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Posts Tagged ‘steve jobs’

Tim Cook rules the changing Apple world

March 30th, 2012

Tim Cook Apple CEO - the best in 2012 - Liberate Media

When Tim Cook (pictured above left) moved into the incredibly big space left by Steve Jobs at Apple, the markets moved quickly. They began to write Tim Cook down with endless articles about his shortcomings.

At the time, I wrote that Tim would be a brilliant CEO of Apple, based on nothing more than careful monitoring and reading about his career over more than a decade. I also said that anyone with spare cash should buy and lock away Apple shares.

Seems like I called it right. Tonight, Apple shares have a value over $600 for the first time. I would not worry about the slight fall – end-week traders taking some folding cash back home – this stock is built to last.

Tim Cook, the man the markets mashed less than a year ago, is the world’s top CEO. Who said that? His employees is who.

US-focused careers site Glassdoor announced today that Cook received a 97 per cent approval rating from employees over the past 12 months that ended March 15, beating out Ernst & Young CEO Jim Turley and Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, American Express CEO Ken Chenault and Google CEO Larry Page.

Seems also that the Man is getting another thing right. Tim Cook went to the Chinese Foxcomm plant that builds the devices his company has designed and sells and we buy. He wants change there and has some power to do that. Foxcomm has promised to hire more people and reduce the pressures on its employees.

It’s in his power to take the build contract away from Foxcomm. It’s in our power to pay more for Apple mobile products. While we ponder and prevaricate, Tim Cook is making changes. Like I said – he’s The Man.

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Go well, Steve Jobs – nothing good ever lasts

October 6th, 2011

One story about Steve Jobs. When I was a journalist, I tried so hard to get an interview with the man but he was “always too busy”. That just added to his value.

One time, we were sharing stories in a bar, as creative writers do. This environment is all about topping the last anecdote and a Mac magazine editor topped it that night. Steve is holding a tech-creative meeting. The guys know they’ve nailed it. It’s perfect. They play their deck. Steve doesn’t move. For three seconds. Then he slowly lowers his head to the desk. And says: “No. No. No!”, banging his head in perfect rhythm.

The man was passionate. About everything, He was also the greatest story teller we have seen in the past 150 years.

Because he understood.

I posted this video link a while back. Now everyone is using it (I stole that line from Steve :).  Go well, and thank you.

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Tim Cook, Apple futures, the Tablet & Smartphone economies and the long shadow of Steve Jobs

August 25th, 2011

Tim Cook stepped up last night as the new CEO of Apple Computer, as Steve Jobs stood down, and if you were to find a better man to step into the shadow of the best company leader in the world, then you would be a genius.

Tim Cook has been joined at the hip with Steve Jobs since 1998 and probably mind-melded with the leader around 2003, when the retiring Apple CEO first found out that he had pancreatic cancer.

Tim is the son of an Alabama shipyard worker and at-home Mom. In the last financial year, he earned $59.1million (£36.3 million), including a $5 million cash bonus and $52.3 million in stock options. He has sold also more than $100 million of his stock options since joining Apple. He still rents his house in Palo Alto, California.

Tim Cook Apple CEO with Steve Jobs 2011

Tim Cook, Apple CEO: joined at the hip with Steve Jobs

To me, that means Tim is an Apple man body and soul, not an automobile salesman wannabe. He is the difference between Apple tanking and the company continuing to dominate and innovate. He comes from a different mould to the Apple CEOs who almost drove the company out of existence in the 1990s. He is a man I would trust with my last dollar.

The stock markets currently feel differently (bless!). They have given their totally rational, master-of-the-universe take on the news by selling Apple stock big-time. As an aside, if you were to search the ends of the earth for a CEO of the world’s biggest company by market value (Apple), you really would want to steer well clear of this highly-educated and terminally stupid class of people in your candidate selection.

The new Apple CEO comes into the job that effectively he has been co-owning for the past five years at least, with a clear understanding that the yo-yo’s in the trading houses (a.k.a The Future) have marked him down.

I doubt whether he, or the Apple board, will lose too much sleep. In the time he has been shadowing Steve Jobs, Apple stock has gone from $6.56 to $403. Currently (Thursday afternoon BST), it’s trading at $371.41. Time to buy!

That said, Steve Jobs does cast a long shadow. He rescued Apple from extinction and his rare genius in marketing has been a large part of the reason why the company has become the most powerful, influential and successful technology company of all time. Even ‘The Really Stupids’ in the stock exchange houses could see, finally, that Steve Jobs = Money.

Now, while they flail around like non-swimmers (always out of their depth), Apple is simply moving on. The Succession Plan has been written and rehearsed, and is now being acted out. Apple, with the retreat by HP from the Tablet space (which it championed for three years), now owns the Tablet/Slate market and I cannot see a single effective competitor.

The Tablet Economy is so new, and with so much potential, that we can only guess and discuss, and help its development. I believe the iPad will fundamentally reshape the business and consumer device sectors globally over the next five years because it fulfils the needs and desires of people who live in these sectors – indeed, they are the same people.

iPad in five years will be recognisable on the outside – the same beautiful design but unrecognisable in the way it connects to, engages with, and learns from the people using the device.

With the Tablet space sewn up for the next 18 months at least, Apple has a bigger battle on its hands with the Smartphone market. Android handsets continue to eat into the iPhone market share and only the recourse to law has put some temporary obstacles in their way.

While the Tablet market can be further ring-fenced through innovation that might include closer tie-in with broadcast TV – iPad link scanning of TV adverts, for example – the iPhone challenge is much more complex but it is a battle that Apple can win.

Rumours of a budget-range of iPhones abound and the idea makes good commercial sense. The biggest mobile handset players have seriously lost the plot, yet continue to own the budget handset space globally. The move into this market, with a handset that delivers the classic usability of the iPhone, the cachet of the brand, and at a reasonable price point, should prove exceptionally profitable.

In the applications space, Apple still holds sway in terms of business and entertainment apps that users love, for the right reasons. This also gives Apple an opportunity to move from the consumer space into the new, more fluid environment that it has helped to shape – where the lines between consumer and business device are being blurred.

Remember, Tim Cook was central to this movement and will be the leader of the brightest and best technology team in the world. The iPad and the iPhone resonate with our needs and untrammelled desires. The design and education sectors also respond, if not on price, certainly with desire to the unrivalled hardware and software that Apple continues to produce: Final Cut Pro, iTunes, MacBook, iMac, Mac Pro, iPod and iCloud.

There was a time, pre-Jobs’ return, when Apple aficionados spent their time waiting for the next big Fail. We’ve got out of the habit over the past decade and, do you know, there is no chance of us joining that Loser queue again.

Best of luck to Tim Cook – but I somehow think he’s not going to need it, even with the long and generous shadow of Steve Jobs.

We will have time to reflect and understand more about this Quiet Man of Apple over the coming year but for now watch a rare video of Tim Cook here:

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Nokia N8 global launch, Smartphone futures and rise of the Slates

December 9th, 2010

Tomorrow (December 10th 2010), Nokia is launching a global campaign to promote its N8 smartphone. The dominant mobile manufacturer is fighting back strongly against the Apple and Android assaults on a market that it once considered its own.

Nokia’s promotion is most welcome. It’s about time that the market had some strong input from the company that defined mobile for more than two decades, along with its competitor cousin, Ericsson. These two companies led the way in mobile innovation and the delivery of handsets that were the first choice for professionals globally.

Both worked hard to develop the one thing that, I think, helped to redefine the mobile market – the ability to write on screen. I still miss my Sony Ericsson P910 for that reason. I could write an email, an instant message, a blog post on the P910 with an ease that I do not have with my Blackberry. And I’m a veteran keyboarder.

The N8 does not have stylus text input. It’s out of fashion.

Nokia is not alone. Find me a Smartphone or Slate that gives users this facility and I need will wake you up rudely. None exist – and that’s a commercial crime.

If I was a Smartphone/Slate producer, I would be refining the onscreen stylus text input function. Why? Well, I’ve used keyboards all my life but I know many people who have not touched a keyboard. The keyboard is a design disaster – we use a form that was designed to slow down the application of keystrokes. It makes no logical or aesthetic sense. Worse still, it’s an obstacle to communication.

So, if you are a neophyte and are being told that Slates (or Smartphones) make everything easy – you will come up against the big challenge of trying to talk to family, friends and contacts through the most idiotic communications tool ever developed – the QWERTY keyboard. Hours of fun.

Instead, imagine if you picked up your Slate (or Smartphone) and just started writing on the screen. Even with the need for corrections, it would be intuitive, tactile and rewarding. I will wager a £100 bet with anyone who can show that a beginner can learn to type faster than they can write and communicate on screen using a stylus.

But there’s a problem with onscreen stylus communication. It is often called Steve Jobs.

Steve, bruised, battered and bewildered by the failure of the Newton, has decided that styluses suck, big-time. Never mind that the Newton introduced more complexity by requiring users to learn a new alphabet.

This is what Steve has to say about stylus screen input:
“Oh, a stylus, right? We’re going to use a stylus. No. Who wants a stylus? You have to get ‘em and put ‘em away, and you lose ‘em. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus. So let’s not use a stylus. We’re going to use the best pointing device in the world. We’re going to use a pointing device that we’re all born with – born with ten of them. We’re going to use our fingers. We’re going to touch this with our fingers.” [source]

I’ve just measured my fingers against my old Sony Ericsson P910 stylus – and the difference is frightening. The point of the stylus (the business end) is roughly 500 times smaller than the point of my digits. Steve, there is no way that my fingers are going to do the talking.

More than that, the stylus replicates the way we have learned to write. Only a numpty would consider the finger as the primary communications device of the future.

And so, while we await the roll out of an amazing array of Smartphones and Slate in 2011, here’s my Christmas wish-list for my ideal Slate and Smartphone:

  1. Stylus text input
  2. Voice input
  3. Social media apps onboard
  4. Open apps market
  5. Camera to match the N8
  6. Touchscreen to match the iPad
  7. Easy purchase process
  8. Film studio network
  9. Image studio network
  10. Smaller, more precise social network app

As for the N8, whether it will gatecrash the iPhone and Android party is moot. TechRadar will give you a full briefing with its fearsome and quite brilliant review but there is a significant point in its narrative when it says: “Nokia is all about connecting people”. That is, surely, the point of mobile – and Nokia has the experience, knowledge and expertise to deliver that.

At Liberate Media mobile HQ, we have to work with many handsets because the delivery and display of web, mobile web – and mobile apps – varies so greatly. Our clients need to know the details of how their messages are being seen.

The N8 looks beautiful – and matches iPhone on design. That’s to be expected. Apart from a few design Fails, Nokia has consistently delivered desirable, usable devices.

If Nokia, or Ericsson, revisits the stylus-input function with the Slates that they are planning, and deliver the joy of onscreen writing, I will be the first to buy and evangelise. This is much needed and, I think, would be a definitive USP for players in the Slate and Smartphone markets. But let me know what you think.

And if you believe that Nokia is a crusty old has-been, just enjoy this video, showing what you can do with the N8. Pure class:

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How iPhone 4.0 opened Apple’s walled garden of communications

July 20th, 2010

If nothing else, the antenna problem on the iPhone 4.0 has prodded Apple into a more open, web-embracing approach to its communications strategies.

It’s still about controlling the messages but a multi-way conversation has been started – and that means letting go of the command structure. Apple has, rightly or wrongly, been seen as anti-web and seeking to dominate, closing off the areas where it operates online.

The PR campaign around the iPhone 4.0’s problems has a different flavour. Commentators are saying that Steve Jobs was prodded into a reaction by the spectacular online/offline criticisms of the wildly popular handset and certainly an un-timetabled Apple press conference is a very rare event.

Steve Jobs points out iPhone 4.0 qualities at press conference in Cupertino, July 16th

But what was most intriguing about Steve Jobs’ session in Cupertino on Friday was not the apology or the free-case offer; rather, it was his contention that other Smartphone manufacturers had models with signal problems similar to those of the iPhone 4.0.

Now, Steve could have followed the classic Apple tactic of not mentioning the competition, promoting the advantages and innovations of the handset. This time he opened the door to the walled garden and practically invited the world and their cousin to respond. He stoked an external debate – almost unheard of at Apple.

Not surprisingly, the rival handset manufacturers have come out with communications guns blazing as CNET’s Caroline McCarthy reported.

They are more than miffed by Apple’s statements but significantly at the moment they all stop short of claiming that there are no antenna issues on their models. While their responses are very robust, they are on the back foot now, as Apple releases its internal tests on rival handsets, delivering a video website http://www.apple.com/antenna/ with detailed comparative information.

Ah, but here’s where the Apple openness stops short. The site, while informative and stylish, is a one-way street. No chance to comment or share, which is a missed opportunity and one that I hope Steve Jobs reconsiders. Right now, he’s winning the PR battle by using openness effectively – and maybe Apple will recognise the enormous benefits of opening the door to walled garden even further.

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iPhone 4.0, Steve Jobs and killer PR

July 18th, 2010

Hands up, who does not want an iPhone 4.0? No really, be straight. Thought so – and just about everyone else wants one too. They did before the Apple press conference on Friday – and they do – more – now.

Want to see marketing and PR on a roll? Just watch Steve Jobs hitting the stage at 10 am Cupertino time. His audience? The financial analysts. He wooed them with absolutely the right messages at the right time and place.

He annoyed just about everybody else, except the distributors (that largely the network operators) but won the day. Why? He talked about how, right now, handsets (and networks) don’t deliver.

Sure, they connect, they can play, they can download and roll, The Smartphones have a way to go – but, as Steve Jobs said on Friday, they’re all getting there. It’s just that the iPhone is getting there quicker and with more style

Is the iPhone an issue? Not now, not really. Steve told us that the other “Smarts” have the same, solvable problem. At the technical layer its about a hardware/software workaround. Next time they’ll get it right.

At the network layer, it’s about integration – exactly how disparate mobile devices connect and communicate through this thing we call “the Web”. A theme for another post… but yours idea would be very welcome.

At the marketing layer, it’s about feeding desire – and Steve nailed this on Friday. Here’s the script: apologise, involve people with the problem, make it general, offer a bonus – then stoke the market with a time-limit. Beautiful.

So here’s the thing. In the next year, who do you think will sell more handsets – Apple or the Droids? My bet is still on Jobs to deliver, because the iPhone is still an object of desire.

Price-point is an issue but the difference between the Droids and Apple deals here and in the US mean that the corporates can still justify the added spend, if only on the base of desire. Professionals want to be seen using them.

But the iPhone does not only win there. Its nearest rival, HTC has produced beautiful products, the Desire and the Hero among them. The reviews are brilliant and all just point to a central sales flaw – the base. Open Source obviously means less control, more potential but at the same time means less control at the User Interface. If the Droids get the UI right, they will win the Apple war.

At the same time as we’re debating the benefits of Open Source, Apple, in the mobile sector, is winning because it has brand trust, brand affiliation, and a deep sense of its own rightness. It also does killer PR – in ways that we need to learn.

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iPad expert review by Publishing Perspectives, Frankfurt Book Fair

April 25th, 2010

Hannah Johnson from the Frankfurt Book Fair publishing associates Publishing Perspectives has posted an excellent, balanced review of the iPad as a reading tool.

Memo to Steve Jobs: there’s a gap in the market: something that will sit between the iPhone and the iPad in size and weight :) – OMG, that’s the Microsoft Courier.

I just weighed my copy of Different - it comes in at 14oz (397g), about the same as the Courier. The iPhone is 4.8oz (135g); the iPad is a ‘whopping’ 1.6lb (730g). So the iLite would need to be around the weight of a paperback novel, say 11oz (312g).

Here’s Hannah’s take on the iPad:

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Steve Jobs, Apple, insanely great friends and how to live your life

April 23rd, 2010

I caught up with two old journalist colleagues, good friends, last night – Merlin John and Sean Coughlan. We put the world to rights, celebrated Sean’s promotion to education Correspondent at the BBC, and argued geek-pop-politics until forever.

We most definitely raised our voices around the subject of Steve Jobs and Apple; I found myself trying to defend the insanely great man against accusations that Apple had moved away from education, was trying to take over and control the Web, and that the iPad sucked.

One point we did agree on was the potential for the iPad and other slates to give publishers a lifeline through connections to new and old readerships. Sean’s been busy writing books, available online only so he has a keen interest in how this market will develop. Whether Jobs wants to and can effectively wall the internet garden is still up for debate but for now, for me, he remains a hero.

This morning I replayed the Stanford University video to remind myself why I respect Steve Jobs so much – if you have time, it just might be the best 14mins 30 secs you’ve spent. This is the way I’d like to live my life, most certainly.

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The Bill and Steve show

January 29th, 2010

Following ‘iPad‘ week I decided to look at the differing strategies of the world’s two biggest technology competitors to promote their new approaches/products.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are the traditional hero and villain of the computer world, and of course it depends on your point of view on which is which. They have been at it for some time, as the heads of their respective super brands (Microsoft and Apple), but Bill has taken a back seat at Microsoft, although he is still Chairman and of course the world’s richest man.

As you may or may not know, Bill Gates made an interesting move to open up his communications last week, by joining Twitter on January 19th, kicking off with ‘Hello World.’ Hard at work on my foundation letter – publishing on 1/25′, in reference to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest non-profit hard at work giving Bill’s billions away to worthy causes. This has pretty much been over looked thanks to the anticipation and launch of Apple’s new best seller.

Since Bill joined, he’s been collecting followers like the Pied Piper of Twitterland. To be precise, according to figures from 20 decibels recent blog post on Wednesday (nice job guys): ‘Bill Gates has 365,000+ followers (now 376,000 +) and counting and has been added to 13,056 lists (now (13,600+) His following grew rapidly after sending his first tweet. He has a whopping 14,600 followers per tweet sent.’

Here’s Bill’s latest tweet: At Davos G8/G20 panel – Spain Pres. Zapatero says meeting MDGs just as important as global financial reform…‘ (When you have $50 billion in the bank you rub shoulders with some pretty important people).

Here’s some more interesting data from the guys at 20 decibels: ‘Bill’s tweets generate a very high click through rate. He has tweeted 12 links to 6 unique sites with a total of 160,161 clicks.

‘Engagement: In additional to high click through rates, Bill Gates audience engages with his content frequently. For example, his recent Tweet promoting the Gates Foundation annual letter garnered 818 Retweets on top of 13,500+ clicks.’

Pretty impressive, but then you would expect it to be. The question is why has Bill waited so long to join Twitter when his influence and understanding is so high? Could it be just that? In a scale of normal to Bill, the influence of Twitter can only offer so much more in comparison to what he already has? I hope not, as the figures above prove Twitter can be very valuable, and more importantly it has already helped him to engage directly with more people in his first week alone.

Although the iPad wasn’t officially advertised, the buzz and leaks around the story did much of the work for Steve and Apple. Apple doesn’t really need to PR its new launches anymore, well not in the traditional sense. A few strategic mentions, and the odd review leak, and the community will do the job for them. That’s not to say it wasn’t planned though.

So how was the iPad launch received? According to Trendrr there were 177,000 tweets in the first hour after the announcement, and Crimson Hexagon revealed that the content of more than half a million tweets following the iPad announcement sentiment was split down the middle with 48% percent of tweeters reacting positively, while the remaining 52% were less impressed.

(image courtesy of iStockphoto kutaytanir)

Of the 48% positivity, 29% of people wanted to buy an iPad and of the 52% of tweets that were less impressed, the majority (21% of all tweets) had a bad reaction to the name, 19% weren’t impressed and 11% were critical of all the build-up and/or just sick of hearing about it.

But this is just a small proportion of the results Apple generated from a very tightly developed and seemingly secretive launch. You only need to look at the BBC, Guardian or FT yesterday to see Steve holding his iPad, with a nice big smile, to appreciate the scale of the hype surrounding the launch.

But was the hype as positive as he might have hoped? The reaction to the iPad has been 50/50, speaking personally the functionality of the iPad is disappointing and as a product it’s not something I’ll be investing in yet. The idea itself is probably the most revolutionary element, together with the new opportunities it presents for content and publishing. However, the hype may have in fact put the final product in the shade and made it seem a little disappointing in comparison. That said, it will obviously be a success and the next iterations will, as usual, be much more interesting and capable.

So what can we learn from Bill’s low level approach and the higher profile launch from Steve over the last week? Firstly, i’ll hold my hands up and say it’s not really fair to compare the two directly. The obvious issue is that one is a consumer product and the other a campaign of philanthropy. You could also say that both Bill and Steve are super brands in themselves, and nothing helps to build interest like a bit of fame, which is true, but it is an interesting look into the different approaches that two formally old-school technology giants are employing in a world of communications opportunities.

Apple’s old school cloak and dagger approach to product launches, although successful, potentially undermined the final product by not being upfront about its potential uses, elements and focuses. By leaving the community to build the buzz and furore to such an extent they may have in fact ended up being disappointed by the false expectancy. Would a little more engagement and actual product detail have helped to communicate the real benefits of the product and avoided disappointment?

In comparison, Bill has started to take an open approach by communicating with his audience and sharing his day-to-day activity, removing this false picture of the world’s richest man sitting on piles of cash and handing it out to those that he deems fit. This is a very different approach to the path he took at Microsoft and although he has to be more open as he is the brand now, it shows evolution in thinking and perhaps something that Steve could take notice of for his next major launch.

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10 professional things you can’t do with an Apple iPad

January 28th, 2010

Here are ten professional things you simply cannot do with an iPad:
  1. Edit film
  2. Edit images
  3. Create 3D models
  4. Create vector illustrations
  5. Create/edit mocap
  6. Compose/notate/edit music
  7. Create animated cartoons
  8. Design/edit publications
  9. Create and file corporate accounts
  10. Create/execute strategic PR plan for new “magical” device.

There’s plenty you can’t do professionally with an iPad – as detractors have been pointing out since its launch. But that’s maybe missing the point of its creation.

Steve Jobs made no apologies for declaring Apple as the company at the “intersection between technology and the liberal arts”. He’s right – no other company has done as much and with the best intentions in the generalised intellectual field.

That’s why the list emphasises “professional”. Of course, Apple does provide elegant solutions for all those expert tasks and it’s exactly why the iPad does not. It is not competing in the professional desktop or laptop markets. It’s competing in a newer space. It did not invent the pad/slate/tablet market. But it sure as hell has taken that market out of Death Niche Valley.

Other companies, like Hewlett Packard, will be launching their versions this year – I’d bet that none will be as desirable as the iPad. Why? Because Apple not only understands the power of good design, it also understands “market” for liberal arts/education better than anyone else.

The debate on whether the launch of the iPad was handled successfully goes on and Clark Turner, editor of UTalkMarketing has been helping to focus that (disclosure – there’s a contribution from me!) What is beyond serious debate is that Steve Jobs and his team have created a product that will sell in multiples of millions into a new group of customers, as well as Apple die-hards and iPhone/iPod converts.

The iPad is about three things: connectivity, distribution, exchange. It wi-fi is lightning fast (3G is a wait-and-see) so users are up, online and networking without so much as a single slow handclap.

This easy connectivity is a boon for publishers of newspapers, magazines, books, film and music. The digital distribution network just got very large indeed.

Online, iPad users can exchange, share and learn. Education, in its generalised, liberal sense, has also expanded its horizons and my colleague Lorraine Warren nails the reasons elegantly on her blog.

The iPad will appeal to a wide demographic – I can’t wait for the ads (toddlers, grannies, teens, mums and dads, mums and mums, dads and dads, singles, in-betweenies, grumpy old men…)

I know it’s an old Apple term but the iPad is “insanely great”, as much for what it does not do, as for what it does.

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"I found a higher degree of contacts and enthusiasm and then something far more interesting. They listened, challenged and questioned with a focus and knowledge that I've never experienced before."