Playing The Long Game Inside Tim Cook's Apple

Rick Tetzeli, Fast Company:

Apple executives are careful to avoid suggesting that the company is moving beyond its founder’s vision, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Cupertino. It’s a subtle, evolutionary change. Cook is pushing Apple into a future that is bigger and broader than anything Jobs could effect during his too-short life. "I want Apple to be here, you know, forever," he says.

Those lulled by last spring’s bad news into dismissing Cook and his team are likely to miss the scope of the company’s ambitions and its progress in achieving them. While Amazon, Facebook, and Google may crow loudest about their bold ideas, Apple may well have the biggest role in actually defining our technological future.

Plenty of quotes from interviews with Apple executives, some good insights, and worth reading.

Rick Tetzeli | Fast Company

The most popular product of all time

Horace Dediu on Apple reaching one billion iPhones sold:

The following is a list of the best-selling products across several categories:

Car model: VW Beetle 21.5 million
Car brand: Toyota Corolla 43 million
Music Album: Thriller 70 million
Vehicle: Honda Super Cub 87 million
Book Title: Lord of the Rings 150 million
Toy: Rubik’s Cube 350 million
Game console: Playstation 382 million
Book series: Harry Potter Series 450 million
Mobile Phone: iPhone 1 billion

The iPhone is not only the best selling mobile phone but also the best selling music player, the best selling camera, the best selling video screen and the best selling computer of all time.

It is, quite simply, the best selling product of all time.

Horace Dediu | Asymco

Apple celebrates one billion iPhones

Apple press:

At an employee meeting in Cupertino this morning, CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple recently sold the billionth iPhone.

"iPhone has become one of the most important, world-changing and successful products in history. It's become more than a constant companion. iPhone is truly an essential part of our daily life and enables much of what we do throughout the day," said Cook. “Last week we passed another major milestone when we sold the billionth iPhone. We never set out to make the most, but we’ve always set out to make the best products that make a difference. Thank you to everyone at Apple for helping change the world every day."


Apple Watch sales remain steady as Swatch plunges

Apple Watch sales are remaining strong:

Swiss bank UBS has issued a research note that projects Apple Watch sales totaled 1.7 million units in the June quarter, a somewhat surprising increase of 100,000 units compared to its estimate of 1.6 million sales in the March quarter.

Apple Watch sales have remained steady throughout the first half of 2016, despite the formation of an elongated refresh cycle. Joe Rossignol | MacRumors

Meanwhile sales and profits at Swatch Group AG are dropping:

Swatch Group AG shares plunged as the watchmaker warned of a collapse in first-half profit and cut sales guidance for the year. Corinne Gretler | Bloomberg

Looking back to September 2014 (days after Apple Watch was announced, but months before it launched):

Nick Hayek, chief executive of Biel-based Swatch Group AG, the world's biggest watchmaker by revenue, said smartwatches like Apple's are an opportunity. "Everything that makes millions of people more open to putting something on their wrist will boost the opportunities to sell more watches," said Mr. Hayek. John Revill | The Wall Street Journal (behind paywall)

Mr. Hayek was correct. Unfortunately that opportunity has gone to Apple at Swatch's expense.

Apple begins rolling out iTunes Match with audio fingerprint to Apple Music subscribers

In welcome news, Apple is going to start including its iTunes Match service as part of Apple Music:

If you are a current iTunes Match subscriber and subscribe to Apple Music, you can let your Match subscription lapse when it comes up for renewal and still receive the same benefits. If you don’t subscribe to Apple Music and still want the benefits of iTunes Match, hold on to your subscription.

And just as welcome, Apple is moving from matching songs using metadata to using audio fingerprints:

Apple has been quietly rolling out iTunes Match audio fingerprint to all Apple Music subscribers. Previously Apple was using a less accurate metadata version of iTunes Match on Apple Music, which wouldn’t always match the correct version of a particular song.

Jim Dalrymple | The Loop

Somewhat Related: See how to use iTunes Match to upgrade song audio quality in my post, Before Canceling iTunes Match

iTunes Store enters its teenage years

The iTunes Store opened 13 years ago today. We largely take it for granted today, but it's hard to understate how huge the creation of the iTunes Store was for Apple.

To celebrate, here's a few milestones and tidbits, starting with Steve Job's 2003 introduction.

Apr 2003: Steve Jobs introduces the iTunes Store.

Apr 2003: Bill Gates sends email to his team, stating "Jobs has us a bit flat footed again".

Feb 2004: On Super Bowl Sunday, Apple and Pepsi launch a promotion to give away 100 million songs. This is the closest we get to a new Apple Super Bowl ad, with five Pepsi commercials (although I suspect Apple had a hand in them). I particularly like this one:

Jul 2004: iTunes Music Store downloads top 100 million songs. Meh. They just gave away 100 million songs with the Pepsi promotion.

Oct 2005: Music videos, Pixar short films and TV shows are added to the iTunes Store, and the iTunes app starts its march to becoming the iEverything app.

Feb 2006: iTunes Music Store downloads top one billion songs. Hm, maybe there is something to this paid download model.

Apr 2006: Beatles songs rumored to be coming to iTunes.

Sept 2006: The iTunes Store adds movies. "Here we go again! First music, then TV shows, and now movies," says Steve.

Feb 2007: Long before his open letter "Thoughts on Flash", Steve Jobs publishes his open letter, "Thoughts on Music", arguing for DRM-free music.

Sept 2007: The iTunes Store comes to the iPhone in the form of the "iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store". Not that this iPhone thing will ever amount to much.

Feb 2008: A year and a half after the first movies hit the iTunes Store, Apple premieres iTunes movie rentals with all major film studios.

Apr 2008: Apple surpasses Wal-Mart to become the number one music retailer in the US.

Jan 2009: iTunes Store goes DRM-free (yay!), with a new pricing structure (boo!), and an increase to 256Kbps encoding (yay!).

Nov 2010: The years of rumors are true - the Beatles finally arrive on the iTunes Store (yawn).

Jun 2011: iTunes and the iTunes Store join the cloud movement with the addition of iTunes in the Cloud and iTunes Match.

Feb 2013: iTunes Store hits 25 billion songs sold. The only thing to grow faster is the App Store.

Sept 9 2014: Apple teams up with U2 to automatically gift U2's new album "Songs of Innocence" to all iTunes Store users.

Sept 15 2014: Bono apologizes.

Jun 2015: After years of Steve Jobs and other Apple execs stating that people want to own - not rent - music, Apple introduces its music streaming service, Apple Music. That doesn't necessarily mean Apple was wrong. Rather it's a sign of changing times.