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History Repeats Itself — Mac & the iPad 514

Keith found an interesting story telling a bit about how Steve Jobs operates. It involves small teams of young engineers willing to work 90-hour weeks in total secrecy, and a complete willingness to throw away bad ideas without flowery language. The iPad is surprisingly similar to the Mac."
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History Repeats Itself — Mac & the iPad

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:38AM (#31909124)

    "a tiny group of intensely-focussed young people working in extreme secrecy . . . sets them to work for '90 hours a week and loving it.'"

    You mean like a cult?

  • flame suit on... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:42AM (#31909170)
    From TFA: "It was Steve's vision that if you made every single computer with the same exact OS and the same amount of memory, developers would always have a fixed platform for which to develop, making their jobs easier."

    I've always been of the opinion that this is one the 'advantages' of the dominance of Windows. If you're a small development house cranking out applications, you only need to make a Windows version and you've got a big chunk of the market - The dominance of windows makes "the job easier."
  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:42AM (#31909172)

    Let's conveniently leave out any mention of OS 9, NeXT Step, and the fact that for a while it looked like Apple was going the way of the Dodo.

  • Re:Oh please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ultrabot ( 200914 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:42AM (#31909184)

    Oh please, Apple has come out with some Spiffy stuff.
    The I-Pad is a Vanilla offering undeserving of the apple moniker..
    And no, I'm no Mac Fan.

    If you are no mac fan, why do you use the phrase "undeserving of the apple moniker"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:44AM (#31909202)

    So which chapter is this in the Apple book of marketing?

    The "How To Use Quasi-Geek Fanboi Discussion Forum Websites To Keep The Focus On Me" chapter. And naturally CmdrTaco takes the bait once again.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:46AM (#31909222)
    The iPad has everything that any other computer who is to say that it is not a computer? Apple can market it as a "media device" all they want, but if people want to use their iPads in other ways, they should be allowed to do so. Nobody, not Apple, and certainly not Steve Jobs, should be dictating what people are allowed to use their iPads for (except perhaps as a deadly weapon).

    The iPad does not need to "mute" anyone, as the Time article puts it. Apple is dictating that it should, because of their desire to do business with book publishers.
  • by derinax ( 93566 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:51AM (#31909282)

    The fact that Company X makes a closed system is nothing new, nor is it noteworthy. Closed systems are a dime a dozen.

    What the blogs are on fire about, and what we ALL should be worried about, is a closed developer ecosystem. It's Apple's new focus, and if it's allowed to propagate to the open platform we're all screwed.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:53AM (#31909320)

    The iPad has everything that any other computer has...

    You mean like USB ports, the ability to create and run your own software, the ability to chose your own OS, the freedom to download software from anywhere you chose, Flash support, the ability to export and import files at will, etc.?

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:58AM (#31909402)
    And, of course, let's not forget the greatest example of Jobs' clever vision, the Apple Lisa []. And, lest we forget, more modern successes like the revolutionary AppleTV []. I don't begrudge the author his respect for Jobs and his successes, but you're right, this guy seriously whitewashes over the many times where Jobs' smug "vision" has failed miserably.
  • For those that didn't RTFA, this paragraph, on the small team approach, is golden:

    It is this small-team approach that, of necessity, results in important capabilities being left out of the first release. The payoff, though, is that Steve ends up with a central core of perfectly-integrated functionality instead of a rambling labyrinth of disjointed “features.” This design framework is so well conceived that it can be built upon for years, even decades, without being stripped out and restarted. Compare that with the history of Windows, with false start after false start, resulting in their repeatedly beginning design anew.

  • by andy1307 ( 656570 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:01AM (#31909458)
    Why can't it be both. Why can't the 90hr work week be common knowledge while the details of what they're actually working on be a tightly help secret?
  • A timeclock is often a computer as far as hardware goes. If I went up to your grandma and gave her a timeclock and told her it was a replacement for her computer/laptop, she wouldn't appreciate it very much.

    A computer in the common sense is a combination of hardware and software. The iPad's limitations in both hardware and software keep it from being considered a computer.

    That being said, I'd buy one at $200, just not $500.

  • by derinax ( 93566 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:13AM (#31909648)

    The end does not justify the means. Anything that restricts developer and user freedom in a mass-market channel should be argued against.

    And anything NOT open source can be considered a "closed system". Windows is a closed system. What Apple did was to extend the closure to the developer channel, such that it provides a single, monolithic, commercial gateway to the system, which has been very rare in the industry. Not even Microsoft at their most abusive would have attempted that kind of developer lockout.

  • Re:iPad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:20AM (#31909750) Homepage Journal

    Anything created by Microsoft also sounds like it's from a line of hygiene products - hasn't stopped them so far..

  • by derinax ( 93566 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:26AM (#31909826)

    It's not hyperbole when "all" refers to us OS X developers, which was the intention.

    Nor is it hyperbole if a closed developer channel proves too lucrative, and too compelling-- and other platforms smell blood in the water. Like Microsoft, for example, who already is implementing a single gateway for Windows Mobile 7 development.

    I would love for it to *be* hyperbole. I certainly hope it turns out to be so, and that the larger open platform (where developers can choose their own audience) isn't rendered obsolete.

  • Not Surprising (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:28AM (#31909858)

    This is not surprising. Most geeks are an intensely romantic lot (yes, some even have sex, but that's not what I mean). The type of people drawn to the profession are always those who want to change the world to be what they think it should be, rather than living in what is. This is great, it's called progress, and despite some fits and starts, more people are living longer, healthier, self-actualized lives than at any time in history. The reason Mr. Jobs and Google and others seem to have the cult-like crowd, is that they give all these young men and women a vision, purpose and feeling of belonging to a greater purpose that is missing in so many parts of our culture. Great things can be accomplished this way - irrigation canals, pyramids, cathedrals, etc. Just so long as the intent is good ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:29AM (#31909876)


    Few will remember, but, when the Mac debuted in 1984, there were no arrow keys on the keyboard. That was a big deal. Almost every application then in existence depended on the arrow keys (then called cursor keys) for navigation. With that one stroke, Steve reduced the number of apps that could be easily ported to the Mac from tens of thousands to zero, ensuring that this new computer would have a long and painful childhood.


    I was responsible for putting the arrow keys on the Mac some 18 months after first release. I didn’t do it because I thought Steve’s original decision was wrong. On the contrary, I believed then and I believe now that decision was critically important. Without it, the new machine with its rodentiometer* and unproven interface would have been overrun with great hordes of horrific software, likely preventing the new interface from taking hold.

    Rather, I added the cursor keys a year and a half later because the interface had taken hold and was growing vigorously. The Mac’s childhood was over. Not only had the value of the Mac interface been proven, but those few developers that had tried a straight port had been publicly humiliated by the press and had faced immediate financial failure. It was time to open the system up more, particularly to people who are visually impaired, by overlaying a complete keyboard-driven interface onto the primary, mouse-driven interface.

    Is it me or does this sound like illogical revisionist nonsense?

  • by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:29AM (#31909894) Journal

    So he sees what people want - better than just about anyone, and he's not a visionary?

  • by Sancho ( 17056 ) * on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:30AM (#31909914) Homepage

    The same could be said of televisions. Does Grossman own a TV?

    Or radios. Does Grossman own a radio?

    Why are you disappointed with the iPad due to its difficulty with creating content? What were you expecting, exactly? If it doesn't suit your needs, don't buy one. They aren't replacing computers, you know....

  • If you're a small development house cranking out applications, you only need to make a Windows version and you've got a big chunk of the market

    Until you run into hardware issues. Hardware issues for Windows and Linux applications fall into at least two categories:

    • Driver issues. Your application may exercise parts of a hardware driver that have been implemented defectively (causing crashes and data loss) or far less inefficiently than on your development machine (causing poor response times). This happens especially often to programs that use Direct3D or OpenGL.
    • System requirements issues. Your application may require a faster CPU, larger memory, or faster GPU than your end users already own, and your end users don't understand A. how to upgrade without buying , or B. how to buy the right hardware for your application.

    Apple hardware tends to have fewer driver issues because the hardware is fairly consistent even across the Mac mini, iMac, and MacBook lines. You also know what minimum level of CPU, GPU, and RAM to expect from a "2007 Mac" and an end user can understand this.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:41AM (#31910064)

    I think its funny when Flash is used as some kind of example of freedom/openness in a platform. AFAICT, Flash is used solely to create hard-to-navigate web sites, annoying banner ads and obfuscating video to make it hard/impossible to download. Where's the freedom in that?

    It reminds me of a person complaining that because they can't sign away their rights they're not free.

    I'll grant you the lack of USB ports but only as a means of accessing external storage. As a portable device, it'd be nice to see the iPad support removable storage, even if that removable storage was restricted to some kind of iPad-only blob format you could only create in iTunes.

    64 gigs of flash memory is nothing if you want any kind of video and audio storage.

  • by BarryJacobsen ( 526926 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:42AM (#31910068) Homepage

    Oh, and just for your information, saying that requiring C/C++/Obj-C is matter of "quality" made me laugh a little.

    It is more a matter of user perception than "quality". Say Apple does allow Flash apps to be made for the iPhone/iPad and the App Store now has 10,000 Flash apps. Apple releases an OS update that necessarily breaks a part of the API. The SDK is updated months before this change goes live, and all it takes to fix the problem if you made your app in XCode is to recompile. Adobe, however, sat on their ass during this time and didn't fix their Flash compiler so none of the Flash apps are fixed and ready for when the OS update is ready to be pushed. What does Apple do now? Do they push the update anyway? Now 10,000 apps don't work, and who are users going to blame? Do they hold back their patch because another company was lazy?

    Apple doesn't want to be Adobe's bitch.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:44AM (#31910094)

    Marginally successful in a niche market for the coming 20 years ?

  • by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:45AM (#31910106)
    Sounds like you want a windows machine.
  • by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:50AM (#31910186)
    How so? is there a law restricting you from wiping out the software (including the OS) that Apple has installed on the Harware you purchased and then replacing it with your own software?

    Apple is restricting the software that you can run with thier software that you purchased.
  • by voidptr ( 609 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @10:56AM (#31910284) Homepage Journal

    People pointing out the problems with hyped products is extremely useful.

    The problem is the people pointing out problems seem to refuse to accept that other people are capable of comprehending those problems. A minority of people are complaining about limitations those of us who are interested in the product either doesn't see as a limitation, or limitations that are outweighed by other benefits of the product.

    I don't need another device for doing "content creation". I already have one of those I use when I'm at work. When I'm at home or traveling, I want something light I can use to keep in touch with people and entertain myself; I'd rather carry an iPad than a 7 lb laptop. Even at the office, my laptop is tethered to my desk all day, and it's something of a pain to undock it, reset all the open network sessions, and fire up the VPN just to take it into a meeting. With an iPad, I still have a way to check email, read PDFs, and interact with our internal engineering wiki without disturbing my laptop.

    My mother doesn't do content creation. She emails her kids, plays light games, and bugs us on Facebook. I'd much rather give her an iPad and force her into Apple's walled garden where she's guaranteed some minimal level of protection from malware than spend another weekend cleaning shit off her Windows laptop because some friend of hers sent her some crappy game with a bunch of spyware inside.

  • by Bakkster ( 1529253 ) <Bakkster,man&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:15AM (#31910586)

    I assume you refer to removing Other OS.

    The difference, of course, is that Sony advertised Other OS as a feature, and it was purchased as such. The iPad and iPhone never advertised nor implied that you could run any general user software.

    It is wrong to remove an advertised feature, but it isn't wrong (particularly from a moral standpoint) to not add something that wasn't advertised.

  • by Raffaello ( 230287 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:19AM (#31910694)

    It's historically accurate if that's your question.

    The author Bruce Tognazzini [] more commonly known as TOG, literally wrote the book on user interface design. He's arguably the greatest living expert on human-computer interaction and design.

    He knows how Steve Jobs manages because he worked very closely with Jobs before, during, and after the development of the original Macintosh.

    In the Art of War, Sun Tzu says: " When a general [is] unable to estimate the enemy’s strength ... the result must be rout."

    This is the merely the beginning to understanding Job's secrecy. Naive competitors think that once the product is released they now know what the enemy's strength is, what Apple's strength is.

    With Jobs and Apple, they're almost always wrong. Competitors rarely look beyond the product as released to see it for what it really is - an embryonic base on which to build. Apple will build on version 1.0 quickly, efficiently, cleanly and in a manner so completely integrated with existing features and Apple's other products, that consumers find it nearly irresistible. Predictably, competitors offerings will look like the fashion sense of the typical geek by comparison.

  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:41AM (#31911080) Journal

    Better still, let's stop pretending Jobs actually invents the things Apple makes.

    You might want to reconsider your claim []. Jobs is listed on a number of Apple's patents. He may not engineer the inner workings, but he is involved in many projects from start to finish.

  • by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) * on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @11:48AM (#31911220)
    The fact that he is listed on the patent tells me that Jobs has a great deal of hubris and wants to have his name on things, not that he actually is inventing them. Do you seriously expect me to believe that he has anything to do with product development beyond generic ideas ("Hey, let's make a phone"), and testing the prototypes out ("I like this, I don't like that, fix it")?
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:24PM (#31911842) Homepage

    > Sounds like you want a windows machine.

    Or a real Macintosh.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:49PM (#31912250)

    It depends... If what you are working really interests you 90 hours is really easy. Most of our jobs are not so exciting that we can handle it.

  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @12:57PM (#31912362) Homepage

    Like what?

    Solaris? AIX? Windows? MacOS?


    I can get free compilers and interpreters for any of those and just start hacking away.

    "The iPad is your microwave" "The iPad is your Wii"

    Those weak excuses are really sad.

    So the iPad is just a souped up Nintendo DS? Yup. That's kind of what the rest of us are saying.

    No one should pretend that this device is general purpose or even a general purpose web device.

  • Re:Oh please (Score:2, Insightful)

    by macs4all ( 973270 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @01:54PM (#31913274)

    it's pretty close to what Apple's selling right now with only slightly less battery life

    A LOT less battery life! THREE HOURS in Tablet mode!

    Here's what I recently said about the Touchbook (an idea I thought I'd love, but not in THIS incarnation!) to a friend of mine, recently:

    "Touch Book: Oh yeah. I love the idea; but that thing that holds the display/tablet looks REAL sturdy (NOT!)... Failure prone. Also, isn't that the thing that runs some completely different OS when the screen is detached? 600MHz ARM (OMAP) microcontroller. That means it will be about as fast as an iPhone (maybe). iPad is not only a 1GHz MCU, but the iPad's A4 MCU uses an ARM Cortex A8 core (which is as badass as it gets in ARM town). BIG difference. Oh, and have you seen that touchscreen? It is EXTREMELY unresponsive. And not multitouch. THREE hour battery life in Tablet mode. How much? Next."

    You DO note that not only is the TouchBook vaporware, but that it doesn't even have a price yet. How can that be compared in any reasonable manner to a device that:

    1. Exists

    2. Has a defined price point and specs?

  • by Cheech Wizard ( 698728 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @04:15PM (#31914954) Homepage

    So he sees what people want

    Jobs doesn't see what people want, he tells them what they want.

    None but a handful of people have actually wanted a tablet PC in the last 10 years. Jobs simply seems to know how to convince people they want something even if they don't really have any use for it.

    WoW! People only see what Steve jobs wants them to see? And you're immune to Steve Jobs telling you what you want! Amazing! I wonder how many others out there are as good as you in resisting Steve Jobs? If Steve Jobs is *that* good at hypnotizing people, he's more than a visionary - He's a God of Mass Hypnosis! Either that or you simply think the majority of the population are idiots (which to some degree I tend to agree with, but that's beside the point).

  • by SoupIsGoodFood_42 ( 521389 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @05:28PM (#31915902)

    More BS. I've been using my iPhone to make short notes and tasks. Those are both creative. There may be more creative software available on a desktop computer, but that doesn't make the iPad some completely passive consumer device. That depends upon the user. Even if it was true, why is that such a bad thing? Many people have both a TV and a computer.

  • by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Tuesday April 20, 2010 @09:13PM (#31917662)

    So people who strive to achieve more than basic human needs, who desire to climb Maslow's hierarchy of needs, are now cult members? Funny, that.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken