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Weekend read: How the Mac changed the world

Weekend Read

The Apple Macintosh recently celebrated its 20th birthday. In one of the better articles marking the occasion, Time‘s fantastic tech writer Harry McCracken listed 20 ways in which Apple’s Mac changed the computer industry and the world – and makes a pretty convincing case for each of his points. It has a headline that makes it sound like a clickbait listicle, but it’s actually a great reflective retrospective.

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2D: Apple’s tech breakthroughs

A couple of weeks ago, Apple announced the iPad Air. You probably noticed some of the extensive media coverage which always follows Apple’s carefully choreographed product announcements these days.

One thread that’s often spun after the announcement of a new Apple product is “Apple isn’t what is used to be under Steve Jobs”. I could’ve chosen any number of articles following any of Apple’s recent product launches to illustrate this point, but Hartmut Esslinger’s piece for Time magazine is a particularly fine example:

The company already has fallen back toward a marketing-driven strategy, not an innovation-driven one. What we’ve seen from Apple since Steve Jobs passed away implies that Apple largely may be done innovating in any groundbreaking fashion. It’s all been refinement since then.

But are these claims true? Amusingly, Harry McCracken in a different edition of the very same magazine says not:

The golden age of Apple never existed. Steve Jobs didn’t change the world every two years like clockwork, and he was incrementalism’s grand master. For every great leap forward Apple ever made, it accomplished at least as much through small steps that made its products easier, faster, thinner, lighter, more polished and/or more useful. Tim Cook has been CEO of Apple for only a little over two years, so there’s nothing deeply troubling about the fact that he hasn’t boiled any oceans yet.

I personally find Harry’s argument the more convincing of the two, but perhaps you will disagree. If you get chance, it’s also worth watching Doug Aamoth’s video at the bottom of Harmut Esslinger’s article – it’s a rare example of a self-consciously amusing technology video that actually made me laugh.

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

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