November 9, 2011

Ron Johnson, Apple’s former vice president of retail and the creator of the Apple Store, left for J.C. Penney November 1 and already he is picking industry veterans to join his leadership team at the Plano, Texas-headquartered department store chain. The Wall Street Journal reports that Johnson is tapping former Apple talent, including former chief financial office of Apple Retail Michael Kramer and Apple’s chief talent officer Daniel Walker.

Interestingly, it was Walker who helped Steve Jobs hire Ron Johnson to head Apple’s retail efforts. Both men served at Apple from 2000 to 2005. Granted, Walker and Kramer are both long-exited Apple people, but the temptation for current Apple talent to somehow make its way to Penney will always linger.

Sure, you might say who would  rather work at J.C. Penney rather than the most powerful, cool technology company in the world. But on a granular level, there might be high paying jobs with Johnson that Apple won’t match that could draw some top Apple talent.  Johnson himself is probably the best example of that.

There is also likely a non-compete clause in Ron Johnson’s severance agreement barring him from poaching Apple employees, but those are easily circumvented.  Just as Steve Jobs poached a bunch of his top Apple engineers to build out NeXT…
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August 26, 2011

Steve Jobs stepping down as the CEO of Apple has brought a lot of old stories out of the woodwork.  Bloomberg television, as they have for the last few days, interviewed Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne together, the two guys that started Apple with Steve Jobs in his parents’ garage – that was 35 years ago, guys. The interview, embedded above or available over at Bloomberg, is full of interesting little nuggets, such as how Jobs introduced Wozniak to Ron Wayne as “a person we could trust as an intermediary if we ever had disagreements”.

And because Ron had, in Wozniak’s words, “a mature adult mentality” and a clear sense of how companies are run, he drafted on a typewriter all the legalese of their partnership agreement that “looked like it came from a lawyer”. expand full story

June 23, 2011

From the earliest days Steve Jobs has tirelessly and continuously been molding Apple into a place where art meets form and technology. This romantic notion is still very much alive and embodied in the iconic products of today like iPad and iPhone, having especially become evident in Apple’s vision of tomorrow, the breathtaking (and incredibly expensive) Mothership spaceship campus. And Apple’s boss himself is being often deemed an artful storyteller and a masterful marketeer. You may have noticed how Jobs often wraps up his presentations with a huge street sign image depicting the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts streets.

“We’re not just a tech company, even though we invent some of the highest technology products in the world. It’s the marriage of that plus the humanities and the liberal arts that distinguishes Apple”, Jobs remarked at the end of the iPhone 4 introduction last summer. The message is consistent with a recent iPad commercial entitled “We Believe”, but also jives well with the now 14-year-old Think Different advertising campaign.

What you may have not known is that Apple’s product philosophy, their design language, the marketing and communications strategies and the collective DNA all stem from a single focal point, a random event from the early days when the technology bug had bitten the two Steves in Jobs parents’ garage. Addressing staff and students recently after receiving an honorary doctorate from Concordia University in Montreal, Dr. Steve Wozniak let us in on a secret, telling this (mark 1:18):

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June 3, 2011

Everyone’s favorite geek, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, always make great headlines and today’s business congress on Australian’s Gold Coast was no exception. The other Steve, as some call him, likened sophisticated machines we have created to “the superior beings”, adding:

We’re already creating the superior beings, I think we lost the battle to the machines long ago. We’re going to become the pets, the dogs of the house. Every time we create new technology we’re creating stuff to do the work we used to do and we’re making ourselves less meaningful, less relevant. Why are we going to need ourselves so much in the future? We’re just going to have the easy life.

Of course, this comes from the man who created the original Apple I and II computers that kickstarted the personal computer revolution in the mid-1970s. Following-up on his last month’s comment that the machines are already winning, he conceded to have partly joked, elaborating:

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May 10, 2011

As Apple is about to finally flip the switch on a massive 500,000 square feet datacenter in North Carolina, said to be one of the biggest in the world, TechCrunch heard the company’s rumored iOS 5 voice recognition technology is driven by Nuance Communications’ technology that runs in the Apple cloud. A formal announcement is expected next month at WWDC, the publication claims.

More specifically, we’re hearing that Apple is running Nuance software — and possibly some of their hardware — in this new data center. Why? A few reasons. First, Apple will be able to process this voice information for iOS users faster. Second, it will prevent this data from going through third-party servers. And third, by running it on their own stack, Apple can build on top of the technology, and improve upon it as they see fit.

Nuance is behind Dragon Dictation, a free iOS app enabling advanced voice recognition on iOS devices. The app is powered by the company’s NaturallySpeaking technology which turns spoken word into text via the cloud. It supports numerous global languages and is advertised as being five times faster than typing on a virtual keyboard.


Apple’s 500,000 square feet datacenter in North Carolina

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May 9, 2011


Steve Wozniak photo: Bob Pearce

Relax, he was referring to synthetic organisms with human-like looks and demeanor rather than Google’s software for handsets. Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder and the creator of the original Apple I and II computers from the mid-1970s, yesterday held an engaging commencement speech in front of the audience of Michigan State University graduates, as previously promised.

The beloved geek, the Woz gave the address alongside TIAA-CREF president and CEO Roger Ferguson Jr. Both men have received an honorary degree from the university. It was a typical commencement speech until the end, when the Apple employee #1 warned the machines are taking over. “We’ve created a new species, no question”, he said of computers and then quipped:

Every time we invent a computer to do something else, it’s doing our work for us, making ourselves less relevant. The cyborgs are winning! The androids are winning!

Check out a video clip of Woz’s speech after the break.

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May 7, 2011

In a strange slip up last November, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said that Apple had purchased Nuance Communications for its Speech recognition technology.  Apple, of course hadn’t, but the reason it was such big news was because the deal, on many levels, did make sense.

Nuance is the recognized global leader in speech recognition technology (and patents) and importantly provides the speech recognition capabilities behind the Siri Artificial Intelligence application that Apple purchased last year (which likely accounts the confusion in Woz’s statements).  Siri is expected to be a huge part of Apple’s iOS 5 which is due to be previewed at WWDC next month.  One significant current advantage of Google’s competing AndroidOS over Apple’s iOS is its OS-level integration of speech technologies and the resulting Voice Actions features.

Apple’s acquisition of Siri is seen as a way to not only match Google’s speech recognition but then leapfrog Google with Siri’s Artificial Intelligence (shown below):

The problem is that Apple doesn’t own the underlying speech technology and if you’ve followed Apple, you know that it likes to own and control the important technology it uses.  We discovered in December (just a month after the Woz slip up) that Apple was hiring all kinds of speech recognition scientists.  But is Apple building its own Speech recognition engine from scratch to take on the likes of Google and Nuance (who has been at this for decades)?  Probably not.

According to TechCrunch, Apple is significant negotiations with Nuance to either licence the software or even an acquisition of the company.

Apple has been negotiating a deal with Nuance in recent months, we’ve heard from multiple sources. What does that mean? Well, it could mean an acquisition, but that is looking fairly unlikely at this point, we hear. More likely, it means a partnership that will be vital to both companies and could shape the future of iOS.

At the time of the Woz slip up, the company was valued at $5B (though shares went a little nuts that day, sorry).  Today, Nuance is worth $6B and an acquisition would likely be much more costly.  Apple however, has been building up a cash horde for just such an occasion and now has ten times more than Nuance’s value in the bank.

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May 3, 2011

An interesting one from el Reg this evening.  At today’s ESC conference, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak dug into Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who he chided for stifling innovation.  Allen of course bought a patent engineering firm and is suing every technology out there for supposed patent violations.

“The other night Paul Allen was speaking at the Computer History Museum and I had four tickets. And I decided at the last minute not to go, because I remembered he’s suing all these companies like Apple and Google – but he’s not suing Microsoft – because he bought all these patents.”

From Wozniak’s point of view, Allen’s lawsuit will not help anyone except Allen and his lawyers. “Well heck,” he said, “Paul Allen should be out there investing in companies that are doing something, making products, actually making a new future for the world, and not ‘I’m … going to sue people, and get in bed with the lawyers to make my money.’ That’s not the right way.”

“It’s not really special what they come up with,.” he said, referring to patent-seeking teams of engineers. “But since you were a rich company, you can investigate [a technique] years before it’s going to be affordable for products. You could investigate it … and patent it, patent it, patent it.”

Woz then recalled that Apple had to pay RCA $5 or so for every one of the original Apple IIs for one such silly patent.

On the bigger picture, it is interesting how two number 2s could have turned out so diametrically opposed.  expand full story

April 8, 2011

Steve Wozniak, the beloved geek and gadget lover, would consider a return to Apple, the company he co-founded 35 years ago with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne, in an active role, if asked. He praised Apple’s string of smash hit products and opined that the company would benefit from being more open. He told Reuters this past Friday:

There’s just an awful lot I know about Apple products and competing products that has some relevance, some meaning. They’re my own feelings, though.

Another quote from the 60-year-old engineer who created the original Apple computers, about why Apple should be more open, right after the break…
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April 7, 2011


Steve Wozniak photo by dnelems21

Steve Wozniak, everbody’s number one geek, is scheduled to give a commencement address alongside TIAA-CREF president and CEO Roger Ferguson Jr., reports Detroit Free Press. The two will speak at the Michigan State University’s convocation on May 6 at 1pm and receive an honorary degree. Plus, both Ferguson and Wozniak will also speak at the University’s advanced degree ceremony at 7pm the same day.

We’re looking forward to Woz’s speech. Besides being an engaging speaker and the uber-geek, Woz often drops previously unknown tidbits about Apple. We wonder if he’ll go down the retrospection route like the other Steve did during the 2005 Stanford University commencement speech. Remember that one, about life and death and following your heart because it “already knows what you want to become”? Refresh your memory with that inspiring video right below the fold…

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April 5, 2011


Image credit: Tsevis

Here’s an interesting quote from the outspoken Apple co-founder and a “Dancing With The Stars” contestant Steve Wozniak. His take on tablets? They’re for Joe Schmuks, not us geeks, he conveniently told a group of enterprise storage engineers during a keynote session at Storage Networking World in Santa Clara, California. He said tablets are in this respect much like TVs:

The tablet is not necessarily for the people in this room. It’s for the normal people in the world.

He then added this on the subject of Android’s seemingly unstoppable growth:

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April 1, 2011

Today is April Fool’s day, folks. You’ve probably noticed a bunch of prank posts in your morning news flow, but this one’s not a joke. For those unfamiliar with it, Apple Computer, Inc. was launched on April 1, 1976. That makes the company 35 years old. Apple is now a global consumer electronics powerhouse that commands several lucrative verticals such as phones, music, digital entertainment and of course tablets and their blockbuster products have captivated consumers and caught competitors flat-footed, giving them a pause.

While the best is yet to come, I bet co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak didn’t think in their wildest dreams of gaining so much influence when they were agonizing over the first Apple I in the Jobs parents’ garage. So how did the two Silicon Valley geniuses build the most-valued technology company on the planet poised to soon beat Exxon Mobil Corporation in market valuation? Here’s an interesting overview of the key moments shedding light on how Apple came to be…

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January 31, 2011

Some fun facts on the 1984 commercial from Steve Hayden (via DF).

  • The brief for “1984” was simple: Steve Jobs said, “I want to stop the world in its tracks.”
  • We ran a 30- second version of “1984” in the top 10 U.S. markets, plus, in an admittedly childish move, in an 11th market—Boca Raton, Fla., headquarters for IBMʼs PC division.
  • “1984” also ran in theaters through ScreenVision. One theater owner was so enamored with it, he ran it for a month after the buy was over.
  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak saw the spot and offered to pay half the cost of running it out of his personal checking account.

In this light (or without it), it is dizzyingly uncouth that Motorola is going to even attempt to acknowledge that ad in their’s this week.

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December 22, 2010

Concerned about net neutrality and hold a little inner fear that one day access to the Web will involve tiered access with the ‘real’ Web almost impossible to get to?

Then be glad Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has taken time to tell an FCC net neutrality hearing to do the right thing and enact net neutrality rules that favor the people. expand full story

December 20, 2010

Apple’s job listings are usually a good indication of what’s to come and tonight Apple began searching for four engineers with a specific focus on voice technologies in iOS. These four positions (1,2,3,4) break up into an iOS Speech Application Engineer, two Speech Recognition Engineers, and a Senior Speech Research Scientist. With three different job types, all with a focus on voice recognition, Apple appears to be serious about this.

Are you looking to contribute to a product that is redefining the smartphone? The iOS Application Frameworks team is looking for an exceptional Speech Engineer. You will work with our team on a wide variety of speech-related development activities. We need a team player – you will be working closely with engineers on the Application Frameworks team as well as other teams at Apple – and we need someone who is comfortable working in a fast paced environment with rapidly changing priorities.

What is even more interesting is where Apple wants the potential applicants to have experience. Have you heard of Nuance’s voice recognition software? How about Google’s Voice recognizing Cloud used in Android OS? Well, Apple prefers the engineers working on iOS’s voice recognition to have “demonstrated experience with Nuance Recognizer, IBM WebSphere Voice, Google Voice Search, or similar voice search tools.”

You may recall Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak saying something about Nuance’s voice technology in connection to Apple, then denying it, or you may have heard about Apple’s acquisition of Artificial Intelligence company Siri. It seems to all be coming together now. Check out a video of Siri’s voice recognition software running on iPhone for a peek into iOS’s future.

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December 8, 2010

We told you earlier that CNN reported on Steve Wozniak having a white iPhone 4 and we’ve just found out it’s a fake! Reader Josh sent Apple’s co-founder an e-mail and here’s the reply:

This Chinese teen sold the white parts on the internet. I got in early (although the kid had already made $130K) and got my front and back plates and modified my iPhone 4.

Oh, and we thought Woz had connections.  Apple recently shut down that kid so it shows Woz is still going rogue.   expand full story

November 21, 2010

November 18, 2010

We’re hoping Steve Jobs doens’t kick his old Apple co-founder off of his Christmas card list for this, but Steve Wozniak today grabbed a few more million column inches when he said, Android will be the dominant smartphone platform.

Update: Engadget got a call from Woz, it appears that things aren’t exactly as they seem.  While Woz does acknowledge making comments about Android grabbing more marketshare than iPhone, he says that almost every app he’s used is better on iOS than Android.

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October 30, 2010

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