Have Apple lost their way?

It pains me to say this – but I think they have.


I am a true Apple Mac fan – from the ipod, iphone, ipad (mini and maxi), macbook air and my work Imac these represent some amazing bits of kit. even Apple TV is rather cool – although it could be better.

But since Steve Jobs died in October 2011 I think the Company has flat-lined. Last weeks big announcement was a bit of a flop. Colourful iphones and ones with faster processors are hardly the ‘one more thing’ moment Jobs became famous for. It was the big reveal. The groundbreaking stuff.

Apple made the best portable music player of all time. The iPhone when it was launched was groundbreaking. The processing power of my MacBook Air is amazing – I can run my office on something the size of an A4 pad of paper.

But where is the Apple TV screen? Where is the watch? Where is the thing we are all going to have to buy because we have to? It’s simply not there.

Jobs was always going to be a hard act to follow. He was a game changer. He surrounded himself with talented people including the incredibly talented Jony Ives. But they needed his direction and single mindedness.

Apple are suggesting that they have an announcement soon – but it needs to be more than ‘better screen resolution’ or ‘faster processing’. It needs to be a game changer!

In the meantime Samsung continue to make a better phone (the Galaxy S4) and have recently announced a watch!

Is it too late for Apple to rescue themselves? Probably not – but they need to act now!

Apple gear of the future

Check out this phone…


This is really cool – and could only be Apple. The design is just amazing – and a precursor to what we now take for granted – clean lines, simplicity and stand-out-from-the-crowd.

But if you look closely you’ll spot the date and the old Apple logo…

This is not available – in fact it was a shelved product that never made the mainstream – titled the Apple Snow White 3 – this was the original “Macphone”. Incredibly this was 1984 – nearly 30 years ago!

As you can see there was the phone part – but also a tablet for writing messages…

Apple have always been at the forefront of technology – but this just shows how far advanced they were – even thirty years ago!

Imitation – the sincerest form of flattery?

The relatonship between Apple and Hewlett Packard has always been an interesting one. In Steve Jobs biography there is a story about how a young Jobs wrote directly to founder Bill Hewlett asking for computer parts. Jobs worked there for a time.

Of course what happened subsequently is that Apple moved into pole position in terms of design and ease of use.

So you can’t help wonder what the late Steve Jobs would make of HP’s latest offering – the Spectre One….

Now it could just be me, but this looks strikingly like my iMac at work. Aluminium (lots of) – tick. Touchpad – tick. Wireless keyboard – tick. I can only imagine where they got their inspiration for this from?

There was a time when HP were at the forefront of technology – you can’t help but wonder why this looks exactly like an Apple imitation?

There is one difference though – it runs that horrid 80′s system you all call ‘Windows’. Because if you really wanted to copy the best of Apple you would work the operating system – Mountain Lion into the computer!

Apple – the coolest shop in New York?

It’s definitely a store for boys; judging by the girls at the entrance, I’m not sure they get it. I’m talking about the Apple Store. And this one is an amazing piece of architecture at the corner of Central Park in New York.

18 panels of glass on each side cover a glass spiral staircase which leads to a cavernous basement – full of boys toys. It’s an amazing shop.

On the plane over the pond I finally finished Steve Jobs authorised biography. It’s a mighty tome – at over 600 pages. I found it fascinating -and if you have a month or so spare, worth a read.

One of the chapters describes in detail the retail experience Jobs wanted us to have – and it contained some fascinating facts. The 5th Avenue store in New York grosses more revenue per square foot than any store in the world. It is famously open 356 days a year 24 hours a day. during it’s first week of opening it had 50,000 visitors.

Last year Apple had 326 Apple stores around the globe. And the average annual revenue per store is a staggering $34m.

As you wander around these great places you might be forgiven for not noticing the attention to detail Jobs lavished on them.

The glass staircases were patented by Jobs, but the floors deserve special mention. They look like a concrete grey – but are actually stone sourced from Il Casone quarry near Florence, Italy. They only use 3% of what they quarry – to ensure the highest quality! I’m not sure how sustainable that is!

The store has been open since 2006 and is the ultimate in minimalist architecture. I love it.

Oh, and I might have bought some essentials there! Like a Jawbone Jambox speaker which is awesome!

The Apple Poem

Iam reading Steve Jobs mammoth biography at the moment. It’s really interesting. I came across this poem in the book and liked it so much, I thought it should feature on my blog. I’m not sure if it’s entirely good to see so much of yourself in it, but hey ho!

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They invent. They imagine.
They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do.

There endeth the lesson.

Apple – from a garage to a major US employer

I mentioned yesterday that I have just finished Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell selects certain people who achieve greatness; and Steve Jobs was one such person.

Gladwells point was that very often greatness (or failure) is achieved by a set of circumstances. It’s not usually just one thing, but rather a set of incidences.

And the connection here is that I am reading the Steve Jobs biography on my (replaced) Kindle. It’s a fascinating story about how two people (Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak) started Apple in a garage back in 1976. It is an incredible story so far – and I’m only part way through the book.

What is even more amazing is that in the last 24 hours some clever statisticians have calculated that in the USA over half a million people are employed by or supported by the Apple network. That’s a lot of people! In 32 years that’s also a phenomenal story of success.

Of course Apple also employ people outside of the United States. It is estimated that another half million are employed at the plant which makes some of the Apple gear!

It seems incredible – from humble beginnings to one of the biggest companies in the world, a set of goodies which permeate our world – and permeate my world in a big way. This blog came to you courtesy of my little MacBook Air….

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged 514, , employer, Employment, Foxxcom, Jobs, , Steve Wozniak

A fascinating book – about Steve Jobs

In my second Christmas list I was trying to be helpful in setting out what people boys might like for Christmas – with a sort of Apple flavour. I didn’t get any of these things – mainly because, as it has been observed, I already own them…

I have already bought the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson – although it is on my Kindle. I am still to start it – at over 650 pages, I am waiting for the right moment! But I did get another book for Christmas – “Inside Steve’s brain“. It isn’t quite the undertaking of the autobiography.

I have just finished it and it is a fascinating insight into the genius that was Steve Jobs. It focuses on the way in which he operated – mostly from interviews with people who were around him. Although some of the book feels a bit ‘padded’ in parts (I suspect there was no real access to the man by the author, Leander Kahney) there are some really interesting nuggets about how Apple worked.

In summary, it worked because of the drive of Steve Jobs. It worked because he had single-mindedness and an absolute belief in what he was doing. His attention to detail was legendary. His was a world of product differentiation. He was fascinated by materials and the way in which they could be used.

He had another skill – he surrounded himself with exceptionally talented people (like Jonathan Ive) (Sir Jonathan that should be!). The best of the best. I think this is a great business lesson. As he was employing the most talented people he could track down this raised the bar – the rest of the team had to aim a little higher. The opposite of this (and I saw this with one person I worked with in my days in a plc) is that you employ someone to make you look better – this just drags the quality down – not up.

The book is partly business coaching, part biography. It works better on the level of business lessons.

The autobiography is next … I don’t expect the review too soon though!

How quickly things change

It doesn’t seem five minutes ago since I was ‘collecting’ slides for presentations to clients. In those days, really good presentations would use two Kodak projectors , synchronised and ordered to fade in and out. That was really high tech! I even had some slides commissions with some text on.

Then came Powerpoint – and put a presentation at everyones disposal – the advent of the laptop call us all huddle around a screen to be amazed at this ‘tranny’ replacement. And digital photography (another Kodak ‘first’) let us show images.

Next Apple showed us how Powerpoint could be made twice as good – with Keynote. I have used Keynote for the last 4 years or so – it is (was?) brilliant. I learned a lot from Steve Jobs presentation style – very little content – one word or one picture. That makes people listen to you. 32 bullet points is not good! Especially with my eyes…

Then suddenly I have come full circle. I gave a presentation last week and decided to go retro. I started by saying that I wouldn’t do ‘death by Powerpoint’. There was a palpable sigh of relief. What we did was hand out some short, bound documents – with six pages. They were A3 sized and full of images and key messages.

It was, in my view much better than a darkened room. We were able to talk to the people on the other side – not shout into a black box.

I have a feeling that this week has been all a bit retro – what with my longing for my LPs…

What next I wonder?

Steve Jobs RIP

I didn’t get a chance yesterday to blog about the very sad passing of Steve Jobs. I was a sad day.

I can’t add much new but there were three quotes I saw in the day – which I thought summed things up really well, so my contribution is to shamelessly steal these..

Firstly, President Obama, “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.”

Secondly, the phrase he borrowed from Wayne Gretzky, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

And finally, an unattributed comment, “There are three apples that changed the world. The one in the Adam & Eve story, the one that fell on Newtons head and the one that Steve Job invented.”

All so very true of the genius of this man.

I think the world has genuinely lost one of the most influential people of our time. RIP Steve Jobs.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged , Apple founder, Barack Obama, History, Pancreatic Cancer, Pioneers, RIP Steve Jobs, Steve, Steve Job, , , Wayne Gretzky

The good news was short lived….

I blogged about the potential disaster I had with my trusted AppleMac Pro. It managed to get patched up two months ago. But in the last week it was clear that it was not a terribly happy patient.

It has had it’s motherboard and hard drive replaced, but it was becoming unstable and I decided that I couldn’t risk being without it. It has lasted me around 4 years so (in computer terms) it has done well.

So, on the day that Steve Jobs announced his retirement as CEO from Apple, I spent some more hard earned cash with the Company (it didn’t help their share price!) and bought a new iMac 27″ machine. The transfer of data took 11 hours and 3 minutes! This was perhaps mostly my ginormous iTunes library – all 300gb of it (51,000 songs).

It was pretty painless – except that at the moment I can’t print, as MacOS Lion doesn’t like our Canon machine. They don’t speak which is disappointing as they are both new and shiny?

The screen is astonishing – and makes my other 23″ monitor look positively ‘soft’….

I have also got more of my desk back as it is so slim.

My colleagues keep asking me if I fancy going back to the dark side of PC’s. No thanks.

My next resolution is to start listening to my whole iTunes library. I have worked out that if I start this morning and leave it running, we will have played everything by 12th January next year – assuming I leave it on for 24 hours each day…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged 27", , AppleMac Pro, computer, iMac, itunes, Jigsaw 24, PC, Personal computer, , Tim Cook