I got into a lively debate, twice, in Toronto last week about whether or not Apple’s products had changed the world. I discussed this first with the sharp strategic management professor Bill McEvily, who challenges his University of Toronto students by asking them to read my 2012 book Inside Apple. A central point of that work is that Apple conducts many of its affairs in ways contrary to what future managers learn in business school. Hence, the challenge.
Then, an unidentified member in the audience at my talk about Uber at the university’s Rotman School of Management challenged my assertion that the maverick San Francisco startup had changed anything. He preferred that I focused on game changers like Amazon, Apple, and Alibaba. (Perhaps Uber is too far down the alphabet for his tastes.)
I’m in the camp that argues that Apple is an extremely fine consumer device and software company, perhaps the best ever, and that it has radically altered multiple industries. I’ve written this many times. But did it change the world? Steve Jobs certainly wanted us to believe it did, and he touched the lives of many. But I mean no disrespect in suggesting that a company that makes gobs of money by making outstanding products that tend to be exceedingly better iterations of someone else’s invention is just that, an outstanding company.
I bring all this up because this morning Apple’s annual developer’s conference begins. It travels this year from San Francisco to San Jose—a mighty distance, believe me—and more than usual this year’s event seems likely to focus on the nitty-gritty work of developing programs and apps for Apple’s lucrative platforms, not on any breakthrough products. (I recommend this Ars Techica preview despite its low-expectations perspective.)
Apple doesn’t have to wow all the time, of course. Amazon may have a $1,000 stock price, but all of Apple is worth more than $800 billion. Its impact is huge, world changing or not.
With bated breath. As Adam mentioned, Apple holds its annual key note at its World Wide Develop Conference today at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT. Our own David Z. Morris summarized most of the rumors for us on Sunday. I’m also hearing the iMacs get an upgrade, perhaps fulfilling Phil Schiller’s promise about a more “Pro” configuration. Microsoft didn’t want to be left out: a leak revealed it’s prepping a workstation edition of Windows 10 for power users.
No show. One person who likely won’t be at WWDC this year is Bozoma Saint John. Axios reported on Friday that Saint John has left the company. Apple’s head of global consumer marketing for Apple Music was a notable on stage presence last year and on Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list.
Moore’s law redux. IBM, GlobalFoundries, and Samsung said Monday that they have found a way to make thinner transistors at a scale of just 5 nanometers, which should enable them to pack 30 billion switches onto a microprocessor chip the size of a fingernail.
Tracking the bad guys. British Prime Minister Theresa May responded to the latest terror attacks in London in part with a call to regulate online communications, sparking a wide ranging debate online about whether such a policy was wise or realistic.
Looking for a second lightning strike. Palmer Luckey, who sold his virtual reality startup Oculus to Facebook for $2 billion, has a new startup working on surveillance technologies.
Hands off my browser. The Fireball adware bug is spreading like…wildfire. Check Point Software says the invasive app has infected more than 250 million computers.
Ludicrous edition. Car insurer AAA says it is raising rates up to 30% for Tesla owners, citing abnormally high frequency and cost of claims compared to other, similar cars.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
A story linked to here about Apple’s new headquarters a few weeks ago noted that, while the facility has many amenities, on site daycare was not included. Rollin Bishop at the Outline looks at the challenge at tech companies across the industry.
When it comes to Silicon Valley companies, the statistics for hiring women and retention rates associated with them are overwhelmingly bad. About 30 percent of the tech industry is reportedly made up of women, and yet, according to one study, almost 40 percent of women with engineering degrees either leave or never enter the field. Changing the work environment, the study concludes, is imperative in order to retain these women, and that includes offering options like child care.
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