For years, a good portion of Apple’s commercials have been dedicated towards boosting the rep of the hated AT&T. “The Nation’s Most Popular Carrier” was often cited, as was it’s ability to handle both voice and date simultaneously. Apple, despite knowing otherwise, wanted it’s reality distortion field to spread to the realms of AT&T. It was somewhat successful… after all, the iPhone’s done pretty well in the past few years if I might say so myself. But the consensus was that this wasn’t because of AT&T, but in spite of AT&T. Voice and data be damned. Not even Apple could boost AT&T’s rep.

At the same time Apple was airing it’s pro AT&T ads, Verizon was stuck in a position where they had to convince customers that buying their second-rate phones with their superior network was a better experience than buying the best phone with a second-rate network. Their initial strategy was to bring AT&T’s reputation down so low that even Apple couldn’t sell phones on it’s network.. So they introduced a campaign called “There’s a Map for That”, using Apple’s trademark slogan “There’s an App for That” to point out the disadvantages of AT&T’s network.

Millions of sold iPhones later, they realized that customers would tough out a sub-par network for the best phone. So now what? Simple… bring down the phone. They introduced parody commercials dedicated to highlighting the inefficiencies of Apple’s popular product.

Once again, they failed at bringing down the iPhone. So if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?

Right.

Now Apple has no need to promote AT&T’s network anymore… they have the best of both worlds. The customer no longer has to be forced to be on a network they don’t want, they simply have to choose what phone they want. Victory for the consumers! Apple can now sit back, relax, promote their phones, and let the customers decide which carrier they want. What does Apple care? As long as they’re making money on hardware, they could care less who’s buying it. Victory for Apple!

Verizon, after a difficult four years of waiting, and being forced to attack the phone they new all along was the best, is now in a position where they can rightfully praise the product that they’ve wanted all along. So much for the iPhone having glaring deficiencies… to them, it’s now the second coming of Jesus Christ. Victory for Verizon!

Poor, poor AT&T.

What’s incredible is that two companies, Verizon and Apple, can completely reverse their public opinions on an issue… and nobody will notice! For years, Verizon adamantly said that the iPhone was useless, unnecessary, even inferior to their own offerings, and now that they have access to it they suddenly are able to pitch it as though the world is changing forever. Apple has always taken a neutral stance, focusing on the phone, but occasionally it would highlight the benefits of AT&T in order to silence the Verizon critics. Now? Apple suddenly loves both carriers, both Verizon and AT&T are great, and no matter where the customer buys their phone, everyone in the Apple universe will be happy.

Do customers notice these things? Do they notice that Verizon has hated the iPhone for years and now treats it like the Arc of the Covenant? Do they notice that Apple has always uplifted AT&T and now puts it on a completely equal level with Verizon? And if they do notice…

Do they care?

 

CLEAR Wireless Internet

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The Email

February 2, 2011

About two weeks ago, Steve Jobs sent the following email to his employees which was consequently leaked to all the major news outlets…

Team,

At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations. I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.

I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.

Steve

The language of the email, both what was said and what wasn’t said, must be payed close attention to. You can bet your life this was proof-read a million times and that the wording is extremely deliberate.

I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company.

Apple’s way of assuring the stock holders that even though Jobs isn’t present for the little tiny day to day stuff, when it comes to the major things that truly matter, Jobs will be in charge like business as usual. This is probably true, but to what extent will remain unknown.

At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health.

Steve Jobs taking a medical leave of absence is nothing new, he’s done it three times before. Yet each time he’s taken a medical leave, it’s been because of a life-threatening illness. He’s been able to conquer it each time, but each new medical leave proves to be more nerve-wracking than the last. Of all the announcements Apple’s made regarding his health issues, this one is the strangest… and unfortunately, the saddest.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for all of Apple’s day to day operations.

Once again, Tim Cook is called upon as the replacement CEO in Steve’s absence. Not Phil Schiller from Marketing. Not Scott Forstall from iOS. But Tim Cook, the Chief Financial Officer. This suggests that the man besides Steve with the most say in the company is the man who ensures that Apple is profitable. While Apple wants us to believe that they are some sort of non-profit that only cares about the interests of the customer, the supreme reality is that they are a business. Completely understandably, making money is Apple’s top priority. The signs all point in the direction of Tim Cook to be Jobs’ replacement when the time comes.

Now Jobs didn’t blatantly say how long he was going to be gone for like he did in past announcements. The last time, he stated in his December announcement that he would return in June. This time, nothing… or so it seems.

I have great confidence that Tim and the rest of the executive management team will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans we have in place for 2011.

It seems that at the very least Jobs won’t be returning to Apple until 2012. But then why didn’t he say “I’ll be back in January 2012”? Unfortunately, he probably doesn’t know. His health is such an uncertainty at this point that perhaps saying January 2012 is too risky. Expect a Job-less 2011, extended potentially, but not necessarily, well into 2012.

I love Apple so much…

This is the beginning of the line that terrifies me. For one, saying “I love Apple so much” is something you would say if you never expect to see the company again. It sounds like a parting message, a thank you to someone you’ve spent a great deal of time with who you won’t see for a long while. But this is nothing in comparison to how it ended.

…and hope to be back as soon as I can.

This makes me queazy inside. He didn’t say “and will be back as soon as I can.” He said “hope.” He’s not sure if he will return to Apple. And if there’s anything to get from this email, it’s this. Steve Jobs may or may not be dying… we don’t know, and based on his request for privacy, I’m not going to try and find out. That’s his business. But he’s told us what is my business, as a shareholder in a public company…

He might not ever return to Apple.

Apple is an immortal company. It’s stock rose through the economic recession over 300%. Apple is Superman, but the lack of Steve Jobs is it’s kryptonite. Apple timed the announcement extraordinarily in order to avoid a major stock collapse. They announced it on MLK day, when the markets were closed, and while Tuesday afternoon saw a morning stock stop, they announced their holiday quarter earnings in the afternoon… and they were the company’s all time best. At the end of the day, the stock ended up higher than before the Jobs announcement.

While the short term loss was non-existent, the potential long term loss is what needs to be focused on. Steve Jobs is Apple, and Apple is Steve Jobs. The question is, has Apple become Steve Jobs to the point where Jobs doesn’t need to be at the company for it to function properly? Or would a Job-less apple begin to gradually descend into the realms of former tech heavyweights who lost it all, like Sony?

At this point, only time will tell.

The Day of Reckoning

February 2, 2011

There are several Apple rumors that seem to always be present without ever arriving. G5 iMacs. iPhone Copy/Paste. iPhone Multitasking. Beatles on iTunes. Lately Apple has seemed determined to check this list out of existence, and now they have finally given the most nagging item the go ahead. Ladies and gentleman… the Verizon iPhone.

This is something Apple has wanted since the beginning. In fact, Apple approached Verizon before AT&T, yet were turned down because Verizon wanted control of the software experience… they didn’t trust Apple to know how to make good phone software without any prior experience in the mobile phone arena. What they didn’t account for is that Apple essentially invented software as we know it, and that their computer experience would provide them with the necessities to create the first computer-like phone.

Oops.

Verizon turning down the iPhone is the 21st century’s tech equivalent to the trading of Babe Ruth, and for the past 4 years they’ve had to sit patiently and watch AT&T become the world’s largest network exclusively thanks to the iPhone. Yet Verizon, well aware of Apple’s 4 year US exclusive agreement with AT&T, spent that time well by beefing up it’s network, solidifying itself in the eyes of all as the nation’s best wireless network. AT&T’s bad publicity and incapability in major cities such as San Francisco and New York City of supporting the iPhone’s network weight gave it a nasty reputation. In fact, 97% of iPhone customers “Love their iPhones” while 55% cite AT&T as the biggest drawback. Long story short, everyone loves the iPhone and everyone hates AT&T.

Verizon customers are about to snatch these up like hotcakes, there’s no question. The real question is whether or not current iPhone owners on AT&T will feel the need to switch to Verizon… and pay the cancelation fee that goes with it. Verizon is offering several features from the get-go, including unlimited data and wireless tethering for up to 5 devices in order to entice those on the fence.

Tomorrow, these questions will begin to be answered, as the Verizon iPhone will finally be available for pre-order. So my question for you is…

Apple’s inevitable translation of the iOS App Store to the Mac has been expected for a while, and now (ironically on the Christian holiday of Epiphany) has finally been revealed and released to the public. My personal experience has been all positive, save for the ability to find the apps I want, and I truly do think this is the way of the future for software distribution.

It was interesting to see how Apple released Aperture on the App Store for a staggeringly low price of 80 dollars. For professional photographers, but especially amateur photographers who want to be professional, this is a fantastic development, and it got me thinking about the rest of Apple’s pro lineup. Theoretically, when Apple releases the next radically improved Final Cut Studio in the next few months, might they consider releasing it (and logically Logic Studio as well) via the Mac App Store? The obvious answer is yes, but the even more obvious answer is no, for while Apple would love to take full advantage of their new distribution platform, the size of these applications are staggering, an impossibility over the average internet connection. However, it’s not the applications themselves that take up so much space, but rather the content, such as the soundtrack loops and motion content. Perhaps Apple will offer up the applications themselves on the Mac App Store for cheaper and begin selling most of the content separately? Or maybe they’ll just let the dozens of GB download over the course of several hours and simply indicated it before you agree to purchase? Or maybe, at least for the time being, they’ll leave it exactly as it is now?

What do you all think?

Final Cut Studio 4 is all about speed.

After a long summer hiatus, I’m back with some juicy info regarding what’s next in the Apple Video Professional world.

Final Cut Studio 4 is most likely not going to hit by the end of 2010 as was initially the plan… but the wait isn’t all that much longer. Expect to have it January 2011 at the earliest, and NAB 2011 at the latest.

Final Cut Studio 3 was not the major upgrade it was marketed as. Rather, since what now will be Final Cut Studio 4 didn’t make it in time, they took some of those features, and bundled them together in order to tie people over until the true major upgrade.

Randy Ubillos, the man heading all of Apple’s video applications, but notoriously infamous for the “updated” iMovie debacle, is definitely trustable. Apple knows very well that editors don’t like change in the wrong places… so the last thing they’re going to do is a major UI overhaul of the program. Simply put, the external familiarity we all love is here to stay.

One thing that isn’t here to stay is what we all hate… Final Cut’s bulkiness as a suite, and it’s slug-like agility when live-previewing and rendering. The major feature of the new Final Cut Studio, and the reason the upgrade is taking so long for the team to complete, is a complete architectural code rewriting… i.e. Snow Leopard. The new Final Cut Studio has been re-engineered from the ground up for speed. And apparently, the wait is not in vain. Previewing will be instantaneous. Long renders will be a thing of the past. The secret is that the new Final Cut Studio has been created to take advantage of multiple cores… so if you’re running on an 8-core Mac Pro, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars you stuck it out and didn’t switch to Adobe’s offerings.

Speaking of Adobe’s offerings, Apple is quite aware that Motion is a joke, and that After Effects runs circles around it. That’s why they’ve had a team working exclusively on making Motion more powerful and easier for editors to use. The software has been in the works ever since Apple scratched Shake, and Motion is going to end up being a hybrid which utilizes the power of Shake with the usability of Final Cut Pro. Also, Motion’s UI is supposedly getting a major overhaul, and will resemble Final Cut’s way more, making it more familiar for editors. The team is working hard to change the timeline and browser of Motion to match Final Cut Pro’s. Whether or not these major changes will be ready in time for the next upgrade isn’t a guarantee at this point… but if not FCS4, then definitely FCS5. But odds are, Motion will finally be the powerful, usable program it has the potential to be when the next upgrade hits the shelves.

DVD Studio Pro has basically gone the way of the dodo, i.e. iDVD. However, once Apple’s machines support Blu-Ray (which they inevitably will), OS X’s DVD Player will be repackaged as Media Player, and eventually iDVD and DVD Studio Pro will morph into applications suitable for delivering films across all different mediums… including DVD, Blu-Ray, and the Web.

Native RED support hasn’t come yet due to bickering between both Apple and RED… neither will compromise the licensing negotiations, so native RED support is a technical go, but a legal stalemate. Whether or not the legal issues will be resolved by the next major release is uncertain.

Compressor will also see changes. I wasn’t given details, but rather just told that the team responsible for it hates the current version and is working on a new one. Whether or not it will show up by FCS4 is uncertain.

And as for Color…it finally will get the Apple touch.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I know I haven’t posted in a while, but hopefully this information will tie everyone over until the release hits. Just know that Apple has not abandoned their pro apps in the slightest… there’s a team at Apple working on them just as hard as the iPhone team works on the iPhone. Apple wouldn’t be employing dozens of people with large salaries if they didn’t think there was a future for the product. The fact is this… Final Cut Studio 4 is coming soon, it’s a major, functional, flashy upgrade, and should make the long wait for a “real” upgrade more than worth it.

Apple's new target demographic for Final Cut Studio, should the rumors be believed.

UPDATE: Apple has issued an official response to CNET.com, saying that the pro customers will “love” the next version of the editing suite. While it doesn’t eliminate the chance that Apple will gear FCS3, in my mind the fact that Apple went out of their way to squash the rumor suggests it’s untrue. My prediction is that Final Cut Express will receive the modified consumer-friendly changes, with Final Cut Pro’s focus remaining as is.

Apple Insider reports that Apple is looking to gear the new version of Final Cut Studio towards consumers instead of professionals, despite the fact that Final Cut Studio is a professional program. Not that this rumor isn’t completely surprising considering Apple’s recent iPhone/iPad trend, but this would be a serious mistake on Apple’s part. Creative Professionals would be forced to use different software (most notably a certain offering from Apple’s very public enemy), meaning Apple couldn’t lead the charge regarding video formats, meaning ProRes, H.264, and even Quicktime’s future could be left in trouble. This would resonate not only through the creative community, but ultimately to the iPhone OS, with less content available in Apple’s desired formats.

Out of fear, and hoping for some reassurance, I sent Steve Jobs another email. I reposted it after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Apple Buys Siri: YES!

April 28, 2010

Soon enough... soon enough.

As soon as I used Siri for the first time, my immediate reaction was “Apple needs to buy this, tweak the UI a tad, and ship it with every iPhone out of the box. This is game changing.” It looks like Apple was thinking the same thing, as today’s big news (besides the announcement of WWDC) is that Apple has bought Siri. If you don’t already have Siri, you need to download it right now and start using it. If you do have Siri, you obviously are aware of how Apple-like and revolutionary this app truly is. This is the future of mobile computing, and Apple today demonstrated that they’re not only aware of it, but that they are going to be the ones taking us there.

Today we’ve witnessed Apple history. The company who considers product secrecy to be of the upmost importance has fallen victim to the biggest leak possible: a major tech blog getting their hands on their upcoming product months before it’s supposed to come out. Gizmodo has managed to acquire a stolen iPhone prototype that somehow ended up on the floor of a bar in San Jose. A thorough inspection has confirmed that it is, in fact, iPhone 4G (HD). While it probably will differ slightly when it ships, this is in fact legit. Check it out for yourself here.

For those of you who live, or visit, the Coachella Valley, you’re probably quite aware about the effort it takes to buy or fix anything Apple-related. There are other inferior Apple retailers around, but they don’t get the same perks that a big Apple retail store does. And if something breaks, and you need a genius bar appointment, it’s gonna require 2 hours of driving… sometimes just to find out the fix was only a click or two.

All this hassle is about to disappear, as Apple is slated to launch a new retail store on El Paseo in Palm Desert. Part of what will soon be the El Paseo Village, the Apple Store will be facing the street, and occupy a 4780 square feet space. Construction should begin early summer, with the Apple Store opening alongside the rest of the mall in early fall. [The Desert Sun]

I am fed up. Fed up about the fact that Final Cut Studio 3, put bluntly, was a very weak update. Fed up that competitors seem to be announcing new products left and right. And fed up about Apple’s obligatory secrecy in a market that can’t handle to be unsure when their livelihood will get updated.

I’m certainly not alone in my sentiments. Users from all over the world have been using the internet as an outlet to vent their frustration. Mac Soda reader Alex J. decided to let Steve Jobs know personally how he feels about the matter, and as though he were talking to the Lord God himself, simply asked for a sign.

Steve,

Getting worried about Apple’s interest in Final Cut. Last updates were not stellar. I heard a bunch of engineers were dropped too – give us a sign you still care about Pro Video, not just the iPad.

Thanks,

Alex

These days Mr. Jobs seems to be responding to everyone (he’s responded to all three of mine), with rather blunt answers. I guess he must’ve been in a good mood, because Alex got a whole three sentences worth, in which Mr. Jobs answered the three of the four questions that all video enthusiasts have been wondering aimlessly. 1) Does Apple care about Final Cut?, 2) Who were the Final Cut employees who got fired?, 3) Will the next release be any good?

We certainly do.  Folks who left were in support, not engineering.  Next release will be awesome.

Those definitely were the answers we wanted to hear. The fourth question, of course, is “When will the next release ship?”, and while he didn’t answer that lingering question, Mac Soda has it on reliable word that a new version will land by the end of 2010. While we don’t have a tangible product at the moment, we can take consolation in the fact that Apple cares about professional video, talent has not been cut from Final Cut, and the next release will in fact be awesome.