Two interviews with Apple executives have popped up this morning.
The first, at Business Week, includes Tim Cook, Jony Ive and Craig Federighi. It paints Apple’s executives as sure-footed. Here’s a section discussing the cry of some for a cheaper iPhone:
To Cook, the mobile industry doesn’t race to the bottom, it splits. One part does indeed go cheap, with commoditized products that compete on little more than price. “There’s always a large junk part of the market,” he says. “We’re not in the junk business.” The upper end of the industry justifies its higher prices with greater value. “There’s a segment of the market that really wants a product that does a lot for them, and I want to compete like crazy for those customers,” he says. “I’m not going to lose sleep over that other market, because it’s just not who we are. Fortunately, both of these markets are so big, and there’s so many people that care and want a great experience from their phone or their tablet, that Apple can have a really good business."
The article goes on to outline how Apple views Android and the comparison some draw between it and Windows:
You could say that Apple’s approach in mobile ignores history, specifically the Mac/Windows wars of the 1990s, which Apple clearly lost. In this scenario, Android is Microsoft’s Windows—available to all kinds of manufacturers—while iOS is on only Apple devices. Microsoft made money by charging Dell (DELL), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), and others to put Windows on their PCs, and Apple’s market share shriveled. Google gives Android away for free, but the thinking there is the more people you can get online via mobile devices, the more they will search and consume Web content, which helps the online ad market. As Google handles more online advertising than anyplace else, a rising online tide benefits its bottom line. Cook finds the Microsoft analogy misleading. “Microsoft kept things the same, and the level of fragmentation wasn’t as much,” he says. “There weren’t so many derivative works out there with Windows.”
Over at USA Today, reporter Marco della Cava sat down and talked to Jony Ive and Craig Federighi:
“When we sat down last November (to work on iOS 7), we understood that people had already become comfortable with touching glass, they didn’t need physical buttons, they understood the benefits,” says Ive. “So there was an incredible liberty in not having to reference the physical world so literally. We were trying to create an environment that was less specific. It got design out of the way.”
Federighi says iOS 7’s new look is inextricably linked with technological advances.
“This is the first post-Retina (Display) UI (user interface), with amazing graphics processing thanks to tremendous GPU (graphics processing unit) power growth, so we had a different set of tools to bring to bear on the problem as compared to seven years ago (when the iPhone first launched),” he says. “Before, the shadowing effect we used was a great way to distract from the limitations of the display. But with a display that’s this precise, there’s nowhere to hide. So we wanted a clear typography.”
While the timing of these interviews is pretty obvious — have you noticed the lack of Apple PR information about 5c pre-sales? — I think they serve a much bigger purpose than just as a distraction.
Take this nugget, from the USA Today article. In talking about the iPhone 5s’ finger print scanner, Ive said:
“This right here is what I love about Apple, this incredibly sophisticated powerful technology that you’re almost not aware of, it absolutely blows me away,” he says. “You can’t get this without working cross-functionally.”
And this one, from Businessweek:
While the partnership between the two men was made official last fall, Ive and Federighi—whose desks are a one-minute walk from one another—have been working together for years. “I don’t think we ever talked about our roles,” Ive says. “We talked about how can we most effectively extend the collaboration that always existed.”
Here’s the first paragraph from Apple’s press release about Scott Forstall being shown the door, dated October 29, 2012:
Apple today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles. Apple also announced that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.
At the iPhone event earlier this month, Cook pressed this point home again.
There’s almost nothing left of his influence in the UI. While the APIs and behind-the-scenes technology will carry his influence for years to come, Forstall is the elephant in the room when it comes to iOS 7.
While Forstall is still underground — and there’s no word on where or when he may pop up again — Cook and company are working hard to reinforce to the public and shareholders that the call to can the software lead was the right one to make.
I think it may be working.