Author Archives: Seth Weintraub

‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ – Meet the Authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli at SoHo Apple Store [video]

Becoming Steve Jobs

Apple is clearly a fan of the new Becoming Steve Jobs book (review) by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli ($12+Amazon, $13 iBooks, Free Audible). Apple execs including Tim Cook, Jony IveEddy Cue and PR head Steve Dowling have all praised it and it is has headlined the iBookstore for over a week.  Its latest promo of the book is a 49-minute iTunes Podcast video of the authors getting interviewed at the SoHo New York Apple Store.

The interview is hosted by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, who announced the book originally and is definitely worth a watch (or listen). Both the 49-minute video and audio are available here.

Another Meet the Authors is scheduled for April 7th at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California.




Filed under: AAPL Company

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10 reasons why Apple is to blame for the decline of iPad sales


It has been a tough slough for Apple’s iPad since the height of its popularity in 2013. Facing its second straight year of negative growth, there isn’t a consensus on why iPad sales have declined. I believe the slump is attributable to a combination of factors.

Apple CEO Tim Cook called the declining iPad sales a “speed bump” last year before the launch of the 2014 models, but we haven’t seen what Apple plans to do to rejuvenate the product. From my point of view, Apple itself has done more to hurt iPad sales than any external factor, such as Microsoft or Google.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here’s a full explanation of my theory…

1. Apple’s bigger iPhone 6 Plus phablet has made the once popular iPad mini all but pointless. That’s not entirely true – there are significant cost differences and over 2 inches of additional diagonal screen real estate – but having a huge iPhone makes having a small tablet a lot less desirable. Combine that with the fact that most people buy their phones subsidized, and a much faster, sleeker iPhone 6 Plus costs about the same as an iPad mini up front.

Below the cannibalization of the iPad is shown in a chart from Credit Suisse. Characterizing phablets as “4+ inches” seems a little out of date, but the point is clear, phablets like the iPhone 6 are eating into tablet share across the board.
phablet killing ipad

2. This year’s iPad hardware updates weren’t terribly magical. The iPad mini got Touch ID (at a $100 price premium). The Air 2 got both faster and lighter, which is always great. And both became available in gold. But for people like me who are very content with the iPad Air – discussed in point 10 below – adding Touch ID or a golden housing wasn’t a big enough incentive to upgrade. Would sales have taken off if Apple offered more storage on the lower end, more laptop-like features, or lower costs?

3. New tiny 12-inch MacBook sales will impact professional/luxury iPad users. The 2-lb light weight and super portability will bring over folks who can spend a lot to get the latest technology. In fact, lowering the prices on the very popular MacBook Air to near cost parity per GB basis also makes a MacBook Air seem like the better deal (128GB MacBook Air: $899 retail, but often lower, versus 128GB iPad w/cellular: $829).

When I go to bed at night and have my iPad Air for consumption, there is often something important that I can only do well on my Mac (like adding something important to this post). This has happened so many times that the iPad doesn’t get picked up at bedtime much anymore. If I lost my iPad Air this week, I’d probably replace it with a MacBook.

4. Split screen iPad support and other laptop-like functionality is late in coming. If those features come out this year, and I think they will, a lot of professionals will jump on board. Currently functionality that makes an iPad a better solution to a problem than a laptop is often lacking.

5. Microsoft and its ecosystem have been making inroads into the professional ranks. You have to admit some of the hardware the Windows folks are putting out isn’t bad, especially when a hybrid computer can go from a MacBook Air form factor into a tablet form factor with a swinging hinge. Yes, I know Apple’s philosophy is not to marry toasters and refrigerators, but tablets and laptops aren’t that different anymore.

Even if they aren’t right, many folks will choose a convertible laptop-tablet PC over an iPad or a MacBook for that matter.

6imgres. Chromebooks in education. Google Chromebooks have been eating Apple’s lunch in education and ironically the iconic appeal of the iPad is partially responsible. A sysadmin for a large school district tells me that the iPad trials went something like this: 100 iPads were given out to 4th graders. Within a month, over 50% of them went missing, and a few of them broke, while 10% of them were jailbroken or hacked. At the same time, with a similar Chromebook rollout, only 10% went missing, a few of them broke, and none of them were hacked (though it is certainly hackable). Give kids free iPads and they’ll have a tendency to disappear or get subverted for personal gain.

Apple has done some work in getting its iPads in schools with some noted success and other spectacular failures.  A new initiative may really help but the fact that most schools either have Microsoft or Google email/apps on the backend means it is going to be tough.

7.  Pricing. Apple could sell iPads at lower price points if it really wanted to. In fact, we’ve seen major retailers cutting as much as $130 off the price of new iPad Air 2s, and up to $200 on the high-end models. Subsidies are another option. Apple was able to stave off any encroachment from the Amazon Fire Phone because it offers iPhones at low price points (including “free” with plan). Apple, however, has no protection for its iPad line when Amazon comes in at $100 or less for a new Fire tablet. Fire tablets continue to be popular though Amazon won’t let you know any numbers.  Spotting a Fire Phone is harder than finding a Sasquatch.

Also, 16GB is not enough space on the low end. Apple can afford to pop in 32GB of storage on the entry-level iPads and I think they will go up to this amount this year. 16GB isn’t enough for even a base model iPhone in my opinion, and with the bigger display, iPad apps need bigger files.

8. Killer App? You need a smartphone for certain things. You need a computing device for other things. There are very few apps that need an iPad, especially when you have a big iPhone in your pocket and a 2 lb. Mac next to your bed.

9. Marketing and the Apple Watch. iPad hasn’t been getting the marketing spend it got in its first years for a variety of reasons. Last year Apple had the big iPhones to explain to the public. Before that it was iOS 7’s new look and feel. This year it seems Apple is focusing its attention and every extra marketing dollar on the Apple Watch.

But Apple Watch isn’t just hurting the iPad from a marketing standpoint. Those of us who have a yearly Apple discretionary fund of $500 or so bucks aren’t likely going to put it towards the iPad this year. And Apple announced the Watch right before the holiday shopping season. Sure, that was mostly to dissuade people from buying other watches, but some folks also probably held off on Apple purchases.


On a higher level, it also makes me wonder if Apple’s got a new paradigm. Instead of iPhone|iPad|Mac, is Apple now promoting: Watch+CarPlay+Apple TV+Accessories|iPhone|Mac in its “3 screens” paradigm? Where does iPad fit?

10. Perhaps this is unintuitive, but Apple’s incredible build quality coupled with genuine efforts to update old iPads to the latest version of iOS has made the decision to purchase a new iPad a difficult one. My old iPads still look, feel and work great. My son can still use our original iPad and a lot of the apps he likes. I bought an iPad Air last year, and it is hard to justify the purchase of a new one (even though retailers are discounting the heck out of them). My wife uses an iPad 3, and for what she does on it, there is no reason to update.

The good news here is that much of the iPad’s sales decline can be fixed by Apple, because it’s responsible for most of the issues above. An iPad Pro, price drops, a better iPad iOS version with split-screen support, and better integration with keyboards are all ways Apple could stop the decline in iPad sales and get the platform growing again. More and more engaging marketing wouldn’t hurt, either.

Perhaps Apple can fit iPad in between the Apple Watch launch and the launch of the new Apple TV?

Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS Devices, Opinion Tagged: Apple Inc, Apple watch, decline, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Market share, Microsoft, Revenue

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Apple Watch Shop signage goes up at Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku, Tokyo

Apple Watch Store japan

At the Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Apple is building a store specifically for the Apple Watch on the ground floor. Macotakara thinks it might be a permanent fixture because it is listed in the mall directory below.

Japan is one of the 9 countries where the Apple Watch will launch on April 24th. Earlier this week we saw the size of the Apple Watch Store at Galleries Lafayette in Paris and at London Selfridges. Apple also began advertising for its Apple Watch in its traditional stores this week.

This will take some getting used to. Imagine a world where there is an Apple Store on one side of the mall and an Apple Watch store on the other like so many Starbucks. 


There is also a new ad on the company’s website without a link.

Apple Watch Isetan  Shinjuku

Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple Inc, Apple Store, Galeries Lafayette, Isetan, Japan, Shinjuku, Tokyo

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‘Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine’ documentary debuts at SXSW today

Oscar winner Alex Gibney’s documentary about Steve Jobs. The film debuts at SXSW this month.

Sometimes I lose count of the movies about Steve Jobs but I’m pretty sure this one wasn’t on my radar until recently. Premiering at SXSW today is “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine”, a documentary funded by CNN and directed by Alex Gibney, who is just off releasing a controversial Scientology exposé “Going Clear”.

Alex Gibney is one of America’s pre-eminent filmmakers. He won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side and was nominated for Enron:The Smartest Guys in the Room. Most recently Mea Maxima Culpa:Silence in the House of God won three Emmys and a Peabody. This spring Going Clear:Scientology and the Prison of Belief and a Sinatra doc miniseries airs on HBO.

Reading the Q&As at Variety and Hollywood Reporter, it appears that this isn’t going to be a love-fest like the new book. Still, given the subject matter and the brief clip above, I’m intrigued…

Steve Jobs- The Man in the Machine

Update: notes from the film, which we can now confirm doesn’t cast a good light on the Apple founder follow. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Apple Employees who attended the film walked out:

Radio Silence From Jobs’ Widow, Apple

Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell agreed to be interviewed for the film before ultimately pulling out. Apple, whose board declined participation, saying, “We don’t have the resources to help you on this project.

Getting Tipsy at Those Apple Events

When the original iPhone presentation was over, Apple’s design group went on a celebratory “shit-show” bender through the streets of San Francisco.

The First Apple Computer Was Almost Called “Claire”

According to the film, Jobs had wanted to call his first computer “the Apple Claire,” and was hoping his daughter could take than name, too. When she ended up with the name Lisa, he changed his computer accordingly.

Jobs’ cruelty regarding Chrisann and Lisa is highlighted in the film. You learn that he had lied in a sworn testimony, falsely claiming Brennan had multiple sex partners and that he was sterile and could therefore not be Lisa’s father. Only after a paternity test proved that he was did he finally accept responsibility. And though Apple went public in 1980, increasing Jobs’ net worth from $20 million to $200 million, he agreed to pay Brennan just $500 per month in child support.

The High Price of Loyalty

The most emotional moment of the film comes when Bob Belleville, the director of engineering on Apple’s game-changing Macintosh from 1982 to 1985, breaks down on camera as he reads a note he wrote following Jobs’ death. Belleville has a complicated relationship with his former boss – part adulation, part deep-seated resentment – and blames the cutthroat culture at the company for destroying his marriage.

Gizmodo and the iPhone 4

The film spends a significant amount of time revisiting the time when Jobs went to war with Gizmodo, after the tech website had gotten its hands on a prototype of an iPhone 4 that an Apple employee had carelessly left at a bar. All the key figures are interviewed, including editor Jason Chen, whose home was forcibly entered and computers seized by Silicon Valley police, and Nick Denton, who approved a payment of $5,000 for the phone. Jobs, who pledged not to stop until Gizmodo’s editors were in jail, died one year later.

Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Academy Award, Alex Gibney, Documentary film, Steve Jobs

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Did Apple invent USB Type-C? Maybe a little bit

Lightning and USB Type-C Connectors

Yesterday on his Talk Show podcast, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber suggested that his Apple sources told him that Apple invented USB Type-C. Known for often insightful but always ‘not negative‘ Apple commentary, Gruber sometimes peppers his stories with info he’s gained from inside Apple which he calls “little birdies” (that admittedly haven’t been 100% recently, but used to be spot on).

The quote, taken from TheTechBlock about 54 minutes in:

I have heard, can’t say who, but let’s call them “informed little birdies”, that USB-C is an Apple invention and that they gave it to the standard bodies. And that the politics of such is that they can’t really say that. They’re not going to come out in public and say it, but they did. It is an Apple invention and they do want it to become a standard.

That’s a bit weird, because if Apple did invent USB Type-C, it would seem like a no-brainer for replacing Lightning. But Gruber noted in a post earlier this week that he didn’t think Apple would replace Lightning with USB Type-C.

I think the answer is probably “No, Apple is not going to switch the iPhone and iPad to USB-C”. I think Lightning is a more elegant design, including being slightly thinner. And I think Apple likes having a proprietary port on iOS devices.

But, if they did move iOS devices to USB-C, then you could charge your iOS devices and MacBook with the same cable. And within a few years, all phones and tablets from all companies would charge using the same standard.

A few minutes of research into the matter yields a wealth of data about the genesis of USB Type-C and while Apple does play an active role, it appears they had a lot of help – to put it charitably…

On the initial USB Type-C press release from 2013, Intel, Texas Instruments and the USB Working Group are on the release without any sign of Apple. As inventors of the standard, Apple could have easily been mentioned here unless they were adamant about keeping their role silent.

It appears that USB Type-C was initially submitted in 2012, the same year Apple announced Lightning. If it was Apple that invented this, it would have gone through a lot of testing and iterations by the many companies listed on the PDF by the time it was made a standard last year. And when Apple invents something, they aren’t shy about sharing that fact with the world, especially if it will help their customers adopt the technology — see Firewire, Thunderbolt (aka LightPeak), etc.


Nokia’s 2014 N1 has a USB Type C interface that looks a bit like Lightning

If Apple did indeed “invent” USB Type-C, it would be very strange that Nokia would have announced a product with it last year (the N1 Android tablet, pictured above). While Apple was the first to announce a laptop with the standard, Google’s Chromebook Pixel 2 was announced hours later, and is the first laptop to ship with the spec, landing in reviewers’ hands last week. It is strange, however, that Google seemingly held their announcement back until after Apple announced the MacBook.

Screenshot 2015-03-15 06.27.54Apple on its contribution to USB-C

On the other hand, there is a seemingly complete list of engineers from a number of companies (below) that contributed and Apple isn’t even in the top Chair or Editor roles, though it does have more listed contributors than all but a few companies, including Intel, Tyco and JAE.

All told, Apple contributed 18 of 79 named engineers listed on the connector certification project or under 23%. 

Clearly, Intel is still out in front of overall USB technology development; after all, it has to create the Broadwell chips that interface with USB Type C on the Pixel 2 and new MacBook. A side note and a little history here: Intel invented the original USB spec, but the connector went nowhere until Apple put it in its colorful translucent new iMac with no legacy ports for users to fall back on. Only then did peripheral makers slowly begin building products for USB. That was a different world where Apple products didn’t demand the respect they get now and we’re already seeing a number of USB-C products getting ready for the new MacBook (and Pixel 2, I guess).

So while it might be impossible to find definitive evidence that Apple didn’t submit the initial USB Type-C proposal, it at very best had an incredible amount of help from the rest of the industry getting the standard into production.

Apple-invent-USB-C Apple-invent-USB-type-C


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple, Broadwell, Intel, invent, USB type-C, USB-C, USBC

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OSMO’s new iPad drawing Masterpiece app draws impressive reviews

What kind of parent are you if you don’t plunk down $80 for one of these OSMO things right now? I just got one. Amazon reviewers gave it an impressive 4.8/5 stars and it comes with 4 apps. The latest, Masterpiece for iPad [free, App Store] lets kids learn to draw by a type of tracing using the iPad camera illustrated in the excellent Sandwich video above.

After the kids are done you can send it all over the place or print it out. There is a nice video capture feature as well that replays the drawing which looks like it will pump up your kids for the next drawing.

The OSMO game system has three other games at present: Words, Newton and Tangram


It looks pretty cool but I’ll see if I can corral my 6 year old into a review.

Press release follows:

Kids Tech Device Osmo Launches Masterpiece for iPad

A Groundbreaking New Drawing Experience That Will Bring Out The Artist In Everyone

Thursday, March 12, 2015

PALO ALTO, Calif. – (March 12, 2015)— Osmo, the breakout kids hardware tech device that was named one of the best inventions of 2014 by Time Magazine, today announces its next experience, Masterpiece. With this launch, the company is revolutionizing the way we learn and think about the most fundamental form of art, drawing. It’s something you have to see to believe:

To purchase Osmo and create your very own Masterpiece,

How it works:
With Masterpiece and iPad’s cameras users snap a photo of anything or anyone and use Osmo’s award winning Reflective AI technology to help guide them as they draw line-by-line to recreate the image as a hand-drawn picture. A major evolutionary upgrade to the long history of drawing tools, such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s grid method, Masterpiece assists you as you learn to draw better, helping you recreate what you are actually seeing in front of you, nurturing your spatial intelligence and building confidence in your instincts over time. Once you’ve finished your drawing you can frame it, stick it on the fridge or save it digitally to share with friends and family.

“The first form of human expression was drawing — we drew pictures before words. Drawing is an essential skill that we use every day throughout our entire lives, from the scribbles that make our parents smile to the blueprints that define our world,” said Pramod Sharma, CEO and Co-founder of Osmo. “Picasso once said: ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’ With Osmo we want to provide kids with tools to let them express their creativity and build confidence that scales with their aspirations.”

Masterpiece launches with these incredible features:
Infinite Library - Photos can be captured via iPad’s cameras or pulled from an internet search, making Masterpiece a modern drawing (or coloring) book with infinite number of pages!
AutoLine and AutoShade – Osmo’s Reflective AI automatically analyzes the digital image to suggest best lines and shades to draw.
Composition - You can rotate, zoom and move the digital template to fit your imagination on paper. Masterpiece also allows combinations of multiple objects from real life or online images to make completely new compositions.
Video Capture – Masterpiece makes an amazing time-lapse video of each of your drawings that is a fun and unique movie for you to share with friends and family!

Masterpiece works for all ages. A child can draw their favorite character, a teenager can draw a comic strip, and parents can draw their kids playing. Masterpiece works on any physical surface and with several types of drawing instruments. Pens on newsprint make a great coloring book, crayons on construction paper make unique and original birthday cards, and charcoal on bristol board make a piece of fine art!

Osmo has sold 100K units and is being used in over 2000 public and private schools around the world, fostering creative thinking and social intelligence in the classroom. With Masterpiece, the company is revolutionizing the process of drawing by using digital technology to assist in physical space. The experience highlights the importance of supporting art and creativity in the classroom in an era that too often prioritizes standardized testing rather than giving children the time and skills to express themselves creatively in the classroom.

Osmo was created by young parents out of Stanford, both with backgrounds in engineering. Their previous work experience was at Ubisoft, LucasArts and Google, including the Google Books Project.

To order your Osmo or get more information about the company visit: Anyone who has already purchased Osmo can download Masterpiece for free here: Osmo is sold online and in select Apple retail stores around the world and is continuing to expand its availability across the globe.

About Osmo
Started in 2013 by Pramod Sharma and Jerome Scholler, Osmo is a kids tech company built around its proprietary Reflective Artificial Intelligence. It aims to create a new play movement to unleash the boundaries of the screen. With its inaugural product, Osmo expands the playing field and engages creative thinking and social interaction, allowing any object – pen and paper, you name it – to interact with the digital device. Osmo is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: App Store, drawing, iPad, Kids, masterpiece, osmo, review, video capture

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Poll: Which MacBook are you? Space Gray, Silver or Gold


If you are like us, probably the toughest decision you are facing this year is figuring out which new Retina MacBook color you will be getting. The buying process otherwise is more like buying an iPad than a Mac with only 2 speed/storage models.

Will you match your Space Gray iPad and iPhone and now Apple Watch? Or, will you sport the same silver of the Macs that actually do some real work? Will you go off the grid and show your lawyer/banker colleagues who is boss with the gold model?

It is a tough and important call because you WILL be judged – you can’t just embarrassingly hide a MacBook in a wallet case like my Gold iPhone.  You’ve had a few days to mull it over. So what’s it going to be?

Apple supply chain buyers, this ^^^ data is on us. Feel free to send any leftover MacBooks as compensation.


Filed under: AAPL Company, Mac, Tips and Tricks Tagged: choices, Gold, MacBook Retina, pick, poll, silver, Space Gray

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