Here is my interview with Gabe Slate, Tech Reporter, at KRON 4 TV in San Francisco. It’s quite interesting that financial services as well as utility companies have started to offer mobile and email alerts for monthly services. I guess is that the jury is still out on whether or not this is truly leading to more loyal customers, now that they have the ability to control or view their usage. We’ve become a society addicted to data and dashboards.
After Amy Winehouse died in July 2011, her album “Back to Black” rose to number one on the iTunes charts, from a previous position of “Unranked”; ditto for Michael Jackson, whose greatest hits collection sales the day of his death were 700 times higher than the day before. Kurt Cobain’s death led to a 170 percent surge in all three of Nirvana’s albums in 1994; similar surges occurred after the deaths of John Lennon, The Notorious B.I.G. and Alex Chilton of Big Star. Could Steve Jobs’ unexpected death on Wednesday evening lead to a similar surge in Apple sales in the coming days and weeks, as pilgrims and admirers seek a tangible way to honor a fallen icon?
First, another question (and not to go all unanswerably-philosophical Terrence Malick on you, but): Why do we become newly attached to the items of the recently deceased? What is the meaning of this practice? Is it as a form of tribute, an attempt to pay them back or honor them somehow? Is it because it makes us feel closer to them, helps us to remember and celebrate their lives and their accomplishments, to animate them in their peak condition one final time? Is it out of an effort to feel, somehow, what they may have been thinking so close to the mysterious unknown, that somehow within their output there is encoded the thoughts of a man or woman who is closer to the brink of death? Continue Reading →
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The day before Steve Jobs’ death, newly minted Apple chief executive Tim Cook strode across the company’s vaunted showroom stage in much the same way as his predecessor: decked out in black and prepared to unveil a highly anticipated gadget.
The reviews of his first performance were less than stellar. Four years ago Jobs was cheered within seconds of coming on stage to unveil the first iPhone; the crowd reaction for Cook’s unveiling of the iPhone 4S Tuesday was mostly tepid. The BBC’s headline proclaimed: “Tim Cook’s dull debut.” “Could they bring back Steve Jobs and right this ship?” Shepard Smith asked on Fox News after the presentation.
The passing of a man who embodied chief salesman, meticulous product designer and long-term corporate visionary leaves an unquestionable void at the heart of one of the world’s most successful companies. But Jobs has left behind a management and creative team at Apple that includes some of the most well-respected designers, software engineers and marketing wizards in the country — though most Americans may never have heard of them.
“They’re coming out of the Steve Jobs shadow, so I think all of them have a little something to prove,” said Peter Misek, a technology analyst at global securities and investment banking group Jefferies & Co. “But I feel pretty good about the bench.”
Much of Apple’s senior management team has been with the company since Jobs returned to take the helm in 1997, and most have played pivotal roles in designing and marketing the company’s signature devices and brands over the last decade. Analysts and Apple observers point out that while Jobs’ public charisma has outshone most other leaders at the company, behind the scenes his closest advisers were creating the devices and messaging that made the brand into one that is universally recognized.
“He was the face of Apple: he was very visible, he was very public and as a result, the spotlight always shone on him and the scrutiny always shone on him,” said Van Baker, a vice president and research director at Gartner, a technology research group. “But the luxury for the other members of the team was that they could just do their jobs. They didn’t have to deal with the distractions. They got to toil uninterrupted and do the day-to-day work of bringing out incredible products.”
The creative side of Apple’s executive team has directly impacted the products most Apple users interact with every day.
Beginning with the artful and translucent iMac more than a decade ago and continuing through the sleek and contoured iPad, Apple’s unmistakable design quality has been the brainchild of Jonathan Ive, the company’s senior vice president of industrial design, whose products have been displayed in the Museum of Modern Art. Scott Forstall, another senior vice president, is behind the operating system for the iPhone and its bevy of applications.
Philip Schiller, the company’s marketing chief, helped devise the memorable “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” television commercials. Eddy Cue, the company’s senior vice president for Internet software and services, played a central role in Apple’s media sales strategy, from the iTunes store to the App store to the new iCloud system.
“Keep in mind, just because the general public doesn’t know who these people are doesn’t mean that in the computer world people don’t know,” Misek said.
“There’s not a single one of these guys who isn’t thought of as a rock star in Silicon Valley.”
New chief executive Tim Cook, though not nearly the flashy performer that Jobs was, brings the distribution know-how and operational insight that analysts say is more key now that Apple has established itself as a titan.
“When Steve came back, they needed to be a disruptive company. They needed vision and cool products that disrupted the market that was out there, because they were the newcomer,” said Scott Sutherland, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “When you look where they are now, I think they still need to innovate, but they are the leaders. They don’t need to disrupt the market; they need to add to their market lead.”
The open question is whether the current team has the long-term vision Jobs had –the knack for dreaming up products that consumers didn’t even know they needed.
“I dont think anybody has really emerged as that visionary who can challenge and innovate,” said Eric Chan, the president of Mobileslate, a management consulting firm for mobile and wireless. Continue Reading →
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