Is Tim Cook a Product Visionary? Does He Need to Be?

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs

Page 2 – News Debris For The Week Of September 25th –

A New Camera Always Pointed at the Customer’s Bed

Amazon has a new product in the Echo family called the Spot. I’m not so much focused on the idea of what it does (think of it as a Dot with an LCD display and camera) as the social implications and motivations behind a device that sits on your nightstand and points a camera at your bed.

The new Amazon Spot.
The new Amazon Spot. Image credit: Amazon.

A moment of reflection.

The article that explores this is by Tom Warren at The Verge. The title is: “Amazon’s Echo Spot is a sneaky way to get a camera into your bedroom.

Author Warren addresses the psychology of the situation and the systematic assault on the customer’s mental barriers. Just a few years ago, there was a major fuss about some smart TVs that had a TV camera facing the viewer. Later we learned that a government spy agency had learned how to hack into these systems.

So my question is, knowing that the Echo Spot is a virtually irresistible target for hackers, why bring it to market? And why would customers, who must be very suspicious of any product with a camera by now, happily pay for a product that’s always focused on their bed?

Perhaps with a household full of enough internet cameras, people just won’t care anymore.

More Debris

• At Computerworld, Jonny Evans has a comprehensive list of: “How your iPhone can save your life.” It’s a good list to study on a rainy Saturday and make sure you know how to set up the various features.

• Yep. Apple’s iTunes is bloated. But was the approach Apple took with iTunes 12.7 sensible? Kirk McElhearn has his own ideas in “This Is Where iTunes Is Bloated.”

• Firefox, as we know, comes from the Mozilla Foundation. It’s a non-profit organization, not one of the tech giants loaded with corporate agenda. And so, many (including me) have a warm place in their heart for Firefox. However, over the years, the speed, simplicity and elegance of Google’s Chrome has resulted in a significant market share.

Firefox Quantum aims to address, at least the speed part. See: “Mozilla Gives Firefox a ‘Quantum’ Speed Boost.” The Mozilla blog has more details.

• Who was Amazon before there was an Amazon? Interestingly, it was Sears, Roebuck & Company. Here’s an interesting analysis at The Atlantic. . “The History of Sears Predicts Nearly Everything Amazon Is Doing.

• Finally, here’s a tasty article at BuzzFeed that goes behind the scenes with Apple’s development of camera technology in its iPhones. “Inside Apple’s Quest To Transform Photography.” There are lots of nice tidbits including comments form Apple’s SVP of Product Marketing Phil Schiller related to Apple’s ultimate goal with iPhone cameras.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two 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 weekends.

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W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: Just a quick thought on TC and Vision. The three points you raise opposing the opinion proffered by Digg are well-reasoned and justified, as is the argument that what Apple need, a company different today than it was during SJ’s second tenure, is an orchestra conductor who, like today’s best conductors, have studied the maestro’s work, thoughts and ideas, and lend their best interpretation at delivering that vision. Some conductors are known as specialists in a given composer’s art, and as the go-to conductor for, example, Igor Stravinsky, or even a specific composition, like Handel’s Messiah. Without doubt, not… Read more »

Lee Dronick

Slightly of Particle Debris comment, but it is in regards to John’s post about the red light mode in the Apple Watch:

Unfortunately, the flashlight doesn’t remember the last setting. If you’ve been using the red light mode to stay dark adapted, leave the flashlight mode for other data, and then come back, you’ll start off with the white light again. It might ruin your dark adaption. Pilots and astronomers won’t like this, and I haven’t found a fix.

A workaround for now could be to create a custom watch face that is just a red image.


Oops, the him I was referring to is Jony Ives.


I think he’s a nice guy, too, though I think he and Steve together had something they don’t separately. again, no faulting the man’s talent, but it just isn’t what it was. C’est la vie, I guess.


Tim Cook seems to be a nice guy and that makes me think of Leo Durocher. He definitely can manage money. But he doesn’t strike me as a strong leader or a visionary. The Apple Watch wasn’t an Apple innovation, it was an Apple customer innovation when consumers took the 6th Gen iPod Nano and put it on a watchband. And it was quickly discontinued (to make way for the “Hey maybe they’re on to something?” watch). Outside of that, the iPhone is being milked for all it’s worth, along with the iMac and laptops. Nothing visionary seems to be… Read more »


‘I think Apple is in jeopardy of becoming another Panasonic if they’re not careful.’ I do, too, or a Sony or a fill-in-the-blank. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, I suppose, they still make very nice products, but it’s a departure, nonetheless . It’s true that Tim doesn’t need to be a visionary, but it’d be nice if someone at Apple was. They have some very good, very talented people, but for me the days of jaw-hitting-floor are pretty much done, methinks. It isn’t necessarily their fault, either, as I suppose that it may have something to do with… Read more »


“but for me the days of jaw-hitting-floor are pretty much done, methinks. . . . I don’t know if there’s much technology will be capable of within my lifetime that hasn’t already been explored to some extent within my lifetime” I feel fortunate that I was around to witness the incredible advances in computer technology. The last technological transition that was as vast and widespread was the introduction of the automobile in the early 20th century. But yes, the trend in personal computing has probably reached a plateau, at least in form factor. Devices cannot get any smaller, ergonomics constrains… Read more »


Just to qualify. I think implanted devices is the most likely next revolution but ‘most likely’ is not the same as ‘likely’. Ironically, ‘most likely’ is a less confident assertion than ‘likely’.


Amazon Spot. I have a little rubberized magnet over the camera on my iMac. I ONLY remove it for Skype Calls. And my computer points at a wall, not my bedroom. Put a device in my bedroom with a camera on all the time? Does the term **** NO, ring a bell? Actually as you alluded, I can’t wait until these get hacked and the internet is flooded with stolen videos of people en flagrante. The lawsuits against Amazon will be massive and entertaining. TC: You make some good points, but you make a very good point. The musical comparison… Read more »


EDIT: TC: I’ve been critical of him, but you make a very good point.

(I SO wish we could edit our comments.)

Lee Dronick

Put a device in my bedroom with a camera on all the time?

I have a security camera in our bedroom. Most of the time it is blocked by a wooden screen. If we go out of town, or just out of the house for the day, then I unmask it.