Only Apple

John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball, “‘Only Apple’ has been Tim Cook’s closing mantra for the last few Apple keynotes. Here’s what he said at the end of last week’s WWDC keynote: ‘You’ve seen how our operating systems, devices, and services, all work together in harmony. Together they provide an integrated and continuous experience across all of our products, and you’ve seen how developers can extend their experience further than they’ve ever done before and how they can create powerful apps even faster and more easily than they’ve ever been able to. Apple engineers platforms, devices, and services together. We do this so that we can create a seamless experience for our users that is unparalleled in the industry. This is something only Apple can do. You’ve seen a few people on stage this morning, but there are thousands of people that made today possible.'”

“Is this true, though?” Gruber asks. “Is Apple the only company that can do this? I think it’s inarguable that they’re the only company that is doing it, but Cook is saying they’re they only company that can.”

“I’ve been thinking about this for two weeks,” Gruber writes. “Who else is even a maybe? I’d say it’s a short list: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Samsung. And I’d divide that short list into halves — the close maybes (Microsoft and Google) and the not-so-close maybes (Amazon and Samsung).”

Much more in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Grigori” for the heads up.]


  1. SteveJ issued the shots across the bow from 2007-08 with the opening up of the iPhone for developers.

    But no one since has taken Apple seriously until maybe the last 2 years, but now Apple has such a lead as a vertically oriented company creating everything from programming tools to accessory products, that I wonder if any competitor is actually going to TRY to match Apple.

    I hear of no attempts to catch Apple from MDN or elsewhere. Just blather to date.

  2. I guess for me to agree with Joh’s list of possibles I would have to see two things occur:

    1. The infrastructure capability, only Apple has this now for its entire business.

    2. An inclination that the customer’s experience is a primary strategic value and goal. Apple is the only one that has shown any consistency.

  3. Guys, read the entire article. It’s worth it. In fact, I love this article so much I want to marry it and have a raise a whole bunch of baby articles just like it.

    Excellent points raised throughout and some superb analysis, ESPECIALLY regarding Apple under Tim Cook.

    1. Good call, docwallaby! It is a great article covering a great company. WWDC 2014 was amazing for the breadth and depth of its software content. That bodes very well for the next round of Apple hardware products. Very well, indeed…

  4. Only Apple. I like that. Those 2 words describe everything right with Apple. No other company comes close. The closest company might be…I really don’t know…Someone help me out here!

    1. Apart from them, where’s the third ‘J’ — the Joker? You know, “Fire Tim Cook!” All Jaundiced, I suppose, now that John Gruber has Explained All.

  5. Gruber’s most controversial point: Tim Cook is probably a better CEO than Jobs even though Jobs was a visionary. If Jobs were still alive, he’d be working on special projects with Ive.

    1. Controversial, but is it entirely wrong? I mean, Jobs was exactly what Apple needed when it “hit the reset button” in 1997. He was a great driving force for a startup, or for a company in crisis that needed to act like a startup. Tim Cook is the leader Apple needs now.

      The question is, would Jobs have recognized that himself when the time came, or would Apple have suffered some major growing pains under his leadership? It’s just a shame we’ll never know what could have been.

      1. A thought I had for a long tine and I make you exactly right. Jobs singular vision was both his strength and his weakness, it got him the first time when he was forced out but thankfully came back better and stronger exactly what Apple needed at that time. But having become so large and mature was his approach still what was needed when the maverick approach that he so excelled for growth was increasingly less the prime requirement. I guess we will never know now but some of the criticism Cook has had to deal with had its roots in Steve’s leadership where getting as much from as little as possible was the theme.

        This delayed development/expansion of existing products when new ones were not on the cards, such as iPad mini, iPhone variants, streaming music and belated support and cloud services and the slowness in developing iOS a few years back were all during or the result of his watch though one has to consider his state of health at the time. Cook really couldn’t be held responsible for the vision side of the company until late last year when decisions under his watch would start to cone on line and I think this is the first year that he can truly be judged. The WWDC showed a lot of vision in the underlying work being done and products later this year will give us true insight into how well that vision is carried through into products. Until then his and the companies serious critics are either trolls, idiots, vision less dinosaurs or agents of FUD.

  6. The one think absolutely true that is certified “only apple” and that is promising and promising and promising “great products in the pipeline” and then time after time after time delivering ordinary tweaks to their products during some insane fanfare at WWDC where the cult of Apple gather and cheer and shout and become orgasmic about the kind of things that are ordinary, at best, updates and ballyhoo about “new” features that are, by their record, useless and soon just ignored. Tim Cook darkness.

      1. Indicative of what I was trying to point out above, I will leave others to decide however which category Jay and his delusional ilk are to be placed in of those I detailed. He clearly does not understand the design, tine restraints and production process of new technology or simply doesn’t want to learn, so I suspect he just thinks it all instantly flashes out of a magicians hat as soon as you wave a wand. That maybe how Dell works bug thankfully Apple gives it a little more thought. Yes they get things wrong but that happened before as well as since Steve’s death. Some people just prefer personality cult over sane judgement.

    1. Wait, Apple promised to unveil new products at WWDC? Did I miss a memo or something? Oh, wait, no. It was a developer’s conference, not a hardware one. In a few months, you’ll get the hardware.

      (And by the way, troll, Yosemite, iOS 8, HomeKit, HealthKit, Metal, and Swift are ALL huge. You just have your head too far up your ass to see it.)

  7. I’m not convinced that Gruber’s narrative has enough factual basis to convince me that “only Apple” can do what Cook claims. Here’s why:

    1) commoditization has always been a dominant force in consumer electronics. Mere months after innovator releases something, a copycat will trot out one at a cheaper price.
    2) Living on the bleeding edge is dangerous. There is no guarantee that Thunderbolt or Metal or Swift or any other non-industry standard Apple initiative is going to be profitable or will lead to sustained competitive advantage.
    3) Apple is not accelerating, it is growing, partially by acquisition. There is a difference. If Apple was accelerating, then the pace of hardware for purchase would increase. It has slowed dramatically under Cook. At such a slow pace, it remains to be seen if Apple can stay ahead in mobile. Some would say that the end user can’t see any advantage whatsoever to iOS7 and 64-bit hardware. The competition has grown faster by offering bigger crisper screens and more customizable interfaces.
    4) For all practical purposes, it looks like Apple has given up on the desktop, just look at how slow Apple is between hardware updates. Again, at that pace, “only Apple” is a joke. Any competent computer box maker can easily keep up with Apple’s slow pace of hardware innovation. Look at Geekbench scores. Is Apple’s hot new Mac Pro anywhere near the top? Why not?

    5) Nobody, not even the most die-hard Apple religious zealots, can live successfully in an “All Apple” or “Only Apple” world. Apple doesn’t make all the hardware nor support all the software that the majority of the world wants and needs. Apple long ago abandoned key markets, and Cook has done absolutely nothing to win them back. Abandoning Xserve is just one example of many — and for a nice bit of irony that goes completely against Gruber’s main narrative, re-read Apple’s own excuses why it decided to run away from that very highly profitable market.
    6) Taste. Apple continues to claim it’s superior in design, and it restricts users from choosing the font, color, border, etc settings that users prefer. that kind of tone-deaf software design arrogance turns people off. So Cook brags about how fast people “upgrade” to the latest OS. When Apple restricts people from reverting back to the prior, cleaner, less-overhead OS, then those statistics mean nothing. One possible backlash will be that future Apple users will refuse to update. I personally know several smart Apple users who wisely chose not to install iOS7 on their legacy 32-bit devices, and Snow Leopard users who enjoy their fast stable clean OS without missing any of the fluff that Apple has added since.
    7) Pricing. Apple’s strategy of giving away its software is silly. If software offers a real advantage to the consumer, then it will be obviously worth something, and users will happily pay for it. While Apple obviously makes up for this with inflated hardware prices, this essentially means that Apple has set a trap for itself. If it has a hardware screw-up or for whatever reason it has a sales flop, then funding for future software would be lost. If instead software sales funded software development, then no matter what the hardware market did, Apple would have funding for future software development and continued sales. The point is moot today since Apple is sitting on hordes of overseas cash. However, lean times have hit Apple before, and they could again. Cook’s pricing merely sets up an embarrassing day when Apple may have to start charging for software again, pissing off a generation of kids who think software comes for free.
    8) Money wasting. Cook has been on a purchasing spree (and going through over-priced executives) instead of putting significant money into fundamental R&D, engineering, or worldwide marketing. He is more interested in a fancy super-pricey California office than worldwide presences, with Apple offices close to users in all countries. Apple has been very slow in penetrating the China market in particular.
    9) Speaking of worldwide presence, how many countries does Apple serve? Gruber may tell a great narrative of how “only Apple” can serve the US, but the rest of the world is barely touched by Apple’s services.
    10) Because Apple has done so poorly selling Macs and keeping them value-competitive with cheaper PCs, the vast majority of households DO NOT have multiples of Apple devices. Even if phones or tablets might be a hot seller, the vast majority of users still backup their data onto non-Apple hardware. Dozens of server rental companies out-compete iCloud. The idea that Apple’s promised seamless experience is realized in the real world is silly. Apple knows how many iTunes for Windows it has distributed versus iTunes for Mac. That alone should tell it that “only Apple” is marketing hubris only.

    Apple needs to stop claiming it’s superiority and start backing it up. Tap the cash pool and improve product quality, distribution, and range. Then the world will agree that Apple is unmatched. As it stands today, Apple offers great stuff, but nothing that is completely untouchable for end user value.

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