The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life
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brian and Nicholas and the current state of relevant Technology

June11

long-time readers of this blog are quite familiar with Nicholas Johnson.

I’ll share a recent email I sent him (well it was this very daily, in fact) in response to some advice I was seeking from him around a Chromebox. Nicholas is quite the Android afficianado, and technologist:

Good morning Nicholas.

Thanks for the link. I’m getting old in terms of many proclivities. For example I find myself less interested in what most people write, and my tolerance for poor research has ebbed to practically nil.

However, I’m keen for this exchange given our shared passion for technology.

So… I agree with you that the author of the piece you have shared with me strives for objectivity. I have an intellectual understanding of why Apple takes other companies to court. I just don’t like anyone using the judicial system as a blunt-edged weapon. So, I appreciate Apple’s efforts as a shareholder, but resent the ponderousness of it all. Having said that, I’m not convinced that either Apple or Google (or Samsung) are genuinely pioneering new technology. I used “pioneering” because my fingers won’t let me tap “innovative” (rats!) again. All three companies acquire, borrow or utilize technology from other sources. Their “job” (what word would you use?) is to leverage technology in a meaningful way that makes it appealing and useful to improve our quality of life and productivity. So, I guess it comes down to competition or packaging and presentation. All three companies spend a lot of money on R&D. And, it seems analysts are judging companies by their R&D budgets. If you combined the R&D budgets of those three example companies you could probably run economy of Great Britain.

There is a great deal of anticipation around the up-coming Apple iPhone 6. I’ve seen the working prototype and I want it more than I did the iPhone 5. In-fact, I use an iPhone 5C (my daughters have the 5S), and I’ve never really cared about it. The device works fine. As you know, I keep looking for someone else to come up with a device I like more. This includes HTC, LG, Samsung, etc. They make terrific hardware that is probably as good as Apple’s. My ONLY issue with those devices is that Android does not work for me. Its my sensibilities. I want it to work; and badly. Its just not there, yet. However, I know that eventually the Android experience will be on-par with Apple’s. And, the competition is terrific for consumers. Its also endlessly fascinating to me that the iPhone 6 will likely be a singular event that will push the planet off its axis. Its important for technology enthusiasts, shareholders, and people that care about how and why cultures work. A lot of people will buy the iPhone. It will generate record revenue for a company that sets the standard for profits (and margins). Its simply astonishing that a company of this vintage can raise its own bar again and again while setting the standard for best practices (or, perhaps that is precisely the point).

Circling back to pioneering/ innovation/ experience… I’m going to use the iPhone 6 as an example for my entire email thus far. Lets focus on the screen. Apple is finally delivering a device with a larger screen – something Android users have had options for going on roughly three years. I know that Apple could have delivered a larger screen as well before now but had concerns about pixel density, screen quality, and how applications looked on the device. With Apple, form, function and appearance (the experience) drive decisions – not the opinion of analysts. Also, Apple is constantly refining its products and incrementally reducing the cost without dropping quality (the recent upgrades for the Macbook Air and iMac are good examples). And, this brings into sharp focus the vital difference between the three companies I’m referencing in this email… Apple is the only one of that group that combines hardware and software in their unique mobile devices (I’m not counting Google glass in this example; but then, I don’t know who manufactures that hardware, anyway). Google and Samsung have an uneasy alliance that benefits one another. Apple stands alone. And, maybe thats another reason why the Apple eco-system still feels “tighter” and has a more “finished” feel to it. It also makes it easier to identify with a company that brings the whole package to a market. Google is close (I thought (really believed) it might happen with the acquisition of Motorola – maybe it still will given all the IP Google stripped from it), and that will take me to the ASUS Chromebox, shortly. And, Samsung is working diligently on its own Operating System (“OS”). That is going to make things VERY interesting. Combine their breadth of quality products with an eco-system and… well, …wow…

I talk about this stuff with people daily. Most throw the words Google, Gmail and Android about indiscriminately. They are the same (company/products), but different, right? I love Google. They frustrate me. I want the Android Operating System to be awesome. However, the fact is I am one of those people that will barely scratch the surface in terms of App usability (just like I am with Apple). In fact, other than texting, a flip-phone is probably better suited for me. So, when it comes to Google, I focus on Gmail, Google Drive, and related products. They really are “good enough”. My driving complaint with Gmail is I can’t use multiple email addresses and keep the emails separate like I can on Apple’s Mail or Outlook. Otherwise I would probably use it and do everything from the cloud. Mind you, it bugs me that I can’t use Apple’s iCloud version of Mail for other domain email- for example, brian@unsinkablebriancork.com – (that makes no sense to me at all other than realizing they don’t want you to use their mail on just any computing device). I REALLY wanted Outlook/ Office 365 to work. But, you can’t import contacts into it with contact images intact. That is jaw-dropping and a deal-killer. How is that possible in this digital age?  By the way… Despite goofy stuff like that, the company I’m really watching is Microsoft. I respect the CEO, a lot. More on that later. Possibly over beers.

I’ve just taken a pause, here, and am trying to come up with a reason for focusing on the three companies I have and just realized I’m at the risk of ending-up in a rabbit hole. Now I just had the comforting thought that I actually like and appreciate all three (really, four) of them (the companies). I value Google’s pioneering spirit; I appreciate the breadth, quality and visceral nature of Samsung products; and, I fervently love the Apple experience. Each company satisfies something in almost everyone. However, I have a feeling Microsoft and its evolving Windows is going to get cool (again). They are going to rise as a big turnaround story of relevance.

In any event, I discussed my recent experience with the ASUS Chromebox on Linkedin yesterday. I’ve cut-and-pasted below:

“I remain an Apple loyalist if not evangelist. Earning the mantle of “Apple Fanboy” is no easy task. It means you are expert. And, being expert includes understanding other company’s products. So, I’m exploring the ASUS Chrome Box. This is a VERY inexpensive desktop computing device with a small footprint with an all-Google eco-system. I connected it to a dated HP monitor with an HDMI cable and it fired up in roughly five seconds. It found my internet connection, bluetooth keyboard and mouse easily. I plugged-in my gmail information and I was set-up and in-motion. I recommend it. That said, I think the Apple experience remains superior.

There are several manufacturers of Chromebox. ASUS appears to have the best model. Samsung is getting involved. HP will. Dell did it with a very impressive fob-like device called WYSE Cloud Connect that is similar to the Google Chromecast, but gives you the same result as a Chromebook or Chromebox. Just plug it into a monitor or TV via USB. Very cool. Possibly innovative if part of the definition is usability, mobility and possibly the word, practical.

NOTE: I had a neighbor recently ask me what computer he should ship his daughter off to college with. I told him to purchase an HP Chromebook. She probably has a Gmail account and will use Google Docs for school work. Many/ most colleges leverage the Gmail platform. The Chromebook is sturdy and very inexpensive. Chrome as a browser and OS is fine. Its about a quarter the cost of a Macbook Air.

I am constantly trying to use Ubuntu. I have an Ubuntu box. I have a Lenovo Yoga (stupid name, but terrific hardware), and a Samsung all-in-one desk top. I spend a great deal of time banging around on all of them. But, I always go back to Apple products because they “just work” for me. Some how that is Apple’s differentiator. Others will say its advertising and marketing. But, I do think its our native ability to recognize quality. And Apple has figured out how to make the experience simple and elegant. As soon as someone else – probably Google, Microsoft or Samsung – can match the experience, the devices will all play nice together and all we will care about is the color of the device. But, as I just finished that last sentence, I realized the same argument exists for automobiles. I drive a rigged-up Jeep Wrangler (because I’m a poser) and tell everyone that in Milton, “the Wrangler is the new Porsche”. I also drive a bad-ass Ram 1500 (“El Rojo Grande” to my Lacrosse players). And, we could compare and make the same argument for technology devices as we do for high-end (or, any-end) automobiles. It comes down to style, taste and expectations. There is not a lot difference between cars by class. It comes down to performance and taste.

By the way… I add this with nothing but respect and admiration as my intention… The best strategy Google has deployed today is its mythology around recruiting people. They have created a desire for Google as a cultural phenomenon that is cult-like and unprecedented – creating a associative brand that is awe inspiring. Its cool to work at Google. Its hard to work, as in difficult, at Apple. Soon, its going to be important to work at Microsoft (maybe it always has been – Balmer was just a problem).

More later.

I appreciate you. Oh… And, I miss you as well.

- Brian

The aforementioned email from the indefatigueable, and certainly, redoubtable, Nicholas Johnson:
AreyoureferringtotheChromeBookortheChromeBox?  I believethereisonlyoneChromeBox – which is specifically designed for business.

As far as the Chromebooks go, I have the Samsung and love it, and I’ve implemented the HPs for a couple friends who have nothing but good things to say.  My wife had the Acer and hated it. The trackpad was all screwy. What’s the purpose of the device?
Also, I thought about you recently when reading an article about iOS and Android - http://www.androidauthority.com/real-secret-apples-success-389676/
I think it is fairly well done in terms of maintaining objectivity (difficult on a blog called Android Authority), and it highlights the reason for Apple’s success – unmatched marketing and promotion, not technical prowess.
I hope things are getting better for Joanne. Take care.

Thanks,

Nicholas T Johnson

[REDACTED] mobile
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analysts can use 2013 as a LENS for 2014

December30

it’s that time of year once again – that hustling, bustling, busy time when almost everybody is thinking about holidays and merriment and family and giving while simultaneously looking forward to what’s coming next.

ponder, if you dare, AAPLAMZNTWTRFBHPQBBYGOOGSBUX.

do you see the relevance; a correlation?

so… here, I’m taking the opportunity to reflect back on the past year, and ponder ten (10) of the coolest things that Apple (of course because they lead the way in some much context) that Apple fans had to be thankful for over the last twelve months.

  • Free OSX Mavericks
  • Auto-Updates
  • Touch ID
  • 128GB
  • iTunes Radio
  • Gone Home
  • Jony Ive’s New Role (Senior Vice President of Design 0 a preamble to him becoming the next CEO)
  • iPad Mini with Retina Display
  • The new Mac Pro
  • HBO Go on Apple TV

NOTE: Apple’s stock always takes a dip after it unveils new products, because – as far as I can tell – investors and analysts value only brand-new industry-changing products and nothing else. but, every time they bemoan “just another” iPhone or iPad update, Apple goes on to post record sales, so I think these knee-jerk market reactions say more about the dubious qualifications for analysts than they do about the validity of Apple’s decisions.

most big news about Apple was about the company’s tax-avoidance techniques and analysts claiming that Apple failed to deliver any new products of note. (thankfully, it still isn’t making phablets, though they’ve been hugely successful for other manufacturers – providing profits are not important).

something to consider…

as Apple approached $700 in the spring and summer of 2012, two things happened:

  • some investors were getting too emotional, irresponsibly egged on by Wall Street analysts such as Brian White, who had a cutesy $1,111 price target, and Gene Munster, who couldn’t stop talking out of his rear with empty Apple TV predictions.
  • bulls discounted the impact of losing Steve Jobs and replacing him with no confidence man Tim Cook. Cook had to prove, one way or another, that he could produce something along the lines of iPod, iPhone or iPad. could he win over Wall Street like Jeff Bezos has at Amazon.com?
  • perhaps most importantly they gave Jonny Ives absolute control over design. this harkens back to the way Steve Jobs wanted and intended the company to innovate.

analysts never appear to learn.

every time Apple announces that its about to unveil something, the supposed experts practically demand that the company introduce another world-changing device like the iPhone or iPad. when that don’t happen they make a claim that the sky is falling (and make sure the stock does), bemoan the loss of Steve Jobs, and seem to enjoy saying “I told ya so” as Apple’s stock plummets. then when Apple launches the product (for example, the iPhone 5C and 5S) , it breaks sales records, sends Apple’s stock back up, and analysts somehow are shocked – even though it ALWAYS happens.

while it’s easy to understand how a stock like AMZN can outperform AAPL, there’s no explaining how posers, free lunchers and companies with very real question marks do it. I’m not saying these names on the chart on the next page will all crash in 2014 (though a couple likely will). but I am saying AAPL will perform alongside them or better if they somehow manage to replicate their 2013 magic (carpet rides).

so… there needs to be, or should be, some kind of requirement for being able to call yourself an analyst.

the outlook wasn’t much better for Intel, not because the company hasn’tcontinued to innovate, but because people don’t need as many of its microprocessors, and the ones they do need are less profitable than ever.

BlackBerry, which investors once thought might be broken into smaller businesses with some latent value, proved to be a near-total loss.

Google killed its much-vaunted 20% time - the policy of allowing engineers to spend a portion of their working time on their own projects – while insisting it hadn’t, leading to a furious (and public) debate among its employees about whether or not the company is still friendly to bottom-up innovation.

and, while Hewlett-Packard has put the disastrous acquisitions and rapid-fire leadership changes of recent years behind it, the best that can be said so far is that it’s gracefully managing its own decline.

while I’m at all of this, I must remind you all that Google and HP “hooked-up” (in any sense of the phrase) and hoisted the the HP Chromebook at you. the idea, or concept, anyway, has merit. however, it literally burned-up in your hands (U.S. recalls Chromebook 11 chargers; Google, HP pulled laptops from shelves last month). somehow I have this odd feeling that is Google’s legacy. that siad, I do hope they end-up pulling-it-off. that sort of collaboration and  innovation is good for all of us.

PREDICTION:

the world gets hip to this line of thinking in 2014. And not merely on a hunch or because it felt like time. Apple will trigger euphoria that, this time, will follow through. Because confidence lost will have been reestablished. so, we are back to me saying Apple hist $1000.

MOVING ON

it starts in January on the Q4 earnings call. I’m not sure if we’ll get any sort of pre-announcement from Apple, but there’s no question in my mind that while Amazon owned the holiday shopping season from an e-commerce standpoint, Apple will have owned it from a consumer electronics perspective.

we still don’t have any better idea of what Tim Cook’s “next big thing” will be than we did when he took over for Steve Jobs. but, we have iPad Air. A game-changing device superior to every other tablet or similar device on the market. don’t understate the importance of this release. if you’re only as good as your last game, Cook and Apple are pretty strong right now.

my eleven year old daughter asked me for an iPad Mini last night. I asked her “why?”. “It’s what we all want next” was her simple response.

if any analyst worth their salt has a kid in the same demographic he would role their college fund into Apple today. Our kids don’t just play HALO (actually mine don’t), they drive the Apple “Halo effect”.

for some reason, iPad Air has flown under the radar of my most observers, cast off a slightly lighter version of its predecessor. not so. it’s the real deal. It’s a game changer. it’s Tim Cook proving that he can take something meaningful from conception to implementation and beyond.

in 2014, he wins widespread confidence and ups the ante as AAPL takes it rightful spot at the head of the pack in tech and on Wall Street.

comparatively… Microsoft lost nearly a billion dollars on the Surface RT tablet, which was to be the device that pole-vaulted the company over Apple’s iPad and the dying PC industry. insiders revealed Microsoft’s ruinous internal culture, fostered under a leader who probably never should have been CEO, leading those same insiders to conclude that the only solution is a breakup of the companyMicrosoft bought Nokia‘s devices business, which would have been an astonishing turn of events a few years ago, but now felt like a lurch into an unsure future in which Microsoft remains an also-ran in mobile devices.

oh… and, the more successful Apple is, the more desperate Microsoft comes across. with people literally still in line at Apple stores for a shot at new iPhones, Microsoft clogged the airwaves with it’s classless apple-bashing ads. you know… the ones that mock Siri and skew the facts (like Google) to make it seem like only an idiot would choose an iPad over their windows 8 tablet? I actually like the look of Metro, but I wouldn’t consider buying from someone who is essentially calling me stupid.

all that said… it will likely pale by comparison in the wake of the scandals you will read about in the next couple of years about Bitcoins and Crowdfunding. the value of bitcoin increased at least 10-fold in 2013, thanks to heavy investment - by the media, which helped talk it up. both initiatives undermine a genuine value system and represent everything that is wrong with an economic ecosystem that is focused on instant gratification and not intrinsic value.

and, of course the media is behind all of this. the media is Satan’s answer to hope and fairness. how ironic, in the face of our very Constitution, that the media falls-back on like the vast and insidious army of hypocrites they actually are.

lifting up[!] 2014.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

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apples are good for you by design

November21

why, you, that collective you, ask, do I, the infinitely singular me, love Apple products so dearly?

it’s not as simple as being an “Apple Fanboy”. while its an apt first impression that’s shallow thinking, on both sides. however, coming to a point of appreciation for a company like Apple, its people, and products, takes time. there must needs be a process that tracks experience, acumen, and perspective. some people understand that a reason to deeply love a Porsche is because of the unique “paper-tearing” aspect of sound generated by the power-plant (engine [or "motor" if yer English]), or the smooth if not hypnotic motion realized by the hands sweeping around a Rolex watch.

there is no mystery, thus no surprise, that the United States favors the iPhone, while the masses that surround us must accept an Android device. while we may not always be the smartest people by grade point average, we do amass the most wealth, and evidently insist on a higher product standard. we also appreciate beautiful and well-crafted things. no… we insist on such quality.

consider the spot, called “Pencil”, beautifully written and art directed. it has Bryan Cranston, aka Walter White of “Breaking Bad”, the hottest (by demand, and less so appearance) actor on the planet, doing the voice-over. and, it has a killer demo to visualize just how thin the new iPad really is. a genuine marvel of technology enhanced by the aesthetic that compels utilization.

innovation + technology + beauty + desire + utilization +  utilization = productivity.

I made that up, but it’s an undeniable formula for success.

for most of this 60-second ad, this cleverly photographed commercial focuses on that classic tool of artists, writers and composers – the everyday No. 2 yellow pencil. Cranston goes on about how this simple object can be a powerful tool that transforms how we work and share, as the camera zooms in on a pencil sitting horizontally against various backdrops. that is, until the big reveal – a hand (almost akin to a Davinci painting) comes in the last couple of seconds to pull something obscured by the pencil – Apple’s new iPad Air.

the clever “Pencil” ad points to the various ways that the iPad has become an enabler of content creation. like the yellow pencil, it “can be used to start a poem, or finish a symphony,” Cranston’s narration says.

“It has transformed the way we work, learn, create, share,” he intones. “It used to illustrate things, solve things, and think of new things. It’s used by scientists and artists, scholars and students. It’s been to classrooms, boardrooms, expeditions, even to space.” And we can’t wait to see where you’ll take it next.”

just beautiful, graceful language.

Apple always understood that coolness is an appeal to our imagination and passions, defining who we are and who we want to be. its greatest ads were always poetic, and aspirational. I uses aspirational instead of inspirational because the ads compel us to take action that can make us better tomorrow than we are today.

action creates activity. activity becomes defined by creativity and ingenuity. its all sublime within its symmetry.

Apple ads at their best connect with us viscerally because of their optimism, and appeal to our self-esteem. They encourage us to dream and pursue, and not just follow, our dreams. What can be cooler than technology enabling the possibility of creativity and innovation.

“Apple has over four hundred (400) of the world’s highest grossing stores, while Samsung has succeeded in large part by spending $4.2 billion a year on advertising – four times that of Apple.”

by comparison, Google’s Motorola (that reads odd in the context of how we have always known Motorola, eh) has announced it’s selling a down market discount model, the Moto G, for what reviewers call the “ludicrously cheap price tag” of $179 without a contract, certain to accelerate what Steve Jobs derided as “race to the bottom pricing.”

meanwhile Apple is designing, delighting and pricing its way to the top. Apple’s latest cell phone introduction proved that the company’s core customers are frantic to buy its most expensive model – the 5S, while demonstrating ambivalence toward its less expensive 5C. this is not the “glass half full or a simple opinion. this is a demonstration of genuine power to move people to identify with excellence.

the gold 5S has been a massive, worldwide product phenomenon, flying out of stores largely on design and appearances. some Wall Street analysts call this high margin sales surge a failure, noting that Apple is losing market share in developing markets by failing to sell a cheap phone. they’ve got it backwards. when customers clamor for your top line product everywhere that’s a good thing. let someone else sell more compact cars if you can dominate the world market for BMWs or Teslas.

Michael Welsh But low end companies have a much easier time moving into the premium space than premium brands have moving down to gain market share.

Brian Patrick Cork I can’t speak for the company, but I’m reasonably certain Apple does not equate market share with profit. A smaller number of people can buy their products and generate more revenue than competitors.

aesthetics and design is the new digital divide. most techies, analysts and bloggers simply can’t fathom why Apple soaked up 56 percent of the profit in the world’s mobile markets during the last quarter. sure, Apple boasts a rich, diverse ecosystem (phones, tablets, laptops, content, software, etc.) and powerful and versatile chips, but that’s not what’s driving extraordinary sales. design is what is winning over Apple cohorts – that subtle combination of materials, weight, lines, and how it feels in your hand.

it’s the same elusive quality that gets women to blithely pay $5,000 for a Prada handbag or a man to gladly fork over $6,000 for a Breitling watch.

finally… Apple’s biggest innovation by far has been magically transforming everyday digital devices into iconic things we desire on a deep, primitive human level.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

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Innovation is still at Apples core

June12

Brian Patrick CorkI’ve been playing with Apples iOS 7 most of the day. Its pretty impressive. This on the heels of the good experience I’ve been having with the HTC One, an extremely well made Android device running Jelly Bean. Apple is demonstrating that software is what is important in handset device utilization. Right now, I’m preparing for a return to the iPhone. That said, wait until you see the iPhone 7. Its down the road on the product road-map, but wow.

Apple’s current stock price is ridiculous. While I’m not sure I like saying that, I do intend to take advantage of it.

Apple’s new iOS 7 software is undoubtedly polarizing. Unveiled on Monday, the reimagined mobile platform has harsh critics and avid fans. Some find it “positively mind-blowing,” while others find the new design to be an eyesore.”

Apple haters have no genuine or reasonable voice here. If they try and trash Apple after the recent developers conference, they’ve lost the ability to be open-minded.

Innovation is still at Apples core (I love saying that).

Let’s be part of the Solution.

brian patrick cork

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"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





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