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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Woz - Return to Apple. Good? Bad? Why?

Woz - Return to Apple. Good? Bad? Why?
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ebuddy
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Oct 7, 2011, 07:12 AM
 
One of my first thoughts is that Apple would grapple for its roots in the light of Jobs' passing. Is this in the cards? Would it be a good thing or a bad thing? A crazy idea? Why?

Steve Wozniak would consider return to Apple - 24 years later

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Oct 7, 2011, 07:16 AM
 
Crazy awesome.
     
andi*pandi
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Oct 7, 2011, 07:43 AM
 
He could fill the "beloved figurehead" role well, and that would be cool, but he's no ceo/business guru.
     
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Oct 7, 2011, 08:07 AM
 
There is no slot in the Apple org chart for either a Jobs or a Wozniak. Woz could come back to make special projects, and I think he'd enjoy that, but I don't see how his projects would fit into Apple's scheme of products.
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Oct 7, 2011, 08:12 AM
 
Bad idea. Woz is cool, but I think he lacks the focus necessary to drive the company forward.
     
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Oct 7, 2011, 10:11 AM
 
Yeah, I don't see the point.

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ort888
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Oct 7, 2011, 10:21 AM
 
Woz is a complete scatterbrain. Too eccentric to be useful.

Plus his penis may have touched Kathy Griffin. That right there should be enough to remove him from consideration.
( Last edited by ort888; Oct 7, 2011 at 10:41 AM. )

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Oct 7, 2011, 10:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
He could fill the "beloved figurehead" role well, and that would be cool, but he's no ceo/business guru.
Yep. Woz is a great guy, but he's an engineer, not really a visionary. Jobs and Woz absolutely needed each other to start Apple - neither could have done it alone, but I'd say Woz's skills were more easily replaceable as the organization grew than Jobs'.
     
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Oct 7, 2011, 09:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
He could fill the "beloved figurehead" role well, and that would be cool, but he's no ceo/business guru.
This. Metaphorically speaking, Woz was the artist while Jobs was the muse. Both were of vital importance, but neither could really fill the other's role.
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Oct 7, 2011, 09:54 PM
 
Bring Woz back would be a big mistake. He may have been at the birth of Apple but he is no Steve Jobs - wishing him back is juvenile and shows a desire to not face the fact of Steve's death. ..::: Reality Check :::..
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freudling
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Oct 7, 2011, 10:16 PM
 
Steve Wozniak back at Apple? Yes, that's good. Apple needs the life. Tim Cook is a boring accountant type that won't last longer than 3 years.

But Wozniak would never lead the company. He's incapable. He's a huge geek with a big heart. He doesn't have the skill or tact to lead a company. Everybody, I'm sure, knows this. He could just hang out and motivate people, maybe come up with a few engineering ideas of his own.
     
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Oct 7, 2011, 10:26 PM
 
The children of America were making their first prank call. And the person who answered the phone was Woz. -Gary Wolf

Woz should be at the keynotes. Poor Tim Cook. People are gonna be awfully hard on him. Yes, he definitely is not a showman. As far as Woz being at Apple, it might be nice to see him in a video or two, maybe work on a project if he wants. I doubt Woz would want to be at Apple, he seems to like doing what he does best.
     
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Oct 9, 2011, 02:19 AM
 
I think Woz entertaining the idea of coming back to apple was a heartfelt preemptive thought at the potential vacuum that was going to be created with the resignation/death of Jobs. I don't believe he'll actually come back to Apple in any capacity but if he does it won't be any worse than Balmer heading a keynote.

Woz is a great guy, and if he or Apple find a useful occupation for him at headquarters, im sure he'll more than excel at what is expected of him.
     
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Oct 9, 2011, 02:23 AM
 
I'm fully on board with him coming back to the company in some substantial capacity. My brother's been adamant about it for a few years now, actually. Woz is a great guy. He's not Jobs, certainly. But he was essential to Apple's early success, and I'm sure he could contribute a lot to Apple's future. If Gore can be on Apple's board, Woz definitely should be on there.

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Oct 9, 2011, 11:19 AM
 
But Gore invented the internet! What did Woz ever invent? Oh, wait.....
     
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Oct 9, 2011, 12:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
I'm fully on board with him coming back to the company in some substantial capacity.
This guy has been out of commission so long, he really has nothing to offer today; he hasn't been relevant to Apple since the Apple II. And like others have said, he's turned into a scatterbrained, long-winded old fossil. It's like asking the inventor of Pong to run Epic Games.
If Gore can be on Apple's board, Woz definitely should be on there.
The people on the board don't run the company, they're just an oversight committee. Or did you think the CEOs of AVON and Intuit are really relevant to Apple's direction?
     
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Oct 9, 2011, 12:53 PM
 
Quite a harsh assessment, lpk. Wouldn't have expected a post like that from you. If nothing else Woz can serve in some sort of honorary capacity, but I seriously think he's capable of providing even more.

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Oct 9, 2011, 01:19 PM
 
The people who run Apple now are serious people who can get sh!t done. Frankly, even as a spokesman, I don't think Woz could be trusted to "stay on message."
     
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Oct 9, 2011, 01:38 PM
 
The primary value Woz would offer to Apple, realistically, is a sort of mascot function.

An awesome, historic, lovable mascot, but still not really relevant to Apple as a company.
     
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Oct 9, 2011, 01:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by freudling View Post
Tim Cook is a boring accountant type that won't last longer than 3 years.
I don't share this negativity about Cook.

I'm convinced Apple wouldn't be where it's today if it wasn't for Cook.

He's an operational genius; a successful company needs that as much as vision, creativity and good products.

-t
     
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Oct 11, 2011, 01:07 AM
 
I think he would bring new life to Apple. He won't fill the void, but it would be good.
     
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Oct 11, 2011, 05:06 AM
 
He's not a bad public speaker. He'd be good at doing keynotes.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Oct 11, 2011, 06:55 AM
 
Schiller is more than "not bad" as a public speaker. Woz also has a definite problem with staying on message.
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Oct 11, 2011, 08:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by freudling View Post
Apple needs the life. Tim Cook is a boring accountant type that won't last longer than 3 years.
I disagree with this: you seem to think Tim Cook is a 1-to-1 replacement for Steve Jobs, i. e. that he takes on all of the roles that Jobs had filled out during his time as CEO. I don't think that's how the transition (as was planned by senior management including Steve Jobs) is supposed to work. Cook doesn't have to be the best sales man of the bunch. He doesn't have to be the ultimate decision maker when it comes to essential features and design.

All he needs to do is continue doing what he does well. Tim Cook has been instrumental in Apple's success. He's arguably not as charismatic a speaker as Steve Jobs, but that doesn't mean he is a bad CEO. He hasn't just been ingrained with the core principles that have helped making Apple successful, he is one of the architects. The roles that he doesn't fill out as well as Jobs will be taken over by others.

Even though I have no clue how this is distributed amongst senior management, it is an obvious question that without a doubt has been addressed in the transition plan.
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Millennium
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Oct 11, 2011, 08:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by freudling View Post
Steve Wozniak back at Apple? Yes, that's good. Apple needs the life. Tim Cook is a boring accountant type that won't last longer than 3 years.

But Wozniak would never lead the company. He's incapable. He's a huge geek with a big heart. He doesn't have the skill or tact to lead a company. Everybody, I'm sure, knows this. He could just hang out and motivate people, maybe come up with a few engineering ideas of his own.
You know, now that I think about it, bring Nintendo in on this. Consult with them to figure out exactly what the nature of Shigeru Miyamoto's position is, and then give Woz an analogous position and responsibilities. That's the kind of thing Woz would be good at: something between an engineer and a boss, but not wholly either one.
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Oct 11, 2011, 08:53 AM
 
I think that position is "your mother".

I mean, not your mother, but the person who gives you a cookie and says it's going to be okay.
     
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Oct 11, 2011, 10:22 AM
 
I thought Woz never left, at least officially. Isn't he still on the payroll?
     
Big Mac
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Oct 11, 2011, 10:44 AM
 
He's still employee #1, but we're talking an expanded role here.

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Oct 11, 2011, 10:50 AM
 
With regards to that, I'm not sure he would necessarily fit in so much now with a future Apple. But who knows.
     
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Oct 11, 2011, 10:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
He's still employee #1, but we're talking an expanded role here.
Like, making him #1 *and* #2 ?

-t
     
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Oct 12, 2011, 04:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by Millennium View Post
You know, now that I think about it, bring Nintendo in on this. Consult with them to figure out exactly what the nature of Shigeru Miyamoto's position is, and then give Woz an analogous position and responsibilities. That's the kind of thing Woz would be good at: something between an engineer and a boss, but not wholly either one.
I've never understood the appeal of Woz coming back to Apple: he's a creative guy alright, but he doesn't strike me as someone with a creative vision regarding the future of computing. And that is what many people fear Apple is lacking now. No offense to Woz, but Apple doesn't need more hardware engineering genius, at least that's not an area where people think Apple falls short.

Why do people always bring his name into the game?
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Oct 12, 2011, 05:00 AM
 
I think there are lots of reasons.

I think the main one is he's the only one who would be even close to having Steve's ability to say "this is totally wrong" and have the suits listen. Without that person, Apple is just another corporation.

Frankly, it should be him and Guy Kawasaki.
     
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Oct 12, 2011, 06:06 AM
 
Yeah, I had the exact same thought about Guy the other day when I was thinking about this overall question. Guy has always been very loyal to Apple and is a great spokesman of the Apple ethos and the Mac Way.

I don't think Woz should necessarily be placed in a position to veto anything that Apple does going forward because Apple has been tremendously successful without him and even without SJ running things day to day for quite some time. We also know that Woz seemingly lost some portion of his technological magic after the plan crash. But I agree that Woz should definitely have a voice at the table.

I wonder if Jon Rubinstein would be interested in coming back to Apple at some point in the near future, but I imagine it would probably be a step down for him not to be a high level executive or CEO at this point. And what about Avadis Tevanian, who at one point after the NeXT reverse buyout was Jobs' right hand man? They were both key engineers of Apple's resurgence in hardware and software respectively, and (damn, look at that) they both left the company in 2006 after getting poached by Elevation Partners.
( Last edited by Big Mac; Oct 12, 2011 at 06:20 AM. )

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Oct 12, 2011, 07:29 AM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I think there are lots of reasons.
Which are …?
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I think the main one is he's the only one who would be even close to having Steve's ability to say "this is totally wrong" and have the suits listen. Without that person, Apple is just another corporation.
What suits? Last time I checked, Apple wasn't run by suits and there were no conflicts between Steve Jobs and »suits« (presumably on the board of directors, I guess?). Why should there be conflicts now?
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Frankly, it should be him and Guy Kawasaki.
Just because these two guys were instrumental in the early days of Apple doesn't mean they are important for Apple now. Kawasaki is long gone (AFAIK he is working for some venture capitalist) and I haven't seen anything from him either that would pique my curiosity.

Even worse, just looking at Woz, I don't think he has a good sense of style. (No offense, he's a good guy, but fashion isn't one of his strong suits.) Furthermore, Job's Apple is a company at the intersection between technology and liberal arts (he has shown that sign post at least once, but talked about this more often). In Job's view, Apple's success and the failure of the competition hinge on exactly this (the competition being only technology companies). Woz is a tech guy.

I think the only reason why people bring his name up is to have a Jobs 2.0-type phenomenon where the second co-founder returns to active duty at the company and pushes it forward. But that vision strikes me as naïve.
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Oct 12, 2011, 08:34 AM
 
I'd be surprised if anyone in the executive really would want Woz there anyway.

I remember a while back Woz saying that Jobs was still nice to him, and that Jobs always had a spot reserved for him at unveilings if he wanted. He went on to say that for the rare times Jobs and Woz would speak/meet, Woz sometimes suggested ideas. Woz said Jobs was polite about it, but he felt that Jobs may not have actually been listening to any of those suggestions.

ie. Reading between the lines, it seemed to me that Jobs respected Woz and never forgot that Woz was the technical genius behind Apple's and Jobs' success, but Jobs also was obviously fully aware that Woz's opinion today isn't necessarily as unique or groundbreaking as it was 30-35 years ago.
( Last edited by Eug; Oct 12, 2011 at 08:40 AM. )
     
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Oct 12, 2011, 08:51 AM
 
I'd forgotten about the plane crash.
     
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Oct 12, 2011, 09:30 AM
 
From all I've read, Woz is a nice guy, but he's not what Apple needs anymore. Apple has plenty of sharp engineers, and that was Woz's forte, in his time. He definitely deserves enormous respect for being a groundbreaker in circuit and chip design, but that's not what Apple needs today. One of the reasons he left was because he wasn't interested in the executive suite, and all the trappings and responsibilities therein. He's no doubt comfortable with where he's at now.
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Oct 12, 2011, 09:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
What suits? Last time I checked, Apple wasn't run by suits and there were no conflicts between Steve Jobs and »suits« (presumably on the board of directors, I guess?). Why should there be conflicts now?
Why should there be conflict now? Jobs was a notoriously difficult person to argue with from day one. When you have turned a company from almost bankrupt into the largest company in the world (and in competition with the likes of Google and M$) you become literally impossible to argue with and frankly who would want to/dare?

Whether its Tim Cook or anyone else in the world in charge, they are not Steve Jobs and they don't have his track record, therefore, they will be argued against if they try anything too radical by people trying to squeeze every penny out of every single aspect of a company they hold stock in.
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Oct 12, 2011, 10:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
I wonder if Jon Rubinstein would be interested in coming back to Apple at some point in the near future, but I imagine it would probably be a step down for him not to be a high level executive or CEO at this point.
He left due to disagreements about how to develop the iPhone (specifically, he bet very hard on doing a fork of a specific embedded Linux variant - which is more or less what he ended up doing at Palm - instead of the current OS X derivative). Depending on who the disagreement was with (Forstall?), I really doubt that he'd be welcome back. His tenure at Palm wasn't exactly a roaring success either.

Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
And what about Avadis Tevanian, who at one point after the NeXT reverse buyout was Jobs' right hand man? They were both key engineers of Apple's resurgence in hardware and software respectively, and (damn, look at that) they both left the company in 2006 after getting poached by Elevation Partners.
Avie seems to have retired - that position at Elevation Partners came years after he left Apple (he certainly wasn't poached), and it seems he did pretty much nothing for those years inbetween. You need to have some time to spend all that money, you know - you can't take it with you.
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Oct 12, 2011, 10:50 AM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
He left due to disagreements about how to develop the iPhone (specifically, he bet very hard on doing a fork of a specific embedded Linux variant - which is more or less what he ended up doing at Palm - instead of the current OS X derivative). Depending on who the disagreement was with (Forstall?), I really doubt that he'd be welcome back. His tenure at Palm wasn't exactly a roaring success either.
Wow, Rubinstein wanted a for of Linux for the iPhone instead of OS X? That's crazy. Great info, P. Can I read more about that somewhere?

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Oct 12, 2011, 10:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Why do people always bring his name into the game?
1) He's likable.
2) They hope he would bring some of the hacky expandability of the Apple II to current Apple lines.
3) Cook isn't well known to a lot of people, so they're looking for a name they know.
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Oct 12, 2011, 01:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Which are …?
Less important than the one I brought up.

Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
What suits? Last time I checked, Apple wasn't run by suits and there were no conflicts between Steve Jobs and »suits« (presumably on the board of directors, I guess?). Why should there be conflicts now?
Q.E.D. That was because he was Steve. You haven't heard the stories where he delayed the iPhone launch because he said plugging in the headphones didn't make the right "click" sound, or that it was his insistence that the iPhone 4 was made of glass, even though every department had decided it not only would be plastic, but that it needs to be plastic?

Normal corporations don't operate that way.

Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Just because these two guys were instrumental in the early days of Apple doesn't mean they are important for Apple now.
This is circular. The people who Apple hasn't hired to captain the ship aren't important to them. True, but meaningless.

Likewise, you mention issues like lack of taste. Woz's strong suit is that he knows fun, not seduction. That's why you need people like Kawasaki too.

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Oct 12, 2011, 01:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
I wonder if Jon Rubinstein would be interested in coming back to Apple at some point in the near future
I get the impression he'd rather tie his dick in a knot.
     
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Oct 12, 2011, 02:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
Q.E.D. That was because he was Steve. You haven't heard the stories where he delayed the iPhone launch because he said plugging in the headphones didn't make the right "click" sound, or that it was his insistence that the iPhone 4 was made of glass, even though every department had decided it not only would be plastic, but that it needs to be plastic?
I've heard my share of Steve stories, so I know how involved he was in tiny details even experts may not know are there. I'm not arguing something isn't missing. I'm arguing I have no clue why people think Woz could fill that role. I don't think Woz is the type of guy who is interested in how something clicks.
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Oct 12, 2011, 02:26 PM
 
Apple should hire someone who is more of a showman then Tim Cook. I'm sure Tim is a great executive, and he's a fine communicator, but he doesn't Steve Jobs' presence up there.

Not many do, but surely they can find someone closer. Not to be CEO, just to give presentations.

That said, I sometimes wonder why they still do live stage shows for these roll outs. Why not film them in advance and stream them out to the web for everyone. Having a bunch of journalists fly out and sit in a little room, liveblogging your presentation out to the world just seems so backwards. I mean, you go through all this trouble of putting on a show, and then the world sees your show through the filter of a liveblogging tech journalist? Hammering the refresh button, getting their snarky comments... it just doesn't make any sense. It seems like a poor way to control your message.

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Oct 12, 2011, 02:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by Big Mac View Post
Wow, Rubinstein wanted a for of Linux for the iPhone instead of OS X? That's crazy. Great info, P. Can I read more about that somewhere?
Gruber has mentioned it on daringfireball a few times, around the time he left. It's not really absurd - he wanted an embedded OS similar to the old iPods, and didn't believe in the OS X downscaling project.
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Oct 12, 2011, 02:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I've heard my share of Steve stories, so I know how involved he was in tiny details even experts may not know are there. I'm not arguing something isn't missing. I'm arguing I have no clue why people think Woz could fill that role. I don't think Woz is the type of guy who is interested in how something clicks.
That's why I added Kawasaki.
     
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Oct 12, 2011, 02:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
he wanted an embedded OS similar to the old iPods, and didn't believe in the OS X downscaling project.
Hmm... Interesting. As a non-coder type, I might have assumed that going forward, sticking with OS X would make more sense esp. as iOS devices got more complicated and faster. Plus it would avoid some potentially sticky licencing issues.
     
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Oct 12, 2011, 03:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by ort888 View Post
Apple should hire someone who is more of a showman then Tim Cook. I'm sure Tim is a great executive, and he's a fine communicator, but he doesn't have Steve Jobs' presence up there.
I was slightly underwhelmed by Tim's debut Keynote the day he gave it, but in retrospect as others have also said he must have known how close Steve was to going and to hold it together the way they all did was nothing short of astounding. I think he deserves at least one more go before anyone writes him off. That on-stage charm and charisma comes with practice.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Oct 12, 2011, 04:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
Hmm... Interesting. As a non-coder type, I might have assumed that going forward, sticking with OS X would make more sense esp. as iOS devices got more complicated and faster. Plus it would avoid some potentially sticky licencing issues.
Downscaling a desktop OS is hard, though. There is this little company in Redmond that has been trying to do that for the last decade or so, to limited success. I was quite impressed when Apple did it - especially as OS X was never particularly lightweight.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
 
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