Apple M1 Here and glimmers of M2

M1 Mac Speed is the Apple Event of the Season

I’m not the only one who sees the release of the three new M1 Macs to be the major event of Apple’s Fall Season. I have had and been using the M1 Air with 16gb RAM and 1 terabyte SSD since December 7, so have gotten a strong impression of the device. Although I’ve run into a few small bumps in the road between the new M1 Mac and Big Sur, this is my main Mac right now. I have a 2020 MacBook Pro acquired in June, but now it is my backup Mac notebook.

Upgrading to Big Sur

I would not have been upgrading to Big Sur this early, but if you buy a brand new M1 Mac, you don’t have a choice. I have other older Macs running Mojave and a couple running Catalina. The reason I don’t upgrade to a new MacOS first thing is because you are bound to run into a few problems along the way and there is often not quite enough information around to immediately solve them.

Why I wanted to be an M1 early adopter

But the M1 Macs are big news and I wanted firsthand experience. Besides being a FileMaker custom database developer and maker of a FileMaker-based product (Studio Manager), I am a technology consultant to an almost all Mac clientele. This was personal, but I also wanted to be able to see for myself how good these M1 Macs are.

M1 is to be followed up with M2 and beyond

The first batch of M1 Macs are the very bottom of the line Macs. Way faster than their predecessors, but cheap by Mac standards. I think the bottom of the line came out first without frills because Apple is targeting PC users. Apple wants some major marketshare out of the PC User base, and PC users are used to cheap PCs. So, this is as cheap as Apple will go while still keeping their margins in reasonable shape. Apple has been offering lower priced options more often these days with their SE iPhone, SE Watch, iPads and now these basic M1 Macs.

This is the best and the bottom of the Mac line right now

There are two drawbacks. These are extremely fast but no frills Macs. With no new stylings. When I first saw the MacBook Air, I complained “where is Jonny Ive when we need him?”. Because I wanted a new M1 MacBook 12 will all this energy efficiency. Still hoping and would buy an improved MacBook 12 with 2 USB-C ports in a heartbeat.

The Design Community May want to Wait for M2 and more

Apple didn’t want to wait to release M1. But it is a Pandemic, so some things have had to wait. Like the rumored MacBook Pro 14 the size of a 13 with an edge to edge screen. Like the rumored MacBook 13 the size of a MacBook 12 with edge to edge screen.

But then, who wants to wait? If you need a laptop and can do with a 13″ screen for your laptop, these are really nice. If you need to get some work done on a laptop, you’ll get more done and your enthusiasm will have you working better and maybe a bit more. I can attest to that.

Apparently the M2 will have more processors and the current M1s have 7 or 8. The M2 releases may take a while to get here, even 2022. But don’t underestimate Apple!

FileMaker 18 is Out!

If you use FileMaker, you’ll want to take a look at to see what’s new and exciting. The main work of Tokerud Consulting Group is building, enhancing and maintaining FileMaker solutions. Since FileMaker 18 came out last week, we are madly studying and working to understand and evaluate the new features.

Friendly Warning. If you already use FileMaker, and especially if you use our Studio Manager app, and want to explore the new version, please start slow.  Download the free trial version and use it to open and play around with a COPY of your database.

Wait for those who cannot wait. Let early adapters find the bugs that could damage your file. To be safe, wait for the first update, say version 18.1, before risking your mission critical database. The value of your file is in the user interface and layouts, the scripts, and your data. A conservative approach will protect your investment, ensuring that the alternate universe of coincidences won’t harm even one record in your database.

Studio Manager. We’ve got two other blogs that keep us busy. Our big Studio Manager website keeps our current and prospective customers up-to-date on our business solution for creative services. There you can flip through the tabs and see all sorts of screenshots for Mac, iPhone and iPad, as well as short descriptions of what’s in Studio Manager when it comes to managing contacts, job tracking, task tracking, estimating, billing and more.

Custom development. We also work with lots of other firms on variety of FileMaker solutions. Don’t hesitate to ask if you are interested in the possibility of a new FileMaker database or if you have one that needs some updating, extending or maintenance.

FileMaker Fever Blog. As time permits, we post news to our FileMaker Fever Blog. Check it for our new post on FileMaker 18!

Is Apple OK or Not?

It is January 1st 2019 so I better get you an update on how Apple is doing. Things got a little dicey in September and October when people worried that the iPhones weren’t selling as well and the trade situation with China and China’s economy were a concern. Apple had just hit its highest stock valuation and became the largest company in the world by stock valuation for a minute. Since then things have been going down a little worse than the rest of the stock market.

I think Apple is hitting a rougher spot than they’ve had to deal with for many years. I still like Tim at the wheel through this challenge, though. The smart mobile phone market is topping out which seems to mean that other than markets like China that has an expanding middle class, Apple needs to get some growth out of the edges that don’t have much money for expensive smart phones like the iPhone.

That need for selling to the “poor” isn’t exactly Apple’s strong suit. Apple is a luxury brand for the masses who have use for and enough money to afford an iPhone and Apple’s other pricey, worth it and groundbreaking products.

Can Apple Adapt and Rebound? I’ll get to some of my enthusiasms for the new products and other good stuff in a minute.  But first lets go a little deeper. Apple has the resources to adapt and throw money at various opportunities, exotic staff people and small tech companies and research projects. And they are doing that. But it takes a bit of time to adjust and if you are used to success without having to compromise, it takes a while to switch things up. The question at Apple is do we have to stoop to the level of making more  compromises?

I like the iPhone XR as part of this compromise. This is the new X version of the iPhone 9 let’s say. It has everything except for OLED screen a 2nd camera and it sells at a very non X price point — $749 for 64gb and $799 for 128. The XR has all the smarts of the XS and XS Max and Face ID. This thing rocks and should really soothe those who are getting tired of the last round of price hikes that started when the X came out. Yes, the tech fast lane has lots of people who can afford an iPhone XS or XS Max. But the middle class is hurting and is looking for places to save a few bucks here and there. The XR fits that bill nicely.

The China Problem. Well, like I said, China is the best problem to have in that Apple has already made great success there and China represents the best place to find some more middle class educated people for new iPhones. Except (1) their economy is stumbling a bit which might be giving some of the middle class second thoughts on price and (2) Trump’s Trade War is making China mad and making some of the Chinese a lot more interested in buying the reasonably cool and cheaper mobile phones made in China. Apple is caught in the middle here and will continue to lose some sales the longer this trade situation goes on.

What do I like about Apple right now? The iPad Pros rock pretty hard and I especially like the new 12.9″ with its improved attachable magnetic and charging #2 Apple Pencil. I absolutely love the Apple Watch Series 4 with its extra screen space and new Watch faces.

I love the speed of the iPhones and iPads. I love Face ID. I love the OLED so was willing to pay more to get one for personal and one for the business. I got a Max for personal 24/7 and a XS for the business. Definitely prefer the Max and use it more. I haven’t used the XR but as I said above, it rocks too. I like Apple having hired away the top AI guy from Google.

I like that Apple is looking good with its much better (but not perfect) privacy measures. While Facebook and Google are getting heat for exploiting our data, “selling” it to the highest bidders (like Russia).

I like that Apple is buying up little tech companies and associated geniuses from places like Israel to play full out to make the best tech on the planet.

Apple has too good of a track record right now to bet against. I bought my first Home Pod for $250 at Best Buy last week. It’s already in the #2 spot ahead of Google Home and rising as far as I’m concerned.

What I Don’t Like. High prices even though I think Apple makes it worth your while. And I don’t like the new policy to not announce unit sales of iPhone models. I don’t like the sound of Apple being a Service company. I like them as a product company the way Steve intended. They can probably win as a services company but the reason they win is keeping their giant-sized user base where it is now. I believe in Jony Ive as a designer — of products!

Happy New Year! I still welcome and take comments sans the spammers who never make it onto this page.

November 2017 — Apple is Looking Good: My Thoughts

Now that Apple is a huge company, it is hard to get the kind of %-growth they had in their go-go years. Nevertheless, Apple stock outperformed by a large margin this year. Rumors of the iPhone X and the idea of a Super Cycle of iPhone sales drove that growth. The iPhone X, though 6 weeks late, and the A11 Bionic tech also in the iPhone 8 are exciting millions. Sales figures aren’t in yet, but glowing iPhone X reviews especially may deliver excellent results even with this new configuration, X shortages and $200 premium. Apple’s Q1 forecast, which is usually very conservative, is for XX% growth.

The beauty is that this should-be lumbering beast can still deliver breakthrough technology gives new life to a 10-year-old product category.

The A11 Bionic System on a Chip

The Brains of the iPhone intrigues. Inside there are 5 custom silicon engines. The most valuable is a new custom graphics processor (GPU) which includes a new Neural Engine responsible for AI and graphics. This is where Apple’s ability to design its own silicon drives competitive advantage.

The iPhone X Gives Apple a Way to get Cutting Edge technology out the door sooner

  • One disadvantage Apple has in iPhone innovation is the sheer scale of iPhone production. Leading edge tech, isn’t immediately available at the tremendous scale Apple needs for the iPhone as we’ve known it. Perhaps because it was designed in-house, the A11 Bionic SOC was able to be delivered at scale so was included in both the iPhone 8 and X. This puts even the iPhone 8 in the lead in the most important category in mobile phones.
  • If you raise the price $200 like Apple did with the iPhone X, you should reduce demand to a point where Apple can introduce leading tech a year earlier. Apple was still 6 weeks late in delivering iPhone X. That’s not ideal, so perhaps next year there will be another iPhone X or X2 priced at a premium and delivered alongside the iPhone 8s. If you don’t reduce demand, then there may be shortages as we are seeing now or worse. But then if you priced a

State of the Apple December 2016

The time has come to check in on Apple. This last year is the first time since the iPhone launch that Apple has had a down year. That’s how good they are that it has been a long run, but it’s also because the smartphone a la iPhone has been such a giant in the market these last years. I’m going to go through some of Apple’s key products and the ones they are rumored to be working on and comment on how good they are and what is likely to happen in future. How good are Apple’s new products and what does that look like as things change in the next 2 to 5 years.


We must talk about iPhones because the vast majority of Apple’s profits and revenue come from the iPhone. Smartphones are an incredible moneymaker for Apple in both respects.

Has the iPhone Peaked?

Let me look at the facts and my tea leaves. Apple’s 2015 results starting in October 2015 and ending Sep 30 this year for the first time shows a downturn. Sales in Q1 2015 (Christmas season) did manage to beat sales in Q1 2014, but not by much. Q2-4 were disappointing but not unexpected. Still, I’m cautiously optimistic.

There are 6 or more key factors here:

1. China has been a huge driver of growth for Apple these last few years, and China has been struggling some this last year. Apple’s iPhone sales dropped considerably in China last year. With growth there showing vulnerability, we saw a lot more sales of cheaper Android phones. Apple dominated the high end everywhere, however. And its smartphone profits have been stellar.

2. The Global Economy had a rough year after several up years in a row. Not nearly as bad as Donald Trump said, but bad enough to help dampen the upgrade cycle. A bit troubling in the last month is that the stock market is up, but Apple stock is pretty flat.

3. Pent up Demand for Larger iPhones. There was a lot of pent up demand for a larger iPhone when the iPhone 6 Plus came out in Fall 2013. This pumped up the numbers for Apple in 2014. With giant spike in 2014, it was hard to top that.

4. 2015 was an “s” year. Our comparison year (2014), was the iPhone 6 year. This last year was the 6s year. Generally, the whole new form factor gives sales a boost in that year.

5. 2016 is an “s” year — again. Apple’s stock has been beaten up all year on the expectation that we were not going to get a real fresh form factor iPhone 7 but essentially iPhone 6s2 or something. That’s pretty much what happened but Apple called it iPhone 7 anyway. Awesome, but the same form factor. Sales have been very good but word in the tech press recently is more iffy on Christmas. If iffy wins, Q1 2016 — the biggest quarter of the year — might be disappointing — or not. Somehow Tim Cooke’s Apple has come through in Christmas season and maybe he will pull a rabbit out of the hat once again.

6. Smartphone sales are slowing except at the low end. Prices are rock bottom in some of the less affluent markets. No one really makes money at those prices, but market share does give you something to brag about and Google (maker of Android) can profit from ads on even the cheap smart phones that themselves don’t make money.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

I love these iPhones! They are super fast, gorgeous and 3D Touch rocks the house. Apples 3D Touch and force touch elsewhere keeps getting better and more transformative. Apple keeps upping the ante and other folks have to play serious catch up.  Cameras unbelievable especially on the Plus with its 2x! Wide color. Best smartphones in the world without question.

iPhone in 2016

iPhone 10. Apple has Concocted an iPhone 8 with a new form factor for the year of 2017 – the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone. If the rumor mill is right, and I think they are, new iPhones and iPads are going edge to edge in 2017. The screens are going to be better again! And bigger with the same phone size in your hand. I think this will be very popular. The 5.5″ iPhone 8 Plus will go up to 5.8″! The 4.7″ iPhone 8 will be just under 5″.  Everyone expects the iPhone 8 or 10 to sell really well. 2017 isn’t likely to be a down year.

iPhone Beyond 2017

I wouldn’t place a lot of bets on iPhone 9 being a banner year just because it is going to be hard to top iPhone 8. Which will be an s year. And, the headwinds against the iPhone may stiffen a bit more. All I know is that Apple is making almost all the profit in the smartphone space. They make incredible and jaw-dropping products at regular intervals. And the question would be who can beat them? They might lose some share, but not the crown would be my bet.

Other Products and Services in the Current Mix

None of these other products and services are likely to take the place of the iPhone any time soon if ever. But there are a bunch of them that are important. Here’s what Apple has already out there.

MacBook 12 and MacBook Pro

I am a big fan of both the MacBook 12 and the MacBook Pro 13. I’m writing on the Pro 13 as we speak. Apple’s trackpad is far better than PC trackpads to date. Apple’s screen while not as high Rez as some is as good or better as any other screen out there. This is a laptop, not a hybrid laptop tablet like the latest from Microsoft and other Windows products. But, you now have the beginnings of a very cool touch bar that is Apple’s answer to a full touch screen. Apple is way ahead on the high end generally, but we have seen better quality on the PC side. There has been a delay of the release of new MacBook Pros which I chalk up to the ambitions of the touchbar, the considerable slimming down of the MacBook Pro. I love having a 3 lb MacBook Pro. It’s very powerful, yet thin and light. The MacBook is a close competitor at 2 lbs. You can’t beat that. I must say, having 4 ports instead of 1 on the MacBook 12, is luxurious and welcome but that extra one pound is the price.I expect to see a return to grown on the Mac side of the house. Including the iMac.


iPad Pro 12.9. I’m a fan of the iPad Pro for its delivery of a huge screen in a 1-1/2 lb form factor. It’s fabulous for reading news like reading a magazine and for any other application where size matters. This guy is scheduled to grow larger with the edge to edge plan Apple has in the works and may show up in that size in Spring. There is a lot of room for improvement on the iPad side of the house. Not in the hardware so much, though, edge to edge will be great. Software needs to get more love from Apple and I think it will if not perhaps as fast as I would like. Developers see the writing on the wall and write first for the iPhone and give their second best to iPad in many cases.

iPad Pro 9.7. This wonderful-sized iPad is still great. I like the bigger iPad partly because it is a new form factor and is exciting because of that. But this 9.7″ number soon be be either lighter or same weight with a bigger screen, is awesome. Can do lots for you and the smaller size is pretty lovable.

iPad mini 4. The mini has gotten second shrift as far as I can tell. Processor lags the other sizes for some reason. Is that an avoidance of the iPhone perhaps? Don’t know. I’m to the point where the mini is the odd man out. But still great when I use it. It does get serious competition from the iPhone 7 Plus right now which is faster with 3D Touch and fits in my pocket (kind of). If the size is right at the time, you get iPad apps that often have extra features that the iPhone is denied. Example would be Scrivener for iOS where the iPad version has a corkboard and the iPhone doesn’t.

Apple Watch. I’m an Apple Watch fan and think it could be better. I wear mine every day. I upgraded to the Series 2 when it came out. Mine is rose gold with a black Sport band that I bought because I wanted the black (this is a black year with the black iPhones) rather than navy blue. Love the look. Definitely upped my exercise game since buying my first watch. Use it much more as time has gone on as far as fitness goes. Also, speed bumped up a lot when Watch OS 3 came out and then with the faster new processor in Series 1 and 2. Plus GPS! This is the wearable of choice and will be positioned beautifully as time goes on and wearables get more and more important.

Apple TV. Have the 4 but not really using it much. Never have done much with Apple TV but I’m not really a TV person. Seems sexy enough. But TV is stymied due to Cable and all the regional controls that Steve complained about. Still waiting to be compelled further.

Rumor Mill

Self-Driving Car

I heard the rumor Apple had 1000 employees on the car project and they probably need that many or more as they ramp up to get into this market. As software becomes more important than hardware in this space and disruption occurs presenting new opportunities for new players, Apple has a great shot here. I am very excited about but not so sure I could afford an Apple car. I can afford iPhones and MacBook Pros but cars are kind of steep when they get as cool as Apple likes to do.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Tim Cook is talking about this and I believe we can count on entries into this emerging field. Augmented means you have some kind or another of heads up display such as on your windshield in a car, in your contact lenses or glasses. This stuff is closer to real and coming soonish (1-2 years).

Eventually, Virtual Reality will follow and Apple will be there.  But one thing at a time, although, I’m sure R&D is already well underway here to.

 AI, the Cloud and Services

This is Apple’s Achilles heel compared to Google, FaceBook and Amazon and even Microsoft. Apple is structured for selling hardware and software as its main gig and that structure deemphasizes these important services of all kinds. All I can say for now is Apple has its work cut out for it and they realize they have to put the pedal to the metal here to make sure their weakness isn’t a deal-breaker down the road. Apple is touting rapid growth in services. They are acquiring really cool AI companies and people rapidly.

Health and Fitness

Apple doubled down on fitness when introducing Apple Watch Series 1 and 2 this September. Some of the other great features like notifications, and simply having a connected computer on your wrist were not reemphasized. Healthcare is the kind of market Apple can sink its teeth into. It’s giant-sized and has a strong consumer element not just business to business hospitals and such. Apple needs to leverage consumer, it’s longtime strength. There is lots of room for innovation with health. If I knew more real time information about what’s going on in my body, I could do things that would help my health not hurt it. For example, if I can see that the candy bar I just ate spiked my insulin and made me start storing fat, I would think twice. If I could consult the unpleasant impacts my dietary adventures were having over time, I would be less tempted and Apple could throw in medals for diet, sleep who knows what not just steps, stands, exercise and movement calories. I could take charge of my health. Much of that could happen from my wrist but I’m not sure we won’t venture into implants pretty soon. If your dog has a gps tag implanted and humans have large pacemakers implanted without harm done, what’s to stop this trend from going into much wider adoption?

The Home And Beyond

Amazon Echo and Google Home. Yes, the home is coming and Amazon is ahead here. Google Home is pretty weak by comparison. And Apple isn’t on the board yet. Apple TV is the closest thing you have if you don’t count Apple Watch and iPhone which I do count to an extent. But home is a slow lumbering beast. I still have my smart lightbulbs in their packaging. I hear it’s a hassle to get these things working. However, all the devices in the home, office, street, clothing will be smart as time rolls on and Apple will be making sure they are there innovating their hearts out but making sure their entries are awesome not just adequate.

Apple’s Sep 9 — 1-2-3 Punch

iPhones_FrontI’m one of those who was extremely pleased by Tim Cook’s Apple this week. We already knew about iOS8. That’s was a really strong sign of good things to come. I will tell you why I am high on iOS 8 as a linchpin for Apple’s future, then move on to iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and finish up with the Apple Watch and finally to Apple Pay.

iOS 8 Unleashes iOS

In developing iCloud Drive and Extensions, Apple has removed the barriers to growth for the iPad.  I’ve railed against the limitations of iOS on the iPad that have stopped me from using it as a full-fledged post-pc computer. With iOS 8, which is due for release next week, you’ll be able to search your entire device for files no matter which app created them. Lack of full device search has been a giant-sized missing on iPad on the order of missing copy and paste on iPhone in the early days.

Extensions solve the other major problem iPad has had which is inability to freely share information and functionality between apps. Yes, it is all well and good to have specialized apps that do one thing well. But, it’s not OK, when you have to go through hell to get a job done copying files from one app to the other. And only when you get lucky and app A has been modified to be able to work to some degree with App B. Yes you can do email and web surfing without that, but knowledge work and creativity suffer and are frustrated.

The iPad mini with retina and iPad Air are very powerful and will be able to do so much more without having to operate with one hand tied behind their backs. Removing these constraints opens up new fields of opportunity that Apple needs to capitalize on. The iPhone 6 party is about to start and we haven’t seen what the 2014 iPad(s) will look like. We’ll get to it all in a minute but lets start with what will be available to preorder tomorrow.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

iPhone 6 is a Worthy Upgrade to the iPhone 5s

Increased screen size is more than welcome on the iPhone and it seems to have been achieved with minimal inconvenience. The 6 is thinner. It has these nice rounded sides so you won’t find it harder to hold than a 5s. Being thinner and rounder helps it fit into your pocket as well. If you can deliver more screen real estate without penalty, why would you not?

iPhone 6 is the Incremental Entry though. The iPhone 6 Plus has other virtues I will get to in a minute but both 6s deliver:

  • Even more gorgeous screen
  • Faster than the 5s
  • Better camera
  • Beautiful design
  • Extra iOS features to make it easier to operate a larger device one-handed

iPhone 6 Plus is the Topper

The iPhone 6 is big. I was surprised when I learned it would be 5.5″. That’s at the upper end of the scale for a <cringe> phablet. I’ve been wanting a bigger iPhone and even I was a little scared this big guy would be too big. But I didn’t anticipate that Apple would do all sorts of good things to make it work as an iPhone. If you can make it work, you’ve done the impossible and given users the chance to have one device to rule them all. I wanted the original iPad to be 7″. Instead we got a 10″ iPad. Then last fall we got an 8″ iPad which many flocked to.

I’ve got a 6″ Kindle Paperwhite but the touch and gray is so inferior to an iPad retina it only gets to come out on special occasions – outdoors mostly. However, that 6″ screen is more than big enough for eReading and the 8″ iPad mini is still too big for comfort though useable. This new 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus fits the eReader size to a perfect T as it is less wide and thus better for single handed use. It’s brilliant.

Strategically, the iPhone 6 Plus seems perfect. Being an iPhone it has a much higher margin than the iPad mini which it will cannibalize to some degree. So, you raise the iPhone price $100 and you solve the issue in an instant.

When iPhone started it had to be a good phone first a foremost. Those days are gone and the new 4.7″ and 5.5″ sizes are spot on for these touch computers that happen to be phones too. Other smartphones have migrated into these spaces and now Apple has answered decisively. See my blog post Ten Reasons to Go Big with the iPhone 6 Plus for details.

Apple Watch

I was shocked at the innovation I saw in the Apple Watch Tuesday. I was hoping that Apple would somehow pull a rabbit out the hat and make the Apple Watch compelling. And they did — much more than I expected.

Wow Impeccable All the Way Around

What I saw on Tuesday was jaw-dropping. I didn’t realize there was so much to do and so much that can be done in reinventing the watch as a mobile computing device/platform. Beyond the watch, it is clear that Apple is taking on wearables as a major new category. They didn’t just do an Apple watch like they’ve done computers and iOS devices to date. They decided the Apple watch is a uniquely personal device and personalization is imperative. No one size fits all here.

Options Galore

The sheer volume of options is not something we’ve seen from Apple up until now. Having 2 iPhone 6 models was the first surprise of the day. The Apple Watch is a landslide in the personalization and options department. Two sizes. Three models. Beaucoup straps. Customizable watch face content. Lots of app support — already.

Unique Opportunities with a Watch

This is what I didn’t count on. Fitness and health, yes. I knew Apple could up that compared to the iPhone. But the communication stuff. Taptics! What is that? Allowing you to signal your partner at a party with all sorts of options. I can’t wait. The little fish drawing wasn’t bad either. The Digital Crown to control zooming is perfect.

Will the Apple Watch be a Hit?

It sure looks like it. I want one and plan to buy the v1 Apple Watch that comes out Q1 2015. This is one of those times when Tim’s warning, “Don’t bet against us” seems particularly prescient.

Apple Pay

This is a giant category waiting to happen, so its scale Matches Apple like a glove. They can easily wheel and deal at this level. Apparently Japan has already proven that this kind of thing can work. I didn’t see anything not to like, but I will defer to those who are fascinated by commerce. I’m a little more idealistic and interested in knowledge and creativity. I have no doubt Apple Pay will roll some heads and be a viable entry to this category. But I’ll leave it at that.


Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Craig Federighi and those on the iPhone and iWatch teams did themselves proud Tuesday. Tim wasn’t kidding when he said Apple would continue to blow our minds!

State of the Apple in 2014

Jony_Ive_Book_CoverApple: too Big to be a Growth Company?

From a Stock Investment point of view, maybe. It’s a well known fact that the bigger you get, the harder it is to grow fast because your base is such a large number. Big successful companies like Apple can also become complacent.

With Stock troubles the last year and a half, though, Apple has had some time to introspect and get the house in order to fight the competitive battles they need to fight. The biggest immediate challenge is that Smart Mobile is peaking. Most of Apple’s target market — knowledge workers, professionals and creatives already have iPhones and iPads. Now what?

The first thing Apple has done is put out 3 great versions of their 3 stellar products: iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with retina. All three are based on Apple’s new best in class A7 chip and are incredibly responsive. The 2013 retina MacBook Pro is also a great machine. Jony Ive has taken over software design now and iOS7 has  a fresh new look and is better than ever. Their current product portfolio including OSX Mavericks is peerless!

Growth and Innovation

Let’s grant that Apple has one arm tied behind its back as a Growth company due to its decade-long rapid growth and enormous sales and profits. But Innovation, design and excellence are Apple’s proven strengths. How can Apple not innovate? That’s what they do. I’m not the only one impressed with Tim Cook’s competence, intelligence and commitment. Steve Jobs is gone. But intensity, vision, aesthetics and creativity are alive and well in Apple’s secret sauce man — Jony Ive.

Jony Ive Has the Goods

I’ve just finished reading the new Jony Ive book by Leander Kahney and it is quite enlightening. Ive’s father taught him design, curiosity, craftsmanship, observation and innovation from the cradle. His father led the development of design education in England and helped Jony get into the best design schools and firms. Jony was winning prizes for design and turning heads while still in high school. The best part might be that he is just as driven as Steve Jobs was. And Jony isn’t working alone, he has handpicked an amazing team of designers.

Ive joined Apple in the early nineties and designed the 2nd version of the Newton. His team also did a Newton mini-laptop that looked a lot like the translucent Bondi Blue iMac a few years later.  It just got better from there.

Tim Cook Makes it Happen

Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs but he kicks ass and gets stuff done like no one I’ve ever heard of. He’s not even a product guy but he is super competent and obviously loves being the guy running Apple. He will do whatever it takes to keep Apple in a leadership position in technology.

Angela Ahrendts is Coming

I’m cheating a little here as Ahrendts hasn’t even started yet as Apple’s new Retail chief, but I’m super excited just from seeing Angela’s Ted Talk on The Power of Human Energy. She is inspired and inspiring and I’m glad to have her on the team. She’s done wonders at Burberry and is pretty geeky too. She’s done stuff with retail at Burberry that Apple could only hope to do until now.

In the area of computer software and hardware and now Post PC smartphones and tablets, Apple is the innovator. No one else is close…

The Future Unfolding

New Product Categories

We’ve been hearing rumors of a real TV or a much cooler Apple TV for years now. More recently there’s the iWatch rumor. I’m guessing these both are going to happen. Cool stuff is starting to show up in Cars. It is safe to say Apple will address the digital home and car near term. But we will have to wait a little longer to see the results of their efforts.

Sapphire Glass Plant in Arizona Looks Promising

I like this new development. First Apple is manufacturing the Mac Pro in the US. Now they are building a Synthetic Sapphire plant near Phoenix.  My take on this is that Tim Cook is on the move. I think he wants to build up Apple’s manufacturing capability in the US. He says he is just getting started on this.

What About Google?

Google is Apple’s number one rival. They have shown themselves to be good at search and cloud services. Android’s 80% global marketshare in smartphones is nerve-wracking to say the least. Google CEO, Larry Page, plays big and will help the industry move forward rapidly in the coming years. Lots of their innovation is vaporware from my perspective, though. Self-driving cars and Google Glass are innovative but ideas are a dime a dozen. Let me know when you sell those cars and a few regular people adopt Google Glass.

Apple doesn’t pre announce their innovations, so every time there is a gestation period, people start questioning whether they still have it. See my August 2013 post on Apple’s Strengths and Weaknesses for more on Apple and Google.

That said, Google is a great spur to Apple to keep innovating. Just lately Google bought Nest the hip digital home thermostat and smoke alarm maker founded by, Tony Fadell. And Google sold Motorola to Lenovo. I can’t tell whether they are scarily great or just shaking things up.

I’m Optimistic

Google is out there and Apple has to play its best game to do exactly what it wants to do in the technology space. But Apple has lots of cards to play in this undertaking. They have the money, passion,  people,  design leadership and cutting edge engineering and manufacturing. I can’t wait to see what is coming down the pike next. It’s going to be good!

Apple Strengths and Weaknesses 2013


Apple’s stock price has been battered since last September. Growth and profitability have not been the usual off the charts this last year. Are Apple’s glory days over or is this a pause in Apple’s ascent to greater heights? What are Apple’s key strengths and weaknesses going forward?


Let’s go straight into the thick of the weaknesses first. Then I’ll tell you what I like about Apple’s prospects.

Online Services

iCloudApple is first and foremost a hardware and software company. The cloud is not Apple’s first love and not their native language like it is at Google and Amazon. Google, Amazon and Facebook are all in on the Cloud and it shows. Apple is playing catch up and hasn’t gotten everything right with iCloud. iTunes is aging.

As communications and whole industries have gone digital, the Cloud has grown in importance. If Apple doesn’t keep investing heavily here, they can’t stay competitive. Apple’s ill-fated introduction of Apple Maps and stumbles with DotMac, MobileMe and now iCloud show they are persistent and committed to success in the Cloud. They know it’s a deal-breaker. I don’t see any reason they can’t master this area. But I do believe we will see Google stay ahead of Apple overall in the Cloud.

The Cloud is not ruling the world yet, though. During the heyday of Web 2.0 back in 2005 and 2006, there was a growing consensus that “everything is going to the Cloud”. Not so much. The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and native apps and Apple’s App Store in 2008 made web-based apps seem limited. Users have spoken. They want snappy and powerful native apps that benefit fully from being optimized to the hardware of an iPhone, iPad, smartphone or tablet with all their powerful sensors. At minimum, Apple has bought itself a chunk of time here to play catch up in the Cloud. The jury is still out on which side will dominate when the dust settles. Will the Cloud resurge or will native apps sustain their current lead? Sooner or later the cloud with HTML 5 and beyond will be cool. That it will make device-optimized apps obsolete is questionable at best right now.

Nexus7_gen2Premium Pricing in a Bad Economy

Apple has carved out a position in the market as a premium quality producer. As Apple says, “We don’t make junk!”. Apple has it made selling to the affluent because they are viewed as the maker’s of the best quality devices and the best user experience. If price is no object, most go for iPhones, iPads and Macs. That’s fine but eventually you run out of rich people and have to sell to the rest of the economy and the world. Apple has done pretty well to date on this front by leveraging their economies of scale. However, Samsung, specifically has the same scale as Apple and isn’t limited to producing for the top tier. There is plenty of evidence in places like China and India especially, lots of phones are going to the Android side. The problem is much worse where there is no subsidy for phones like there is here in the US.

Sometimes Bigger is Better and One Size Does Not Fit All

Competitors, especially Samsung, have had a field day producing gadgets that are bigger or smaller than what Apple makes. There have been large wins with larger phones all the way up to the 5.5″ Samsung Note 2. The biggest win there is in price sensitive markets where people have been sold on the bigger screen of the iPad, need a phone and can’t afford 2 wireless devices.

GalaxyNoteIIvsiPhone5There are very good arguments to be made for a single device to serve as both an always connected internet phone and an always connected tablet. It’s cheaper and you get that lovely 24/7 connectivity we all prefer. Bigger screens are more impressive. You might occasionally regret the size when holding it with one hand or trying to fit it in a tight pair of jeans, but content and web pages sure look good with more screen real estate. Big phones have got to be great in the showroom!

Apple’s Strengths

What about the other side of the coin? Apple has demonstrated excellence in design, innovation, quality and customer service. Yes. These are Apple’s core strengths. How are these holding up in the face of fierce competition especially from Google and Samsung?


The competition’s imitation keeps improving and HTC has created a great looking and feeling large Android phone with the HTC One. The top three contenders, Samsung, Google and Amazon are well beneath Apple’s dazzling designs but, as we’ve said, a low price does wonders to smooth over that deficiency. Not everyone cares that much about great design. Here’s hoping Apple keeps finding ways to use all that money they have in the bank to secure the best deals on components. Apple makes the iPod touch which is a super cheap iPhone almost, so they know how to cut corners on costs when they want to. A cheap iPhone would be an iPod touch with a cellular antenna. With a subsidy, Apple would be giving them away free.

Apple still has a large lead here but Google has upped their game (thanks to Matias Duarte) making the stock Android user interface and Nexus devices look and feel much better. The top contenders are all playing the design game now. We think this competition will continue, but now Apple is striking back with iOS 7 a bold and arresting makeover that may be what the doctor ordered for reviving their lead in the design space. Those who are intimately familiar with actual use of the iOS7 betas have come away impressed. iOS 7 will very likely be a hit with its unique multilayered, translucent experience. Anyone getting bored with iOS as we’ve come to know it will be wowed all over again.


Yes, we think Apple has been slacking a little in the innovation department but then that’s what it always looks like before they blow us away with their big new things that come only every few years. We all waited year after year for a smaller laptop and finally got a MacBook Air and an iPad. Both have been way cool but they didn’t come out as fast as we would have liked. Chalk it up to greatness.

I think iOS 7 looks super innovative and the new Mac Pro shown off at the World Wide Developer’s Conference in June looked off the charts amazing! TV seems to be taking awhile and that hurts Apple’s image a bit. I also love OS X Mavericks because it addresses a lot of longstanding issues in OSX brings them up to the level of excellence we expect from Apple. These aren’t earthshaking improvements, but they will be well-appreciated.

Apple is still clearly the leader in computer and mobile hardware and software right now. To a point, everyone else is still playing catch up. I do want to acknowledge that Google has a mind of its own, has lots of money and does interesting things with it. Also, Microsoft’s introduction of the Surface tablets is innovative in its own way. Lets not forget the Metro UI and Windows Phone which are legitimate innovations too. One of the differences between how things are going now and how they went with iPod dominance is that the industry sees that mobile phones and tablets are to a large degree replacing desktop and notebook computing as we’ve known it. There is a sense of urgency along the lines of innovate or die that wasn’t present back in the iPod days. It took a few years to develop but there is a true creative ferment that Apple has to contend with.


Quality is how Apple rolls. They aren’t going to change in this regard and the competition will undercut them when they can and cut corners in doing so. In a sea of products and advertising, quality stands out. Samsung and Amazon have shown that quality isn’t everything in their smartphone and tablet offerings, though. In price sensitive markets, a lot of people just want to get into the game.

Tim Cook has his hands full, but as he says, don’t under estimate Apple. They have lots of cards to play. It’s clear they have a good chance of staying on top.

State of the Apple 2012

A lot has happened in the world of Apple this last year. Apple has released new Macs including powerful MacBook Airs, OSX Lion, iCloud, the iPhone 4S with iOS 5 and just announced a strong OSX Mountain Lion release coming for Summer.

Along the way, Steve Jobs died – on October 5. A tragic loss to millions around the world. Even so, Apple is on a roll of immense proportions and is showing no signs of slowing down. Its stock valuation is larger than any other corporation in the world, but you know that already.

If you’ve been here before, you know that Apple is a passion of mine. I bought my first Mac in 1986 (the Mac Plus). That was a big commitment at the time. Back then, I was an up and coming computer professional just starting my own business. The question was do I go with my strong attraction to the Mac or go with the already dominant and rapidly growing IBM PC? I went Mac then and have stayed the course. At the time it looked like the innovative and easier to use Graphical User Interface of Macintosh would overtake the PC, but that didn’t happen. Even now, Mac represents only 10% of the Desktop PC market.

What has happened for several years now is that Mac is growing at 25-30% per year and PC sales are flat. The reason for Apple’s success has not been the Mac, but the introduction and massive success of the iPod, then the iPhone in 2007 and now the iPad. We live in a world swimming in mobile devices with people bumping into each other as they pay much more attention to their phones than their whereabouts. Mobile has begun to dominate the market and looks hell bent to take us all into a Post PC world where the PC is more of an after thought (actually, the PC as we know it may become part of the scenery literally as walls and glasses become screens). Just last week it was revealed that Apple sold 155 million iOS devices in 2011 which exceeds the total number Macs sold in its 28 year history (122m).

Even though Apple lost the battle between Mac and PC, they drove the computer industry forward, even in the Eighties and Nineties. Bill Gates could see that Apple’s Macintosh technology and graphical user interface was the wave of the future. So Microsoft created Windows using the Mac as a point of reference. Microsoft’s dominance systematically drained Apple and by the mid-nineties Apple’s future was in doubt. Steve Jobs returned to Apple after a hiatus of over ten years and revived Apple and led it to where we are today.

I’ve been doing blog posts here on the state of Apple for several years now. I’ve predicted Apple’s success, but no one could have predicted the current situation. Apple has been moving computers forward by leaps and bounds and taken computer tech far beyond the graphical interface, desktop/laptop into whole other categories. With Apple’s rise, the computer and associated technology industries have exploded into uncharted territory. We’ve gone from a computer on every desk to a computer in every pocket.

So, where is Apple with Tim Cook at the helm, without Steve Jobs to drive it forward? So far so good. Apple has not stopped innovating but I don’t think anyone expected it would. Apparently Steve Jobs worked with Jony Ive and other Apple executives on at least a four year product timeline. I’m hoping those four years will march like clockwork to not only improve the Mac, the iOS platform and devices, but create whole other platforms and initiatives. We know from the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson that Apple is working on major initiatives in education (iBooks Author) and the Living Room (Apple TV). From the looks of Mountain Lion and iCloud, lots more is in store.

As a technology professional, my job is to invest my time (R&D) and efforts (software development, consulting and writing) in the right places so I can, through early adoption, R&D and experimentation, stay ahead of this unfolding curve. I have acquired Apple’s latest technologies early including the first iPod, the first iPhone and iPod touch. The first iPad. I’ve since upgraded first thing as advances in these tools were made. I don’t buy every model, but have purchased every iPhone model on its first day, the Nov 2008, Nov 2010 and July 2011 MacBook Airs. I’m on the case and study the iPhone and iPad apps as they pertain to my target users: designers and the broader group of professional knowledge workers like myself (see my Independent Knowledge Professional blog that evolved from my Tech Ronin blog started in 2003).

The Mac, iPhone and iPad are #1 in their categories (the latter 2 are number 1 in sales, while Mac is agreed as the better desktop/laptop machine for those who have a choice. They are going gangbusters and I see no reason to doubt that will continue for the foreseeable future. Of course, nothing is forever, so Apple will have to find it’s way on its own (without Steve Jobs) to continue its success as time goes on. It’s not easy to do what they’ve done and it won’t be a slam dunk to continue it. IBM has done pretty well. Microsoft has seen better days, but I wouldn’t count them out by any means.

With Apple’s size now, they have to make big markets. I have no doubt that iBooks Author will succeed (and have written a recent blog post about it over at my Independent Knowledge Professional blog). Same for Apple TV. Who can do it better? They have all the money in the world ($100 billion at last count). They have Jony Ive as head of design which is a central, defining role at Apple. They have the ultimate Operations guy in Tim Cook. This should be fun to watch — and participate in.

My bread and butter work is the development of custom FileMaker Pro database applications for businesses – I call them decision support systems. I’ve built a FileMaker-based software product called Studio Manager for the creative services industry so do most of my consulting there, but I do a certain percentage of my work with a variety of other businesses from solopreneurs to corporate work groups.

Technology consulting comes along with the territory. I advise on what hardware and software to buy as part of my help in developing solutions to business challenges. I’ve had a web presence since 1995, so do a little consulting re blogging and social media. I’m a big Twitter fan (I’m @tokerud) but could live without Facebook. I love the Kindle and have recently acquired a Kindle Fire. It’s pretty good. Amazon is the other A company I believe in.

My generic advice to you without a personal consultation? Get a MacBook Air if you don’t already have one as your main computer (it’s OK to have a larger desktop machine when needed but such a machine is rarely versatile and mobile enough to be your primary machine). Get an iPad 3. Use an iPhone. Right now these are your best bets for hardware/software technologies to use in your knowledge work. Use them for staying current, managing, creating content, communicating, thinking.

You need to place bets with your hardware and software investments, and most importantly with your time. Every minute spent with these devices is know-how acquired – progress along key learning curves. Technology investments elsewhere will have smaller returns. Obsolescence and the avoidance thereof is a reality any knowledge worker must take seriously and manage him or herself to.

Apple Everywhere, Where Next?

I follow Apple closely every day. I own multiple Macs, an iPhone 4 and an iPad 2. The biggest chunk of my income comes from building software and custom systems with FileMaker Pro – also owned by Apple. I was pretty thrilled last July when FileMaker announced FileMaker Go for iPhone and iPad. The latest upgrade to my Studio Manager product supports iPhone and iPad access.

The second biggest chunk of income comes from advising and consulting with my Mac clients on technology decisions. Apple is my home team. I’ve been writing about Apple since System 7 came out in the early nineties. Here’s what’s going on now:

1. iPad 2. The iPad 2 and enormous success of the first iPad last year is the biggest thing. The iPad is the third big industry-changing new device after the iPod and iPhone. This triple play puts Apple in the catbird seat in the technology scene. They are making truckloads of revenues and profits and their biggest problem is figuring out what to do with all the cash they are accumulating.

I love the iPad and and am on cloud 9 with the new thinner, lighter and faster iPad 2. The iPad is such an easy device to use. iPhone delivered the wonders of multi-touch in an exquisite little package. iPad raises the ante by expanding the screen to handle most digital documents at full size and doesn’t do half bad with video. There’s plenty of room for controls and content.

Apple is building for the future though. Things we are used to like USB and the Finder aren’t in iOS. Apple views the iPad as a game changer. They are reinventing the PC and are very serious about it. Expect to see better replacements for these standards as they get completed to the satisfaction of Steve Jobs. Apple made a judgement call on how far they could get us to stretch into new territory with the iPhone (no copy and paste?) and now with the iPad. They gave us all sorts of inducements to make the missing pieces worth waiting for. See more on this in yesterday’s post Have iPad, Will Travel on my Independent Knowledge Professional blog.

You may want to get an iPad just so you can start the new multi-touch *pad* learning curve. Gestures are in and they are being phased in over time. It helps to get on board so that you don’t have to learn 15 gestures all at once 2 years from now. There are rumors of a possible, more cloud-based iPad 3 this Fall. I’m so happy with iPad 2 that I don’t care one way or the other. But, of course, you would probably find me waiting in line then too. Apple hasn’t disappointed me for quite a few years now.

2. iPhone 4 and 5. Apple finally delivered a Verizon iPhone in February. The iPhone 4 is a killer device with its absolutely gorgeous 960 x 640 pixel screen. The early hubbub about the antenna had little to no negative impact on this juggernaut. However, the iPhone 5 may not be released in June. In fact, it seems pretty clear that an Autumn release is the earliest we can expect. I guess Apple isn’t done yet with whatever they are cooking up. So far we are hearing more cloud-based, a very powerful voice control component based on Apple’s acquisition of Siri. Apparently Apple wants to keep ahead of the pack so expect more on this next iPhone. By the way, the iPod touch should continue to gain iPhone features as time goes on and be an incredible wi-fi-only device. As free wi-fi spreads further, which it has been doing quite nicely lately at places like Starbucks, Peet’s and even MacDonalds, the iPod touch increases its value.

3. OS X Lion is nearing completion. We’ve already seen a preview and it will be morphing closer to iOS, taking on various inventions there. More gesture-based. An app store already out. A bunch of little icons on the home screen too. And more. The Mac and OS X look to be in a great position to continue their long upward climb in marketshare. It’s getting to the point where some people are starting to think that adopting the Mac platform is a step on the way to the future rather than a step off the path onto a niche OS. Many are saying Microsoft’s days in the sun are numbered. I think OS X and Mac will continue to grow. That’s all that matters from my perspective. If the PC platform is plateauing and Mobile and Cloud are ascending, it may not matter too much which way that goes.

All these three initiatives are selling like hotcakes. Apple’s massive multi-billion dollar server farm facility in North Carolina may be completed this Spring. Rumors of a new, much-improved MobileMe are afoot. Rumors of iPhones and iPads that depend more and integrate with an Apple Cloud are gaining traction.

There used to be a solitary Macintosh platform that worked pretty well with Windows. Now we have a different ball game with the two new iOS offerings on iPhone and iPad. I think it is clear there is room between the Mac and iPhone and that spot is being forged with great promise with the iPad and now the iPad 2. You need to be thinking in terms of all three working together. Apps need to be purchased in that context in many cases. Prefer the App that can interoperate all else being equal.

I didn’t mention the continuing success of Apple stores. The 4 in China have proven exceptional. It seems that retail presence is one of Apple’s strategic advantages vis a vis Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

And what about the livingroom and Apple TV? That’s still a hobby as Steve calls it. Apple is probably going to find a way there as well. The latest moves look like they may hold promise. Things like Apple TV 2.0, iPad 2 mirroring to HDTV, home sharing and streaming between iDevices, Macs and Apple TV 2 look good. There are serious obstacles on this front. Google TV ran straight into them in the Fall. Sooner or later things will open up here or a mitigation of differences will be struck between Cable and Digital. Don’t hold your breath but keep an eye out.

Tokerud Consulting Group