Apple

Raising a Glass to Steve Jobs –-1955-2011

by alec on October 5, 2011

I’ve just been sitting and chatting with my parents on the phone.

Told them that the first computer I ever laid eyes on was an Apple II.  It was at the CompuMart store at the corner of Roosevelt and Byron in 1978.  We used to head down there after school. The owner, a tolerant guy who didn’t mind a few geeky boys in his store, would let us laboriously type code from the latest issue of Byte Magazine into the one Apple II he had in the shop. And then we’d sit back, type “Run”, and magic would happen.

We loved the Apple II because it had a vector graphics card, unlike the Commodore PET with its clunky peek/poke memory mapped character graphics. And when Apple shipped the Pascal board, we all marvelled at this new language that was so foreign to the Microsoft Basic that we’d been honing our programming chops on.

The Apple II was pure magic, and we were the alchemists and wizards extracting its secrets.

In the words of today’s venture capitalists, 1978 was a pivot year for me.  Until that point in time I was on a path to be a musician or some kind of scientist.  The Apple II opened my eyes to the creative possibilities of the personal computer.

As a coop student at Mitel in the spring of 1983, I had the privilege of seeing a demonstration of the Apple Lisa – a $12,000 machine that was Apple’s first foray into the iconic mouse and pointer idiom that persists today.

I spent the 1990’s working for Apple’s nemesis, Microsoft.  Even there, the Mac faithful endured.  My pal, Jeff Smith, was an enigmatic, Newton-carrying figure.

There was a rough patch in the 90’s.  Apple almost failed, and Microsoft extended $200 million to keep them alive. Ironic, eh? Since 2003, Jobs and Apple have reinvented the music industry, the telephone industry, and the book industry.  Quite the comeback.

For nearly 30 years I’ve lived in a world that has been somehow shaped by this man that many are calling a modern day Da Vinci.

Today, one of the creators of the modern information age and the world where I live, work and play, has passed.

Raise a glass, my friends.  Toast the artist, genius, visionary and human being who was Steve Jobs.  He will be missed.

To a life well lived.

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It was just before midnight last night that I caught up on the news that Microsoft had demonstrated the new Windows 8 UI at the D9 conference (liveblog and video here). The demo’s were slick, and Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky did a great job under pressure, handling Walt Mossberg’s pointed questions with aplomb.  I sent him a congratulatory email afterward.

One question left unanswered by Sinofsky was the intended ship date for Windows 8.  At best, he offered that Windows operating systems generally ship every 3 to 4 years.  My bet is that Windows 8 is going to manufacturing in June of 2012.  Why? In Redmond’s playbook:

  1. Serious public displays of important Windows operating systems usually start about a year before the ship date.  The goal is to build a wave of demand around launch.  The first public demos of Windows 8 were at the Mix’11 conference in mid-April, where Dean Hachamovich showed IE 10 running on Windows 8.  Yesterday’s public demo of the new UI at D9 is another the next step in the demand building strategy.
  2. Large scale professional developers conferences are usually held in the fall of the year before a major Windows release.  Developers need time to build products to target the platform, and Microsoft wants them to ship their products when Microsoft is ready with its own.  In April Microsoft also announced the next PDC will be Sept 13, 2011 in Anaheim California.
  3. Operating systems releases targeted at consumers generally go to manufacturing no later than June of the year in which they ship.  This is to allow hardware manufacturers to target the fall sales season – back to school, followed by Christmas – which is the busiest consumer buying cycle of the year in the PC world.

Microsoft is clearly targeting May / June 2012 for release to manufacturing.  And, given how Apple and Google are gobbling up market share in the tablet space, it seems clear that Microsoft has no choice but to meet that date.

Any bets on the exact date?

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RIM: Re-imagining “Phone” again

May 30, 2011
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The knives are out for RIM’s top management, but the financial press is missing the boat as they focus on short-term results. In 2002, the company remade the fledgling smartphone industry by releasing the first devices – Blackberry 5800 series – with integrated enterprise class email.  The arms race was on, as Microsoft and Palm […]

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Three reasons bringing the Qualcomm AR toolkit to non-Qualcomm platforms makes sense.

May 20, 2011
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I like Qualcomm’s latest move, bringing their augmented reality developers toolkit to iPhone, even though the iPhone doesn’t use any Qualcomm chips.  It’s smart business, for three reasons: Qualcomm understands that software tools and platforms that work with a single hardware platform have a limited market.  On Windows, would you write for the Direct X API […]

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The invaders are at the gates of mobile

May 18, 2011
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Kevin Fox muses that Microsoft, Apple and Google may be “quietly preparing for war with mobile carriers”. He cites the ten-year innovation desert in voice, coupled with the explosion of data on the handset, weaves in Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype, and spins a tale of how the data companies take over the telecom industry. Implausible? […]

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Who’s making money in mobile handsets?

May 17, 2011

Asymco has published one of the better pieces of analytical work on the mobile handset industry seen on blogs in a long time.  Author Horace Dediu has tracked operating profits for 8 handset vendors over the last three years, and plotted them on various charts.  He shows the rise of Apple, the complete collapse of […]

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T-Mobile USA ill prepared to fight the fire

May 17, 2011
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Apparently T-Mobile USA is now offering free mobile calls over Wi-Fi. It used to be that minutes from calls made with UMA enabled phones on Wi-Fi counted toward your plan, but not anymore.  As Om Malik said yesterday – “what took you so long, guys?”. Is this a response to Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype, and […]

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Three ways to improve the App Store model

May 17, 2011
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App stores are all the rage, and it’s no secret that Apple is the current king of the software developers fruits and vegetables stand.  But as PC World points out, Apple didn’t invent the store, and there are many possible variations from Apple’s blueprint that would advantage developers and customers. Here are three ways that […]

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Dumb carriers moving pell mell to dumb pipes.

May 16, 2011

Writing in today’s New York Times, Jenna Wortham reports that: The ultimate risk for the carriers is becoming “dumb pipes,” providing only the data connection and not selling any more sophisticated communications services themselves. It’s not just a risk.  It’s reality.  Carriers are moving toward becoming dumb pipes, and there’s little that can be done […]

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Senate hearings become Apple witch hunt.

May 11, 2011
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Apple and Google took a drubbing from the US Senate yesterday over location based services.  At issue — Apple’s use of GPS data collected on iPhone in order to improve the accuracy and speed of location fixes. As I wrote in July 2009, iPhone (and I’m sure all other mobile handsets today) uses assisted GPS, […]

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