Mac Roundtable Founding Member Tim Verpoorten Passes Away

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The Mac community and Mac podcasting community lost one of its first over the weekend. Tim Verpoorten of the Mac Review Cast has passed away. In addition to the Mac Review Cast, Tim was a driving force behind starting the Mac Roundtable

Personally, I can tell you I didn’t know him well enough. We’d talk at Macworld. He was a very knowledgable and very engaging guy. He was sick for a while. We all hoped he’d get better. 

Bart Busschots referred to Tim as an ambassador for the Mac community. He was definitely a community builder. Through the Mac Roundtable I’ve come to know David Sparks and Katie Floyd and Chuck Joiner and I’m not even sure anymore how we all know each other. I do know the Mac Roundtable has been a bit of glue that’s stuck us all together from time to time. And one of the first guys to put that together is gone.

I sincerely regret not knowing Tim better. And I’m sorry to see him go.

So are we meeting up or what?

I have a message for the people of New York City: People of New York - I love your city. I brought Duncan to town. We’ve been hanging at the Madison Square Park Dog Run. Look for me there. I’ll be the guy with the dog. 

Not overly helpful.

I talked to a couple of friends in town. They say we should meet at the Heartland Brewery in Union Square - 35 Union Sq. W. at 17th St. Wanna say we do that Tuesday evening from 6:30 to 8:30? I hear it’s chill... they have beer... they have cocktails... they have food... I might try me some of that food... I only heard from a few of you... so - please - if you’re coming email me... info@macosken.com - subject line NYC Meet-up... just so I have some idea. 

Duncan will not be there by the way... you’ll have to catch him at the dog park. Info@macosken.com - subject line NYC Meet-up if you want to meet up tomorrow night... Heartland Brewery in Union Square - 35 Union Sq. W. at 17th St. Shirt and shows are probably required.

 

Someone at GigaOm Likes Mac OS Ken!

Mike wrote to let me know that the Mac OS Ken album art was spotted on GigaOm's review of the Podcasts 1.2 update from Apple. Their takeaway: 

With the Podcasts 1.2 update released Thursday, Apple’s own app is now on par with other iOS podcasting apps. One area in which it really excels now is automatic downloads of new episodes.

Plenty more in the review. I'm just going to keep looking at the pictures, though.

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Thanks, Mike, for the heads up!

Count/Pointercount: Where Would Enderle Work?

There has - of late - been something bothering me. When all of Wall Street, a good bit of the blogosphere and portions of the tech-press sound constantly like the Rob Enderle of old, what is Rob Enderle to do? 

If you say “fade away into silence,” I may say you’re a dreamer. Don’t worry. You’re probably not the only one. 

I sometimes wonder whether Enderle is an ever evolving performance art piece. My favorite thing he’s ever done is say - back in 2007- that by making a smartphone without a physical QWERTY keypad, Apple was opening itself up to a world of litigation. Teenagers text while driving, you see, and without those physical keys, they’d have to take their eyes off the road to do that with an iPhone. Thus an increase in traffic accidents - maybe even fatalities - thus the lawsuits against Apple. 

He actually said that.

But that was 2007, when not everybody was writing about Apple. Oh everybody was writing about the iPhone - especially that summer - but every single thing associated with Apple, from whether one of its suppliers far up the supply chain was polluting a river to who Steve Jobs hired to be Apple’s sushi chef was not something you expected to turn up in stuff written about Apple. A lot’s changed in six years. 

So what’s a guy like Enderle supposed to do? Go bigger. And - some might argue - dumber. I’d be on their side, by the way. 

Writing an opinion piece for TG Daily, Rob Enderle has brought the world word of the new campus announced by graphics chipmaker Nvidia, and why it will be better than the new space-donut campus being built by Apple.

Space-donut versus Triominoes: Which imaginary building is right for you?

Space-donut versus Triominoes: Which imaginary building is right for you?

Enderle has worked in a lot of buildings, you see, some great some not so much. This wealth of experience qualifies him to judge based on artist renderings of the two campuses. You’ve probably seen Apple’s. It looks like a big, space-donut, set way off the street surrounded by trees, empty in the middle - save for more trees. Nvidia’s, on the other hand, is two triangular buildings - kind of wavy on the top - closer to the street than Apple’s proposal, but allowing in a lot of natural light. 

Enderle writes - based on the artist renderings - that Nvidia’s design “almost appears translucent and the core design is specifically focused on encouraging collaboration.” 

On Apple’s design, he writes: 

“Apple’s culture is more of an office and individual contributor culture and the firm is known for the managed conflicts been software, engineering, and design. As a result, the building appears to be more about personal space and it is likely focused on offices and conference rooms.” 

“In contrast,” he goes on to write, “Nvidia is more about getting teams to work together and the interior design should be ... more open, warm, and comfortable.”  

See I would argue that what Apple is doing for the environment - both by dropping so many trees onto its campus and in employing alternative energy in a big way is a big deal, providing a campus on which I’d be proud to work... and then it hits me. Enderle has done it! Not only is he arguing about imaginary buildings, he’s gotten me to do it too!

Part of me’s a little angry, but at the same time I kind of want to thank Enderle for reminding me that no matter how stupid things get, they could always be more so.

Tim Cook Spends an Hour with Goldman Sachs

Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at the Goldman Sachs Internet and Technology Conference Tuesday (12 February 2013), and he did so with conviction. I think I’ve said before that I don’t always like his stage presentations, but when he’s just talking about Apple... his love of the company and the things it does seem both genuine and obvious. 

If being beaten up on Wall Street for the past five months bothers him, you sure couldn’t hear it yesterday. 

Topics covered included, but were not limited to, Cook’s reaction to Apple investors David Einhorn’s comment earlier this week that Apple has a “depression era mentality.” 

Cook denied that charge... saying “Apple makes bold and ambitious bets on products and is conservative financially.” That said, they’re investing in R&D... investing in new products... investing in the supply chain... investing in retail... and acquiring new companies. They invested $10Billion last year... they expect to invest another $10Billion this year. “Investing a pair-of-10s,” said Cook, “does not sound like a company with a ‘depression era mentality.’” That said, Apple execs are talking over whether and how to return more cash to shareholders. 

Cook finds Einhorn’s perpetual preferred stock idea to be creative. It’s something Apple will consider, though it’ll also consider proposals from other shareholders as well. As for the lawsuit initiated by Enihorn, Cook calls that a “silly sideshow,” saying it’s a waste of money, and he wished they’d donate the money being spent on it to a good cause instead.

The moderator - Goldman analyst Bill Shope - wanted to know about Apple’s acquisition strategies, wondering - specifically - whether the Cupertino-company was allergic to large acquisitions.

Cook said over the last three-years, Apple’s actually averaged an acquisition every other month, though those have tended to be small companies with really smart people and/or IP that Apple can plug into other projects. This they do because they like to control the primary technology behind their products. At the same time, though, Apple has looked at large acquisitions, but each time those acquisitions have not passed their test. They’ll keep considering large acquisitions. They believe they’ve got the management team to make a big buy work... But they don’t feel a pressure to go out and acquire revenue. Apple wants to make great products says Cook. If there’s a big buy that can help them do that, cool... but deliberate and thoughtful is the company motto when it comes to acquisitions.

With Apple’s history of disruption, Shope wondered about the states of Apple’s innovation culture today.

In Cook’s estimation, It’s never been stronger. Apple - he says - is in a unique and unrivaled position in that it’s strong in hardware, software and services - not just one of those with solutions to the others sourced from elsewhere. Consumers want this elegant experience where the technology floats to the background. Apple’s integration makes that happen. This isn’t something you can just go write a check for. This is something you spend decades building. Plus Apple’s execs are superstars... they’re people at the very top of their game, all of which led Cook to say he’s “never been more bullish on innovation at Apple.”

Shope wanted to know about Apple’s ongoing opportunities in the smartphone space, specifically, what would the company do about acquiring pre-paid customers in emerging markets? That was the question, though the implied question was “Would Apple make the low cost iPhone that analysts keep saying Apple should make?”

Cook said something he’s said more than once before: Apple’s north star is great products. That’s what they think about. They wouldn’t do anything that they’d not consider a great product. That said... they have lowered the prices of iPhone 4 and 4S... and in December they ran out of iPhone 4. The level of demand was surprising and they have made moves to make things more affordable. 

He then held up the iPod as an illustration. It started at $399. Now, you can get an iPod shuffle for $49. For years people said Apple should make a Mac for between $500 and $1000. Apple tried, but didn’t feel they could hit that price point with a Mac that would also provide a good customer experience. So - instead - they created the iPad, which now starts at $329. So there may be other ways to solve the perceived price problem, but the north star is still great products.

Shope wanted to know what Cook made of the talk of iPhone’s with a larger screen. 

Cooks answer here was interesting. He made it clear that he wouldn’t say what Apple would or would not make in the future, seemingly leaving the door open for a pahblet. But there’s more to a screen than size. Here he held up PCs as an example. Manufacturers used to compete on specs and price, but those days are largely over. In Cook’s opinion, Customers want quality. They want the “a ha” moment. Mostly, they don’t care about specs. They want a fabulous experience. 

Bringing that back to smartphones, some people are focused on size but there are other considerations. Cook says color saturation on OLED displays is awful. Retina is twice as bright as OLED. There are many factors in displays, he says. Apple likes theirs. He made it clear - again - that he wasn’t saying what Apple would or would not do... but when it comes to screens, it’s not just size that matters.

Other notable quotes:

“The only thing we’ll never do is make a crappy product. We’re gonna make a great product. That’s the only religion we have. We must do something great. Something bold. Something ambitious. We want to enrich the customers’ lives.”

Cooks says Apple is not a hardware company. Because they’re not a hardware company, there are other things the company can do to keep revenue flowing. Selling a device to a customer is the start of a relationship, not the end of it. 

On Apple Retail: Cook sang the praises of the stores and their staff. “Retail is not there for selling,” said Cook, “but for serving.” The store is a gathering place. It has an important role in the community. Kids go there for field trips. Musicians inform and entertain there. Apple Retail is more than a store... it’s the face of Apple for almost all of Apple’s customers. Some stores aren’t big enough, but he says that problem is a privilege to have. To solve it, Apple plans to close 20 existing stores to move or enlarging them, and they plan to open 30 more this year, with most of those outside the U.S. 

But it sounds like retail’s importance cannot be overstated. In Cook’s opinion, the iPad would not have been as big a hit as it’s turned out to be had there not been the stores to showcase them. Retail gives Apple an incredible competitive advantage to launch these products and educate people about a new category. Cook is bullish on the stores. Apple will keep investing in them... and the people who work in Apple Retail are awesome.

Wrapping up their time together, Shope wanted to know of what at Apple was Cook most proud. 

Cook said he’s most proud of our employees. They’re there to do the best work of their lives... to do it without limits. He’s incredibly proud of Apple’s products, which include the best tablet, the best smartphone, the best PCs and the best digital music players on the market. he’s very proud that Apple is out front and has a spine on supplier responsibility. He’s incredibly proud that Apple’s doing heavy lifting on the environment. He’s proud that they have the largest private solar farm ever. And finally, he says it’s both the privilege of a lifetime and humbling to work with the people with whom he works.

And that wasn’t everything. If you’d like to hear what he had to say for yourself, Apple has a replay of yesterday’s hour-long event up on its site. The best way to get to that is by hitting investor.apple.com.