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In 1996 Dan Crow joined Apple Computer where he initially worked as lead software engineer on the Apple Media Tool. He was also manager of the HyperCard engineering team and the QuickTime applications team. He worked closely with Steve Jobs on the QuickTime Player application and was co-inventor of two software patents with Jobs. So when this credible talented engineer says he thinks that it's all downhill from here for Apple, I was a little surprised but willing to listen to his position which he laid out in great detail. Update: Dan Crow Responds


Dan Crow stated in his recent article that "Apple had Steve, the master product and marketing genius. He was the enforcer of Apple's quality and consistency. He used the advantages of a command-and-control organisation to amazing effect. He harnessed tens of thousands of employees to create his singular vision for the future of computing and communications. Through a combination of inspiration, fear and brilliance, he was able to transform the sad remnants of the Apple of 1996 into the greatest tech company of our time."


And while he still believes that Apple produces a range of exceptional and much loved products and employs many of the most talented designers and engineers on the planet, he thinks that "Apple has peaked and the story of the next few years will be one of a slow but real decline."


One of his many points covers Apple's "Maps" debacle by stating that suddenly Apple "is willing to give users a clearly worse experience to further its corporate interests - in this case its long-running dispute with Google."


"Worse still," states Crow, "Apple's hyperbole is now getting a long way ahead of reality. Now, Steve was famous for his "reality distortion field". I saw it up close and personal, and it was amazing. But Steve knew that when he turned on the hype, he needed an outstanding product to back it up. The reason he could seemingly bend reality to his will was that products like the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad really were exceptional, breakthrough products. Steve's showmanship was justified.


Compare that to the launch of the latest revisions of the iPad and iPhone. They are accompanied by amazing levels of hype: "I don't think the level of invention has been matched by anything we've ever done", "This is the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since the iPhone." Crow added "Don't get me wrong, the iPhone 5 is an excellent product; it's probably the best smartphone on the market right now. But it's only an incremental improvement over the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5 is better, but it's really not that much better."


He concludes his article by stating that while Apple "will create amazing new products and will continue to make bucket loads of money, the pace will slacken, more mistakes will happen and it will not return to the levels of execution and brilliance we saw in the first decade of this millennium. I may be wrong. I hope I'm wrong. But something tells me I'm not."


If you have the time, Dan Crow's detailed article is a worthy read  that shouldn't be missed. He's someone who worked with the late Steve Jobs, and I respect that. You may or may not agree with him but he airs out a lot of what Macites are really saying privately. I've heard these same arguments before and he's not alone. In fact, Ed Conway, the economics editor for Sky News, is another one who recently lashed out at CEO Tim Cook in a detailed rant that echoes some of what Crow covered and a lot more.


It's really difficult to figure out at this point in time whether these tell-all testimonies are part of a well-orchestrated marketing war against Apple or simply frustrated Macites who are angry as hell with recent developments and are willing to go public to make their positions known to Apple's management. How do you see it?


Update 11:55 AM MST:


Dan Crow was good enough to email me a few moments ago with the following comment:


"Thanks for the write up on my Guardian article. Regarding your last paragraph, I can assure you I am not part of an orchestrated marketing war against Apple. This was simply a write up of some thoughts I had following a recent Twitter conversation. These are just my thoughts, which I hope are of interest to a wider audience. I'd be delighted if Apple proves me wrong."


Update Nov 10, 2012:


About that "well orchestrated marketing war against Apple," that I hinted at in this report. A new report out this morning talks about this very point. Here's one quote: 


"Apple’s strongest asset is the power of its brand, and the historically valid  belief that Apple products are purchased by smart people who are well regarded.  This asset is being systematically destroyed, overtly by Samsung, covertly by  Microsoft and stupidity of Apple. "


You may or may not agree with Rob Enderle, and I hear some of you already grinding your teeth, the fact is you have to blind not see that there's an orchestrated marketing war against Apple. While I appreciated Dan Crow emailing me to say that he wasn't a part of this campaign, the timing of his article remains suspect. 



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Thanks for your thoughtful comment Jonathan.

I provided a link to his original article and told everyone it was a must read. The emphasis of the report was indeed about Dan Crow as a prominent engineer, not just an engineer. At the time they were key projects at Apple that he was head of and he was an engineer that worked with Steve Jobs. I respect his right to weigh in on Apple today.

I will one day air what Scott Forstall will have to say when he's legally able to speak about how his dismissal really came about. Just because they're ex-Apple engineers doesn't mean they're evil.

With that said, I did conclude by stating that you could agree or disagree with Dan because he did, in many ways, have a weak argument. I recently added an update to the report that still questions the timing of his article. In the end, his report was newsworthy because of his postion at Apple and by exposing it and questioning his motives allows us to air out what we think of Dan's position as you have.


I think one thing they're really failing to mention in this article is that yes, he was an Apple engineer a very long time ago, but he was also a Google engineer much more recently. In fact, he was at Google right at the time where the "AppleGoo" relationship deteriorated and became what it is today.

I'm not saying that he inherited the "hate Apple" attitude we see at Google now, but it's certainly something to consider. Lets be honest, his reasonings made me chuckle a little. Someone who was a key talent at Apple would never equate his reasonings to the imminent downfall of Apple, because if they were instrumental within Apple then they would know better. Maps is a reason Apple will die? Why, because they were in a position where they had no choice but to abandon GMaps, and wrote a very powerful and well-made application?

The issue with Maps isn't in the actual application technology itself, but in the production of data. A growing pain any new mapping service would need to go through to improve. But if you look at the actual application itself, what Apple built is incredibly well made. Beautiful cartography, beautiful 3D imagery, and an excellently implemented turn by turn feature. The core application itself blows away the previous one. The data and production of results is where the trouble lies, something easily fixed over time.

I think Apple need someone else with vision to help drive the development of new products at the company. Otherwise, I am not sure what kind of new products will emerge from them.

Apple has always been the leader in terms of computers and electronic devices of that nature. Without someone as creative as Jobs at the helm, the company will lose this distinction. They will continue to retain a loyal following of people who use the Mac and other devices but I am not sure that they will continue to capture the attention of new customers.

The other companies are working hard to gain ground in the market.

Well, Apple is just a company. Companies fall.

Thanks for your thoughtful input David.

However, I think that a blanket response such as "engineers don't understand Apple," is a bit much. Without a Steve Jobs to carry forward a vision, Apple's "Crazy Ones" are most certainly able to understand Apple and ensure to deliver the goods when pressed. They'll be called on more than ever to participate and contribute to great future ideas. Apple's inventions, that we cover religiously week-in and week-out, prove that out. Steve created the Crazy Ones ad to bring the best out of them. I'm sure that Dan Crow was one of them.


When Steve Jobs was CEO, he gave us iPhone (magic), iPhone 3G (just added 3G?), iPhone 3GS (finally video recording but still no front camera) and lastly the amazing iPhone 4 (third update of original iPhone). I think iPhone 5 is a much better upgrade than iPhone 3G/3GS did. iPhone 5 has a lot of tech breakthrough inside that consumers don't really see it but sure they can feel it (light, slimmer, LTE). So, it really takes time to have a breakthrough product that is so much better than its previous generations no matter who is the CEO. Some technology just not available at that time, like the retina display.

I agreed with David Douglas that engineers don't understand Apple. Otherwise, Sony would be the biggest tech company in the world just like Apple now.

However, engineers should know that it is much easier and quicker to copy others works and then give some new tricks to it. Samsung and Google is a good example. They can give us all the new excitements in their smartphones recently because most of the fundamental design and testings are already done by Apple. They just need to copy the idea and implement it with some of their own new ideas on top of it. Look at Google, their recent excitement for their search service is by adding Siri-like function. Do you see them giving us excitement EVERY YEAR in their search service? NO!

I think Apple needs to change their business model to have a better fight for consumer money. All the other tech companies could undercut Apple based on a different business model. Google is selling ad. Amazon is selling contents and Microsoft is selling software. They all use cheaper hardware price (and doesn't mean their hardware is bad) to attack Apple since Apple is a hardware company (for revenue) but Steve Jobs thought Apple was a software company that build easy to use software in a very beautiful hardware package.

In the next few years, this mobile battle will be the best in computing history. iPhone is just the beginning of the battle. Amazon's losing money business model really stir up the dust. I hope Apple won't lose in this battle at the end. I really hope company who did their innovation and invention should get their reward, not killed by a bunch of copy-cats.

Engineers (Steve wasn't an engineer) don't understand Apple. This guy is just taking advantage of an overly attentive audience. Patently Apple, don't forget the iWallet patent which was approved in March this year. That's going to be important.

It's either Apple or Microsoft people, Google is their own thing, and Microsoft isn't it. Apple will push the Jetsons straight into reality you just watch.

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