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How Apple Had a Spectacular Year 504

Posted by samzenpus
from the beating-the-odds dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "John Boudreau writes in the Mercury News that during its just-completed fiscal year, Apple broke four consecutive quarterly revenue and profit records and amid the worst recession in decades, hired thousands while others cut jobs, but what most distinguishes Apple is that while other tech titans spent 2010 cutting costs and acquiring new technology through mergers, this $65 billion company has been relentless in innovating like a startup and ruthless in promoting technologies that disrupt its own product lines. '"It's been an awesome year. The frequency of new stuff just boggles the mind," says Charles Wolf, an analyst with Needham & Co. "There is no company that is remotely close to what Apple is doing. They are the Energizer Bunny." In September 2005, Apple killed off the popular iPod Mini to make way for the the iPod Nano; Apple openly acknowledges that the iPhone is cannibalizing its iPods — and they don't seem to care; and the iPad tablet could ultimately threaten its core laptop business. "[Apple] has a different cultural mind-set," concludes Wolf. "They are acting like a startup, though they are becoming a $100 billion company."'
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How Apple Had a Spectacular Year

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  • New Technology? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmottram08 (1886654) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:03PM (#34367084)
    Exactly what New Technology did Apple release last year?

    Lets call this what it is. . .Apple products SOLD in 2010.

  • Ha! "Don't care" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AkaXakA (695610) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:11PM (#34367188) Homepage

    Do you know why they "don't care"? MARGINS!

    Big, fat, juicy margins...nothing to do with start-ups.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:13PM (#34367200)

    Apple openly acknowledges that the iPhone is cannibalizing its iPods — and they don't seem to care

    Should they care or should they celebrate? The iPhone offers a superset of iPod functionality and the iPhone generates greater profits.

  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:14PM (#34367216)

    Poor thing. Seek therapy. You have issues.

    Here is your first clue...most people who bought iPads have no idea who Jobs is and could care less.

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:16PM (#34367232) Journal

    Completely subjective view here, but the new iPod nano was impressive enough to elicit a 'holy crap' reaction when I first saw one, and it's been a while since any piece of tech has made an impact like that.

    Sure, it is just another touchscreen music player, but what they've managed to cram into that case does seem to me to be a good distance beyond the rest of the market.

  • by gilesjuk (604902) <.giles.jones. .at. .zen.co.uk.> on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:23PM (#34367320)

    No, it's an admission that most people buy laptop computers to access the Internet, play music and films.

    Computer ownership accelerated when the Internet became popular. Hence it is the "killer application" for most users.

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:25PM (#34367356) Homepage

    But that is not new. Smaller? Yes, but still an incremental upgrade, nothing is new in that product.

    Just what are you expecting? Mr. Fusion in your pocket? A portable transporter? A flying car? (OK, we've been expecting that for years).

    You all realize that Apple is a consumer hardware company, do you not? They don't make 787's, Space Shuttles or nuclear weapons. The do seem to make computer related consumer gizmos better than any of their competitors? Yeah, it would me neat if they made a mid sized tower, but it doesn't look like. Yeah, the iPad is ridiculously crippled for everyone hear who wants to control their toaster with it. But Apple seems to make stuff people want, hence it's good year. You can argue whether that's "incremental", "insignificant" or even bleh, but I bet Micheal Dell would like some of whatever it is that Jobs is smmoking.

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:35PM (#34367464)

    Completely subjective view here, but the new iPod nano was impressive enough to elicit a 'holy crap' reaction when I first saw one

    Same here .. except it also included a WTF about all the stuff they dropped that was in the previous edition of the nano. You didn't see Steve on stage saying "oh yeah, we removed the camera, and the Contacts App and ..."

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:37PM (#34367474) Journal

    To stay extremely profitable you can't be in the race to the lowest price. This is where most other tech companies epically fail as they march forward on thinning margins until they go broke "making it up in volume".

    As margins decline, you end up with capacitors that are substandard and covering up that fact as your customers leave in droves (DELL). Apple's success has always been about standing out from the rest of the Tech crowd, which allows them the comfort of profits most other companies would kill for. But most other companies love resting on their laurels (Microsoft) or attacking their customers (Oracle, SCO) in the drive to create margins.

    What Apple does better than anyone else is taking existing ideas and making them better than anyone else. Slashdotters make fun of iPods, iPads and iPhones for being "lame", and not having the greatest specs, but they aren't Apple's customers, and Apple doesn't listen to them, and it shows up in the bottom line. For every slashdotter that cries "lame" there's a couple hundred average people saying "cool".

    Before iPods, MP3 players existed, but Apple did it better (and held the price). Before iPhones, "smart phones" existed, but Apple did it better (and held the price). Before iPads, tablet computers existed but Apple did it better (and beat price expectations) (No table exists that is better even now).

    Apple will find some other area that is lacking a polished product, introduce a iWhatever with a polish that is missing, and the slashdot community will cry "lame" once again. The price will be higher than "comparable" whatever, and Apple will sell gazillions in spite of what slashdot community thinks.

    Apple knows how to make a profit where none seems to exist, in a market that looks like it is wallowing, in an economy that sucks. Apple will become the largest market cap company in the next 12 - 18 months. And slashdotters will say "lame" and still not get it.

  • by beakerMeep (716990) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:40PM (#34367508)

    Industrial product design matters. Marketing too. I'm not a fan of Apple's policies, but they get quite a few things right while the competition seems mired in stupidity and copycat disease land.

    - Decent quality control (iphone4 attena aside)

    - Great marketing/PR/Hype

    - Extremely nice looking products

    Apple does these things well and makes great devices. They now even have an army of good developers thanks to a platform that caters to people willing to spend money. In the meantime, the competition seems to sometimes innovate, and other times gets stuck copying, confused, and greedy. Looking at the Nexus S -- it looks to be almost a clone of an IPhone 3G? What is Samsung thinking? At the same time Samsung has the tablet which looks to be pretty nice and more original. Verizon is a great example too: first they hyped the Droid to huge success, but then they decided to start putting Bing on phones and open their own app store.

    Still, it's great that Google seems to be adding serious competition to this market, but they seem to fail to grasp that they CAN'T hand control back to carriers and win this race. Giving up on the Nexus One right out of the gate was a bad move. Consumers dont want to go back to the flip phone days with $2.99 30 second vcast ringtones.

    Apple will see continued success due to all these issues regardless, at least in the near future. However if Google steps up it's game and does the following:

    1) Streamlined patch/update process

    2) Making manufacturer skins removable

    3) limitation on how manufacturers and carriers can lock down devices. (ie no forcing specific apps on the user).

    That's when things will get interesting. If Google can silence the fragmentation trolls, and keep the carrier greed in check, there is hope for this market, and especially a bright future for consumers. There is even room for carriers to still add value. But if they FORCE it on people, they will all lose to Apple.

  • by kevinmenzel (1403457) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [leznemnivek]> on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:48PM (#34367584)
    And some day, Steve Jobs will die. And without the cult of personality driving the marketing, slowly Apple will fall away...
  • by dysonlu (907935) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:50PM (#34367608)
    Apple's success is not about new technology (tablets and smartphones already existed before the iPad and the iPhone, respectively); it is about creating a new market -- they transform a niche market into a maintream market. They have been incredibly successful in doing that because: 1) they make technology accessible and, more importantly, 2) they create awareness. They manage to create awareness not only with excellent marketing but, and this is their very unique advantage over any other company, because all eyes are on Apple. Whether it's tech media or maintream mass media, whether it's the Web, TV, newspaper or radio, every media is following and reporting Apple's every move. Any company can make technology accessible, very few, if any, can create awareness like Apple can.
  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shmlco (594907) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:51PM (#34367618) Homepage

    It's marketing, backed up with often exceptional products.

    If it were just marketing, anyone could do it. If the products were junk people wouldn't buy them again and again. They do. If the products were junk then the rest of the tech industry wouldn't be falling all over themselves trying to get their own "me too" products into the market.

    Or are you saying that no other company in the world has a marketing department?

    I'm getting really tired of hearing otherwise educated people tell me that Apple's success is "just" due to marketing.

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bondsbw (888959) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:52PM (#34367634)

    Somebody invented the transistor. Somebody invented the microchip. Somebody invented the cellular radio. Somebody invented the LCD screen. Somebody invented the speaker. Somebody invented the touchscreen. Somebody invented headphones.

    Are you saying that everyone else is releasing old technology?

    Then perhaps the electric car is old technology. We've had batteries, electric motors, wheels, brakes, etc. for years. Maybe the flying car is old tech. We've had the basic components for years, but have had trouble combining them into useful, compact flying transport.

    It doesn't have to be completely new, to be novel or innovative. Nearly every useful new technology is the result of applying innovation to combining existing technologies.

  • by itsdapead (734413) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:58PM (#34367694)

    Should they care or should they celebrate? The iPhone offers a superset of iPod functionality and the iPhone generates greater profits.

    Dumb comment in TFA - they surely make more on an iPhone than an iPod. Also, Apple had to produce the iPhone - other phone manufacturers were including music players and that would have hit iPod sales.

    The iPad vs. laptop "cannibalization" might be more serious, but the iPad is fairly well pitched to be a supplement to a laptop, not a replacement. I use mine mainly for comfy-chair web and email browsing.

  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @04:59PM (#34367702) Homepage
    I am a Opensource promoter, RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer) and an all around techie. Awhile ago, I wrote a sensible article on my four month experience as a MacBook Pro user and received viscous comments like, "The almighty doesn't even get reviews like this from the pope."

    I feel very vindicated by this article and have but one thing to say, "IN YOUR FACE, I TOLD YOU SO!"

    ok... sorry, that was immature, but the Apple stuff is innovative, solid, and amazing. If you are still not convinced, go down to your local OfficeMax and spend some time with a droid tablet or try to edit AVCHD Video on WIndows 7 PC. Really, I am not an Apple fan-boy. I am just really busy and need my technology to work NOW!
  • by bkmoore (1910118) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:04PM (#34367774)
    It will be difficult for Apple after Steve Jobs is gone, but it doesn't mean Apple will fail. Both Ford and Disney were run by charismatic founders, but they both managed to make a good transition over time. I think HP might be an example of a company that was less successful in making the transition. But in Apple's case, Steve Jobs is aware of his own limited life expectancy and he has put some very capable managers in place to run the company following his departure. Steve Jobs primarily focuses on product development and allows his managers to run Apple's operations. The question is will the management team retain Steve's commitment to good design. It will be interesting to see.
  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shmlco (594907) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:08PM (#34367802) Homepage

    HP, Dell, Lenovo and so on earned their positions. All of them sell "me too", mostly interchangeable products. You could take off the Dell or HP logos and swap them around between any of their various POS plastic boxes, and no one would notice. Or care.

    Sony, at least, tries to do some industrial design on the hardware side, but still falls down when it comes to executing on the software side. And -- as the article implies and unlike Apple -- they lack the willpower to let one division cannibalize the sales of another.

    Personally, I think all of them fell prey to the idea you suggested: that consumers are stupid, and as such, will buy all of the least common denominator crap we can sell.

    Well. Some will. And some won't.

  • by Eighty7 (1130057) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:19PM (#34367920)

    Apple openly acknowledges that the iPhone is cannibalizing its iPods [CC] — and they don't seem to care;

    It's better for you to cannibalize your own products, than for your competitors to do it for you. There was a recent quote from El Jobso (can't find off hand, sorry) saying that (in his absence) Apple just sat on the top end of the market with the Mac, got greedy, failed to innovate, and suffered. Their success with the ipod seems to support this. They cover nearly the whole market while still remaining the high end brand.

  • by rsborg (111459) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:20PM (#34367926) Homepage

    That is Apple's biggest innovation with the iPhone, and they know it (see Mac App Store). The App Store is why the iPod touch has such high appeal, why people put up with AT&T's horrible service with the iPhone, and why the iPad is so versatile.

    On the flip side, Android Market is crippled by the requirement for 3G service devices (ie, no Android iPod Touch competitor any time soon), a drive to push free/ad-driven sales model and a lack of curation (see DVD Jon's appeal to Google [nanocr.eu] to put some quality/curation into the Android Market). As a consequence numerous other Android app markets are cropping up, adding confusion and complexity to the act of developing and buying apps for that platform.

  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trufagus (1803250) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:23PM (#34367952)

    If you are willing to submit yourself to Apple like that, just because they have been successful and made lots of money, then you will make an excellent Apple devotee.

    No one is questioning their success now. Not buying into Applethink doesn't mean predicting their doom - it means being able to question ridiculous, sycophantic articles like this one.

  • by bkmoore (1910118) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:24PM (#34367960)
    I rode aapl from less than $100 to $200 in 2007 and stuck with aapl all through the crash to $89 in 2008, and even used it as an opportunity to load up. It was a great ride, but the time has come to reduce my exposure. I am not a smart investor, I just got lucky. It's finally time to cash in the chips and walk out of the casino. Apple may continue to rise, but a wise investor once said, "a dollar not made is still a lot better than a dollar lost."
    My two cents analysis that Apple has a lot of potential, but Apple carries a lot of risk. I am not sure if the market can sustain an Apple valued as highly as Exxon for example. Apple is a very difficult company to value because it is very difficult to predict future earnings. A lot of it depends on the public's reception of Apple's latest gadget. If the gadget is a new type of device, it is very difficult to accurately predict its acceptance. I had doubts about the iPad, but am glad it is selling like gang busters.
    I am neither a fan boy nor an Apple hater. I am just an ordinary guy trying to get a good return on his savings after the banks cut interest rates to nil. Apple seemed like a good investment at the time. Which brings to mind another risk. If interest rates on savings rise again, expect people like me to take money out of the market, which will reduce share prices. I will keep an eye on Apple though. If it has another sharp drop in the next couple of years, I may use it as an opportunity to load up again.
  • Re:New Technology? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:32PM (#34368026)
    Correct. And even the hardware is special in the sense that they consistently have some of the best industrial design on the market. With the exception of the iPhone 4 antenna issue, their design works out very well for them.
  • by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:43PM (#34368120) Homepage

    > I just save my papers on Google docs and print them from a different terminal.

    That's just an obscure way of saying that you go to a real computer to do certain things when the iPad fails to be as magical as it's hype would leave you to believe.

    Some people buy into the Apple groupthink enough to actually accept the contortions that an iDevice force you into. They will even defend the nonsense and insanity.

  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stele (9443) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:47PM (#34368176) Homepage

    I wonder how many things they could care less about?

  • by mozumder (178398) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:50PM (#34368202)

    And, no one else makes things remotely close.

    But let's make it clear: Apple is a systems company.

    The fact that you are trying to figure out whether it's a software or a hardware company means you don't understand systems-level design.

    They don't make Silicon, they make CPU's. The don't make CPU's, they make motherboards. They don't make motherboards, they make the computer. They don't make computers, they make a system. Etc..

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:51PM (#34368212) Homepage

    I dunno. What will a Mac do if that AVCHD video did not come straight from the camera?

    I can tell you what it does with MPEG2 that touched any sort of intermediate source. It BARFS.

    Unix indeed...

    I am a Certified Solaris Admin. That doesn't mean that I am not a Linux Zealot. ...and I am not sure I would want to edit video on ANY laptop.

  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @05:58PM (#34368288) Journal

    Dumb comment in TFA - they surely make more on an iPhone than an iPod. Also, Apple had to produce the iPhone - other phone manufacturers were including music players and that would have hit iPod sales.

    Other manufacturers have been including music players in their phones for most of the last 10 years. The number one music play in Asia is a Nokia phone. Ride a subway in China, South Korea, or Japan and you'll see it for yourself. Dedicated music players are dead. Apple's iPods are a dying product because the rest of the market already moved past them; Apple just decided to do what every other manufacturer was already doing - replacing a music player with a phone - but declare it magical and innovative and revolutionary and their adoring writers in the media - and their vocal minority of Macolytes - gladly repeated the company line, and it became accepted common knowledge.

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wavedeform (561378) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:02PM (#34368326)

    Yeah, how do you explain the fact that there have been tablets for maybe ten years, yet it's suddenly it's a new, desirable, market after the iPad? How do you explain the fact that, time and time again, Apple can create a product that many people actually want to use? (hint: it's not hypnotism)

    The iPhone 4 antenna issues was unfortunate, but once you use a case or other protector, it's a very nice device. If the iPhone 4 had a bumper in the box with it, with advice along the lines of "If you experience reception issues, please install the bumper." no one would have thought twice about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:07PM (#34368370)

    You really seem to love raging against Apple, over and over again, in spite of the fact that you don't seem to know what you're talking about. You just keep spouting the bullet points that Apple's competition makes up. Meanwhile, most of us just decide if mobileSafari is the best app, if printing is ok with iOS 4.2, if apps are ok, and just make the decision. Regardless of whether or not you think that's the right decision.

    Tablets & mobile OSes have been around for a decade. Apple had more sales of their tablet, and WAY more sales of their mobile OS than anything else during that time. Deal with the fact that sometimes limited choices are ok for most people.

  • by bkmoore (1910118) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:09PM (#34368386)

    Enron lied their way to success. Apple created products which were successful. By lying, you normally mean that Apple didn't sell what they claim they sold, or a product doesn't have an advertised functionality that Apple claimed. As far as I can tell, those were real customers who bought real products, and aside from a few minor glitches, the products generally do what they are advertised to do. Apple certainly isn't any worse than other tech companies on failing to deliver advertised functionality.

    If you don't like Apple's products don't buy them and stop worrying about all the lemmings.

  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:13PM (#34368412)
    I think Apple's current success has a lot to do with the fact that during the 90's they had the go to machine for graphics design applications. This happened to rub off on the New York City trendy set right at the time that hipsterism* was a thing to emulate and the iPod was released. The iPod became instantly recognizable not due to the player itself, but due to the white earbuds. The image of cool then translated to Apple's other products right at the time that OSX started shipping.

    *By Hipsterism I mean European affectation, che reading, buddy holly glasses, all black clothing, chunky shoes that are somewhere between oxfords and Dr. Martens 1461's, peacoats, Mop-Top haircuts and french or clove cigarette smoking hipster as opposed to the Ironic T-shirt, Ironic trucker hat, Ironic skinny jeans, Ironic mustache, Ironic Pabst swilling, Ironic fixie riding hipster. Basically the kind of person who knew about Jim Jarmusch before Coffee and Cigarettes was a feature film.
  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:18PM (#34368470) Homepage Journal

    Notice how Jobs almost always says 'we think this solution is the best' and 'we think this phone is the best ever'. The whole manipulation of words is amazing to watch.

    Um ... how is that manipulation, exactly? Most companies just say "this product is better than everything else" without the "we think" qualifier. In this respect, at least, Jobs is being unusually honest by CEO standards.

  • Re:You got it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by uglyduckling (103926) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:20PM (#34368496) Homepage
    You're sort-of right, but I think you're missing the point really. I can buy a designer shirt for silly money, but find just as good a shirt for cheaper else where. Same quality fabric, same quality stitching, nice designs etc. etc.. Most Apple hardware can't be found for the same quality elsewhere - really. Most of the time, if you pick a popular Apple product and try to find a match with equal design desirability, equal software features, equal durability etc., you might come up with something marginally cheaper, but not a difference worth worrying about.
  • Re:Oh Brother! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:25PM (#34368534)

    C'mon - it's news that Apple had a good year?

    Well, yeah. It's news that, in the middle of a recession, one of the major tech companies is experiencing amazing success and behaving like a startup. Are people not supposed to report on Apple's success because you expect it?

  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:27PM (#34368556) Homepage Journal

    Remember when Apple's stock plummeted because Jobs was sick?

    That had nothing to do with fandom. Rightly or wrongly, Jobs is identified with Apple's success; the company's fortunes started declining shortly after he left, and it was only after he came back that it became possible to read a news story about Apple without seeing the word "beleaguered" immediately preceding the company name. Personally I think that at this point, the company would probably keep going fine without him, but the market is understandably jittery about the prospect.

    Even Bill Gates never had that kind of recognition - his was solely limited to the tech and business communities.

    Bullshit. There was a period in the late 90's and early 00's when Gates was almost universally lionized, pretty much the same period when "beleaguered Apple" was a stock phrase. The mass media has yet to give Jobs that kind of quasi-deification, which is probably a good thing.

  • by pz (113803) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:33PM (#34368602) Journal

    Just because your grandma can figure it out does not make it better.

    Um, yes it does, when you are in the business of selling widgets you want Grandma to be able to use.

    If, on the other hand, you are so mired in zealotry that you can't see that if Grandma can't get a widget to work, a widget that is intended for the mass market, it puts a serious limitation on that widgets eventual success, well, then, we don't have much to discuss.

  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JBv (25001) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:37PM (#34368632) Journal

    It's not just marketing, it's making products that work and do feel and look good. In spite all the limitations that any itemized feature check-list of apple products vs the competition will show, I have chosen apple products a couple of times.

    The last istuff i bought was an iphone to replace my Motorola razr. I wanted a nokia N900, until a saw it had the thickness of a pack of cigars with a proce tag close to the iphone. I could have fun with linux on the nokia, but fun only lasts for a while especially for a thick heavy phone. Size does matter for a phone and a thick heavy phone would lay forotten most of the time in my backpack.

    Why is there no serious competition? Are all competitors secret Apple fan boys? Why is it the the apple line of laptops look cool and sober and PC laptops have 10 stickers, a miss-match of random useless applications pre-installed and blinding leds and chrome all over? I am writing this on a 6 moth HP elite book that I quite enjoy and is not that bad, but it still looks like a farm tractor next to my wife's macbook pro.

  • Personality? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andersh (229403) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @06:43PM (#34368674)

    The first time Steve Jobs left Apple the company still managed to survive, but barely, it was a different market after all. Today computers really are for everyone, so I'm not sure if it would have gone the same way.

    However I doubt you understand the nature of Apple, its products and customers. Steve Jobs is an icon, but very few customers actually know or care about him. He's not the one that makes Apple products cool and interesting. The designers and marketers make Apple what it is. Steve Jobs is a great leader obviously, but he's not alone, and he has a lot of people on his team.

    When he got sick and took leave the company did just fine, the transition was handled flawlessly, and you probably don't even remember it happened. Timothy Cook, executive vice president for worldwide sales and operations, oversaw day-to-day operations.

    Apple's board of directors has discussed the issue and they have a list of people of at Apple that could and will replace Steve Jobs the day he leaves. It's no secret.

    To conclude; it's not a "cult of personality" as you claimed, if anything the cult is the brand.

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @07:00PM (#34368808) Homepage

    a systems company that manages to reach demographics that most other technology companies (systems or not) don't target and/or don't reach, making them uniquely profitable.

    So often the discussion on Slashdot is simply a matter of comparison: "The Apple ____ is similar to the Microsoft/Sony/HP/YouNameIt ____ but with a very narrow focus, therefore it is insufficiently flexible, particularly at a premium price point."

    This kind of logic is often couched in "objective" terms but in fact represents a very particular value seen primarily in the technology/hacker community: general applicability/maximal flexibility. In this community these values are claimed to be "objective" goods, while other values like ease of use, system(s) integration, industrial design, simplicity, and even inflexibility (which is often, frankly, a need) are openly mocked as "objective" negatives.

    In fact, what's at work here is a difference in users' value orientations. Apple often care less about flexibility/generality than other things, and there's nothing wrong with that just as there's nothing wrong with Slashdot geeks caring more about flexibility/generality than other things.

    But it is not a stretch to say that the rest of the world doesn't see it as particularly "cool" that a single handheld device can (a) multi-boot four operating systems, (b) provide a remote login for multiple root accounts textual and graphical, (c) act as a remote control for multiple household entertainment systems, (d) be dropped into a Toyota as an engine ECU with real-time wireless reprogrammability, (e) be used as a logic probe and oscilloscope by plugging in optional cables, (f) receive HAM radio signals and run a version of KA9Q, (g) simulcast FM and Internet radio on/from user-chosen frequencies/addresses, (h) provide access to IMAP email and the mobile web, (i) act as a flashlight by turning the screen white, (j) offer a built-in high-resolution CCD capable of being programmed to operate as a scanner, as a camera, or in AI research for visual perception experimentation, and (k) with the addition of a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, act as a complete general-purpose computing system capable of playing all of the latest FPSes available to the operating systems mentioned at the start of this list in (a), all while fitting in a shirt pocket and light enough to be put on a keychain.

    For a Slashdot user, this description is of a kind of "holy grail" device. For a non-Slashdot user, this is an incredible constrictive description of a device that likely requires extensive programming, extensive management, long and detailed user interface interactions to accomplish even simple tasks, low task parallelism, and a risky concentration of many functions into a single, no doubt highly expensive, device.

    The goals are different. Apple is amazingly able to grok and fulfill the particular goals of one class of very productive user that does not happen to be the Slashdot user by designing fully integrated, high-usability, cost-effective systems to suit their needs.

  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gtall (79522) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @07:02PM (#34368830)

    Oh, I see you want Apple to directly compete with Microsoft in their backyard? Why? Why would should Apple encourage the kind of dirty tricks Microsoft pulls to keep LInux off name box hardware? Apple wants to control the entire box so they are producing precisely what they wish to produce and are not at the whim of geniuses like Michael Dell who appears to change horses for merely a new bag of oats.

    You somehow have the idea that software integrated with hardware should be sold at the price of the hardware alone. Microsoft charges for their software, just low enough to keep new entrants out of the market. With a bit of lockin, there is no room for Apple in that market. Even the box makers are fighting over crumbs. Now why would Apple wish to join them?

    So what if it Apple doesn't dump a new Core-i machine on the market as soon as Intel dumps it on the box makers. Apple isn't necessarily competing against those box makers. It allows them time to get the software matched to hardware.

    Managing a computer company in the environment of Microsoft and Intel isn't easy, and it when those companies are much larger than your tiny computer company, you too would probably play conservative with keeping your niche.

  • by 11_biznatch_11 (875790) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @07:10PM (#34368884)

    Once these technological initiates (Apple users) become more knowledgeable about what is out there, i.e.: the Reality Distortion Field wares out, the honest ones will see the error of their ways and pick another platform, probably Android and the house of cards that Apple has built its empire upon (the ignorance of the masses) will collapse. And IMHO it cannot happen soon enough.

    If the requirement for Apple's downfall is for the 'ignorant masses' to become educated, then Apple is destined to be the most successful company in the history of the world.

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 (561290) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @07:25PM (#34368980)

    sold, released, whatever, the point is the same. They had products in the pipe the people BEGGED to PAY for. In a time when most OTHER tech companies couldn't sell a paper bag, Apple released a whole new product and updates to all its others. In fact you would be correct, Apple didn't "innovate" in 2010, they innovated on products like iPad in 2008 and 2009 when the stock market crashed, banks failed, and automakers went bankrupt..... most companies were in severe layoff mode. Apple was chugging away spending money on NEW products.

    Rethink that statement again, and awe in their ability to manage and grow their business even when chips were terrible.

    Part of this year's sales is just that, Apple had NEW products on tap and people are just starting to loosen their purses a bit. They get one "treat" product this year and Apple was ready for them. You'll notice only the makers of "cheap crap" and "impulse buys" are still having a bad time, makers of BMWs Apples, etc are doing great, people aren't spending as much on crap, but they finally have enough to spend on something nice.

  • by not-my-real-name (193518) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @07:27PM (#34368994) Homepage

    This is exactly why nerds are baffled by the success of Apple. You and I have no problem with storing our music files in a hierarchical tree of folder and copying them onto something that mounts as a storage device.

    Now think, how many people do you know who store all their document in the default folder for whatever program they're using and have a zillion icons covering their desktop? How many people call you in a panic when they can't find an important document because it's in a folder called "Important Documents"?

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @07:54PM (#34369172) Journal

    Actually Apple just happens to make consumer products no one ever thought they would need, market them by making people think they need them, and then profit off of people's stupidity.

    As opposed to all the companies too stupid to sell intelligent people what they need? While spending more on marketing than Apple?

  • Re:what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnasher719 (869701) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @08:16PM (#34369376)

    Again? Why has slashdot become a marketing platform for apple? They sell overpriced, inferior products to idiots that don't know any better.

    Steve Jobs really, really hopes that you get a top job at any of its competitors.

    In reality, the clueless idiot is you. Apple products are more expensive than crap products that match them in the superficial check list of the under average geek; they compare very well in price with any quality product. And they are far superior where it counts; to make it possible for average people who actually have a life to _use_ the product.

    I sometimes think that the under average geek is someone who feels proud to be able to use products that are hard to use; the worst of them like you look down on people who don't fall for that stupidity. The above average geek is someone who feels proud to make products that are easy to use.

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @08:16PM (#34369378) Journal

    Spoken like a true geek who just doesn't get the fact that there are people out there that aren't geeks.

    Everything you said is true, and yet, you are either too smart or too stupid to realize that iTunes manages all of that for your average person, so they don't have to.

    About the only thing you didn't say that would have been geekier would be to say that you manage your tunes with emacs you compiled yourself.

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @08:34PM (#34369576)

    If you've seen the iPod nano in person, you'd know why those things don't make much sense. If you want those features, they make the iPod touch. If you want a highly portable music player, that's the nano (and the shuffle if you are on a budget).

  • Re:Props to Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Sunday November 28, 2010 @08:45PM (#34369684)

    They didn't dump a Core-i into a machine when they first appeared because it didn't work for them as a whole - battery life, heat management, cost (to manufacture) were just too high. They did it when they had something that would work for their design brief. In doing so they have consistently put out some of the better laptops on the market to date. Just because they are not putting in bleeding edge chips at every opportunity doesn't mean they should just give up and start selling software only - designing a computer is not an easy task if you want to hit certain criteria. Their marketing has changed - they are no longer advertising the "fastest, prettiest" computer - are you suggesting that because they did that once, they are beholden to it for evermore? If that's the case, what's the number for the Beyer company, I want to buy some heroin.

    If one of those criteria is "must have bleeding edge, 2 month-old Core i7" then "battery life" or "weight" or "heatsink size/fan noise" is going to have to suffer.

    Those early i7 laptops, I really can't see them being all that good after a few years of use - hot, noisy, with poor battery life.

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @08:52PM (#34369776)

    But has completely lost the point of the old nano.

    You mean to be a small flash-based iPod?

    It requires more button presses to use and forces the user to look at the screen.

    Not really. It has volume buttons, and play/pause and track forward/backward are big and easy to hit even without looking at it. You can also use headphones with remote buttons.

    Most people seem to use nano's in places like the gym or the car.

    That's a fairly strange assertion that seems cherry-picked to make a point rather than something rational.

    Adding a touch screen is a disadvantage in those locations.

    I don't see why. iPod touches and iPhones get used in those locations. The only thing that seems like even a mild advantage is the ability to pause or skip a track. Everything else requires looking at the old nanos too.

    They would have been better off keeping the old nano form factor and increasing the storage.

    I doubt their sales figures agree with you.

    Likewise the new iPhone 4 seems more what would happen if HTC designed an iPhone. The typical flare for styling present in apple devices doesn't seem to exist in that phone.

    Are you serious? iPhone 4 is the most elegant iPhone (or iPod in general) to date.

    It's all retinal display, megapixels, video calling, etc..

    Those are bad things?

    Which would be fine but the new iPhone isn't that impressive when you compare the specifications with other phones.

    Storage, screen resolution (strange you omit this as a specification), CPU, RAM, size, materials, internal sensors... The iPhone either leads the pack in these or is at the very least at the high end of the range. I was greatly surprised by the generally lacking storage space of even the most high-end Android handsets.

    Then again I dislike apple products for a host of reasons.

    Obviously.

    But do wonder if I'm right when some of my friends who are fan boys/girls show dislike for the iPad and Nano.

    You mean when you ask them leading questions? Like, "wow, don't you think it sucks that they removed the camera from the nano?" or "who's going to buy an iPad? It's just a big iPhone without the phone, right?!". The iPad especially is one of those things where people who say, "all my fanboy friends think it's lame," completely contradicts reality. What's most likely is they ask you something like, "what do you think of the iPad? Is it worth it?" and based on your response they agree. Apple has sold over ten million iPads so far.

  • Re:Good vs. Great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bledri (1283728) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:18PM (#34370006)

    ... The problem with a lot of people around here is that not only do they not care about rough edges, they don't even SEE rough edges.

    Actually, I think a lot people around here see rough edges as a feature. If they use something "easy", then it's not obvious that they are special and smarter than everyone else... God forbid that you point out it's all built on UNIX with a terminal (on the Mac) and has free developer tools, documentation, example code, and training videos.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:19PM (#34370014)

    Have you seen how many tablets were at CES last year?

    Yes, most of them were reactions to the rumored tablet Apple was working on (a rumor that had been going for some time). It's telling that we don't talk about any of them now, because they were building something to compete against an OS X tablet, not a tablet that people wanted to use.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:23PM (#34370048)

    How the heck is a pack of Salt and Vinegar flavour crisps the easiest thing to use? Why pay all that extra money for ease of use? I can just rustle up some chips myself with a knife and a frying pan, then make the sodium acetate I need in a brainlessly simple reaction using household chemicals. You know the ones, and how to obtain the pure product right, that you can then put on your home made chips?

    Why pay for someone to handle that sort of thing for me? I can do it all myself!

    Now, I might be able to manage an mp3 player that required me to move binary files around, but it doesn't mean I want to. I love the fact that I can plug in my iPhone and have it handle all that for me (especially with the automatic handling of new music as my moods change with smart playlists keeping track of everything - including what I have played on the iPod since it was last synced).

    My mother, on the other hand, is just about getting around the concept of having a Home folder, and a USB memory stick, and attaching files by email. Deeper folder trees (despite their clearly simple extension to the Home folder concept to you and I) are not really intuitive to her. The iPod/iTunes is excellent for her - it keeps track of her music, organises it and syncs and manages the iPod for her. She's a smart person, but computers are a new thing for her, and the iPod gives her access to something that she doesn't have to learn all in one go to get enjoyment out of (the level of ease/competence with a computer would have to be much better for a third party mp3 player).

    This is consistently a thing that slashdot does not understand, and that Apple understands *extremely well*. That even if a person can compile their own OS from source, and manage everything by hand, that *they don't always want to*, or in the case of less technical people, just cannot do easily on their own, without vast frustration, regardless of how easy it seems.

    Which is one of the reasons why Apple is selling products hand over fist, and a large portion of slashdot is going "huh? but why?" or "this product will fail!" while completely missing its redeeming features for a large portion of the population who aren;t them.

    I'm not going to laugh derisively at you, or call you a moron because you can't do a retrosynthetic analysis on the flavour in your curry, and then be able to whip that up from relatively simple starting materials, or laugh when you can't tell me what happens to certain spices if they are overheated. I mean, it's pretty basic functional group chemistry - it's handled just like any other basic organic mechanism. I don't know about you, but that's an easy one!

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:29PM (#34370082)

    They "innovated", you know, by making a new version of an iPod (with a broken antenna this time), by making a little bit better net-book, and by remaking the HP tablet PC from 2001, except without all those bothersome functional ports and things, but with less memory and computing power. Yup, real innovation. They did put the prices up a lot though. But just now they put them "down" about 8%.

    How quaint. Somehow these "inferior" products are outselling by orders of magnitude those things you seem to think are better...

    One possible explanation is that people are just really stupid. Not just really stupid once, but repeatedly so. They buy an iPod, see some superior product (I'm not sure what though. Zune?) but then go out an buy a new iPod when their old one breaks down. And not just a few people, but millions upon millions do this? It's strange that Apple somehow happens to be the only company that manages to do this.

    Another explanation is that those aspects which you see as negatives which make Apple's products inferior in your eyes actually make the products superior in most other people's eyes. You mention the memory computing power of the iPad vs old HP Tablet PCs. Do you think the average consumer knows or even cares specifically how much memory or what CPU their devices have? All they care about is how well it works. And an iPad with 256MB RAM and a ~1GHz A4 CPU running iOS 4.2 runs better for them than any Tablet PC with any CPU or RAM running Windows 7. That's because the problem with Tablet PCs isn't the computing power or capacity, it's the form factor and the software.

    Why do you think HP's Windows 7 Slate (the current top of the line Windows tablet) only sold a few thousand units? Do you think people are really so stupid that over 10 million have bought an iPad but only an embarrassingly miniscule fraction of that bought an HP Slate?

    Since clearly there's no way people can actually prefer the iPad over other products like the Slate, we must all be incredibly stupid on a ratio of about 1000:1. It must be excruciatingly painful for you to have to live amongst such inferior minds.

  • Re:New Technology? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @11:45PM (#34371086) Homepage Journal
    you mean tablets ? there were many.
  • Re:New Technology? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Monday November 29, 2010 @02:34AM (#34371852)

    Her friend ended up selling her iPod and picked up the same mp3 player my wife had.

    Yeah, I'm sure this is a typical anecdote...

    Three hours to download and install iTunes? Even on dial up that's dubious. Surely you can't expect anyone to believe this story, right? What you're trying to say is that iPods are so difficult to use that a normal experience is that after three hours a person won't be up and running, but with another brand, drag-and-drop and bam, music! Do you realize how absurd that is when you consider how many people have iPods and how many buy them again when they need a new one?

    Your story is the typical, "I'm a computer nerd, we don't need no fancy bells and whistles, just show me the filesystem and I'll take care of the rest" view. Good for you and your wife (and I really mean that, I'm not being sarcastic. It's great that you have a product you like, there's no need to put down another product with an absurd example to justify your purchase). You hear the same thing about how "on Linux it found my wireless card right away and my Windows friend spent three hours on hold with Dell trying to get theirs working when they upgraded to Windows 7". It takes a special kind of wishfulness to believe such a scenario is representative of the average experience.

    It really is strange. My guess is that people just aren't aware of the alternatives. Either that, or they may think Apple products are "the best" and assume that no matter what trouble they have, the alternatives must surely be worse.

    Actually it's not strange at all. iPods are easiest to use, easiest to get up and running, easiest to get repaired, easiest to get assistance with.

    Do you know that if you have any problem with your iPod whatsoever, you can bring it into an Apple Store and they will help you with it for free? You can even bring in your PC and they will get iTunes installed, your music imported and your iPod synced? For free.

  • iPhone 4 features (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday November 29, 2010 @02:57AM (#34371926)

    The typical flare for styling present in apple devices doesn't seem to exist in that phone. It's all retinal display, megapixels, video calling, etc..

    Retina display really means something though. A high quality display is great for reading text and viewing photos. The ease of reading text alone makes it a very solid feature, not just something tacked on for a checklist (which is where I think you're going with the whole HTC thing).

    On megapixels - actually Apple didn't go there. They didn't stuff a 12MP sensor in a phone as others are doing. Instead they jumped it up a bit to a very rational 5MP but are using a sensor that handles low light much better with a back-illuminated sensor.

    The video calling is eh to me but the implementation is very good and works well. But more than that people really, really like a front facing camera. I've seen way more people using that than I ever thought I would, basically for a kind of "photobooth anywhere" kind of thing since the camera is very low res. But the wide adoption shows it's not just another feature but something people really value.

    Then again I dislike apple products for a host of reasons.

    Oh, I guess then that explains the completely irrational analysis of the iPhone 4, especially the design... what were you thinking? Anyone who has held one would call you insane just for that.

  • Re:Re-think (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bkmoore (1910118) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:46AM (#34372572)

    I agree with everything you are saying with some caveats. Apple's P/E has historically been higher than it is now. This could mean that Apple has a lot of potential upside, and a lot of investors are betting on this. But betting on Apple at $300 + is really betting on the broader market. The market will need to also hit an inflection point in order to sustain a larger Apple. I believe Apple has already hit an inflection point at $190 last year. Betting on another inflection is risky.

    I am not a smart investor, so my opinions are by no means correct; investing is a judgement call. That being said, I plan on keeping Apple in my portfolio, but I plan on reducing my exposure to it. I hope Apple continues to make successful products and provide outsize returns. But I know that no company, not even Apple can go to infinity. At some point I need to get off the ride and let others take a spin.

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