Let’s face it, we’re heading into the worst time of year for getting work done. Everyone is getting ready for Festivus.
It seems like Janice is always out of the office. Bob’s coming in late every day. And if Kelly sings Cartman’s version of “Oh Holy Night” one more time, you’re going to go insane. But you can’t work from home – your shared drive is locked down and your VPN is just. so. slow.
This holiday season, ask your boss for a cloud-based collaboration platform. You’ll be able to securely work from home and your coworkers will love the built-in social tools. They can share updates about what they’re working on, and you can ignore the cat videos. Your boss will love your increased productivity.
‘Tis the season for an intranet you’ll actually like.
Sponsorship by The Syndicate
Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a post titled It’s time for Apple to look at owning factories again.
What I argued then was that of the problems that Apple had the means to fix, production was what most needed fixing.
Since then we’ve seen evidence of significant investment in manufacturing tooling, where Apple is effectively purchasing the means of production rather than just renting or contracting it out. This capital equipment investment is the equivalent of owning one of the three asset classes that make up a manufacturing operation:
- Tooling or capital equipment. The “Capital” at the root of the concept of “Capitalism”.
- Skills, talent and knowledge. This is the softer kind of asset that turns out to be harder to replace or buy.
- Labor pool. Although considered a commodity even unskilled labor is difficult to obtain if flexible employment is needed in a regulated environment.
It did not stop there. It has also used capital to ensure capacity through pre-orders thereby allowing the skills and labor to be more predictably applied by its suppliers (and preventing competitors from having sufficient supplies). Apple has also taken control of chip design for the vast majority of its CPUs thus building a more bespoke supplier chain.
However these are not enough steps to make production “good enough” to meet the demands of a billion customers buying a new product every other year.
“I think they’re going through a very significant change now in terms of product cycles,” Sculley explains. “Traditionally Apple introduces products once a year; now it’s really introducing products twice a year. The complexity of that from a supply chain is immense, and Apple seems to be doing it well. So, I think that people are underestimating just how well Apple is run, and just how successful the company can be when it gets to that twice-a-year product introduction cycle.”
Former Apple CEO John Sculley: Apple is well-run | TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog
Suggesting that Apple is moving to a semi-annual cycle is a very provocative thing to say, but it’s something I’ve also speculated is happening during a Critical Path podcast. Sculley’s comments prompted me to weigh the possible evidence that this is happening:
- All of the major products which Apple sells have been updated in the Fall. This is unprecedented. Not only were product launches scheduled in the spring, historically they had been spread throughout the year. The odds that they happen to coincide by accident are nil. Not only that but the move of iPad and iPhone and iPod and MacBook and iMac to launch all within Fall (once a year) seems risky because it leaves a vast gap for competitors to fill six months hence. Indeed, given the iPhone’s launch predictability, many (most?) competing products already target launching in the Spring.
- Launch ramp for iPhone steeper than ever. The number of countries and operators launching the product in the launch quarter is nearly the entire distribution list. This is also the first time this has happened. Not only does it imply a very steep ramp, it indicates no channel fill will be happening past Q1. There will not be incremental sales to unserved customers as the fiscal year wears on.