The X-Factor: Why Apple Succeeds where Others Fail

I’ve spent the weekend with Apple’s new MacBook Pro Retina, as well as the newly updated MacBook Air. While working on these remarkable devices, I had an epiphany. Apple doesn’t engineer extraordinary technology to make money. No. Apple makes money so they can build extraordinary technology. Therein lies the essence of the difference.

Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Microsoft, Asus, GOOGLE, you need to figure this out. You’re focused on bottom lines, pleasing shareholders, etc., and it shows in your product offerings. Your most interesting products are copies of Apple products. Even when done exceptionally well, they are still just copies. From so called “UltraBooks” to Microsoft’s “Surface,” to pick your flavor of Android phone, you are following the leader and you need to look past the leader. That doesn’t just mean tacking on a kickstand, a keyboard cover, and growing the screen.

You need to stop where you are, and go out and look for new engineers. During the interview process you need to probe. If that person does not at some point say, “I don’t work to live, I live to work,” he or she isn’t the person you’re looking for. You want people who find non-traditional solutions to traditionally daunting problems. If you don’t find such people, Apple will go on eating your lunch forever, because this intangible attitude, this innate “Jobsian” pattern of behavior, now seems to be part of Apple’s DNA. Think of it. You might be dealing with thousands of people, at every level,  conditioned to think like Steve Jobs.

I was dead set against it. I wasn’t going to sell my existing MacBook Pro and opt for the new MacBook Pro Retina. Hereinafter “MBPR,” but the minute I got my hands on one, it was love at first sight. Or was it touch? I don’t know. It’s all a blur.  After spending some time with it, I started calling around looking for one. I finally located one at the Pasadena Apple Store . Why did I have this reaction? It is because I viscerally sense the intangible factor I just described above.

Call it Apple’s X-Factor if you will, but know that you cannot copy it. You must evolve your own. When you mimic Apple, it’s obvious. When a Japanese auto maker produces a BMW or Mercedes look alike, it’s obvious and it is understood to be a knock off, a cheaper copy of the actual object of desire.

I know that it is difficult. I know that you ask yourselves, “Gee, what else can we do but try to make our devices thinner, or prettier than Apple’s, after all a computer is a computer.” This is the mindset you need to root out. Find the Howard Roarks of hardware engineering. Find the Hank Reardens of software engineering. If you know those names, you’re probably ahead of your competitors. Start off by telling your engineers, “There is no Apple. Start from here with the technology we have. Ask yourself what should this technology evolve into? Stay away from news about Apple, Inc. Indulge yourselves.”

When I started typing, this was not the message I intended to deliver. I was going to write my own review of the MBPR, but it was the silence from the computer, the phenomenal Retina Display, the feel of the keyboard, the essence, the incorporeal vibe of the machine, that took over my thoughts. I was starting to wonder if I held my hands just above the keyboard and closed my eyes, could I feel the minds of those who collaborated to create yet another masterpiece from Apple.

I was also working on configuring a few Lenovo notebooks for a client. Each was a decent computer that you could get your work done on. Each cost literally less than $600. Each was as inspiring as a box of cat litter. Then I would return to working on my client’s MacBook Air, or the MBPR, and it was such a striking contrast that I began to comprehend more than ever why Apple succeeds and others do not. It’s the X-Factor.

It’s the thing that makes me chuckle when I hear that CISCO, a router company, thinks they’re going to move into consumer technology, make a tablet or something. You know almost instinctively that they are going to fail because they aren’t doing it out of pure love of the opportunity. They aren’t doing it because this is the reason they exist. They’re doing it because they think they can make some money.

Charles F. Kettering said, “High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.” I submit that Apple’s competitors simply don’t expect much of themselves.

What Will Mac Pro 2013 Look Like

So Tim Cook, (Apple CEO) promised so called “pro” users something to look forward to later in 2013. I’ve been thinking about why that might be and my guess is that it won’t be the box pro users are thinking of. The old Mac Pro is a throwback to the past when you needed a big box with expansion ports, memory slots, giant fans, monstrous and monstrous power supplies.

Those days are over.

To get an idea what the new Mac Pro might be like you don’t have to look any further than the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

I believe that rather than create something that is just the opposite of their direction everywhere else, Apple will stick with their new modus operandi. A new Mac Pro will be a box, but a much, much smaller one. It will come in configurations of 32, 64, or 128GB of RAM. That RAM will be soldered to the system board. It will have an option of one, maybe two internal SSD drives for a little over 1.5 Terabytes of internal storage. No SATA. It will have the most current graphics card available. The graphics card on the new iMac is already better than anything in the existing MacPro line. It will have the fastest multicore Intel Xeon processors available. It will also have lots of ThunderBolt ports probably 4 and at least one FireWire 800, one Gigabit Ethernet Port. There won’t be any PCI slots internal to the machine, the clear message being Thunderbolt, ThunderBolt, Thunderbolt.

I expect this all to fit in something the size of an XBOX 360. Or better year, I like it to be in a glistening black cube, with a hologram of Steve Jobs on the side.

The Pro “community” will react poorly, creating petitions, and whining, etc., instead of thinking about how to use the new machines. ( Just as they have this time. )

They will whine about storage:
Answer – 12Terabytes of RAID storage as fast and faster than their existing RAID systems can be had for around $1500.

They will whine about memory being soldered on the system board.
Answer – The amount of RAM on my imaginary Mac Pro in increments of 32, 64 and 128GB is more than enough. All they have now is 64GB.

They will whine about what to do with their existing RAID systems.
Answer – If you don’t want to go to Thunderbolt, you can get a Magma ExpressBox 3T allowing you to connect your PCI cards to an external chassis, and then to Thunderbolt of course.

http://www.magma.com/thunderbolt.asp

Some will ask about being in an Xsan.
Answer – Both ATTO and Promise make Fibrechannel to Thunderbolt devices allowing you to connect not just my imaginary Mac Pro to fibrechannel sans, but current iMacs and yes, MacBook Pros.

So be prepared for a REALLY all new Mac Pro. One that is as closed as the new MacBook Pro Retina. Expect the most whining to come from the “pros” who need the big box mostly to feel like pros.

WWDC Aftermath

I’ve been thinking about all of the announcements at WWDC last week. Basically Apple has told pro users to quit yer whining and get on board. I.e. it isn’t the Mac that needs to be opened, it’s some older minds out there. As I think about it, there isn’t a damn thing the MacPro could do that I can’t duplicate on a MacBook Pro, let alone an iMac. Not a damn thing.

If there is a new MacPro next year, that puppy will be as locked down as the new MacBook. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a glistening black cube with a faint holographic image of Steve Jobs on one side.  Essentially Apple is giving “pro” users some time to figure it out. The world is changing. Hell I can slap together an Xsan with shared multi gigabit storage on a table. No more Xsan engineers needed. Thunderbolt is huge.
Couple that with many of the features and changes mentioned for iOS and OS X and wow, the mothership has adopted a predatory stance.
The Mind Boggles

Fly Orville Fly!

In the second time in as many days the people of Earth are demonstrating their severe inability to think rationally and their complete and utter lack of a sense of humor.

Monday the Fascist Feminists went insane over an attractive woman’s bottom being complimented on Twitter and yesterday (as well as today) it’s the Radical Orthodox Animal Rights (ROAR) Denomination of the Greater Church of Kooky Belief Systems.

First of all, if you love your pet you or have had pets die, you know as I do that this can be more than a bit traumatic. I’ve had 3 cats die and I don’t particularly want to go through it again. I feel my last two cats were the most perfect and intelligent cats that ever walked the Earth, and none can replace them. When they died, the vet handled it. Translation: They were cremated.

Dutch artist Bart Jansen also had his cat Orville die. Instead of burning the carcass though, he took his DEAD cat to a taxidermist. Then he attached it to a quad-copter and made a remote control flying cat. It’s pretty darned cool actually. The cat looks like super cat flying along.

If you know cats, you know that they stare up at the birds in the trees and they dream of flying. They understand gravity much better than we do, and dream of nothing more than escaping it. To finally show those obnoxious self important birds a thing or two would be like winning the lottery to a cat. Well Bart made Orville’s dream come true. Posthumously. It’s actually a wonderful tribute. His name is Orville for crying out loud. His name says flight.

Unfortunately it didn’t take long for the ROAR people to go ballistic. The Los Angeles Times says the Orvillecopter sparked “Global Outrage.”

Global Outrage?

http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-stuffed-coptercat-sparks-global-outrage-20120605,0,6797956.story

Seriously?

I noted one post on Google Plus where the ROAR KOOKS were going on and on about being kind to animals, and how horrible Mr. Jansen is.

Sigh.

To these people I say:

1. Bend over

2. Spread your ass cheeks as far apart as you possibly can. You might need a hydraulic ass cheek spreader.

3. Remove head.

ORVILLE WAS ALREADY DEAD.

If Jansen is guilty of any actionable animal abuse, it is allow his cat to run around outside where he can be hit by a car.

What he does with the body afterwards?  Not an issue.

Fly on Orville.

Say hello to Ray Bradbury for me.

Sexual Fascism

Earlier today someone from ASUS (pronounced “A-seuss”), the Taiwanese computer maker, tweeted a photograph showing a woman demonstrating their new Transformer AIO tablet/all-in-one computer, which is an interesting device, but not the subject of this post. The subject of the post is the reaction to the ASUS tweet.

The woman in the photograph happens to have a very attractive, particularly feminine physique. She’s shapely and presumably has a lovely countenance as well. I say presumably because her back is turned to the camera. The person at ASUS who tweeted the photograph commented, “The rear looks pretty nice. So does the new Transformer AIO.”

That simple statement had the effect of a call to arms for the Fascist Feminist Twitter Community. I say “fascist”  because these people reflect an extreme authoritarianism in their sexual politics and ideology. Although I’d be willing to bet that the these purveyors of centralized, suprapersonal thought control and strict egalitarianism would swear that it is the ASUS tweeter who is the fascist, down to the last one.

It would never occur to them that the ASUS employee expressed an individual idea, something that people in the United  States are still free to do, thank goodness, and that while he probably could not possibly care less about who agrees, they on the other hand are prepared to forcibly suppress him or her, because they collectively do not like his comment. If that isn’t radical belligerent authoritarianism, I don’t know what is.

The photograph is innocent. It does not disrespect women. It does not disrespect the particular woman in the photograph. She is probably and actress and or model. She probably works extremely hard to maintain her attractiveness because this is how SHE CHOOSES to earn a living. She is idealistically attractive, and guess what. This is not a crime. Nor is it a crime to to notice. She is wearing a dress that accentuates her figure, and simply because someone took a moment to observe, and sheepishly compliment her, we are deluged with this sort of claptrap from Huffington Post. Please see: “ASUS’ ‘Rear’ Tweet Puts Sexism Front And Center.

If they think “booth babes” are bad, I wonder what the fascists think of this site I often see advertised on my FaceBook Wall: EliteandModel. It is essentially a website featuring extremely beautiful women advertising their looks for sale to discriminating gentlemen of means. They are not sexual prostitutes, they are simply women who recognize that they have lucked out on the genetic scale for hotness and are looking to cash in. They know that their looks are valuable. Are they sexists? How are they different from athletes who are born with a predisposition towards certain sports? The answer is they aren’t. The same as the gifted athlete wouldn’t join just any old team, these women wouldn’t get into a relationship with just any old guy. They are looking for A list guys only.

The site states: “…The women in our database offer special qualities that not only make them attractive for our clients to select, but they also help to place our site among the elite dating sites in the nation. Our women are well above average in every way. They are attractive women with a true sense of style. Since our clients are looking for a quality relationship, we search for quality woman, who are physically fit, emotionally stable, highly educated, generous, attractive, and searching for a lasting relationship….”

Once again, thank goodness that these women are free to do as they please and are not forced to adhere to the ideology of others. Looking at the site I can say, without a single iota of hatred toward women, that they are all terribly attractive. Does that make me a woman hater? Hell no. It just makes me a guy.

Within an hour of the original tweet, the image of the woman’s derriere became a symbol for sexism, misogyny, the need for more women engineers, and equal pay for equal work. As it all unfolded I wondered about the people who were upset. I wondered what sort of world were they truly looking for, which led me to my sexual fascism epiphany. I imagine that they will not be satisfied until we are all, men and women, wearing the same grey unisex coveralls, while saluting Big Sister on our Telescreens.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this, but many people for all sorts of different reasons seek to eliminate diversity. Ironically these people would normally claim to be champions of diversity, freedom of expression, and freedom of speech. When it comes down to it though what their definition of diversity says is that diversity is good, unless WE don’t like YOU. Then you have to go.

As a society we value beauty, natural or otherwise. As a species we are attracted to certain aspects of beauty for different anthropological reasons. We are human beings and I do hope we are allowed to remain so. Even though the fascists would turn us all into robots, one largely indistinguishable from the other, I prefer to live in a world with attractive people. I like looking at them. Male or female.

So I for one say ASUS,  you have no reason to apologize. No harm, no foul. Please take no action against the naive person who made the tweet in the shark infested waters of Twitter. The reaction was overboard, stupid, and silly. The woman truly does have a nice ass.

Oh, and by the way, nice computer also.