July 22, 2012
Applesauce: All Thing Apple – July 22, 2012
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Why don´t you go try on that new swimsuit? I´ll pack us a picnic of beer and chilled Applesauce“¦
iPad Mini. It´s the name that´s on everyone´s lips and yet, it´s still not a thing.
The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have all thrown their weight behind it, and yet, it seems many Apple bloggers and watchers are only now convincing themselves that we´ll see such a device by the end of the year“¦almost as if they have to change their preconceived notions of Apple on the fly.
I, for one, have done more than my fair share of speculating about this miniature tablet. In the beginning, I was adamant. “There´s no way this thing will ever make it to market,” I would say, counting on my relatively few years of Apple watching to prove me right. And the rumors kept coming. Then, “Well, if they had to, it might take over the iPod, but would they kill the iPod?”
In the end, it only makes sense to me if I put the iPad in the iPod context, with them starting off with one device, dominating the market, then branching out to pick up all the remaining pieces, ensuring that no other company will be able to compete.
Now, I´m not saying the iPad will be the only tablet in the next five years, similar to how the iPod eventually became the only media player. Companies like Google, Microsoft and Samsung just won´t let that happen. I can see a world where the iPad simply becomes synonymous with tablet, much like the iPod became synonymous with MP3 player. In fact, it´s already nearing this level of public saturation, in my opinion.
I´ve said more than I should be allowed to about this iPad smaller, and in the end, the reasoning behind it continues to escape me. Luckily, Apple is run by much smarter people than myself, and if they decide to release the thing, I know it will be big. But why?
The Bold Arrow of Time
I honestly don´t mean to gloat. How could I? I don´t own Apple stock. I´ve never even stepped foot in Apple´s campus at 1 Infinite Loop. I did go to San Jose last month and considered renting a car to make the drive, even though I wouldn´t have been able to do much more than stand outside the building. Other than an appreciation for their products, I´ve no dog in this fight, and I´m willing to wager an amount of money appropriate for a writer´s income that no other Apple fan or pundit has one either. A dog, that is.
From what I can tell, we´re all regular guys who have had some moment in their life where the Apple philosophy clicked with them. We´ve all had moments when we´ve approached our first Mac (or, perhaps more relevant to today´s culture, iDevice) with some curiosity and within a short amount of time, established a deep connection with the product, the philosophy, and, for the worst of us, the brand. Therefore, the story from earlier this week about Jony Ive´s deposition and the 2002 to 2004 iPad can be received in different ways.
For those of us who appreciate Apple´s products, this story provides a fair amount of context to the larger Apple narrative. After all, we already knew Steve Jobs stopped development on the iPad to put the OS and UI on a phone instead. This story is just another in a long line of equally fantastic stories which make up the greater whole of the Epic Apple Tale. For those of us who take a less romantic approach to All Things Apple. this story doesn´t offer much to chew on.
Apple and Samsung are embroiled in an ongoing court fight about who copied whose designs and who´s using who´s patents. When you get right down to it, Jony´s deposition is not much more than a fact-finding mission, a court ordered dig into history to discover which entity had first seen or designed the very basic and now iconic piece of glass on a rectangle slab with rounded corners and a lone button. That Apple was working on a project a good 6 to 8 years before it ever shipped is also not at all inconceivable. We´ve all seen prototypes pop up on eBay of 3G-enabled MacBook Pros and iPads with 2 dock connectors. In fact, I´d be willing to bet dollars to donuts that these prototypes are what cause many iPhone, iPad and Apple Television rumors.
I´m sure Apple did at one point build a teardrop shaped iPhone. I´m sure someone has seen an Apple branded television set. Apple, like other companies, makes prototypes of their products before they ship them. These prototypes are sometimes destroyed (at least, I imagine they are) or they end up in an employee´s closet for years as either a curio or something to be completely forgotten. Anyone who read this story with sober eyes also knows that at no point does Ive, or anyone else, talk about UI or software. In other words, this was nothing more than a mockup.
Digging even further into the tale of how the iPad came to be, a 2008 Wired article (which is linked to in the original Network World piece) starts with 7 ominous words: “The demo was not going well. Again.” Sure, Steve Jobs decided the iPad could wait while they threw a great bit of their wood behind the iPhone arrow, but in the fall of 2006, just months before Jobs took the stage at MacWorld to give one of his most famous product announcements to date, the software still had several bugs. Apple even had to move developers from the Snow Leopard team to make their deadlines. Meaning, of course, that even though they had a pretty plastic mockup in 2002 or 2004, the thing which would be known as the iPad was nothing more than a very expensive paper weight on Jony´s desk. (I assume“¦)
Here´s what is exciting for this Apple, fan, however. Even though the iPad in 2002 was an expensive paper weight, Apple was still thinking this way. They were looking out 10 years into the future, skating to where the puck was going to be rather than where the puck already was, to ruin a perfectly good Wayne Gretzky quote.
It´s unfair to suggest that other companies aren´t looking 10 years to the future. I´m sure they are. Microsoft, for example, released the first “Surface” in 2008. Not very many people bought it, save for a few casinos, but it looked like a very futuristic, ten-years-out device. Will we want to use a computer-table in ten years? Hell if I know, but hey, they gave it a shot.
It´s also interesting to note just how HUGE the ℠033 and ℠035 mockups are. In 2002, we would have called them sleek, svelte, and sexy. They looked like a larger, sexier iPod, but when compared to a common, everyday iPad 2, they look laughably antiquated and yet, altogether similar. The dock connector is in the same place, headphones in the same place, rounded corners abound. Also, nearly 8 years before they launched the thing (and 3 years before the iPhone) they knew they wanted an all touch screen system with one home button. Most other “tablets” at the time weren´t much more than a plain, workaday laptop with a swivel screen and a less-than-elegant version of Windows which may or may not have worked with a stylus.
I, for one, look at these old mockups with excitement. Steve may be gone, but his vision and, perhaps more importantly, his designers live on, and if they knew the basic shape of the iPad 6 to 8 years out, who knows what we´ll see come 2020.
Desire Be Desire Go
There are many who like to paint Apple´s products as flukes, as things that only those who are easily duped by slick marketing are willing to shell out big bucks to buy. A report came out this week which proves that perhaps there are other reasons to buy and enjoy Apple products, specifically the iPhone.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) released their latest report of customer satisfaction for a host of different industries, including mobile phones. Apple´s iPhone, as you might expect, topped the charts as Americans said their iPhones satisfied them more thoroughly than any other phone. Their victory was likely a little painful for some of the other companies listed in the report. After all, Apple can still be considered the new kids on the mobile phone circuit. As such, this is the iPhone´s first appearance on the ASCI list, scoring a chart-topping 83 points out of 100.
2 out of the 3 mobile phone makers who have been on the list in previous years saw their numbers drop by as many as 5 points. Motorola, for instance, lost 5.2 points over last year, ending at 73 this year. Apple frenemy Samsung lost 4.1 points over last year, ending at 71. In fact, only Nokia, maker of Siri´s favorite phone, managed to improve over last year´s score, earning a tied-for-second score at 75 points. Also tied at second are HTC and LG, a solid 8 points behind Apple.
Apple computers have seen their fair share of time in the ASCI spotlight before, scoring an 87 in customer satisfaction last year, nine points higher than second-place competitor Hewlett-Packard. The entire “Apple just uses slick marketing” argument has just been debunked once more. For those Mac haters out there, have no fear. You can still use the less-than-accurate “Apple hates human rights and the environment” argument if you´d like. It´s clearly untrue, but at least these arguments have fewer miles on them. Perhaps they´ll travel a little farther than the old, washed up complaints of marketing and high prices. Either way, fight the good fight.
There are roughly 80 days left until Tuesday, October 9, 2012.
There´s nothing significant about this date, of course. At least, not yet. This is the date that I´m planning to have some more solid information about the next iPhone. As it stands, I know as much as you or almost anybody. I “know” it´s going to be somewhere in between 3.999 and 4 inches. I “know” it´s going to make use of a new case and screen technology, shaving off a few fractions of an inch. I also “know” that it will have a brand new, 19-pin connector at the bottom. But I don´t really "know," and neither do you. So that´s why I´m taking a page from many of the other rumor sites, tech analysts and pundits and making my own, fairly obvious prediction: We´ll know more about the next iPhone come October 9, 2012.
What will we know? Oh, I suppose it could be a number of things. We could have press invites by this date. After all, 10/9/12 falls on a Tuesday. Tuesday´s are great for press events, after all. Monday is usually when everyone is sleeping off the weekend, news is easy to get lost on a Wednesday, Thursday is too close to the weekend. Don´t even think about Friday; That´s when you announce terrible news or hold a press conference in response to mounting criticism about an antenna issue. Ahem.
It´s also likely that Tuesday, October 9, 2012 is the very day Cook and Crew take the stage at some location on the West Coast (Moscone? Their own, private meeting rooms at 1 Infinite Loop?) to finally take the wrapper off their new smartphone. What a day that will be! For that matter, it´s also incredibly likely that the iPhone could ship that day, bringing pleasure and satisfaction to the millions of eager iPhone fans who have either pre-ordered or have opted to wait in line outside the glass buildings.
Yes, I think October 9th is a great prediction, if I do say so myself. Come October 9th, I´ll be able to tell you with some level of certainty what the next iPhone will hold. I´ll be able to confidently tap away at my MacBook Pro and say, “Yes! The next iPhone DOES have a 4-inch screen! It DOES have 1 GB of RAM! It DOES look much slimmer than we thought!” I promise to sound as excited as possible. Until October 9th, 2012, anything I tell you is simply speculation, at best. I am sad to report, however, that not much happened this week in terms of rumor news.
A case-maker decided to place their bets on the new, slim 4-inch form factor and 19-pin connector and has begun selling these cases in bulk to those who may want to purchase them. Of course, there were even cases made last year before the iPhone 4S was released which suggested the next iPhone would feature the oft-rumored “teardrop” shape. These case makers probably had great, trustworthy sources, and decided to take a gamble on the new design. They lost quite spectacularly.
Personally, I don´t do cases. I let my iPhone go au natural, save for a screen protector and a fancy, all-wood replacement back. (Walnut!) In the same way it´s considered bad form to show up to your favorite sushi joint and start slathering each piece with wasabi and soy. I think it´s rather insulting to Ive and company to immediately shove the fruits of their excruciatingly hard labor into some clunky, thick, plastic jail. It´s even more offensive if this case features the likeness of Betty Boop or has any sort of camouflage element to it. Clearly not everyone has the same principles as I do.
Elsewhere in iPhone Rumorville, Jonathan Geller of BGR fame has “confirmed” the next iPhone will have 1 whole gig of RAM and operate on 4G LTE networks. I know I´m excited, and the way I figure, I only have another 80 days to wait. Go ahead, mark October 9 in your calendar and come find me then. I´m sure we´ll have something to talk about.