge them when wireless is utterly superfluous here and an aggression to environment. Last but not least, allow to NOT use T2 chip. I have nothing to hide and T2 encrypts-decrypts all the time, which again is an environmental aggression when… Read more »


One other thought. Most of the press and web sites are SEVERELY pverblowing this. This is not a crisis. Apple is not losing money. Sales in ine reagon were below projections. They earned a few billion less than they expected. And it happened because, as JustCause said below, due to high level political changesthey had no control over. Yes much of the press,even sorces that resist such hyperbole such as the BBC are acting like the next Great Depression just syarted because Apple went bankrupt.

In reality it is a bit of choppy water. That is all


I think this Loop Insight said it best:

“The more I thought about this earnings warning, the more it came down to what Apple could have done to prevent it. The simple answer is nothing. It’s an economic problem that is entirely out of Apple’s control, and an issue that will rectify itself over time.

In the meantime, Apple needs to do everything it can to allow easy upgrades for users, and most importantly, continue to excel at making great products.”

I think Apple makes fantastic products and has great services but people are getting extremely price conscious. I don’t mind paying a bit extra for Apple kit because I know how reliable and know about it longevity but others may not.
The competition is producing some compelling kit at very competitive prices. Apple has to recognise that. They need to be competitive in both quality and price. That old saying once an Apple user always an Apple user still applies, it’s getting them in in the first place is the trick.
Macs and iPhones need to be less expensive.

John Kheit

Kara Swisher is a smug and self-over rated pile of garbage. I’d rather shove my hand in a blender than read any of her self indulgent ramblings. A quadroople amputee mole provides far more insight than her, or her predecessor’s (Walt M’s) let-me-regurgiatate-what-has-become-obvious-from-others-insight form of analysis. Proving station trumps talent.


But how do you really feel?


Mini-mini-mini-mini non-existent crisis… They can’t solve the Trump issue, they just need to ride it out and invest heavily for the next round.


I don’t understand what it is about computer boxes. Going all the way back to the old MacSE and 486PC days everyone I knew would keep the box. They’d throw away the box for the mixer, the power drill, the lawn mower. But the one for their computer was put away on a shelf, in the garage, in the attic. Worse yet when they bought a new computer they’d get rid of the old one, but save both boxes. It’s weird. Mind you I have a closet full of old boxes, and two iMac boxes in my attic, so I’m… Read more »


The boxes I keep from Apple look so good 🙂 I have all my iPhone, Apple TV, and Mac boxes….

Lee Dronick

The boxes are generally robust as well aesthetically designed. I am using one of my iPhone boxes to hold my beard and nose hair trimmers. 🧔🏼

Speaking of uses for iPhones. Yesterday I was at the Dermatologist and she used an iPhone to take photos of keratosis spots. Then the photos went into my digital medical record, I don’t know that happened be it by bluetooth, WiFi, or by cable.


Apple product boxes in good condition often command decent resale prices on ebay.