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Apple’s Ingenuity is Shifting Gears

This is not the Apple Inc. of the late Steve Jobs.

This blog post’s opening sentence is aimed directly at the surprising disclosure of development plans concerning evolving technology discussed in the recent interview above for the part-tech and part-lifestyle brand that is Apple. You’re likely recalling those iconic slideshow presentations when Steve Jobs was speaking/performing in front a packed auditorium in northern California’s Silicon Valley when he would suddenly reach into his pocket and reveal everyone’s favorite new gadget.

We all miss that suspense from the master of tech ceremonies.

But, as has been pointed out on Jimmy’s Daily Planet many, many times, Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs. For better or worse, that’s a fact. However, for a CEO not categorized as something damn near demiurge for 21st century technology consumer products, Tim Cook has proven to be among the best business leaders in the world. That’s also a fact.

There’s no risk with Tim Cook. Whether that’s been good or bad for Apple is for another blog post.

Returning to the video clip above of the interview with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang (a Silicon Valley favorite), a couple things were subtly revealed that should leave us wanting more. First, Mr. Cook appears to be feeling a bit of pressure (from investors, critics, reporters, their consumers, etc.) because why else admit a project that’s still “in the shop”? Or maybe automotive AI is only intended to serve as the obvious appretizer to something much grander and mind-blowing that shall remain hidden until suspense reaches its peak, as is the past tradition of Apple? Secondly, is automotive AI the best design path forward for empowering Apple consumers in the future?

Not to mention the implications and dangers of increasingly intelligent and widespread AI, as boldly illustrated in virtually any science-fiction book, movie or TV show ever made (cough cough Westworld).

Today, I will leave more questions than answers. Why?

Because perhaps Apple should be asking more questions as our society continues to undergo a massive (and equally uncertain, to put it lightly) digital transfer of power, of which it has played no small part. For a company made a global sensation for literally putting a surreal amount of high-quality information, entertainment and power into our hands, it seems abnormal to shift that same awesome power away from those very same hands.

Automotive AI may or may not be an automatic sell to Apple’s global consumer base. That remains the variable.

The constant is that consumers around the world will ultimately determine whether this evolving technology will find success on the right side of the road.

Is Tech Navigating a Roundabout Future?

Similar to Clark W. Griswold, the potential technological roundabout ahead may not have the easiest exit strategy. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is still in the TBD phase.

Literally.

But it’s intriguing nonetheless.

The innovative new headquarters for Apple, Inc. (at least there’s still some form of innovation still happening there) is receiving its finishing polishes as I write this sentence and as you are reading this awesomely intriguing sentence. Many have labeled the gigantic circular design as “space-like.” Actually, there’s some credence to that description. Recall the circular, clocklike spaceship in 2014 science-fiction epic Interstellar.

The sleek design and environmentally sustainable compound campus will likely serve as a model for future buildings in myriad industries (possibly including schools?), business mentalities (hopefully, not like the 2017 big brother film The Circle) and, brace yourself…

as a future handheld device?

Rumors surrounding any Steve Jobs-like inventions have been lacking under the Tim Cook era. Apple, for lack of a better word, has been grounded in recent years. Ironic that the new Apple HQ looks like a spaceship, right?

Was that deliberate?

Is it possible that Mr. Cook has been cooking up (had to) a new wave of Apple products right underneath our noses? My random Tuesday, May 16th hypothesis is that Apple might soon be releasing a product or line of new products that utilize the circular structure seen in the video above showcasing Apple’s new HQ in the near future. This is not to say that the next iPhone will be circular, but that some brand new product or series of products just may capitalize on the power of circular motion. Or that a new revolutionary feature in Apple’s products will take on a prominently round shape.

Why not? The symmetry between Apple’s daily lifestyle for its employees at the circular spaceship would be perfectly synched with the gadgets of its tech consumers spread around the globe. Plus, as Apple’s competitors are focused on the rectangular, square-like shapes for its devices, a circular product of some sort would stylistically one-up its rivals.

As they say, you can’t fit a round peg into a square hole.

Or vice-versa.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, could be Apple’s next insanely great competitive advantage.

Zero Degrees of Innovation?

Patterns only become patterns if something is repeated enough times.

And the following blog post will highlight impressive alumni.

Elon Musk is best known for his innovative work on Tesla cars and SpaceX. Tesla focuses on electric cars, which includes the Model 3 (starting at $35,000 before any tax breaks). SpaceX focuses on technology built and imagined for space ventures. Mr. Musk is viewed by many as a Steve Jobs-like thinker who is changing the game of transportation on Earth and in the stars. Part of the attraction to Mr. Musk’s way of thinking is that he breaks from conventional wisdom. Norms do not appear to impress Elon Musk.

For instance, listen to what he thinks of college degrees within the space of creativity, innovation and potential.

While it’s not quite as simple to declare a high school or college degree inconsequential, Mr. Musk’s point does raise valid concerns in attempting to view the potential of applicants. If a firm wants conventional results, then a conventional approach works. But if a firm wants unconventional results, then past ways of determining skill and potential demand revision and a procedural overhaul.

If only Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison had track records of success…

This Cabin Has Everything, Except a Fever

Nearly six years ago, Airbus conceptualized a vision for air travel in the year 2050.

With that being said, the following blog post will be equally awe-inspiring and depressing.

Air travel, as many might conclude, may have already experienced its “golden age” in terms of comprehensive comfort and luxury for all passengers. The 2002 film Catch Me If You Can by Steven Spielberg and the short-lived ABC television show Pan Am visualized this “golden age” of flying during the 1960s. While the “golden age” time-frame is debatable (then, now or sometime in between), travel is contingent on myriad factors. Typically, these factors are personal to each traveler, so it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact decade or time period to draw such a definitive conclusion.

To add fuel to this debate, Airbus decided to, back in June of 2011, imagine their ideal “golden age” of air travel…way, way into the future.

What do you think?

One thing is for sure: Airbus is quite savvy at creating demand, it’s just that whole “supply” part of the equation they’re missing. And, unfortunately, by the estimates predicted by Airbus, they won’t be delivering this post-modern flying experience for quite a while.

“Our research shows that passengers of 2050 will expect a seamless travel experience while also caring for the environment. The Airbus Concept Cabin is designed with that in mind, and shows that the journey can be as much a voyage of discovery as the destination. Whichever flight experience is chosen, the passenger of 2050 will step out of the Airbus Concept Cabin feeling revitalised and enriched.”
–Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering in June of 2011

For now, air travelers will just have to settle for those spectacularly low fares, spacious and comfortable seating, sharp-dressed and considerate passengers, extra-large overhead compartments, on-time departures and arrivals and a bevy of complementary services that enhance the flying experience.

On second thought, how long is it until 2050?