Apple’s designs are pristine and pure. Apple’s image is that of creative innovator. That’s the Kool-Aid view. What about reality?
What’s actually sitting behind Apple’s rubbish dumpster that they don’t want us to see or know?
It isn’t just stock backdating issues among Apple bigwigs, or dings from environmentalists who want Apple to be, well, greener.
Every company of substantial size has plenty going on out back that they don’t show the visitors who come in through the front door.
Most of the time, a company with as public a face as Apple doesn’t even want people to know there’s anything in the back yard, let alone in the garbage.
Garbage? Yes. Those pieces of information that are available for public viewing but that public companies do their best to hide from the public.
For example, take Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ initial presentation last year of Mac OS X Leopard. He did a demo of Time Machine, the back up utility. He talked about Apple’s Mail enhancements.
Then there was a review of Spaces, OS X’s virtual screens. Core Animation made the list, as did Leopard’s ability to take advantage of Intel’s 64-bit processors.
Steven P. Jobs also pointed out that Apple wouldn’t announce anything else about OS X Leopard, some features would remain secret for awhile, ostensibly because they didn’t want Microsoft to copy Apple again.
Since then, nothing. Leopard was shipped out to Mac software developers, but there’s no sign of the latest and greatest “secrets” buried within the upcoming version of OS X.
What we’ve seen of screen shots indicates Leopard will be more of Tiger; brushed aluminum here and there, platinum plastic here and there, but—no secrets revealed.
That isn’t all. While the Mac is selling great and gaining market share against a troubled Windows Vista and a beleaguered Microsoft, Apple is having trouble getting movies into the iTunes Store. There’s a few hundred, out of tens of thousands of movies available, and few of them noteworthy (save those from Disney Pixar).
I have no doubts there will be more, particularly if AppleTV gains some sales traction and Mac and Windows users adopt Apple’s new way to view media.
What about Steve Jobs? Have you noticed that recent headlines had CFO Peter Oppenheimer in the news, fielding questions from analysts and media types?
So, too, was Apple COO Timothy Cook; making the rounds, getting a little sunshine in the public sun, answering questions about Apple products. Isn’t Steve Jobs the public face of Apple, Inc?
Is there something going on that Apple watchers need to know about? Media and analysts will write what Oppenheimer and Cook say, but the real quotes need to come from Steve Jobs. Where is he?
How about the iPhone? You want one, right? Me, too. But $500 is a bit pricey, even for a cool cell phone that uses Safari and doubles as an iPod. How about if I just wait for the iPod to get WiFi and that touch screen?
Is it possible that Apple seeds information and mis-information? Recent news items suggest we may wait awhile before the 6th generation iPod with a multi-touch screen shows up. Maybe 10-million iPhones will get sold first, then we get an iPod with the cool screen. Not before.
Does Apple really want the music industry to drop their requirement for Apple’s FairPlay DRM, digital rights management, that has become the defacto standard on music players and legal music downloads.
Or, is there more to the story? There’s more. Apple would probably be satisfied with licensing FairPlay and renegotiating record industry contracts which would allow Apple’s DRM to become more than the defacto standard—Apple would prefer to control it all, but they’re not saying that.
Did I mention lawsuits? Not just those frivolous whining “My iPod screen is scratched” lawsuits. No, Apple has a bucket full of lawsuits and potential lawsuits that could cost the company dearly. Can you say “Burst?” As in, burst the Apple bubble? You don’t hear much about the Burst lawsuit, but it’s a big, very big deal, with perhaps billions of dollars at stake.
Just over the horizon is the potential of a lawsuit from Alcatel-Lucent who managed to win a billion dollar ruling against Microsoft over, of all things, the MP3 music format.
Apple would have us believe that everything about the Mac, iPod, iPhone, OS X maker is coming up roses.
Some areas look as though they’re pushing up daisies. Or, about to, if the chips don’t fall (I have to mix metaphors at least twice in every article).
Apple is a public company with a very public face, a superb public relations machine, great advertising, a zealous and devoted customer base, and a reputation for quality and innovation.
Quality? Apple’s new Intel-based MacBooks and MacBook Pro models were met with groans and moans of delight by customers waiting for Mac notebooks that would finally scream.
And scream they did. Scream bloody murder over the mounting quality control problems—bad screens, bad noise, bad plastic, bad press, bad news.
This isn’t just much ado over not much. Apple is showing some strains and pains as it competes on many battle fronts at the same time, and enters a few new theatres of battle.
If love is a battlefield, and we love Apple and the Mac and our iPods, and we want our AppleTV and iPhones, then Apple’s battlefield could be considered status quo, a modus operandi of being a leader in high technology—a bloody battlefield.
Take Michael Munger’s “Apple’s Problems Are Not Over,” a look at severe Apple problems we haven’t considered for some time, these from circa 1999.
The problems in Michael’s list from 1999 don’t appear serious when compared to what we see piled up on Apple’s campus rubbish bins these days. It’s not pretty.
Care to chime in on what you don’t see in the clever ads, keynote presenations, or the Apple’s Hot News section? Share in the Comments section below.