Archive | July, 2013

Another Executive Churn at Apple : Bob Mansfield

31 Jul

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So in the past 5 days, one rumor from MACRUMOUR apparently proved true and shook the tech world –  and in particular in context of Apple – again. This time its the sudden disappearance of Bob Mansfield(SVP, Technology) Bio from Apple’s website.

As this started to spread, it became more and more true and very soon the following was reported by AllThingsD :

“Bob is no longer going to be on Apple’s executive team, but will remain at Apple working on special projects reporting to Tim,” company spokesman Steve Dowling told AllThingsD.

He declined any further explanation, refusing to comment on the reasons behind Mansfield’s abrupt demotion or whether Apple plans to appoint a new SVP of technologies.

One may ask whats the big deal if some changes happened at a company’s website. Well for a public listed company like Apple, whose market cap at one point was about to hit Trillion $$$, which is by far the most high profile tech company on this planet and whose every move is closely followed, scrutinized and ripped away of thousands of journalists, web-sites, blogs etc this is no small development.

Everything Apple does there is a very strong reason or logic behind it, doesn’t matter if that reasoning or logic doesn’t make sense to the world at large. In-fact one may argue that this works good for Apple. People may think that they don’t understand why Apple is doing it, but if Apple is doing it so there should be something about it! Yeah this is RDF at work of which the foundation was laid by Steve Jobs!

What makes the news even more significant is that just last year it was reported that Bob is leaving Apple and after exactly 2 months it was again reported that he is staying back.  Well that staying back cost Apple $85 million as that was the price Tim Cook paid to make Bob stay! Even that time it was told that he would be working on “future products” and this time its “special projects”.

Apple..always surrounded in mysteries and clouded with secrets.

But there is definitely more than meets the eye. After Jobs left earth to enlighten the other world in 2011, Apple has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Stock price getting hammered (in the last one year Apple’s stock has dipped by more than 50%), lack of new innovation and new products. iPhone 5 which was expected to be a game-changer again, didn’t even rattle anyone besides being more slimmer, more lighter and slightly bigger. iPad is more or less the same. Besides the new mini iPad, there is actually nothing new at Apple besides prosaic updates of its existing hardware line and to an extent to its software (iOS).

At the same time its biggest rival for software – Android and Hardware – Samsung is blazing on all fronts. Android subscriptions is growing exponentially(900 million +), and Samsung thanks to its S3/S4/Note series is doing exceedingly well.

This makes Apple all the more in the news in the context of lack of innovation being its biggest lacuna at the moment among others. Between the very first iOS and iOS 6 at present, there is no sea-change. Yes iOS has evolved significantly but still its more of the same. Or may be because Apple is so hell bent(good for customers!) on providing the best User Experience its very measured in the changes it brings to its users. And due to its flawless execution of changes, very soon it becomes part of our everyday mobile computing and ceases to be something new! When iPhone 5 event was announced, everyone was expecting a major change in terms of hardware, but all Apple did was made the iPhone taller thereby increasing the screen size to 4″ from the existing 3.5″ and of-course making it more slimmer and lighter, which needless to say is incredible hardware engineering at work. Combining design and technology has always been Apple’s forte though technology wise its lacking.

It is no doubt that Steve Jobs was the thread which tied Apple magically and brought the best out of people. After his demise, changes were expected, but the way its been unfolding, Jobs would be sad, very sad. First came Scott Forestall’s exit who used to head iOS development since inception and played a major role in all the Keynotes. Since then Jony Ive has taken over his role in addition to adding breath-taking value in terms of hardware design. Then came the hammering of the stock price and doubts over Tim Cook’s ability. Then Bob Mansfield exit(re-enter soon enough), no new products. Even the recent iOS-7 didn’t get as much as a positive response as expected.

Long story short, Steve Jobs is being missed like never before. Tim Cook is clearly unable to do though I am sure he is trying what is best. Of-course we have to realize and acknowledge whom he has taken over was a genius, a visionary, a game-changer in technology and his persona, his intelligence is what legends are made of! And its no easy feat to replace legends!

Problem with Apple is that it has too few people with whom the public can relate to. Barring the extremely high-profile Keynote events which happens 2-3 times a year there is not much of what we hear from Apple. Its like only during the events, 3-4 people come out of their hibernation for a few hours, then again go back till the next event and the cycle goes on. At present for me its only Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, Jonathon Ive, Philip Schiller and a recent new face in the name of Craig Federighi. Bob Mansfield was but is not part of the Leadership team.  So for a company of Apple size, just 5 people who are the face of the brand. And if any one leaves your spectrum of connect becomes even smaller. Just imagine hypothetically if all these 5 people and new faces come. Apple for me will become an alien in an instant. Steve Jobs was a marvelous brand ambassador for Apple for close to 13 years and was the best marketing/sales-person ever on this planet. Period. I remember after watching all his Keynotes from 2009, it was my dream to own its products and I just HAD to have them! One dream got fulfilled last year with the iPhone 4S…few more to go! 🙂 And just to add, every-time I use my iPhone, which is all the time I am awake, I just keep falling in love all over again! Yes it is that awesome! The reason I am NOT switching to iPhone 5 is that I am yet to get bored by 4S! So why upgrade when I haven’t had enough with 4S!

Which is why it worries me when I hear such news of executive churn. I want Apple to keep doing the magic its been doing, so that I can keep falling in love with their products!

Internally no one know what this development means, no one knows what the “special project” is, but as the saying goes, people are not great because of the great company they work in, its great people which makes the company great!

Lets hope Apple starts getting in the news more, but for all the right reasons!

 

Anirudh

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Fantastic Read : Google Android’s 3 UX Design Principles and 2 Jars of Marbles

9 Jul

Android-Developer2

 

First thing first, I am an Apple fanboy and love every moment of my iPhone past one year since I got it. But my love for technology/innovation and intention to constantly improve the UI(User Interface) thereby leading to a better UX(User eXperience) has always superseded my brand bias. If something is good, it is, if something is bad, it is, if something is ugly, it is. And everyone be it Apple, Samsung Google has everything(design is vastly subjective!)  though the level of each differs from time to time.

A user may take something for granted as it has cost him something in order to experience it. Be it swipe gesture on an app, be the beautiful colors and physics on a game, be the simplicity of a product, be the display, etc. But what usually goes unmentioned is what goes behind the screen to provide the experience to the end user. What is simple to the user is incredibly hard for the developers to pull it off. Any one can present complexity, but to present simplicity is quite complex!

So when I came across the article headline as mentioned in the title of this post, I was eager to read what goes behind in Google’s Android to provide the front Android experience. And I must say I am very impressed the way Google is always working very hard to improvise the UX and is also willing to share its design process.

Though Android developers would already be familiar with these as its part of the developer site, but as a non-developer(so far) I was very inquisitive about it. Also since I am a heavy app user and do try new apps quite often, I tend to notice which apps make me want to come back and which I am not very keen to go back as the UX is so bad even though the content may be worth revisiting.

Read the article on Medium.

Visit the Android Developers site for more.

 

Anirudh 🙂

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