Apple’s death of magic

Simon Helyar writes for Medium of a theoretical meeting between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Apple intern. Cook asks for the intern’s honest answer to his question, “Tell me, what’s wrong with Apple?” The intern complies:

Ok… well… Having a banner advert on the Apple homepage selling off the newest iPhone since launch for cheap isn’t magical. It’s begging. It’s weak. And having a fat cheap iPhone XR, that confuses the product line up isn’t magical. iPhones should simply be small, medium and large. A budget iPhone should be last years model. Expensive doesn’t equal magical. iPads and iPad Airs and MacBooks and MacBook Airs, it doesn’t make sense. It isn’t magical. Apple TV isn’t magical. The Apple TV remote is not a magical experience. It’s almost useless…

MacDailyNews Take: That poor remote. (Pun intended.)

Jony certainly wasn’t involved with the design of the Apple TV’s Siri Remote – unless he was drunk during the 20 minutes that were lavished on its so-called design. — MacDailyNews, November 22, 2016

With the Siri Remote, users can’t tell which end is up in a darkened room due to uniform rectangular shape. The remote is still too small, so it gets lost easily. All buttons are the same size and similarly smooth (the raised white ring around the menu button helps, but so barely it’s astounding that Apple even bothered; it’s a bandaid on a turd). The tactile difference between the bottom of the remote vs. the upper Glass Touch surface is too subtle as well; this also leads to not being able to tell which end is up. A larger remote, designed for hands larger than a 2-year-old’s with a simple wedge shape (slightly thicker in depth at the bottom vs. the top), as opposed to a uniform slab, would have instantly communicated the proper orientation to the user.

If Jony Ive “designed” the Siri Remote, he should forfeit his knighthood*.

*But we all know Jony has been obsessed with Apple Park for many years now and likely never even saw the piece of shit remote before they threw it in the box. — MacDailyNews, September 25, 2017

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple not selling its own external screen for 8 years isn’t magical. It’s insane. Though not as insane as ceasing production of Mac Pros and hoping nobody notices. Then crawling back to the media announcing we’ll actually make them again, give us a couple years? That’s not magical. The keyboards on every single laptop we sell. Not magical at all. Neither is our fuck-off-elephant-in-the-room silence about it. Waiting out a huge and growing problem is not magical…

Aimlessly talking about software and hardware years before we launch it isn’t magical. And then shelving it completely isn’t magical. Apple is gently gliding from greatness into mediocrity and it’s not magical.

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, now, that sounds familiar.

BTW: We can still consider Apple to be the greatest tech company on earth while not believing it’s living up to users’ expectations at times. The two situations are not mutually exclusive.

Steve Jobs could make a power cord seem insanely great. Tim Cook could put a room to sleep while unveiling teleportation.

Apple is currently helmed by a charisma black hole.

Lacking a charismatic leader who could sell ice cubes to eskimos, execution is the key. High quality products and services that just work with timely updates in sufficient supply at launch would be more than enough to keep us excited, satisfied, and loyal. Strong marketing wouldn’t hurt, either. With excellent products and execution, the weak keynote presentations would be bearable. Apple’s issues with late, old, sometimes problematic products and services do more to dampen excitement and devotion than anything. — MacDailyNews, January 4, 2019

If he retired today, Tim Cook’s Apple would be known for coasting along on Steve Jobs’ innovations, rolling up tremendous profits that any halfway competent CEO would have accrued (or more), and devolving into being lazy, sloppy and routinely late. That’s a great legacy, Tim.MacDailyNews, April 10, 2018

Tim Cook is not the best person to be CEO of Apple – April 2, 2019


  1. Tim Cook is an operations zombie with manufactured emotion and zero product sense, it’s no wonder why apple lost its magic.

    Steve Jobs = Art Bell
    Tim Cook = George Noory

    1. A little perspective perhaps…
      Jobs was a singularity, a phenom. Compare Tim’s charisma to other silicon valley CEO’s, say Mark Zuckerburg, Jack Dorsey, Jeff Bezos or historically, Bill Ballmer… (or even Bill Gates)
      That said, I think Tim Cook was at his best as COO and Ron Johnson would have been a better choice (certainly charisma wise) but I think Steve knew that.

  2. I agree with the iPhone comments (Apple shouldn’t be spending design and engineering efforts to design cheaper phones. The cheaper phones should be last year’s model, as development, tooling, and production lines have already been paid for).

    But I draw the line at negative comments about the Apple TV (Siri) remote. I love it. It’s sleek and it works well, and I’ve never picked it up the wrong way. I suppose they could add a dot or something for people who get it wrong in the dark. But I love it.

  3. Agree with the sentiment whole-heartedly. Apple has, in their very Apple/Stepford/Everything-Is-Awesome way, made it clear they are not interested in making great products anymore, there’s way more money in selling services and content. The devices are just content delivery vehicles. They are also following the queue of Amazon et al to take over all the data, so soon we’ll have dumb terminals — very fast and shiny dumb terminals, but dumb terminals just the same, useless except as paperweights and doorstops without a broadband connection to the Master Control du jour. Out of simple aggregation from the removal of all that made Apple my vendor of choice 10-15 years ago in business (security, simplicity, reliability), I would have jumped to Windows by now except for their IRS-like bureaucracy, overpriced subpar software, and convoluted, bloated way of putting systems together. In short, everything sucks, Big Data and the other manufacturers know it sucks, and they don’t care. Their dividends are through roof. And the blissfully obtuse masses — consumers and businesses — keep handing over all their money AND their property. It’s depressing.

    1. “they are not interested in making great products anymore”
      I think they aren’t interested in making great products for certain folks anymore. Like when they killed the Apple II and were making the great Macintosh, Apple didn’t stop making great products, they’re just making products that Apple II users wouldn’t consider “great”. They’re not making products that PowerPC users would consider “great” either. In another 15 years, they won’t be making anything iOS users consider “great”… and so on and so forth.

      1. Yes. Apt name. You’re Wrong Again.

        Apple killed off the Apple ][ line long after the Mac could do everything the Apple ][ line (including the ill fated Apple ///) could do, and the Apple ][ line could not be significantly upgraded. The chips based on the 6502 had run out of steam, and switching to another chipset was not realistic.

        Apple is not abandoning the Mac (and make no mistake, Apple’s slow roll of updates and lack of Mac Pro for six years is a de facto abandonment of the Mac) because the iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch combination can do everything the Mac can do. Apple is not abandoning the Mac because the Intel chips have run out of steam or that the GPUs used have run out of steam.

        Apple is abandoning the Mac due to Tim chasing a “new shiny”: Services. Tim and his most senior management team have the ability to focus on only one or two things at a time. It was iOS devices for a while (and not the Mac or any Mac related SMB items).

        Now it’s services. Therefore, after this year (or at most the next) I expect the iOS devices to start to get ignored too.

        1. “Apple killed off the Apple ][ line long after the Mac could do everything [it] could do”
          No, just do some searching and you’ll find that the Mac could do MOST of the things an Apple ][ could do, but it still lacked to many Apple ][ diehards. Back then, they may have even referred to themselves as pros. 🙂

          “Apple is abandoning the Mac”
          We’re in agreement.

          “iOS devices to start to get ignored too”
          We’re in agreement.

        2. Apple actually tried to discontinue the AppleII line with the introduction of the Mac but it was so popular they “couldn’t”.

          It was not abandoned.

  4. I’m not looking for magic. I just want well-engineered products that give me care-free computing use for a long period of time. That’s enough for me to pay more for Apple products. For the most part, since the mid-eighties, that’s what I have received from Apple products. I don’t think a company has to perform magic to do that much. They just need to pay attention to detail and have a policy of zero-defects.

  5. Everyone hates Tim Cook – they apparently have forgotten that Tim was Steve Jobs choice to lead Apple. Steve had a lot of internal talent at Apple to choose from as well as a wealth of talent outside of Apple. He looked around and chose Tim, and that was after Tim ran Apple for 6 months while Jobs recovered from surgery.

    Steve brought Apple from near bankruptcy to a very strong financial position, with solid share prices. Tim brought Apple to the point fo teasing the Trillion Dollar Market Cap.

    Step back and look at the two. Steve stopped the rot at Apple and brought them back to life. Remember him talking about dreaming to get to a $10 Billion revenue. Tim’s last 3 months exceeded that in the Services area alone.

    Steve also brought about some great products. From the iMac to iPod to iPhone to iPad. Brilliant mind supported by massive talents. The Watch may have been in the initial discussion stages in the Jobs Era, but Tim gave it the green light. In all of these products there was a drive from the top but it is been the hardware engineers, software engineers and designers that have delivered these products to the public. Everyone was working on products that they would lust to own.

    1. Ah, yes. Steve picked Tim.

      Steve also picked Sculley. For a while Sculley could do no wrong. Sculley took Apple from a great competitor in the personal computer space to a truly commanding position in that space, but by 1993 Apple started heading downhill under that same Sculley.

      Years later Jobs declared that bringing in Sculley to lead Apple was a big mistake. It’s quite possible that Steve would say the same thing about Tim Cook now.

      1. Hahah…Tim was and is a great choice to steward Apple in the post Steve era. No one will never be like Steve again…that’s the point…that’s why he was so great.

        But Tim has done an excellent job and it is not so easy. Some assume it must be so easy to run a company the size of Apple, when they have no clue.

        Yes, Steve picked Sculley but that was when he was young and naive. The later era Steve had acquired wisdom and maturity, and that’s why he chose Tim.

        And let’s not forget that Steve was not perfect; we tend to gloss over that. Among other things, he had the Cube, the failed rollout of Mobile Me, the Apple Speaker, etc…

  6. If I was chairman of the board, Apples management team would have been completely reworked 5 years ago. Apple isn’t even close to firing on all cylinders. Issuing credit cards is the last straw. Apple doesn’t give a sh!t about being insanely great. Apple like every other greedy company just wants its fingers in your pockets every month.

    All the niche plays Cookie and the Crumbles have released since 2012 have been overpriced underwhelming late derivatives. Without a recommitment to world class hardware and software, Insee distracted Apple becoming the next Nokia. Microsoft and Amazon meanwhile will be eating Apples lunch in computing and media.

    1. There is no insanely great any more with PCs. People thought horseless carriages were “insanely great and the devil’s work” but the fact of the matter is that after “insanely great” came 60/70 years of refinement. Otherwise we would have flying cars, which is the next “insanely great” of personal transportation.

    2. Apple has been firing on all cyclinders by and large: check the financials, and yes that it the report card, whether you like it or not. The financials matter to the employees, their families, and the shareholders and their families.

      The Apple Credit Card is an ingenious move and will disrupt the entire credit card industry.

      Also, there’s the Apple Watch and its impact on health, the thriving services area…all great successes.

      No one is perfect: Steve was not perfect, and if he were around today the usual suspects would be finding something to complain about his management.

      Tim is easily one of the best CEO’s in the world right now and Steve made the right call in making him his successor.

  7. Great piece, that’s it in a nutshell. Spot on about the Mac Pros – I think they honestly believed everyone would opt for the iMac Pro and they could just skip the rest. For younger Apple fans: they are a shadow of their former selves, even the Sculley years were more interesting, and that’s truly awful.

  8. It seems to me you are always tough lovin Tim Cook. Just face it, no matter who followed SJ, they would never be able to live up to his legend – he had his faults albeit people seem to forget them in a fit of nostalgia. I’m sure he was something of the worst boss to work for, but of course I would have loved to have tried. He probably would have fired me in the elevator though 😊. I think Tim has done a good job and Apple has grown A LOT since SJ. Do they male mistakes? Got errors? Sure – who hasn’t? They are making tons of money and thinking about the future, so I’m rooting for Tim!

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