Category Archives: Interviews

Dark WWDC app, iOS 9.3.2 safe for iPad Pro 9.7-inch, Yahoo Sports for Apple TV


DarkApp

Official WWDC app gains dark UI, Apple TV support ahead of June 13 keynote kickoff — The official WWDC app was updated on Friday with a new dark user interface, universal app support for tvOS, live streaming on iOS and tvOS, and support for multitasking on iOS 9 on iPad.

It’s safe to download iOS 9.3.2 for iPad Pro (9.7-inch) now — Apple re-released iOS 9.3.2 for iPad Pro (9.7-inch). Last week, Apple pulled the release for those devices after some users reported their devices had been bricked. The new update can be installed over-the-air (OTA), but for users who encountered Error 56, Apple supplied instructions for recovering the device through iTunes.

Yahoo Sports app comes to Apple TV with live streaming, news & highlights — Yahoo has relased a new app for the Apple TV, Yahoo Sports, giving owners of the set-top another centralised option for watching sports videos, including some live streams.

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Pointers on how to use this site


A quick visual guide to the features of this site. Click the image for a more detailed view. If you want to make Mac NZ your Home Page, while you're on this page, choose Safari>Preferences>General and click Set to Current Page
A quick visual guide to the features of this site. Click the image for a more detailed view. If you want to make Mac NZ your Home Page, while you’re on this page, choose Safari>Preferences>General and click Set to Current Page. To follow Mac NZ on Twitter, it’s #macnzMark

Andrew Hale, Auckland photographer, on why he prefers PCs


Recently I showed off an i5 iMac to a group of AIPA (Advertising and Illustrative Photographers’ Association) members while Andrew put that and a custom-built i7 PC through its paces. Needless to say, I don’t agree with everything he says, as I wrote about on my last Apple Watch on the NZ Herald, but I thought it would be interested to post his comments in full (reader’s comments are also welcome – and yes, I get to vet them, so keep ’em seemly):

Andrew Hales, professional photographer and AIPA member, wrote “Photography has always been a two part process; there is the medium used to capture the image, and there is the process of taking the photo.

“In the world of negative based film photography this meant processing the film in a dark room and turning the negatives into prints.

“Digital photography is no different, a process has to occur that turns the RAW data from the sensor into a viewable image. In your phone, or point and shoot camera, this is done by software you have little, to no control over.

“A professional photographer however often uses specialist software to take control of this process. It’s the difference between dropping a roll of film of at the chemist for automatic processing, and doing it yourself in the darkroom.

“Just like having a properly equipped darkroom is important for processing film, having a proper computer is important for processing digital photos.

“Being creative types, a lot of photographers took a lead from designers and printers and bought into the Apple system. This worked well when the Mac Pro was a well built stand alone computer and Adobe wrote software that performed better on Apples processors. But the world of Mac computers has changed, the iMac has become more consumer focused, while the new Mac Pro is aimed at high end video editing and needs attached high end storage solutions to be usable. Apple now use the same intel processors as everyone else, along with monitors based on LG panels, the same as the best from Dell or HP, or even Eizo, and of course Adobe now writes it’s code to favour Windows based systems.

“It means there is now a very strong argument for choosing a windows based workstation that you have built for you, instead of a Mac.

“It can be cheaper, you can get better performance, and the machine can be set up to suit your style of workflow and meet your needs. It also gives access to wide gamut screens and 10bit image display, something you can not do with an iMac.

“And of course it becomes progressively upgradeable, and is it worth mentioning the 3-5yr Warranties you get with the components?

“To put things to a test at a recent AIPA meeting I asked Mark to bring along a Mac, and Billy from Computer Lounge to bring a PC.

“I sent both a spec list before hand, based around my current work station, an i7, 16GB RAM, 2 x 256GB SSDs, 8TB of internal storage and 3 monitors, 2 of which are wide gamut running off an Nvidia 670GTX. Including my Wacom tablet, high precision mouse and keyboard and a few other bits, total replacement cost would be around $6500.

“Computer Lounge’s Billy brought along a 6 core i7 based computer with 32GB of ram, 2 x 256GB SSD’s and 8TB of storage. They added in 2 27in sRGB monitors with 2560×1440 resolution, a Wacom tablet, high end keyboard and even a mid range graphics card, all for just under $5,500.

“To give you an idea of how flexible things can be, I am going to build a system for a friend that uses an i7, 256gb SSD, 16GB ram, 2TB hard drive and a 24in Monitor for only $2,000. A similar spec and performance iMac costs $3,999.

“While Mark and Billy stated their case for Mac or PC, I used both to do some work in Lightroom.

“Since the Mac was only an i5 I found the results quite interesting.

“First of all, my own work station was a lot faster than the Mac at rendering and exporting photographs. The Computer Lounge system was even faster again, considerably so.  I’ve since worked out I can upgrade my computer to match for about $600.

“What was interesting was working on individual files, there was very little, if any real difference. For those on a tight budget, or working at a more enthusiast level an Intel i5 based computer could be a good choice.

“Where the Mac was really let down however was being able to choose your storage options. The Fusion drive is fantastic, but you never know if the data you want to work with is on the fast SSD, or the slower spinning disk. With the PC I was able to chose where to put it, and affect performance accordingly.

“I was impressed by how quiet the iMac remained, previous generation iMac’s I’ve used have gotten very loud when pushed hard. This one made about as much noise as the PC did, that is none.

“A base model Mac Pro would have performed as well as the offering from Computer Lounge, and one of the dual CPU hexa cores would have been even faster. But if that is what you need, Computer Lounge can just as easily build the same thing, or faster. PCI based storage is readily available for any computer now, the only limit to performance is how much you want to spend.

“We then had an interesting debate with photographers from the audience, and it is clear there is lots of brand loyalty out there, along with some still mis-informed opinions about Macs and PCs.

“The only real conclusion we came to was Apple gives you a limited number of options, while having a system built for you gives you total freedom. “

Yukari Iwatani Kane on her book Haunted Empire: Apple without Steve Jobs


 

Yukari Iwatani Kane felt the wrath of Apple commentators and Tim Cook when her book came out
Yukari Iwatani Kane felt the wrath of Apple commentators and Tim Cook when her book came out

This interview appeared on the Herald in my Apple Watch blog, but it had to be edited to fit. The full version appears here – it has more depth and detail about Apple, near the end. 

• Tim Cook, in a release to CNBC, described Haunted Empire: Apple after Steve Jobs (NZ$17.99) partly: “This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I have read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company.”
 My reading of the book doesn’t support this view. It wasn’t a biography of Jobs anyway, yet it does present an insight into a secretive company that’s almost impossible to get any information about, despite the extent to which it is watched. Would you care to comment?

HauntedEmpireYukari Iwatani Kane — Apple doesn’t normally comment on individual books, so I think I clearly hit a nerve. The comment also came out in the early afternoon of the first day of sales, so it did make me wonder if he had actually read the book. If he did, I’m flattered that he thought it important enough to spend his work day reading it. :-0

• Were you disappointed with the backlash to your book from Apple commentators, or were you expecting it?

Yukari Iwatani Kane —Whenever anyone writes about Apple, emotions always run high. I’m very happy with where I’ve come out in my book. It wasn’t meant to be a pro-Apple book or an anti-Apple book. It’s rational assessment of Apple’s position, based on my reporting of nearly 200 sources all over the world, looking at the issues from every angle possible.

It seems to me Apple commentators had issues with your conclusions rather than with the main text of the book. Personally I found Haunted Empire richly-detailed and insightful. But I think it’s because commentators – including myself – have a kind of emotional buy-in to Apple and it’s really easy for us to feel defensive. We feel like we need to defend Apple all the time, at least those of us with longer associations, as we go back to when Apple was an outsider that seems to be assailed from all sides. What’s your own position within this spectrum?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — That’s a very insightful thought. You may be right – I’m in Japan right now promoting the book, and the Apple fans here have been very frank about their assessment of the book. They basically say what you say — that my book rings true to what they think as well, but it was very difficult for them to hear my conclusion and that they still cling to the hope that Apple will continue to be as great as it has been.

I personally am a user of Apple products, but as a journalist, I’m really not pro-Apple or anti-Apple. I saw Apple as a case study, and emotions really didn’t factor into my reporting. I should mention however that when I started writing this book, I didn’t know what my conclusion was going to be because I started working on it shortly after Steve died, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I understood how challenging it was for any hugely successful corporation to lose a founder-visionary, but I thought that if any company could get through it without missing a beat, it would be Apple. It was all of my reporting that led me to my conclusion, not the other way around.

What do you think drives Apple’s fandom? I can’t think of any other brand that has anything like it on such a scale.

Yukari Iwatani Kane —I can’t think of any other brand that has anything like it either. It’s a huge source of strength and power for Apple. No one can begrudge them that. They’ve cultivated this over the years.

I do think though that there is a bit of a danger in the company focusing too much on the Apple fans. Apple’s business caters to a mass market now, so not every user is an avid Apple fan. Yet, whenever Apple announces a new product or an ad or holds an event, the loudest, the most enthusiastic voices come from the fans. That’s terrific for Apple, but If they use that as a barometer for what everyone thinks, I do think they will get a wrong read sometimes on how something is being received. When I say this, one example I’m thinking of is some of Apple’s recent ads. The fans love them, but average consumers aren’t impressed.

• You obviously have a huge depth of knowledge about your subject – I was particularly fascinated with the information about the factories in Asia. I haven’t read such a personal exploration before. I found it moving to get an insight into those lives. How did gathering this information this affect you?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — Thank you so much! Those sections took a lot of time and work, so it’s very gratifying to hear you say that.
I found the situation in China to be extraordinarily complicated. What I learned about conditions there was sad, but what I wanted to convey was much more complicated — I do think that Apple has a unique opportunity to set an industry leading standard in its relationship with the suppliers, and obviously the factory worker is the one who bears the brunt of the pressures from Apple when it negotiates lower prices, but the company is a for-profit entity, not a charity. I understand why things that have happened have happened. I also think many of the problems in China are beyond Apple’s ability to fix them (though it is Apple’s reality regardless). As the sociology professor in Beijing, Ma Ai, told me, China is going through an industrial revolution.

As part of Apple’s story, I thought all of it was relevant because it’s something that they don’t have much control over, yet they are being blamed for much of it and pressured to fix it so it’s very much a challenge.

• 
Was there any official reaction to your book from Apple?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — Just the Tim Cook comment

Unofficial?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — Nothing unofficial from Apple, but I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people who have worked at Apple and with Apple, telling me how much they loved the book.

• Seasoned Apple fans seem quite happy with Apple’s pace of releases, whereas the newer audiences engendered by the launches of iPhone and then iPad plus those who follow the money markets constantly berate Apple for not releasing new products. What’s your opinion on this? (Is Apple bound to release new items to maintain its growth and position?)

Yukari Iwatani Kane — It seems understandable that true fans will be mostly happy with Apple whatever they do, since that’s the definition of being a fan. For me, I look at Apple as a business case study about what happens when a company loses its visionary-founder at the height of its success. So the fact that they haven’t released anything isn’t interesting in and of itself. What’s interesting is the reasons and dynamics behind it.

In some ways, it’s irrelevant why some people are happy and some aren’t because it’s Apple’s reality that it has to deal with all of them. Part of what makes Apple’s position so challenging is that there are so many interested parties now with different opinions about where Apple should go and what it should do. They include shareholders, board members, the executive team, employees, media, developers, suppliers, Apple fans, and the mass market consumer. In the past, Steve had such a firm control over the company AND he was so persuasive that all of those people were willing to buy into what Steve wanted to do because there was no question that Apple was Steve’s company.

More generally, the whole concept of ‘empire’ these days is predicated on growth. Do you think it’s possible in this day and age for an empire to simply maintain its position?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — I think an empire can evolve. Apple’s moves of the last few months are interesting because you see Tim Cook’s rational and operational mind at work. The great thing about Apple when Steve was around was that there was so much innovation. But the bad thing was that there was also a lot of chaos. There are probably a lot of things that Apple can do to maximize on sales and profits, and that would be an area that Tim would excel in. Like the IBM announcement – Steve never cared for B2B but that doesn’t mean it’s not a business opportunity. Of course, this probably means that Apple will start looking more and more like Microsoft. But maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I don’t think it’s possible for any company to keep growing and innovating forever because at some point, the company gets too big to maneuver nimbly. In Apple’s case, Tim Cook can never be Steve Jobs no matter how hard he tries, so he might as well try to be the best Tim Cook he can be, which is what I think is starting to happen.

Apple may not be the magical, game-changing company it has been in the past, but it could be a very successful company that can reliably churn out revenues and profits.

Did you ever meet Steve Jobs yourself? (To me, apart from his brilliance and vision, I imagined he’d be the last guy in the world I’d have ever wanted to work with)

Yukari Iwatani Kane — Yes. It was a bit of a strange meeting because I started covering Apple for WSJ when he was sick, so he wasn’t available to the media for a long time. I didn’t meet him in person until shortly after the iPad announcement during an editorial meeting with the WSJ, which was also after I broke the story about his liver transplant.

I went up to him after the meeting to introduce myself, and he looked at me for a very brief moment before he said, “I know who you are.” But we ended up having a pleasant conversation about Sony, which I used to write about when I was a correspondent in Tokyo.

What about Tim Cook? Have you met him?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — Yes, he is a very pleasant person to speak with. I respect him


It seemed to me Jobs could reverse course almost completely without losing much face. For example, the 1984 ad painted IBM as the enemy, and then IBM was making the PowerPC chips. Microsoft was first an ally, then an enemy, then Gates was on stage with Jobs to ‘save’ the Mac. Even the switch to Intel scared Apple followers. Do you think Tim Cook has the strength of character to make changes this radical within Apple?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — I don’t think it’s an issue of strength of character. I think it’s the difference of someone who is a founder and someone who isn’t. Just think about the dynamics around the fact that Apple’s board used to report to Steve, but Tim reports to the board. John Sculley told me that when he took over in the ’80s, he felt like he was subject to more questions about decisions than Steve had been, and I’m sure that’s true because he didn’t have the moral authority that Steve did. Tim is in the same boat.

Add to that, Steve’s supernatural ability to inspire and persuade – people trusted his vision even if it sometimes led to failure because he was so convincing. It’s what people refer to as the reality distortion field, and it’s not something you can pass on. You either have it or you don’t. Tim doesn’t have it. The ramifications of that are deep because it’s not just about convincing the consumers, it’s about convincing employees, the board, shareholders, suppliers, developers, media and everyone else, who is emotionally or financially invested.

My feeling about Apple under Cook is that it’s somehow ‘nicer’. What’s your feeling?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — I respect him tremendously. My portrayal of Tim is based on interviews with probably two dozen people who have worked with him directly. I think who he is helped make Apple’s operations possibly the best in the world. But obviously you can’t expect someone who accomplished that to be cuddly.

People are multi-dimensional and full of conflicting personality traits. Tim is smart and he’s tough and disciplined, but he’s also a good son who calls his mother every week and he sincerely cares about people and wants to do good. That’s what makes him so fascinating because he’s in a job that requires him to be as tough as nails to excel, and he is, but he deeply admires Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr, which suggests an emotional depth that he doesn’t share with anyone.

Where do you think Apple will be in two years?

Yukari Iwatani Kane — I think Apple will continue to be very successful from a sales and profit standpoint, but the sense that it has lost its innovative edge will continue. How Apple executes in the next couple of years, especially with respect to new product categories, will be crucial for determining where Apple will be in five, ten, fifteen years.

[• I stand by my fascination with this book – it’s an excellent read • ]

Mediatoop, Holland: Stukje Appeltaart*


INTERVIEW-Mediatroop*A piece of apple cake: ‘Taart’ is the Dutch word for cake, and ‘Appeltaart’ made with apple slices and raisins is a staple of cafés and bars across the country. If you’re ever here, try it with coffee or a beer.

Last year when I was in Holland I interviewed the very knowledgeable Miro Lucassen, editor of the country’s Mac magazine Mac Fan. This year I happened to end up here again for several weeks and thought it would be interested to talk to a dedicated Dutch Mac user, and had the good fortune to meet a man who goes by the trade name of Mediatoop. He’s a long-term Apple user and was, at one-time, a professional basketball player. We chatted back and forth about what we think about Apple, and I gained some insights into the Dutch Apple scene

Mediatoop was born in in Nijmegen, in the east of the Netherlands, and has played basketball there and in the US, plus lived for a time in Berlin.

“When I was really young, eight or something, I turned on a compact Mac SE and it said ‘Welcome to Macintosh’ and I thought that was a pretty cool thing. Before that I had played games on the Atari and Commodore. I subsequently went to Graphic Design School in Nijmegen, then worked in graphic design companies. After that, I went to the Art Academy in 1999, because I wanted to do something with my creativity, specialising in graphic design and media arts. And at the academy, I started to help fix the Macs and keep them going. That’s when I totally dived into Mac, because that was the time Steve Jobs came out with the first colourful iMacs, the start of the revolution of the Imperial Mac Stuff we have now.” He laughs at his description. “I worked on Mac and I loved it, because the easiness and the functionality was great: not just from the software, but from the hardware.

“With a PC, you have to fight with it. There are also great PCs, but I don’t like the software. It’s too complicated. There can be ten ways to do one thing.”

“The IT guy from the academy always asked me to help him with the Mac IT stuff, so that’s when I learned the whole ins and outs of the computers and Apple Server.”

After the Art Academy, Mediatoop began a graphic design company. “At first, Apple was really a niche product for graphic designers and musicians here. It wasn’t such a general computer for ordinary computer users [in Holland] because they didn’t know about it. But then Apple came out with the new iMacs, and that was the start of the new Mac age, and I think it was really clever how Apple did it. Because after that Apple took the consumer music industry with the iPod – they already had the graphic artists.”

“Then came iPhone, and at first I was a little afraid. Why is a computer company going to make a phone? At that time, Nokia was top with phones, so why? But the iPhone is also a computer, so … it’s actually similar in functionality to a laptop. I don’t see it as a phone. Sure, you can use it as a phone too.

“Other smartphones are great, sure, but the simplicity of iOS and the way it works with my Mac is the selling point. If I get an Android in my hands, it’s working great, but it’s a little bit like Windows. Lots of things going around … I prefer the simplicity and the powerful software so it all works properly.

Music
“These days I do a little design work, and I help people in Rotterdam with their Macs. I fix the hardware, at least hard drives and RAM, and clean up the software, and give buying advice. I also follow the Open Source community for Mac. Recently I have started to create my own electronic music.

“I am now making music at home, in Ableton. Electronic music. I grew up with it, from 1993. I like it. For me it’s like the modern version of what Bach and Mozart did, back in the day.”

One person having control of many streams of music to make a whole?

“Yes. And the beautiful thing is, when you do a live gig, you can change mid-track. I am working up to playing live. I have friends who are deejays and I’ve been following this music for a long time. I keep up with the trends and sounds.”

“I like a lot of electronic music styles: Deep House, Techno, Tech-house, whatever, but not Dub Step. To me that wobble in the bass line just sounds fake. It’s not rockin’. I think bass is very important. The bass has to be good. I always start with the bass tracks, maybe making three and merging them, and building everything else on top.

“I already veejay as well as deejay. I veejay like a deejay – scratching with the images when the deejay is scratching with the vinyl.”
Like Nijmegen, Amsterdam and Berlin, Rotterdam is an established hotbed of electronic music with some great venues.

Apple in Holland
Back to Apple: “I think the iPod changed a lot for the consumer. Now many normal people these days have Macs, but you still don’t see them that much in offices, although a few companies in Amsterdam have changed to Apple. It’s expensive, but easy to maintain and they don’t have all that trouble with viruses.

“I think iPod and then iPhone boosted the [Netherlands’] market for Mac. But I think Apple has to be careful. The latest MacBook Pros aren’t configurable. You can’t change the RAM or hard drive yourself.” But he concedes the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is beautiful and very powerful.

We talk about the schism for Mac users these days. Once upon a time, almost all Mac users were professionals of some sort. Now most Mac users aren’t. Apple seems to be faltering where it’s drawing the line between consumer and professional users. Which is the appliance and which is the professional device? “It’s changing because everyone got an iPod, so then everybody wanted a Mac computer. Apple making the latest MacBook Pros unchangeable is a mistake. You spend all this money on a Mac, as much as you can afford, and if you wanted to speed up it later, you added more RAM. Now you can’t. I don’t think that’s consumer friendly.” Mediatoop thinks this is a Tim Cook mistake, and that Steve Jobs wouldn’t have allowed it (I’m not sure I agree, if it’s true Jobs had a roadmap figured out for Apple going five years beyond 2011).

“Professionals like to upgrade themselves, so they can keep their Macs up to date as their business use and budget changes. I miss this freedom.

“The Mac Pro tower is the ultimate. These are monsters. They are beautifully designed, like art pieces. They are extremely upgradeable even with little knowledge. If you have that computer, you can work for 12 years with it. If you open a similar PC, it’ totally rubbish inside. A mess. In a Mac Pro, everything is logical. Everything is clear. You can put four hard drives in, three video cards, and boost the RAM astronomically.”

MW — But Apple has really lagged on keeping this model up to date, although Tim Cook has broadly hinted that something sensational is going to come out in the Mac Pro space early next year.

If so, “I hope it’s as upgradeable as the current line, and perhaps four-times or eight-times Quad-Core CPUs. Something monstrous! But it’s not the trend. So I hope Apple doesn’t do the same thing with the new tower that it’s done with the MacBook and iMacs.”

MW — Closed machines, in other words. It’s a good point, but once again underlines the schism between Mac consumers and Mac professionals. Once upon a time, Mac offices would have a couple of towers for the graphics/audio/video professionals and other sundry MacBooks and iMacs for writing, marketing, management etcetera. Now all you see is iMacs, since they can have built-in 27-inch screens and the power to easily handle Final Cut, Logic, Pro Tools, Premiere … if you do see a tower, it’s often under a desk running the network. It’s obvious why: you can get three iMacs for the price of one Mac Pro along with a monitor big enough to do it justice (which you have to buy separately).

People still upgrade their Mac towers, but there’s been no real new model for a couple of years and even the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro matches it in speed. But the point is: is an iMac a professional or a consumer machine? When you turn it on, it acts like a consumer machine – you can’t even see the hard drive by default any more, and yet it can have very good specs and achieve hard-out work like a pro machine.

Mediatoop has a different take: “Well, both professional and consumer users need the Mac. It lets you do extraordinary things.”
They’re long-lasting, too. “I still get Macs to sort out that are still running after six years. PC laptops – and there are great ones, no doubt about that – but after three years you can throw them away. If I buy something, I expect it to last longer than a cheap appliance.”

Advice for Apple
Mediatoop has advice for Apple. “One, I think Apple needs to bring this upgradeability back. Two, Mountain Lion needs to be sorted out. It’s not so stable. Snow Leopard was a perfect system – strong, fast, small in data terms and didn’t crash. This was the ultimate OS X ever. I think Apple’s development cycle got too fast on OS X and they need to sort out the bugs in Mountain Lion, and recreate that very stable platform.”

MW — I point out that the cycle has been driven by iOS – iCloud compatibility in Lion, then Mountain Lion supporting iOS6 and iCloud better.

“I think Apple is experimenting a lot when it should be focussing on stability. And as for the features that make it more like iOS, well, fine, but really it’s two interfaces on one Mac – the normal OS X we are used to and this optional touchpad-like interface.”

MW — Back over a decade, there was the Simple Finder option in System 9. I think that’s what we need back. When you first turn a new Mac on, you should get the choice: consumer use or professional? If you tick professional, you get the hard drive visible by default for those who like to employ and control the traditional file structures for files and the Dock. If you choose Consumer, you get Mission Control and the even more iPad-like Launchpad. They don’t know they have an Applications folder with all sorts of extra things in it? Fine.

OS X is becoming a confusing mishmash with different approaches to file management and software launching. If home users really don’t want to see their file structures, fine, but for those with knowledge and/or aspirations, this is both limiting and annoying. Also, by default in Mountain Lion you can only install software bought (or free) from the Mac App Store. The warning that you’re trying to install something from outside the Mac App Store can almost make you almost think you’re dying to install malware when many developers have happily been vending perfectly excellent Mac software via their websites, Amazon and PayPal. The pros know this, but consumer users wanting to sort photos, surf the ’net, play music and get email can find this intimidating.

“None of this is good for Apple’s professional market. Now is the time, with Apple at a high peak, to stay stable and stay Mac. Consumers ask professionals for advice when they want to buy Macs and pro users were the bedrock of the Mac’s success historically. Apple has to keep these professionals happy.”

MW — The Final Cut Pro X debacle wasn’t a good sign, either. It really upset a lot of people.

“Ja. Steve Jobs had a philosophy of building the best possible. Apple has to keep that. Tim Cook has to be aware of these things. I hope he is. Because when I saw Mountain Lion for the first time, it reminded me a little bit of Android and Windows.”

MW— Ouch.

“Of course it’s not Windows, but they have to screw it back. Clear the code in Mountain Lion and get rid of the bugs. And this stupid Location thing, tracking your Mac everywhere. That’s bullshit. Why? That’s like Microsoft thinking: to know where you are.

“When I buy a Mac, I buy the fastest I can, and then I work five years with it. It gets a hard life and after five years, it’s finished. But I still have a G4 tower, that I use for internet writing, photo stuff, a little video stuff. It’s over seven years old, still a PowerPC. These were tanks. Unbelievable.”

The Walled Garden
MW — What about the criticism that Apple is a Walled Garden?

“That’s not actually true. Apple releases the SDK (Software Development Kit) to anyone, and there are more Open Source Mac developers out there than you think. I dived into that and saw a lot of great, sometimes weird programs. But you must be a programmer to really understand that stuff. X-code is an option in the system software, so there’s a lot of developing going around, and that’s great. And Apple must also be learning from those people.”

MW — But with iPhone and iPad, the hardware is totally fixed. All of the flexibility in configuration comes from the apps. This could be the model for future Macs.

“That would be the end of the computer. We don’t need it anymore. We take our iPhone 6 or 7 or whatever, and that is your computer: you plug it into a TV with HDMI, project a keyboard onto the desk … I do think that’s the future. But I don’t hope for that, as I like to have devices for different things.”

MW — Besides, an iPhone is much easier to lose. Maybe that’s why Apple is developing Siri and Dictation, to get away from the keyboard. The keyboard is not a good design – the QWERTY key layout designed to slow your typing down, in fact.

“Sure. Apple has pioneered all-in-one device before. iDevices will eventually become extremely powerful. But for now, I like the separation.”

MW — Perhaps the iPad should be further defined as ‘Apple’s consumer Mac’. It doesn’t matter that the user can’t see or use the file structure how they want to. Maybe that’s where Apple should draw the line: Macs for pros, iDevices for consumers. But I don’t think this line is drawn clearly at all any more, and I agree this doesn’t seem very Jobsian.

“Also, why can’t the iPhone appear on my desktop like a thumb drive, so I can directly control what I put on there? Doing it via iTunes is silly. And exchanging files is still really unintuitive. I think the iPad is a test device for future development; an experiment to get the iPhone and the computer into one device, for example with iMessage as the first comms technology. In the far, far future (like five years!) they’ll also develop things to put in your brain. It’s getting closer and closer to the human body. We’re already always connected, via devices that fit in our pockets.”

MW — Sure. I can connect as quickly to my daughters in New Zealand as I can with you around the corner.

“Yes. And the laptop; you can always use it as a phone, with FaceTime and Skype.”

He doesn’t trust iCloud either. “iCloud is cloudy! Apple doesn’t even tell you where the servers are. Where is my data? Who else can access it? Just buy a big hard drive and back up to it properly. Then you know where your data is. With real clouds in the sky, they are moving and changing. iCloud is Apple’s to control. It’s not yours. You can’t touch it. Your ‘iCloud’ should be your iPhone to your Mac, that’s all.”

Apple’s future
Do you think Apple will start to decline?

“There are issues. But the Maps issue, for example. Apple has to work on it, sure. Of course Google Maps is the best – Google has been working on it for years already. Apple is going to fix it anyway. Why are people screaming about it like little children?”

I think Apple should have called it Apple Maps Beta.

“Yes! But Apple does have the resources to make this work properly.”

MW— Like me, Mediatoop finds some users have made horrendous messes on their Macs, strewing files all over the place. Maybe the next step is that OS X cleans up after you? You leave a file on the desktop and phht! Os X puts it in the Documents, Photo or Movies folder.

“Yeah, maybe … but I would hate that.”

MW— But this could be another thing you could turn off.

“Sure.”

Mediatoop thinks Apple has really made it in the consumer market in Holland; the very first Apple Store opened late last year (before, it was only Licensed Resellers as is still the case in New Zealand). “Now, everywhere I go, I see Macs in people’s houses. I think it’s at 16 or 18 per cent of the market here now. But it’s still not really in office environments. So I think that’s Apple’s next target.”

Mediatoop uses his Mac in English as that’s how it was when he learnt, but thinks the language support built into the OS is a fantastic feature and has helped Apple to gain users around the world. “I think Apple’s support for local languages is a great feature.
“But I don’t get why Apple doesn’t sort out problems with Flash and Java. They are both good systems – and that’s one reason why everything works well on Snow Leopard, because they integrate well. Java used to be an excellent partner with OS X. Maybe there’s a secret fight there, I don’t know. I think Apple wants only Apple code in its system, to make it stronger. I think that’s the intention.

“Apple is really smart at buying up Unix experts. If I had a company, I would want the best workers too.”

MW— What about when Apple runs out of cats? Little cats like the Civet and Ocelot don’t really cut it.

“Yeah, maybe they’re going to build ‘OS X Black Panther’.” Laughs. “Then maybe we’re going to get ‘OS 11 Walrus’ or something. Not quite as good as cats.”

Where to, for Apple?

“I think they’re going to go for all the big companions in the world. They want Macs on all those office desktops.”

MW — Imagine the metrics and location data Apple would gain from more widespread business penetration.

“Exactly. Apple could change the business world a lot. Also in the financial world.”

MW— It’s interesting that the other big demographic of PC users is those who play games. Apple has never really challenged this hegemony of users constantly upgrading their PCs with faster video cards, better cooling, controllers, CPUs … Mac game ports have got slower rather than faster, in many instances. Call of Duty: Black Ops has finally come to the Mac two years after it was available for PC, but even now I can’t even play it on a Retina MacBook Pro – this video card/monitor is not supported. Games challenge PC makers to supply and develop ever better video cards, CPUs, scalar algorithms etc, pushing PC development generally – a factor that hardly plays out at all in the Apple world. It would be ironic if the last holdout for the PC was this highly motivated group of young-to-middle-aged game players who mess with their machines and settings for ever better performance.

And what about resistance from the IT guys?

“Well, there it’s already changing – at an IT course I attended here in the last couple of years, a quarter of the students had Macs.”

That was unthinkable a few years ago.

“Exactly.”