Apple is a Large Company - it Has Large Ambitions

Paraphrasing Star Trek's Mr. Spock s/civilizations/companies/

"Small companies have small ambitions. Large companies have large ambitions." Given that fact of our technical life, many observers expect Apple to act like a small company and grumble when it doesn't. In fact, as Apple grows, so must its customers (and observers) in their perspective. Apple Watch and Apple Music are cases in point.


There seems to be an emerging naysayer theme nowadays: grand and ambitious new products by very large technology companies must be perfect, at launch, or the company has failed. Failed miserably. However, as we know, there are so may variables involved, no one can be sure nothing will go wrong. This applies particularly well to the launch of the Apple Watch and Apple Music.

The issue, for these very large, ambitious projects, is not whether everything went perfectly for all customers all the time. Rather, the question is whether the service is viable for some very, very high percentage of the users. Can fixes and tune-ups get us the rest of the way?

In the case of the Apple Watch (which I can't live without BTW), Apple had some [rumored] production and rollout issues. That made Apple an easy target for criticism and doubts about how many Apple would really end up selling over the years. Yet, the irony is that Apple is in this new product for the long haul. The fact that the Apple Watch will be in the Best Buy stores starting August 7 reveals that production is catching up. Expect more point of sales locations to crop up and ignite broader sales. That's how Apple works. Build on success until the product is unstoppable.

Here is just one of the great stories about this revolutionary device: "Apple Watch: A brilliant addition to my life." I couldn't have said it better.

The same holds true for Apple Music. Some early bugs when combined with the complexity of the match process, user libraries, the iTunes Music Library in the iCloud and the huge challenge to explain the scope of Apple Music have combined to create misery for a few. We end up with legitimate articles like the next one which, while it has merit, misses that larger picture I've described. "Apple Music’s Worst Feature? You Can’t Delete It." The lesson? Roll out these huge projects in a spiral, sequential approach.

And yet...

If you look hard enough, you can find plenty of material to criticize any hightech company, pick one: [Amazon. Apple, Google, Oracle, Microsoft]. But the larger questions are broad and not simply whether there are sporadic, fixable problems. They are: what are the prospects? Can we live with great change and some doubt? And how willing and ready are we to learn and grow?

Of course, along that journey, one should always have backups.

Next page: the tech news debris for the week of July 20. When robots kill.

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of July 20


Recently, TMO's Bryan Chaffin wrote a great editorial about Apple's new iPhone marketing campaign. Several areas were touched, including Apple's plain language explanation of why the iPhone is, according to Apple, "absolutely simple, beautiful, and magical to use." There's no doubt in my mind that this philosophy can be traced back to something Steve Jobs firmly believed in."Start With The Customer Experience and Work Backwards."

The embedded video here is important. Magnificent. Steve Jobs, under great pressure from a snarky developer, speaking for many about the Apple cancellation of Open Doc in 1997, was graceful under pressure. In a thoughtful, prescient and polite explanation, Mr. Jobs patiently explained what Apple needed to do next.

He explained how Apple needed to envision the customer experience and then work backwards into the hardware and software. This video is dramatic and inspiring. Not only can we see the mind Mr. Jobs at work but also how he handled severe criticism with quiet conviction and passion. Watch it.

When Tim Cook says he and his team are serious about preserving this kind of legacy of Apple, he means it. The above video proves it.

Moving on, I've always admired the work of AnandTech. Their reviews go deep and wide, and this review of the Apple Watch is no exception. You'll learn more about design of the Apple Watch than anywhere else you've been.

I've written about graphene before, and so it pleased me greatly to see this patent by Apple invoking the use of that wondrous material. "Apple Reveals Lightning Connectors with Graphene Signal Paths."

Apple believes strongly in its new development language called Swift. At WWDC in June, Swift 2.0 was released, and it's amazing to see how far the language has come and how quickly developers have embraced it. For a great summary of the recent history of this language, see: "They grow up fast: Apple quietly bulks up Swift and Xcode in year two." by John Timmer. After reading this, you'll never want to code in anything else.

Psst. All the guys in the back of the room who raised their hands for Fortran are dismissed.

The battle between Oracle, now the owner of Java, and Google over how Android was developed isn't over. Not by a long shot. Here's an update: "Oracle bolsters copyright case against Android."

In this next article, the question is asked: was Snow Leopard Apple's "XP"? The conclusion is "No," but in the discussion is some additional perspective on the adoption rate of Apple's various versions of OS X—including an informative chart. Nice. Tidy. Where are you on that pie chart?

Apple Pay is a remarkable product, and it's getting stronger. Here's a great article on the state of Apple Pay by Dan Moren at Macworld "In its second year, Apple Pay is ready to cash in." However, if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty details of the various mobile payments technologies, see this not recent but tour de force treatise by Megan Geuss at ars technica "How Apple Pay and Google Wallet actually work." I wish I had found that one earlier.

There is, I believe, a myth that Mac users don't need anti-virus software. In fact, there are so many ways other kinds of malware can come into your Mac that it is indeed wise to have software that monitors Internet traffic and looks for the characteristic signatures of malware.

Here's a summary article that explains the work by an independent testing company on how well various security products catch the signatures of malware arriving at your Mac. In "Mac security software on test" look for the link in the third paragraph to the AV-Comparatives.

Finally, one of the recurring themes of Particle Debris has been robots and androids (robots with a human appearance). This discussion was made more poignant recently when a robot in Germany killed a human worker in a Volkswagen plant. For a very good discussion of the issues, especially that of liability, see: "When robots kill."


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 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 holidays.