Apple: The Company or The Brand?

Let’s not bury the lede here. Apple announced a variety of new hardware and software today at their October event with new iPads, Macs, iLife updates, and a free upgrade to OS X. Together these products show Apple still at the forefront of the rapidly changing personal computing experience heralded by the launch of the iPhone. But the most notable change for the world’s most valuable brand is a fundamental shift in how they present themselves and what that implies for the future of the company.

The next version of OS X, Mavericks 10.9, was made available today with the customary bevy of new features. Nothing will knock your socks off here because OS X is such a mature desktop operating system that major changes are increasingly less frequent, but improved battery life (even on older hardware) and new desktop apps such as Maps and iBooks are the top line additions. As always there are under the hood technology updates such as improved memory and video memory handling. And with incremental feature improvements such as inline replies for notifications, Finder tabs and tags, and clean new app interfaces, Mavericks continues Apple’s steady march of continuous improvement. But with one difference: It’s free.

Not to be outdone by Mavericks, the Apple productivity apps get an update with new versions of iLife on the desktop, tablet, and mobile. iMovie and Garageband are updated for iOS 7 and Mavericks, and the music recording software gains an exciting new feature in Drummer with pro-quality drum sampling and sequencing. Keynote, Pages, and Numbers are upgraded. And the entire suite of creation tools gets a new price tag: Free with purchase of a new device. Are you noticing a pattern here?

Mac hardware also sees steady and evolutionary updates with improvements to the entire MacBook Pro line. Both the 13” and 15” models slim down, losing weight and size while gaining next-gen Intel chips, newer and faster PCIe flash memory, 802.11ac wi-fi networking, and Thunderbolt 2 for faster peripheral connectivity. Meanwhile at the pro end of the spectrum, the Mac Pro continues to make geeks like us drool with its killer specs and aesthetic. This beast can drive up to three 4K (super HD) displays and is capable of real-time 4K video editing. Everything gets faster and the prices come down for each model.

Finally, the iPad sees a fairly major update, shrinking down in this generation to become the iPad Air and gaining the 64-bit A7 chip and M7 motion coprocessor. The iPad Air now has 72 times the graphics performance of the original iPad. The iPad mini (my favorite iPad) gains a much desired Retina display and the A7 chip as well. Oddly no Touch ID in either device, though Apple continues to widen the personalization and customization options of the iPad accessory ecosystem with new covers and cases. Though competitors may be ahead of Apple in terms of pricing, the iPad family continues to be gold standard for tablet computing.

While today’s updates may not impress the markets or the casual Apple watcher, they go hand in hand with the transition of the Apple brand that began with the Designed by Apple in California campaign several months ago. Taken one at a time, none of today or this quarter’s updates will change the world. But taken as a whole, Apple continues to push forward the state of engineering and art. Just as renowned brands such BMW or Mercedes offer deluxe concierge services for free with their luxury products, Apple is doing the same with Mavericks and iLife to engage consumers in the Apple way. The same can be seen in iOS 7 and the iPhone 5c and 5s as Apple skipped the expectations of a “cheap” iPhone for an ever more integrated and thoughtful product experience.

No other company in this industry asks “what do we want people to feel?” and then attempts to answer the question. Because Apple is no longer a tech, or hardware, or software company. Apple is a lifestyle brand. ~ Product Desirability = Profitability

You first have to have the product and that will never, ever, change. Then you have to have the kind of brand image that is crystal clear to consumers, one unwavering in its execution and consistency. And if it’s dead-on – as Audi’s marriage of product and brand image is – then you’re able to create the fundamental desire for your product that will have people paying real money to acquire it.

via ~ the bare-knuckled, unvarnished, high octane truth….

AT: Why passwords have never been weaker

Why passwords have never been weaker—and crackers have never been stronger | Ars Technica.

I’ve been using Google 2-factor authentication for a while now, but this article convinced me to finally switch over to using a password manager (I’m using 1Password but there are plenty of other options) and strong unique passwords at all sites. The additional headache is well worth the peace of mind.

EPA: Is This the New Restaurant Row?

Is This the New Restaurant Row? | Table Matters

East Passyunk’s real neighborhood vibe, the authentic sense of place that has evolved organically, means that its restaurant scene is more than just the food. The area has drawn residents such as myself and my husband, for whom walkable access to terrific restaurants is an important quality of life metric. And it has attracted young chefs and restaurateurs flooded more with ideas than capital.

The convergence of all these forces has given Philadelphia a brand new Restaurant Row. Collectively, these places reflect the moods, trends, whims, wishes, and tastes of the era at hand. They also throw off waves of energy that inspire chefs citywide. The Philadelphia food zeitgeist has slipped south of Washington, and if it’s up to those of us who live and eat here, they’re not getting it back.

via Joy Manning: Is This the New Restaurant Row?.

The Phone Stack

It works like this: as you arrive, each person places their phone facedown in the center of the table. (If you’re feeling theatrical, you can go for a stack like this one, but it’s not required.) As the meal goes on, you’ll hear various texts and emails arriving… and you’ll do absolutely nothing. You’ll face temptation—maybe even a few involuntary reaches toward the middle of the table—but you’ll be bound by the single, all-important rule of the phone stack.

Kempt – The Phone Stack.

Rob Delaney: Funny Women

And I don’t feel like a feminist as I write this. I feel like a humanist. I am a comedian, and I am and will remain a consumer of comedy until the day I die, and I know in my bones that the funniest shit in the world was, is and will remain women and men working together. To suggest otherwise is ignorance. 

Rob Delaney: Funny Women.

Steve Jobs Almost Named The iMac The MacMan, Until This Guy Stopped Him

First, however, Steve gave us a challenge: We needed a name for this thing. C1 was on a fast track to production, and the name had to be decided quickly to accommodate the manufacturing and package design process. “We already have a name we like a lot, but I want you guys to see if you can beat it,” said Steve. “The name is ‘MacMan.’ ”

Great read on Steve Jobs and the power of a simple brand: Steve Jobs Almost Named The iMac The MacMan, Until This Guy Stopped Him | Co.Design.

2012 Brew-vitational results

Brew-vitational III Winners

Results of Craig Laban’s Third Annual Brew-vitational. The classic are all already on my go-to list, but I’ve yet to try any of the new beers.

ZeroN – Levitated Interaction Element

via ZeroN – Levitated Interaction Element.

Mike Birbiglias new short film from This American Life

Mike Birbiglias new short film from This American Life LIVE.