Tag Archives: Steve Jobs

Apple Has Lost Its Innovation Polish

Photo of 2011 and 2018 Mac minis
The 2011 Mac Mini Even Had a CD player!

Riffing About Tim Cook and Apple’s New Old Mac Mini
By Terry Bailey
Nov 4, 2018

When former Pepsi CEO John Scully was running Apple in the Nineties, I gave an interview to MacWeek, and stood behind the company and its products, then in a serious innovation slump, because I had faith Apple would pull out of their Pepsi-Money-Man doldrums and find a way to innovate again. Fortunately they did – they brought back Steve Jobs to run the company. But, unless current CEO Tim Cook and Co can locate another Steve Jobs soon, the future for Apple and its Architectural Digest new digs in Silicon Valley does not appear rosy. The Apple has lost its innovation polish.

Tim Cook has never understood the developer class, or the designer class, or the developer-designer class – those women and men who built Apple Computer into what it was. And, yes, I say into what Apple “was.” Because Apple is no longer the leader in creator digital technology. Apple has been sliding from that pinnacle perch for several years now, but it crashed in a heap from its pedestal October 30 when Mr. Cook and Company finally, finally, finally introduced the New Mac Mini that they have been promising loyal Mac users, designers and developers, for several years now.

Tim Cook is an advocate for Apple Consumers, which would be a great thing if he still had Steve Jobs around to advocate for Apple Creators. But Steve Jobs is gone, and so is any real advocacy for, allegiance to or understanding of the importance of Apple Creators. Mr. Cook and Co: without us, Apple Consumers would have nothing to consume! By ignoring us, you are absolutely biting the hand that feeds you and all your Consumers.

“Yes, we hear you,” Cook and his tech leader staff told us when we Creators voiced concern about having been left behind in favor of Consumers. For three or four years running they kept telling us they heard us.

I, like many of my tech friends, had our credit cards ready to buy the New Mini, when finally, finally, finally we learned that it was actually going to appear at the Apple Event in NYC on October 30 2018. I’d been texting for days with my tech best friend, Joe, up in San Fran. He had his credit card ready, too.

I was teaching a digital media workshop to the instructional designers at Kaiser when the morning event took place. (They were all on PCs, btw, and I on my portable teaching MacBook Pro.) You better believe, I was on my cell phone as soon as I got out of there. Pulling up the archived live stream, checking all the Apple rumor websites for details. Yes! A New Mini was announced, I texted my friend Joe. I raced back to my studio and pulled up the specs for this New Mini on the Apple website.

Wait. Wait. 3.6GHz? Isn’t that about the same as my Old Mini? And I mean old. I don’t even have the most recent, 2014, Mini. I have not used my Old Mini in over a year. It sits on my studio desk, behind my new laptop, waiting to be replaced. It houses an interactive book, Light 2.0, and all the music I wrote and recorded for it. But that book, the follow-up to my hit iTunes podcast of 2005-09, Light 1.0, has not been published because my Old Mini choked on it in its bleeding edge 2017 form.

I checked. My Old Mini has a processor speed of 2.66 GHz and is an Intel Core 2 Duo. I texted Joe, what was his? 2.0GHz, turned out his was 3 years older than mine. Talk abut patiently waiting for Apple! I checked online, the top 2014 Mini was 3.0GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.5G).

But the NEW Mini is 3.6GHz, and I’m supposed to be excited that is blazingly faster than our Old Minis?

This was supposed to be the day. The day I went online and supplied my Apple ID and bought the New Amazing Mini. The day I officially got back to building my next hit – a music and art laden iBook version my hit podcast, Light 1.0. It’s been ready for over a year. All I needed to do was finish mastering the soundtrack, the soundtrack that just wouldn’t “go” anymore on my Aged Mini. Finally, thanks to my New Amazing Mini, I’d be publishing the interactive multimedia book I’ve been promising my readers for years.

This was supposed to be the day I imagined Creators like Joe and me, all over the country, lining up their credit cards and Apple IDs to purchase the Amazing New Minis.

But, no.

Because the NEW Mini is barely faster that my 2011 Mini. And this NEW Mini has a hard drive storage of 128GB. What?? My 2011 Mini came standard with 500GB, and Joe’s 2008 Mini came with 256 gigs.

And the NEW Mini comes with 4GB of RAM memory. What?? My 2011 Mini came standard with 8GB of RAM.

Wait!

What is up with this? And this NEW Mini is $799 while my old one was $599. Okay, I can understand a little inflation between 2011 and 2018. But this NEW Mini actually comes with way less than my (7 year) Old Mini!

Say, what??

So I go into Apple’s Buy page and employ all the pulldown menus to see what this NEW Mini will cost if I at least upgrade it to have the same specs as my 2011 OLD Mini as far as storage and RAM memory. And it turns out it will cost me over $1200!

Did you hear that?

$1200 to buy a New Mini that is a little faster but everything else being equal, the Same Ol’ Mini I bought for $599 in 2011.

Oh, It has a USB-C and HDMI connector. Well, duh. It has to connect to stuff in the modern world, of course, but I would hardly call being able to connect to other modern stuff an innovative or new feature.

I text “never mind” to Joe up in San Fran.

Joe and I talk later. We can’t believe it, either one of us. What a letdown.

But none of the journalists are reporting this fiasco yet. One guy is talking about how he can stack them as servers.

Yeah, and I could stack them as doorstops.

I read another journalist who does at least broach the subject of how Tim Cook is trying to upscale the price of all his products, and alludes to the fact that Cook is a jerk for doing this with the New Mini for Creators like he has done with all his Consumer products, but the journalist just winds up telling all of us that he will buy it anyway.

So, what I am looking at is a bunch of corporate sponsored tech journalists who are afraid to tell the truth. “The Emperor has no clothes!”

And here I was anticipating that Apple was going to make a fortune this coming month and holiday season due to all the pent up demand for the Amazing NEW Mini.

Who are we? These Die-Hard Mini Advocates who have waited expectantly and patiently for so long?

Unlike Tim Cook’s misguided idea that we are a bunch of amateur, cheap, computer novices who bought, and remained faithful to, the Old Mini as our computer “entry point,” this is who we are:

• We are computer designers, and new media producers, and WEB designers, and UX consultants, and digital artists who did not want to buy or use Apple’s “all-in-one” iMac computer any more that any of us want to use all-in-one printers. We are professionals and we want to configure our own set-ups, and we want to use professional grade equipment. We are also not idiots, and know that if one part of an all-in-one anything goes kaput, the whole machine is a goner.
• We are high end programmers and WEB / App developers who often take our computers (i.e. all our stuff) with us to events and to the offices of colleagues, and just plug them in at these off-site locations. The Mini was our computer of choice because it was portable that way.
• We are Pros who have so many other pieces of equipment on our desks that the Mini with its tiny footprint was a welcome relief to those old huge desktop towers.
• We are Pros who need power, but not as much power as the Mac Pro Towers (which btw are outdated, too). We are not editing giant feature length movies with hundreds of thousands of minutes of picture and sound, but we may very well be creating short-length videos for the WEB.
• We are Creatives who love to use monitors of our own choice (the Mini comes sans keyboard and monitor), often more than one, and the Mini allowed us to do this.
• We are professionals working independently who need to keep costs down, so the ability to buy a monitor at Best Buy or some other electronics store for a couple hundred dollars was huge in terms of our bottom lines.
• And we are not just Creatives. My accountant and my insurance agent both have old Minis on their desks waiting to be upgraded.
• We are Cutting Edge Professionals who need to stay at the forefront of technology, and did so  buying new computers every two to three years, keeping Apple in green for decades – until they failed to deliver Mini updates.
• We are faithful Apple Computer users (I bought my first Apple computer in 1984!) – but that era may finally be coming to an end for many of us.

My friend Joe, who does lots of 3D, and now wants to get into 3D printing, is eyeing Windows PCs after Tim Cook’s disappointing “event.” He shared with me how Apple has been behind in 3D for years, but he had always expected them to catch up. The Mini introduction appears to signal the end of Joe’s patience for the idea that Apple will ever respect its professional users again since reconfiguring itself as a Consumer Company when Money Man Tim Cook took the helm post Steve Jobs.

Me? I’m going to get a new monitor for my laptop, give up on my dream of an Amazing New Mini. And spend some time contemplating how I will finish my interactive multimedia book, Light 2.0 with all its art and music. Will it still be an Apple iBook, or will I look in other directions there, too? The jury is out.

I am still in shock at the realization that Tim Cook and Co. really don’t respect the class of people who MAKE all the stuff that runs on their consumer watches and iPhones and iPads and laptops. I am still in shock about the fact that Tim Cook and Co have configured their greedy business plan to ignore the Creator Hands that feed them – their Designers and Developers – and lumped us in with the Consumers whom they are going to keep sticking with higher and higher price tags, because they can.

Because the only way to continue escalating profits when a company is not innovating is to raise product prices. This may satisfy some Shareholders with continued increased profits in the short-term, but in the long-term . . . .

Last week, the guy I have always referred to as the Pepsi Man, John Scully, former Apple CEO, (and Pepsi CEO before that), accused Tim Cook of not innovating. Ironic coming from the man who almost ran Apple into the ground in the late 90s due to his lack of innovating! But, Scully is not that far off target, in spite of Scully’s lack of critiquing credentials. Tim Cook has not innovated. He has marketed and monetized all the Apple products that the real innovator, Steve Jobs created. And he has done a good job of it.

But the gold mine of innovation Tim Cook inherited from Jobs has run its course. Now Cook is upping product prices in an effort to squeeze the last drop out of that mound of innovation.

And at Apple’s October 30 event, Cook demonstrated his intent to take a bite out of the Professional Creator Hands that fed Apple for decades with his introduction of the New Old Mini.

Sad sad sad.

When John Scully was running Apple in the Nineties, I gave an interview to MacWeek, and stood behind the company and its products, then in a serious innovation slump, because I still had faith Apple would pull out of their Pepsi-Money-Man doldrums and find a way to innovate again. Fortunately they did – they brought back Steve Jobs to run the company.

But unless Tim Cook and Co can locate another Steve Jobs soon, the future for Apple and its Architectural Digest new digs in Silicon Valley is not very rosy. The Apple has lost its innovation polish.

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Brilliant Scientist, Technologist, Businessperson != Brilliant Anything Else, Part 1

Photo of Cafe Patio where Terry wrote Light 2.0
Cafe Patio where Terry wrote Light 2.0

Just because someone is a brilliant scientist, it does not necessarily follow that he/she is a brilliant anything-else. But our society misses this important fact time and time again. We turn to our premiere scientists, top technologists and successful businesspeople for their opinions on social issues. We ask them to speak at conferences on any number of topics unrelated to their fields of expertise. We call them when an important legislative issue is being deliberated, assuming that because they are so smart, they can help us.

The first time I started thinking about this was in 1998. I had just returned to Pasadena from Washington DC, where I set up an interactive media department in the then largest law firm in the United States. I am not sure exactly how or why I received an invitation to a luncheon at Caltech, where journalist and long-time presidential advisor David Gergen was scheduled to speak. But what I vividly remember was what David Gergen said about Microsofts’ Bill Gates during his speech.

Gergen had recently interviewed Gates, and admitted that he had been very excited about meeting and talking with the man many considered the smartest in the world. But, Gergen shared, he was stunned to discover that Bill Gates had less knowledge of social issues that any person he had interviewed in his entire career.

Think of that for a minute. This is the man who subsequently went on to start a foundation to save the world; the man who through his foundation is setting the world priorities for what gets fixed, and what does not. This is the man our legislators and news media call on all the time for his opinion about any myriad of topics: What does Bill Gates think of Net Neutrality? the Wars? Poverty? World Health? Education?

Yesterday I read in the New York Times how Gates has now teamed up with a history professor to rewrite the history taught in all our U.S. high school classes – after he took one course on history from Great Courses! Of course he loved that history course! Bill Gates was a college drop-out. He undoubtedly spent little academic time prior to college ruminating and studying anything more than computer science. This was probably his first actual exposure to history. And suddenly, because he is so smart, we think he should determine our country’s high school history curriculum? Oh, please.

Yesterday I sat out sipping an iced coffee at my favorite outdoor patio, and I listened to a Caltech astro-physicist telling his coffee companion all about what was the matter with this country: in a nutshell, he focused on the “illegals,” food stamps (“problem is you start a food stamp program and there is no going back”), welfare, etc. Case in point. And let me speculate here: all the while he trashed those who have immigrated to the U.S. from south of our border, one of those immigrants was meanwhile mowing his lawn back at home, and another vacuuming his house . . . . He may be the most brilliant astro physicist our country has (this is not actually an endorsement of his scientific acumen, I don’t know the man), but when it comes to social issues, he proved himself to me to be a socially uneducated racist bigot as I tried to eat my bagel sandwich and found myself quickly losing my appetite . . . . to be continued

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The Genius who lived to merge technology and art and people – you will be missed

 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, 1956-2011

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P.S. re: my last post about rock

I discovered that my rock animation was too big (used too much memory) to run on my Android phone. So, I had to spend today reducing the size of it (see animation below in last post) so anyone with a Flash enabled phone, tablet or browser can see it.

But it is actually BIGGER than previously, you might be saying. Well, yes. I did reduce the file size, and that took some time because I had to reduce the size of all the images in it first. Then I decided to run it here at full image size. Previously I was sizing the image down to run in this blog, and I figured it was probably taking way more memory to size it down on the fly, so I am running it at full image size now, which is actually about half the image size that I originally created it, and about 20% less file size. Does that make sense? . . .

I have to go to a party now. I mean, I am looking forward to seeing some of my writer friends. Don’t get me wrong. But I am reading a quantum mechanics theory history book, and I’m at an exciting part where we are trying to figure out how two electrons can inhabit the same orbit (frequency), and I must admit, I would kind of rather read that and post my next post about Walt Whitman and Proust was a Neuroscientist (which I promised you last week), and practice for an important concert I am doing in June. But I think I better go to the party. My writer friends don’t get together all that often.

They are beginning to think that I am kind of anti-social since I don’t hang out with them all that much, and I miss a lot of things, which I guess I kind of am (anti-social that is) when I am in the middle of thinking about really interesting things like electron orbits and wave-particle duality. And when I want to post an essay I just finished and want to practice some new Patsy Cline songs so that I can keep up with the musicians who have agreed to play with me (I am going to do a set entangling Patsy Cline and Bossa Nova – won’t that be cool?)

So, I will post the next essay next week-end. And I hope everyone (who is not using Steve Job’s Flash – less devices, that is) can see the rock animation now.

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Have we side-tracked from the goal of everyman/woman computing?

Note: I have never done this before, but this is a shared post with my amybeachandme.com/blog as it covers information apropos of both blogs. I have edited it a bit for this blog.

Studio back together – ready to start creating again!

One of the down sides of working with art and technology is that technology has to be tended to a lot, and it is not all that fun. There are days when I just want to create my riffing blog, my Amy Beach book, compose music, make some digital art or a new media piece, but I can’t create because I have to tend to technology.

I am always grateful that I can take care of my own technology – that our digital world has evolved to the point that I can create independently in a technological world – but the technology itself is still an inhibiting feature of creativity. And I do have concern that current software and hardware creators are not keeping their eye on the goal of making technology easier over time, not more difficult.

That sometimes feels like the Lost Goal lately.

Let me give an example. I recently purchased a new computer. Way more powerful, lots of great features, but, as with every computer up-grade, there was a great deal of time consuming technical work involved before I could get back to creating. I had to transfer all my software, connect all my hardware peripherals, deal with items that were incompatible with the new system, on an on.

I discovered last week that my sound hardware was not talking to my music/sound software. I wasted a whole precious creative day in an attempt to fix this problem. Continue reading Have we side-tracked from the goal of everyman/woman computing?

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My TEDx Interlude

Terry attends Caltech TEDx in Pasadena January 2011

I mentioned I would be attending a conference this week. It was the TEDx conference at Pasadena’s Caltech. The animation above explains, kind of, why I don’t have a bunch of photos. I could leave it at that, but it is not really true. The fact is that in my haste to get ready for the event, I completely forgot to charge my phone battery – otherwise I certainly would have sneaked a few snapshots of the event. That won’t ever happen again!

By the way, I am referring to my new Android phone (HTC EVO) I am waiting for a good Android tablet now, too. This is a big deal, actually. I have been an Apple brand loyal new media creator for twenty years – since I began doing new media and digital art. I have “crossed over” for the first time. All the newspaper journalists I read keep wondering if Android users will jump to the iPhone now that Verizon is going to host it; why isn’t anyone talking about the Mac faithful who have left or ignored the iPhone and iPad platforms in favor of Android – since Jobs still refuses  to host Flash? The Flash animations in my Amy Beach book and in this blog work fine on my Android. As I have mentioned, those of you reading this blog on iPhones or iPads are missing all the Flash. I make little simple animations like the one above in gif – in deference to all of you, but, it sure would be nice if all platforms allowed Flash. It does way more than HTML 5 – though Jobs and others continue to deny it.

I will have a great deal to talk about the TEDx conference! There is no hurry, since most the scientists who spoke yesterday are so far ahead of their time that a couple weeks delay in my reporting about them will hardly make any big cosmic difference. Next post I will, therefore, continue on about neuroscience and creativity. And I will figure out how to sprinkle  TED comments as I go over the next weeks. Continue reading My TEDx Interlude

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Part 5: . . . and the Flash, iPad and mobile device saga continues: 1 step forward, 2 steps back

In her Insider Comment column in WEB Designer, Issue 173, Stephanie (Sullivan) Rewis states: “Long, Long Ago (in web years that is) we built our code to work in the browser that was currently the leader . . . . Life was tough. It was nearly impossible to make everyone happy.” She then refers to the “Revolution” that held the promise of permanent cross-browser and cross-device WEB standards, and the end of our frustrations and “Best Viewed in . . . ” WEB designer disclaimer. Standards based CSS and HTML were going to solve the lack of consistency issues and the world ahead looked rosy. Then came smartphones . . .

Rewis lays out an important historical development in WEB design, but the problem dates back even earlier. For many  interactive multimedia began with the WEB. That is actually when I was finally able to explain to my parents what it is that I do! But the current standards issues that many are tearing their hair out about today – because of the “move” from desktop to mobile devices – have multiple historical precedents. Continue reading Part 5: . . . and the Flash, iPad and mobile device saga continues: 1 step forward, 2 steps back

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Part 4: . . . and the Flash, iPad and mobile device saga continues

The WEB is Dead Wired article I mentioned in my prior post reminds readers of the distinction between the Internet and the WEB. An important distinction as we try to grasp our new media roles and the future of all. The Internet is best thought of as a delivery medium – it delivers the WEB and its “sites,” but also iTunes, Netflix, phone apps, Facebook, email, online games, etc. The WEB is your browser and HTML. The Internet is apps. The WEB is open. Apps delivered over the Internet are closed.

The “problem” (as seen by business) with the wide open WEB is that business has not been able to harness it and make money off of it. For a time, it was thought that ads were the answer. But as more and more people have accessed the WEB, ad revenue has actually gone down. Because there is no concentration of people anywhere to make advertising worthwhile. The users are diluted all over the WEB. TV was a great example of the value of a media to advertising: when a show was popular, advertisers could count on a concentrated and captive audience. No such model has existed in the wide open WEB. And in open and closed Internet locales, like Facebook, users have simply not been watching or clicking on those banner ads. Yes, give us control, and we are more difficult to manipulate!

I run a WEB and interactive media department at a private art college in Los Angeles. People frequently call me, and parents meet with me, to ask about the future of the WEB and Internet. Since I took this position two years ago I have stated: we teach students to create content; the Internet is simply a delivery medium for content. Like a TV broadcast station. People often look at me askew when I say that. “But don’t you teach them to code web pages and design user interfaces?” I tell them, “Yes, of course. But the important stuff we teach on my watch is how to conceptualize and develop compelling content, for that is where it is at.” Continue reading Part 4: . . . and the Flash, iPad and mobile device saga continues

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Part 3. . . and the Flash, iPad and mobile device saga continues

Authors who want to turn their books into basic text (and a couple of pictures) ePub eBook or iBook, electronic device deliverable formats don’t need to be concerned about all the browser and device content delivery wars currently taking place. But those of us writing on the cutting edge of new media must pay attention and participate.

Big announcement this week: Steve Jobs is opening his iPads and iPhone devices to third party compilers. To most people, this means he opened the door to Adobe’s Flash, but it’s important to note that Jobs locked out a lot of developers and companies – and new media authors! – when he first banned Flash via the banning of third party compilers. I’ve blogged about this previously because the impact of the corporate and political decisions falls directly on those of us who are trying to democratize the Internet, democratize the Arts and take control of our own creative work. Continue reading Part 3. . . and the Flash, iPad and mobile device saga continues

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Part 2: The iPAD iPhone Flash Adobe Apple Controversy – this new media author’s take: A Dangerous Retro Blacktop Paved Hole

Steve Jobs is claiming his iPhone and iPad to be the latest in tech, while intimating that Adobe’s interactive content creator, Flash, is something from the past to be discarded by any hip tech person. The opposite is true. The iPhone and iPad are not strong or fast enough to keep up with Flash. Further, content created by Flash would inhibit Job’s ability to control all iPad and iPhone content, including iBooks. And Jobs further made his Flash lock-out move, clearly, to break Flash’s stronghold on web video (Flash is the number 1 video streamer and has been for some time – because it works!) As Lily Tomlin’s comic character, Emily Ann, used to say: “And that’s the truth!”

A colleague of mine bought an iPad and expressed surprise that I did not already have one. “It does not run Flash,” I explained. My book cannot be read on it because my book is full of Flash animations and interactive elements like narration tracks. My colleague insisted that I was wrong. He thought the iPad ran Flash. Check again, I suggested. He did, and learned there is no Flash content on his iPad. That surprised him. Good for Jobs that so many lay people bought these devices not knowing what they were missing. Continue reading Part 2: The iPAD iPhone Flash Adobe Apple Controversy – this new media author’s take: A Dangerous Retro Blacktop Paved Hole

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