How Apple's Mid-Course Corrections Drive Professionals Crazy

There are many technical and enterprise professionals who come to depend on Apple's hardware and software. In fact, their livelihood may depend on these products. Then, when Apple makes a course correction, the howling begins. It's happened so many times with Apple, it's hard to keep count. It's time to size up the howling, the aftereffects and the opportunities.


Apple has its business to attend to, and other companies have theirs. That's a frequent source of partnership, but also a cause of potential friction. In the case of the Final Cut Pro X snafu, video editing professionals were generally appalled with the changes and limitations of the new app, and they steadfastly clung to the previous version.

Apple, on the other hand, almost always understands the impact of its actions. For example, in previous times, Apple needed the support of scientific and UNIX professionals in order to promote (Mac) OS X. In time, as the iPhone and iPad became the vast majority of its business, Apple's emphasis on the UNIX and scientific aspects of OS X mostly dried up. There were bigger fish to fry.

Here's another example. A decade ago, when universities and research groups saw the power and simplicity inherent in rack mounted Xserves, they built clusters with huge computational power. In time, Apple saw high performance computing and clusters as a low ROI market, and moved on to tablets and smartphones. These changes in direction allowed Apple to grow enormously as the company left progenitor markets behind.

Similarly, when Apple saw a market opportunity to simplify Final Cut and broaden its appeal in the larger population of casual video editors, it seized the opportunity. The same goes goes for the late 2013 Mac Pro.  It's a giant leap forward, but some professionals are still tied to the concept of the massive box with all kinds of internal expansion and storage. Or a rack mounted server. That's not where Apple wants or needs to be nowadays.

One might wish that Apple had consulted closely with its curent base of video professionals and stuck with them, but that's not how Apple rolls. Apple has never felt, deep in its bones, that it has an iron-clad obligation to support certain niche markets because doing so ties its hands with respect to growth in broader markets. I've seen that very process over and over, going all the way back to the (infamous) abandonment of OpenDoc in 1997.

When this happens, the technical professionals get in a huff and declare that Apple has lost its way and made them martyrs. Because these professionals are experts in their field and their business has been affected, the hostility is heightened. But in the end, Apple always does what it thinks is best.

From time to time, Apple risks making a mistake, but I can't recall one that severely damaged Apple's growth prospects. The bottom line, is that when Apple does go its own way, creating a palpable sense of betrayal, it's always fodder for criticism that gets blown out of proportion by those whose business it is to criticize Apple.

Another, perhaps beneficial side effect is that some smart business people can jump in and fill the void that Apple has left. Different professionals have different needs, and often another company can cleverly fill the gap and make some good money. The way to do that is with an aggressiveness that makes Apple look bad, but then business is war.

Some competitors fight more charmingly than others, and that's the focus of the first item on the next page of news debris that highlights an ingenious video smackdown of the Mac Pro. When you read what appears to be a cool, objective analysis on the Boxxtech page, keep all the above in mind.

Next: The week's tech news debris.

The Tech News Debris for the Week of April 21


Apple has taken some flak in the past for its handling of Final Cut Pro X. Boxxtech is cashing in on both the frustrations of users plus the so-called limitations of Apple's late 2013 Mac Pro on a special Web page touting its own hardware. But what's really cool is Boxxtech's stupendously hilarious send up (or smackdown) of the Mac Pro in this YouTube video. It's mostly self-serving, but that's what ads are meant to be. Still, it will make you smile thanks to its sheer brilliance.


"John Sculley isn’t exactly a favorite amongst Apple fans. He will forever be the man who sent Steve Jobs into exile." That's the opener to Ken Segall's article, "John Sculley apologizes again—but shouldn’t" The thesis is that John Sculley keeps apologizing for the ouster of Steve Jobs from Apple in 1985, but he should stop. It was the right thing to do at the time. In hindsight, the young Mr. Jobs had much to learn, and everything turned out well in the end. This is a good read.

There has been a fuss lately about introducing a kill switch on all smartphones in case it's lost or stolen. Of course, the iPhone already has that capability. Intego, in its Mac Security blog explains. "How to enable the “Kill Switch” on your iPhone or iPad, right now!"

Here's a new entry for the Particle Debris word of the week. "Weaponized Clickbait." You know, those photos and URLs at the bottom of a Web page with oh-so alluring titles? You know you shouldn't click on them even though the header says, You might also like..." Here's the scoop: "You might also like this story about weaponized clickbait."

I write about smartphones, notably the Apple iPhone for a living. So when I saw this article by another writer who reviews smartphones, I started to roll on the floor laughing. This list will hit home with many readers. "10 enlightening things you learn as a professional smartphone reviewer," by J.R. Raphael. I wrote J.R. and added my own #11. "Intentionally misunderstand the author, and then argue the altered thesis to the reader's benefit." He retweeted it.

In this age of Internet Time, it's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of The Next Big Thing. The trouble is, they come at you fast and furious. My own tendency is to see if something passes the test of time, and I don't mean days. I mean years. And so, I was amused to read this take on the departure of Google's Vic Gundrota and the future of Goggle+. It's just one of many takes, but it's a good one, even if the title is a tad on the clickbait side. "Google+ Is Walking Dead."

Microsoft update. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has come to realize that in a world of mobility, smartphones, the cloud, tablets, and The Internet of Things, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of Windows minds. [With credit to Ralph Waldo Emerson.] And so, Mr. Nadella is embarking on a new future and punctuating it with pithy (but really good) catch phrases. In this case, it's: "CEO Nadella Promises Microsoft Will Deliver 'Courage in the Face of Reality'." It's a good summary of CEO Nadella's current thinking.

Finally, one might associate the eventual demise of Moore's Law with the limits of our current fabrication processes, but there may be a way out that, perhaps, extends Moore's law until we can get to quantum computers. "Future chips may operate at atomic dimensions."

Author's note. Having been a fan of the SciFi TV show "The 4400," I can't help but note that this is the 4,400th article I've written for The Mac Observer. There are many more to come.

Switchtrack teaser graphic via Shutterstock.


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 1) 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.