Thursday, June 7, 2018

WWDC | Lefsetz Letter


It was a nerdfest.

The gold rush is over, tech is commonplace, the big companies won, you’re a user, not an early-adopter, and maybe you use Apple products.

Or maybe you don’t.

It’s the theme of our nation. The haves and the have-nots. It runs through politics and education and tech. Can you afford a Mac? Do you want to spend that much? Can you afford a BMW? Do you want to spend that much?

And if you lease your cars, you know that there’s an advantage to staying with one brand, they overlook mileage overages, they give you a good deal, they call this RETENTION!

And that’s what Apple is now all about.

And software.

Shiny gadgets are done. And Americans just cannot get over this. In a consumer society, they want to buy something they can show off, say they have, ergo the iPhone upgrade mania, you wanted to be branded by what you possessed. But now only the most sophisticated watchers, those who viewed this presentation, can tell the difference. Now it’s all about what your gadgets can DO!

And what they can now do is an incremental advancement, not revolutionary.

Memojis. Sounds bogus until you watch it demonstrated. Apple makes it easy to create an image of yourself.

Walkie Talkie. It’s almost enough of an innovation to make you get an Apple Watch, and force all of those close to you to do so too.

But you need cellular service for it. That’s right, you’ve got to pay, and most won’t, because they can’t afford it, or won’t spend for it.

Now you might be an Android person, you might worship at the feet of Google, which is a mighty impressive company. Then again, Apple doesn’t exclude Google or Facebook or Amazon or Microsoft, it plays with all of them. So the issue is, if you’re not in the Apple universe, you cannot partake of little features the Apple people can. Like iMessage, which acknowledges delivery. Now I don’t want to get into a debate of which platform is better, all I’m going to say is we’ve entered an era of tech Balkanization, which reflects our country at large. You’re in one camp or the other, and to a great degree both camps look down on each other.

The music business runs on Apple. It’s rare that you see someone with an Android device.

The rest of the world, outside the U.S., is dominated by Android.

And they ain’t gonna merge.

Apple people are not leaving, they’re too tied up in the system. And most Google people are tied into that company’s wares. And then there are those so poor they go for the cheapest option, which is Android.

Now I’m not writing this for the zealots, who will point out that this is a developer conference, and not for the general public. And I’ll retort that devices have been introduced at previous WWDCs. And there we have the argument with no resolution. There we have America in a nutshell. Opposing viewpoints, with both sides having contempt for each other.

But if you are not a zealot…

Chances are your life will be easier if you go all Mac. And if you’ve got an iPhone and a PC, you’re missing out. Tight integration of Apple devices yields bonuses, like the synching of Messages via iCloud recently announced.

And if you’re waiting for the new iPhones in the fall, you’re missing the point. The point is the power, your devices are tools. What can you do with them?

You’re on your own. You’ve got to figure it out yourself. But so many people can.

And you want a device that can harness these software features. iOS 12 will work with devices back to the 5S, but if you’ve got one of those, you’ve got a screen so small with a chip so slow you can’t do much. Ditto the Mac.

So where we are now is the software era. “Consumer Reports” criticizes Tesla for long stopping distances with the Model 3 and Tesla writes new code and pushes it out over the air to update cars in the field so they stop faster. Yup, this is how you do it.

Your iPhone and Mac are updated constantly.

Your Android operating system is not, or to be more clear, it’s difficult to update your Android phone.

And now I’m devolving into geekdom.

But the point is a door has closed, a window too.

Used to be you lived for tech, it was a pursuit, you purchased new devices to catch up.

Now tech is de rigueur. Startups can’t start, the behemoths won’t let them, or will buy them. It’s kinda like television… Once everybody had one, once the cool factor was over, the question became…WHAT’S ON?

Of course we ended up with color and the Trinitron and the flat screen, but it was less about hardware than software, the shows.

And we’re in that tech era now.

So, the geeks get it. They go into tech to fulfill an inner dream, to play in that sandbox more than to get rich.

And the rest of us don’t speak their language but benefit from the fruits of their labor.

But their tools are empowering.

What can you do with them? What WILL you do with them?

It’s personal and it’s artistic. What power will you extract from your phone, which you barely talk on and is really a computer.

What will you create with these tools. Everybody’s building stuff, poorly, but for those who reach the pinnacle of artistic and scientific excellence, rewards still rain down.

But the mania is history

Now we’re in our silos. Rich/poor. Democrat/Republican. Apple/Android. We’re just arguing, complaining, when the truth is we can change the world if we just employ the tech tools delivered to us. The sexiness isn’t the hardware, or even the software, but the PRODUCTION! The oohs and ahhs don’t come from a new box, but the end result.

People, start your engines.

And chances are, unless you’re a techie yourself, your journey will be easier on Apple devices.

P.S. Tim Cook handed most of the presentation to Craig Federighi, GOOD MOVE!

P.P.S. Many women demonstrated software, and quite well. Why is it that Apple got the #MeToo memo and the entertainment business is still struggling with it?

P.P.P.S. It’s the little things that make the difference, like the automatic authorization with Apple TV. People rarely recorded with their VCRs, it was too difficult for them. But the DVR made it easy. Sure, you can use an app on your smart TV, but the authorization of apps is a stumbling block, Apple just took that block away.

P.P.P.P.S. The reality distortion field still exists. This presentation did not deliver huge breakthroughs, some can be done on other platforms, but never underestimate the power of sizzle and the ability to make computing easier. But you’ve got to pay for it.


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