Editorial: A friendlier Apple Inc now invites media through its Infinite Loop front door

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2014
At this week's Apple Event showing off the company's newest iPads and Macs, invited members of the media weren't directed around the back of Apple's Infinite Loop campus to the Town Hall door, as usual. They were greeted at the front door and led through the private campus courtyard.


Open Apple + Shift

The uncharacteristic media micro-tour of Apple's headquarters is part of a new experiment in dialing down the company's reputation for excessive, nearly paranoid-level secrecy that it has maintained since its recovery in the late 1990s.

While still operating with full security measures in place--comically highlighted in assurances voiced by Stephen Colbert during the keynote to "triple down" on security--Apple is now working to share legitimate things for people to talk about rather than trying maintain an awkward silence between its product introductions.




The move follows a similar step by the company earlier this summer to invite roughly a dozen outside observers to experience WWDC, the company's confab for developers that has previously been strictly limited to partners under Non-Disclosure Agreements.

Apple also opened up its WWDC session videos and actually encouraged its developers--and members of the media--to talk about the new technologies it was introducing, a marked departure from the days when even registered developers were advised not to say anything about anything, even to other developers.

The result has been nothing short of spectacular. Even people who don't know C# from Shinola know about Swift, the new language Apple introduced at WWDC. APIs and initiatives from Metal to CarPlay and HomeKit to HealthKit are now familiar terms even to many non-technical people, despite being just a few months out of the gate.

Inviting the media through its front door and walking them across the inner courtyard of its campus (to a gourmet spread of Caffe Macs breakfast foods and a row of attentive baristas before the presentation) was a symbolic gesture representing a friendly, more open company.

But rather than being a phony facade, the new and more welcoming Apple appears to be aware that it has become something new. It is no longer the beleaguered underdog that Steve Jobs almost reluctantly took over in a moonshot effort to revitalize against all odds almost 18 years ago.

Born out of the fire of intense competition, Jobs' Apple is now the world's most powerful and successful tech company. And it knows it.

One of Apple's biggest remaining problems right now is that it is operating beyond capacity from its Infinite Loop headquarters (below). That's why its working to rapidly build an additional, massive Campus 2 facility nearby (profiled yesterday).

Open Apple + Command

After surviving unscathed--and stronger than ever--through years of protracted onslaughts by three of its closest partners--each of whom sought to appropriate Apple's products and then destroy it with counterfeit copies of their own--Apple is now playing a hardball offense with Microsoft, Google and Samsung, and scoring all the points that matter.

Those rivals are now mocking Apple even as they slavishly copy it, because they too are aware that they are now the losers. That shift is also apparent in how Apple relates to the media, its developers and its customers.

In response to the confusion expressed by customers about last month's iOS 8.0 missing a "Camera Roll," Apple announced it would be adding it back in iOS 8.1, available on Monday. Compare that to Microsoft's extended, bumbling effort to replace the Windows 8 "Start Menu" that disappeared for users in early 2012 and didn't return until (ironically) Windows 8.1 arrived two and a half years later.

Apple used to be seen as the company that didn't listen to its users' feedback, didn't get video games, didn't get the cloud, and couldn't sell in relevant volumes to customers outside of its narrow niche. Not anymore.

Rather than just introducing its new iPads, Macs, OSs and iWork apps, Apple showed off why its new introductions matter, coyly disguised as that comedy bit about "tripling down" on security. Apple's new Continuity features are only possible because Apple manages its own hardware and software platforms, and deploys large volumes of higher end products.

While all modern iOS devices feature Bluetooth 4.0, dating back to late 2011, only some the newest, expensive Android and Windows Phone devices do, making it impossible for those platforms to even start copying Apple's modern OS features like wireless Continuity.

Additionally, Google and Microsoft, despite their efforts to get into the hardware business like Apple, only sell a tiny fragment of the devices needed to really influence the direction of their own platforms.

Chitika Insights recently noted that in North America, Android usage rates attributable to Google-branded phones and tablets was at only 3.6 percent in September, a ten percent drop from June. Samsung dominated with 57.4 percent of all Android devices, making it no wonder why Google is fighting Samsung for control of its own Android platform.

Android NA use share fragmented Sept 2014


Yet all Android devices in total amounted to just 35 percent of mobile web traffic. The other 65 percent came from Apple's iPhones and iPads. This is in North America, where Google has the most relevancy. In China, Google and its services are really not relevant to users at all, but iOS devices are selling rapidly.

Android NA use share trails Apple iOS Sept 2014


Even in the U.S., Google's own hardware experiments are greatly overshadowed by Amazon's own "Fire OS" variant of Android that doesn't use Google's services (or otherwise benefit Google) either. Amazon has a 6.9 percent share of "Android" traffic, nearly twice that of Nexus. The only common thread between Amazon and Google are some shared Android vulnerabilities.

Apple's ability to introduce new technologies, quickly bring them to market and just as rapidly gain widespread adoption for them is nothing short of unprecedented. Massive, immediate adoption of new versions of iOS and OS X is unheard of in the Windows or Android worlds, in part because those broadly licensed software platforms are used by licensees (like Dell or Samsung) to sell their own new stuff, not to support existing users with an ecosystem that effectively encourages customers to subsequently defect to a cheaper, largely undifferentiated alternative vendor (like Asus or Xiaomi).

In the Apple world, every step the company makes to improve and enhance its platforms results in greater loyalty among its own customers. Apple now sells four models of iPhone, for example, but the vast majority of the phones it sells are its highest end, most luxurious new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models. That's the opposite of every other phone maker and platform licensee.

Open Apple + Option

Apple's new dominating leadership position over the consumer tech industry means that it doesn't have to worry that every feature it releases will be appropriated by larger rivals with monopoly-like power to run it out of business using its own inventions.

Back when IBM entered the computer market with the PC in 1982, Apple was a fledgling company. By the time Microsoft began selling the Mac desktop as its own product, Apple had already been greatly outmatched by sales of PC-compatible rivals at all levels, not just on the low end.

Apple introduced the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad at points where it was an underdog among entrenched market incumbents who were already selling lots of products profitably. Critics consistently believed Apple would fail, or would be immediately copied by commodity makers.

But that never happened with iPods. In fact, when heavyweight Microsoft entered the market with PlaysForSure and then Zune, there was widespread belief that Microsoft could repeat Windows. It could not.




No phone has ever challenged the volumes or profits of iPhone, with rivals only capable of expanding into the profitless low end of phones. No device has ever rivaled iPad in sales. In fact, despite all the handwringing about iPad sales being down over the previous year, Apple continues to sell more iPads than the rest of the top five tablet vendors combined.

The only way to portray Apple as having effective competition of any kind is to amalgamate the shipping volumes of every company on earth and compare this total against Apple. Just don't use profits to compare things, because Apple makes the majority of the money in the PC and mobile industries.

Some new competitor may eventually introduce a new disruptive product that changes this reality, but for now Apple has a global presence larger and more powerful than Microsoft--or any other tech company--ever did.

Unlike Microsoft, Apple not only makes an OS, but also designs most of its own CPUs, builds all of its own hardware, develops many of its own apps, operates its own cloud services and controls an App Store ecosystem that regulates and taxes third party development to avoid the problems of malware, junkware and spyware that have plagued Windows and Android. Apple is now like Microsoft, Intel, HP and Google put together. And last year it earned more net income than all of them put together.

Apple is now like Microsoft, Intel, HP and Google put together. And last year it earned more net income than all of them put together.

With Apple's current position, it now has options to do things it hasn't been able to do before. Like reserve incredible manufacturing capacity at the world's largest chip fab for its new A8 and A8X. Or introduce the first product from a tech company that can be sold as a fashion product to people beyond tech bloggers.

Or introduce a new payment system and immediately forge partnerships with virtually every major bank to support it. Or partner with one of the largest professional services companies to develop 100 new enterprise mobile apps tailored to drive adoption of iPad.

Or develop the world's leading 64-bit Application Processor and then drive massive volume sales of it. Or line up gaming industry heavyweights behind a new API to unlock console graphics power from that same mobile Application Processor.

Apple still needs to maintain secrecy in order to drive its product cycles. But now it's big enough to open up and achieve a new stature as company that can publish public road maps without worrying about ending up roadkill.

It will be interesting to see what Apple does with its newfound power next.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 63
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Less security and a more friendly face at Apple?

    Pffft! Like it matters to me!

    I learned the 'secret handshake' from watching over and over Apple's last keynote.
  • Reply 2 of 63
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,350member
    It is interesting that this new openness coincides with the departure of longtime PR head Katie Cotton, a well-known control freak and occasional outright, unabashed "Steve has a virus" liar.
  • Reply 3 of 63
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mpantone View Post



    It is interesting that this new openness coincides with the departure of longtime PR head Katie Cotton, a well-known control freak and occasional outright, unabashed "Steve has a virus" liar.



    Katie Cotton is one of the reasons why Apple is still around and able to open itself up. 

     

    Assaulting her as a liar because she didn't feed media parasites Jobs' private health information is sort of creepy.

  • Reply 4 of 63
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Open Apple + Shift


     

    I'm annoyed by how fitting this is.

     

    ...a new experiment in dialing down the company's reputation for excessive, nearly paranoid-level secrecy that it has maintained since its recovery in the late 1990s.


     

    In what capacity? They literally just reaffirmed it.

  • Reply 5 of 63
    Only quibble I have is with the statement "the worlds most powerful and successful tech company". Not sure tech is required anymore, they're the worlds most powerful and successful company, period.


    It's sometimes boggling to think of just how massive Apple is now. When Alan Kay said "make the screen five inches by eight inches and you will rule the world" he wasn't kidding.
  • Reply 6 of 63
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,350member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

     



    Katie Cotton is one of the reasons why Apple is still around and able to open itself up. 

     

    Assaulting her as a liar because she didn't feed media parasites Jobs' private health information is sort of creepy.




    Remember that as a public company, it is the board's responsibility to notify shareholders of major risks and challenges of running the company. These risks are covered in their quarterly SEC filings; these documents are supposed to list all the pitfalls and dangers of investing in the company. A possible terminal illness to the CEO is definitely a factor that may impend orderly execution of the business's activities. When you are a senior manager in a publicly traded company, your health is a concern to shareholders.

     

    While it is not necessary to specify exactly what the nature of the ailment is, it is important to communicate the possible severity, something that the Apple board failed to do.

     

    It's not relevant to discuss the health of some random employee. But for the executives listed on the company profile pages? Yes, by definition, those people are major assets whose loss might result in material devaluation of the company.

     

    Whether you like it or not, or think it's fair or not, senior management in public companies are held to different standards in personal conduct and transparency of action. They are subject to things like codes of conduct, etc. that don't affect low-level managers and line employees. There are plenty of stories of high-ranking executives who have been shown the door because of very human foibles (like cheating on a spouse).

     

    Note that every SEC filing lists the well-being of the senior management team as a possible risk factor, not just Apple. Some companies won't allow certain senior managers to travel on the same aircraft.

     

    Again, I have simply noted the curious coincidence and stated observations about Cotton's behavior. 

     

    I agree that Cotton has contributed to Apple's success, but well, she isn't there anymore and she is no longer a contributor. Clearly her time is over. Who decided? Cook? Cotton? The board? We will probably never know, however it is possible that her handling of Steve's illness really irked Cook and he told her that she had x amount of time to leave. She had virtually dropped off the radar after Steve's death. I don't think her name has been on a press release since late 2011.

  • Reply 7 of 63
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,988member

    "...WWDC, the company's confab for developers that has previously been strictly limited to partners under Non-Disclosure Agreements.



    Apple also opened up its WWDC session videos and actually encouraged its developers--and members of the media--to talk about the new technologies it was introducing, a marked departure from the days when even registered developers were advised not to say anything about anything, even to other developers."

     

    Might as well give up on the NDA since everything related to beta software has been announced on every website, including this one. Forget about trying to keep all those parts suppliers from letting unannounced products leave their factories. It isn't going to stop as long as there's people willing to buy those parts and publish them on websites. All those rumors come from unnamed sources but it would be interesting to have some of those names and see where they're getting the parts and information.

  • Reply 8 of 63
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,411member

    So I guess now they are 'singling-down' on secrecy...

    I just can't keep up.

  • Reply 9 of 63
    The mere rumor that Apple was working on a wrist watch sent multiple tech companies off to create their own before Apple, or at least announce that they were working on one too. But Apple doesn't enter a market (or create one) without putting their own twist on the concept...and that's Apple's secret sauce.

    DED's statement, "Apple's ability to introduce new technologies, quickly bring them to market and just as rapidly gain widespread adoption for them is nothing short of unprecedented," is another thing Apple does exceptionally well. To me, it seems as if Apple accomplishes this by being accomplished at several related Public Relations and advertising skills. In addition, Apple has in place several outlets for rumors, so they can control their message from top to bottom. It's nothing like I've seen any company be able to do.
  • Reply 10 of 63
    The mere rumor that Apple was working on a wrist watch sent multiple tech companies off to create their own before Apple, or at least announce that they were working on one too. But Apple doesn't enter a market (or create one) without putting their own twist on the concept...and that's Apple's secret sauce.

    DED's statement, "Apple's ability to introduce new technologies, quickly bring them to market and just as rapidly gain widespread adoption for them is nothing short of unprecedented," is another thing Apple does exceptionally well. To me, it seems as if Apple accomplishes this by being accomplished at several related Public Relations and advertising skills. In addition, Apple has in place several outlets for rumors, so they can control their message from top to bottom. It's nothing like I've seen any company be able to do.

    There was a recent series one of the Mac sites did (either 9 to 5 Mac or Cult of Mac IIRC) talking about Apple's PR efforts. Quite a good read.

    Personally, I think the iPhone component leaks are encouraged by Apple to an extent. Same with the iPad leak Wednesday, that was probably on purpose.

    The things they reveal aren't of any use to competitors anyway, everyone and their dog pretty well knew Apple was doing larger phones. The rest of the stuff was easy to keep secret.
  • Reply 11 of 63
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Compare that to Microsoft's extended, bumbling effort to replace the Windows 8 "Start Menu" that disappeared for users in early 2012 and didn't return until (ironically) Windows 8.1 arrived two and a half years later.

    This should say "... didn't return until Windows 10 (currently in public beta)," there's no start menu in Win 8.1.

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    The only common thread between Amazon and Google are some shared Android vulnerabilities.

    Ouch!

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    Apple is now like Microsoft, Intel, HP and Google put together.

    True. It's quite impactful when said like that.

  • Reply 12 of 63
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,005member
    mpantone wrote: »
    It is interesting that this new openness coincides with the departure of longtime PR head Katie Cotton, a well-known control freak and occasional outright, unabashed "Steve has a virus" liar.

    Err excuse me, she is one of the reasons Apple is where it is today.
  • Reply 13 of 63
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,005member
    Only quibble I have is with the statement "the worlds most powerful and successful tech company". Not sure tech is required anymore, they're the worlds most powerful and successful company, period.


    It's sometimes boggling to think of just how massive Apple is now. When Alan Kay said "make the screen five inches by eight inches and you will rule the world" he wasn't kidding.

    I agree 100%.
  • Reply 14 of 63
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,005member
    Why is this attributed to Kasper ? ... This has DED written all over it.

    Excellent article.
  • Reply 15 of 63
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,005member
    The mere rumor that Apple was working on a wrist watch sent multiple tech companies off to create their own before Apple, or at least announce that they were working on one too. But Apple doesn't enter a market (or create one) without putting their own twist on the concept...and that's Apple's secret sauce.

    DED's statement, "Apple's ability to introduce new technologies, quickly bring them to market and just as rapidly gain widespread adoption for them is nothing short of unprecedented," is another thing Apple does exceptionally well. To me, it seems as if Apple accomplishes this by being accomplished at several related Public Relations and advertising skills. In addition, Apple has in place several outlets for rumors, so they can control their message from top to bottom. It's nothing like I've seen any company be able to do.

    It's magic ... :)
  • Reply 16 of 63
    Apple used to be seen as the company that didn't listen to its users' feedback, didn't get video games, didn't get the cloud, and couldn't sell in relevant volumes to customers outside of its narrow niche. Not anymore.


    While many argue even today that Apple "doesn't 'get' the cloud,' this is patently false.

    • The 24th most popular website in the United States, Apple.com
    • The 38th most popular website globally Apple.com (beating such companies as About.com, Adobe Systems, Alibaba Group, BBC, Blogger.com, CNN, Craigslist, ESPN.com, GoDaddy, The Huffington Post, IMDb, Netflix, The Pirate Bay, Reddit, Wordpress.org and every XXX site on the Internet)
    • A leading online retailer (top ten by some accounts)
    • $10 Billion net sales per year for iTunes, Software and Services business* (a)
    • 800 million iTunes accounts
    • 40 Billion Notifications per day
    • 3-4 Billion iMessages per day
    • 15-20 million FaceTime calls per day
    • 80 billion apps sold
    • 35 billion paid music downloads
    • The leading cloud productivity suite on iOS and OS X
    • The leading provider of paid music downloads with 63% market share
    • The leading provider of electronic sell-through for television shows with 67% market share
    • The leading provider of electronic sell-through for movies with 65% market share
    • The leading provider of online movie rentals with 45% market share
    • A leading provider of cloud calendar, contacts, mail, notes and reminders
    • A leading provider of Maps with turn-by-turn directions
    • A leading provider of mobile advertising
    • A leading cloud storage service
    • A leading online multiplayer social gaming network
    • The third most popular music streaming service with 8% market share within just one year


    A. Includes revenue from sales on the iTunes Store, the App Store, the Mac App Store, and the iBooks Store, and revenue from sales of AppleCare, licensing and other services
  • Reply 17 of 63
    Why is this attributed to Kasper ? ... This has DED written all over it.

    Excellent article.

    Probably another one of his many aliases ;)
  • Reply 18 of 63
    I'd like to see them produce "super computer" level machines. Hardware is stale and moving forward too slowly. Remember that quantum computer?
  • Reply 19 of 63
    Excellent article.

    Would it be fair to say that if Tim Cook wants to make a concerted push into enterprise, he will have to provide them with more of a product roadmap?
  • Reply 20 of 63
    Apart from all the scuttlebutt, it works. That's all I care about. Yesterday I downloaded OS X Yosemite onto two of my iMacs seamlessly and will be ordering a third. That's what it's all about, end of.
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