The Talk Show

361: ‘A Fit of Pique’, With Federico Viticci


00:00:00   Federico, it is so good to hear your voice. I do hope that after the show,

00:00:05   the world goes a little bit better than it did the last time you were on. Do you remember?

00:00:13   Oh my gosh, that was right. Was that right before the lockdowns? Like, I remember we were talking,

00:00:22   like, is this going to last for a few months? Like, that was spring 2020.

00:00:28   Yeah, the last time you were gracious enough to be the guest, my guest on this show was at the

00:00:34   end of February. The show probably came out in the beginning of March, I didn't check, of 2020.

00:00:39   And Italy was going through, at the time, seemed to have an abnormally

00:00:46   large problem with, have you heard of it? It's called, it was called COVID-19.

00:00:52   No.

00:00:53   It was a novel coronavirus.

00:00:58   Oh gosh.

00:00:58   And in hindsight, I cannot believe how much at the time I just chalked it up to, well,

00:01:07   I feel bad for all of my friends in the old country of Italy, that they've had such rotten

00:01:13   luck with this, as opposed to what in hindsight was clearly, Italy is just going first.

00:01:20   Yeah, and I remember having the conversation with you about like,

00:01:23   "Do you think Apple is going to postpone WWDC?" And I remember you saying, "Well,

00:01:28   no, I don't think they are. I think they can still pull off an event." And then, of course,

00:01:32   we know how that went.

00:01:33   I was, like much of the world, at that two-week period before all the shutdowns, far,

00:01:40   I don't even, I was going to say optimistic. I think a better word would be naive and in denial

00:01:48   about how significant it was. But really, it's quite, quite a lot has happened outside the area

00:01:56   of Apple technology design, all the stuff we talked about since the last time you were on.

00:02:01   I hope you're, I mean, I hope that like, it's funny because you're, we're recording this

00:02:06   literally the day after Elon Musk took over Twitter. So I'm not sure if this is like another

00:02:12   one of those things, like what's going to happen before, like if you ever invite me back, like,

00:02:17   is this like a bad sign? Am I bad luck for global events whenever I come on the talk show? I hope

00:02:23   not. Oh, gosh. That was…

00:02:26   Right. This could be this Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter could be the COVID-19 of your

00:02:33   appearance this week, where I'm hopelessly naive and I'm thinking, "Hey, I think this actually

00:02:38   could be just what the doctor ordered for Twitter and it could be, could well be in hindsight,

00:02:43   the beginning of Twitter turning into…" It's funny because he, even he used the word "hellscape"

00:02:49   yesterday in an open letter he posted to Twitter advertisers that he does not want Twitter to

00:02:55   become a quote unquote "hellscape". Well, he does not want that for sure. Like that's the, again,

00:03:03   the optimistic and naive maybe point of view. I don't know. I honestly don't know what to think

00:03:08   about that. Like, yeah, we might as well talk about it first. I mean, it's one of the things

00:03:11   I want to talk about. Because like I'm opening my timeline this morning and I see it kind of

00:03:19   feels like living on the cusp of the end of times in many ways. Like I see all these people saying,

00:03:24   "Well, it's been fun. You can find me on other places." And then there's other people saying,

00:03:29   "Oh, I want to be optimistic. I think we've lived through many eras of bad Twitter management

00:03:34   before. We might as well see what happens now." And I'm obviously I think I owe a lot to Twitter,

00:03:40   right? That's the like the underlying sentiment that I have is I can honestly say that I wouldn't

00:03:47   be here today without this social network. Like all the people that I've met, all the connections

00:03:52   that I've made, I can all the friendships that I have in real life as far as my work is concerned,

00:03:58   like all these people that I have met through Twitter. So like there's immense value. There's

00:04:02   always been immense value for me in the social network aspect of Twitter, in the professional

00:04:07   aspect of it. And to think I'm very sad about the idea that, well, maybe that's just gone now and

00:04:13   it's all going downhill and it will be a hellscape for quote unquote free speech. I don't like

00:04:19   thinking about that. And then I also I read your post about it. Maybe to an extent it is what

00:04:27   Twitter needed, like this sort of hard reset. It just that optimistic point of view also comes with

00:04:34   the fear, right? With the concern that given the man who bought it and some of the views that he

00:04:43   has about free speech and restoring access to certain kinds of users, I can understand why

00:04:49   people are concerned. And I don't know. It is complicated. And I do not mean to I'll be,

00:04:56   I may come across as slightly flippant here. I am trying to be optimistic about it. I do think

00:05:04   one thing I feel strongly about, and I know it's counterintuitive in some ways. I do think Elon Musk

00:05:14   is somebody who in general, you can't necessarily take him by his, what he tweets or what he says

00:05:28   when he shows up on a podcast, like when he was on the Joe Rogan podcast a couple years ago.

00:05:35   It's like saying that rain is wet. He likes the attention. And you kind of get the feeling,

00:05:50   it's kind of obvious that if a couple of weeks go by and he hasn't gotten attention, he will do

00:05:55   something just to get attention. And most people don't go through life that way. It's also true.

00:06:06   Now, I don't think this is maybe a poor analogy because I don't think Elon Musk is a grifter or

00:06:14   a scam artist. But it's the reason that human beings throughout history have often been susceptible

00:06:23   to scams in general, because most people are naturally honest and have a sort of default

00:06:33   to thinking that other people are honest. It just wouldn't occur to people to scam another person.

00:06:40   And that's why people fall for, like famously, I mean, it's an ongoing problem. And it often happens

00:06:47   to older people who are less technically adept, but they'll get some kind of email, like a phishing

00:06:52   scam. And it says, "Hey, you've got a problem. You should call this phone number to talk to

00:06:58   Microsoft tech support." And if they fall for it and call, they get talked through installing a

00:07:04   key logger or some kind of one of those remote desktop apps so that the attacker now has control

00:07:10   over their computer. And people just sort of get sucked into that. Now, again, I'm not saying Elon

00:07:16   Musk is a scammer, but I do think though he says certain things and people take him at his word for

00:07:24   it. And I don't know that's what he means. And along those lines, I believe in absolute free

00:07:32   speech and opposing viewpoints should be able to post stuff to Twitter, stuff that right now,

00:07:40   you might get suspended from Twitter for posting, you would be allowed to post under Elon Musk. I

00:07:49   think to some degree that is going to happen, but how far he's going to take it, I'm not sure

00:07:54   that we should take him at his word for it. Yeah, because there's also like, at some point,

00:08:00   you run into the government paying attention to you, right? Like it's funny, all the memes and

00:08:04   all the jokes that he posts, like that's fun and you get the attention and you get the retweets.

00:08:09   But then when it comes to, okay, now you actually need to run the business and now you're getting

00:08:14   subpoenaed for obtaining certain user records and then you need to appear in court. And then

00:08:19   there's the European government coming after you. That's like, well, not the European government,

00:08:23   but the European Union. There's the Italian government. Like then it becomes actual work

00:08:27   and you need to put in the actual work if you want to run a business. I mean,

00:08:30   or you could just say, you know what, whatever. I don't care. I'm just, I bought Twitter. I'm going

00:08:35   to, I'm going to remove, I'm going to reverse all of these lifetime bans that were applied

00:08:40   and I'm going to see what happens. That doesn't sound to me like a solid business plan, business

00:08:45   plan, like to see what happens. Like, sure. He likes, as you said, he likes the attention

00:08:50   and there are going to be like short term. I mean, Kanye West has already been reinstated, right?

00:08:55   Like, so short term over the next few days and weeks, like this is going to happen. But then

00:09:00   what it actually means in terms of a com, like a private company doing this over and over for

00:09:07   several months, like at some point there needs to be some degree of new guidelines and new practices

00:09:14   in place for Twitter. Because he also said like, I don't want this to become a hellscape, but if you

00:09:18   just do, if you just reverse previous decisions, that's what's going to happen. So maybe he has a

00:09:24   solution in mind. I'm sure he has a solution in mind. And again, what he tweets and what he

00:09:30   actually does in practice, I mean, look at his track record, right? All the things he said about

00:09:34   Tesla Autopilot and where we are today with Tesla Autopilot. Like he likes to say many things and

00:09:40   to a degree, like many, many times he said some things and his employees at his various companies

00:09:46   don't even know about the things he's talking about. His persona, I guess, is very different

00:09:51   from the actual reality of the businesses that he runs. So that'll be fascinating to see in a

00:09:59   company that is not about a product, like a physical product you're selling, like a car.

00:10:04   This is about a communications platform. So what does that actually mean? Where Elon Musk says,

00:10:09   "Oh, Kanye West is back. Trump is back. I don't care. All these users who wear shadowbanned or

00:10:14   search banned before, we're going to remove all those restrictions." Okay, great. Then what?

00:10:19   Like, what's the plan? Like, you need to make money, but are you going to make money if a bunch

00:10:25   of your most loyal users leave? Like you said, it's complicated. But I do agree that his persona

00:10:33   does not necessarily reflect on the actual business decisions of the service. At least

00:10:38   that's the hope. It's also the case that if you just take a step back and really think about it,

00:10:44   it is so far beyond my understanding, my ability to comprehend the sum of money.

00:10:52   Somebody spending $44 billion. And I know he didn't just write a check and take it out of his

00:10:58   bank account. It's not a cash transaction. He's got loans and borrowing money from banks,

00:11:03   and there's various other partners. But just a massive amount of money. And going from a

00:11:08   publicly held company to a privately held company does not happen very often, at least to major

00:11:15   companies that we've all heard of. Again, he's just such a... He is, whether you like him or not.

00:11:23   And there's certainly aspects of him that I find just overall distasteful. And I don't think that...

00:11:30   I think overall, I don't like Elon Musk. And I think there's lots and lots of people who agree

00:11:39   the same way. It's just, he's not my type of person. But at the same time, I have to admit,

00:11:44   I admire his accomplishments. I mean, going all the way back to PayPal, where he first

00:11:50   made his fortune. PayPal, for all my complaints about it, and it's just one of those... It's a lot

00:11:56   like Twitter. We all have complaints about it. But it truly did change the world and was the first

00:12:03   sort of, "Hey, wouldn't it be great if we could just send each other money

00:12:07   securely and reliably across the internet and across borders?" And as much as he says

00:12:14   things that don't come true and that he seems outright dishonest, the Tesla auto driving,

00:12:20   or whatever they call it, is certainly the primary example. He's also made outlandish

00:12:25   claims about the boring company, which is, again... In some ways, it's like he spent...

00:12:33   These are massive billions and billions of dollars endeavors, but he likes to have fun and make jokes

00:12:40   and selling or buying Twitter at $54.20 a share so he can put $4.20 in as a reference to marijuana.

00:12:52   And did the same thing before with Tesla, where he had proposed maybe taking Tesla private and that

00:12:59   he had secured funding at $420 a share. Who does that? Who's... Him. But at the same time,

00:13:08   he has done these things. Teslas really are cars that people love. The existence of Tesla

00:13:16   as a company has single-handedly greatly advanced the entire world of personal transportation's

00:13:25   transition away from fossil fuels and towards electric drives. It's something we obviously...

00:13:33   It is literally the climate crisis cannot be overstated as one of the top problems,

00:13:40   generational problems that will be with us for the rest of your and my entire life. It has been

00:13:47   a crisis ever since everybody out there who's listening to this, since we were born. It's

00:13:52   going to be with us for decades to come. And it can't be overstated how important it is. And

00:14:00   electric cars are a big part of trying to save the... Literally save the world.

00:14:05   And I know that sounds like hyperbole, right? It sounds like every time I hear blah, blah, blah,

00:14:11   save the world, you figure it's some kind of blockbuster Avengers movie with a kids' movie

00:14:19   with lots of superheroes and $100 million, $200 million budget full of special effects and some

00:14:25   kind of ridiculous plot. But it can be real. There are save the world problems and it's one of them.

00:14:32   He's actually got a company that makes rocket ships that really do go into space. He has a

00:14:39   company with actual communication, low earth satellites that really do work and are helping

00:14:47   to keep the people of Ukraine in contact with the rest of the world over the internet as their

00:14:55   ground-based infrastructure is attacked by Russia. These are real things that are really important,

00:15:04   and yet he's kind of a goofball. Right?

00:14:56   Yes. So that's the thing. And I share your perspective. I dislike the person. I mean, obviously,

00:15:14   I don't think you know Elon Musk personally. I don't know Elon Musk personally. What I know about

00:15:19   him, I know from the things he posts and the things he says. And I share your perspective of

00:15:23   I dislike the person that I see on the internet, but I respect his accomplishments. Right? I mean,

00:15:29   provided that once you establish the baseline of like, is capitalism okay? Assuming that it is

00:15:34   okay, I respect his business accomplishments. And to an extent, this reminds me of the very

00:15:40   old question of like, can you separate the art from the artist? Right? Can you enjoy a piece of

00:15:46   art, whether it's a movie or a song or a book, even though it was made by an absolute jerk

00:15:52   of a person? Like, can you enjoy art that was made by the most despicable person ever? Really

00:15:58   complicated question, right? But in that case, I think when it comes to art, by and large, art is

00:16:07   pretty safe in terms of potential damage to other people. Like, if you don't, if you say, no, I

00:16:13   cannot separate the artist from the art, then it's mostly okay. You just don't read the book or you

00:16:19   just don't watch the movie or you don't play the video game. By and large, it doesn't harm anybody.

00:16:24   Now, this is a simplification, but bear with me. The problem with I don't like the person who also

00:16:32   runs a very popular social network, like that becomes very problematic and concerning, because

00:16:39   people like me and you, I would say, like, overall, we usually don't run the risk of getting harassed

00:16:47   or having people dox us online. Like, people like me and white men on Twitter, basically, like,

00:16:52   it's pretty safe. So even if I don't like Elon Musk, well, what's going to happen to me, right?

00:16:57   What's, how are the decisions that Elon Musk is going to take for Twitter, how are those going to

00:17:03   affect me personally? And I can say, well, I'm mostly going to be okay, even though I don't like

00:17:08   the guy, nothing's going to happen to me. And I don't think, because I come from a position of

00:17:12   privilege from that point of view, I don't think the same is true for all kinds of other people,

00:17:18   which I think is where, rightfully so, a lot of folks are concerned because they cannot separate

00:17:24   the guy who bought the company from the company and the potential harm. It's all about the

00:17:31   potential harm that certain decisions are going to cause. And I also respect that point of view.

00:17:38   I love that point. And I do think that you've put your finger on that being able to separate art

00:17:43   from artists and like Roman Polanski, people, a lot of people feel the same way, you know,

00:17:48   and where do you draw the line? Is it the director, Roman Polanski, director of some absolutely

00:17:54   historically renowned films, but what do you, if you choose not to watch any of his movies because

00:18:02   of absolutely appalling sexual abuse crimes that he committed decades ago, what are you accomplishing?

00:18:11   Right? I personally can easily separate art from artists and it doesn't keep me from enjoying their

00:18:18   work or make me less likely to want to watch them. And I don't necessarily, I don't really feel,

00:18:23   I know some people think, well, I don't want them to profit at all. I don't know how that works.

00:18:27   I don't know when I rent or buy a movie from iTunes. If I look and see that I don't own

00:18:33   Chinatown on iTunes and I buy Chinatown for $9.99 or $15, how much of it actually goes to Roman

00:18:41   Polanski? I don't know. I can completely disassociate from that, but I also completely

00:18:48   respect somebody who says, I'm not contributing. I can't enjoy a movie if I know somebody did that,

00:18:53   but where do you draw the line? You can look at somebody, then you look at somebody like

00:18:57   Harvey Weinstein and he didn't direct any movies. He's a producer, but the list of movies that his

00:19:05   name is in the credits as a producer for is as long as your arm. And now what do you say? You're

00:19:09   not going to watch any of those? Where do you draw the line? Do you not buy? I know people personally

00:19:16   who, or at least I see them on Twitter, of all places, Twitter, which he now owns, Musk has said

00:19:22   things and I've seen people tweet, whether it's true or not, or they're just having a fit of peak,

00:19:27   say, "I have a Tesla and I'm selling it," or "I was in the market for a car and I was thinking

00:19:33   about buying a Tesla, but definitely not, won't even consider it. I want nothing to do with the

00:19:38   guy." It's complicated, right? Yeah. Yeah. And I think another great example of this is,

00:19:44   I don't know if you've been keeping an eye on this, but the whole,

00:19:48   all the things that JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, that the things that she's

00:19:53   been saying when it comes to trans rights and women's rights. And that is a great example of

00:19:58   this. Like for many people, her tweets and posts and her claims have really soured the whole

00:20:06   relationship with the Harry Potter franchise, which is the kind of franchise that millions

00:20:11   of people grew up with, myself included. And drawing the line, it's complicated,

00:20:17   but I keep coming back to this. I think obviously anybody's free to enjoy whatever they want.

00:20:22   But I also think it's important to listen to the folks who are saying,

00:20:26   "This franchise, in a way, is indirectly or maybe directly harming people like me." And I say this,

00:20:33   I have some really close friends of mine who are saying, "Please do not support anything out of JK

00:20:39   Rowling because all the rights, the money and the royalties that she makes go into her bank account,

00:20:44   and she's not the kind of person that I cannot accept her because she's, in a way,

00:20:48   she's ruining my life." And I understand that perspective, but it's also true that it's very

00:20:55   complicated to explain this to people and to tell each one of them, "Oh, you need to draw the line

00:21:04   here." I was recently, just a couple of weeks ago, at a comic book convention here in Rome. And

00:21:10   you wouldn't believe the amount of people there who were in Harry Potter costumes,

00:21:15   or going to the Harry Potter stand to buy merchandise and to buy movie posters and books

00:21:21   and action figures and whatever. It's still a massive franchise. But then you talk to other

00:21:27   people, and they absolutely cannot stand JK Rowling anymore. They're not reading Harry Potter anymore.

00:21:34   They're not going to see the new movies because of her public persona. And this is a very old

00:21:40   problem, right? I think this kind of problem has existed forever. I think it's more of a public

00:21:45   problem now because, for obvious reasons, we're all more connected. Everybody with a Twitter account

00:21:52   can say things. JK Rowling likes to say things. Elon Musk likes to say things. And the same can

00:21:57   be said of other musicians, movie directors, writers. And so, I don't think there's a single

00:22:04   answer to this. I think it's just important that we... First of all, we gotta see what happens in

00:22:12   terms of, to go back to Twitter, we gotta see what happens. But we also gotta keep an open mind and

00:22:17   listen. I think listening to people, for example, on Twitter, if Elon Musk makes a decision that is

00:22:22   going to affect people of a certain group, and those people say, "Since this decision, now I get...

00:22:29   Let's talk very practical terms. Now I'm getting harassed again. Now I'm getting DMs from strangers

00:22:35   who are doxxing me online." We gotta listen to those problems and we gotta keep an eye on those

00:22:40   problems, those very practical consequences that maybe people like you and I will not see,

00:22:46   will not experience, but they are true regardless. Now, historically, Twitter never had a great track

00:22:52   record in terms of managing abuse. And probably they've gotten better over the past few years,

00:22:58   but they've done things that arguably they should have done years ago. Is Elon Musk going to improve

00:23:04   this? Is Twitter as a company going to become a much more agile company in dealing with these

00:23:09   problems? We'll see. But all this to say, I understand the concern, I think.

00:23:16   Ted

00:23:25   I genuinely believe that Twitter is overall, and like you, it has changed my life and has

00:23:33   enabled me to be more in touch with the people who read my work and who listen to this show,

00:23:42   than I would be in the hypothetical alternate world where Twitter never existed. It is, and

00:23:48   always has been, the closest Daring Fireball's ever had to having comments. And I think it actually

00:23:53   has, in the large, worked out far better. I can't imagine how it would have been better.

00:24:00   Or it continues to be that I write a couple of dozen posts a week, and when somebody wants to

00:24:06   comment on them publicly, they can just @ me on Twitter or reply to an @DaringFireball automatic

00:24:12   post. And I read all of them. It is easier and I enjoy keeping up with my mentions on Twitter

00:24:19   than I do reading email. I'm far more likely to be at mentions zero than I am inbox zero.

00:24:26   And I enjoy it. I enjoy the back and forth and engaging with them. And to me, it works out better

00:24:34   than having the comments actually on the site. I don't know. So I really do hope it works out.

00:24:40   I do think, fundamentally, that being a publicly held company that rose alongside Facebook,

00:24:50   which was so much more successful financially, and at a very superficial level was therefore,

00:24:58   by the investors in the business class, viewed through a face—made Twitter to be viewed by

00:25:05   investors through a Facebook prism. Why can't you be more like Facebook? And decades ago,

00:25:12   in the '90s, when Apple was in serious financial trouble and near bankruptcy and under threat to

00:25:23   be acquired—I mean, the weird, hard to believe this is true—could have been acquired at the snap

00:25:32   of a finger by Sun Microsystems and just wasn't solely because—I think it was Scott McNeely was

00:25:40   the CEO of Sun at the time in the mid-'90s. And he just thought Apple was so—it would have been

00:25:46   an inconsequential amount of money for Sun at the time to buy Apple. They had the deal in place.

00:25:52   It wouldn't have been a big deal financially. And they didn't do it simply because he was

00:25:56   so pessimistic about any possible future for Apple that, why bother? And where's Sun today?

00:26:03   Forgotten, right? Largely forgotten. If you're young enough, you're like, "Sun,

00:26:09   I don't remember what they did." Right? Could have been amazing. Just amazing how close we are to not

00:26:15   having Apple exist because Microsoft at the time was so phenomenally successful compared to any

00:26:22   other software-oriented company. And Windows was so not just dominant, but dominant and growing.

00:26:29   And as the internet exploded from an obscure university-only research-wide area network to

00:26:38   the communication and open standard of the whole world, the business world saw Apple through a

00:26:44   Microsoft-like prism and was like, "Well, if Microsoft is making a zillion dollars by licensing

00:26:50   their operating system to anybody who will pay for it and let dozens and dozens of companies

00:26:55   make computers, that's what Apple should do too." Right? And it's so obviously wrong. It seemed

00:27:03   wrong to me at the time for Apple to go that path. But the pressure was so strong and Apple was in

00:27:10   such dire straits that eventually they did it. They actually started a system and a licensing program

00:27:16   where there were Mac clones. Again, it sounds bananas. And if you're young enough that you

00:27:21   didn't live through it or you weren't paying attention to Apple at the time, you weren't a Mac

00:27:26   user. It just seems like a historical curiosity. But for me, who was already a diehard Mac user at

00:27:31   the time, it was as bananas as it sounds today that Apple of all companies was licensing the Mac

00:27:37   operating system to clone makers. Twitter similarly has suffered so much, I think, under just the

00:27:44   basic high-level viewpoint of this company should be more like Facebook. And they're not. It's such

00:27:52   a superficial comparison, but they've suffered so greatly. So going private frees them from any sort

00:27:58   of pressure like that and Musk can truly do what he thinks is best for the company. I think there's

00:28:03   so much potential there. And he is smart and is successful with so many ways. And I think he

00:28:11   obviously, and as goofy as this whole acquisition saga has been and the back and forth and the,

00:28:17   "I don't want to do it anymore because now the whole stock market's down. I want to back out

00:28:21   of this." It seems so unprofessional and not the way $44 billion acquisitions are supposed to play

00:28:28   out. But you know he's not taking it lightly. It's a dead serious acquisition of a truly massive

00:28:34   amount of the man's personal wealth. I wouldn't count him out and I'm definitely not betting

00:28:38   against him. That's where I am. All right, let me take a break here and thank our first sponsor.

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00:31:30   heartedly. Let's go from Elon Musk, the most interesting flippant and seemingly driving down

00:31:37   the road at a high speed while texting and not looking at the road to the most careful,

00:31:47   choreographed, seemingly never says anything out of line ever, CEOs, Tim Cook. And think about Apple.

00:31:55   Apple had their financial quarter. I'm not a business podcaster as much as we just spent

00:31:59   talking about, but Apple reported their results yesterday as we record. And in a very shaky

00:32:06   worldwide economy where a lot of companies have been reporting results that have precipitously

00:32:12   affected their stock price. I know Facebook, speaking of Facebook's results from two or

00:32:17   three days ago resulted overnight and off hours trading in a 20% drop in their stock price.

00:32:24   Apple's results were very strong. A little bit of growth year over year across the board. I think

00:32:29   iPads were the only ones that were down. Max rep 5%. And largely, I believe it's 600 basis points.

00:32:38   I forget what basis points mean. I think you divide by, I think it means 6% basically,

00:32:45   but that's the, they call them head in business speak currency headwinds.

00:32:50   Max Well, the headwinds. Yeah.

00:33:18   The prices for like, I can tell you that I went to the Apple store a couple of days ago to buy

00:33:23   one of those regular smart folios. So the one without the keyboard, just the cover,

00:33:28   it's 150 euros. No, 125 actually. So I'm at the cash register and the guy's like, okay,

00:33:34   it's 125. And my girlfriend looks at me, she's like, are you crazy? 125 for a cover. So yeah,

00:33:41   the prices are high in euros right now. Yes. And it's super frustrating too. And one

00:33:48   one weird or unique aspect of Apple compared to so many other companies is that for Apple,

00:33:55   the price of products is sort of it. I think the best way to look at it is they consider the price

00:34:04   as part of the brand as much a part of the brand as the packaging as the name of the product.

00:34:10   And when they say the MacBook Air starts at 999 for the M one generation MacBook Air with the

00:34:19   old form factor, that 999 price stays, you can bank on it until they come out with a new MacBook

00:34:26   Airs, whether that's next summer or next fall, however long it is. Dell famously is the opposite

00:34:32   and RAM prices go up and next week, the same laptop that will cost $1,241 this week,

00:34:40   because RAM prices went up next week, it's $1,329 and just oddball unround prices that just reflect

00:34:49   the way component prices cost currency prices fluctuate, stuff like that. Whereas Apple picks

00:34:55   prices there, the price is usually part of the brand 999 or $449 for the new regular iPad.

00:35:03   Yeah, we talk about their prices almost as if they are features of the product itself,

00:35:09   like the price points. We have so many conversations on all the podcasts,

00:35:13   like the price points are part of the product. And yeah, they're like features. And yes,

00:35:19   I agree with that. But the disappointment of that is for people outside the US,

00:35:25   it's like these prices that are set where you're buying smart folios without even a keyboard are

00:35:32   100, what'd you say? 150 euros or 125 euros. It's going to be that price going forward,

00:35:39   no matter what happens, even if the dollar and the Euro come back more into alignment

00:35:44   where they've been traditionally, that's still going to be the price. And it hurts. In this

00:35:50   world, Apple still reported a good quarter. They are, again, it's an interesting contrast

00:35:56   where in some ways, Tim Cook really could be considered the opposite of Elon Musk, right?

00:36:03   When is the last time Tim Cook has ever said anything surprising or controversial or out of

00:36:10   line? It's really hard to imagine, honestly. And the most unusual and personal thing he's ever done

00:36:19   was, and at this point, it's so far in the past where it's hard to remember how profound it is,

00:36:23   was when he came out publicly as gay and wrote about it. And up until that point,

00:36:30   there was speculation, widely speculated that he was gay. It didn't come as a surprise or out of

00:36:36   the blue when he came out publicly. And it never seemed like he was not out as gay out of any sort

00:36:46   of embarrassment about it. He's just private. He's just obviously, and even since, he's just

00:36:52   obviously an extraordinarily private person. It's the most private thing he's ever revealed.

00:36:57   His reasons for it are so admirable where he very clearly said the thing that really motivated him

00:37:03   to do it was the knowledge that there are so many young people, including kids, who know inside that

00:37:11   they're gay and don't know what to do and can use somebody, a role model, like somebody who grew up

00:37:17   in the very conservative US South, Alabama, which it's hard to emphasize just how conservative that,

00:37:24   by any measure of politics inside the US or worldwide, how conservative that is.

00:37:29   Just terrific, really. And it's something that we can all look up to him for having done. But

00:37:34   other than that, what else has he ever done that gives any clue into how he really feels or acts?

00:37:41   Nothing. No. I mean, the one bit of emotion that we maybe saw out of him was when he waved the

00:37:48   checkered flag at the racetrack a couple of weeks ago. I mean, I wouldn't know how... I cannot recall

00:37:58   a moment where Tim Cook kind of, he opened Twitter and he tweeted something random. No, he never does

00:38:04   that. It's very much in direct contrast with not just Elon Musk, but other CEOs, right? I mean,

00:38:11   there are other tech companies that are very much, well, more open, maybe doesn't describe it,

00:38:19   but it's almost as if his public persona is also a reflection of the culture of the company.

00:38:26   Just the secrecy, but just to tell you just enough, just the things you need to know.

00:38:32   Sort of remove that aspect from the conversation. You don't need to know about Tim Cook's personal

00:38:37   life. You probably don't need to know about Tim Cook's personal belief on things. I find it

00:38:42   fascinating, but it also seems consistent with the company because I think it would be weird

00:38:49   and it would be very strange, very odd if Tim Cook just started saying things.

00:38:58   I don't know, but just, it's almost as if I wouldn't imagine Tim Cook just replying to

00:39:02   random people on Twitter and, or saying things like, "Oh, this new TV program is bad." Like,

00:39:09   no, that's the CEO of Apple doesn't say certain things. So yeah, it's, I agree with that. We don't

00:39:15   know anything about him and it's very different from other CEOs these days.

00:39:20   If he started trolling people on Twitter, it would be so...

00:39:23   Can you imagine that?

00:39:25   It is hard to imagine somebody else who would be more surprising to become a controversial troll

00:39:34   on Twitter than Tim Cook. It really, you'd really, I think most people would immediately assume from

00:39:40   the first tweet that somehow his account had been hacked. It would be so much more, however strong

00:39:45   his info sec is around his accounts and presumably one would think his Twitter account, like

00:39:52   everything else is as secure, personally secure as it could possibly be. I'd be shocked if he

00:39:57   weren't personally, both personally and with the assistance of the security people at Apple.

00:40:03   But I think he personally is very knowledgeable about how his devices work.

00:40:07   As unlikely as it would be that his account got hacked, it's more likely that his account would

00:40:13   get hacked and the hacker is using it to turn his account into a troll. Or, you know, if he tweeted

00:40:18   telling people to go buy crypto or something, you would, you know, I'm long on whatever, Bitcoin,

00:40:24   I think it's going to turn around. I would just immediately think, "Holy crap, not holy crap,

00:40:29   Tim Cook's pushing Bitcoin," but I would think, "Holy crap, Tim Cook's Twitter got hacked."

00:40:33   Yeah. The one person in Apple's executive team that, I think if he started trolling people and

00:40:39   saying random things on Twitter, I don't think any of us would be surprised. I think it's Eddy Q.

00:40:45   I would love to see Eddy Q on Twitter because I can totally picture the guy talking about his

00:40:50   favorite food, snapping a picture of his dinner, the recording videos when he goes to the club,

00:40:55   because I mean, Eddy Q is totally a club person. That's the one guy at Apple that I would absolutely

00:41:01   love to see on Twitter. Not even Craig, not even Jaws. I mean, Jaws is on Twitter, but it's all

00:41:06   obviously like very much like for marketing reasons. But Eddy, now Eddy would be fun.

00:41:11   Yeah, Eddy would. And he's the one senior executive who has publicly let his honest emotions

00:41:18   out as a sports fan. He's famously a diehard Warriors fan in the NBA and has frequently had

00:41:26   courtside seats so that he's easily photographed. There's some photographs of him sitting right in

00:41:32   the front row where he's on the court where you could see like the photograph is of a player along

00:41:38   the sideline. And you can clearly see him standing up, screaming at the refs or something like that.

00:41:45   He wears his fandom like any true diehard sports fan on his sleeve. And Tim Cook is a big sports

00:41:53   fan too. And college sports, his beloved alma maters, Auburn and Duke, he's a huge fan of.

00:42:00   And I've seen him look very happy at sporting events. And you could see that he's sort of

00:42:05   relaxed, but he's never really truly off his knowledge, like in a way that Eddy is, right?

00:42:13   It would be shy, like Eddy point, there's a picture at some point of Eddy pointing his finger

00:42:18   and screaming at something happening on court. Tim Cook never relaxes in that way, right? He's always

00:42:25   very cognizant. And I would just find that so exhausting personally. But he obviously has that

00:42:31   ability. He's always just seemingly ready to have selfies taken with fans of Apple. And he's very

00:42:40   practiced at it. Have you ever seen it like in times when you've been at Apple events and in the

00:42:45   press area and he makes his way through Tim Cook and is just swarmed with people, even that's at a

00:42:52   professional event where the people are in the media and presumably have a little bit more

00:42:58   professional detachment than they would at say Tim Cook showing up at just a random Apple store.

00:43:05   Just he's visiting Italy for the first time in years and he's making a personal appearance

00:43:10   at one of the, I presume is there more than one Apple store in Rome? You know, he's, you know,

00:43:16   making an appearance at a Rome Apple store unannounced and all these people are like,

00:43:21   Holy crap, I was just here to spend $120 on an iPad cover. There's Tim Cook, let me see if I can

00:43:28   get a selfie. And he's always happy to do it, but very in a very detached way. I actually do have a

00:43:36   story to tell you. Okay. I mean, it's been more than seven years. So it's probably fine to talk

00:43:42   about it without getting into the logistics of it. So basically, the first Apple event I was

00:43:47   invited to was seven years ago, March 2015. That was the Apple watch event, not the first one from

00:43:54   September, the one after where they sort of reintroduce the Apple watch. And so I was invited

00:43:59   to that event and it was at the Yerba Buena center in San Francisco. So you're talking to PR people

00:44:05   there and sitting in one of the first rows. And I sort of, again, without getting into the logistics

00:44:12   of this, I kind of knew that something was going to happen later because the reason why I was

00:44:19   invited there is that I had published just a few days before this article on Mac stories called

00:44:25   Second Life. And that was an article about sort of how I recovered, physically speaking, using the

00:44:32   iPhone and the very first versions of the health app, using workouts, doing exercise after doing

00:44:38   chemo years before. When I had cancer, did the whole treatment thing, thankfully everything was

00:44:43   okay, everything is still okay. And I did this story about how I was using apps for my sleep schedule,

00:44:49   to lose weight, to follow this diet and to exercise. So I published this article and this

00:44:55   article caught Apple's attention, I guess, and I was invited to this event. So I followed the event,

00:45:00   everything seems pretty safe. And then they tell me, like, "Federico, can you set like a few minutes

00:45:06   aside?" Because everybody was going to the hands-on area. Because a team wants to talk to you.

00:45:12   And I was like, I remember my first reaction was, "Team who?"

00:45:16   Just in hindsight, it was so silly.

00:45:21   Right. Because you're thinking, "Huh, the only Tim I can think of is Tim Cook,

00:45:25   and it's obviously not him. So which Tim is it?"

00:45:27   Right. It's a team who? The PR person at the time, she's no longer working at Apple. She looks at me

00:45:33   as like, "Yeah, Tim." And I was very nervous, but basically I had, and I think I also wrote about

00:45:39   this and there's a photo that they took. I had this five minutes with him, with no PR person next to

00:45:47   us. Right. Because usually whenever you talk to Tim, usually there's always the PR or multiple PR

00:45:53   people just sort of hovering there to make sure the team doesn't say anything that it's not supposed

00:45:57   to say. Right. But this was like a five minute private conversation that apparently Tim wanted

00:46:03   to have with me about this story and using the iPhone as a tool to recover from a very serious

00:46:11   health problem. And I can tell you that, and that's something that has stuck with me all

00:46:16   these years. First of all, he gave me this very warm hug, in a way that you wouldn't expect from

00:46:25   the guy. Right. I think what we were just saying before, we're used to see Tim Cook as this sort of

00:46:33   not cold presence, but very private. Detached. Detached maybe is a good word for it. Yes.

00:46:40   And those five minutes were the opposite of that. Extremely kind. He wanted to know the story,

00:46:50   wanted to hear the story from me as well. And something that he told me back then,

00:46:56   so that was seven years ago, I remember, and this has stuck with me to this day,

00:47:00   said something along the lines of never, it was like, I'm asking you, please never stop

00:47:07   asking for more from us. Like it's because people from us demand a certain degree of quality and

00:47:19   care. And we were also talking about privacy, you know, for, I mean, you're storing health data on a

00:47:25   phone, but it was like, please, it was like, thank you for using our products, but also please never

00:47:31   stop asking us to do more and to expect more from us. And that was very, I mean, it was a very lovely

00:47:39   conversation and it was very different from when you see, from what you see on Twitter, what you see

00:47:46   at events. And I feel very fortunate to be able to have had that experience because otherwise, I mean,

00:47:52   other Apple events, like you see these execs, there's always the PR person. It's not like you

00:47:57   can just go up to them and talk to them for five minutes with no interruptions. So that was cool.

00:48:02   And that is my one Tim Cook story from seven years ago, which is to say, I think he has this detached

00:48:11   persona and he has to, right? Because he's the CEO of the most valuable company in the world.

00:48:17   But from what I saw in five minutes, which I don't know how much that counts as a degree of accuracy

00:48:23   to describe Tim Cook, but from what I saw personally, great guy, very kind and warm, and

00:48:31   he wanted to talk and he wanted to listen. And yeah, that was cool. I never told this story

00:48:35   publicly before. I hope I don't run into any trouble, but.

00:48:37   Yeah, I don't think so. I'm sure that's fine, but that is fascinating and true. I'm

00:48:43   surprised, but not shocked because that actually fits with my understanding of him,

00:48:48   but I understand the reason people might find it mildly surprising because they might think

00:48:53   his viewpoint is so high level that he wouldn't know something as the opposite of high level,

00:49:06   the lowest of low level of knowing that one particular writer at a prominent site that

00:49:14   writes about Apple and its products had been going through publicly, which is great. And I always,

00:49:20   you know, the way that you wrote about your battle with cancer publicly, just terrific. And of course,

00:49:24   we're all very happy that you're doing well, but that you shared that, right? It's very personal

00:49:28   and that he was fully aware of it and took great interest in it. I remember, and it's longer ago

00:49:37   for me, but when I first realized that people at that level read Daring Fireball, it was a surprise

00:49:45   back because my innate humility had made me think the opposite. That it's really just like at the

00:49:52   time, let's say 15 to 20 years ago, that they probably aren't familiar with the writings of

00:49:59   anybody beneath the level of Walt Mossberg, then at the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue at the

00:50:04   New York Times. They had like the three or four reviewers who got the original iPhone in 2007,

00:50:11   right? I think it was Walt Mossberg, David Pogue, that's the Journal and the Times, Ed Begg at USA

00:50:19   Today, and Steven Levy, who was then, I believe at Wired, but has a long-standing personal

00:50:25   relationship with Steve Jobs and had been writing about Apple and the tech industry for decades.

00:50:31   And I just assumed that anybody beneath that level, including me, my own little

00:50:36   Daring Fireball, that the high-level executives weren't reading that stuff. My similar story would

00:50:41   be, it was when I first realized that Phil Schiller read my site and it was WWDC that year, 2007,

00:50:52   and the iPhone wasn't out yet, but had been announced in January months earlier and was

00:51:00   going to go on sale at the end of June, just weeks later from WWDC and on stage at WWDC,

00:51:08   the developers conference. This is the famous sweet solution because what developers really

00:51:13   wanted to know is, "Oh my God, we all know Cocoa and Objective-C and these frameworks,

00:51:19   and you're telling us that the iPhone is running a forked version of the OS and the frameworks.

00:51:25   And if you know how to write Mac apps, you're well on your way to knowing how to write iPhone apps.

00:51:30   Are we going to be allowed to make apps for this?" And their answer was, "You can write web apps."

00:51:36   And this is great. And I described it, Daring Fireball, as a shit sandwich

00:51:43   for developers to eat. And that keynote was on Monday. And then on Tuesday, I was there at WWDC

00:51:53   and I was at the top floor and I think it was time for lunch. And I was going down the elevator

00:52:00   at Moscone West. And right behind me on the escalator on the way down was Phil

00:52:06   Schiller with Ron Okamoto, who was then the head—I think he's since retired, but long time

00:52:12   Apple executive in charge of developer relations. And my personality is such that my instinct,

00:52:19   of course, was to just ignore them and be shy and just stare ahead. And I thought, "No, you know,

00:52:26   I should turn around and introduce myself because, you know, when else am I going to have a chance?"

00:52:29   And so I took a deep breath and turned around and said, "Hey, I'm John Gruber." And I really thought,

00:52:36   "Oh my God, I hope he at least is vaguely aware of my stuff." And Phil said, "Hey, great to meet

00:52:42   you." And then he said, "I gotta tell you, I really didn't like that shit sandwich comment."

00:52:47   Oh no. That's the first—so I say, "Hi, I'm John Gruber." And he goes, "Hey, nice to meet you.

00:52:52   Great to see you. I gotta tell you, I don't like that—I disagree with your shit sandwich comment."

00:52:58   That's the first thing Phil Schiller said to me. And I thought instantly, "Holy shit, on the

00:53:05   biggest day, on the day of the WWDC keynote, one of the things Phil Schiller read was my first take

00:53:12   coverage of Daring Fireball. And I would have taken a step backwards if I hadn't been on an

00:53:17   escalator and would have fallen down. You could have knocked me over with a feather at that point."

00:53:23   But then we had a split, you know, probably very similar length, three, four, five minutes of

00:53:28   conversation. I remember very much one of the things we talked about because one of the things

00:53:32   they announced was enterprise features for what was still not named iOS. And I thought that was

00:53:40   surprising. The iPhone didn't debut as something that was going to be sold to corporations and a

00:53:46   corporate smartphone. It was a personal thing that appealed to people. And it was a very interesting

00:53:53   conversation that I found really helped me understand where they were going and the way

00:53:57   that Phil Schiller explained it as not being in contradiction, that Apple could expand in ways

00:54:03   that had these features for the enterprise that really mattered but wouldn't cripple or hold

00:54:10   back the iPhone as a consumer device for individuals and people to buy. It was very

00:54:16   informative. And I thought, "Wow, this is great." And, you know, here we are all these years later,

00:54:21   and I occasionally get to interview such people on stage. But it's very similar to me to be

00:54:26   surprised at, "Wow, they read this and they care." And in the years since, I have found out that

00:54:31   those they are, to a T, people across the board, all the executives who people out there know

00:54:39   from being on stage in these keynotes, they know what we in the media are writing and saying.

00:54:44   You might think they don't because they don't comment and they don't participate publicly

00:54:51   in the debate, but they're very well aware of all the criticism

00:54:54   and praise. They care a lot. They just keep their mouths shut and their tweets secretive.

00:55:03   Yeah. And if you think about it too much, I think it becomes this very strange position to be in,

00:55:09   which is why I try not to think about it too much. Because, for example, when I first interviewed

00:55:15   Craig on my podcast a couple of years ago, and on the show, one of the first things he said was,

00:55:23   "Whenever you do your annual iOS review, I sit down and I read the thing and I make a note of

00:55:30   all the things you don't like." And in that moment, I'm like, "Oh shit. What happens now?" And I try

00:55:37   not to think about that too much because I think it becomes this very odd mental problem of like,

00:55:47   "Oh, well, what if the Apple executive doesn't like..." That doesn't matter. Ultimately,

00:55:54   I think it's important to keep your North Star as, "I'm doing this..." And I don't know about you,

00:56:00   but personally, I'm doing this for myself because I want to write about this stuff and I'm doing it

00:56:04   for readers. If my readers went away, I wouldn't be able to make a living out of Apple executives

00:56:10   reading my blog. And so that's like, I'm doing it for the people who want to read my stuff. And

00:56:14   if people want to read my stuff, people want to know my opinion. And if an Apple executive

00:56:19   happens to be reading that, great. It means that maybe I have a shot at catching their attention

00:56:25   for things I like and things I don't like. But for the sake of being honest, I have that issue of

00:56:35   when I really dislike something or find a ton of problems with something, in the back of my mind,

00:56:46   I got to be honest, I know that it's kind of awkward that I write down this list of complaints

00:56:53   and there's the Apple executive on the other end reading those complaints and thinking, "Oh, look

00:56:57   at this jerk." And I even granted an interview with him. He's going to hear from me next time

00:57:02   we do an interview or we're never going to do interviews again, which is fine.

00:57:06   You can't get caught up thinking about it though.

00:57:08   Exactly. You cannot, but the thought appears in your mind. Thought is there,

00:57:14   but you cannot think about it too much. No, you have to detach from it and always

00:57:17   keep the readers. The readers have to come first and honesty above all else. And as much as you

00:57:22   might think, if I say this about stage manager on iPadOS, at some point in the future, I'm going to

00:57:31   have an interview with Craig Federighi again, and there's going to be an off the record part of it

00:57:37   before we're on the record. And he might call me out on this comment. Got to tell you, I didn't

00:57:43   like that shit sandwich comment. You're going to have that moment and you're going to have to

00:57:47   defend it. I try to think about it only so far as it helping to keep me honest. And if I'm going to

00:57:53   slam them for something or be a vociferous critic about X, that I better be ready to defend it.

00:58:02   And that keeps me honest of I'm not just going to criticize this very and very strong,

00:58:09   no uncertain terms, just for the sake of doing it and wanting the attention. And let's face it,

00:58:17   one of the aspects of our "you're in my racket" is that many people out there consider us to be

00:58:27   in the bag for Apple. Oh yeah, for sure.

00:58:29   Right. A fundamental part of our stuff. And my way of looking at it is I just try to be honest.

00:58:36   I'm just past 20 years of writing Daring Fireball. But if you look at Apple's, the 20 years that I've

00:58:42   been doing this publicly, Apple is literally, no exaggeration, the most successful company in the

00:58:50   world over those two decades. And so if my coverage overall of their products over that period wasn't

00:58:57   largely and overwhelmingly positive, it's clear that I would have gotten it wrong.

00:59:01   Right? And we certainly run into it, and I won't want to go on a huge digression about it,

00:59:06   but we run into it with political coverage where there's a whole class of political pundits and

00:59:12   reporters who, quote unquote, "both sides-ism," right? The both sides, blah, blah, blah. And that

00:59:19   if they truly do feel and say publicly when they talk about their work that if they feel like they

00:59:25   should be getting equal criticism from the left and right, and if they are, that means they're

00:59:31   doing their job, is fundamentally, I think, harmful and wrong if you consider the possibility that

00:59:40   one side of our political spectrum has gone off the rails, which, you know, no hint from knowing

00:59:49   my politics, I see the right worldwide from Europe to the United States, but especially here in the

00:59:54   United States as being driven in a gut-wrenchingly right-wing reactionary way. If your goal is to

01:00:05   have equal criticism from the left and right, you're doing a disservice because it's not a

01:00:09   reflection of the way things actually are. And if your goal writing about—if your beat is primarily

01:00:16   about Apple products and platforms, and you judge yourself as I should be about 50/50 good stuff and

01:00:24   bad stuff, and that my list of pros should be equally as long as my list of cons, that's not

01:00:32   how you achieve balance. The balance isn't an equal number of pros and cons. The balance is

01:00:37   an accurate reflection of how good these products are. And when you look back at your reviews,

01:00:43   and I'm sure you do the same thing as you're writing new reviews and you're referencing—you're

01:00:48   writing about Stage Manager this year, obviously, a lot, but you're thinking back to Split View,

01:00:53   and you're like, "When did they introduce Split View?" And you go back, I don't know, seven or

01:00:58   eight years, however long ago it was, and you're like rereading iPadOS, or probably before they

01:01:04   called it iPadOS when it was still labeled, which we can get to later, whether it still should be

01:01:10   called iOS. But when they first added Split View and you look back and read your review,

01:01:14   I do this all the time. And usually, I think, "Hey, that holds up. I did a good job. Pat on

01:01:20   my back." I usually feel better about my six, seven, eight-year-old reviews when I look back

01:01:26   at them than when I first published them, because when I first published them, all I can think about

01:01:30   is the ways that it could have been better and blah, blah, blah. The new stuff, the way I have

01:01:36   this problem, the new stuff always sucks. And the old one is like, "Oh, the old one is pretty good,

01:01:41   but this new one that I'm publishing now, this sucks. It's terrible. I should keep tweaking it."

01:01:45   At some point, you got to stop and you got to just publish it and call it a day and whatever.

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02:04:43   And then there's a collection, not a long one, but a collection of other features in iPadOS 16.

02:04:51   But I figured given this long period of testing and reversed decisions and technical problems and design considerations, I'm just going to do a story for Monday, the 24th, about Stage Manager.

02:05:09   I'm going to save everything else for later. I still don't know how I'm going to do. Is there going to be a proper iPadOS 16 review? What's that going to look like? Is there going to be two pages about the 15 other features in this update? I don't know.

02:05:24   But I figured I'm going to do a story that is just about multitasking from the perspective of I started using this in June, and it was mostly okay until the public beta in July.

02:05:37   That's when I did my first impression story. Then I have this whole from late July to essentially early October when Stage Manager on my iPad Pro was crashing like every two minutes.

02:05:53   I know you're not exaggerating because I took August off from trying it. We had some family vacations, but you're not exaggerating. It actually got less stable than it was in the initial betas.

02:06:07   This is so unusual. This whole summer for me has been very unusual. Besides the fact that we bought a house and there was that whole complication this summer, but just the OS was very different from before. Usually they get better in the summer.

02:06:25   Here, instead, they got worse at the worst possible time. August for me is when I'm like, "Okay, I need to wrap up my notes and start writing because September is going to be right around the corner."

02:06:40   Instead, it started getting worse. It started getting worse in August. Up until three weeks ago, basically, I couldn't use it. If I tried, I couldn't work, I couldn't write, I couldn't publish articles whenever I tapped on an app, let alone the external display support, which was unusable.

02:07:05   But it was crashing. The Magic Keyboard was not typing. Very fundamental issues. Then it stopped, thankfully. I believe I lost track of the betas. It was beta 10 or beta 11 when it stopped crashing for me.

02:07:24   So I realized I'm going to do a story and I'm going to be super honest about it. I will say in the introduction that this is the review based on two weeks of usage because in the summer I had to stop using it.

02:07:37   I will write this story in a week based on the release candidate version and we'll see what happens. That was the approach I took. Honestly, it's not the story I wanted to do. I didn't like putting this together.

02:07:56   But I also think it was important for me to actually have a list of the things I do like about Sage Manager because I do think Sage Manager can be worked on and should be worked on.

02:08:09   But I also figured it's important to have a record of where we stand for this very unusual time in beta season.

02:08:17   Right. And it's out now. It is there. If your iPad is eligible to support Sage Manager and you've upgraded to iPad OS 16, it's off by default. But it's there for you to turn it on and therefore fair game for criticism.

02:08:34   And it is here's I'm going to quote a side note from your review and quote the whole thing. But you wrote talking about Sage Manager. You made a side note that says in this article, I'll use the term apps and workspaces interchangeably since in the context of Sage Manager, they indicate the same thing.

02:08:53   You can have a workspace with a single app in it that the workspaces I think are you're talking about those things on the left.

02:08:59   Yeah, the stages, the workspaces. Yeah. And but technically those can be workspaces with different apps in them. You get the idea. Don't think about the terminology too hard because not even Apple did and they get paid to do this stuff.

02:09:14   I thought that was so cleverly said, but I also think if anything, that's the one part the whole gist of the article is your problems with Sage Manager and your problems with iPad OS 16 testing it over the summer. It's a keen point that there even Apple didn't think through the terminology, but I actually think that it gets to the heart of what's wrong with Sage Manager.

02:09:36   That if you don't have names for these things, it's not just a sign that you didn't come up with good names. It's a sign that you haven't thought through the way the system works thoroughly enough.

02:09:51   Yes. And I think it goes back to there are many little things that one could say are wrong with Sage Manager, but there is the one objective issue with it is that on iPad OS, windows like windowing happens to an app.

02:10:13   It's not something that is intrinsically part of the OS itself and that's because iPad apps right now, if you enable Sage Manager, an iPad app has no idea that it's running in Sage Manager.

02:10:26   As far as the developer goes, they don't know if the app is in full screen, if the app is in Sage Manager, if you're using regular iPad OS or Sage Manager iPad OS.

02:10:38   That's a whole conversation as to why Apple chose this technical approach, but I think that reflects on the foundation of the thing and maybe the confusion that there is on Apple's side in terms of like, "Okay, how do we call these things and what limitations do we set?"

02:10:56   And I've seen so many different, like, I still don't understand if the windows are called piles or not. Are they called stages? All I know is that there's the strip. I think that's the official name for it. The strip on the left.

02:11:09   Your workspace is also sometimes referred to as the stage, but then you have windows in a stage. And yeah, it gets very complicated there.

02:11:21   So that would be my highest level takeaway. If I got five minutes to talk to Craig Federighi and anybody else at Apple, or if they're listening to anybody there who's making these decisions, my highest level advice for where does Apple go to improve Sage Manager, to fulfill its potential, which I think everybody agrees.

02:11:43   Whether you're like you, somebody who's truly an iPad power user, and you find it to be your most productive platform for doing truly significant work that involves inherently, right?

02:11:58   Trust me, I know what it's like when you're writing articles and you're building up lists and you've got an app with your notes and an outline for where you're going and Safari tabs and you're writing and you're adding markdown links for all this stuff, how much multitasking and getting in the flow.

02:12:16   And you thrive in this environment. And so presumably stage manager ought to be something that makes you feel like even more in the flow or to somebody who's more like me, who the iPad is a secondary platform and isn't and probably never will be my main platform for work.

02:12:34   But I think across the board, if people see the potential of stage manager, I think that it the best sign of that is how after the WWDC keynote when they unveiled it for both Mac and iPad and said it's only coming to the M1 and later iPad pros.

02:12:54   How many people instantly were will wait I've got a you know, like mine the 2018 iPad pro or the A12Z from the generation before the M1.

02:13:05   I want this too, because you see the potential. But how does Apple go from where it is today, which is clearly unsatisfactory to where it wants to be my top advice.

02:13:16   Would be, you know, you're on to something when you've got terms for all of these things that make sense. And because that's a sign that the concept has been honed to a clear vision that is understandable that you have names for these things and the fact that you that even Apple as you pointed out in the side note, even Apple doesn't really have consistent clear names for this is proof.

02:13:45   That the idea is currently muddled hazy vague, it's incomplete in a way that software can be like this software everybody has used apps or websites where it's like this is not a cohesive consistent system for whether it's a website for a store or enterprise software or something in a way that hardware can't be you can't have hardware where it's like there's a button but we don't know what the button does.

02:14:14   We don't know what or here's a button that doesn't have a name. Right. Like when app when Apple added a new button to Apple watch ultra, they gave it a name and it's called the action button and it's a good name because it describes what you do with the button you assign an action to the button.

02:14:32   And it's a great name. It is a great addition to the hardware, but the fact that there's a good name for it is proof that it's a cohesive idea for a feature and the fact that stage managers components have no good names is the red flag that this was not conceptually baked.

02:14:50   Yeah, and I do think that usually that kind of refinement is what you get during the beta season right that kind of okay let's sit down. Let's start giving these things proper terms, and you end up with support documents right and everything is really fleshed out by September, but here I think the single problem that created this chaos in the iPadOS timeline this summer was that Apple not only

02:15:18   was that Apple maybe mismanaged a little the announcement of stage manager when they said, Oh, this is going to be M1 only by having to reverse that decision.

02:15:33   I fear that all the development time and the design time that usually goes into refinements listening to feedback, adding options settings, changing a few things here and there all that time and all that engineering effort instead went into making sure that this thing can work on older hardware with limits.

02:15:54   Yeah, and so you end up in, but you end up still with releasing this now it works on older hardware, but essentially you have the same stage manager that you had at WWDC like it's like now we are in June, but it's actually October, end of October.

02:16:13   Right, because all that time went into restructuring the very foundation to make sure that it can work on a 2018 iPad Pro.

02:16:22   Yeah, I know, I know that this is something I know from talking to people who I know who work at Apple that the Apple has largely put well not even largely really put their software platforms on an annual upgrade cycle, where every year at WWDC, they make an announcement for the next major new version of Mac OS, iPad OS, iOS, watch OS, TV OS even, although I guess TV OS didn't make the WWDC case.

02:16:51   WWDC keynote this year, but every year in the fall they're going to get a new major version number the Mac is going to get a new name like Ventura.

02:17:00   And people can criticize that and everybody loves to look back at Mac OS 10.6, I think was snow leopard. Yeah, it was a mountain lion, I forget, but it was the one where it went from the cat might have been lying to mountain lion but I know what the number was 10.

02:17:17   I remember the numbers better than the names but the idea was we're not even going to give it a new cat name, because it's just a variant and quote unquote no new features, even though they did actually add a bunch of features, but when they said that I think Bertrand Serlet was the still the in the job that Craig Federighi is now when he announced that it was applauded in the audience developers cheered.

02:17:39   It was an applause line, borderline standing ovation because that's what developers really wanted was hey, spend a year trimming fat fixing bugs addressing issues that aren't quote unquote tentpole features, but just shore up the foundation of this platform both technically and conceptually,

02:18:01   as it's presented to the user to have a better place to go forward for the next decade to come and people like to hear that.

02:18:09   But on the other hand, I get it Apple wants to have major new features to announce it's a balancing game, you don't have to have inside sources or know people who work there to see that's how Apple works that they're Craig Federighi's job at the highest level is largely

02:18:23   balancing the allocation of time programmers time on his various teams under his very wide and large umbrella because he's in charge of all software that Apple makes how much time is spent improving and fixing bugs proving existing features and fixing bugs and how much is spent on new stuff and the new the right balance is a mix of both

02:18:47   hard not to see this year though, I can't help but feel that stage manager overall needed another year, and that yeah, maybe in trying to achieve that right mix. They were looking at here's the whiteboard again the thing I know that one point I wanted to make is I know that there are software projects

02:19:05   at Apple that take two or three years internally to come to fruition, even though Apple is on a one year at a head schedule, and there's going to be an iPad OS 17 next year and there's going to be Mac OS 14 with a new name, but that the new features that will make it in, and all of these platforms, it come June, 2023 next June, there will be new features for these platforms and those features have been in the works.

02:19:34   18 months or two years, as you and I speak today. And at some point, April or May, they're going to say this one makes the cut for this year this one, I think needs another you know let's let this go.

02:19:46   Keep going we like where you this team is going, but that's it's not ready for this year can't help but feel very strongly that stage manager, especially for iPad needed another year, but that maybe Apple looked at the list of new features for iPad OS and was too tempted to say we need something

02:20:06   more. Yeah, we need a wow feature for 2022. And they got too optimistic their eyes were bigger than their stomach and food parlance, and that they thought we can fix this by the fall. We're close, and I don't think they were.

02:20:22   Yeah, and I think that's absolutely correct. And I think it was pretty telling in June, Steve transmit has been talking about this for months, but it was pretty telling at the time that there was no developer framework for this right that there was no, no API for

02:20:38   iPad OS developers to say okay let me optimize for stage manager, and that reflects badly on the experience in multiple ways I mean, not even when you're comparing how windows work on a Mac versus how they work in iPad OS, but just all the things that you cannot do like

02:20:56   presenting a pop up outside of the bounds of your own window right or just in general just optimizing for a window environment even from a design perspective like maybe there's a UI that you want to draw differently.

02:21:09   If your app is running in a window. And obviously for users that also means that iPad apps when they're running in a window, they're just the full screen UI, but shrunk down, like you don't have a title bar you don't have any controls.

02:21:22   And so you end up in this situation where if you want to move a window you got to be extra careful when you grab it, because you have this invisible strip of pixels, where the quote unquote title bar is supposed to be, that's the invisible area that's where you can drag

02:21:36   and that's because there's no API for developers like on Mac OS, you know, they can use AppKit and say I want to draw a title bar here, and I want to make sure you know I want to have these buttons here and I want to have these controls because when my users are running my app in a window

02:21:50   it's more convenient to have these buttons right here. They cannot do this on iPadOS and so when you say it needed another year, I would say yeah, it absolutely needed another year, because the thing is, I do believe that fundamentally the idea is correct, that it's the given like if you if you asked me 10 years ago do you think the iPad is going to get windowing, I would have said you know 10 years ago absolutely not.

02:22:13   Like that's insanity. But given how given where we are today, I do think it was the logical conclusion, like you have an iPad with a keyboard and a big screen and a trackpad and a pointer, and you can already do split screen, what's stopping you from doing windowing with this powerful chips that you have and you have Thunderbolt now, and you can connect an external display.

02:22:37   Like it's obviously we were going in this direction. And the idea, the underlying idea, I do think that it's like, I wouldn't want to see Apple just discontinue stage manager, like I and I don't think any of the people criticizing stage manager are arguing for that, but I need more time.

02:22:54   And at the same time, I know that like, I'm trying to sort of force myself to use it. And in other words, there's a ton of people out there right now saying, yeah, I don't get the complaints, it's good enough.

02:23:07   And yes, I think that for some people, it is good enough. But if I were Apple, I would maybe ask myself the question, why is it that some people, some of the people who are using iPad the most, and I don't even want to count myself into this, but if you look at Jason's now,

02:23:23   look at my friend Chris Lawley, he runs an excellent YouTube channel where it used to be iPad first for a long time. And then he switched to a MacBook for obvious reasons, given the state of iPadOS.

02:23:35   But even Chris said, you know, stage manager, it's not good enough. And I cannot exactly rely on it right now. So why is it that your most loyal, like the very definition of power users are unhappy at the moment?

02:23:51   I mean, obviously, it's not like we came up all together with the secret plan to hate stage manager. Why is it that the users that are supposed to love this are not loving this?

02:24:02   And so I hope that Apple listens to that and just gets back to work because I don't think anybody wants them to abandon it. I just, I think we all wanted to just keep refining it.

02:24:13   And next year, there should really be a developer story for this as well.

02:24:20   Yeah, this is the Apple does not like to. Well, they do. They have these public betas over the summer, but in large part, they don't really work other than the summer public betas.

02:24:32   They don't do a lot of work in public and see the progress. But it was their choice to ship stage manager for iPad this year, knowing how much influx the concept, both the concept and the underlying technologies are.

02:24:48   Like you said, that there's no developer API and a dev app really just knows what size class it currently is, not what context it's in, which is clearly something that an app would like to know is what context is my content in their choice to do this.

02:25:06   So hopefully they'll continue to work and that will actually see conceptual and technical progress in 16.2 and 16.3 and 16.4 as this year goes on and not just wait for June and here and coming later a year from now.

02:25:25   Literally, it'll be a year from now when iPad OS 17 ships, which is when most people will see it, not to make the zillions of iPad users who want to use stage manager now wait until then for significant improvements.

02:25:40   And it's Apple doesn't typically do that, but they don't typically ship a feature in the state that stage manager is.

02:25:48   And again, I'm with you completely where I keep comparing it. I did it on the podcast, I think with Jason last week and I've written about it.

02:25:55   And it's perhaps because it's fresh in my memory, but also because I think it's a good example.

02:26:00   To me, it's not like the all new Safari tabs from last year's cycle, which I spent a lot of time writing about and perhaps had some influence on getting Apple to change their mind and say, never mind, we'll stick with the tabs that we have.

02:26:14   To me, the reason I spent so much attention on it and publicly wrote about it and wrote about it in an extremely critical way was because I felt strongly that it is truly a mistake and that there was no, that this was not a path.

02:26:28   There was no, there's no destination down this path that is actually a better solution for tabs.

02:26:34   And it's all it's going to do is drive people to other browsers like Chrome that do have tabs, right? And it's like, I think I put my article last summer that the ads write themselves, Chrome, the Mac browser where the tabs look like tabs, right?

02:26:49   You don't want to be, Safari's team did not want to be in that position where the selling point for alternative browsers that they would prefer people not use, they want people to use Safari and be in the iCloud ecosystem with bookmarks and tab groups and performance wise,

02:27:05   Apple knows that WebKit performs better and makes the battery last longer on Macs than Chromium browsers too. So they want, you know, they don't want people to have the experience of thinking battery life is worse than it is because they're using a browser that's less efficient.

02:27:22   But if the message is, would you like your tabs to look like tabs? People are going to switch for that reason alone.

02:27:30   I don't feel that way about stage manager at all, which is why I'm happy to spend time on a podcast with you and with Jason last week and just sort of talk about it in an open way as opposed to focusing on writing because I don't have a focus thing.

02:27:45   And there's no possible way. This is why I'm so happy about your article because I was like, Federico wrote exactly what I wanted him to because he's thought this through and has done the best job I can imagine of clarifying an unclear concept.

02:28:03   Right. It's truly a terrific article and I can't think of a harder thing to do to write clearly about a feature whose problem is that it itself is not clear.

02:28:16   I'm so glad you said that because I feel like I was going crazy. I was like, how do I make sense of this? And this is why also like in the story I had this section at the end, just like, in case it's not clear, let me clarify the things I don't like.

02:28:32   Like, it really helped. And like you, I use, I really like working with notes and outlines when I'm working on these stories, but I figured this is, this can be so confusing. I hope it can be useful to people to have a very simple list of how this works and the problems with it.

02:28:50   So yeah, it was really challenging, but thank you for saying that.

02:28:54   Well, Federico, we've gone long enough. You're very generous with your time. I'll let you get on with your evening, but my thanks to you for coming back to the show.

02:29:02   And I'll just reiterate what I said at the outset. I really hope that this appearance is not followed by a global pandemic.

02:29:10   Oh my God, not again.

02:29:12   I will also thank our sponsors. We had four sponsors this episode. We had Squarespace, where you can make your next move. Memberful, where you can monetize your passion with membership. Hover, find a domain name for your passion and collide a cross-platform endpoint security solution for teams that value privacy and transparency.

02:29:30   And of course, everybody can read Federico and his team and colleagues like John Voorhees' fine work at maxstories.net, where you continue to kill it.

02:29:40   Absolutely. Absolutely doing great stuff. And we didn't even get to Ventura, but John did have an excellent, excellent review of that. So there's all sorts of stuff for people to read this week at maxstories. Thank you, Federico.