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The hardware/software team is more worried about perfecting features rather than rolling out several new ones

When people think about Apple products like the iPhone or iPad, the face they normally place behind the success is usually the top dogs like CEO Tim Cook or even co-founder and Apple legend Steve Jobs. But behind the public faces are two men who have worked quietly, yet obsessively to make Apple products what they are today: Jony Ive and Craig Federighi.

Sir Jonathan Paul Ive (who prefers to go by "Jony"), senior vice president of design at Apple Inc., recently sat down with USA Today for an interview before the launch of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. Ive was joined by Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering. 

Ive joined Apple's design team in 1992 while Federighi was employed at Jobs' NeXT venture in 1994, but went to Apple when it acquired NeXT. He left in 1999 but returned a decade later. 

The two are a solid team working behind the scenes on each Apple device, marrying hardware and software in a new way never seen before at Apple until iOS 7. 

During the USA Today interview, Ive and Federighi talked a lot about the new iPhones (which are being released today), but made one point real clear: they're not out to release "new"; they're out to release "better," and they're not worried about what the competition is doing.

According to Ive and Federighi, many competitors are trying to release the next big thing with a spec sheet full of new features packed into one device. But Apple's super team that is Ive and Federighi feel it's more important to perfect certain features rather than roll out a ton of half-brewed ones. 

"Look at the camera space, companies are chasing megapixels but the pictures often look horrible because of their tiny sensors," said Federighi. "My family cares about taking a good picture, not a megapixel count. We carry that through to all the decisions we make about our phone. What experience is it going to deliver? Not what number will it allow us to put on a spec sheet."

Ive agreed.

"That is exactly it," said Ive. "It's just easier to talk about product attributes that you can measure with a number. Focus on price, screen size, that's easy. But there's a more difficult path, and that's to make better products, ones where maybe you can't measure their value empirically.

"This is terribly important and at the heart of what we do. We care about how to design the inside of something you'll never see, because we think it's the right thing to do."

Ive and Federighi say Apple sells more than just devices with the latest specs, but also a philosophy that each and every detail will be carefully examined. Take the iPhone 5S' new fingerprint scanner, for example. 

"This right here is what I love about Apple, this incredibly sophisticated powerful technology that you're almost not aware of, it absolutely blows me away," said Ive. "You can't get this without working cross-functionally."

Ive also made it clear that Apple isn't worried about what the competition is up to. 

"We, and the people who buy our products, steer us," said Ive. "It's certainly not other corporations at all, and we've shown that for a long time.
"I would love, love, love to show you what we are working on now, but I'd lose my job."

One major complaint against Apple is that it isn't innovating the way it did when Jobs was around. Instead of introducing the next big thing, like the iPhone was in 2007 and the iPad was in 2010, there are concerns surrounding the fact that Apple has only tweaked its pre-existing devices since the death of Jobs in 2011. 

"I've been here for years, and the way we're working is the same," said Ive. "Nothing's changed in terms of that. We're trying to solve problems in terms of future products that are incredibly complex, whose resolutions have no precedent. And then sometimes there are a lot of people who talk about stuff who aren't at Apple anymore, so that's a self-selecting group."

"People come here for the values that are evident in every product we build," added Federighi. "When we make decisions, it's not a battle of people trying to break us out of our value system. We all want to double down on these values, whose aim is to make things simpler, more focused. Those are spoken and unspoken mantras in all the discussions we have. You can call that Steve's legacy, but it's Apple now."

Source: USA Today

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Looks like they reached their BS quota.
By maven81 on 9/20/2013 2:11:13 PM , Rating: 5
"We, and the people who buy our products, steer us," said Ive.

Oh really?! That's funny because Apple pooped all over Intel (even making an ad with a slug!) until they realized the PC market was eating them for lunch and next thing you know they had the Intel CEO on stage. Jobs also insisted that no one needs a screen bigger then 3.5" because "no one's going to buy that". (He also insisted that no one needs video on an iPod, until they released the video iPod).

But looking at their current products, and what the people who buy them asked for... Not a single professional user I know has asked for the mac pro trashcan. Likewise I don't know of anyone that asked for a thinner imac. When people asked for blu-ray they pretended it doesn't exist. In fact they killed optical disks entirely. I also know plenty of people that would buy a thicker iphone with a bigger battery, in place of a thinner iphone.

One could write a book about this doublethink, denial, and clever marketing. Recall when they couldn't figure out a way to make a tiny ipod with a screen, they decided to create one without it (the shuffle) and pass it off as a feature. There was actually a giant billboard for it on my way to work that read "life is random". Life was only random until the next generation, when they figured out how to make a small ipod with a screen.

I'm very happy with the fact that people are finally waking up to this crap.

By superstition on 9/21/2013 12:49:45 AM , Rating: 2
There was a time when PowerPC chips were faster than Intel chips, at least in laptops. Also, years later, AMD was beating Intel because of Intel's mediocre NetBurst platform and Itanium.

Apple had to go to Intel because Motorolla/Freescale couldn't keep pace, just as AMD hasn't been able to keep pace lately. Regardless of the chip inside, the Mac OS is what matters at this point. Unfortunately, I am not happy with many of the changes that have been made since 10.6.8.

By vol7ron on 9/21/2013 11:13:35 AM , Rating: 2
You quoted something that it seems like you didn't read - my goodness man, it was only one line! Let me dissect what you quoted. When it comes to steering the direction of Apple products, there are two, not one, but two things that have an influence:
(1) we, referring to Apple (Ive and team); (2) the consumers (the point being made, not the media or other companies).

That said, look at what you wrote. It's like at times you pick one of the two influences and completely disregard the other. For instance...
But looking at their current products, and what the people who buy them asked for...Not a single professional user I know has asked for the mac pro trashcan.
So do you think this might be one of those times where the design team wanted to try something new?

I agree that there are a lot of faults that Apple has, especially since they explicity insist they want to perfect the current features/tools/products. Really, Apple? I think email is one of the most used applications out there - let me rant and say that I can't find a "Select All" button or make mail contact groups - for something that is so used and has been around so long and should be easy to perfect. I think this shoots a hole in that statement.

But the rest of your statement drills down to customer preference. You want a thicker phone w/ more battery, I don't. I want it slimmer to fit in my pocket - if you want something bulkier, I'd recommend you get a Mophie (battery/case). You think the Shuffle was because they couldn't get a small screen, I don't - it was/is a perfect workout player - people liked it so much that after they discontinued it, they brought it back. I also don't like how they don't have Blu-Ray, but to be honest, optical discs are dying - physical medium in general is dying. That said, why ship a DVD reader/writer, but not BluRay - agree with you that this doesn't make sense.

I'm responding because you took the time to write something at length, so I feel you deserve a proper response. You think people are waking up when I think you're just closing your eyes.

RE: Looks like they reached their BS quota.
By Tony Swash on 9/21/13, Rating: -1
RE: Looks like they reached their BS quota.
By Cheesew1z69 on 9/21/2013 4:15:20 PM , Rating: 1
Outside of a few specialist users who would need an old fashioned desktop PC anymore?
How utterly ignorant can you possibly be.....

RE: Looks like they reached their BS quota.
By Tony Swash on 9/21/13, Rating: 0
RE: Looks like they reached their BS quota.
By Cheesew1z69 on 9/21/2013 7:17:30 PM , Rating: 3
Cool story bro, not going to happen anytime soon as much as you like to believe it.

By retrospooty on 9/21/2013 8:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
LOL. He does have a fascinating fantasy life, give him that. It's a complete fantasy to think that a closed platform will ever ever ever take over any market segment. IOS had a head start 2007 to 2011, but its already peaked. The open market is already taking over and that is what bothers Tony and the reason he keeps railing against it.

Unless the closed platform is significantly better, or significantly cheaper it will never win versus the open platform. Apples platform is not significantly better, its not even equal. Never going to happen.

By UpSpin on 9/21/2013 6:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
Sadly it's not as easy as you think. It's not an issue for Apple to run Mac OSX on ARM, the same way it's probably fairly easy for MS to run Windows 8 on ARM. The issues come with the programs and drivers on top of it. Both Windows and Mac OS run native code, no program will work any longer.

It's totally different if your programs run in a virtual machine, as is the case with .NET programs (which probably still would work on Windows 8 ARM) or just about almost any Android app (the reason you can run Android on ARM, MIPS, X86 processors with 99% app compatibility).

I agree with you, and I also think that Apple would like to move everything to ARM on their own in house designed SoCs, independent of Intel. But it's not going to happen soon, especially as long as the ARM chips are slower than the latest Intel chips. People who edit movies, pictures, ..., people who want a powerful machine buy a Mac, not people who visit kitten sites and waste their time ;-)

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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