Above Avalon: Apple Watch Is a Bridge to the FutureMy recent Apple Store observation is not an isolated incident. More people are buying Apple Watches these days. During the three quarters leading up Apple's FY1Q18, Apple Watch unit sales have been up at least 50 percent year-over-year. From a unit sales perspective, this works out to Apple Watch sales trending at a little less than 20M units on an annual basis. In what will come as a surprise to most people, Apple Watch likely outsold Amazon Echo during the holidays despite Apple Watch selling for nearly 10x more money. Based on unit sales, the Apple Watch business is currently about the size of the Mac business. When considering that the Apple Watch is less than three years old, for the product to be nearly outselling Mac on an annual basis is quite the achievement.
Apple organizes around specialties, not productsApple employs what is known as a “unitary organizational form” — U-form for short — which is also known as a “functional organization.” In broad strokes, a U-form organization is organized around expertise, not products: in the case of Apple, that means design is one group (under Ive), product marketing is another (under Schiller), and operations a third (under Williams, who is also Chief Operating Officer). Other areas of expertise represented by the members of Apple’s executive team include Software Engineering (Craig Federighi), Hardware Engineering (Dan Riccio), and Hardware Technologies (Johny Srouji). What is most striking about that list is what it does not include: the words iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Watch. Apple’s products instead cut across the organization in a way that enforces coordination amongst the various teams:
The media doesn't see its own pampered blindness.Despite claiming to “know” Mr. Jobs after “scores of hours in private conversations,” Mr. Mossberg of ReCode said in his column: “I know very little about his relationship with his daughter Lisa.”
How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad NameApple: Please learn about the power of signifiers, visible indicators that help the poor, befuddled user. And make them unambiguous. Here is an example of what not to do: The icon for "rotation of the screen is locked" is either grayed or not. But is it locked when it is gray or when it is not gray? Turns out that Apple uses text to say which, but in tiny little letters somewhat removed from the icon itself. One of us, who spent five minutes searching for information on how to disable the lock, finally discovered the text—why does it take five minutes to learn what should be a frequent operation?
Powered by an employee-feedback app, Apple learns from the DMVOne innovation to emerge from this program was the Genius Bar’s new Concierge service. Customers no longer must wait in the store; they can receive a text when the appointment is 10 minutes from starting and another one when the Genius is actually ready. The original idea came from an associate who saw it in practice at a department of motor vehicles office in Dallas. Says Carol Monkowski, Apple’s vice president of retail strategy: “I thought, ‘If the DMV is outdoing us, I am frightened.’ But the great news is they told us this, and we are now in phase 1 of it.”
How Apple Built 3D Touch: After years of research, milliseconds of vibration are forgotten in four minutes.To make what is counterintuitive feel normal, each on-screen “peek” and “pop” is accompanied by a 10-millisecond or 15-millisecond haptic tap, little vibrations that say “good job” to your fingers when an action is complete. (The precise timing of those taps is a cosmology all its own.) For the years of effort, 3D Touch will be judged a success only when its existence fades completely into a user’s subconscious. It takes about four minutes.
How Apple Built 3D TouchFederighi picked up an iPhone 6S and explained one of 3D Touch’s simpler challenges: “It starts with the idea that, on a device this thin, you want to detect force. I mean, you think you want to detect force, but really what you’re trying to do is sense intent. You’re trying to read minds. And yet you have a user who might be using his thumb, his finger, might be emotional at the moment, might be walking, might be laying on the couch. These things don’t affect intent, but they do affect what a sensor [inside the phone] sees. So there are a huge number of technical hurdles. We have to do sensor fusion with accelerometers to cancel out gravity—but when you turn [the device] a different way, we have to subtract out gravity. … Your thumb can read differently to the touch sensor than your finger would. That difference is important to understanding how to interpret the force. And so we’re fusing both what the force sensor is giving us with what the touch sensor is giving us about the nature of your interaction. So down at even just the lowest level of hardware and algorithms—I mean, this is just one basic thing. And if you don’t get it right, none of it works.”
Apple quashes some e-mails?I have no recollection of ever telling my Mac about this account, nor did I have or any reason to. I don't use their desktop apps for these functions. I'm strictly a web guy. My guess is that when I set up my iPhone to access the account, it shared the information with my Mac without telling me. And further, the Mac has a spam filter (this is just a theory) and this is where the mail deletions were happening.
The Sketchbook of Susan Kare, the Artist Who Gave Computing a Human Face - NeuroTribesThere was an ineffably disarming and safe quality about her designs. Like their self-effacing creator — who still makes a point of surfing in the ocean several mornings a week — they radiated good vibes. To creative innovators in the ’80s who didn’t see themselves as computer geeks, Kare’s icons said: Stop stressing out about technology. Go ahead, dive in!
The Apple Watch fails one key fitness testThat’s a much bigger problem than anybody seems to be acknowledging.For one thing, that fact makes the Apple Watch the only fitness tracker on the market that can’t track your sleep. One of the great joys of the Up band, Fitbit, and other bands is that they track not just your steps, but also your cycles of deep and light sleep. Not the Watch. For a device so thoroughly designed to help monitor your physical well-being, that omission is a heart-breaker.And if the watch is on your nightstand, you can’t exploit its brilliant wrist-tapping feature as a silent alarm that won’t wake your partner.
The Regular Person's Guide To The Apple WatchWHY WOULD YOU WANT TO USE INSTAGRAM ON YOUR WATCH? THE PHOTOS ARE ALREADY SMALL AS SHIT.
Apple Car Seen as Serious Competitor by Auto Executives - Bloomberg Business“The key element is to make sure that when we’re working with them -- and we’re totally open to work with any of them -- it’s a real win-win,” said Didier Leroy, Toyota Motor Corp.’s European chief. “The carmakers don’t want just to become a kind of commodity, where somebody will only deliver an empty box and somebody will put in the box something which will be the real added value.”
Apple to Spend $1.9 Billion Building Two Europe Data CentersApple Inc. plans to spend 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) building data centers in Ireland and Denmark in its biggest-ever European investment[…] The centers, located in Athenry, Ireland, and Viborg, Denmark, will be powered by renewable energy[…] The project lets Apple address European requests for data to be stored closer to local users and authorities, while also allowing it to benefit from a chilly climate that helps save on equipment-cooling costs.
Literal icons deceiveIve explained that, had he centered the Digital Crown, the watch would be a quite different product. “It’s just literal. And you could say, ‘Why is that an issue?’ Well, if it’s literally referencing what’s happened in the past, the information about what it does is then wrong.” The crown rotates, which is reassuring, but it doesn’t wind the watch or adjust hands. The goal, Ive said, was to create “the strangely familiar.”
New inputs define the deviceIve places the new watch in a history of milestone Apple products that were made possible by novel input devices: Mac and mouse; iPod and click wheel; iPhone and multitouch. A ridged knob on the watch’s right side—the Digital Crown—took its form, and its name, from traditional watchmaking. The watch was always expected to include a new technology that had long been in development at Apple: a touchscreen that sensed how hard a finger was pressing it. (A press and a tap could then have different meanings, like a click and a double-click.) But the Digital Crown, a device for zooming that compensated for the difficulty of pinching or spreading fingers on a tiny screen, was ordered up by the studio.
Letting newness wear off“It’s awkward when you’re dealing with models,” Ive said. “Often you’re reacting, by definition, to newness, or difference.” The new has to be given time to annoy, or disappoint. A few years ago, Ive and his colleagues assessed each prototype size of the future iPhone 6 by carrying them around for days. “The first one we really felt good about was a 5.7,” he recalled. “And then, sleeping on it, and coming back to it, it was just ‘Ah, that’s way too big.’ And then 5.6 still seems too big.” (As Cook described that process, “Jony didn’t pull out of his butt the 4.7 and the 5.5.”)
evanescence of electronicaIn 1973, a Sony ad announced, “This could be the tape deck you’ll leave your great-grandson.” That line, similar to the theme of Patek Philippe ads, may have been wishful, but it was not yet an absurd way to talk about consumer electronics. Today, Apple’s designers, like their competitors, make machines that are almost disposable: the screens crack; the processors become outmoded.
Apple's design workshop: simple is as simple does.Samsung Electronics sells vacuum cleaners as well as phones, and employs a thousand designers. Apple’s intentions can be revealed in one room. Each table serves a single product, or product part, or product concept; some of these objects are scheduled for manufacture; others might come to market in three or five years, or never. “A table can get crowded with a lot of different ideas, maybe problem-solving for one particular feature,” Hönig, the former Lamborghini designer, later told me. Then, one day, all the clutter is gone. He laughed: “It’s just the winner, basically. What we collectively decided is the best.” The designers spend much of their time handling models and materials, sometimes alongside visiting Apple engineers. Jobs used to come by almost every day. Had I somehow intruded an hour earlier, I would have seen an exhibition of the likely future. Now all but a few tables were covered in sheets of gray silk, and I knew only that that future would be no taller than an electric kettle.
Apple designers are scarcer than snow-leopardsApple employs three recruiters whose sole task is to identify designers to join the group; they find perhaps one a year.
Jony Ive is sadHe is now one of the two most powerful people in the world’s most valuable company. […]he’s uncomfortable knowing that a hundred thousand Apple employees rely on his decision-making—his taste—and that a sudden announcement of his retirement would ambush Apple shareholders. (To take a number: a ten-percent drop in Apple’s valuation represents seventy-one billion dollars.) According to Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’s widow, who is close to Ive and his family, “Jony’s an artist with an artist’s temperament, and he’d be the first to tell you artists aren’t supposed to be responsible for this kind of thing.
Twitter blames Apple... by mistakeOn Friday, a clarification message appeared on Twitter’s investor relations account. “There was no bug or issue with iOS8,” the tweet said. “It is an issue on Twitter’s side as users upgraded.”
How iOS 8 cost Twitter 4 million users - Business InsiderThere were two issues. One was Safari auto-polling, and that was 3 million users and we don't expect to get those users back. The other issue that was more complex was an encryption issue related to the Twitter integration into iOS, such that when users integrated, a lot of them weren't able to launch Twitter successfully. That was a much more complex issue, it did not have a one-size-fits-all fix, so the team here worked as quickly as possible to address it but it caused a large number of users to not be able to use the product, even those who were trying repeatedly to figure out ways to get in.
Saving time = saved lifetimesOne day Jobs marched into the cubicle of Larry Kenyon, the engineer who was working on the Macintosh operating system, and complained that it was taking too long to boot up. Kenyon started to explain why reducing the boot-up time wasn’t possible, but Jobs cut him off. “If it would save a person’s life, could you find a way to shave 10 seconds off the boot time?” he asked. Kenyon allowed that he probably could. Jobs went to a whiteboard and showed that if five million people were using the Mac and it took 10 seconds extra to turn it on every day, that added up to 300 million or so hours a year—the equivalent of at least 100 lifetimes a year. After a few weeks Kenyon had the machine booting up 28 seconds faster.
Jobs leapfrogged product shortfallsThe mark of an innovative company is not only that it comes up with new ideas first. It also knows how to leapfrog when it finds itself behind. That happened when Jobs built the original iMac. He focused on making it useful for managing a user’s photos and videos, but it was left behind when dealing with music. People with PCs were downloading and swapping music and then ripping and burning their own CDs. The iMac’s slot drive couldn’t burn CDs. “I felt like a dope,” he said. “I thought we had missed it.” But instead of merely catching up by upgrading the iMac’s CD drive, he decided to create an integrated system that would transform the music industry. The result was the combination of iTunes, the iTunes Store, and the iPod, which allowed users to buy, share, manage, store, and play music better than they could with any other devices. After the iPod became a huge success, Jobs spent little time relishing it. Instead he began to worry about what might endanger it. One possibility was that mobile phone makers would start adding music players to their handsets. So he cannibalized iPod sales by creating the iPhone. “If we don’t cannibalize ourselves, someone else will,” he said.
Jobs: simplify!During the design of the iPod interface, Jobs tried at every meeting to find ways to cut clutter. He insisted on being able to get to whatever he wanted in three clicks. One navigation screen, for example, asked users whether they wanted to search by song, album, or artist. “Why do we need that screen?” Jobs demanded. The designers realized they didn’t. “There would be times when we’d rack our brains on a user interface problem, and he would go, ‘Did you think of this?’” says Tony Fadell, who led the iPod team. “And then we’d all go, ‘Holy shit.’ He’d redefine the problem or approach, and our little problem would go away.” At one point Jobs made the simplest of all suggestions: Let’s get rid of the on/off button. At first the team members were taken aback, but then they realized the button was unnecessary. The device would gradually power down if it wasn’t being used and would spring to life when reengaged.
I’ve worked for the last 15 or 20 years on the most challenging, creative parts of what we do.