Read the Gruber/Schiller Talk Show interview in full from last Tuesday.
Daring Fireball founder John Gruber sat down with Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller at WWDC for a live version of Gruber’s podcast The Talk Show. Here, to the best of our ability, is a full transcript of their remarks, interspersed with occasional audience response.
On introducing Phil | On the keynote | On diversity | On Apple’s executives and their love of sports | On OS X El Capitan | On Apple, software stability, and Marco Arment | On iOS 9 and iPad productivity | On the Talk Show’s audience | On Apple and privacy | On keynote lengths | On watchOS 2, product naming, and marketing | On WatchKit | On Apple Music | On James Bond and the camera you have with you | On the 16GB iPhone | On the quest for device thinness | On Phil’s MacBook and taking bold risks | On “Apple is doomed” | On email, logos, and sore losers | On conclusions and live-streaming
On introducing Phil
Gruber: So, I have one guest for tonight, and it truly is—I use the words all the time when [John] Moltz is on the show—I say, “a very special guest;” that’s not a very special guest.
This time I do have a very special guest, and I am very excited to introduce him. Ladies and gentlemen, I shit you not: [Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing] Phil Schiller.
Audience cheers, deafening applause… which dies down and turns into laughter when no one appears on stage. A few scattered boos. More laughter. And then:
Schiller pops out from behind the curtain. The audience explodes.
From the audience: “Schiller’s my guy!”
On the keynote
Laughter, directed toward Iovine’s name.
Schiller: [laughs] So… By the way, if anyone has a really good idea for an opening video next year: [email protected], I’ll take all suggestions. [laughs] We do, y’know — what’s that?
From the audience: “Do the Talk Show!”
Schiller: So the idea of the video—and we knew it would throw some people, so… you’re in that group—that it started by saying “Yesterday’s Rehearsal” and it was meant to be in a secret location where they were rehearsing separate from Moscone so that people wouldn’t know what the big production was, and that was the reason that it looked different, and… That’s our story and we’ll stick to it!
Huge audience laughter. “Yeah!”
Gruber: Alright, serious question. Very serious. And it’s going to come out differently today—a day after the keynote—than I maybe expected it to. But… I’m sure you’ve noticed it, and it’s not just this year, it’s been growing over the last few years, is—people keeping track over the diversity of the speakers in keynote addresses of various companies at various events.
And that one way that Apple has had an imbalance in that regard is the number of women in keynotes. Now, yesterday, that—talking about streaks—that streak was over. Jennifer Bailey—
Yeah, there’s clearly…
This is a—clearly a topic that’s been growing in technology. Not just about Apple, about all companies, particularly here in the [Silicon] Valley. And it’s long overdue—and it’s been gaining momentum—that there are not enough women and minorities both represented across all technology companies. It’s time to start counting it, paying attention to it, but more importantly, doing something proactively to help.
And there are a lot of things that Tim has championed and driven at Apple under his leadership, and this is one of those things on the list.
He cares deeply about diversity at Apple, and believes that this isn’t just something to do because people tell you to do it, but because ultimately we will make better products, and our customers will get better products because you have a diverse group of people all bringing their talents and ideas to making those products. And ultimately, you’ll do a better job, and we’ll all be happier.
And so how do you do that? Well, there are a number of things you do: One of them is, you present some role models and say, “Look, you can be a young girl in technology who wants to learn to become a programmer, become a marketing person, whatever—and there are people who have gone that path and have been successful. And you should too. Look up to that, and want to be that.”
And he cares deeply about it, and so we were really happy with this show, that we had both Jennifer and Susan—y’know, their roles are deeply involved in exactly what they presented. Jennifer’s worked on Apple Pay from the start. I’ve been working with Jennifer at Apple since, um, late 80s/early 90s. Susan’s worked on my team for a good decade now doing product marketing.
And not only are they really smart, great speakers, deeply involved, and passionate about Apple—but those were two vice presidents at Apple. Right? They’re in leadership roles. And so that’s good. It’s a start. It’s, we want to see more and more of that, always.
Because the way you guys do the keynotes, it’s the people who are responsible for the thing doing it. And so, there needed to be Apple Pay news for Jennifer Bailey to go out and do it.
On Apple’s executives and their love of sports
First, Duke: It’s no secret—Eddy went to Duke, been a fan since he was in college, he’s good friends with Coach Kaye… If you don’t know Duke and basketball, Coach Kaye is the greatest-winning-NCAA coach. And so rooting for Duke, like, isn’t a big gamble that they’re not going to win some championships. ‘Cos, they can do it whether he roots for them or not. But he has rooted for them since college.
So that’s not it. You don’t need a big deal to make that happen. That’s happening.
But the Warriors… Eddy has been a fan of theirs for a couple decades.
Schiller: Going to games. So he’s been through some lean times. And he’s due. And so, if you know Eddy like I do—and we’re really great close friends—Eddy is one of the most loyal people you can ever have as a friend or co-worker, and so he’s been loyal to his sports teams.
And the last thing I’ll say on this is: If somebody’s doing a deal with the devil for the Warriors, that’s one crappy deal, because it’s been, what, 40 years without a championship?! You’re not a good deal-maker.
Laughs. “Who cares?”
On OS X El Capitan
OS X El… I’m going to mispronounce it.
Laughter. “El Cap!”
Gruber: I’m serious! I have a giant 5K iMac. I need to know where my mouse is. But there used to be an init, way back in, like, the ancient era that did the same thing.
But yeah, in fact, I kid you not, I did it this afternoon. I was working on some slides, I’m on a 27-inch iMac, and I went “Augh, where’s my cursor?”
And I, like, did the shake, and like “Aughhh, I’m not on El Capitan yet on this system, it’s not working!”
It becomes very intuitive, very quickly.
And that is what led me to guess El Capitan, because it’s like… There was Leopard and then Snow Leopard, which was sort of a “Hey, let’s slow down on the new features and work on reliability;” and then there was Lion and Mountain Lion; and I thought, “There’s no such thing as Mountain Yosemite,” so…
Schiller: Very astute. But, to your point, no. We don’t think of it as only a stability and performance release. That is a big part of it, but the features the teams have worked on we think will matter to all of us in our everyday lives using these systems.
They took a lot of work, and some of them will have significant ramifications for a long time; I think most of all with Metal on the Mac on that. It’s a huge opportunity for all of us. So, I think there are some really important things in this.
Gruber: Yeah, I guess that is a big one. And it really does, sort of, it’s like this virtuous circle where you’ve got all these game developers—top game developers—cranking on iOS games for years, and adopting Metal very quickly in the last year, and already having code ready to go. And it really does—iOS is really helping the Mac here in terms of elevating the Mac as a gaming platform.
Schiller: Absolutely, especially in this case. It’s, there’s great leverage there. But it’s not just for the gaming. I mean, that’s a big part of it. It’s great for pro apps, and we’ve seen that: Adobe came in and did some work, and we’re really impressed with what they could do on it.
And our own teams have done it with systems, as [Apple senior vice president] Craig [Federighi] talked about, to have graphic software layers from the system starting to get accelerated with it, we see big benefit.
So I think it has a systemwide opportunity.
On Apple, software stability, and Marco Arment
Gruber: But there has been in the last year, a sort of, I don’t know if it’s a meme, but a talking point that gained a lot of “Yeah, me too, I agree!” The basic gist of it being: Apple’s software isn’t as reliable as it used to be. And it got out there… I don’t know, I forget, somebody wrote something about that…
Schiller: No! No, let’s just deal with the elephant in the room. Marco [Arment]! So, there’s a reason many of you read Marco’s blog: He’s a smart guy, and he’s a passionate guy, and I read his stuff, too. So it’s worth it.
And so, complete respect for your perspective and your belief. Don’t share them in this instance, but I respect it! And I mean that.
Schiller: [laughs] Try to be magnanimous, and you somehow step in it. So, there’s no doubt. With every release there’s bugs, and there’s things we hit on, and there’s things that the team’s passionate about getting out there and fixing.
But we’re also very careful about tracking crash logs, and AppleCare calls, and Genius Bar visit, and we even have a tool that is able to follow a lot of user forums to ascertain what the complaints are, and try to really gather a good metric, set of metrics on all the issues.
And in this case, I do think the storyline isn’t really accurate with the reality. Not to say there aren’t bugs, there aren’t things driving some people crazy—there are. Of course there are. But it isn’t a change. In fact, if there’s any change, I think the biggest change in Yosemite—truthfully—over the last year, was that we had a faster adoption rate of OS X than of any Mac in history.
And so you saw a larger number of users, faster in the release cycle, in more diverse networks and environments, in different uses, and that surfaced even more things that would kind of happen over a slower ramp.
And so, there were things to chase out and go work on, no doubt about it. But I wouldn’t say it’s systemic to some issue, or some wider thing going on. Not in any way.
Gruber: Yeah, I—the feedback I got, it seemed like you guys were taken a little surprised by that, because a lot of the things that you measure were all saying “This is better than before! We’re seeing fewer crash logs per user; we’re seeing fewer of certain problems.”
And I kind of feel like maybe what maybe got lost in the shuffle there is that a lot of the problems people were having were things that don’t even generate crash logs. And it’s sort of like… y’know, like some of this discoveryd stuff, it’s just like, “All of a sudden, my printer just isn’t connected anymore.”[amidst laughter from the audience] No, I…
Laughter and cheering.
Schiller: You know, there’s an example where I think everyone should be proud that if we’re going to try something… It’s great to try things, sometimes it’s okay to take a risk, you don’t want everything to stay and never change.
But if things aren’t perfect, and people are telling us they’re not happy with how something’s working, here we are. We haven’t shipped El Capitan yet, [we’re] already dealing with that within this one-year cycle inside of that to make a big change to make things better, and I think that’s a sign of how much the team is willing to self-analyze what the situation is and do whatever’s right.
On iOS 9 and iPad productivity
Gruber: Next up was iOS, iOS 9. And there’s a lot in iOS 9. There’s the multitasking, and the keyboard, and the trackpad. All, to me, the gist of it is for a lot of people, this becomes a lot more of a productivity machine. Like, a huge leap forward for advanced iOS users, iPad users.
Remember, when we launched iPad, the very first iPad, a lot of work went into rewriting all of the applications in the system to take advantage of that big beautiful screen, and a lot of thought went into that.
And then, we put that out in the world, and saw how people use it, and then we went back to it, and said “Well, what are the next things we need to do [that are] unique for iPad, to make it a more productive, more useful product in the things you do. And one of the things was to help you use multiple applications in new ways.
And it actually took a couple years of development to get to this. It wasn’t, like, someone woke up six months ago and said “Hey, let’s do multi-window, multitasking on this.”
It took a while to, for example, put out last year the size classes and auto-layout in iOS so that people can develop ostensibly for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but we knew that by doing that work, we were laying the groundwork to make this happen with El Capitan as well.
So some of these things take multiple years to put everything in place; to do it the right way. Because you can rush it out and do it the wrong way, and then we don’t all like when we are.
Gruber: I thought it was the… I was sitting, not in the middle, but farther back, I was really in the mix with the developers, too. And I thought that that got the weirdest reaction—like, the most mixed reaction from the audience—was when Craig said, “You’ve already done the work, if you’ve been listening to us and done this Auto Layout and the Side Classes, you’ve already got it.”
And there was this really mixed reaction, where it seemed like half of the developers were like, “Yes!” And they totally understood how Twitter maybe came in and did 50 minutes of work and got it working, because they already had it.
And then the other half of the developers were like, “Aughhhhh…”
On the Talk Show’s audience
On Apple and privacy
Gruber: Last thing on iOS, and it’s a big thing, and I really thought you guys hit it several times. I think you almost couldn’t have been more clear on it, and I really think it is the biggest story in the industry this year. Y’know, it’s not like a flash in the pan. I think it’s ongoing.
But it’s—it’s hard to summarize—but it’s this idea of contextual awareness with your devices and services in terms of telling you if it’s going to rain, or Craig’s example of knowing you’re getting in your car. Traffic patterns, you’ve gotta leave for the airport. All these types of features.
And how a company, and a platform, can implement them, with the flipside of—how did you say it, how did you guys say it in the keynote… It was the second-most popular mapping app on iOS, Google.
But there’s this argument going on. And it’s, the flipside of it is this privacy issue with data collection. And all sorts of things are coming out at once. Google is doing features like this. You guys are doing features like this.
And just, I think by coincidence, but the Annenberg School of Communication had this widely-cited paper that just came out this week—I’m sure you saw it—the gist of it being that typical consumers do care about their privacy, and the implications of the information that online companies like Facebook and Google are collecting. They’re not comfortable with a lot of it. But they kind of feel helpless about it, and they’re like, “Well, I guess I gotta, I guess Google knows where I am all the time.”
But you guys seem to have a different vision of this. And the flipside of the argument, the last part of it—I know this is a very long question. Are you with me so far?
Gruber: The gist of it is, though, that a lot of people are arguing that to implement these features well, a company has to collect, in an identifiable way, and keep a sort of dossier on you, otherwise the features don’t work. You guys seem to have a very different stance on that.
Schiller: And obviously, this is not new. This is something we’ve believed for many, many years, and hoped that it would get traction—that more and more people would start to care, and question the choices they have to make.
If ever there’s a modern definition of a Faustian bargain, this is it, right? Which is, that if you want to get the features, give us all this information about your life that you’d really rather not.
And we’ve believed for a very long time that that doesn’t have to be the case. And so we’ve built systems and processes all around the idea that, in order to help users, you can do things that are surprising and delightful and magical—but we don’t know your data.
We don’t, y’know, if there’s something that has to get through our server, then it’s non-identifiable, and if it can be done in any way on your device without going to our server, then that’s the better place to do it. And that we think we can deliver great experiences protecting users’ privacy. And that has been a belief for many years. And now it’s really becoming a much more well-received message, and we’re probably talking a little bit louder about it, because we think people do want to hear it.
But we haven’t changed our feeling. This is our feeling for many, many years about it.
I mean, one of the great things about Apple, I believe, is that our customers trust us. They put trust in the fact that we’re trying to make something that’s quality. They put trust in the fact that we’re going to support them. They put trust in the fact that we’re going to respect privacy and security and do everything we can. And I think these are the features that best demonstrate that today.
Cheers and claps.
On keynote lengths
Schiller: We do, actually. We think that, in general, y’know, keynotes—people seem comfortable in the 1:45-2:10 kind of range. But that’s never perfect. There’s other times when things can be shorter or longer.
And in order to get it to the length we did, we cut a lot of things. We were very, y’know, very aggressive on trimming back on—
Laughter. “Apple TV!”
Schiller: Yeah, well, talking… I was thinking more about the power [saving] feature in iOS 9 and how we didn’t even show the UI for that! Or a whole bunch of things that are there that were actually really nice.
But we had to, we have to. And even then, y’know, some people—nobody seemed to get up and leave, so I think we were okay.
On watchOS 2, product naming, and marketing
I think, you’ll see. Give us time, we’ve been through many fun naming things. This is an easy one. There have been many fun naming things through the years—some very emotional, some very easy—and most of the time, when all’s said and done, you look back years later, people say “Yeah, you guys were right, it all made sense together.”
So I think we’re doing the right thing.
Gruber: Alright. Hopefully right in your wheelhouse. But, one thing that really struck me is in the run-up to the release of the watch, and in the TV spots that ran, it ended with “The watch is coming.”
And then, when it launched, I think, probably right around when, probably timed at April 24th—”The watch is here.”
And I thought that was such a great slogan. But it also conveys the different position Apple is in now than, even 2010 with the iPad. In terms of… you didn’t have to say which watch.
Schiller: Well, thank you for liking the marketing! I appreciate that. The… I don’t think of it that way as necessarily different. When you look back with iPhone, you may remember that we started, the very first ad for iPhone was a teaser ad during the Grammys, where it was just shots of people answering the phone and saying “Hello” from famous movies.
Audience cheers and whoops.
Schiller: Yeah, that was a great ad. And we didn’t have to say anything about it! Everybody knew that’s because iPhone was coming, right? And so it was okay to do something, and we had that freedom to express it that way.
So in this case, the whole world was anticipating the watch. They knew about the watch. We had introduced it last September, and so we’re getting closer, there had been a billion stories written about it. So we didn’t have to say much more than “The watch is coming,” and show a lot of the designs, and show a lot of the interface. Because one of the great things about the watch is the variety of choice you have with it.
And so the ad got to show that, and it created some energy, and some uplifting beats to it to get that sense that, “Hey, we’re building up to a moment of excitement here. The watch is coming.”
And so, I think it worked pretty well at that.
Whistles from the audience.
Gruber: Alright. A developer question. So WatchKit was announced last year, at the end of the year—which, I think, it surprised me, because it was out before, way before the watch. Months before, so that developers could get ready for it.
And now, here we are, six weeks after the watch actually shipped, and you guys—I know it’s not out, it’s coming in the fall when it’s going to ship, but you’ve already, y’know, developers probably spent all day in the sessions at WWDC learning about native apps on the watch.
Do you think—was doing WatchKit first worth it, rather than just waiting to go right to native apps?
Y’know, we’ve been through this once before with iPhone. And that model, we had a year without any native apps, just web apps. And then came out with the SDK and all the APIs necessary to do a good job with apps. And that model worked great. Now, people were frustrated during that time [the initial app-less period], but it worked great.
And in this case, we knew we—again—needed to finish the software, get the first version out before we could solidify the SDK and APIs to do native apps. And so what do you do in the time before that? Do you give developers an opportunity to do something on it? Do you create a WatchKit, and will that WatchKit have enough value for certain kinds of apps that it will make sense anyway in the fullness of time, even with the full native APIs?
And, obviously, our belief was yeah, it would help to have developers know to use WatchKit from the beginning. And there are many classes of apps [where] that may be exactly what they want, and they don’t need to do more than that, and use the full native version. But others will. And I think that gave the maximum opportunity for developers.
And so the one other thing we did, that I think, because we talk about this: The same thing you guys all talk about, we talk about internally all the time. And we said “Well, how will people react to that if we bring out WatchKit, and then native?”
So, if you may recall, back last September when we talked about it, and last year’s developer conference, we said “And we will bring out a native API and SDK later.” We wanted people to know that that was coming, so nobody could say “Aww, I wouldn’t have done this if I’d known that.”
And so we wanted to make sure there was transparency and openness about that.
On Apple Music
Gruber: Music. I think Apple Music looks amazing. I think that the size of the catalog is amazing. I think it—what was the phrase in the… “moving the needle” in the entire music industry. I really do.
I kind of thought the segment in the keynote was a little long?
So, the basic proposition is, you pay $10 a month—there’s the three month free thing to get started, y’know, see what it’s like, see how much you like it—but the basic idea for the long-term is you pay Apple $10 a month, and you can listen to all of it.
Are there a lot of people who want to pay $10 a month? I think it’s a great deal. I really do. I mean, I think the family deal is a no-brainer. I really think it’s a great bargain. But I’m an idiot. I’ve been paying for music my whole life! [laughs] Like, I was so happy when the iTunes Store came out, because I hated the Napster stuff. Because the songs didn’t have the metadata, and it’s like, you’re doing all this cleanup work just to get the file names right. Just let me pay [for] it!
But is that, are there a lot of people out there who are going to pay $10 a month for a music service?
Schiller: Well, obviously we believe so. We think that once you see the service and you start to use it, you’ll realize the benefits of having really great curated lists and albums and playlists and things being recommended to you.
And every time you see something, you can say “Oh, I like that, I want to listen to that. I want that playlist. Great, I’ll use that the next time I go on my trip. Oh, cool new album. I want that!” And you don’t have to think about it anymore, you’re just getting it.
And then… Some people think that’s all people will do, or, some of us who are older—a lot older—there’s… I have favorite artists that I just want to buy just because I do, it’s just locked in my brain that way. And so I’ll still have, you still have the iTunes Store, you can buy the things you want to buy. You don’t have to choose between the two models.
But once we’re on this for awhile, and we’re all living it, and we understand the social impact of music that’s completely available to you, I think it’s going to change enough—especially if there’s that impetus coming from the curation and the recommendations—that will keep you really wanting to just add all that to your library constantly.
Schiller: A better name, to start. It’s an opportunity to, on a bunch of levels that’s different. I think Connect has much more been built from the ground up from an artist’s perspective of what would they like to share with their fans, and how do they like to communicate.
And so, for Connect, the artists will have a very simple ability to create whatever content they want. Videos, audio tracks, y’know, photos and lyrics, and on and on.
And the ability to like and say what you care about and then instantly also share it directly to other social networks—you’re not locked into one network—and the ability to communicate with users. It’s not a one-way pipe.
And so, I think that it’s a much more interactive environment, and [with] the ability to share a lot more. And we’ll see. But we think that, based on the artists who have worked with us on it, that it’s the kind of environment they want to contribute with fans.
On James Bond and the camera you have with you
Schiller: Yes. I tried so hard—I realized it when I got invited to this, and I didn’t have time, because the one place you could order it was going to take two weeks—I wanted to get this Spectre logo t-shirt to wear, just for you. But I couldn’t. Nice Octopus logo t-shirt, but I couldn’t get it.
I’ve been thinking, and I think it’s so clear—and the Shot with iPhone marketing campaign shows that you guys clearly believe it, too—but Apple has become one of, if not the leading camera companies in the world.
But with today’s era of photography, it’s really about mobility. And it’s not about lenses and sensors, though that is part of it. But it’s the software that processes the images off the sensor.
Which is why there might be other cameras from other companies that might use the same sensors that you guys have, or similar ones, and the pictures don’t look the same. And after that, how do you get them on the phone? How do you send them to where they’re going? And how do you edit it, and crop it, and fix the rotation? And then, two years from now, how do you get back to that picture?
It’s this whole circle. It’s called the iPhone, but to me, I would rather, if you said, “Hey, one of your apps is going to break for the next week, it’s either the Phone app or the Camera app,” I want my Phone app to break.
And as you said, we both share a passion for prosumer photography. I’m no great Ansel Adams, but I love photography. I love the process, I love the thought that goes into it.
I have cameras of all different sizes and kinds, and photography’s really powerful. And especially once you have families and kids, you realize how this stuff is meaningful for the rest of your life. And we’ve been putting a lot into it.
But I will start with the most important adage in photography, anybody who here’s a serious photographer knows the old line, and it’s true: it’s not the camera, it’s the photographer, right? A great picture comes from a great photographer, not a great camera.
And so that aside—I got that done—we’ve been putting a lot of effort for many years now into building an incredible world-class camera team. And working, doing custom work on sensors, building our own custom lenses, building our own flash technology, and most importantly, the ISP and software that makes that all come together as a complete system.
And the same mentality that goes into why a Mac is better than a PC, and why an iPhone is better than some other junky phone, that goes into—
Cheers at “junky phone.*
Schiller: —goes into the camera, that it’s a complete system designed together from the beginning to work together. And that’s what results. You can’t just piecemeal put a lens with a sensor with someone else’s chip, with someone else’s software and get to the level of result we’re able to achieve, the way the teams work together to deliver a complete solution.
On the 16GB iPhone
Gruber: Alright. I have to ask this. You guys have always had this—well, not always—but in the modern era of Apple, there’s been this idea of “Hey, here’s three: Good, Better, Best.” Whether it’s a Mac, or… y’know, a lot of different products. Three. Good, better, best.
I think that with the current-generation iOS devices going 16/64/128—I think that 16, it’s really hard to make an argument that that’s good. It’s more like “okay.”
Schiller: So one of the hopes, and maybe we’ll see how we realize it all, but the belief is more and more: As we use iCloud services for documents—or Azure, if your product uses Azure—or for our photos, and for our videos, the more we’re able to use these things—and y’know, music is in the cloud—that perhaps for the most price-conscious customer, the person starting out at the beginning of the line, are able to live in an environment where they don’t need gobs of local storage because these services are taking off more and more of the load, and making their life easier.
And they can start with an entry-point that’s lighter than maybe you want, but gets their entire job done.
And we work very carefully to canvas and survey exactly how much storage people use, at different price points, and how much they need. And if we can give them a great solution with storage there, we can put that cost into other things, to make sure they have a great camera, or they have a great screen. And so it’s all choices for the customer.
And that’s the hope, that as more of this stuff is in the cloud, maybe we can have an easier entry-point for some customers.
On the quest for device thinness, and working with tradeoffs
Gruber: What do you say to the criticism that Apple has gotten too obsessed with device thinness? With year-over-year iterations that are getting thinner and thinner at a point where—maybe if you had stopped and kept the device thinness the same and just filled that extra space with battery—whether it’s the phone or whether it’s the MacBook that… where are you guys going to stop? I mean, is it going to be, like, a piece of paper?
Schiller: First of all, I think that feedback’s always great to hear. Y’know, people tell us what they think, and we always want to hear what things you want in a product, because they all come with tradeoffs and benefits and associated things.
If you want a product that’s thicker with a bigger battery, well, it’s also heavier, it’s also more costly, it also takes longer to charge. It’s also… y’know, there are… all these things have ramifications [when] designing a total system.
And we look at this very, very, very carefully. The engineering team and the industrial design team work together and model every thickness and every size and every weight and we hold these things, and we work with them, to discover what the feature benefit/tradeoffs are.
And I don’t think we’ve hit the point yet where we’re trading off thinness for features and capabilities at the expense of the best optimized product. I really don’t.
I love my new 12-inch MacBook. I think it’s an incredible product. I use it constantly, and I love how thin and light that feels. And I love the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and I think we’ve made great choices there.
And yes. This is something we talk about constantly, but I think we’ve made the right choices so far.
On Phil’s MacBook and taking bold risks
But again, be careful what you ask for. Because what the design team first envisioned when we started working on MacBook was to say, “If all we do is incremental, slight change—where’s the excitement, and where’s the value of Apple pushing things forward? We need to take bold risks. If people don’t like it, well they can keep buying the MacBook Air, they can keep buying the MacBook Pro—but why don’t we design a product that’s around this wireless world, that has, really, no physical connection that you need. You can get by without ever needing that. Wouldn’t that be a better world?”
And in doing that, we realized “Yeah, but we do need to charge it, so let’s go create this one port that can charge, and be USB, and be your video out, and that way, if you need to connect, you can—you’re not giving that up—but this is really designed…” And if you do that, how far can you push it? How thin can it get, how light can it get, how aggressive a design can it be?
And I think if… I’m in my job for one reason: because I’m a customer like all of you. I love these products. I love this company. I want this company to be the best Apple can ever be. And one of the ways it can be the best Apple can ever be is to take bold risks, and try to think of new things that others aren’t willing to do.
I remember that—I mean, this is all the same mentality. I remember when we took out the floppy. Oh, I’m sure many of you all do too. It’s the exact same thinking!
I sat in the room with friends of mine who worked at… other companies in Texas and other places, and they literally said, “Oh my god, I’m so jealous. We can’t do that. We can’t do that! We can’t take the risk. Because if the world is going to be risk-averse, and doesn’t want us to take away anything… Then, y’know, if Dell doesn’t have a floppy but Toshiba does, they’ll just buy the Toshiba, they’re all the same—except if you’re missing one thing, no one will buy your stuff!
“You’re so lucky. You make something where your customers give you the opportunity to try something in a completely different way, and they listen to you and they try it. And if you have to adjust and make an external drive for a couple of years, great, you’ll do it, but you get to make that change and move on.”
That’s the embodiment of this new MacBook: Which is, take a bold risk; maybe some people will think it’s not perfect for them yet, but for a surprising number of people, it’s already their future laptop. The customer satisfaction is off the charts on it. Customer demand is great. Does anyone here have a new MacBook and love it?
Huge cheers, clapping.
On “Apple is doomed”
And now, there’s no way that anybody can argue that the most profitable company in the world is the underdog. But yet, people still seem to manage to say that you’re one step away from collapse.
Gruber: Does that surprise you, that it hasn’t stopped? Like, I don’t think it was surprising in, say, 1997, that there were a lot of articles predicting doom for the company. Do you find it surprising that there are articles in 2015?
Y’know, there really, you all have read the stories, you know. There was a moment there when Apple was truly six months from gone and out of business. And we’ve been through this cycle, and as someone really smart once said, “There’s nothing to make you take bold moves than a near-death experience.” And we had that.
And having people tell you that “You’re all not that smart. Your products aren’t that great. You’re not going to survive.” It actually emboldens you to do good work and try to make each thing better, and be aggressive and hungry, and I think that’s also the way Apple should be.
We don’t need to be told how great we are, and how big we are. It’s not about that, and we don’t want it to become about that. It’s not about P/Es, and it’s not about market value. I mean, sure, the finance team has to worry about that. But for the rest of us, it’s about: Are we making the best product? Do people love what we do? Is it changing lives? And if it isn’t, then beat us up until it is.
And that’s a good place.
And I don’t remember any great product we’ve made where people haven’t panned it in the press in the beginning. I mean, they panned the iPhone. They panned the iPod. They panned the iPad. I mean, great! Say it, y’know, because that’s—I don’t know what a successful product is if it doesn’t start out with people saying “I don’t get it, and I don’t like it!”
On email, logos, and sore losers
Gruber: Probably October, probably October, probably early October. My favorite team, the New York Yankees, had taken a 3-0 lead against the Boston Red Sox and I still have this tradition—it’s just been a number of years since I’ve been able to do it—which is when the Yankees are in the post-season, I use their logo [on Daring Fireball] instead of my star and a circle.
And I used to, in the early years—2002, 2003—when I was really greedy, because the Yankees used to win the World Series every year—I didn’t even count the division series. I didn’t change the logo until they got to the AL championship series. Those were the days.
And I start to work, and I love—y’know, whenever I’m in a bad mood, it’s like, my work can distract me. And I go, and I check my email—and this is back in the day when you didn’t get the preview—I forget what the subject was, but it said “From: Philip Schiller.”
And I thought “Somebody’s pranking me.” And I click on it, and it’s from Phil Schiller, at Apple.com, and it said:
“Hey John, it’s so great—” Because I changed the logo back, because they lost the game. And it said “It’s so great to see the regular logo back on Daring Fireball. The Yankees put up a good fight. Regards, Phil.”
Now, do you remember it? Is it coming back to you?
Gruber: So… My reaction that morning was so bifurcated. It was “Holy shit, I got an email from Phil Schiller, and he reads Daring Fireball!” and it was like, half an icy dagger in my heart, like, the last remaining warm blood in my body was just drained.
From the audience: “Go pats!”
So, but that series, so the third game, I happened to be on an Apple business trip in New York during the third game, and I said “I gotta watch the game!”
And I said to someone in the hotel, “I’m going to go—where’s a good place to watch the baseball game?”
And they said, “Well, the Mickey Mantle bar.”
I said, “It’s a Yankees game at the Mickey Mantle bar. Alright, I’ll go.” And I went.
And I whipped on a Red Sox cap, I was the only Red Sox fan in the entire Mickey Mantle bar, and that was the game we got, like, beat 17-6 or something, and I took a drubbing, and everyone [was] giving me a hard time.
And it was worth it, because look—we stunk, and we deserved it. And so, I felt I’d really taken the pain, and there was this cathartic thing that I could nicely—and I think I wrote that email probably twelve times in different ways, digging you, teasing you, being tongue-in-cheek, and finally just said: Just the simple, clean way—that’s the way to go.
On conclusions and live-streaming
Gruber: A couple more thank yous: I want to thank everybody here at Mezzanine—this place is great, I have had nothing but good things to say about here, the entire staff, everybody from sound, security, the bartenders, everybody let’s give it up for them.
I want to thank my friend Caleb Sexton, he’s handling audio tonight, and turning this into the audio podcast, making sure we sound good.
I want to thank my sponsors: Mailchimp, who sponsored the bar; our friends at Fracture, who sponsored the video. Did it stay—did anybody—did the video stay up?
From the audience: “No!”
Huge cheers and laughter.
Gruber: We tried! And Microsoft. Thank you Microsoft for sponsoring the event. I also want to thank Jeb Hurt and Jake Schumacher; they’re the directors of the documentary App: The Human Story. They’re here tonight shooting this, just to help with the video feed, and everything like that. That should be coming out later this year, early next year. Great movie. But they’re helping out with the video.
And then lastly, I want to thank all of you. Thank you. You guys are the best audience in the world, you guys get it, I really appreciate it. They say at Mezzanine, they thanked me, and they’re like, “Your show is the best. These people are so nice!”
So thank you for that. Thank you, Phil. Goodnight!