That’s a lot of iPhones

What more can you say about Apple’s stellar quarterly figures? Over 74 million iPhones sold in three months is staggering. Apparently that breaks down as 34,000 iPhones sold every hour for three months.

Addressing analysts after the call, Tim Cook said the Apple Watch would start shipping in April (read the transcript from Six Colors).

A couple of things pop out of the transcript.

The first is the little nugget that Apple has now sold over one billion iOS devices:

“It was truly a momentous quarter for iOS. On November 22nd, we shipped our one billionth iOS device. It was a Space Gray 64GB iPhone 6 Plus, which we’ve saved here at Apple. One billion devices is an almost unfathomable milestone, and we are all incredibly proud to be a part of it.”

I recall reading that Sony had shipped around 200 million Walkmans when the iPod was in it early days and this seeming a huge achievement that would never be matched.

I also love the way he offered a little insight onto how the company defines ‘early’ as in ‘available in early 2015’.

“And just to clarify, what we had been saying is early 2015, and we sort of look at the year and think of early as the first four months, mid as the next four months, and late’s the final four months. And so to us, it’s within the range. It’s basically when we thought.”

And with that the next slew of articles demanding to know why the Apple Watch was late and why this was bad news for Apple was quietly spiked.


So 36 hours or so after I installed Yosemite I confess to being impressed with the latest version of OS X and a little bit smitten.

I’ve installed it on a 2007 iMac and a late-2010 Macbook Pro.

After the initial install I immediately regretted it. The MBP ran like a dog every time I opened a program, whether it was Word, Mail, Chrome or Disk Utility. However, I found that once I cycled through the programs performance improved.

Naturally, permissions were repaired and Macs restarted. Several times.

Now a day and half later, it seems, like a friend of mine commented on Twitter, that it is just like Snow Leopard. An under-the-hood upgrade. Except with a whole new lick of paint.

Both old Macs are ticking along nicely.

And they look good, too. I was put off a little by the initial look and feel of Yosemite but it’s grown on me quickly. I like the bold colours of icons.

But the main thing is the performance.

Many reviews will rave about Handoff and the other headline features in Yosemite but these are the three things that have made me happy.

1.  The green ‘maximise’ button finally does something coherent. It maximises the window to full screen. How it has taken Apple so long to make this leap into the obvious I have no idea. I no longer suffer bafflement and embarrassment trying to explain to people how it worked. Or how it didn’t.

2. I love the black menu bar and dock option. Partially because it looks cool and partly because it’s there as an option. Mac OS X was always so prescriptive in how it wanted to be seen. It’s refreshing to have options and it feels a bit cheeky, too.

3.  I’m using Safari again. I switched to Chrome some nine months ago. I’ve tentatively switched back again. Chrome is a very fine browser indeed and links well with my Google apps (naturally) but returning to Safari has let me take advantage of the browser across multiple devices. And I’m always surprised at how useful iCloud tabs are.


Nope, still not sold on Siri

I’ve given Siri the benefit of the doubt in the last month since I’ve owned a 5S but I’m largely underwhelmed.

Yes, it’s clever and when it works, it works fine. Most of the time it works well in what you might call ‘test conditions’. In other words, I’m sat down in a room with wifi and relative peace and quiet, speaking slowly and clearly into it.

Most of the time this isn’t the scenario.

Off wifi and relying on 3G it normally posts a pregnant pause before apologising and telling me it can’t do or understand whatever it was I asked it to do.

It’s unusable when there’s any sort of significant ambient noise. Asking it to call my wife while I’m on the bike is never successful.

As I wrote in a recent post, there are compelling reasons I haven’t bought into Siri. Here’s another: reliability.

It doesn’t work well enough and consistently enough for me to rely on it.

Here’s’ an analogy: MobileMe’s iDisk worked perhaps 80-90% of the time when I wanted it to back up files. However, most of the time I emailed a file to my Gmail as well, just in case.

If Siri even worked to anywhere near this level I might use Siri more but it doesn’t. I’d estimate that about half the time it fails to do whatever I ask it, either because of lack of connectivity or because it doesn’t understand what I’ve asked it to do.

What I’d ideally want is something on the same level of consistency as Dropbox. Something that never lets me down. Something I can trust. Otherwise, what’s the point? The alternatives get the

At the end of the day, it’s just too beta.


Goodbye, old friend

We’ve been together since the summer of 2010 but this weekend I’m backing up my data and blanking my iPhone 4. Next week I’m recycling it as part of a trade-in for a 5S.

I’m not going to get all maudlin about it. It’s a phone, a combination of metal, glass and silicon, but it’s one of the best devices I’ve ever used.

It’s a bit knackered. It got a bit damp on a run during the Summer (water oozing out from around the home button) but still it worked. Kind of.

It’s got chips and scratches, the audio jack doesn’t always work, the speakers sometimes give out and iOS 7 brought the processor and RAM to their knees.

But I still love it. Continue reading

Breathless iWatch and iTV update!

I like to speculate about future Apple products as much as the next wholly uninformed person but I was knocked over by the scarcity of facts in this Telegraph article.

Apple’s long-awaited plan to release ultra-high definition televisions in 2014 has been put on hold as the company turns its focus to wearable devices such as the iWatch, experts have said.

Apple hasn’t announced plans to release an ultra-high-definition TV at any time or for that matter any plans to develop watches, other than a Tim Cook reference as to how interesting a space the wrist was.

Apple have decide to postpone the ‘iTV’ beyond its rumoured 2014 release as consumers do not replace TVs often enough, and because the company wants to make certain it can offer something well beyond a traditional television.

You’d have thought Apple would have thought of the product renewal cycle long before it embarked on its (not-so-secret) R&D programme. If you’re going to revolutionise a product space, do your research.

“To offer truly unique product differentiation that would allow Apple to capture market share from existing smart TV brands, they would need to either deliver some exclusive source of content that the other brands cannot, such as a la carte pay-TV channels, or proprietary content not available on other devices.

“Neither of these is easy to achieve, and our sources indicate this is one of the principle reasons for the delay in the project.”

So a project that may or may not exist and has no release date is now behind schedule.


“Before he died in 2011, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his biographer he had “finally cracked” how to build a television…

Page 554 of the Jobs biography (at least on the Kindle version).  Still, the iTV is last year’s speculation. We’re back on the iWatch.

“It was reported earlier this year that Apple now has up to 50 employees working on developing the iWatch. The FT claimed that Apple “has embarked on a hiring spree to tackle design problems” with the product.

It was speculated earlier this year that Apple has some people working on a project that may or may not exist and that it has a problem designing the product, which again may not exist.

Tech writing at its very best.




Apple ‘oversells’ Siri

Interesting find via the Guardian. A poll of Americans has found that Apple has oversold Siri.

The research asked 2,000 iOS 7 users what they thought about Siri’s capabilities and specifically whether they thought the voice recognition software had been “oversold” by Apple.

Putting aside the fact that asking users a loaded, negative question is likely to skew the response and that 54 per cent said “no” the resulting 46 per cent of ‘oversold’ users is still a lot.

From personal experience I have to side with the Siri-sceptics. I’ll accept that many people find it useful and use it on a regular basis, I’m just not one of them. John Malkovich and Martin Scorsese may find it a delight but not me.

The three reasons I don’t use it are:


Telling my phone/tablet to do things just seems a stupid thing to do when the existing user interface supports the swift creation of messages, finding contacts and searching for stuff on the internet.


By accuracy I mean both the results and (more commonly) in getting Siri to recognise what it is I’ve asked it to do – by which point I could have just typed or swiped whatever it was I want to do anyway.


I find it difficult to think of things I want to say to it. I can quickly start a text message, find a contact or search for something after more than five years of smartphone use. It just takes that little longer to make the cognitive shift to thinking about how to verbalise what muscle memory knows to do instinctively – by which point I’ve wasted time again.

(Plus I suspect there’s the British thing of not wanting to embarrass yourself in the public place by braying commands into a mobile phone.)

I should qualify that I don’t have Siri on my iPhone 4 just on my iPad. When I upgrade to an iPhone 5S, I may give it another go. Sure, I played with it a fair bit on my iPad when I first got it but never use it now.

Actually that’s not true, I frequently tell Siri is to *** off when I press the home key down for too long by accident.

What does Apple do?

The commoditisation of any market is inevitable. Invent, or reinvent, a product and soon enough someone will come along and make it cheaper and give it more features than it really needs just to differentiate it from the dominant product in the desperate race for market share.

It depends whether market share is a race you think it worth getting into.

I think in recent years with iOS that Apple has focussed on what it thinks (based on customer feedback clearly) is important.

Each new product launch is typically a performance update, a small form factor shift and then an improvement in key functions rather than a widespread adoption of new features. I genuinely believe that the company believes in the UX. Each new iteration of hardware or software seems an improvement to the same features. The ones that matter.

Apple is sometimes accused of being a marketing company rather than a technology company. It comes across as a cheap shot but I don’t think there’s anything derogatory about that statement. Marketing means (in the best and truest sense of the phrase) a holistic approach to understanding an audience’s needs and finding what best delivers what the audience wants and needs.

The blunderbuss approach of rivals with devices and software proliferating with endless differentiating features compared to iOS devices seems altogether more desperate and poorly thought out.

I’ve always thought that Apple competitors have used their partial differentiation from Apple products as a way of communicating benefits. ‘We do this and Apple does not’.

Apple is focussed on the 95 per cent of stuff that people care about, like performance and cameras and photos and making those better and better.

If you want to use you stylus to press against your phablet to get a preview of a folder you could just touch to open that’s fine. I pass a billboard everyday that Samsung seems to have bought for posterity. For a few weeks it was a new feature followed by another. It strikes me as innovation by hurling a load of stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks.

It works sometimes. As Marlow opined from his bath in Withnail and I: “Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.”

That doesn’t make it the best strategy though.

Is the iPad Air “good enough”?

The new iPads look great. I’m particularly impressed by the hop, skip and jump the iPad mini has done with its A7 processor.

Yet I’m still surprised by the fundamental lack of understanding some writers have about Apple’s strategy.

This from an otherwise good article for the Telegraph on competitors issuing cheaper devices on similar ecosystem models (underline by me, not the author):

“There’s no guarantee that such an approach will succeed in the long-term – but Apple must be wary that consumers will deem cheaper rivals good enough. If market share continues to fall, even if Apple continues to make enormous profits, shareholders may yet demand cuts in prices to sustain Apple’s dominance.”

If Apple has considered that consumers would or have considered cheaper rivals “good enough” then the Mac would be dead on its arse.

I don’t think Apple gives a damn about people who think that something cheaper is good enough. Someone who says: “That’ll do,” isn’t the target audience.

The “good enough” ethos doesn’t come across in the company’s product or marketing strategy, it doesn’t come across in the way its CEO describes Apple’s mission to deliver great user experience.

PC World: where tablets go to die

mockup-863469_1280I’ve had a fairly ambivalent relationship with Apple Stores over the years. Less so with PC World. As part of the Dixons stable its weary user experience makes Apple’s decision to hire and then fire John Browett all the more bizarre.

I spend more time than I’d like to in PC World trying out new Android kit. The number one problem I have with PC World is that they don’t seem particularly interested in selling you anything.

This isn’t to do with the mostly pleasant staff, it’s to do with the way they lay their wares out. No more is this shoddy, half-arsed approach to retail evidenced than in the the way tablets are displayed.

Let’s head back to the Apple Store for a second. Each iPad is wiped regularly (I guess each day) to clear all the data input by customers (e.g. Photobooth images or test Word documents) and reinstated with a pristine set of images, videos and apps.

When you pick up an iPad in an Apple Store you can do two things. Continue reading