Showing posts tagged apple

Thoughts on 1984 Macintosh Demonstration

Unlike some of the readers of Apple-Orange, I have not yet arrived in this world when Apple released the Macintosh. When I first started using the computer it really was different than that time.

After watching Apple’s first public demonstration of Macintosh in Boston Computer Society, I really left wondering about so many things.

The Mac Paint and the Mac Write app demonstrated so many features that we still use today: inter-app copy and paste, undo, select and replace a word, and a lot more. To me it feels like the demonstration was very carefully planned, but they knew what not to do while still wowing the audience. For example, I don’t think they demonstrated how many levels of undos can they perform on Mac Paint and Mac Write. I have a feeling that that might have been one of the many things that can go wrong.

Then some of the questions from the audience also sounded weird to me:

  • What language is the development tool on the Macintosh?1
  • Is there a version of BASIC ready for the Macintosh?2
  • Is there a version of Smalltalk for the Macintosh?3

I really feel like I take the ability to write in almost any mainstream programming language on my Mac for granted. I’ve never thought that back then compilers for some programming languages weren’t available in some platforms. It seems like today if you are writing a programming language and there’s no compiler for Windows, Mac, and Linux, then people will think that you are not writing programming language seriously.

Lastly, here’s another question from the audience:

After you become an expert, will the mouse be a handicap, or a feature?

Steve Jobs didn’t want to answer this himself initially, but basically the answer from him and other people from Apple is that they agree that switching from holding a mouse to a keyboard take a fraction of time, but the benefits of the mouse far outweighs this. Obviously as we all know, the subsequent versions of Macintosh features arrow keys. This is one of the things that Jobs thought would be good to left out, but after using it for a while he realised that in some cases the mouse can slow down your workflow when there’s no way to easily move the cursor around.

If you haven’t watch the video yet, I recommend you to watch it. It is quite long, but it’s amazing to see one of the biggest events in the history of technology.

  1. Answer: Pascal. A bit of C but not quite ready. 

  2. Answer: We are still developing it, but Microsoft has one on the shelf today. 

  3. Answer: We don’t have it, but we are sure many people will write it. 

It’s Not About the Price, Stupid!

I was very wrong about the iPhone 5C.

For years and years, many people have been expecting Apple to come out with a lower priced iPhone. They’ve always done this with their other product lines. They did this with the iPod, they’ve just done it with the iPad last year. So many technology pundits have been saying Apple needs to release a cheaper iPhone or they are doomed.

This is from The Wall Street Journal in February 2011, approximately two and a half years before the iPhone 5C is out:

Apple Inc. is working on the first of a new line of less-expensive iPhones and an overhaul of software services for the devices, people familiar with the matter said, moving to accelerate sales of its smartphones amid growing competition.

Apple is preparing to roll out a series of lower-priced iPhones to compete with other smartphones on the market. The new models will run about half the cost of existing iPhones.

One of the people, who saw a prototype of the phone late last year, said it is intended for sale alongside Apple’s existing line. The new device would be about half the size of the iPhone 4, which is the current model.

Key words: less-expensive iPhone, overhaul of software and services, half the cost of existing iPhone, half the size of the iPhone 4. Today, two and a half years after that article is written, we know that Apple released a lower cost iPhone: iPhone 5C. It’s not half the size of the iPhone 4, and it runs on the same software and services that the other iPhone runs on.

But here’s the thing: Apple has been offering cheaper iPhones since 2009. They have always used last year’s model as the cheaper offering. Since they released iPhone 4S, they kept last year’s model and the year before’s model for free on a contract. They’ve only stopped selling the iPhone 3GS last year, September 2012 when they launched the iPhone 5.

So as Gruber put it on his piece today: the iPhone 5C has nothing to do with price. This is the year where they feel like they can keep last year’s internal, work on the housing, and advertise it as a new phone. But iPhone 5C is not a cheap product, it’s a premium product. To some people, it might even look better than any other iPhone that Apple has released previously. The fact that Apple is going to keep selling the iPhone 4S also shows that iPhone 5C is not a cheap product.

Some people mistake this move as the “Apple is not innovating anymore” move. No. iPhone 5C is there for the mass market, cheaper than previous new iPhone offerings. The iPhone 5S is there as the pro offering. Now the iPhone product line is the same as the iPod, iPad, and Mac product line. It’s a multi tiered product line. In fact, I dare to say that this is one of the boldest S upgrade ever done by Apple. iPhone 5S is a much bigger upgrade than iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S were. I also think that iPhone 5S is very close to destroying the pocket camera market.

Eventually, as with other product offerings, the pro features will trickle down to the consumer line. In a few years, all iPhones will be running on a 64-bit SoC and has fingerprint scanners. But for now, it’ll only be on the pro line, the iPhone 5S.

I think iPhone 5S’s selling points are very interesting and compelling. Touch ID sensor, much better camera, and way faster SoC. On the touch ID sensor: if you’ve bought a Windows laptop between 2002 and 2008, you might have bought one of those that comes with a fingerprint scanner. The novelty wears off as the success rate of scanning your finger was very low. It was much faster to type your password. It’s very interesting that Apple is once again using a not-new hardware paired with their software to create a better technology.

Australian Startups Outraged by Apple’s Startup Trademark

Yesterday, media are reporting that Apple is trying to trademark the word ‘Startup’ in Australia:

Apple has lodged an audacious Australian trade mark application for the term ‘STARTUP’, covering a whole host of products and services.

Shortly after that, so many people started bashing Apple in Twitter. StartupSmart wrote this article today:

Apple’s attempt to trademark the term “startup” in Australia has outraged members of the local start-up community.

Scott Handsaker, founder and chief executive of Attendly and community group Startup Victoria, told StartupSmart Apple’s move risked putting developers offside and driving business to its increasingly formidable competitors.

Now, if you are an Australian reading this: calm down. Apple is just trying to trademark the term Startup for their products and services, specifically as stated in the original article, for their retail store. It doesn’t mean that they will sue you if you are doing a startup.

This is very similar to the term Genius: for Apple it means people who work in their store repairing computer, but you are free to call yourself a genius.

It’s also incidentally how the general population interpreted news like Apple patenting rounded corners. There’s simply much more to it than just the headline, but if the headline isn’t catchy, none of you would have clicked it.

Thoughts On The iPad Mini Apple Event

A few days ago Apple announced new Macbook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, iPad, and iPad Mini. This is one of the biggest Apple event this year.

iPad Mini

The launch of the iPad mini is a lot like a deja vu to the iPod mini launch in 2004. Remember what happened? Apple announced 4GB iPod mini at $249, while the regular 15GB iPod was selling for $299. A mere $50 difference. Yet a lot of people bought the iPod mini, it went to be one of the best selling iPods of all time.

Why did this phenomenon happen? Why did people pay for iPod Mini that’s only $50 less than the iPod that has more than twice the storage? Part of this lies on the fact that many people’s need is not as demanding as the geeks. Not that many people have 15GB of music. As for the iPad mini case not many people want to pay for the retina display or the faster chip, simply because they don’t see that much value on those features. Secondly, there’s a bunch of people who just always think any technology is too expensive for them, until it hits a price point. Then everything that’s more expensive after that will not be too expensive anymore. One of the examples of this is when people started buying PCs for every home in the 90s. It was previously a really expensive piece of technology. This is what the iPad mini aims to be, the tablet for everyone.

So why doesn’t Apple compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire or Google’s Nexus 7 pricing? Felix Salmon from Reuters summarised this nicely:

Apple, famously, has the same pricing philosophy as Louis Vuitton: it sells premium products at premium prices, and it never discounts. That philosophy has made it an aspirational brand worldwide: you don’t see vendors in China selling fake Google Nexus 7s. Sometimes, as with the iPhone and iPad, the world beats a path to the company’s door in any case. Other times, as in the case of wireless routers or external displays, Apple’s products are so much more expensive than the competition that only the rich Apple faithful tend to buy them. But that uncompromising devotion to the fundamental philosophy is what has made Apple such a powerful global brand.

Simply put, they don’t need to. They’re not in the same game. They’re not in the game of race to the bottom. Remember: iPods has never been the cheapest MP3 player, and yet it still retains 70% of the MP3 market share until today. Apple don’t care about the other 30% of the MP3 player users who just wouldn’t buy anything but the cheapest one. iPad mini might just be the product that will let Apple retain the tablet market share for the years ahead.

iPad 4

Some people who just bought third generation iPad were really upset after the announcement. Only 7 months after the launch of the iPad 3, Apple launched the new iPad 41, breaking their 1 year cycle tradition. The third generation iPad is a great device. It still is today. It’s worth thinking about why Apple released a new iPad just 7 months after the launch of iPad 3.

Firstly, the iPad release cycle has never been a great fit for the holiday season. Spring release made the iPad an unlikely holiday present choice for some people. iPods has always been released in the autumn, just before the holiday season. iPhone has usually been released in WWDC in June, but for the past two years it has been moved to the autumn as well. So if they want to move the schedule over to autumn release, it came down to two choices:

  • Release a new iPad after 7 months, which is around this time, or
  • Release a new iPad after 19 months, which is at autumn 2013.

Had they chosen the second option, iPad 3 would be the longest lived iOS device. The longest lived iOS device so far is iPhone 4 with 16 months lifetime before iPhone 4S was announced. I bet this wasn’t an ideal situation for Apple. After about a year, the iPhone 4 hardware was sorely outdated among competitors. It still sold really well, but who knows how much more iPhone 4S could Apple have sold if it had been announced a few months earlier.

But here’s another thought: what if the iPad is now going to be announced every 6 months? If that was the case, then Apple did not intend to piss of every iPad 3 owners, but they were simply speeding up their hardware development. But I digressed. Apple has never been a company that releases a product that quickly. I’m sure the iPad 3 short lifetime is a very special case.

Hardware wise it’s quite a significant upgrade, but not one that should make iPad 3 owners want one. If A6X’s architecture is similar to the A6 architecture, it should be really fast. The cellular version of iPad 3 was certainly in a weird position that it doesn’t work in quite as many places as iPhone 5’s LTE. In Australia iPad 3 works with Telstra’s HSDPA network, but it certainly isn’t as fast as LTE. Another interesting tidbit is the iPad 4 does not use nano sim, like the iPhone 5 and iPad mini. I have no idea why they didn’t do that, but my guess is they were rushing it a bit. I was hoping that they’d made the iPad even thinner, but perhaps it will happen next time.


The new iMac is so beautiful. It’s so thin. The new Macbook Pro also looks gorgeous. Performance bump for Mac Mini is always welcome. Fusion drive for both Mac Mini and iMac looks like a really interesting combination. Mac Pro is still a sitting duck on a shelf.

One of the things that I notice in the new iMac is that it finally loses the optical drive. This is the second desktop Mac without optical drive, after Mac Mini lost it some time ago. My bet is when the Mac Pro is updated next year, it won’t lose the optical drive. Mac Pro has always been the longest inheritor of the legacy technologies, because some people still need it and some people buy Mac Pro for that very reason. But I might be wrong. Apple seems to be touting the Super Drive when they introduced the iMac,

So there’s only two Macs that ships with an optical drive now: non retina Macbook Pro and Mac Pro. My guess is that Apple keeps the old Macbook Pro around to fill the price gap between Macbook Air and Macbook Pro with retina display. Once the retina display laptops can hit low enough price point, Apple will probably stop selling non retina display Macbook Pros.

Also, now that iMac has been updated, I wonder if Apple is going to release a new Thunderbolt display. The last time Apple updated their display was on September 2011. I wouldn’t imagine them releasing a new one this year, but when they do it will probably adopt some of the iMac’s design.

  1. Now we see why the last iPad was called The New iPad instead of iPad 3. 

Universe Dented

Exactly one year ago, Steve Jobs passed away.

He was a visionary. He made a dent in the universe. He was an inspiration for me. He was an inspiration for many of us.

John Gruber’s piece last year is one of the most beautiful tributes that I’ve read:

Late last night, long hours after the news broke that he was gone, my thoughts returned to those grass stains on his shoes back in June. I realize only now why they caught my eye. Those grass stained sneakers were the product of limited time, well spent. And so the story I’ve told myself is this:

I like to think that in the run-up to his final keynote, Steve made time for a long, peaceful walk. Somewhere beautiful, where there are no footpaths and the grass grows thick. Hand-in-hand with his wife and family, the sun warm on their backs, smiles on their faces, love in their hearts, at peace with their fate.

We still miss you a lot, Steve.

The Back of iPhone 5

I’ve never liked the back of iPhone 5 that much. I like the aluminium back, but I kept thinking why Apple didn’t make the back all aluminium. Why is it sandwiched by two small pieces of glass on the top and bottom?

After listening to Hypercritical last week, I now understand why Apple didn’t make the back all aluminium. Here’s a comparison of the back of the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, and iPhone 5:

Notice that the only iPhone that had an aluminium back before the iPhone 5 is the original iPhone. It doesn’t have an all aluminum back either. It has plastic on the bottom part. John Siracusa believed that this is because aluminium, unlike plastics or glasses, isn’t a good cellular signal conductor.

Similarly on iPads with cellular, there has always been a plastic bar on the top of the back of the iPad. Presumably this is to enable the iPad to receive the 3G signal, because the bar isn’t existent in the WiFi only iPad. What bothers me with this theory is that the iPod touch has a plastic spot on the back as well even though it does not need to receive 3G signals. I speculate that WiFi signals need to travel too, and in iPads it can travel through other parts like the bezel.

Aesthetically, iPhone 4’s back is still my favourite. I know it’s the most fragile one, but it’s the most beautiful one. One would wonder if Apple will ever figure out how to make an iPhone with all aluminium back. It would probably look like iPod nano’s back. Obviously Apple likes the all aluminium back too, otherwise why would they always use the WiFi iPad in all their ads?

(Reblogged from ronaldsuwandi)