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Posts tagged with "apple"

Austin Carr and Mark Gurman on Tim Cook’s Apple

Austin Carr and Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg, today published a lengthy investigation of Tim Cook’s tenure at Apple. From his earlier years building out Apple’s supply chain under Steve Jobs, to more recent times navigating the Trump presidency and the building antitrust pressure, the article is well researched and very worth a read. Without explicitly taking a stance, Carr and Gurman highlight both positive and negative aspects of Cook’s level-headed approach to piloting the company. I found some of the descriptions of Cook’s early manufacturing moves particularly interesting:

Cook’s global supply chain greatly improved upon the fabrication approaches that Dell and Compaq had developed. The big PC brands often outsourced both manufacturing and significant design decisions, resulting in computers that were cheap but not distinctive. Cook’s innovation was to force Foxconn and others to adapt to the extravagant aesthetic and quality specifications demanded by Jobs and industrial design head Jony Ive. Apple engineers crafted specialized manufacturing equipment and traveled frequently to China, spending long hours not in conference rooms as their PC counterparts did but on production floors hunting for hardware refinements and bottlenecks on the line.

Contract manufacturers worked with all the big electronics companies, but Cook set Apple apart by spending big to buy up next-generation parts years in advance and striking exclusivity deals on key components to ensure Apple would get them ahead of rivals.

The article also focuses on the stark contrast of manufacturing prowess between the U.S. and China, including Chinese manufacturer Foxconn’s ability to spin up brand new facilities in mere months:

[Foxconn founder Terry] Gou always seemed happy to accommodate, often building entire factories to handle whatever minimalist-chic design specs Apple threw at Foxconn. Jon Rubinstein, a senior vice president for hardware engineering during Jobs’s second tour at Apple, recalls almost having a heart attack in 2005 when he went with Gou to see a new factory in Shenzhen for the iPod Nano—a tiny device 80% smaller than Apple’s original MP3 player—only to find an empty field. Within months, though, a large structure and production line were in place. “In the U.S. you couldn’t even get the permits approved in that time frame,” he says.

Check out the full contents over at Bloomberg.

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Apple Announces Major Expansion of Its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative

Today, Apple announced a significant expansion of its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI), the $100 million project to help eliminate barriers to opportunities and address injustices confronted by communities of color. The new projects, which build on the company’s existing initiative, include a global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the first US-based coding and tech education center, and venture capital funding.

In announcing the projects, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

We are all accountable to the urgent work of building a more just, more equitable world — and these new projects send a clear signal of Apple’s enduring commitment. We’re launching REJI’s latest initiatives with partners across a broad range of industries and backgrounds — from students to teachers, developers to entrepreneurs, and community organizers to justice advocates — working together to empower communities that have borne the brunt of racism and discrimination for far too long. We are honored to help bring this vision to bear, and to match our words and actions to the values of equity and inclusion we have always prized at Apple.

Cook is scheduled to be interviewed today on CBS This Morning by Gayle King, and although the topic of the interview has not been revealed, it’s a safe bet Cook will be discussing REJI.

Rendering of the Propel Center.

Rendering of the Propel Center.

REJI was launched in June 2020 in the wake of the killing of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others and is led by Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives. As part of the initiative, Apple announced it is contributing $25 million to help build Propel Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In its press release, Apple explains that:

The center is designed to support the next generation of diverse leaders, providing innovative curricula, technology support, career opportunities, and fellowship programs. The Propel Center will offer a wide range of educational tracks, including AI and machine learning, agricultural technologies, social justice, entertainment arts, app development, augmented reality, design and creative arts, career preparation, and entrepreneurship. Experts from Apple will help develop curricula and provide ongoing mentorship and learning support, along with offering internship opportunities.

Apple is creating two new grants to support HBCU engineering programs, and a new Faculty Fellows Program is being established for HBCU educators, too. Apple also offers 100 Apple Scholar scholarships to students from underrepresented communities.

Apple has opened developer academies in several cities around the world, but today’s announcement marks the first US-based academy that will be established in Detroit, Michigan. The academy is being launched in collaboration with Michigan State University and will offer an introductory 30-day program and an intensive 10-12 month program. The company will also host a virtual Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers next month.

The third prong today’s announcements is venture capital funding for Black and Brown entrepreneurs designed to address systemic barriers to funding. Apple is investing $10 million with Harlem Capital, a New York-based early-stage venture capital firm. Harlem Capital will also participate in the Detroit Developer Academy and Entrepreneur Camp. Also, Apple is investing $25 million in Siebert Williams Shank’s Clear Vision Impact Fund, which invests in minority-owned companies and making a contribution to The King Center.

The breadth and depth of Apple’s REJI initiative is impressive, focusing on educators, students, and start-ups as a way to create opportunities and address systemic injustices. It’s heartening to see Apple pour its resources into this initiative and one that I hope will continue to grow and succeed.


Phil Schiller Transitions into Reduced Role as Apple Fellow; Greg Joswiak Newly Appointed SVP of Worldwide Marketing

Apple announced a major change to its executive team today: Phil Schiller, who first started at Apple in 1987, is transitioning into a limited role with far fewer responsibilities, holding the title Apple Fellow. Schiller will retain oversight of the App Store and Apple Events, and continue reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook, but most of his current responsibilities will shift to Greg (Joz) Joswiak, who takes over the title of senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

Here’s Schiller on this significant day of transition:

“It has been a dream come true for me to work at Apple, on so many products I love, with all of these great friends — Steve, Tim, and so many more,” said Schiller. “I first started at Apple when I was 27, this year I turned 60 and it is time for some planned changes in my life. I’ll keep working here as long as they will have me, I bleed six colors, but I also want to make some time in the years ahead for my family, friends, and a few personal projects I care deeply about.”

Tim Cook remarks:

“Phil has helped make Apple the company it is today and his contributions are broad, vast, and run deep. In this new role he will continue to provide the incredible thought partnership, and guidance that have defined his decades at Apple”

Schiller has been one of the most visible members of Apple’s team for a long time, most notably owning primary responsibility for introducing new hardware at Apple keynotes, such as the latest iPhone models each year. His expected absence from future such occasions will mark a stark shift for the company.

Joswiak, who takes Schiller’s former role, is no unfamiliar face himself. He has over two decades of leadership experience within Apple, and in recent years has become a regular presence at Apple events as well. Despite being a major force within the company, however, Joswiak’s presence on the executive team represents a new level of leadership for him, and come with major new responsibilities.

After many years of stability at the highest levels of leadership, time is finally catching up with Apple’s executive team. Chief Design Officer Jony Ive departed the company last summer, just a few months after Angela Ahrendts vacated her role as SVP of Retail. While today’s news follows a different pattern, since Schiller is remaining with the company despite his reduced role, so much change at the top of the organization feels very new for the modern Apple era.

As someone who began following Apple closely only about a decade ago, not long before the passing of former presentation chief Steve Jobs, I’ve seen a lot of Schiller product introductions and am really going to miss his presence for many keynotes to come.


Apple’s Tim Cook Publishes Open Letter Addressing Racism in America

Today, Apple CEO Tim Cook published an open letter addressing racism in America. In the letter, which is currently featured on the apple.com homepage, Cook explains:

Right now, there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions. To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognize the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism.

That painful past is still present today — not only in the form of violence, but in the everyday experience of deeply rooted discrimination. We see it in our criminal justice system, in the disproportionate toll of disease on Black and Brown communities, in the inequalities in neighborhood services and the educations our children receive.

To play its part in combating racism, Cook says Apple will redouble its efforts on social programs and inclusion initiatives:

But we must do more. We commit to continuing our work to bring critical resources and technology to underserved school systems. We commit to continuing to fight the forces of environmental injustice — like climate change — which disproportionately harm Black communities and other communities of color. We commit to looking inward and pushing progress forward on inclusion and diversity, so that every great idea can be heard. And we’re donating to organizations including the Equal Justice Initiative, which challenge racial injustice and mass incarceration.

Cook’s letter is important not just as a statement of where Apple stands on racism but as an example of the sort of leadership role tech companies can take to address the systemic causes of it.

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‘Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level’ Is an Insightful Look at the Values that Guide the Company’s CEO

Leander Kahney, who has previously published books about Steve Jobs and Jony Ive, takes on the ascent of Apple’s current CEO in a new book titled Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level. When Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, many people doubted that Tim Cook, an operations expert, was up to the job of CEO. As Kahney summarizes in his book’s introduction titled ‘Killing It,’ the numbers have proven the doubters wrong. By exploring Cook’s early influences and how they have affected his leadership of Apple, Kahney sheds light on the values and other qualities that have led to Cook’s success. The result is an interesting look at Cook’s background growing up in Alabama and his career before joining Apple, about which little has been previously written, but the book’s recounting of Cook’s Apple years may be less informative to close observers of the company.

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Apple in 2018: The Six Colors Report Card

Jason Snell:

It’s time for our annual look back on Apple’s performance during the past year, as seen through the eyes of writers, editors, developers, podcasters, and other people who spend an awful lot of time thinking about Apple.

This is the fourth year that I’ve presented this survey to a hand-selected group. They were prompted with 11 different Apple-related subjects, and asked to rate them on a scale from 1 to 5, as well as optionally provide text commentary on their vote. I received 55 replies, with the average results as shown below:

It was my pleasure to participate (again) in the latest edition of the Six Colors Apple report card, which features average scores and answers on a variety of Apple topics. As usual, it is a solid, balanced overview of where Apple stands today in different areas of its business. Personally, I was positive about iPad Pro hardware, iOS 12, and Apple Watch, but I noted I’d like to see Apple do more on iPad software, iPhone camera, and HomeKit in 2019.

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Apple Adds AI Head, John Giannandrea, to Executive Team

Today Apple announced that one of its most recent high profile hires, John Giannandrea, has been added as the twelfth member of the company’s executive team. His title is now Senior Vice President of Machine Learning and AI Strategy. From the press release:

“John hit the ground running at Apple and we are thrilled to have him as part of our executive team,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Machine learning and AI are important to Apple’s future as they are fundamentally changing the way people interact with technology, and already helping our customers live better lives. We’re fortunate to have John, a leader in the AI industry, driving our efforts in this critical area.” 

News of Giannandrea’s hiring at Apple first broke in April at The New York Times. Apple didn’t formally announce the hire, however, until July. And here we are just a few short months later, with another press release from Apple announcing his promotion.

Giannandrea’s role involves leadership of Siri, machine learning, and other artificial intelligence projects, all of which are right up his wheelhouse due to his former role as Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence. While it’s hard to say from the outside what kind of difference his influence is making at Apple, this move is a good sign that the company’s pleased with his early months of work. Perhaps we’ll get to see the fruits of his labors at WWDC 2019.

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Hopes and Expectations for Apple’s 2019

Forward-looking columns about Apple’s business in the new year are usually saved for late December, but I wanted to get ahead of all those pieces because we now know what Apple’s full 2018 product lineup looks like. While new AirPods and the AirPower charging mat are both suspiciously still absent, and one or both could in theory be launched via press release any time, most likely what we have now from Apple is what we’ll be left with until after the new year begins. As such, today seems like a great time to start sharing hopes and expectations for the year ahead.

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John Giannandrea, Former Google Executive, Is Apple’s Chief of Machine Learning and AI Strategy

Earlier this year The New York Times reported that Apple had made a big new hire: John Giannandrea, at the time Google’s Chief of Search and Artificial Intelligence. Today Giannandrea officially joined the ranks of Apple’s leadership page on Apple.com.

As part of Giannandrea’s employee profile, we learn his official title with Apple: ‘Chief of Machine Learning and AI Strategy.’ He reports directly to Tim Cook and oversees technologies related to Siri and machine learning.

Breaking the news of Giannandrea’s new role, Matthew Panzarino wrote for TechCrunch:

Apple is creating a new AI/ML team that brings together its Core ML and Siri teams under one leader in John Giannandrea.
[…]
The internal structures of the Siri and Core ML teams will remain the same, but they will now answer to Giannandrea. Apple’s internal structure means that the teams will likely remain integrated across the org as they’re wedded to various projects including developer tools, mapping, Core OS and more. ML is everywhere, basically.

The last two years especially, AI and machine learning have been heavy focuses of Apple, particularly on iOS. Giannandrea is a major hire for the company, and while it may take some time for his impact to be seen in user-facing products, bringing together Siri and machine learning teams under this new leader is a key step toward realizing future potential in an area that’s bound to grow more important as time passes.