iPhone is dead! Long live Apple Phone!

Somewhere in an alternate universe, Tim Cook is busy rehearsing his September 10th event.

He’s nervous. He’s about to do something incredibly bold. Maybe even crazy.

Going through his show, he pauses when he gets to the iPhone branding slide, imagining how the audience’s collective jaw will drop.

Despite the rumors, there is no number 11. There’s no X, R, S, SE, Plus or Max in sight. And that’s just the tip of this boldness iceberg. 

Alternate Tim takes a deep breath, then drops the bomb.

“Our new iPhones are so new, so totally amazing, so far beyond any iPhone we’ve made before, we’re not even calling them iPhones anymore,” he says. “Meet the new Apple Phones.”

After a 21-year run, the i is finally dead.

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A dog’s breakfast: welcome to apple.com

Help. I feel queasy. I visited apple.com and did something I deeply regret—I opened my eyes.

It’s half disappointment and half disbelief. How does the company that wrote the book on website simplicity unleash a home page that’s so amateurishly busy?

For those who celebrate Apple’s illustrious history as a world leader in design, creativity and smart marketing—it’s a shocker.

That’s because it stands in stark contrast to the website principles enforced by Steve Jobs.

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Farewell Jony, and farewell Apple of old

Jony, Jony, Jony—now look what you’ve done.

With one little “I quit,” you dragged all of us across the line separating Apple Classic and New Apple.

We had one foot over that line already with Steve’s passing. This just makes it final—the last spiritual connection to the old Apple is now behind us.

Not that your exit is a surprise. You certainly dropped enough hints. Thank you for staying long enough to keep things stable in the post-Steve era.

But yeah, it does hurt a little to see you go off to LoveFrom. Not the career move—I’m talking about the company name. Wish you’d thought a little harder on that one.

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The ghost of Apple Card past

On March 25th, Tim Cook unveiled Apple Card—”the future of credit cards.”

WTF? Fiasco! Yet another Apple blunder! Has Tim Cook lost it? Steve Jobs would never do this!!

Well … not so fast. The truth is, Steve Jobs actually did do this. At least he tried to.

The proof is likely hidden in a secret vault buried deep inside Apple Park. Fortunately, it’s also right here on my archive drive.

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Apple’s long journey to the workplace

What a difference a few decades make.

During the 1985 Super Bowl broadcast, Apple followed up its previous—and widely acclaimed—Super Bowl commercial, 1984, with a little disaster called Lemmings.

Designed to seduce business customers with “The Macintosh Office,” it actually insulted its intended target by depicting them as, uh … Lemmings.

34 years later, Apple is again making its pitch to business. This time, it’s a bit more down to earth—and infinitely more convincing.

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AirPower: a fiasco beyond imagination

If there was a Beginner’s Guide To Corporate Screwups, surely it would explore the tried-and-true ways for companies to shoot themselves in the foot.

Release buggy software. Fail to protect customer data. Run a bad ad. See your CEO arrested. So many possibilities!

But AirPower is not your stereotypical screwup. It’s something far grander. Never in history has Apple announced a product, gone silent about it for 18 months, and then killed it before it ever shipped.

At least it proves that Apple can be a true innovator in the area of self-immolation.

“Freedom to fail” is actually a liberating thing, essential to the Apple culture. In an internal meeting, I once heard Steve Jobs defend Apple’s large cash reserve by saying, “It gives us the freedom to jump as high as we want. If we fail, we will always have solid ground beneath our feet.”

Unfortunately, AirPower isn’t the “liberating” kind of failure. It’s just shocking and sad.

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A sign of life in Apple billboards

Zinger! Bang! Take that, Android!

Apple ran a witty (and wordy) billboard outside the CES Show in Vegas this week, and it became a news story in itself.

If you’re relatively new to Apple, this sudden burst of verbosity must have come as a shock. You might have thought that the non-headline “iPhone XR” was as clever as Apple gets in a billboard.

Is this a whole new Apple? Or just a temporary lapse of humdrum?

Actually, it’s an echo of an earlier Apple, when headlines would both amuse and inform.

Steve Jobs’ goal was never just to sell a product. It was to build a stronger brand, and headlines were a big part of that.Continue reading…

Apple’s “Color Flood”: like Picasso said

Steve Jobs once quoted Picasso: “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”

True that. Innovative thinkers invent, observe and assimilate. They merge the old and new to create something fresh.

Apparently, the good and great artists were hard at work on Apple’s latest ad, Color Flood. I quite enjoyed it. But even as I watched it for the first time, I was visited by the Ghosts of Advertising Past.Continue reading…

What happened to Jony’s voice?

Ben Franklin said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. Until last week, I would have added “Jony Ive product videos” to that list.

Apple had a formula for these videos and it wasn’t about to budge—beauty shots and engineering animations, accompanied by Jony’s intelligently philosophical voice.

It’s gone on for so many years, I’ve actually lost count.

It’s not like the videos didn’t work. Apple sales certainly never suffered. It’s just felt odd that a company that puts creativity front and center would become so formulaic.

But all that changed last week when Apple unveiled two new videos—for MacBook Air and iPad Pro—and we didn’t hear a peep from Jony. I’m still recovering from the shock.

Thank the marketing gods for giving Apple a much-deserved kick in the butt. Continue reading…

Apple’s disturbing confession

My bubble has officially been burst.

Though I’ve had issues with iPhone naming for years, I’ve always assumed there was an underlying strategy, enigmatic as it might be.

Apparently I was giving Apple too much credit.

When Phil Schiller sat down with Engadget recently, he casually confessed that the S and the R have no real meaning. They’re just letters.

This news doesn’t exactly collapse the space-time continuum. However, it does rattle my personal belief system. Let me explain—Continue reading…