How embarrassing is this? Few hours ago, I exercised with my wife—and I was in pushup position, which brought the top of my hand in frequent, forceful contact with Apple Watch crown and button. Suddenly, […]
I suffer from phantom smartwatch syndrome—an ailment that hopefully will disappear over time. Nearly four weeks ago, I put aside Apple Watch 2 stainless steel and replaced it with the simple but appealing ManchesterWatchWorks Iconik 3. Problem: Almost any shifting movement of the timepiece causes me to reflexively flip my wrist and look down; there is false perception of hepatic sensation. Apple has trained me well, and I’m tired of being its dog doing tricks. Woof. Woof. Growl.
I feel free! Gone are the nagging alerts—and I had them barreled down to a minimum of approved services: Some for breaking news; emails from a half-dozen people; and text messages. Among this still seeming torrent, the Activity app annoyed with congratulatory badges and prompts that one of the four main exercise goals (Calories, Exercise Time, Stands, and Steps)—Apple’s athletic lifestyle version of the four food groups—would soon be achieved. The badges are about as infantile as gold stars that teachers give kindergarteners and with similar purpose: To make the recipient feel good, whether or not deserved. The achievement badge for Earth Day flipped my goat. Seriously? I ordered the Iconik 3 that evening.
I lied, but not deliberately. One year ago today, I wrote: “Apple Lost My Heart to Google in 2015“, explaining that “my mainstays at the start of 2016: Chromebook Pixel LS, Pixel C, Nexus 6P, and Huawei Watch. I abandoned Apple and there are no plans to return..I will write more about Google in 2016 than previous years, because of the benefits I see. As for Apple, the company had my heart for the longest time. I challenge CEO Tim Cook to win back my adoration; skeptical I may be”.
By March, however, Apple won back my business with little effort, and I gave up the Google lifestyle. Transition back to the Orchard started with a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro: 3.1GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, purchased from DC Computers. Three reasons: 1) I believed Mr. Cook’s privacy promises, all while my concerns about Big G information collection increased. 2) I found the visual acuity of Apple fonts and user interfaces to be far superior to Google’s, which helped compensate for diminishing reading vision (later recovered through eye surgery). 3) Google’s platforms proved inadequate for easily recording, producing, and publishing the Frak That! podcast, which is available on SoundCloud.
Two days before Apple’s next media event, where long-overdue new laptops presumably arrive, the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant released fiscal fourth quarter and closed full-year 2016. You could feel the anticipation after the Bell closed on Wall Street today—and, honestly, it had been palpable for weeks. Shares closed $118.25, up .51 percent. As I post, they’re down about 3 percent, after hours.
The drama is a TV thriller: Release of iPhone 7 and 7 Plus set against a backdrop of saturated global smartphone sales; launch of Apple Watch Series 2 into an already declining market for smart timepieces; analyst data showing calendar third quarter to again be bad for PC shipments—with even Macs losing momentum. So everyone wants to know: What was the quarter’s financial crop?
Here we are, days before Christmas, and you’re thinking about last-minute stocking stuffers. I’ve got an eclectic selection of things I would want to get or give for December 25th. Some of them will demand rushing online to take advantage of last-minute shipping offers. Others require no shipping at all, like music subscription services. Confession: Some items will require a larger stocking but no wrapping.
I present the list alphabetically, and in no order of preference.
Back in April 2013, when Forbes ran a commentary asserting it was time for Tim Cook to go, I forcefully responded that “Apple needs a COO, not new CEO“. The day has arrived, with the company announcing this morning that Jeff Williams fills the vacant chief operating officer position. Eh, that’s not what I had in mind, and Apple investors should question the wisdom of the appointment, too.
I mean no slight towards Mr. Williams, who looks more the adequately competent to handle the job. Like Cook, when COO, Williams is a manufacturing and logistics leader—excellent credentials to manage day-to-day operations over the world’s wealthiest tech company as measured by market cap and quarterly net income. The problem: Cook and Williams are questionable pairing, because their backgrounds and skillsets are too much alike. You got an electron circling another electron in the atom’s nucleus.
If you are thinking about buying a new iPhone to get Apple Watch, reconsider. Hard. There’s a new Android Wear timepiece that is just as stylish, if not more, but costs much less. If Huawei Watch isn’t the Apple Watch killer, it foreshadows what could be.
For the comparison today, my quick review focuses on the two smartwatches that I purchased, with which materials and attractive designs are most similar (other than their shapes—squairsh vs circular). To reiterate: I paid for both devices. Neither manufacturer sent a loaner for review. The one came from Apple Store and the other from Amazon.
WOW. I needn’t write more (but do feel obligated). My smartwatch arrived from Amazon about 10:30 this morning. Reading reviews beforehand spoiled some surprise, but the out-of-box experience nevertheless stunned. The box itself is superbly crafted and booms fine jewelry. If Huawei’s objective is to impress craftsmanship and artistry, goal accomplished.
In January 2004, when working as analyst for Jupiter Research, I wrote about Microsoft and its partners’ early push into the smartwatch market: “A wristwatch is more than just a timepiece. It’s a piece of jewelry. Jewelry is a status symbol, too—think Rolex watches in some circles and body piercings in others, or both”. The tech has to look good, too. This attribute is vital because of precedent. Watches are worn as much for their looks as function, and appearance often matters more.
Last week, I sold my 2015 MacBook Pro to a New Yorker vacationing in San DIego and returned to using Chromebook Pixel LS, which I wouldn’t have guessed when buying the Apple laptop in June. From Day 1 the MBP felt slower in every way. I expected the Mac to be a creative enhancer, as had been my experience going back to my first in December 1998. The computer proved to be an impediment instead.
What’s missing in subtle but cumulative ways: Quality. The computer looks the same but doesn’t feel the same. My reaction to Apple Watch, which I also sold, is similar. Something is missing. There’s a glitchiness that is hard to characterize that is pervasive. Time is wasted, and creative flow is disrupted.
As Apple’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus preorder weekend progresses, I reflect on the week’s announcements. Increasingly, I see the company as the middle-aged boys club; men of a certain age designing products for rich, white, middle-age males. Of course, execs want women and people of other ages and classes buying pretty things, too. I refer to a mindset that seems to be core to Apple’s post-Steve Jobs design ethic.
“Products without purpose” I call new MacBook, Apple Watch, and iPad Pro. Where once Steve Jobs filled niches and created new categories, CEO Tim Cook and company create new Apple ware for which there is little to no need whatsoever.
Apple’s newest tablet, announced earlier today, isn’t on my shopping list. At 12.9 inches, the screen on the iPad Pro is too big. The device can’t comfortably fit the hands for long periods of time. I have experience with 12-inchers. I will likely keep my iPad Air 2, unless Google comes out with some gotta-have Nexus tab before Apple starts selling its beast in November.
The media event marks a big day for the fruit-logo company, which also introduced new Apple Watch models. That’s code for same internals with more case color and band choices. Apple TV gets a big refresh, and new iPhones are queued up for preorders starting Saturday September 12. The company usually does Friday, but that’s the 9-11 terrorist attack anniversary.
Satya Nadella is a man with a formidable challenge. Microsoft CEO’s predecessor, Steve Ballmer, squandered the company’s mobile fortunes. From smartphone platform leader a decade ago, the software-and-services giant is a category also-ran in 2015. Microsoft has no independent mobile platform future. The war is over. There remains this: Making alliances with old enemies to preserve existing territory, while using the foothold to reach into new frontiers.
Made available August 5th, Outlook for Apple Watch is a very smart move and metaphor for what went wrong on Microsoft mobile platforms and what has to go right to preserve and extend the legacy applications stack. While Windows 10 makes its way to Lumia devices, the future is Android and iOS and how the company supports them with contextually meaningful cloud-connected apps and services.