The greatest show on earth

Dan Niles, a former analyst who is now a portfolio manager, said on a CNBC appearance that the WWDC event actually had nothing of any real meat for investors

From Worldwide Developer’s Conference Prompts Analysts to Raise Apple Price Targets – 24/7 Wall St.

The “investors” that Dan Niles refers to are undoubtedly those who invest (or, more accurately, speculate with) money. But the audience for the event was an entirely different set of investors. These investors[1] invest their passion, intellect and a substantial fraction of their lives with Apple.

For them WWDC had a great deal of meat. Indeed, for them, it was probably the most significant event Apple ever staged.

The path to realizing this is to imagine the world as the “D” in WWDC see it. Developers don’t just build. Using an analogy of building or construction, they are architects and designers as well as contractors and craftsmen and artists as well as builders. And not of just of houses but of cities and communities. They see and think through tools and techniques for building and innovations in building materials. Innovations which allow them to imagine first and, later, to build new cities in ways that were never before possible.

We were therefore witnesses to an event which was, in essence, a cement conference. A new building material was introduced along with the methods for using it and the tools for shaping it. Perhaps some observers expected to see skyscrapers and interstate highways presented, and thus were disappointed. But they should not have had such expectations. A cement conference is esoteric. It’s about the rudiments which, when combined with imagination, ingenuity and a lot of work, generate livable spaces.

A few spaces go beyond comfort and delight us. Fewer still enlighten and cause the sprit to soar.

And yet it was still a cement conference.

Perhaps the way to understand the show better would be to “play it backwards.” Rather than the way it was presented, let us begin with the end:

We were shown a new concrete formulation which when coupled with a new way of mixing, forming and curing can lead to increases in productivity of construction. This is especially true when producing shapes that are complex, intricate and built into modules.

We were then introduced to some pre-formed kits that allow the materials to be combined for new uses such as flexibly shaped hospitals and gyms. And we would have to stretch only slightly to imagine how this might lead to better health and wellbeing.

Then we were shown examples of new ways that this cement was used to create new work environments. We had a preview of “show homes” beautifully architected and designed. And these homes were seamlessly connected through new transportation networks and allowed for easier commutes.  Again, it did not take much to imagine how these workspaces and homes would lead to greater productivity and how other spaces could be built around them that made such a collection of communities a wonderful place to be.

Some saw banks, and some saw art galleries and some saw warehouses, but all who were there were seeing a new world, populated by many loyal citizens.

Perhaps not populated by all. Indeed, such a country is not for everybody, perhaps only a billion people could be resident and it would not be cheap to live there. But still, imagine.

So this was the way I saw WWDC 2014. A cement conference cheered by cement enthusiasts but leaving Architectural Digest writers asking what the fuss was all about.


  1. All nine million of them []
  • deemery

    Interesting analogy. BUT, my father would be rolling in his grave, as you’re not talking about “cement” but “concrete”. (It was his specialty, and I would be corrected every time I said ‘cement’ but meant ‘concrete.’)

    And it can be pursued further, by pointing out how the use of -concrete- was the big change that made Roman architecture (including the practical stuff like bridges and aqueducts) possible. And that practical architecture both allowed Rome itself to grow greater than any other city, and for Rome to extend an empire.

    The one difference, though, is that it’s the architects who figured out all the new stuff they could do with concrete, vice the traditional stone, wood and mud. If anyone doubts this, visit the Pantheon in Rome, and its 2000 year old, cast concrete, dome.

    So at the end, I submit it’s not the “architects” who missed the point, but the merchants and bankers, those who were used to trading from small stalls in the stone-built Forums (fora, if you insist :-), that missed the point of this ‘revolution in concrete.’ (Until they realized the tremendous profits enabled by the large port structures such as those in Ostia that substantially increased shipping and cargo capacities.)

    • Clay Bridges

      > So at the end, I submit it’s not the “architects” who missed the point,
      > but the merchants and bankers

      Right. I’d say it wasn’t a cement conference. It was a *materials* conference. The “creatives”, technical or not, can see the implications of the buckyballs being thrown into the crowd. Only the most perspicacious money men and hoi polloi get it.

    • mountebank

      The Pantheon was rebuilt a couple of times. It hasn’t actually been around for 2,000 years. Just nitpicking’ for no reason…

      • James

        The current structure probably dates from 114 AD. Whether 1900 years is “around 2000 years” is a matter of opinion.

    • I agree. “Cement [or concrete if you will] conference” appears to sell short the significance of WWDC. Innovation within a particular construction material is just one dimension of the broad and constantly expanding universe of science/tech you can apply to construction and design, from molecular chemistry to environmental psychology and everything in between.

      And cement (or concrete or glass or steel) is exactly backward as it’s hardware. It’s like innovating in chips or battery or screen technology. Yes, architects must know about these, but their bread and butter is in design, functionality, human-driven applications (homes v offices v malls v airports, and as Horace says, cities and communities). Anyway, as many tech visionaries have asserted (Alan Kay and Steve Jobs to name a couple) the line between HW and SW is very thin. Or perhaps fuzzy.

      “A cement conference cheered by cement enthusiasts but leaving Architectural Digest writers asking what the fuss was all about.”

      Architectural Digest is a bad example, it’s not really a trade conference magazine but rather entertainment for architects and aspirational lifestyle for everyone, just like Unique Homes or Upscale Living or Saveur or Super Motors.

      • Sammy

        But would you liken Architectural Digest to CNBC? 😉

      • No, CNBC are like TMZ paparazzi scouting the conference for rich and famous celebrities house shopping and being disappointed ’cause “no one” was there.

      • deemery

        I think “Better Homes & Gardens” might have been a better choice.

      • Architectural Digest is precisely the example I wanted to use, for the reasons you cite. (I don’t think it’s read by architects).

      • Fair enough, but then the event can indeed be an advanced architecture conference, full of all kinds of building techniques and plans and philosophies for more integrated utilization of building spaces by actual human consumers and comunities, not merely all about some new revolutionary material.

        Even if there was a myriad of new possible building ideas shown at the conference, those magazine writers would not have anything, er, concrete to take pretty pictures of, and would still be barking at the wrong tree.

        In other words, those misguided commentators said the same thing last year when significant underlying hardware and materials innovations were revealed, like the 64-bit A7 or the M7 or use of sapphire or reinforced polycarbonate, things much more analogous to this “concrete” idea.

        Don’t expect them to say anything different in the fall event. Those writers’ job is to comment about what sells, not much else.

      • Walt French

        My wife, whose entire career has been in institutional architecture (hospitals, offices, civic buildings, …) confirms that almost no architects read it. Even those who design homes for the moneyed class would seldom bother to leave it around their offices to impress the clients.

    • berult

      WWDC 2014: opening new, seminal vistas of freedom in poured, concrete terms. As any conqueror, Roman or otherwise, would unabashedly versify, …over with nitty preliminary plays, now down to gritty intercourse.

      And as semen goes, love is in the heir.

    • stefnagel

      Interesting: “Seawater is very damaging to modern concrete. But in Roman concrete, the Pulvis Puteolanus “actually plays a role in mitigating deterioration when water percolates through it,” Jackson says. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, it appears that chemical reactions among the lime paste, volcanic ash and seawater created microscopic structures within the concrete that trapped molecules like chlorides and sulfates that harm concrete today.”

      Read more:

    • Architects have little to do with Architectural Digest.

  • mshipe

    Providing a new “cement” and arsenal of tools to be utilized by 9 million developers who a) pay $99/yr. to be a developer for Apple, b) work on a 70/30 commission basis, and c) will ultimately provide the ecosystem differentiation that augments the appeal of Apple’s hardware is immaterial for investors? Imagine being able to collectively harbor the brightest and most creative individuals in any given field who have a financial incentive to produce the most appealing products they can engineer. What would they create? The perpetual greatest show in the history of mankind. I certainly wouldn’t want to invest in that?

    • Walt French

      Not to dampen your enthusiasm, but I’m one of those 9mm developers and I’m not currently paying anything to have the Apple developer tools and view many of the developer conferences, documentation, etc.

      I’m happy just to have a fine way of writing programs on my Mac. (I just wrapped up a session.) I doubt I’ll ever be the one to put a shiny UI, etc. on my work, should it be as valuable as I hope, so don’t need much Apple-specific info.

      I imagine the great majority of developers *ARE* intent, or at least hopeful, on writing apps for (mostly) iOS. A “language popularity” site today noted how Objective-C only took off (from about 0% share) after the iPhone developer’s kit was introduced. But the tools are more broadly useful for writing in e.g., ordinary C that’d run on almost any computer in the world.

    • I’m a professional windows enterprise dev of 15 years, and have shipped my own products. two things:

      1) my MS tools (Visual Studio.NET) cost much, much more than $99.

      2) paying 30% for retail rent + distribution is a great price. I’ve made less before after selling wholesale to distributors who then markup to retailers who markup to customers.

      • klahanas

        Your MS tools are also non-revocable, and nobody has to approve the outcome but you and your users. On iOS, at least, the reverse is true.

    • stefnagel

      What Apple knows is that wallystreet blows. It’s not that Apple is unknown to investors. It’s that Apple couldn’t care less what money grubbing, risk adverse, math numb, tech dumb Wall Street thinks or does. Apple has much bigger matters to focus on. Like China.

  • stefnagel

    About the billion aspiring citizens:

    Aspirational tech is a good thing. Took me ten years to afford a Mac. Liked it all the more for the wait. (Didn’t hurt that the alternatives were bug infested beige boxes.)

    So maybe it’s two billion. Or more. How many credit card carrying adults are there on earth?

    • BlueBoomPony

      Fewer than you might think. Last number I saw for the US was 160 million people with at least one card.

      • stefnagel

        Found this stat for Visa credit: 278 million cards in the United States and 522 million cards in the rest of the world as of March 2013. Visa debit: 428 million cards in the United States and 906 million cards in the rest of the world as of March 31, 2013. Search Credit card statistics, industry facts, debt statistics.

        Could be a billion Visa cards alone.

      • Or, reverse your thinking here in that many people have several credit cards (some likely quite a few). So the actual number of credit card buyers may be significantly lower, perhaps explaining the 160m number above. Lower down on the site you cite it has two different figures for number of cards per person – 1.96 and 3.7.

      • stefnagel

        Fair enough. Gets fuzzy fast. How about staring at Apple’s current 800 million accounts in a world of maybe 3-4 billion adults? Is it too much to imagine Apple’s total “resident” population can grow to 2 billion adults? It will blow through a billion without breathing hard.

      • I have a hard time seeing Apple’s “population” growing by a factor of 2 over its current levels. I do see some growth, and I see it selling a greater variety of devices to the same users, with the iPhone base as essentially the envelope or ceiling for those other devices. I think there may actually be fewer than 800m Apple devices in use, which makes that 800m iTunes account number interesting (how many are inactive, for example?).

      • stefnagel

        Again. Can’t disagree. The 800m are not antique accounts tho’. Most are brand spanking new: The figure was 400m exactly two years ago; 200m in 2011.

      • Pretty amazing, but they only sold ~525m devices (of all kinds) during that span, which means almost 80% would have set up a new account. Does that sound right to you?

      • stefnagel

        Help. Horace.

      • Mark Jones

        Apple announced 100m iTunes accounts in Sep 2009. From Oct 2009 to Mar 2014, Apple sold 951m iTunes-accessible devices. That includes 74m Macs, 163m iPods (including Touch), 482m iPhones, 212m iPads, and 20m AppleTVs.

        Apple announced 400m iTunes accounts in Jun 2012. From Jul 2012 to Mar 2014, Apple sold 483m iTunes-accessible devices. That includes 30m Macs, 41m iPods, 272m iPhones, 127m iPads, and ~13m (my estimate) AppleTVs.

        Most of the 453m iPhone 4/4s/5/5c/5s devices, 195m iPad 2/3/4/m/m2 are still in use by the original purchasers or by new owners via resale or hand-me-downs. Add to that the 80m+ Mac installed base, and its within the realm of possibility that the 100m/400m grew to 800m within those time frames.

      • Space Gorilla

        My guess is a heck of a lot of people are new to the Apple community, so new iTunes accounts could be very high. I hear a lot of people saying they have “an Apple” when they’re talking about their iPhone, iPad, MacBook, etc, which tells me they are indeed very new Apple customers.

      • Stephen Young

        On face value it sounds off, but remember the re-sale market for those devices is now a big business. So for every new device sold to an existing Apple customer there might be a new Apple customer who buys the older device.

      • Kizedek

        Yes, many users have more than one device, but I think there are more users than iTunes accounts. It would seem that many families, for example, share iTunes accounts. We have two iTunes accounts (two credit cards) for five persons using six devices.

      • Yeah, I’m just going by estimates of the installed base for various Apple devices. I have a hard time getting to 800m across all categories. Apple has only sold 800m iOS devices total, and you have to imagine many of them are now in landfills. The Mac install base, meanwhile, is under 10% of the total (under 80m, according to the figures from last week).

      • Kizedek

        I guess, to revisit my thought on iTunes accounts, many may date from iPod purchases.

        However, I doubt “many” iOS devices are in landfills — perhaps 1G – 3G iPhones and 1G iPod Touches. The iPhone 3GS is still useable; and I would venture that all 4’s and certainly 4S’s are in active use, as well as virtually all iPads.

        The install base dramatically increases each year, because each model outsells the previous, and Apple opens new stores, adds carriers and enters new countries. The 3GS will be the next to fall off the bottom, and may soon be in landfills. But it is a relatively small part of the install base compared to the 4/4S which hugely outsold it; and the 4S (which is still sold) will get iOS 8, making it useable for perhaps another two or three years.

        As far as Apple doubling its install base, though, which you have a hard time seeing: remember that Apple is only available on half the carriers in the world (has half the addressable market of Samsung, for example), and has only just now begun to address China. That should make a doubling fairly easy to see.

      • The potential for iPhone growth is something I’ll be looking at my own analysis soon. But current run rates suggest it would take many many years to see a doubling, and though I agree with some of the drivers for growth you identify, most have been present for some time and yet we’re now seeing single digit growth.

      • Mark Jones

        The original iPad, original iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, and all iPod touch devices account for less than 200m of the 850m iOS devices sold. (Apple uses round numbers and didn’t include AppleTV in their 800m devices sold announcement at WWDC.)

        I continue to think the 300m estimate for iPhone installed base is too low. Thru Mar 2014, there’ve been 516m iPhones sold, with ~440m iPhone 4 and later. If we assume 10m pre-iPhone 4 still in use, that would mean only 2/3 of post iPhone 4 are still in use. Hard to believe that when Gazelle and Amazon are still paying up to $70 for a working 16GB iPhone 4. I think the installed iPhone base is in the 370-420m range.

        As for accounts, there are many users with multiple iTunes accounts — for example, Europeans or Asians who opened US accounts so as to have access to US-only content, or vice versa. On the other hand, my family of four has five iOS devices and four OS X devices, but only one iTunes account. That’ll change when Family Sharing arrives.

      • Space Gorilla

        The interesting thing is there’s little debate these days that Apple will at some point in the very near future, have a billion users. I started blathering about a billion users six years ago, and the general thinking back then was that I was nuts and it was absolutely impossible for Apple to ever get anywhere near a billion users. Who’s crazy now Interwebs!!!!???!!! 🙂

  • hannahjs

    Nice punch line. Architectural Digest. It’s more the flash and fluff of grandiose interior design, the decoration that sells lifestyle and magazines, and the writers know it. They don’t even bother to run a column on materials science.

    • BlueBoomPony

      Typical uncomprehending geek right there. Arrogant. Dismissive. Utterly pig ignorant.

      • hannahjs

        But I know how to get a rise out of you with a shot of mild unlabeled sarcasm.

      • chris

        But you’re still ignorant, arrogant, and dismissive. Primarily ignorant.

      • hannahjs

        I suppose I am a little of all three, at that. Bad habits learnt in engineering school at an impressionable age.

  • stsk

    Can you imagine the Windows Developers Conference getting this much dimwitted commentary from the non-tech press and financial analysts? Would ANYONE expect MS to introduce exciting new hardware products at a developers conference?

    What is it about Apple that makes basic comprehension optional for commentary? Does “Developers” mean something different when applied to Apple?

    • deemery

      Nobody threw a chair, maybe that’s why “developers” means something different for Apple 🙂

    • BlueBoomPony

      Well, if you look deeper at many of the writers, some sell books for Android or Windows. Some are consultants for Apple’s competitors. Some even give stock advice and appear to be trying to manipulate the market.

      The rest is just the geekverse and the ocean of personality disorders that bubble there. They cannot stand a company that does not cater to them. They don’t understand Apple makes appliances in the mobile area, and cannot accept use cases differing from theirs.

      If the geeks had their way, you’d have to open an xterm and edit a Python script to dial your phone.

      • Walt French

        Hmmm… as a user of many different systems, and as somebody who’s written a great deal of code on various platforms over my lifetime, I’d be curious to know who these technically-qualified writers are, who dismissed the announcements at WWDC.

        Most of them, no matter their allegiance to a platform, or expertise that allows them to sell books on non-Apple topics, recognize that their audience is developers, who have MUCH less interest in the chest-thumping done by marketeers or consultants who typically serve IT shops that are predominantly Windows-centric.

        Specifically, I didn’t see any of the negative reax in my twitter feed (which includes a couple of platform partisans as well as not-only-Apple consultants, and I only saw a few of these boneheaded remarks in my Bloomberg and other investment channels.

        I go on about this because I think it important to stay level-headed in making business assessments, and quoting the rankest stupidity puts you at risk of descending to that level, of not lookking for smarter directions, or of missing actual threats from well-thought-out competition. And much as I cheer the latest goodies from WWDC, there *IS* some fine competition out there.

    • Walt French

      I happen to straddle the @Asymco range: I run portfolios for a living, but have written a couple hundred thousand lines of code for various purposes. I just downloaded a bunch of doc on the ARM chip ,architecture” (heh, no “digest”) to help organize a program so it’ll run well on the iPhone A7 (and the presumed A8 chips.

      Nobody should doubt my esteem for Horace’s analysis; I’m very happy to see what a great job he does covering the space around business & disruption theory (as well as his forays beyond).

      But methinks you confuse the pieces that he sometimes quotes. They’re utterly unsuited to the sort of work that Horace emphasizes, … by design.

      • stsk

        Understood. My cry for sanity wasn’t aimed merely at Horace’s chosen example, which is far from the worst in this arena. It was a rhetorical question prompted by a plethora of similar fudge-brained numbskulls. (Yuki Kane, anyone?) I’m also clear on the economics of current anal ysis and commentary. I’m also aware that Horace is a business analyst, and, in my view, the best in the mobile theater.

        The meta-cry is for a solution to a structure which rewards moronic commentary to the detriment of us all.

      • Sacto_Joe

        “…with a guaranteed market but a relatively small team, how can Apple ensure that its CPU work doesn’t bear the hallmarks of its iMaps.Traditionally, captive companies often end up becoming backwaters; I haven’t read anything about the unitary business model that prevents this, unless Cook is exceptionally well-advised in making the right calls, putting the right incentives & pressure out.”

        Have you seen this from John Gruber?
        To me, it seems to answer: Yes, Mr. Cook IS exceptionally well-advised!

      • Walt French

        I’ve no doubt that Cook is a far better person to be running the shop, compared especially to people like… well, me. And ditto for those who report to him.

        But I mentioned iMaps for a reason: the product has some clear weaknesses that don’t allow Apple to use default links to Maps, instead going to Google. And that’s for a service that’s fairly central, and visible.

        Apple scored quite a coup with the A6 but the challenge is to be sure it’s at least competitive, and has sufficient incentive to explore dramatic capabilities, in ways that Maps did not.

  • BlueBoomPony

    No, it was an advanced architecture conference cheered by architects, and questioned by people who have never so much as cobbled together a birdhouse in a shop class.

  • steve

    Great obsevvations Horace. I’m more on the science than the tech side, but WWDC appears to have had some of the shock, awe and delight that surrounded the primordial gravity wave announcement.

  • jpintobks

    Fully agree

  • echotoall

    The type of chatter that creates great inefficiencies. A few years ago the same was done to google, allowing its trailing multiple to approach 16! (While it was growing faster than today.) Once the perception shifted (that they were not going to be shut out of mobile), the multiple expanded to level megacaps do not normally see. Apple still has a multiple below the market, despite its leadership role and largest capital allocation program in recent memory. And it’s because of the perception you highlight. But we also can not ignore the stock has been rising since WWDC. Which means most of the market does not agree w Mr Niles.

  • blerky

    You do know that Architectural Digest is really an interior design magazine and not a journal about architecture per se?

    • Accent_Sweden

      I think that’s the point.

    • Yes, that’s the point.

  • Gary Brockie


    Unfortunately writers like Mr. Niles have heads made of concrete and do not understand the context of the Conference and it’s keynote. Personally the presentations on Swift and Metal took my breath away.

    • Don’t be like Gary Brockie

      It’s a shame you’re missing the point, Gary. Niles is saying what you’re saying – Niles is agreeing that the conference was stunning and that developers were blown away by things like Swift and Metal and etc. To suggest Niles was denigrating WWDC is to show that you didn’t read the article properly, and are probably an Android bonehead posing as an Apple developer who actually fully understands the true fundamental nature of brilliantly wonderful and amazing change that Swift, Metal, iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, Handover and all of the other WWDC announcements offer. Please re-read the article and stop being a bonehead who denigrates Mr Niles because Mr Brockie is a thickie.

      • Don’t be like me

        oops I am the blockhead, you are right, I read the article thoroughly but not the intro, which I had thought was suggesting “Dan Niles” had written the article, when in fact Dan Niles had nothing to do with it. My bad.

      • Gary Brockie

        Sorry. I only read Horace’s article. Since I did not read Niles article but only the quote from his article I obviously have him out of context.

        I just get tired of bone heads in the press who always spin every piece of Apple news in the most negative light w/o having a clue as to what is really going on.

        If you watched any of Bloomberg’s coverage of WWDC all they were concerned with was the lack of new gadget announcement. At least they interviewed Horace who had to stop their spin and explain that this was the most exciting WWDC keynote since the introduction of the iOS SDK and App store.

      • Don’t be like me

        I explained below that I made a mistake – don’t be like me. Public apology to Gary Brockie.

  • obarthelemy

    As a non-Apple-fan, I got 2 main things out of WWDC:

    1- Apple are serious about not letting themselves get left behind. None of the new techs are revolutionary, nor even innovative, but at least they’re here, and Apple is closing the gap with Android in particular. It’s good to see some competition.

    2- Lock-in, lock-in, lock-in is Apple’s Location, location, location. I’m not only talking about proprietary, though proprietary is a big part of it, but more generally all efforts seem directed to making moving away from Apple stuff, or even simply cohabiting with non-Apple stuff, a pain. Assuming consumers don’t get wise to that, and/or most premium consumers already have Apple gear, that’s a very smart move.

    • vincent_rice

      You really have got the ‘trolling’ thing down to a fine art now. I just can’t imagine what you get out of it though.

      • Sacto_Joe


      • Sh

        There is a saying… don’t argue with the fool, the drunken…etc

    • Flexxer

      1 – You will obviously never grasp the concept of doing something not necissarily first, but doing it right, i.e. making the experience intuitive, consistent and above all more secure. And you’ve got that competetion thing backwards – Apple had no problem competing in the premium segment (= the only segment the choose to compete in) before, and beyond that they now erased basically every reason someone might have to prefer an Android flagship device, except price (under the premise that the new iPhones will have bigger screens as well). Samsung should be very afraid.

      2 – What you call lock-in is actually the premium experience Apple users gladly pay for – sublime, frictionless, secure mobile computing. This is the golden egg that Apple’s vertical integration produces, the worth of which is apparently completely lost on you.

      • obarthelemy

        1- Various Android devices still do a lot of things iPhones/iPads don’t, for example last 2d on a single charge (Apple should probably buy Mophie, they seem a required accessory if you want to last a day on a 5 or 5S), pen input, FM radio, SD slot (though that’s in the “price” category, mostly: I’d do without on a 128GB phone and tablet), widgets (the real ones, on the home screen), split-screen and PiP multiwindows, generalized “intents” and OS modularity (I do use 3 different browsers daily), …

        2- Secure, except for lock-screen, HTTPS… vulns. Again, iOS is not more secure than non-rooted+PlayStore-only Androids. And apps crash 2x more (hopefully having a modern language will now fix that). As for frictionless, indeed, if you’re in a 100% Apple world, but a lot more friction-y if you aren’t (clue, my brother’s “oh, that’s it” when I plugged my Android to his Mac to transfer pictures). That’s a plus and a minus, because I know no-one who is 100% Apple.

      • comedian

        Good joke.

      • Anon Techie

        nice joke

      • JohnDoey

        All of the things you mentioned as special Android features existed on either the Mac or iPod or both for many years before Android even existed. In some cases, for decades.

      • obarthelemy

        ” They are working on long-term plans, not responding to whatever is hip this quarter on Android or Windows.”

        Sure. And our hands will grow bigger between now and the fall to make the larger iPhone also “designed for our hand”. And that “customers want what we don’t have” memo is a fake. Trying to guess were iOS would be at if Android didn’t exist is pointless, the fact is that were iOS is going is were Android has been at for a while.

        Also, Apple didn’t invent floppies, nor even removable storage. “SD cards is just a floppy from Mac” shows an hilarious degree of bias. Ditto for OS kernels, graphics and audio APIs and libraries (as well as a host of others you don’t mention)… All modern computers have them, Apple didn’t invent them.

      • Space Gorilla

        Obart is lost in the fanboy world of First! and Specs! and Open! Rational discussion is simply impossible.

      • obarthelemy

        Yep. Cause ad hominems are soooo rational. And interesting. And convincing.

      • Space Gorilla

        I suggest you look up more than the dictionary definition of ad hominem. Your bias is indeed relevant to the weakness of your argument.

    • JohnDoey

      Apple is closing the gap between iOS and Mac OS X, not iOS and Android. Both iOS and Android are about a decade behind the Mac. Where iOS appears to be behind Android, that is only because Apple is building securely and for the long term.

      In other words, the Mac file chooser showed up on Android before iOS, but when it finally arrived on iOS, it was secured in new ways that suit mobile context and consumer users. The Mac file chooser showed up insecure on Windows over 20 years before it showed up insecure on Android. There is nothing for Android to be proud of there.

      • obarthelemy

        If File Choosers were really “Mac’s”, Apple would be suing everyone using one. Plus putting a ToC on a computer screen instead of a book page… probably only patentable in the US, if there. Norton Commander ?
        And indeed, nothing for Android to be proud, that’s a very basic feature. Welcome, Apple, to the wonderful world of being able to navigate your own files.

      • broken

        It’s extremely broken on Android, probably mostly because of SD card support. They’re trying to fix it, though. Good luck, lads.

      • obarthelemy

        Define “broken” ? You’ve got a file browser, it browses files.

        The canonic Unix file access rights are used (read, write, execute, per user and/or group). Same as on iOS, I’m sure (same as on MacOS, for sure).

        I think you’re confusing (voluntarily or not) the ability to browse files with the fact that until 4.0, access control on files on external SDs was very optional and un-managed. Google started to bake stronger file access rights in 4.0 or 4.1 with a specific “managed storage” API: basically, apps are supposed to create their own private dirs and access only those, and you can create public dirs for stuff like media. Now they’re putting pressure on OEMs to actually enforce that model… OEMs, devs, and advanced users would rather trade security for expediency, but regular users need fencing in.

        Note that this applies only to external SD cards, the built-in user-data Flash RAM (confusingly named “internal SD” in Android) has always been strongly access-controlled and secure.

      • broken

        Broken as in dangerous, confusing, insecure, poorly handling removal, etc.

      • obarthelemy

        1- Not true for the “safety” canard. On non-rooted phones, the file browser has the same privileges as a regular app, ie can only touch what’s either his/yours, or public.
        2- Just checked my Home folder, it’s indeed a bit confusing because general-purpose folders (Music, Pictures, Ringtones…) are interspersed with more exotic ones (transportmtldata, openfeint, yahoo…). That handful of badly behaved apps should probably put their data in a more discrete and safe place, which is not only possible but easy and recommended. Shame on them.

        Of note, that same file browser allows me direct access to the media on my server, and I use it daily.

  • Vladimir

    As an architect I like the analogy, too. Or to say, I like how it is used to show the bigger picture. I will not go nitpicking about the details of it (there is a weak spot in every analogy anyway).
    I would like to show there is even bigger picture, though. 🙂
    As much as it seems essential as a material, the concrete is only one of the available materials out there. Building with concrete ONLY gives a pretty uniform world, not necessarily better overall. Cause there are so many good materials, tools and design approaches which combined among themselves (and with the concrete) can give more to the users.
    Apple did essentially one other rather controversial thing IMO: at the same time they installed the windows on its walled garden (Extensibility), but further strengthened the rest of the wall (Swift). Don’t know what to think about the walled garden concept (no matter how nice it is inside it is still a ghetto), but it is surely a good thing (for customers, not for them necessarily) that most of their design moves now are well thought reactions to what the users say and to what competition does.

    • ghetto

      That’s not what the word ghetto means.

      • Vladimir

        ghet•to (ˈgɛt oʊ)

        n., pl. -tos, -toes.

        1. a section of a city, esp. a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of a minority group.

        2. (formerly, in most European countries) a section of a city in which all Jews were required to live.

        3. an environment to which a group has been relegated, as because of bias, or in which a group has segregated itself for various reasons: female job ghettos; a suburban ghetto for millionaires.

        [1605–15; < Italian, orig. the name of an island near Venice where Jews were forced to reside in the 16th century < Venetian, literally, foundry (giving the island its name), n. derivative of ghettare to cast; see jet1]

        It doesn't have to be slum or concentration camp to be a ghetto. I took the wide meaning of the word, no pun intended.

      • JohnDoey

        We know the dictionary definition, but apparently you did not read it. Just Copy/Pasted. You are still wrong.

        Nobody is relegated to the Apple platform. Nobody is forced in there. Everybody chooses to be there. If anything, there are people who are outside the Apple platform that want to get in but can’t get in. They are stuck outside the Apple plafform for economic reasons (can’f afford an iPhone) or political reasons (Apple products not sold in their country yet.) That is the opposite of a ghetto. A ghetto has people who are forced in for economic or political reasons and want to get out but cannot get out. The Apple platform has people who not only chose to be in there, they paid the highest rent there is to be in there, and they can get out any time they want to. In fact, they have to work hard to stay in — they have to be able to continue to afford a new iPhone every 2 years to stay in.

        So the Apple platform is not a ghetto, it is more like a 5-star luxury hotel with the best customer service and the best amenities and a lot of people outside complaining it is too expensive in there, they can’t get in.

      • Vladimir

        I read it. Unfortunately I couldn’t bold or underline for you the part that says you are wrong, so I will post it again here.
        “3. an environment to which a group has been relegated, as because of bias, or in which a group has segregated itself for various reasons: female job ghettos; a suburban ghetto for millionaires.”
        So, “a group that has segregated itself for various reasons”, and then it says as an example “a suburban ghetto for millionaires”.
        And again, Apple is not that expensive or matter of “luxury”, it is even cheaper to buy than Samsung, HTC, Sony, or even LG. Here in Japan providers give it away for free, just to lure you into their walled garden (which is another story).

      • SockRolid

        “…that’s so ratchet.”
        – #SELFIE, The Chainsmokers

    • JohnDoey

      That is also not what “walled garden” means. The term was coined to describe the phone carriers. That is, you buy a phone from Verizon and it runs only on the Verizon network, and it has apps, music, video, from the Verizon app, music, and video stores, and cannot run apps, music, and video from any other source. Not even the Web. This all predates Apple’s entry into the phone market.

      In the context of WWDC, one has to keep in mind that native apps are by definition proprietary to the platform they run on. That is the nativeness. There are also virtual apps, like Web apps, that are non-native and non-proprietary. So MS-DOS apps ran only on MS-DOS, Mac apps on Mac OS, Windows apps on Windows, iOS apps on iOS. Calling that a walled garden is absurd and ridiculous. Especially when iOS brought the World Wide Web to phones, and is a direct descendent of Mac OS X which is a direct descendant of NeXT, which was the platform upon which the World Wide Web was created in the first place. Any platform with the World Wide Web is not a walled garden.

      To your larger point of “who wants to live [on the Apple platform]?” — pretty much everybody. Since most humans are not architects, we actually do want someone else to build us luxury homes and offices that function well and support our home/work life. The idea that everybody wants to be their own architect or programmer is only popular with architects and programmers. For writers, musicians, doctors, real estate agents, and so on — we are very happy to take a Mac and /or iPad and/or iPhone out of the box and have it almost instantly help us in our work, with relatively little computer/technical overhead.

      I didn’t see anything at WWDC that was a response to Apple’s competitors. The evolution of iOS is the same as the evolution of Mac OS X from many years ago, except iOS is built for consumers and mobile and touch instead of producers and desktop and mouse. In iOS 1.0, Copy/Paste was missing. It did not show up in iOS 2.0 because of an Apple competitor — it showed up because it was already on Mac OS X and simply had to be rearchitected for the mobile version of OS X, which is iOS. Same with Extensions (Services from Mac OS X) and the file chooser Extension (Finder from Mac OS X.) Little by little, Apple is redoing each feature of OS X for consumers and mobile and wireless and the 21st century. The complaint might be that they are operating in a vacuum, not that they are responding to competitors. There are no other high-end PC’s left but the Mac. No other high-end phones left but iPhone. No other high-end tablet but iPad. There really is no competition in those spaces to respond to. The biggest competition for Mac comes from iPad in most cases and vice versa.

      If you imagine a long-time Mac developer who looked at iOS 2.0 and the first version of App Store, they might have seen 1000 points of infrastructure that their Mac app needed that were missing. By iOS 3.0, it might have been 900 points. By iOS 7, it might have been 300 points. With iOS 8, they might find all the infrastructure they need to port from Mac to iPad is there now. That is the process that Apple is following. Not competing with Google or Samsung or whomever. In the same way that OS X was a reimagined Mac, iOS is a reimagined OS X. The pressure on Apple is to build infrastructure for developers to keep them building primarily for Apple platforms and secondarily for other client systems. The way they do that is not to copy iPad features from Samsung tablets — they copy iPad features from the Mac because the Mac is the Rolls Royce of client computing. iOS is the Rolls Royce motorcycle of client computing. What Ford is doing is largely irrelevant.

      • Vladimir

        Thank you for your long post.
        1) You don’t have monopoly to the meaning of the phrase “walled garden”. In terms of OSs, design approaches and business strategy Apple is the closest one to that meaning now. But as we can see that is changing a little.
        2) That “everybody would be happy to have iPhone if only they could” gives you away. After that being said, what is the point of any discussion. It is your right to think like that, but when you write something like that please consider stressing that that is your personal opinion rather than the fact. And BTW there were attempts to make the ultimate house that appeals to everyone but it turned out to be utopia. Is really one phone good for everyone? Don’t bother answering, it was rhetorical question.
        3) All that Apple presented on this WWDC you can already find on the other platform(s). Even the health info collectors and smart house support. Some things are more advanced in some details, some things are not yet there, but overall, its a dead race. So, iPad mini, bigger iPhones (and again bigger iPhones), notification center, control center, widgets, phones in different colors, flat design, and all the other bold moves that Apple made recently are not as you say taken from the OSX but from the competition and from the users whining. And that is not a bad thing, I am not bashing Apple here. I have certain respect for what they do, although I will not try to prove it to you who says that only the Apple products can be high-end. Because you are right, I never saw iPhone in the bus or train, only and exclusively in the Rolls Royce (on the back seat of course) 🙂

      • Mark Jones

        Where does John write “everybody would be happy to have iPhone if only they could”? I don’t see anywhere in his entry anything that conveys that thought.

      • Vladimir

        That is from his post down which I saw before responding to this one:

        “If anything, there are people who are outside the Apple platform that want to get in but can’t get in. They are stuck outside the Apple plafform for economic reasons (can’f afford an iPhone) or political reasons (Apple products not sold in their country yet.)”

        And this

        “The Apple platform has people who not only chose to be in there, they paid the highest rent there is to be in there, and they can get out any time they want to. In fact, they have to work hard to stay in — they have to be able to continue to afford a new iPhone every 2 years to stay in.”

        And this is the cherry on top:

        “So the Apple platform is not a ghetto, it is more like a 5-star luxury hotel with the best customer service and the best amenities and a lot of people outside complaining it is too expensive in there, they can’t get in.”

      • Mark Jones

        John didn’t say that “everybody” is trying to get in (i.e., get an iPhone), only that there are people who are — which is true, at least, according to the analysts.

        John also didn’t say that “everybody” who has an iPhone is happy to stay in. In fact, he says, “they can get out any time they want to.” And people need to choose to be there and stay there as there is no country where iPhone is the only choice. So I think you’re misinterpreting his comments.

        As for “ghetto”, despite the definition you found, I would think most agree that the predominant context for the word involves the idea of being relegated or forced due to circumstances, not of freely choosing to be segregated.

      • Vladimir

        No, he explicitly says (I quote him one more time)

        “If anything, there are people who are outside the Apple platform that want to get in but can’t get in. They are stuck outside the Apple platform for economic reasons (can’t afford an iPhone) or political reasons (Apple products not sold in their country yet.)”

        So he says there are only two reasons why people are not in Apple ecosystem
        1) economic (they are poor)
        2) political (not allowed to buy iPhone)

        So, I think I understood him well about that.

        As for the word ghetto, again, you can choose to agree or not to the definitions from the dictionary but that doesn’t make them less true. And I used the word metaphorically so it is even more pointless to insist on the precise meaning. I didn’t want to make fun of Apple by using the “G-word”, I just wanted to stress the possible point of view. You say it is The Perfect Pizza Company, John says its 5-star hotel, I say it is ghetto for the techie guys. The truth is, as always, somewhere in between. Good night

      • Mark Jones

        “There are people” does not equal “everybody”. The “but can’t get in” amplifies the phrase “want to get in.”

        Logic and English class would tell you that the sentence “There are people who are outside the Apple platform that don’t want to get in” also exists alongside John’s sentence.

      • Mark Jones

        “All that Apple presented on this WWDC you can already find on the other platform(s).”

        That’s false. All the high-level concepts may be found on one or more other platform, including Android, Windows, Macs, etc. But Apple presented more than just concepts; they’ve provided their implementation. And the point is that the implementation is strikingly different; not just that “some things are more advanced in some details, some things not yet there.” Among other things, Apple has baked security, privacy, and mobile use into their implementation because the foundational principles of iOS are different from OS X, Android, etc. You’re making the same error that those who just count features make.

        Every pizza place in the world makes pizza. But some pizzas are different from, and arguably better than others, not just in taste, but also in presentation, construction, cooking efficiency, etc.

        Finally, how do you know the iOS changes are “from the users whining”? There’s this stupid meme that analysts and pundits long ago promulgated that the iPhone SDK and App Store came from public whining after iPhone 1.0 was released, when in reality, they were in development before iPhone could even be purchased. (See Jobs talking about security and sandboxing at the D conference in May 2007.) You’re just keeping in step with it.

      • Vladimir

        I don’t call on memes, never saw that one you are mentioning.
        Anyway, when you brought the pizza. I don’t have nothing against their pizza but I don’t think that the one crust can be equally tasty to everybody in this world. No matter how good is the ordering system, delivery and toppings, the crust has its own taste and that is personal.

        The idea that Android already has all that is presented at WWDC came to me actually while I was watching Federighi on stage. All that he did, I could do a year ago. I will make a video on that, when I have time. But still I was happy to see how some of those solutions were implemented.

      • klahanas

        More importantly, can I add grated cheese, crushed pepper, and oregano to my pizza, or will I have to get permission first?

      • Mark Jones

        There seems to be an opportunity for someone else to conceive of and offer up another pizza place, one that addresses security, privacy, and mobile ease-of-use as well as iOS and App Store, but with fewer limitations. As I am not a security expert, I don’t know how many limitations could be eliminated without compromising the system. As I am not a marketing expert, I don’t know how many consumers would actually pay for this option.

      • MarkS2002

        Some people like to wander through the garden and some head right for the fence. Personally, there are more flowers here than I could ever imagine, smell, or admire. There are also a lack of vicious animals to look out for. I understand that this may remove some of the adventure; but if eliminates the chance that I will have Chinese (or NSA) spyware included as an invisible feature, I’m ok with that. Looking at the spice leaves and bark, I’m pretty sure you could make a tasty pizza anywhere in the garden; but if complaining about the chef or the garden designer (or whatever metaphor you choose to apply) is your thing, then have at it. I guess Apple has met your needs in that department, as well.

      • obarthelemy

        1- what is a native app ? a locally-installed one (there are cross-platofrm dev kits that do that) ? a compiled app (ditto) ? An iOS (which by definition is good and native, as opposed to all other apps that are bad and non-native) ? Most apps are available on both Andorid and iOS, does that make them non-native ? If native = proprietary, can open-source apps be native ? You’re not making any sense.

        2- There were phones to accessed the Web way before the iPhone. Even my Palm PDA could (don’t remember if it was the TX or the V).

        3- “Any platform with the World Wide Web is not a walled garden.” from wikipedia: “A closed platform, walled garden or closed ecosystem[1][2] is a software system where the carrier or service provider has control over applications, content, and media, and restricts convenient access to non-approved applications or content.” Also: “Some examples of walled gardens: Apple iOS and other mobile devices, which are restricted to running pre-approved applications from a digital distribution service”. You can choose to live in your own word and novlang you way out of arguments, but, for good or bad, iOS is very much a walled garden, where Apple choose which apps you can install.

        I could go on, but the mix of falsehoods and ridiculous statements in the first few lines is overwhelming.

  • obarthelemy

    There was one thing missing that I find weird, because curated and subscription services are so dans l’air du temps: curated app subs.
    Trying to think of ways to drive up usage and spend, a Spotify-lookalike for apps would seem a good idea:
    – the pitch is crystal clear: “for $5/mo, you get the best apps in each category”
    – curation is a way to reward good developer behaviour (respect of design guidelines, reliability of apps…)
    – App stores have grown to an unnavigable, random bazaar that turn prospective buyers off
    – since spend / device is very low, even a cheap subscription ($4.99/mo ?) would be a significant uptick in spending
    – it’s a way to counter in-app purchases, which I think will hurt the medium in the long term
    – it’s even more lock-in

    • Mark Jones

      Apple just provided a way to bundle multiple independent apps into a single purchase. So someone can use that to curate.

      The subscription angle reminds me of book clubs sending hardcover books monthly. I hated that. But to each his own…

      • obarthelemy

        The book club analogy is a big put-off indeed. But, 1- the situation is different: book clubs had high logistical and variable costs, Apptify has none. 2- even that physical-goods-by-subscription model has had and is still having some success. They do it for diapers, razors, wines and condoms these days, on top of books, which is kind of good news for apps where the economics are much easier.

        I think a better analogy would be cable bundles (OK, that’s not very positive either, but still, successful), or even your mobile phone contract. Isn’t Software supposed to have morphed into a service, like voice/texts/data are, over the last decade ?

    • Walt French

      @obarthelemy said, “App stores have grown to an unnavigable, random bazaar that turn prospective buyers off.”

      IOW, too much choice is bad for consumers.

      This seems rather at odds with previous positions that you’ve taken. What it’s really saying, however, is that developers still need to have marketing, that they can’t count on the store, even if it’s the single point of sale for an app, to le prospective users know why they want to have it. That marketing message, of course, simply gets in the way of buyers who’ve just seen a friend’s app and wants to buy it for himself.

      Neither Google nor Apple have taken on the role of being hired marketers; it’d seem to be rife with conflict of interest. In the PC / Mac markets, there are indeed several app bundlers tha pitch a bundle of 10 apps (one I might want, maybe two that sound interesting) for a flat $29.95; this might now be a viable business with Apple’s bundling feature.

      But I think the real issue is that most apps aren’t really worth the time that it takes to find, download and sign in to. It’s quite amazing how sophisticated apps can be, but that doesn’t mean they are useful. I think the randomness will continue and the firms that can do decent marketing in addition to making better-than-average apps will be the winners.

      • obarthelemy


        1- I’m not saying too much choice is bad, I’m saying a disorganized, low-information store is a bad store.Spot the difference ?

        2- Explain how Google and Apple as Marketers is a conflict, but as Censors, isn’t ? Isn’t allowing/disallowing and pushing/not pushingin the same ballpark . If I were you I’d be saying “IYOW, you have an issue with curation, then ? Funny dat…”

        3- Indeed, hence my suggestion to try and lower that time.