I’ve been thinking a lot about apologies lately, and how they seem to serve little to no purpose when they’re clearly insincere. Funnily enough, we saw two very different types of apologies from Myer CEO Bernie Brookes over his comments about the NDIS income tax levy affecting Myer’s profits, and Niall Ferguson backtracking from some thoughtless things he said about John Maynard Keynes.
I got to thinking that instead of the ‘sorry if you took offence’ line Brookes and Myer’s PR team used to try to douse the flames (but resulted in fanning them), perhaps they could take a leaf out of Ferguson’s book (or a post out of his blog, as it were), and admit that the comments were disappointing, acknowledge their impacts, and pledge to overcome them. Perhaps when Brookes takes the stage at the Consumer 360 conference about the “online decade”, he might like to consider starting with something like this:
“During a recent question-and-answer session at a conference for Macquarie Securities, I made comments about the funding of the National Disability Insurance Scheme that were as stupid as they were insensitive.
I had been asked to comment on funding the NDIS through a 0.5% levy imposed on income taxes. The point I had made in my presentation was that all government imposts on consumers add to negative consumer sentiment, which in turn has the potential to impact adversely on retail sales, profits and jobs.
But I should not have suggested – in an off-the-cuff response that was not part of my presentation – that the $300-odd contribution of the average tax payer to the scheme would have otherwise been spent with us. This was doubly stupid. First, it is obvious that people would not simply be spending all of their discretionary income at our stores, so I may have overstated the impact of the levy. There are many possible consequences of increased taxation on consumer behaviour, and many potential reasons why consumers would or would not choose to shop at our stores. And secondly, it was wrong of me to assume that consumers would necessarily resent the imposition of such a levy, especially given the particularly worthwhile cause to which it contributes; a cause so important, that the levy is supported by both major political parties in this country.
My disagreements with the government’s imposition of this levy have nothing to do with the NDIS itself. It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that the NDIS is less worthy of being funded by consumers (who are also fellow citizens, some of whom will certainly benefit enormously from this scheme) than my company’s profits. As those who know me are well aware, I am deeply committed to helping those who are affected by disabilities, and those who care for them, to live fulfilling and meaningful lives. In fact, Myer has now committed to an employment target of 10 per cent of people with disability by the end of 2015.
My colleagues, customers, and friends – including those whose lives are affected by disability – have every right to be disappointed in me, as I am in myself. To them, and to everyone who heard my remarks at the conference or has read them since, I deeply and unreservedly apologize.”
Maybe that’s the kind of approach that might ring true in the ears of the public at large and actually go some way towards actually addressing the negative sentiment directed towards the company because of some thoughtless remarks; and demonstrate that the company is worthy of respect and further patronage, because they have been able to turn such a negative situation into a positive outcome that embraces a broadly-supported initiative.
Apologies to Ferguson for the blatant plagiarism (sincere, I assure you), but it was for the purposes of comment or satire, so I’m sorry if you took offence.
Okay, so this is happening. Walked in to an offer I couldn’t refuse on a Nexus 7 and weakened by the wait for the iPad mini I succumbed and finally decided to start my long-delayed Android test-drive.
So if you’re at all interested in the mostly sincere opinions of a dyed in the wool Apple Mac / iOS user on how this compares (bear in mind I say `user` because believe it or not, while I see the logic in most of Apple’s business strategy, I’m not a fan of everything the do). I wanted to do this on a Nexus device (initially thought of the Galaxy Nexus) because I want to see Android at its manufacturer-bloatware free finest, running the latest version (currently, Jelly Bean).
This first post has been written on the Nexus and already some of the transition issues have struck. I tried to install the Tumblr app but discovered at it was not compatible with the version on my device. Odd that simple apps lose compatibility in newer versions, but it’s not unheard of on iOS. On the other hand, typing on this keyboard, using the Android version of autocorrect and navigating the interface has been frustrating to say the least - but I’m willing to give those time.
So I’ll continue to update various aspects of the trial as we count down the days to he release of the iPad Mini.
As I posted about earlier, Apple this morning unveiled a new iPad and an updated Apple TV. Over the course of just a few years, anticipation and commentary on these events has gone from a small group of diehard nerds ranting and raving amongst themselves (okay, ‘ourselves’) to headline news. I expect by the time I post this there will already be considerable commentary (and a fair bit of expectation fallout) about this news, let alone the instant feedback on various social media.
Not having seen the devices myself, I can only speculate on the effect they’ll have on end-users once they have them in their hands and whether the new features and updates are really all that - but as someone who will very likley be looking to find a way to justify their purchase, I thought I would run through the good, the bad, and the baffling things about Apple’s latest venture.
First, I’ll quickly address the Apple TV - it’s been updated to play 1080p movies available through iTunes, has a more TV-appropriate user interface, and can take advantage of iTunes Match and iTunes in the Cloud for movies (ie you can always redownload any movies you’ve purchased through iTunes). These are all positive, and given how early it is in the year, I don’t think anyone was really expecting much more than this in respect of Apple’s ‘hobby’ project - the fabled TV set will have to wait a while longer yet.
As far as the new iPad goes, the major innovation (as widely predicted) is the double resolution 2048x1536 Retina display. If the early demos are anything to go by, this is a killer feature that will draw many new and existing users to the new iPad. Interestingly, the screen resolution is 264ppi and Apple’s methodology for determining what constitutes a ‘Retina’ display (the ability to discern pixels at a typical viewing distance for a specific device) largely resembles the excellent mathematical interrogation of the subject by Richard Gaywood at TUAW. Further, the processing power was bumped to a dual-core A5X chip, including a quad-core graphics chip to support the significantly larger display - again, an expected but worthy update (even if it was not the quad-core chip some spec-hunters had hoped).
I will no longer be able to have a go at Spike Lee or my father-in-law using the iPad as a large and ungainly camera given significant improvements to the optics, sensor and the 5MP resolution in the new iPad’s rear camera - which is now also capable of 1080p video recording and some impressive software video stabilisation. While this isn’t quite up to the quality of the iPhone 4S, and lacks the flash seen in the iPhone, it is certainly on par or better than the iPhone 4, which was no slouch for basic photography itself (not to say anything about ergonomics, that is). These are accompanied by considerable improvements to photo and video editing in the new / updated iPhoto and iMovie apps. The fact that iPhoto can edit photos taken by other cameras (up to 19MP) is also quite impressive, and the range of tools available in the new iOS version of iPhoto is quite decent, with a considerable variety of photo touch-up and image editing that go well and truly beyond the stock Photos app - which Apple needed to do in order to compete with the latest iOS offerings from Adobe. In fact, with the improvements to the iLife and iWork apps on iOS, Apple has started to realise more fully something I noted following its first release - the potential of the iPad as a content creation device, rather than something limited to content consumption, a frequent criticism of the device’s early incarnations and one that Phil Schiller addressed explicitly today.
A somewhat unexpected improvement that will satisfy many US early adopters is the inclusion of two bands of 4G LTE mobile broadband, in two separate models catering for AT&T and Verizon customers. Sadly, this is not so great for Australian users, as I will address below. Despite these improvements, Apple has managed to retain the decent battery life of previous iPads, with 10 hours of life over WiFi and 9 hours on 4G/3G.
Once again Australia seems to have benefitted from increased attention from Apple, with improved Australian pricing in line with the position of the dollar*, its inclusion in the first batch of countries for the iPad release on March 16 (only a week from now) and immediate availability of pre-orders (though the site has already gone down, and one suspects that we will again be a low priority shipping destination as with the iPhone 4S - so your best chance at getting an iPad before March 22 is to go to an Apple store or retailer). Most territories will receive the new iPad by March 23.
* It’s inevitable that the usual click-baiting media outlets will continue to report that we are being done over on price by Apple in Australia compared to the US. They conveniently ignore the fact that the US pricing does not include sales tax, whereas Australian pricing includes 10% GST. Once you account for GST, the Australian dollar amount is marginally lower than the US dollar amount - perhaps not completely in line with current exchange rates, but a more than reasonable hedge from the customer’s perspective (especially considering that these prices are generally fixed for a whole year, despite fluctuations to the relatively volatile Australian dollar). If you were to choose between getting an iPad locally and importing one from the US (even if you were there in person), it would still work out to be roughly the same or cheaper to buy here after accounting for currency conversion - and would be all the better if you were to claim the GST back through the TRS if travelling out of the country.
In addition, the iPhone-style strategy of retaining the older iPad 2 at a reduced price is a wise move that may potentially increase significantly the penetration of the iPad as a platform - especially in educational and corporate markets. It also compares very favourably with lower-priced Android tablets that are crowding the bottom end of the tablet market (though not quite as favourably as the Amazon Kindle Fire - which of course is not yet available here).
There’s not a lot to complain about with the new iPad, but there are a few minor flies in the ointment. For starters, despite the fact I wouldn’t have expected any improvements to the I/O (such as the bizarrely persistent demand for USB), given the fact that iPhoto is now capable of decent photo editing, and iMovie of some considerable 1080p video editing, mostly limiting these to iPad or iPhone-acquired content is a bit of a downer. iPhoto can theoretically edit photos up to 19MP (unfortunate for those of us with cameras capable of taking even greater resolution images such as Canon and Nikon DSLRs), but there’s no good way to get those photos into the iPad (other than the use of the perennial middle-man iTunes, and presumably the camera connection kit).
In addition, there has been a slight increase in the thickness and weight of the new iPad compared to the iPad 2. This in itself is a small concession for the improved performance and resolution without sacrificing battery life. Unfortunately the rumoured abolition of the Home button has not yet arrived, but that may simply take some more time and isn’t really that big of a deal.
On the other hand, given the significant improvement in capability (and the attendant file sizes that will accompany editing large photo files, taking / editing / watching 1080p movies), the fact that the same storage capacities were retained at the same standard US prices seems a little counter-intuitive. Surely Apple must eventually recognise the need for greater storage to accommodate improvements in other technologies, especially given its position as the single largest customer for flash memory in the world and the fact that iPad capacities have stayed stagnant since the device was first announced over two years ago (the iPhone’s maximum storage capacity has always increased every two generations). I hold out hope this might be address with a mid-cycle 128GB model, but that is very much up in the air.
Finally, from an Australian perspective, the choice of only two bands of LTE that so far appear to be incompatible with existing Australian 4G / LTE networks is quite disappointing. We had to deal with a similarly disappointing feature disparity with the iPhone 3G, but at least one carrier supported the bands used in the iPhone 3G nation-wide and most did within metropolitan areas. Time will tell if it will be the local carriers or Apple who will eventually address this unfortunate narrow focus on bands used by North American carriers, but hopefully it will be ironed out in time for the next iPhone release (where I believe 4G LTE implementation will be much more important).
Apple did introduce ‘voice dictation’ on the iPad (which allows you to dictate text instead of typing it) but the omission of Siri seems a little odd, given the time Tim Cook spent extolling its virtues and diversity of languages / accents at the start of his presentation. It seems unlikely you would use Siri on an iPad (just as it would seem unlikely you’d take photos on it), but in order to increase uptake and use of a new technology, it needs to be spread across as many devices as possible in the market. It may be that Apple plans a broader roll-out of Siri across other devices when iOS 6 comes around, so there’s a sliver of hope we’ll see it on these new iPads yet. More importantly, Australia has yet to receive a full implementation of Siri’s business and directions search capabilities. One can only hope that this will finally come with iOS 6 or sooner, but that may be somewhat dependent on Yelp getting its act together locally.
Unsurprisingly, despite a flurry of last minute rumours, there was no electrostatic or haptic touch feedback on the new iPad. This technology is still in its infancy, and it will very likely make it to the iPad and similar devices within the next couple of years, but it’s simply not quite there just yet. What was odd about its exclusion was the seemingly teasing ‘And something to touch’ line of the event invitations, which wasn’t really supported by anything in today’s announcement - usually such invitations have been eerily on the money (eg ‘1000 songs in your pocket’ = iPod nano, ‘Let’s Talk iPhone’ = iPhone 4S with Siri). Perhaps Apple’s clever phrasing is finally exceeding its grasp.
Finally, the most bizarre element of this announcement is the fact that the new iPad was simply referred to as ‘the new iPad’, without any further nomenclature. While I agree that maintaining numerical versions according to feature sets or product generations will eventual become trite, we’re only in the third generation and there was no problem in calling the previous generation the ‘iPad 2’ while selling it simply under the iPad brand with no reference to the ‘2’. This is even more confusing as the iPad 2 is still around, so there’s no clear differentiation in naming between the old iPad and the new iPad.
I did mean to write two posts about non-Apple related things in the past few weeks, but they will have to wait.
In the meantime, in anticipation of much gnashing of keyboards and dashed expectations next week (though I think this will be muted, as we’re at the ‘wow’ part of the cycle rather than 2011’s evolutionary iterations), I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is and commit to some predictions for what to expect in the iPad 3, which is sure to be announced at Apple’s press event at the Yerba Buena centre on March 7. There are already numerous papers and pundits putting forward their own predictions (Sky is even taking bets on it), so having played the Apple rumours game for nearly a decade, I’ll try to distill which ones are reasonable, which are wishful and which are absolutely off-the-wall crazy. Of course, please take all this with a grain of salt as they simply reflect my own expectations filtered through information I’ve read that I consider to be reasonable or reliable.
First off, I think three things are all but certain - given the competitive landscape and recent hardware leaks, I think there will finally be a ‘Retina’ display with a 2048x1536 resolution, double that of the current iPad (this qualifies as the biennial ‘wow’ for the iPad, given the disappointment many had with the the iPad 2 retaining the same screen as the original iPad last year). This is a pretty crazy proposition when you think about it in isolation - you will now be able to carry around a paper-sized display at a resolution better than 1080p (or ‘Full HD’ as it’s called), better than your fancy 55 inch LED TV. But it seems that this is the moment for it, and quite frankly I think this will be the killer feature that will sell a considerable number of iPad 3’s (as if Apple needed any help with that).
The Retina display may have some cost implications, and will almost certainly require a considerable increase in processing power. This in turn has power consumption implications. Accordingly, the second certainty is that the iPad 3 will have an improved processor, likely to be called the ‘A5X’. It’s difficult to say whether this will be a Dual or Quad Core processor, as the pipeline for Quad Core mobile processors is still in flux, and there exist some Dual Core processors that are newer and more efficient than the most recent Quad Cores (and more likely to be used in an A5X processor than an ‘A6’). Time will tell what specific choice Apple has made, though one would assume that that choice would be influenced by the power management required to ensure that battery life is not sacrificed considerably in light of the greater demands of the retina display.
Third, I think it reasonable to assume that the iPad 3 will have at least one improved camera. The cameras on the iPad 2 were certainly a feature that many had been clamouring for given their omission in the original iPad, however they were of pretty average quality when compared to the almost point-and-shoot quality of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. I doubt the iPad will be given quite the same grunt as the iPhone 4S’s 8MP camera, but I would think that some of the improved optics and a somewhat improved sensor would be brought to the iPad. While the iPad already does HD video, it would be nice to have a better resolution for stills photos, so I’d hope that it would get a 5MP stills camera at least - but this may be wishful. Similarly, you would think there would be some room for improving the front camera to HD resolution for Facetime (but not stills), but this also remains to be seen given bandwidth ceilings have not yet jumped sufficiently to make Facetime HD a commonly useful feature.
So what else do I think is likely, but not really certain, to be found in the iPad 3? First, there is the typical issue of capacity - the iPad’s storage has stayed static at 16, 32 and 64GB since its launch, and you can finally get the same capacities on an iPhone 4S. Given the iPad’s size and the greater amount of space needed for 1080p movies, one would imagine that the maximum storage capacity would be bumped to 128GB. I wonder if 100GB is a bit of a psychological barrier that Apple has been reluctant to break for fear of cannibalising MacBook sales (certainly that has been the case with its iPods, which took quite some time to break 100GB and which have been static at 120-160GB for the past few years). Nevertheless, this would again appear to be the time to cross that bridge. I’m not as confident that we’ll see movement at the other size-points - although I think the bottom end should be raised to 32GB, we may see a similar structure to the iPod Touch, with a 16GB entry model, 64GB mid-range and a 128GB top-end model.
Then there is the question of LTE. Carriers the world over are scrambling to put in place faster LTE ‘4G’ mobile broadband networks, but these are still not common place. Despite this, several carriers have specified that they will only be promoting handsets / devices with LTE capabilities, making the omission of LTE on the iPad 3 a potential liability. Nevertheless I think we may not see LTE on the iPad models revealed on March 7 - simply because the chips required may not be ready for prime time - but that they may still make an appearance in this generation, possibly an intermediate update to the current iPad models alongside the ‘iPhone 5’ launch later this year (and you can safely put money at that being LTE-ready).
In addition, we may see an improved wireless and bluetooth implementation, but we will certainly not see any other changes to the I/O - there will be no Thunderbolt, USB or memory card slot. While I can see the case for the nearly decade-old dock connector being superseded in the near future by a technology that takes advantage of Thunderbolt, it is by no means widespread enough for that to be a viable option just as yet. On the other hand, it amazes me that people still seem to think that Apple will put any non-dock connector based USB or card I/O on any of its iOS devices (except the Apple TV). iOS is necessarily a closed system, and that will not be changing any time soon - it is more likely to expect to see Flash on iOS before a USB port. In the meantime, with wireless sync finally settled across the line, it seems unlikely that Apple would want to start bringing cables back in the mix for now. Further, while NFC (near-field communication, which allows credit cards to be tapped instead of swiped) is likely to make an appearance on iOS devices in the future (Apple would be crazy not to enter the mobile payments area given its leading customer database and device penetration in the market), I would expect to see NFC on an iPhone first, and possibly not even this year.
While we won’t see any significant changes to iOS (expect iOS 6 to be announced at WWDC in June, with it rolled out in advance of the ‘iPhone 5’ - or whatever it is called - later in the year), it’s probably reasonable to expect Apple to continue to roll out Siri across its product line - Siri was not shoehorned into pre-iPhone 4S devices due to processing concerns and some degree of product differentiation, both of which are not concerns for the iPad 3.
Also, one further interesting tidbit in the invitations to the press event on March 7 is that there is something to ‘see and touch’. Given the interesting photo on those invitations, I suspect that we may see a significant cosmetic change to the iPad 3 - the omission of the physical Home button. While the Home button has served a valuable function on iOS devices right back to the original iPhone, the past five years have seen developments to the multitouch interface in iOS that may effectively render its function redundant. If multi-fingered swipes can replicate all of what the Home button does, then it makes sense (both from a cost and design perspective) that Apple would simply get rid of it.
That probably covers most of the major expectations surrounding the iPad 3, which I believe will be one of a series of significant releases this year (with the iPhone 5 and the new genre-creating TV set seems to be inevitable). I would say again that I do believe this to be the part of the cycle where new features are more impressive rather than evolutionary, and I think an incredibly high-res display and buttonless interface will certainly go a long way to combating the ever-improving field of Android (and to a lesser extent Windows) devices and activating the gadget-lust required to persuade a significant number of current iPad owners to shell out again to upgrade to a much better and more desirable model (pun intended). Nevertheless, Apple is known for confounding expectations, so it is possible (however unlikely) that you’ve just wasted another five minutes reading the rantings of yet another person who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. ;)
Update: Since I wrote this there’s been fresh speculation of Apple introducing an 8GB iPad 2 to fill out the bottom end of the product line. I’m going to go out on a limb and call BS on this one. While I see some value in retaining the 16GB iPad 2 (and see this as somewhat likely), I can’t see any situation in which 8GB provides sufficient usable storage for an iPad (and there has never been one so small, right back to the original). iCloud may be the way of the future, but we are far from a situation in which your iPad will always be connected to iCloud so that less local storage makes sense. Even if it did, I simply can’t see how the reduced cost suits Apple’s product strategy, where they tend to make greater margins on higher-end models - and besides, flash memory is much cheaper these days. Will wait to see how this one pans out, but I just can’t see it happening.
I can’t help but wonder how people living during the feudal system felt about the way things were. Where there were three distinct classes of people, the lower levels being progressively indentured to those above, who in turn controlled existing land, capital and resources, dictated the manner in which their subordinates lived, and were provided with a regular tithe for their benevolence. With nothing better to compare it to, and centuries of the status quo, were they grateful for what they had? Did they argue amongst themselves over the relative merits of the economic principles underpinning their society? Did they aspire to anything so radical as a ‘free’ market?
Just a thought, with no particular connection to anything unless you care to draw those connections yourself. I’m sure these ponderings will find a way to bite me sometime in the distant future, but so be it.
Karl Quinn writes in today’s Green Guide about the perceived issues surrounding on screen product placement, an issue about which I have been reflecting lately (though please note, my thoughts are in no way representative of the position of the ABC or Matchbox Pictures, the producers of The Slap).
Other than clear cut commercial arrangements for product placement, the use of real world products on screen is an inherently difficult and ambiguous area to navigate.
Where live action screen production aims to depict modern life (or even a certain period), the use of products as physical props can impart crucial information about characters and plot, or even colour in bits of detail that provide different layers of interpretation by an audience. To avoid the use of references to any products or brands could significantly the impair the ability of production designers to do their jobs effectively - the fact is, people do use such products and brands do have a considerable impact in real life, that may be appropriate to depict on screen to tell certain stories.
Accordingly, producers may seek permission from a company to depict their products or brands on screen. Where there is no commercial arrangement in place for product placement (and indeed, even when there is), such companies would necessarily be keen to ensure that the reputation of their products or brands would not be adversely affected by their use for the purposes of the production. In some cases, rather than risk such exposure, a company may simply refuse permission.
One way of overcoming this is to mock up props or artwork in a manner that resembles products or brands that have a certain public image - naturally, doing this leads to a grey area where one must be careful not to appear to be trading on the reputation of or passing judgment on those products or brands, or otherwise infringing intellectual property rights. However, given the fact that the art budget of any production is necessarily limited, there is only so much that can reasonably be achieved in this way - for example, creating a video game for a few seconds of screen time would be disproportionate. In addition, the very fact that a well-known product or brand is replaced by something obviously contrived itself draws attention to the fact of its omission.
The ABC has publicly available editorial guidelines that require commercial references to be dealt with in a manner that sufficiently protects the independence and editorial integrity of the ABC. As such, commercial references must be contextually relevant, not unduly frequent or prominent, and not imply any endorsement by the ABC. While some proposed instances of product or brand usage fall well outside these guidelines and are rejected, there are many instances that are not so clear cut.
At the end of the day, these guidelines are applied by people and their subjective interpretation of the guidelines as they relate to circumstances that may be on the borderline. Inevitably, some members of the audience may still subjectively interpret such usages to imply some sort of endorsement or judgment. However, significant consideration is weighed by producers and the ABC in relation to each on screen usage, and care taken to ensure that the usage is appropriate in the context of the story, and not so unduly frequent or prominent as to suggest any sort of endorsement.
I know I said the previous post would be my last on Apple for now, but indulge me just one more today (and I do promise that the next post will be about something else - already drafting it).
As part of a course I did in early 2010, I prepared a presentation and brief paper on Steve Jobs as a leader. It doesn’t examine the issues particularly in depth, but it is a nice overview of some aspects of his management style that led to his (and Apple’s) successful second act.
Steve Jobs, CEO Apple Inc
Introduction and background
Stephen Paul Jobs is the CEO of Apple Inc, the world’s largest technology company, as well as a member of the board, and largest individual shareholder, of the Walt Disney Company. He founded Apple in his garage, and spearheaded the ‘personal computing’ revolution of the early 1980s. After being kicked out of the company in 1985, he purchased a computer animation company from George Lucas that he turned into Pixar Animation Studios. At the same time, he founded NeXT Computer, whose software forms the framework of the successful Mac OS X operating system. With Apple in dire straits, Jobs was brought back into the fold in 1997 as interim CEO following Apple’s acquisition of NeXT.
What followed is termed one of the ‘greatest second acts’ in business. Jobs dramatically cut down Apple’s product line (to desktop and portable computers in professional and consumer varieties) and refocused the paradigm for personal computing around the ‘digital hub’ – the concept that discrete lifestyle tasks could be enhanced if organised efficiently by a computer focused on those tasks. Amongst other things, this led to the creation of the iMac all-in-one computer, the iTunes Music Store, the iPod music player, the iPhone and now the iPad tablet. This shift cemented Apple’s position as one of the dominant players in the consumer technology space. Meanwhile, he sold Pixar to Disney, becoming himself one of the most powerful players in the screen content business.
Jobs’ success can be traced back to the strategic vision he has employed at each stage of his career. Despite being apparently blinded by his zeal to democratise personal computing in the 1980s, it is this focus on selling dreams and experiences rather than products or features, that has translated into the massive success that Apple now enjoys as a technology and media company. He maintains an absolute conviction that his company is delivering a ‘magical’ experience, that all but removes the technological interface and allows users to do what they want intuitively.
This conviction is born of his personal development during the counter-cultural movements of California in the 1960s and 1970s. Frustrated with his studies and his summer job at Hewlett Packard, Jobs dropped out of college and decided instead to travel to India, listen to Bob Dylan and attend classes in typography and design. Through his friendship with Steve Wozniak, he discovered that computers could be a tool that would bring information (and hence, power) to the masses. Each of these experiences has had been profoundly realised throughout his business ventures – from the importance of the graphical user interface and typography in the original Macintoshes, the computer automation of the animation process at Pixar, the open standards and networking developed at NeXT, right up to the digital hub and the focus on proliferating digital music (and later, screen content) at Apple in the 2000s.
Jobs has displayed a willingness to think long-term, and stay out of short-term ‘feature’ arms races with his competitors in order to focus on getting the core experiences right. By doing so, Jobs senses where the market will be in the future, and brings the market along with him. He then surprises his customers with so-called ‘features’ (such as copy-and-paste or multitasking on a phone) that his competitors have boasted about all along, but appear never to have gotten right in as intuitive a manner as Apple delivers. Again, this is apparent with his stoic refusal to ship anything greater than a one-button mouse (despite the fact that the current ‘Magic’ mouse has no buttons, it can still do what many multi-button mice cannot), the introduction of digital rights managed music (and its subsequent removal), a closed vertically-integrated content distribution model with the iPod and iTunes, and third party applications on the iPhone and iPad.
Further, Jobs understood very early on that product design not only matters, but is paramount in the consumer retailing business. While other computer companies sold expandable beige boxes, Apple created candy-shaped and coloured devices that hid the components underneath a well-crafted shell. Despite criticism from outsiders about the ‘closed’ nature of such products, Jobs’ conviction that his customers don’t want technological features but all-in-one experiences that ‘just work’, has resonated with the market. In many ways, this reflects one of the key motivators behind Jobs’ leadership style – decisions should be made on the basis of creating more good, rather than bad, karma.
Self-awareness and lessons from failure
In this vein, one of the keys to Jobs‘ success has been recognising his strengths and understanding himself. This did not come easily to him, for he was an adopted child who did not know his birth parents (who eventually married) and sister until much later in his life. Similarly, he disowned his daughter for many years, until he finally accepted her into his life and named the Apple Lisa (a predecessor of the Macintosh) after her. During the heady early days at Apple, Jobs saw himself as the great mind driving the company, but recognised the fact that he lacked the business acumen and experience to achieve the greatness to which he aspired. Accordingly, he lured John Sculley, formerly CEO of Pepsico, to run Apple with the famous solicitation ‘Do you want to keep selling sugared water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?’
Such presumptive brashness from a man in his twenties eventually led to his expulsion from Apple and the subsequent decade in the technology wilderness. Jobs went from being an overnight young millionaire to being washed up, forced to watch the paradigm he believed he created usurped by what he considered to be an inferior commodity (Microsoft Windows), while the company he built floundered without him. Once again, Jobs was forced to recognise what he had going for him – this time, the wealth he had built up during his time at Apple. He wisely applied this to getting a good deal on Lucasfilm’s computer animation division, and to provide the startup capital for what would become NeXT. In all these ventures, he continues to apply his consistent vision, despite the fact that the world around him had deemed it unworkable, and moved on.
Jobs’ second shot at success came from finally understanding that he had to let go of fights he couldn’t win, in order to focus on the singular experiences he wanted to deliver. Despite railing against the monolithic IBM and shrewd Microsoft for many years, Jobs came to understand that for his company to success, others did not have to fail. On his return to Apple in 1997, he negotiated a deal that ended years of acrimony between Microsoft and Apple and resulted in strategic cooperation and cross-licensing and compatibility agreements that saved Apple from almost certain bankruptcy. Jobs focused on developing software and content solutions for customers rather than trying to be the most accessible hardware vendor. He refocused the product strategy, but also allowed scope for certain ‘hobby’ projects that pushed the envelop of design and application, such as the Powermac Cube and the Apple TV. These ‘hobbies’ started out as apparent white elephants, but provided the basis for new, more popular product applications down the line. Effectively, throughout his return to Apple, Jobs had become the leader he needed to bring in earlier to realise the greatness of the vision for his company.
Despite this intense focus on product development, Jobs himself is aware of the secondary market of rumours, speculation and hype that has built up around the products he delivers. In most cases, he harnesses this hype into a positive force for the company, by maintaining strict silence until the moment at which announcements are made to maximise impact. Further, he has been known to personally answer emails send to his email address on a regular basis and in a frank, matter-of-fact manner, something unheard of for other CEOs.
Team building and communication
Following from this, another key strength of Jobs’ has been recognising that he does not himself possess the technical knowledge or the specific skills in order to realise this vision. While he started off as a tech person, Jobs very quickly transitioned his focus to sales and management.
Accordingly, he needed to bring in the talent to build and ship the products and experiences he dreamed of delivering. Initially, his partnership with Steve Wozniak was one of the most importance of the personal computing era. But that partnership faded with time and the manner in which both left the company. During his wilderness, Jobs’ targeted talented individuals like John Lasseter, who turned Pixar into a hugely successful studio by using both powerful technology and classical storytelling. Following his return to Apple, Jobs discovered and nurtured creative talent such as Jonathan Ive, Apple’s chief product designer, Tony Fadell, the creator of the iPod, and more recently, Tim Cook, the steady hand behind the till as chief operations officer. Despite the public image of a micro-managing megalomaniac, Jobs actually cultivates a carefully constructed team which acts cohesively to realise the Apple vision.
Jobs is also a master communicator. One of the methods in which Jobs inspires not only his team, but also his customer base and the world-at-large, is by telling springboard stories that connect the brand promise and history of the company with the direction in which its business is moving, and how that ultimately relates to new products shipping to consumers. Jobs is effective at keynote speaking, demonstration and sales because he is a great storyteller and an engaging performer. His enthusiasm and conviction is so boundlessly apparent, that he wraps up all present (whether Apple staff, fans, or hardened journalists) in the so-called ‘reality distortion field’, where even the simplest of things appears revolutionary and magical, so engaged are the audience in Jobs’ storytelling. In telling stories, Jobs also uses classical storytelling techniques, such as the rule of threes and the hero’s journey (where the hero is always Apple, and the villain its competitors). As noted earlier, Jobs not only takes the initiative to communicate on a one-to-one basis with his customers, he will also disseminate any important thoughts he has on developing technological issues (such as digital rights management in music or Adobe’s Flash on the iPhone) on a one-to-many basis through the Apple website. Unlike many other CEO, he is so committed to his vision of technological excellence that he is unafraid to make his perspectives public.
Criticisms and Belbin profiles
However, this dedication also carries a number of negative consequences. Jobs’ conviction has been criticised as arrogance blinding him to the demands of the market, and leaving him open to a repetition of the move to irrelevance Apple suffered in 1980s and 1990s. It has been said that Jobs’ working style is dictatorial and slave-driving, and that he cultivates a working environment of fear amongst his employees (who dread riding the elevator with him, for fear they may no longer have a job at the other end).
Further, many criticise the closed, proprietary nature of Apple’s products as anti-competitive, and it has been alleged that Apple’s hyper-secrecy surrounding new products not only stifles free speech, but may have inadvertently caused several workers in Apple’s Chinese manufacturing facilities to take their own lives. Given the publicity given to Jobs’ views, he is also criticised for being hypocritical, dismissing certain features of functionality (such as video on iPods or multitasking on iPhones) as unnecessary and a hindrance on the user experience, only to embrace them in the next generation of his products.
These negative characteristic tend to fit with the ledership styles that can be attributed to Jobs under the Belbin Team Roles test. Jobs can be described in the ‘Thinking’ profile as a ‘Plant’, given his unorthordox creativity and imagination, characterised by the famous ‘Think Different’ slogan he brought to Apple in the late 1990s. He tends to solve problems that his customers don’t even know they have. On the other hand, he does not lower himself to fussing with the nitty gritty details of his products or his customers’ implementation problems. From the ‘Action’ profile, Jobs is very much a ‘Shaper’ in that he has the drive to overcome the many obstacles that have been put in his way, but also tends to be provocative towards others, and can be totally inconsiderate as to their concerns or feelings. In the ‘Social’ profile, Jobs is both a ‘Resource Investigator’ and a ‘Co-ordinator’, as he enthusiastically explores and communicated opportunities, promotes collaborative decision-making and delegation, but can lose enthusiasm with projects that are not working and shirk the blame when projects do not succeed.
On the surface, Steve Jobs has led a charmed life that has led to him having such great success that he has lost touch with the needs of his customers. However, he has in fact suffered great failure during his life, which has enhanced his vision and commitment to the types of technological experiences people actually want in the future. It is this conviction that characterises the leadership style that has made him one of the most important figures in the modern technology and media business and, for better or worse, determines the fate of his respective companies.
Promise this will be the last Apple-related post for now, but couldn’t let this one pass without reflecting on Steve’s comments about death in his famous Stanford commencement speech:
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Our thoughts are with Laurene and the Jobs family, and I imagine everyone who has had the opportunity to somehow benefit (directly or indirectly) from his influence feels the loss of a visionary today. Vale Steve, and thanks for everything.
In light of today’s Apple-flavoured news and discussion to open this blog, I thought it might be worthwhile digging up this missive I wrote for MacTalk in January 2010 regarding the introduction of the iPad. Not because I feel I’m sort of soothsayer (clearly I’m not, or I’d be doing something more interested than writing this blog), but because it highlights the very same cycle of rumour > hype > expectation > reveal > letdown > unwitting success that seems to crop up so often with product releases of this kind.
So Apple finally revealed the iPad this morning, and at last the unbearable hype that had been building up over ten years finally met reality. What followed was the sound of millions of keyboards across the world (mostly physical keyboards) being smashed as journalists, bloggers and everyone else made their feelings about it known. And one of the most common themes cropping up was ‘iPad = Fail’.
Perhaps it’s simply a sign of the times – the success and ubiquity of Failblog.org has allowed the word to enter the vernacular as a pejorative noun rather than a verb – but the underlying sentiment is that Apple spectacularly missed the mark with the iPad. I feel like I’m in the overwhelming minority in saying that Apple did precisely the right thing, and will likely be vindicated in the near future.
For starters, Apple (and Steve Jobs in particular) did not help matters through their reliance rigid silence and controlled leaks to fuel the fires of anticipation. Jobs’ claim that the product would be ‘the most important thing’ he’d ever done appears wildly irrational, even delusional. But in many ways, he had a point – the iPad was the culmination of several of the huge successes he’d had with Apple, from the Mac right through to the iPod and iPhone.
When the iPod was first released in 2001, the reaction on Slashdot was infamously lukewarm (‘No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.’), and broadly reflective of the prevailing sentiment towards this strange device within the tech community. But in any case, it was a Mac-only niche product. Apple was a small-time white elephant computer company, that had failed in its quest to compete against the dominant Windows platform. No one in the mainstream really cared until three years later, when the iPod (now with full Windows support and an online music store) was recognised as a runaway success. Fast forward another three years to 2007, when the hype machine once again built in anticipation of the iPhone. Again, despite some positive response to the new UI, the iPhone was roundly criticised for not having 3G or any custom apps or a removable battery, being too expensive, and lacking Flash and copy/paste. The pundits and Apple’s competitors were particularly fierce in criticising Apple for attempting to enter a saturated market in which it had no prior expertise. Within a couple of years, they were once again proven wrong, thanks to Apple’s small steps in meeting those concerns over subsequent revisions of the iPhone and its SDK, and the fact they completely overlooked the significance of its killer app (mobile internet).
Which brings us to the massive disappointment that is apparent amongst so many today. Following the domination of the iPod and the incredible success of the iPhone against all expectations, this was the first major Apple product release in recent times to be so widely anticipated in the mainstream. While I can generally understand the sentiment of most tech geeks, Apple fanboys or news journalists – who either had completely unrealistic expectations or don’t know any better – I can’t help but be gobsmacked by the lack of vision shown by industry bloggers (particularly Engadget, Gizmodo, or other tech journalists complaining about the lack of multitasking and other features). They’ve seen this sort of thing happen before – having witnessed Apple’s classic tactic penetrating the market through evolutionary features in the first few revisions of a product accompanied by aggressive and well-timed price cuts. To be as wildly disparaging as a great many people have been may very well end up fulfilling David Pogue’s (one of the few exceptions) prophecy – ‘As we enter Phase 2, remember how silly you all looked when you all predicted the iPhone’s demise in that period before it went on sale.’
So why am I so confident the iPad will succeed? Dismissing it as a ‘big iPod Touch’ / ‘iPhone without the phone’ / ‘laptop without a keyboard’ completely misses the point. Why should Apple release a OS X based tablet that would cannibalise its laptop sales, or a larger-screened 3G-enabled iPod Touch that would kill demand for iPhones? Moreover, why would anyone who already owned a laptop or iPhone want to replace them with such a device? Apple stated that its intention was to fill in a ‘third category’ of mobile devices, and I believe the importance of the iPad’s release is that regardless of whether or not the current device fits this category, the iPad product family (and its competitors) eventually will.
The device we have seen is not intended to be the killer of the modern PC – but it is the harbinger of the PC’s doom (its death may yet be well off, but has certainly begun). And it may become a real threat to the Netbook market. As it is, the iPad is price competitive with many Netbooks. For now, there are certainly things that a Netbook or laptop still do better – particularly text input through a physical keyboard, video conferencing using a front-facing camera, multitasking, storage and data input through USB/SD/Optical. But, as anyone who knows Apple’s MO should be well aware, over time each of these advantages will be whittled away through software updates and hardware features added to subsequent revisions of the product. Multitasking in particular is likely to make an appearance in iPhone OS 4.0 – I’m not sure how substantial a difference it would make anyway, given the effectiveness of the limited multitasking already present in the iPhone OS.
In the meantime, there will undoubtedly a great many early adopters for whom these won’t matter as much as they would be satisfied with the first batch of features – whose patronage will give Apple the ability to bring newer, more fully-featured versions to the mass-market at a progressively lower price. The missing features will come to the device eventually, or they may not even matter.
I believe the killer app that is being overlooked this time was revealed by Phill Schiller – not iBooks, but iWork. More specifically, the improved hardware that facilitates the ability to create, edit and manipulate documents through multitouch using iWork. Sure, it’s not a lot to look at right now, and appears to be far inferior to the content creation process on a traditional PC/laptop/Netbook, but the underlying concept is the transition of content creation from the traditional Desktop OS paradigm to one that is more tightly controlled (for better or worse) within a smartphone/mobile device. Now that the iPad platform has been established and the SDK released, I imagine it won’t be long before more sophisticated, dedicated apps for content creation are developed for it – just as they were for the iPhone. It may start with Apple bringing iLife to the iPad, and may even go as far as Microsoft Office (or an adequate alternative) appearing on it and finally creating a viable alternative to a laptop. Dedicated photo or video editing apps could easily find their way onto the iPad platform, and the multitouch interface provides the potential for a whole new way of manipulating, interacting with and editing such content.
What that means for any of us right now, faced with the proposition posed by the current device as it stands, will obviously vary from person to person. In fact, most of us with iPhones and Netbooks/PC laptops/Macbooks, may very well not need one right now. But that is almost entirely irrelevant. The device is perfect for a very significant, largely untapped market of people who have digital lives but lack the time or savvy to organise or coordinate them in a convenient way. It is an evolution of the concept that Steve Jobs brought to Apple on his return in 1997, and has informed almost everything he has done since – the ‘digital hub’. The short-term endgame is that iPads (or their ilk) will soon become a far more attractive alternative for a large segment of the market who simply don’t need a dedicated Netbook/laptop, but will happily carry around a device that meets their basic digital needs in an elegant (and cost-effective) manner. And then, once the product matures, the rest of us will jump in and embrace it as a ‘third’ category of mobile device.
All of this may be conjecture, but it is informed by Apple’s past product strategies and the subsequent market response. It is entirely possible that Apple may fail with the iPad if the market does not respond in the way Apple expects. But to suggest that the iPad is a ‘fail’, or that Apple has shot itself in the foot by deliberately overlooking ‘what people want’, is to make the same underestimation that makes us laugh with hindsight at that Slashdot comment of nine years ago. Time will tell.
So I think we can safely say that after 18 or so months, despite the disappointment following its release, the iPad has been an unequivocal success and has a significant lack of real competition (copycat lawsuits aside) - but defining exactly what has made it successful is perhaps a little less obvious, and I leave that for another day.
So here we are – another keynote, another apparent disappointment.
Only it shouldn’t have been – not to anyone who has paid remotely any attention to the comings and goings of Apple as a company, in general, and specifically its product release strategies, over the past decade or so.
That Apple does not comment on future product releases has been etched in stone since Steve Jobs took over in the late 90s. One of the dangerous consequences of Apple’s growing size and success due to Jobs’ (and now Tim Cook’s) stewardship has been the credence given to rumours and speculation that were once upon a time taken with the bag of salt they deserved. Now they have created a significant ‘sub-industry’ of analysts, rumour-mongers, tech pundits and enterprising industrial spies, all of whom benefit themselves from filling the void left by Apple in creating wild expectation (that finds itself priced into the market) and fostering bitter disappointment.
So to today’s news: an expectation had been circling around the world that Apple would release a redesigned, teardrop shaped “iPhone 5”, with an enlarged 4 inch (or larger screen) and an ovoid touch-sensitive home button. Chinese case companies had already manufactured cases for such a device (based on ‘reports’ from the aforementioned sub-industry) and some US case companies were so desperate to maintain a competitive edge that they started manufacturing large quantities of cases based on similar information – which, to reiterate, did not come from Apple itself. This expectation was also fanned by the emergence of competing Android handsets (such as the Samsung Galaxy S II) with larger screens that the iPhone’s trademark 3.5 inch screen; many in the sub-industry, and indeed many potential customers, hoped that Apple would match or beat Samsung in this regard.
As is obvious, this did not come to pass. These expectations were not realistic, for no other reason than the fact that they were refuted by others within the sub-industry who could not find any evidence in Apple’s manufacturing chain to support such claims (and indeed, evidence to the contrary). However, neither were they realistic from a simple appraisal of Apple’s well-known, certifiably successful, commercial strategy.
In the first instance, Apple does not respond to the competition – it sets its own bar. That may be a strange thing to say, when superficially it appears that they are currently lagging on certain features (such as screen size, as noted above). However, every single one of Apple’s flagship product releases could be similarly criticised (original iPhone had no apps or 3G, iPhone 3G had no copy & paste, iPhone 3GS and iPad had no multitasking, iPhone 4 and iPad 2 had weak notifications). On the other hand, many of these deficiencies were remedied through software support over three years, something that many of its competitors have not been able to match (even in the Android market). In addition, Apple focuses on integrating such features into its operating environment in a way that matches the overall experience of using its integrated hardware and software. That may not be enough for feature-seekers who demand the latest and greatest (the soonest), but it means that the larger portion of the market is able to take advantage of a mature and considered implementation.
Accordingly, although a larger screen may be what the competition is doing (and, by extension, what some customers want Apple to follow), Apple can’t simply slap on the larger screen Samsung is using and is unlikely to deliver one until they are satisfied it works as it should. Firstly, there is the issue of consistent resolution – in order for its operating system and third-party applications to be displayed consistently across its iPod Touch / iPhone / iPad products, Apple has maintained either the same or double the screen resolution for each. Introducing a slightly-larger screen size would either require a non-standard resolution (thereby destroying the uniform experience across products, which would be very unlikely), or reduced pixel density. Given the fanfare regarding the introduction of the iPhone 4’s ‘retina display’ last year, it would again appear unlikely that Apple would sacrifice pixel density simply for the benefit of a larger screen.
Further, there is the issue of whether a bigger screen is actually a good or a bad thing – after years of shrinking handsets, there was significant consternation of the size of the original iPhone when it was introduced in 2007. Almost five years later, some people are claiming that a bigger screen and a bigger device are a better thing – which demonstrates that the issue of screen size ultimately comes down to personal taste. If a larger screen is that important to you right now, then perhaps the iPhone is not for you – and the Galaxy S II is certainly a worthy device that might meet your needs. On the other hand, if you can wait, you may be rewarded if and when such an option does come along.
The other major source for disappointment has been the lack of a new design. I read one comment suggesting that Apple should fire their design team for not having done any work over the past year. I forgive that person for not appreciating the job description of an industrial designer, or what was required to bring the new internals of the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 4’s frame. I also forgive them for not appreciating the fact that said design team is more likely currently working away on any number of potential designs for the iPhone 6, which will need to be settled in the coming months in order to be ready for testing and production prior to next year’s release. Given the quality of Jony Ive’s product designs over the years (supported by a selection of his designs being featured at MoMA), one can understand why the corollary of Apple supporting a longer period for developing better designs (rather than churning out black plastic boxes year-after-year) is some longevity so that Apple could commercialise them over a longer period. If this weren’t obvious from Apple’s already well-established two-year design cycle for the iPhone, it should have been clear from their commitment to each new redesign of their Mac products, starting from the iconic iMac. Indeed, with Jony Ive and Tim Cook at the helm, Apple may very well find a way to implement a larger screen at some point in the future without sacrificing pixel density or consistent resolution – but rest assured that it will finally see the light of day once they can get it just right.
In addition, there have been some minor quibbles about the lack of 4G / LTE and such. This may push some early adopters of such technology away, but ultimately Apple will bring these features on board when the market for them matures (which you’d be hard pressed to say is now, but could very well be next year). I can’t imagine many people dying in a ditch over this though.
Having examined the complaints, let’s look at what Apple has actually improved in the iPhone 4S. While it was widely expected, bringing the dual-core A5 processor to the iPhone (a frame smaller than that of the GS II) is still an impressive feat, and brings with it iPad 2-like performance – not that performance has been anything anyone with an iPhone 4 has been complaining about. However, the additional power is a foundation for Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant application that Apple recently acquired and has refined for the iPhone. Having not seen this in action, other than in the promotional videos, I don’t think I can really say much about it; however, while some might scoff at the idea of talking to their phones, I can certainly see circumstances in which it will come in handy – particularly when using a Bluetooth handsfree kit while driving (and possibly for cheating in pub trivia competitions).
There is also an improved 8 megapixel camera, which can shoot 1080p video and has a video stabilisation feature. While it’s true that a dedicated camera with a proper lens will always be better than whatever can be crammed into a phone, they say the best camera is the one you have with you – and more often than not, that is your phone. Given the fact that iPhone photos dominate Flickr, it seems that this rings true for many who simply wish to point and shoot. Improvements to the camera are always a welcome thing, and the large size of the iPhone’s sensor has made photos taken with it compare well against basic point and shoot cameras and other smart phones (particularly when in the hands of someone who can take a decent photo - no amount of technology can make up for that).
On top of all of this is the introduction of iOS 5 (which will also benefit existing iPhone 4 and 3GS, iPad and recent iPod Touch owners). Most notably, this brings with it a new notification system which addresses one of the ongoing complaints about the iPhone. Without belabouring the many other refinements in iOS 5, it reinforces my earlier point – that the true life-cycle of an Apple product is over the three years during which it is supported and updated by Apple. An iPhone 3GS bought in 2009 will get many of the benefits of iOS 5, while an iPhone 4S bought today will reap the benefits of similar software advances through to 2014. At the end of the day, many users may find this far more valuable than replacing their hardware every year because of a new design, or a new set of features that may or may not be refined enough for them to use regularly or effectively.
Finally, there is the issue of price.* I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a small downward inflection on pricing, given the introduction of the 64GB model. I fear that Apple has discovered that 8GB is actually more than ample at the moment for most smartphone users, hence the base model iPhone 4 remains priced at the entry-level 3GS’s $99 while the iPhone 4S models slot into the same prices for the similarly-sized iPhone 4’s with the 64GB slotted in at the high-end $399 spot. This is a bit of a departure from past practice during the evolutionary part of the cycle, as the iPhone 3GS kept the iPhone 3G’s price points while doubling the capacity. It’s unfortunate that a 16GB iPhone 4S exists and pushes the price of the other models up, but that is an unfortunate consequence of the continuing demand for iPhones in the market. Perhaps, if nothing else, today’s disappointment might result in some downward pressure on pricing, but I suspect that we won’t see such effects until close to the release of the iPhone 6 this time next year.
(*) I am using US-subsidised prices for the purpose of comparing Apple’s standard offering over the years. In doing so, I assume that the reader is aware that these prices require a two-year contract, and should not be used as a point of comparison against local Australian prices, which are for outright contract-free purchases and subject to GST as well as the ever-varying fortunes of the Australian dollar.
Speaking of which, here’s a set of predictions for free – in late 2012, Apple will release an iPhone 6, which will have a larger retina display, an A6 processor (whatever March-April demonstrates that to be), an LTE antenna and a thinner, new, design. You heard it here first. ;)