Apple’s best media moves

When it comes to entertainment, Apple has a long and storied—if you’ll pardon the pun—past. This has formed a sort of shifting triangle of power where Apple, customers, and the entertainment industry have, at various times, found themselves facing off against each other, or making unlikely alliances.

In recent years, Apple has more and more ended up making decisions that seem to closely align with the interests of its customers. That’s not particularly a surprise, since the customers are ultimately who keep Apple in business, but getting entertainment companies to buy in on those moves is an equally happy development.

This bodes well for Apple itself, especially as it prepares to launch its own original video programming at some point in the not-too-distant future. Because that, as with Apple Music, is going to require customers to pony up their hard-earned money, and Apple needs to prove that it’s going to do right by them. The good news is, these recent decisions make a convincing argument.

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3 small-but-important details from Apple’s Q4 2018 financials call

Apple’s quarterly financial calls are usually a time for big numbers: record revenue, billions in income, millions of iPhones sold, etc. But what I always find more interesting are the smaller tidbits that make their way through, like tiny rowboats at risk of being crushed by the monstrous rocks that are Apple’s blockbuster financial results.

This quarter was no different. There were more than a few breadcrumbs dropped by Apple CEO Tim Cook in-between fielding questions about gross margins and talking about tariffs, some of which zipped by so fast that they were all too easy to miss. I’ve picked out three that perked up my ears, along with the larger significance that I think they import.

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Looking forward to the next Apple Watch

For the last few weeks, I’ve moved up in the world: Thanks to the generosity of my friend and colleague Jason Snell, I’ve been rocking a Series 2 Apple Watch (I know: be still your beating heart), finally replacing my ancient Series 0, aka first-generation, model.

It’s been fascinating in that time to not only evaluate what has changed between those two models of the Watch, but also what hasn’t changed. Some of it is about the Watch, yes, but a lot of it is also about how my usage of the Watch has evolved in the years since its release.

And, above all, it’s gotten me excited for what I expect to be this fall’s release of a new Apple Watch, because I’m hoping that this will be the year that I’m convinced to go out and buy a brand new Watch for the first time.

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Apple: Don’t default on default apps

Since the earliest days of iOS, Apple has kept tight control on its users’ relationship with apps. The very first iPhone, of course, only shipped with a dozen or so preinstalled software programs: you couldn’t add more, you couldn’t delete the ones you had.

Over the years, Apple has loosened those strictures a bit. First you could add new third-party apps. Later, developers were even able to create and sell software that competed with some of those default options. More recently, you’ve even been able to delete some of those built-in apps. (Adios, Stocks!)

But more than a few restrictions have remained nonetheless. Most obviously, the prohibition on installing software from anyplace other than the company’s own App Store. I don’t take particular issue with that; the prevalence of malware and security breaches these days means you can’t be too careful, and Apple’s approach has had proven merit.

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Apple: A little more color, please

Apple has a long back and forth relationship with the role of color in its products. Even looking back at the original Macintosh, which debuted with a black and white display at a time when the company’s long-running Apple II line boasted color graphics. (The Apple II which, it should also be noted, gave us the venerable six-color Apple logo.)

In more recent years, color has played a part in the outward facing part of Apple’s products as well. When the first iMac appeared on the scene in 1998, its most distinctive feature was the bright Bondi Blue exterior, which later multiplied into a variety of different options and set the tone for Apple products of its era.

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The Apple TV and tvOS could use a little love

The iPhone, Apple Watch, and Mac all got some love from Apple at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference, but the fourth of Apple’s platforms was largely left out in the cold: the Apple TV.

Indeed, the newest version of tvOS doesn’t even get its own page on Apple’s site—clicking links about it will simply take you to an updated page for the Apple TV 4K, released last September.

On the face of it, sure, it’s understandable why the Apple TV and tvOS didn’t get a lot of attention: the set-top box is arguably the least ambitious of Apple’s products, and many of the roadblocks that the company has run into in terms of improving it have been stymied by the need to work with partners.

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Where oh where can the Mac updates be?

Even before Tim Cook took the stage, there was little expectation that this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference would focus on anything other than software. But now, with it in our rearview mirror and a new iPhone announcement likely not far down the road, questions have turned to the future of Mac hardware.

Rogue Amoeba co-founder Quentin Carnicelli stirred up some discussion this past week by examining Apple’s current Mac lineup, and pointing out that, with the exception of the new iMac Pro, none of it has been updated in over a year. (The most egregious case being, of course, the Mac mini, which is closing in on four years without a revision.) That’s prompted some clamor that Apple should commit to yearly updates of its computer platform, just as it does with the iPhone.

There are a few things that have probably conspired to bring the state of Mac hardware to the point that it’s at now. Perhaps what we’re seeing is a perfect storm: a confluence of events, any one of which might impact a model or two in Apple’s product line, but which, when combined, put us in the current situation.

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