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Apple Technology

Apple: Losing Out On Talent and In Need of a Killer New Device (theguardian.com) 428

mspohr writes with a link to an interesting (and rather dour) take at The Guardian on the state of Apple, which holds that: "Despite its huge value, Silicon Valley developers are turned off by [Apple's] 'secretive, controlling' culture and its engineering is no longer seen as cutting edge." From the article: "Tellingly, Apple is no longer seen as the best place for engineers to work, according to several Silicon Valley talent recruiters. It's a trend that has been happening slowly for years – and now, in this latest tech boom, has become more acute. ... Or as Elon Musk recently put the hiring situation a little more harshly: Apple is the "Tesla graveyard." "If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple," Musk recently told a German newspaper. The biggest issue for programmers seems to be a high-stress culture and cult of secrecy, which contrasts sharply with office trends toward gentler management and more playful workdays."
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Apple: Losing Out On Talent and In Need of a Killer New Device

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  • Bring back Woz (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @06:01AM (#51407985)

    The other Steve was what made Apple technically great

    • For that to work u'll have to get both the Steves back . The sane Steve and the totally insane Steve.
    • Re:Bring back Woz (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @06:41AM (#51408057)

      Nope. Woz is a tech geek. Jobs was a salesman.

      Apple put their money on style, market appeal and, in a word, "shiny".

      Woz is much. But shiny, he is not.

      • by BronsCon ( 927697 ) <social@bronstrup.com> on Sunday January 31, 2016 @07:41AM (#51408181) Journal
        After a few weeks without a shower he does get quite shiny. I kid, of course; I idolize the man's technical genius.
      • Re:Bring back Woz (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @08:55PM (#51411261)

        Nope. Woz is a tech geek. Jobs was a salesman.

        Apple put their money on style, market appeal and, in a word, "shiny".

        Woz is much. But shiny, he is not.

        With Woz, we'd get actual great Apple products, they just wont appeal to Apple's core audience who dont care about reliability, modability and usability and just want to be told they're awesome for buying Apple.

    • Re:Bring back Woz (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @06:53AM (#51408089)

      Woz made Apple a great company in 1983. Considering they aren't selling many Apple II's these days, I'm pretty sure even he would disagree with the statement that he had anything to do with Apple's current situation.

    • Re:Bring back Woz (Score:4, Informative)

      by tommeke100 ( 755660 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @09:39AM (#51408475)
      He's still officially an Apple employee, and earns 120,000$ a year. You know, he made the Apple 1 and 2, did many other interesting and creative things, but I really wonder if he still would have any real technical impact on the work floor.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yea Woz who'd rather tinker on stuff than make products. Despite what the IT lifers think, Woz wasn't the key to Apple's brilliance.

    • Steve Wozniack left Apple in 1983-84. The last product that Wozniack was involved with was the Apple //GS. What did Wozniack ever succeed in without Jobs? What did Jobs succeed at without Wozniack?

  • by muecksteiner ( 102093 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @06:46AM (#51408067)

    As insane and nasty as Steve Jobs apparently was as a person, he at least seems to have had a technological vision. Which seemingly cannot be said of the current CEO, whose vision seems to extend as far as adding new Emojis to the line-up.

    The sad thing is that Apple would be uniquely positioned to introduce a whole range of new technologies into the consumer marketplace. On their devices, they control the entire technology stack: from hardware to software, it is all theirs. And they are the only player who has this sort of position that allows paradigm shifts to be done in-house.

    For instance, they would be the only ones who could, conceivably, do a seamless job of integrating HDR into the user experience. Or WGD (Wide Gamut Displays). The latter would be particularly cool: if you are capable of doing something like a Retina display with its minuscule pixels, there is nothing that limits you to good old RGB anymore. Make it RGCB (Red Green Cyan Blue), or R/YG/BG/C/B/P (Red Yellow-Green Blue-Green Cyan Blue Purple - perhaps in some hexagonal pixel arrangement). And watch people swoon when they see the colours such displays can show. Purple and blue flowers, plants, sunsets, skies - all suddenly look vastly more natural than on an sRGB device. Cameras (at least SLRs) record wide gamut colours already, it is the displays that can't keep pace.

    And what does Apple do? They now offer pink iPhone case options. Yeah, sure, guys. Makes me want to work for you - such vision, wow! :)

    • by myid ( 3783581 )

      And what does Apple do? They now offer pink iPhone case options. Yeah, sure, guys. Makes me want to work for you - such vision, wow! :)

      As the article says, Apple "is no longer seen as cutting edge." If Apple puts out cutting edge products, then more creative hw and sw engineers will want to work for it.

    • Ummmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @07:23AM (#51408141)

      Other issues aside with displays, you know Apple doesn't make their displays, right? The only thing they had to do with "retina" was the marketing term retina. Their displays are made by LG and Samsung. Apple doesn't do any LCD or OLED research, they just buy what the display makers can sell them.

      • Sure, but as they are the only major player to control the entire tech stack, they would be the only ones who could conceivably break out of the "chicken and egg" problem that is inherent to moving away from RGB. They even have experience with doing shifts like that right: for instance, they took their sweet time dealing with high DPI displays for OS X. But when they introduced them in their product line, they "just worked". Which is more than you can say of many other innovations in the PC world.

        Same with

      • Re:Ummmm (Score:5, Informative)

        by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@NOSpAM.mac.com> on Sunday January 31, 2016 @08:05AM (#51408237) Journal

        Apple doesn't do any LCD or OLED research,

        What's your next guess? [bloomberg.com]

        Apple does plenty of hardware R&D. Don't assume otherwise just because they farm out the manufacturing.

        -jcr

        • My guess would be that until we see something from this, it is just random speculation from a business site. Given that this article is literally from a month ago and is all hearsay, well let's just put a hold on making and kind of conclusions until there some actual information, shall we?

      • Well, to be fair, at the time it was unusual for any device maker to include a super-high DPI screen in their product. I don't know if the industry would have gone there anyway, but it seemed like, for a long time, the focus was on just including a standard grid in number of pixels, rather than high DPI. So, for example, most laptops had 136?x768 screens, be they 15" or 12". Most monitors were 136?x768 or 1960x1080.

        Would it have happened anyway? I have a feeling phones with 720p screens would have happen

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo&world3,net> on Sunday January 31, 2016 @07:23AM (#51408143) Homepage

      Apple can't do any of that stuff. They don't invent tech, they popularise it by selling to early adopters willing to pay over the odds for something shiny.

      Take "retina" displays. Apple didn't invent them, they never made them. Sharp and LG pioneered the technology, and Apple was just one of the first to use it.

      Synaptic developed the touch wheel. Siri was someone else that Apple just bought. Apple Maps was built in Nokia mapping technology. They bought that fingerprint scanner company. They use the same Sony cameras as everyone else, just with custom software that gives the output that photoshopped, unreal look.

      Apple has two problems now. First, they are running out of interesting stuff to buy, and secondly everyone else cottoned on to their gimmick and started to out-innovate them.

      • Apple does drive the hardware market because of the demand they cause. High res displays have been available for a very long time in the professional market, but it wans't until Apple's push for "retina" that it hit the mainstream and quickly fell in price to reasonable levels for consumers. I clearly remember a period of almost 10 years where all displays were 1080p. 27'' monitors with 1080p, and laptops were commonly 720p! And the tech to bump up the resolution was clearly out there, but all of the demand

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          This is a common misconception. What actually happened is that Sharp and LG were both producing a lot of high DPI (compared to computer monitors) displays for phones. Not just Apple, in fact Apple's "retina" phones were low end by then as most other high end devices were 1080p or at least 720p.

          Anyway, until then the margins on LCD panels were so thin and demand for >1080p so low that there had been little effort put in to improving yields on such displays. Once hundreds of millions of 1080p phones starte

    • The sad thing is that Apple would be uniquely positioned to introduce a whole range of new technologies into the consumer marketplace.

      Totally agree; I like nailing things together, and have probably spent too much time and money doing so, but friends and colleagues like stuff that "just works".
      As I age, I'm coming round to that point of view too...
      People spend tons of money on high-end AV brands, (my neighbour proudly showed me his new B&O come cinema setup the other day...it was great, but for 50 fucking grand it should be).
      I'm sure that type of person would be ready to buy an Apple TV, (not the little shitty box, but a real TV) for

    • by ruir ( 2709173 )
      I do not have an idea if Jobs had a technological vision. What I know for sure is that while he was a douchebag, he had charisma. He lusted for perfection. He was maniac in what touched organisation. He managed to get people doing what he wanted. He had presence. He had something that definitively captivated audiences. Now, the last WWDCs have always have some major glitches. Heck, either it was them crashing all the time, or in the last one, not putting on time the current one, and the web site broadcasti
  • It just needs a device that everyone can afford and needs. Such a shame that they priced their phones way above what the majority can afford, They would be WAY more popular if they had focused on the base instead of the "Elite".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

      Go create a 500 billion dollar company catering to cheapskates. Go on. We'll be waiting.

    • Apple is affordable luxury. I see children of ordinary average families with iPhones every day. Sure, many of them will be hand-me downs from parents. But that means the parents have upgraded their iPhone.

      Most people buy their phones through a contract, which means that even if iPhones are more expensive, they are quite affordable over 18 months.

      Apple is of course very successful at what they do. Let other less good companies serve the cheap end of the market.

  • by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @06:50AM (#51408079)

    ...never having to say your sorry.

    When the P to E is high, that means the stock is a bubble and everyone should sell. When the P to E is low, that means there's no confidence in earnings and everyone should sell. Meanwhile they are compared to Facebook's 109 P to E in a completely serious manner.

    Still increasing sales of desktop computers means the non-phone side of the business is being ignored.

    Moving 8 iPhones for every Windows Phone means the former is dead and the latter is a viable product.

    Apple's non-iPhone revenue is comparable to Microsoft's *total* revenue. The impact to Apples revenue due to just currency fluctuations is comparable to Facebook's *total* revenue. Maybe a case could be made that that is a business in decline, but no one seems to be doing so.

    • by weave ( 48069 )

      Apple's non-iPhone revenue is comparable to Microsoft's *total* revenue.

      As a guy who bought a 128K Mac in 1984 and has been with them all this time (except for a brief period in late 90s) I would have never dreamed a statement like that would someday be true (and oh do I wish I had, and bought the stock!)

  • Be insainly great. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tonywestonuk ( 261622 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @07:02AM (#51408103)
    Apple have never really invented much. But, they have brought together technology and made it into amazing things.
    The imac. It was colourful, compact, got rid of legacy ports. It was insanely great. The iPod put a Hard drive in a MP3 player, and made it easy to hold your entire music collection.... The others on the market just were shite in comparison. This was insanely great. OSX, bringing together open source Unix, with a Java JVM installed as standard, using open API's and with a GUI that was far ahead of anything at the time...... Insanely great.

    But now....

    Soldered in Ram - not insanely great. Non upgradeable SSD - not insanely great. no USB ports on latest macbook, and charging premium for a USB-c adapter. not insanely great. Charging $1,099 for a 2012 model laptop with 4gb ram and crappy i5-3210M processor......FFS, not insanely great.. For heaven sake, I remember Steve jobs reducing prices of models every single mac world presentation. No more.... Not insanely great.

    Apple are dead. Maybe not in the financial sense - they have enough money to keep them going for decades. But, in the sense of what brought them back from the brink of bankruptcy back in 1998, they are dead and buried. I only wish Microsoft were a better company so I could switch back.
    • by tonywestonuk ( 261622 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @07:09AM (#51408115)
      Look at the macmini, for instance...... This used to be expandable with additional ram (to 16GB), two hard drives, and came with quad core i7 processor. Amazing.... really, I have one that has been running my website for the last 4 years, and it has given me no trouble at all.....


      And apple canceled it. They replaced it with a soldered ram, duel core, which isn't as powerfull as something you could buy 4 years ago. For fuck sake Apple - this is what Commodore did, releaseing the Amiga 600, several years after the Amiga 500, which was no more advanced....... and we all know what happened to Commodore!!...
      • In fairness, people bought Commodore Amigas (well, those who didn't buy them for games) because they were the most technically advanced computers available at a decent price at that time. You needed to get something from NEXT or Sun to get a more advanced operating system and more advanced integrated hardware (and the machines from those weren't as fun!)

        So Commodore releasing, for the same price as its predecessor, a mostly cut down version of the 500+ (mostly because at least it contained a hard drive c

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      The harddrive in the iPod was not the thing that made it (there were other, cheaper, bigger competitors already). Their advance was the rest of the industry was doing the bare minimum 'dump stuff in a directory and we will play files'. Apple recognized people wanted to think of their music organized the same way as they always did, by Album, Artist, etc. So they invested in an application and an on-device interface catering to that sensibility.

      The iPhone was their other *huge* thing. In my opinion, the

      • The one area where other companies just cannot compete with Apple is with the seamless transition between devices. All my hardware is too old so I've never tried it, but I just read that Microsoft ditched their Windows Phone and I don't know anyone who both runs Chrome OS on his computer and has an Android phone.

        The other place where companies are trying anything to see what sticks to the wall is that IoT craze, which I don't want anything to do with.

    • by rasmusbr ( 2186518 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @09:13AM (#51408385)

      The problem is that they don't seem to know where they're going.

      The new MacBook should have had not one, but zero ports, because the MacBook is a home device. You're not going to use it for anything that legitimately needs a wired connection. Wired charging? That's barbarism. It should also have been water resistant, because I might want to keep it around when I have a beer which I might spill. It should have had the best webcam on the market. Pricing should have been about $900 for the lowest end model.

      The 2015 MacBook Pro is the model that should have had two USB-c ports, in addition to its other ports. The MacBook Pro is power-hungry enough that it probably needs wired charging too, but that's fine sine it's often going to be wired to things in the office (or home office) anyway.

      The Pencil for the iPad Pro should also have had a better charing solution. And the iPad Pro is not really a professional device, so it should have been named something else. And the lowest end model should have been at least a hundred bucks cheaper and it should have shipped with the Pencil, because optional add-ons for a device always fragment the software market for that device, which is a very bad thing.

  • by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @07:23AM (#51408139)

    Apple is the "Tesla graveyard." "If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple," Musk recently told a German newspaper.

    It seems that whatever entity it was that possessed Steve Jobs and gave him his boundless arrogance has found a new host.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2016 @07:32AM (#51408165)

      Actually, Musk's statement is not incorrect. Tesla is a company that has a different management style and goal compared to Apple. Apple exists solely for profit and returns, Tesla exists solely to create scientific advancement, innovation, and push for technical/engineering projects that nobody else will do. Tesla is subsidized on the merit of advancement rather than returns.
      It is only a logical conclusion that Tesla will have all the engineering/science talent, while Apple will have all the marketing/design psychology talent.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@NOSpAM.mac.com> on Sunday January 31, 2016 @07:28AM (#51408159) Journal

    Starting with this bullshit from someone who's never worked there:

    “Apple’s culture is one that’s so negative, so strict, so harsh,” said Knight, a talented 27-year-old coder who left a job at Google for more lucrative freelance work. “At Apple, you’re gonna be working 60-80 hours a week and some VP will come yell at you at any moment? That’s a very hostile work environment.”

    I've worked at Apple three times, starting back in 2002, and nobody ever yelled at me. VPs are too busy to go around doing that shit. As for the 60-80 hour weeks. that's a myth. We put in long hours when a deadline was close, but it was never a constant grind like that.

    -jcr

    • by gilgongo ( 57446 )

      I've worked at Apple three times, starting back in 2002

      When was the last time you were there? 2002 is a looong time ago.

      • 2002 was only a long time ago if you were born yesterday.

        And the meme of being shouted at by VPs is a lot older than 2002.

    • gonna be working 60-80 hours a week and some VP will come yell at you at any moment?

      and nobody ever yelled at me.

      It's almost like Apple is the biggest company in the world and that one person's experience may not be representative of company culture on the whole. I've been working for the same company now for 7 years, in 4 different places around the world. No one has ever yelled at me either. That said I have heard of someone who it has happened to.

      Your department sounded like a good place to work. I'll leave my judgement on the company itself because quite frankly all we have is anecdotes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I haven't worked at Apple, but I've had to work with Apple. You'd have to pay me 3 times what I get paid now to work in that hell hole (that'd be a bit shy of half a million a year for the record). I think one of the requirements to work there is you must be a condescending ass. I've never met so many people who thought that everybody else was inferior to them. And this isn't just my experience, everybody I've ever talked to who's worked with them has had a similar opinion. This is across multiple comp

  • Just as Microsoft drifts along in a sort of commercial terminal velocity, so too will Apple.

    Tech companies that size can't do anything dramatically good or bad in the short to medium term because of their size. There are no dramatic systemic risks in their business model or market either - unlike oil companies with their exploding wells, or pharma companies with their lethal drugs.

    Few companies last more than a couple of generations in any case. I would expect Apple to be around in a quasi-zombie state for

    • At the moment Apple is the most successful company in the world.

      They COULD jump the shark like Microsoft did. But everyone that's been suggesting that's already happening have been wrong for the last decade and a half. Chances are you are wrong too.

      An alternative is that Apple does to the Motor industry what they did to the Phone industry. That would give them a continued future of growth for a long time yet.

  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @08:54AM (#51408327)

    Well, let's see, Apple is a high-pressure workplace, to which people go when they cannot make it at Tesla. Wait, what???

    The article is mostly based on the opinion of a single hipster jackass who felt that he was too good to apply at Apple, backed up by the opinion of a few other people who don't want to work there, and a recruiter. Note the lack of information from anyone who has actually ever worked there.

  • All the best programmers used to work for IBM. IBM ruled computing. Who buys anything from them anymore? The great ideas started to come from other places, and IBM couldn't adapt. Apple may go the same way. Remember, IBM is still a big company. Just not cutting edge any more.
  • Not surprised (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @09:19AM (#51408411)

    There have been a lot of stories like this over the brief history of technology. IBM is a really good example. Their senior management is doing everything they can to sell off the company bit by bit while collecting money, and they still can't kill it. Microsoft is another excellent example, riding Windows and Office through to their current states. They're currently poised to pull the ultimate vendor lock-in trick with Azure and subscription software because they have loads of money to spend. Some companies, especially those with huge cash balances, can manage through transitions. Others will just keep beating money out of their cash cows for as long as possible (again, IBM is the perfect example.) Others, like Sun, end up getting bought at fire sale prices. All of the companies mentioned were absolutely dominant at one time or another. IBM is a total joke these days, but in the 70s/80s they represented the state of the art in all things computing.

    Apple's problem is that they are now too consumer-focused and don't have a pipeline of expensive gadgets to sell them. Whether they'll use that huge pile of cash they have to buy into the next trend remains to be seen.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      BINGO!

      Apple IS way too consumer. They slit their throats when they turned Final Cut into imovie and Logic into garageband pro.

      Both of those were well on their way to becoming a defacto standard in the industry and pro worlds. Before they destroyed Final Cut it was being used on many many TV shows and Movies..... Then came Final Cut X and everyone ran away from it as fast as they could back to AVID.

      Logic was starting to gain traction taking over Pro Tools.... and then they blew that up.

      They now only ha

      • Yeah, concentrating on the consumer rather than the pro market has certainly been a mistake for the tech company that has grown to be the biggest in the world in the last few years.

        Duh.

    • Re:Not surprised (Score:4, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday January 31, 2016 @02:07PM (#51409441) Homepage Journal

      IBM is a total joke these days

      Only if computers that sit peacefully in a closet (or server room) working for decades are a joke to you. Only if scientific computing is a joke to you. Only if enterprise management is a joke to you.

  • And that right there is what can cause HUGE problems for Apple.

    If someone get's Johnny Ives to leave Apple.. Suddenly a shitstorm of magnus proportions will start inside the company. I do think they have faltered a bit, but that is mostly because the guy who started the company is now gone.

    This happens to all companies. Microsoft has been in a non stop turd fall since Gates left, HP, etc...

    A hired CEO never has the love and drive for a company like the people that built it from nothing.

  • by kcmastrpc ( 2818817 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @09:50AM (#51408503)
    What a load of shit. How about engineers are more attracted to companies that respect a healthy work/life balance. That's it. Really. I'll come to work, bust my ass for 7-9 hours and go home, 5 days a week. You can keep your foosball, cafeterias, yoga, happy hours, . I'll take the perk where you pay me to go on vacation though.
    • What a load of shit. How about engineers are more attracted to companies that respect a healthy work/life balance. That's it. Really. I'll come to work, bust my ass for 7-9 hours and go home, 5 days a week. You can keep your foosball, cafeterias, yoga, happy hours, . I'll take the perk where you pay me to go on vacation though.

      Good for you.

      Personally, I'll take all the perks and work reasonable hours. No need to choose.

  • Apple is long overdue for its next market-creating product. iPod, ... iPhone, ... iPad, ............... i????

    .
    The AppleTV is trying to find its niche within an already existing market, and in Apple-relative terms, is doing barely just OK.

    So where is, what is, Apple's next attention-getting and market-creating product?

  • I see a lot of comments talking about the tech and lack of vision. That's surely part of it. But that sounds like an awful work environment. If you can work someplace that isn't high stress and respects you as a human being (or is even, FUN), then of course you'd lean that way. Hopefully Apple wakes up and changes their tune.

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