Apple's new Mac Pro is now for sale, and reviews are surfacing. They generally tell a story: this is an awesome device, drop dead gorgeous and fast. Already, supplies are constrained. Once again, Apple has properly sized up the market and produced a winner. So why are there grumbles?
T3 writes, in its review,
With the Sir Jonathan Ive approach of hardware and software development in unison continued once more, the Mac Pro's utilitarian chassis is a stark aesthetic statement of old, and for us a refreshing visual shift after several years spent refining and tinkering with established and familiar designs.
And yet. And yet. There are strident, snarky voices that it looks like a trash can. That's it's too expensive. That claim the previous generation of Mac Pros are a better computational value.
None of that matters of course. There are many customers who simply want one. That's one of the signature Jony Ive design goals. Check that box. The other is that enough customers see the value in it, its design and functionality, to drive deliveries into February 2014. Check that box too.
It just goes to show that no matter how many naysayers there are who grumble about the price and delivery dates, there are plenty of other people who judge that they want and need this new Mac Pro. That's all Apple really has to do: create a quality, high-performance, beautiful and desirable product.
Have a vision. Estimate the market. Build a great product. Then execute.
As for production and demand, it's all too easy to hastily surmise that Apple is having production problems because demand has outstripped supply. Fortunately, Jonny Evans at Computerworld has a much more sophisticated take on the whole thing, and it has to do with Apple being very shrewd with its timing. "An alternative take on Apple's Mac Pro supply constraints."
Tech News Debris for the Week of December 16
Microsoft has its share of challenges carved out for it. And so I was interested to read how a Microsoft executive sized up his own company in this interview by Leo Mirani with Quartz.com. "The future of Microsoft as seen by an insider who could be its next CEO." According to the author, "...the Indian-born head of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise division who is known to staff as one of the most articulate and intelligent people in the company".
Outsiders who nevertheless know Microsoft well have been listening to the Microsoft scuttlebutt and have been building a picture of a company that "seems to have lost track of what it’s trying to accomplish." Read more in "Has Microsoft Gone Nuts?"
There has been some recent discussion by AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson that the company is losing its enthusiasm for smartphone subsidies. Mr. Stephenson told CNET: "But as you approach 90 percent penetration, you move into maintenance mode. That means more device upgrades. And the model has to change. You can't afford to subsidize devices like that." And yet, alternatives just don't seem to match the customer attraction the original innovation, according to Horace Dediu. "Bundling and Pricing Innovation." Mr. Dediu writes, cogently:
It may be an illusion, but a cheap phone (with a long-term contract) is a fundamental innovation devised by telco operators even before the phone became mobile. Operators have come to love it and no matter how many technology generations go by; how many family plans, bucket plans, weekend minutes, rollovers, and data packages; no matter how many tweaks and re-brands the model gets, it will persist. There simply isn't sufficient win-win value in alternatives.
I have written before about how difficult it is to be always mindful of the magazine content on one's iPad. "The State of Magazines on the iPad: a Giant Mess." This article by Eddie Vassallo is along the same lines with yet more (depressing) details. "The tablet magazine ship is sinking. Fast." While Apple may feel that it's up to the developer to build the relationship with the customer and it's up to the reader to be attentive to subscriptions, when the technological situation gets this bad, maybe there's room for attention and innovation from Apple.
Along those lines, here's a detailed and fascinating state-of analysis of the ebook and digital publishing industry for 2014. "Ten Bold Predictions for Ebooks and Digital Publishing in 2014." It's full of insights.
Finally, predictions for the next five years have weight when they come from IBM. "IBM reveals its top five innovation predictions for the next five years." I particularly liked item #4, "A digital guardian will protect you online." I've written before about my wish for a daemon in OS X that would intelligently monitor the health and safety of the Mac, but this goes wonderfully beyond that. How wonderful it would be to have an polite, intelligent agent, derived from Watson technologies, watching over your shoulder as you browse, read email and shop. And with that ...
Particle Debris will return in early 2014.
Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week combined with a summary of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.
Mac Pro image credit: Apple