Tag Archives: Apple

Venture Files

CULT OF STEVE: Apple's mantra

I told you the whole thing is a cult.

You gotta love this. Straight from Valley Wag:

CULT OF STEVE: Apple’s mantra:
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Steve Jobs, since his triumphant return to Apple, has become a latter-day deity, worshipped as much by techies as the shareholders he’s made rich. So much so that his admirers, from product designers to rival execs, orient themselves, not entirely jokingly, by asking: What Would Steve Jobs Do? Seen here, the question, spotted on a Silicon Valley vanity plate by Buzz Anderson.”

They even have membership plates. Like the ones you can get as a college alumni. I am waiting for the one with the little silver Apple on the side.

Venture Files

Leadership Lessons: When the CEO is synonymous with the brand

There are different types of CEO’s out there. Some are the operational types who crunch the numbers, those who are sales people at heart, those who are visionaries who guide a company in new directions and many more variations of these major archetypes.

Then there are what I call “luminaries”.

Luminaries are those leaders that are identified with their companies so much that their name is pretty much a synonym for their company. Some examples are:
– Bill Gates – Microsoft
– Richard Branson – Virgin Group
– Jack Welch – GE
– Steve Jobs and Apple

The last one there, Steve Jobs, is of particular focus in light of the emerging stock options scandal. When someone who is so closely identified with the brand and is responsible for its growth and innovation and recent rebirth can there be any type of succession planning.

Analysts from Bloomberg to Piper Jaffray think that the stock would immediately drop 25-33% if Mr. Jobs were to leave. That is about $20 billion in market value as of this writing (yikes!).

So as an entrepreneur, you work hard every day to evangelize your ideas, promote your company, lead your team and make your company a success. What you can learn from this?

1.) Evangelize but don’t act like God – You love your company, your people and your products. We get it. Stay humble because it takes one wrong move to knock you down the ladder. The more you think you are a God the more people will be convinced you are the devil.

2.) Share the spotlight and reward others publicly
– Remember that you are not the center of the universe and many smart people in the company helped you get there. If you reward them publicly people will be more familiar with other people especially if they are in the succession plan. Plus spreading the love makes you appear to be the benevolent leader.

3.) Implement a succession plan – This is not to tell people that you are leaving, but rather that you are mortal and will leave one day so there must be a smooth transition. This makes people confident that the company will not suffer abrupt changes when you exit and will get people in place when the change does come.

So for the entrepreneur’s out there. What are you doing to ensure you don’t run the same risk?

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Venture Files

Welcome to Thunderdome: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on stage at the D Conference

When I read that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were going to be on stage together doing joint appearance at D:All Things Digital, the Mad Max movie came to mind.

My mind kept echoing….”Two men enter. One man leaves. Two men enter. One man leaves.”

Unrehearsed and unscripted? This is rare and should be a memorable event.

This is going to be the ultimate in geek spectator sports and for the entrepreneur’s out there an interesting study in communications styles and how to handle yourself in a tough crowd.

God I hope they stream this for those of us who can’t make it up there.

Bill and Steve’s Excellent Adventure

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Venture Files

Is the "Cult of Apple" really a cult? – Part 2

In the first part of this post I was talking about an article called “The 8 Marks of a Cult” and took with a sense of humor how Apple might size up to this analysis originally written in 1961.

So let’s take the remaining 4 Marks and see how they shape up…

Mark #5 – The “Sacred Science
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
The cult’s ideology becomes the ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. The ideology is too “sacred” to call into question, and a reverence is demanded for the leadership. The cult’s ideology makes an exaggerated claim for possessing airtight logic, making it appear as absolute truth with no contradictions. Such an attractive system offers security.

Observing Apple’s Actions
This is a tough one. Although using Apple is not the ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence, in the IT world everything Apple is sacred and people do demand reverence for the brand in a way that they can do no wrong despite many examples of the contrary (i.e. Lisa, Newton, Mac Clones). Yet the Apple ecosystem does present this air of security because everything works together very well when everything is an Apple product.

Close to the Mark? 6 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #6 – Loading the Language
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
We are all familiar with the use of the cliches “capitalist” and “imperialist,” as used by antiwar demonstrators in the 60’s. Such cliches are easily memorized and readily expressed. They are called the “language of non-thought,” since the discussion is terminated, not allowing further consideration.

Observing Apple’s Actions
Apple’s language for the most part is full of “i” and “Mac” but that is just branding. Where they really hit the mark is “transforming”, “innovation” and “breaking away”. I don’t see it much but it is there.

Close to the Mark? 4 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #7 – Doctrine Over Person
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
Human experience is subordinated to doctrine, no matter how profound or contradictory such experiences seem. The history of the cult is altered to fit their doctrinal logic. The person is only valuable insomuch as they conform to the role models of the cult. Commonsense perceptions are disregarded if they are hostile to the cult’s ideology.

Observing Apple’s Actions
This one is strong at Apple. From what I read if you work there, you don’t really matter insomuch as how you contribute to the doctrine of Apple and its ultimate goal to rule the universe through innovative products that transform industries. It is interesting when you look at the history of Apple . Most recently at Macworld, the name change from Apple Computer to Apple, Inc. might have many thinking it is to allow them to be the Sony of the 21st century. However, it might be to alter the doctrine that the company was a consumer electronics company all along when we know they were and are a computer company. If you disagree, Apple will get hostile with you and might even sue.

Close to the Mark? 7 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #8 – Dispensing of Existence
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
The cult decides who has the “right” to exist and who does not. They decide who will perish in the final battle of good over evil. The leaders decide which history books are accurate and which are biased. Families can be cut off and outsiders can be deceived, for they are not fit to exist!

Observing Apple’s Actions
As for the history books we only need look at the bios like iCon or movies (Pirates of Silicon Valley) where Steve Jobs didn’t have input and got pissed off about it.

As Apple introduces new products it expects to dominate in and almost without saying it has the power to decide who lives or dies.

It is a stretch and therefore a low mark.

Close to the Mark? 4 on a scale of 1 to 10

Well, adding up the numbers we get 51 out of 80 or 64%. There is no scale as to what it should be graded but I will say with that high of a number that we can scientifically (yeah, right) prove that the Cult of Apple is a real thing.

So I just want to know one thing. To donate all my possessions and give myself over to the cult, do I have to make the trip to Cupertino or will any Apple Store do just fine”

Venture Files

Is the "Cult of Apple" really a cult? – Part 1

As an avid Mac user and a new convert to all things Apple, I have experienced the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) first hand at MacWorld last year during the key note when Steve Jobs launched of the MacBook Pro (which I am using right now).

I have seen many books on the “Cult of Mac” or “Cult of Apple” but with the growth in market share and its appeal to the masses, I wonder how much is really true.

This weekend I came across an article called “The 8 Marks of a Cult” and it was written in 1961 when the beat movement was in full swing and the Communist threat put our paranoia on full alert.

So with full tongue and cheek humor, let’s take the 8 Marks and see how they shape up…

Mark #1 – Milieu Control
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
“Milieu” is a French word meaning “surroundings; environment.” Cults are able to control the environment around their recruits in a number of ways, but almost always using a form of isolation.

Observing Apple’s Actions
If you look at how they talk to the press and keep a tight lip on product releases their control of the press is legendary. Witness the Macworld Keynote where they absolutely control the environment and it is filled with MacHeads in isolation waiting for Steve Jobs.

Close to the Mark? 7 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #2 – Mystical Manipulation
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
In religious cults, God is ever-present in the workings of the organization. The organization is given a certain “mystique” that is quite alluring to the new recruit.

Observing Apple’s Actions
Everywhere there is Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is everywhere. There is no more to really say here

Close to the Mark? 6 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #3 -Demand for Purity
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
The world is depicted as black and white, with little room for making personal decisions based on a trained conscience. One’s conduct is modeled after the ideology of the group, as taught in its literature. People and organizations are pictured as either good or evil, depending on their relationship to the cult.

Observing Apple’s Actions
All the products are usually in black and white with the “professional” silver throw in. Don’t forget the occasional colors to mix it up but it always comes back to black and white.

Another example – Apple good. Microsoft evil. I would say that is pretty black and white, wouldn’t you?

Close to the Mark? 10 on a scale of 1 to 10

Mark #4 – The Cult of Confession
Definition: (Taken from “The 8 Marks of Cult“)
There is often a tendency to derive pleasure from self-degradation through confession. This occurs when all must confess their sins before each other regularly, creating an intense kind of “oneness” within the group. It also allows leaders from within to exercise authority over the weaker ones, using their “sins” as a whip to lead them on.

Observing Apple’s Actions
Most people who switch love to start their story with confession. “I used to be a Windows user for 10 years until I found the Mac and made switch”. As if almost they have found oneness to admit their wrong and connect with the fellow MacHeads.

Close to the Mark? 7 on a scale of 1 to 10


NEXT TIME: Part 2 and the other 4 Marks analyzed.

Venture Files

The Technology Cold War is OVER – Apple and Microsoft are truly competing again…FINALLY!!

The nucleus of this article came from the recent Macworld theme “The First 30 Years where just the Beginning”.

It got me thinking how the next 30 years will be after looking the last 30 years roller coaster ride.

After decompressing from all the CES and Macworld activity, two very basic things occurred to me:

1.) The “War for the Living Room” is in full swing.
2.) Microsoft and Apple are truly competing again.

This means that the technology cold war is over. A new battle is about to begin.

To support my “revelation”, I did a quick analysis of the battles between Microsoft vs. Apple and I break down like this:

Tech War I -“The War for the Desktop” – 1980-1995

Most historians see this era as the “personal computer era”, but by 1990 it was squarely Apple vs MS as they battled it out to be that computer on your desk or optionally on your lap. This saw the acceptance of computers as a broad business tool and networking technologies take hold to connect us at the corporate level. Unfortunately, Apple lost this round and Microsoft gained market share dominance that they hold to this day.

Cold War – 1995-2006 – Mild escalation

As Apple went through its issues and almost disappeared forever, Microsoft was truly entrenched in the office and almost every home that had a computer. For most of us, the focus turned toward the Internet and we had a new battle to fight. Microsoft was late to the game and has played catch up for the most part. As the 90’s were coming to a close, Steve Jobs returned to Apple and many hoped for a turnaround. In the early part of this century, Apple introduced the iPod and just last year moved their platform to the Intel chip gaining market share and making the platform a solid alternative for many (including your humble author). At this point, Microsoft is losing the Internet battle to Google and Apple has regained market share because of solid innovation.

Tech War II – “War for the Living Room” – 2007-“?

Computing has become not just about using it as a tool in the home office or while at work, it is integrated into every aspect of our lives. Laptops, PDAs, Smartphones, Cell Phones, Web Tablets, Video Game consoles and MP3 players connect and distribute media into exciting new ways.

However, there is on thing missing – bridging the gap between the content that resides on computing devices and allowing easy access and viewing/listening through living room via the TV. Sure, MS has media center, but at $2000 for a machine and needing to have a background in systems engineering, it really was for the early adopter. There have been many devices for the iPod to connect music into the stereo and low end devices to view videos on the iPod.

But with technologies like Tivo and IPTV, the living room is where people really want to view their content. Everything is trapped on the computer and this year is the tipping point where people will really move to access it in the living room.


If Windows Mobile will be able compete with the MacPhone
If Microsoft make the Zune a worthy competitor?
If Vista make any impact other than collecting default revenue because people need to upgrade their computer and don’t have a good choice.
If Apple’s OS X Leopard will innovate to stay ahead
If Apple’s shift in name and brand put them on the path to become the Sony of the 21st century?
Will Microsoft make the Media Server easy to use and affordable?
Will DRM kill everything by charging and re-charging for content we already own?
If Microsoft doesn’t put on its innovation pants, it is going to lose this battle by the end of the decade
If Apple keeps going with widescreen iPods, multiple iPhones, HD content for sale on iTunes and greater AppleTV systems, they are going to create the “Living Room ecosystem” people are crying for
If Apple keeps its control freak nature for much longer, Microsoft can trump them with a system that allows for freedom
It is going to be a fun time to be alive as these two companies really go at it again.
This year is going to be known as the “War for the Living Room”.

So, What do you think?

The Microsoft showdown with MacWorld & the Apple Phone from VentureBeat
Jobs versus Gates

Venture Files

iPhone Lawsuit – Kettle? Please meet the pot.

I find it ironic that during the Macworld Keynote yesterday where Steve Jobs boasted about the 200 patents for the iPhone and how they would enforce them that they get a lawsuit for the one thing they couldn’t protect.

So Kettle, please meet the pot. It will be a fun topic of discussion and give Apple free press for the next 6 months.

My guess? I am betting it becomes the ApplePhone. Cisco will keep the name and their product will continue to suck and not make money. Apple will change the name and everyone will go “that’s great”!

It all depends on branding strategy. It seemed like the “i” was for consumer electronics and the Mac was for computers. With the iTV now AppleTV, I just don’t know.

Could it be…..

NOW: AppleTV

NOW: iPhone

This will have to be worked out by June, no matter what.

Venture Files

5 Reasons I will NOT buy an iPhone

As I watched the keynote live and looked at the flash demos on the Apple site, it occurred to me….

This phone is not for me. Why? Because I am a business person and a techie.

SO WHO WILL BUY IT? : Consumers that have money to spend that will look at the price of buying a fancy phone for $200 and a Nano for $249 and seeing the rest as “coolness price premium”.


I came up with 5 reasons this phone is not for business people or the techie crowd, of which I am both.

  1. NO 3G – This one I just don’t understand. Business users and techies need it because they surf the web and use it for e-mail and attachments all day. Just having EDGE is going to keep ALOT of people away. Especially consumers that that want to buy iTunes songs over the air. People will want to use this phone with their computer as modem and EDGE will not cut it.
  2. NO Corporate e-mail access – Just IMAP and POP is NOT OK STEVE. People who use the kinds of devices use Blackberry Servers and Versamail to access exchange. If you guys would fix iCal so it would connect and sync with Exchange I might be willing to deal with it for the time being.
  3. NO 3rd Party apps – The whole point of having wi-fi is to install Skype and the need for office applications. Widgets are great dude, but we need apps that make us productive. Developers are your life blood and if you want any chance of killing competitors you need to have apps available like Palm and Windows Mobile does. For goodness sake this phone is crying to open PDF’s Period.
  4. NO GPS – I can already pull up Google maps on my Treo. I hate my Treo, but what would make this a killer device is GPS for location based services (LBS). This is first phone that would actually make that market take hold.
  5. NO Removable Battery – Most business users who have phones, especially smart phones carry an extra battery to swap out on the go. This thing is supposed to have 5 hours of talk time but if you are using this all day as a business person, it will die on you before you get home.

All of this will come, but not tomorrow. However…

Apple thinks 10 million people will buy this phone by the end of 2008.




  1. Apple fanboys and fangirls – 500,000 units
  2. Consumers thinking about buying an ipod and hate their phones: ~ 500,000
  3. People that need a really good reason to leave Sprint or Verizon: ~ 1,000,000 (probably alot more but can’t afford the iPhone AND the cancellation fees).
  4. Phone freaks that love to be first – 250,000

So puts us at the number of units for the U.S. at 2,250,000 X GLOBAL UNIT FACTOR of 2 and you get a total of….

4.5 million units sold by the end of 2008 by my best and VERY UNSCIENTIFIC ESTIMATE.

So where will the missing 3.5 million units come from? iPhone 2 launched at Macworld 2008 that will have all the stuff I complained about earlier in this post. This will get the mass market to adopt, the business users to switch and everyone the sidelines thinking about it to make the plunge.

Look how long the iPod took. Everyone thinks it was overnight but to really become a success took about 3 years (2004). I suspect that the iPhone will take that long as well.
Apple is the one company that is the prime example of a “fast follower”. They watch everyone else, release something, learn from their mistakes and innovate even more.

In all fairness, there are two great write ups of this contrarian view that I share but they beat me to press so I must give credit for their speed and sharp analysis. They are Ars Technica and Paul Kedrosky.

At least I know I am not alone in seeing through the “Reality Distortion Field” of Steve Jobs.

Venture Files

2007 Predictions – Apple

There are tons of blogs doing predictions and Macworld rumor control.

Macworld and the reactivation of the reality distortion field (RDF) will be in full effect in a few days.

I take an approach that is different and looks more at obvious trends than wild guesses.

To sum it up: Last year for Apple was the “Year of Intel”. I believe that this the “Year of The Living Room”.

Here is my short list for the year:

iPhone – I would usually believe Kevin Rose because he nailed the nano. This has become the “Tech Industry unicorn”. Unless it can let you call God, it will not be good enough because of all the hype. I still like having a phone and an iPod.
Mac Pro 8-Core – This is inevitable but I think they will still keep the older Mac Pro to create a more entry level professional system.
iTV – Details at Macworld. Available in March. I think this sucker is gonna be the new Mac Mini and have hard drive capability. It can’t just be a video Airport. Why don’t these guys just buy Tivo and Netflix to make the holy trinity of video entertainment.
Google+Apple – This will link to the iTV and I think there will be a YouTube front page for the iTV. Can’t resist saying portal here.
Leopard – Lots of features I am not even able to imagine. However, it will have more virtualization capability like Parallels. Macs have the potential to be the tri-wizard, I mean tri-OS, hardware of choice. Imagine, Mac OS X at the center with Windows apps and Linux Ubuntu running select apps. This means limitless power. It might be at this point that we can reveal ourselves to the Jedi…
Displays – This is a gimme. No updates in 2 years, iSights are out of stock. I will go even further that they will have a 42 and 50 inch TV to go along with the iTV announcement.
iPods – Upgrade in storage at Macworld. Separate announcement later in spring for Video iPod. This will coincide with the iTV revolution they will claim. They need to move HD movies into the living room to make money.
Announcements – More studios, new video editing capabilities with their recent acquisitions.

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Venture Files

How did I do? Review of 2006 Predictions

I have read so many predictions for 2007 and it caused me to go back and look at my predictions for 2006.

Let’s see how close I got:
“2006 is going to be the year of Video” – With the acquisition of YouTube and all its competitors making waves with “User Generated Content” I got that one right.

2006 Apple Predictions
1.) Macworld is all about the Mac Mini and content announcements
I don’t see much here on the iPod horizon, but I do see Macworld being about content and distribution. This means that you are really limited by having content on your iPod. However, if you can download content, play it to your TV with your Mac Mini and dock you iPod to take it with you, well now that is scary.
WINNER – They announced iTV and will launch it at Macworld 2007

2.) Intel switch is not as huge as everyone thinks it is.
Everyone knows it is coming. Everyone believes that you will have a machine you can boot Linux/Windows and OS X (now really who would want to do that?). What it will really do is make machines a little faster and make people more comfortable about the platform.
The real winner? Application developers.
Because applications don’t need virtual PC to emulate Intel, companies will make applications for PC and Mac and will slowly erode the advantage of applications available for OS X. To be honest, I am getting ready to make the switch and in my opinion, almost everything is available for me to make the move.
LOSER – They announced it and the switch has improved market share and applications like Parallels has prompted switchers to move fast.

3.) Music prices will go dynamic
Because the record companies are breathing down Steve Job’s neck, he will move iTunes to a dynamic pricing model, with more expensive popular singles on their debut and moving down to $.99 and even lowering less popular songs in price.
LOSER – Never happened.

4.) G6 desktop in Q3 2006
I believe that once the Intel Powerbooks and iBooks are moved over in Q1 and Q2 to the Intel platform, it will be time for the G6 in a sweet quad configuration. This will allow enough time to port all of the powerful applications to the Intel Mac platform, Adobe CS3 will be out and written for this platform. All the children will rejoice.
Partial WINNER – They did announce the Macbook and Mac Pro. CS3 is planned for spring 2007 much to everyone’s dismay.

5.) Steve Jobs gets humble
I have to have one that will absolutely not come true…..
WINNER – Because I predicted it would never happen.

COMING NEXT… Predictions for 2007