NeXT Was Not A Startup

When Steve Jobs resigned from Apple and started NeXT, that was after a few months of travelling in Europe and soul searching.

The challenge at that time for him was what to do NeXT.  When he started Next, it was not started out as a startup per se.  He spent $100k to have Paul Rand designed the Next logo.  Paul Rand was a well known designer and the still used IBM logo was designed by him.

When I look at the NeXT logo and its name, I have this thinking that this is the name of a startup.  But it is not the kind of startup that we know now.  Now we talk about a lean and mean startup. Start a company on the cheap and start it from the garage.  However, get a name a la Yahoo and have a web site and makes it look like a 100 million dollar company.  And that is what the Next logo conveyed to me, a $100 million dollar company.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had early success with Apple.  It was said that Steve Jobs sold his then car for about 1k to buy electronic components and he also roped in his sister to help in assembling the electronic boards.  Just when they were assembling their first hobbyist boards, Mike Markkula came in and put in $250k.

So in a way, Apple was started without the need to write a business plan.  He also did not pitch to any investor.  All that he did was to show Mark Markkula of his garage.

Steve Jobs was still young and this early success  was one of the reasons that led him to be unable to adjust to a startup mindset.  He spent his own money extravagantly in the early beginning in NeXT.

And as we all know now, NeXT failed miserably.

Steve Jobs, I Mean, The Movie

The trailer for Steve Jobs the movie that was written by Aaron Sorkin is out.  If you have seen the movie the Social Network, you probably would know that the same movie was also written by Aaron Sorkin.

There was a lot of saying that the movie is just like the Social Network but I am not too sure why that was so since we have not seen the actual movie yet.

There is one thing that could make this movie very different from the Social Network.  Aaron Sorkin is a friend of Steve Jobs.  I believe he had a hand in helping Steve Jobs wrote his commencement speech in 2005 and Aaron Sorkin also attended Steve Jobs funeral when he passed away.

Steve Jobs had asked Walter Isaacson to write his biography and the reason could be that Walter Isaacson had written a bio epic of Albert Einstein.  Walter Isaacson’s book on Albert Einstein was also a book that I had read.  It was an epic and so I was not surprised that he asked Walter Issaacson to pen his biography instead of his good friend, Brent Schlender.

Brent Schlender wrote the book Becoming Steve Jobs, a book that I had just finished reading.  The movie the Social Network came out in the the year 2005 and Steve Jobs was still alive.

Since Aaron Sorkin was a friend of Steve Jobs and he had written the 2005 Social Network screenplay, I wonder if Steve Jobs could have also discussed with Aaron Sorkin that if there was a movie about him, Aaron Sorkin would have to write the screenplay for it.

Apple’s Secrecy

Around April in 2010, an Apple’s engineer lost his iPhone 4 prototype in a restaurant.  Apple, after discovered that it had lost a prototype phone, tried all means to get the phone back.  It also made a police report.

Apple is known for its secrecy.  We will not know that there is a new product until its announcement in the keynote.

Its employees, especially its engineers, are expected to keep a tight lip on new product development.  They were reports that some engineers work in group in a designated building.  And they seldom interact and discuss about their work with other colleagues.

When I was going through the book Becoming Steve Jobs, it was said that Apple design its new spaceship-like building in order to encourage interaction among its employees.

This was what John Lasseter said of Steve’s thinking.

He believed in the unplanned meeting, in people running into people.

So if this guy in the Mac team bounces into a guy in the iPhone team, could the Mac guy ask, “How is your work?”

Or they would just resort to talking about the ever changing weather enthusiastically.

Samsung’s Wireless Charging

It is always fun to watch Samsung’s Ad on Apple.  In the latest Sumsung’s jab on Apple, it shows how Apple users would always have to fumble with cable, especially Apple’s lightning cable.

This short Ad from Samsung ran about 30 seconds.  It spends about 2/3 of its time on talking about Apple and about 10 seconds talking about its own wireless charging.

That is, giving about two-third of its spotlight to Apple.

When I look at this Ad, I do see that there is merit in this type of charging technology.  Samsung called it wireless charging and I wonder if that is the right term for it.

You need to put the phone on the charging station and in a way, you can say that the phone needs to be docked to the base charging station.  I believe you can’t have the phone too far away from the station, not even 1 inch away from it.

Samsung might call this wireless charging even though the phone needs to be very close to the station.

This type of charging technology should belong to a new category of wireless charging method.  Instead of calling it wireless, let’s suggest to Samsung and have them called it dock station charging.

iPhone 6S Plus could be a premium phone

A report from Bloomberg has it that Apple is arranging with manufacturers and suppliers to make some early production units of iPhone 6S.

Those early production units will have a feature called the force touch similar to Apple Watch.

Those units are probably meant for evaluation of the force touch feature and the same report has it that iPhone 6S will retain the design and look of iPhone 6.

The report is likely to be true as there are so many suppliers working with Apple and it will be easy for such a news to be leaked and got out of Infinity Loop.

Another earlier report has it that because of force touch, the iPhone 6S will be slightly thicker than iPhone 6.  There was also a possibility that force touch feature would only appear in iPhone 6S Plus and if this is true, the next iPhone 6S Plus could become the premium iPhone model.

iPhone home button

An article in Digitimes of Taiwan has claimed that Apple would be ditching the home button and integrate the finger print recognition in the button to the touch screen.

The article said that Apple is experimenting with a new technology called Touch and Display Driver Integration.  If the rumour is true, it means Apple would need only one chip to control the display and its touch technology including forced touch and finger print recognition.

Electronic touch button has been around for a long time.  About 6 years back, I had bought a 24inch Samsung monitor and the monitor came with no buttons at all.  It took me a while to figure out how to switch on the the monitor as the power button on the bottom right was not easily recognisable as a power button.

If you have used a Samsung Galaxy before, it has already done away with mechanical buttons for a long time.  But for the iPhone, you would be wondering why the button is still there.

Now that Apple had integrated the touch ID to the button, it is obvious why the button is still there.

If you have an iPhone, you will find that if there is a part that could fail easily, it is the home button.  The reason could be that iPhone goes to sleep mode easily and this force us to touch the button each time we need to turn it on.

Mechanical button is prone to failure.  But because it is mechanical, you could feel the clicking sound each time you click on it.

Have you heard of a story on how Steve Jobs could pay attention to very little details.  It was said that he requested his iPod team to redesign the iPod headphone jack simply because it did not produce any clicking sound when you put the phone jack into the iPod.

I actually thought that having the mechanical button does make the phone feel more humane.  The one reason that I thought it would be good to have the button gone was that game gadget designers would be able to design a controller that could clip easily on both sides of the of the phone.

When it comes to gaming, I still prefer to play on a well designed controller rather than playing it on the touch screen.  Mechanical controller like a playstation controller Sixaxis, I believe, is still a better choice for many gamers.

What Apple Got From NextStep OS

We have heard of the story that Steve Jobs went for a walk with Gil Amelio and Gil Amelio agreed to acquire NextStep OS for $400 million.

If you think about it, the whole deal doesn’t quite make sense.  Just ask ourselves this simple question, why couldn’t Apple revamp their own System 7.  Microsoft had successfully done it when they released Windows 95.  Apple could do that for its outdated System 7 too.

The crux of of the matter was Apple’s failure in releasing the planned Copland OS.  Gil Amelio had tried to revive it by hiring Ellen Hancock of National Semiconductor but was later forced to source for a new OS in the market.  Even with a new OS, it would take several years for the new OS to be integrated with the features of System 7.

That was exactly what happened and Mac OS X was only released in 2001.  Mac OS X was the Apple OS that was based on NextStep OS.  It was Unix like and because it was a NextStep OS, it was designed to run on different platforms, be it Intel or PowerPC.

The story had it that at around 2001, Steve Jobs had wanted Sony to license Mac OS X to run on Sony Vaio system.  It was said that Jobs and his team actually made a demo to Sony executives showing a Sony Vaio notebook to be running on Mac OS X.

The saying had it that it was Jobs admiration for Sony that made him to be interested to have its OS to be running on Sony notebooks.  But take note also that at around 2001, Sony music was one of the labels that were carried in iTunes store.  So I think it was more because Apple wanted to get cozy with Sony.

The single most important thing Apple got from NextStep was a platform agnostic operating system.  They had failed to have it ran on Sony Vaio but in 2006, we had our Intel based Mac system.

iPhone iOS was actually a slimed down version of Mac OS X and so it is also platform agnostic.  The A8 iPhone chips that we are using are based on ARM architecture.  Apple could easily switch the iPhone processor to Intel chip and they almost did.  It was said that the then Apple Senior VP Tony Fadell strongly opposed Jobs plan to switch from ARM to Intel based CPU.

It was said that Tony Fadell planned to resign if Jobs was to switch to using Intel chip in iPhone.  If he did resign early, we could have Nest Thermostat earlier in our home.


The Apple Music Fiasco

Today, the news is all abuzz with the response by Eddy Cue to Taylor Swift announcement that she was not interested to have her latest album 1989 in Apple Music.

Just a few days ago, I wrote a post saying that Apple would likely be launching a service that include Taylor Swift’s latest album.  I was wrong.

The reason given by Taylor Swift was that 3 months without pay is a long time to a lot of artists.  Many artists could have just made their first cut and were waiting for their first pay.  The response given by Eddy Cue of Apple was fast.

This made @startupljackson to jokingly say:

In the Taylor Swift post in Tumblr she chided about not asking for free iPhones from Apple,

We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.

As a not so authentic Apple fan boy, I have to say that last year during the September keynote, Apple did give us something totally free.  A 100% free U2 album Songs Of Innocence that till now, I still listen to occasionally.

Asking for a free iPhone could be a bit too much but at least Apple did give us a free U2 album last year.

Pixar, a company without a business model

When Steve Jobs bought Pixar from George Lucas, he was likely to have bought it on a whim.  He was amazed by what George Lucas had demoed to him and since he was then interested to sell workstations for institutions, he probably thought that the piece of technology shown by George Lucas could one day compliment his own products.

When reading Becoming Steve Jobs, I could not even figure out what was the final product that came out of Pixar.  Was that something like 3D-max?  Pixar started out more of a software company and they were selling software systems that ran on Sun Microsystems.  The software system was hard to learn and one of their customers was actually Disney.

To show how powerful their software is, one of their designers, Lasseter developed a 3D animated story that featured a lamp known as Luxo.

The amazing thing about this was that at that point in time, Steve Jobs and his team did not see Pixar as a film making studio.  Up at around that point, Steve Jobs had been shopping around Pixar and there were a few companies in his list for selling.

It was only when Disney wanted to poach Lasseter that Lasserter came out with this idea of making 3D animated movies with Disney.  This was also how Toy Story was born.

And so as you can see, it was at the last moment that they decided that they wanted to make movies.  Now, was that a stroke of luck?


iTunes and the Napster effects

When iPod was launched in  2001, most of us have already tried Napster and see how easy it was to download free music online.

The initial iPod worked similar to Creative Nomads player.  That is, you can just upload any MP3 files to it.  So if you had bought a CD from Tower Records, you can convert the tracks to MP3 and upload them to iPod easily.

But that obviously was not how we use it.  Downloading music online was at its peak leading some universities to block Napster service in their campus.  Napster was then sued by the music industry and was shut down at around 2001.

The entire music industry is a complex web with many different smaller labels.  You might be surprised that even Madonna has her own music label called the Mavericks.

Just today, there was news that Taylor Swift latest’s album would not be available even in Apple music.

In a way, Apple was lucky and they must had carefully threaded it along a very fine line.  Their iPod could let anybody rip a CD and store MP3 files and there were accusations that users were user iPod to rip CD tracks.

Somehow, Apple was able to convince the different labels.  Initially, it seemed that Apple was telling the music labels that there was no harm in trying out a small company like Apple.  You know, Microsoft was  then the behemoth.

It was also said that Apple had told the music executives that only a technology company like Apple, that run its OS on proprietary platform could make selling music secure.

I thought the ability for Apple to get all the big five labels to sell in its iTunes store was one of the greatest achievements by Apple.