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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Apple has a long history of problems in its business relationships (e.g. GT Advanced's bankruptcy), and the suddenly-settled Qualcomm battle raised additional questions about Apple integrity in these partnerships:
AppleInsider said:
Apple's will to 'hurt Qualcomm financially' illustrated by Qualcomm's opening statement
On April 19, documents surfaced showing Apple wanted to reduce its Qualcomm patent licenses for some time, but decided to only sue Qualcomm in January 2017. The documents also alluded to a goal to "reduce Apple's net royalty to Qualcomm," a strategy to "hurt Qualcomm financially," and to put its licensing model at risk.

A new document published on Wednesday showing the slideshow for Qualcomm's legal team presses the accusations of foul play further, illustrating not only extracts from documents highlighting Apple's intentions, but also how Apple praised the company.
 


Apple has a long history of problems in its business relationships...
What I thought might prove most troublesome for Apple at a trial were Qualcomm's assertions:
Ars Technica said:
Apple stole Qualcomm chip secrets and gave them to Intel, Qualcomm claims
On information and belief, Apple long ago devised a plan to improve the performance of non‐Qualcomm chipset solutions, including Intel's, by stealing Qualcomm's technology and using it to establish a second source of chipsets in order to pressure Qualcomm in business negotiations over chipset supply and pricing, and ultimately to divert Qualcomm's Apple-based business to Intel, from which Apple could extract more favorable terms. Apple's illegal conduct was calculated and pervasive, particularly among its engineers working with Qualcomm and Intel chipsets.
The Ars piece avers Qualcomm had information that Intel engineers working on Intel's modems "were told to ignore intellectual property rights when designing the modem."

What's difficult to understand is why Apple bothered. The iPhone is staggeringly profitable and Qualcomm's royalty per phone a tiny fraction of what Apple charges at retail, and that's paid by consumers. Maybe it would matter if Apple were down in the trenches trying to compete with $150 low-end Androids, but it isn't.
 


What's difficult to understand is why Apple bothered. The iPhone is staggeringly profitable and Qualcomm's royalty per phone a tiny fraction of what Apple charges at retail, and that's paid by consumers. Maybe it would matter if Apple were down in the trenches trying to compete with $150 low-end Androids, but it isn't.
Probably because Apple wanted more profits while still charging the same price - remember that investors are Apple's real customers here, not consumers.
 


What's difficult to understand is why Apple bothered. The iPhone is staggeringly profitable and Qualcomm's royalty per phone a tiny fraction of what Apple charges at retail, and that's paid by consumers. Maybe it would matter if Apple were down in the trenches trying to compete with $150 low-end Androids, but it isn't.
ATP podcast today had a bit on this: that for inclusion in telecoms standards, patent-holders agree to license to all on a 'fair' basis (I don't know the specific standards). Qualcomm (supposedly) charges based on final sale price of the phones, i.e. the same chip/patent costs more just because it's been included in a high-end iPhone (or even just one with more memory). So there is (arguably) a basis to argue it's not fair - and disadvantageous to Apple specifically, although I don't know the legal standards. There are also anti-monopoly / FTC regulatons (and similar in other countries) to consider.

I don't pretend to know the ins and outs, this is clearly a complex dispute, and there's more than one side.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's some more about Apple's settlement with Qualcomm in their gigantic, global lawsuits, and Intel's role:
Bloomberg said:
Apple Puts Need for 5G Ahead of Legal Fight in Qualcomm Deal
Throughout the fight, which centered on Apple’s accusations that Qualcomm overcharges for patents on its technology, the iPhone maker played down the importance of the modem and Qualcomm’s inventions. Just before the settlement was announced on Tuesday, Apple’s lawyers were in a San Diego courtroom saying the component was just another method of connecting to the internet. In reality, Qualcomm’s modems are leading a potential revolution in mobile internet -- and Apple could have been forced to play catchup without them.

Intel, which dominates the market in personal computer chips, has struggled for decades in mobile. The company pledged that its 5G part was coming in phones next year. But within hours of Apple’s deal with Qualcomm, and with it the loss of its prime mobile customer, Intel announced it would end its effort to produce a 5G modem for smartphones.

Apple’s rival Samsung Electronics Co. already has a 5G-capable phone on sale using Qualcomm’s products.
The Verge said:
Intel says Apple and Qualcomm’s surprise settlement pushed it to exit mobile 5G
The news that Intel had exited the 5G modem business came just hours after the Apple / Qualcomm agreement was announced. At the time, it was unclear whether Apple and Qualcomm had made up due to the fact that Intel had pulled out, leaving no other options for the iPhone to get 5G, or whether Qualcomm had just stolen the business back from Intel by settling its ongoing lawsuits. According to a report from Bloomberg, it was the latter: Apple had reportedly decided Intel’s modems weren’t up to the task of providing 5G for the iPhone on time, leaving no other choice but for it to take the PR hit of ending its years-long dispute with Qualcomm for the sake of the iPhone’s future.
 


for inclusion in telecoms standards, patent-holders agree to license to all on a 'fair' basis (I don't know the specific standards).
Yes. The buzzword is FRAND - Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory.

It's an attempt by standards bodies to compromise between the goals of the standards body (which wants everybody to adopt the standard) and the goals of the contributors (which want to profit from the inventions they contribute to the standard).

Standards bodies would like to prevent patent holders from charging anything for licenses, since that would maximize the rate of adoption. But inventors will often refuse to contribute key technologies to the standard under these terms, preferring instead to sell a product and tell the rest of the world to invent a replacement tech or pay high license fees to incorporate the patented tech in a product. And then some inventors will contribute tech under terms like "I'm not going to charge a low fee if others don't".

So the term FRAND was coined as a compromise. It's a fuzzy term without a precise legal definition, but in broad terms:

Fair refers to the underlying terms. Terms should not be what would be considered anti-competitive if imposed by a monopoly - things like tying licenses to other unrelated licenses or requiring reciprocal cross-licensing deals.

Reasonable refers to the rates charged. The rates should not be so high that the cost would be seen as unreasonable in the aggregate (e.g. total monies paid for all units shipped). The rates should not be so high that they become a barrier to adopting the technology or the standards that contain it.

Non-Discriminatory means that there should be a level playing field. While there can be different rate schedules based on the usage of the product (e.g. experimental vs. lab use vs. commercial) and based on quantities sold, the same schedules should apply to every user of the technology.

Since there is no precise legal definition for these terms, when they are disputed, it falls to a court to study the specifics of a claim and make a decision, which is, ultimately, what was going on here before Apple and Qualcomm decided to settle their case.
 


The Ars piece avers Qualcomm had information that Intel engineers working on Intel's modems "were told to ignore intellectual property rights when designing the modem."
What's difficult to understand is why Apple bothered. The iPhone is staggeringly profitable and Qualcomm's royalty per phone a tiny fraction of what Apple charges at retail, and that's paid by consumers.
Probably because Apple wanted more profits while still charging the same price - remember that investors are Apple's real customers here, not consumers.
Let's think about Apple shareholders. Are they served by Apple's scary and litigious reputation? Does that reputation help or hurt Apple when it needs to use technology developed by others? Per reports, Intel's 4G modems were markedly inferior to Qualcomm's, putting iPhones at a substantial speed and connectivity disadvantage against Android devices with Qualcomm modems.

Qualcomm (supposedly) charges based on final sale price of the phones, i.e. the same chip/patent costs more just because it's been included in a high-end iPhone (or even just one with more memory). So there is (arguably) a basis to argue it's not fair
The Inquirer said:
Apple claims Qualcomm refused to flog it chips for the iPhone XS
...Williams' testimony also revealed how much Apple has been paying for Qualcomm modems: $7.50 (around £8.50) per device, five times more than Apple wanted to pay.
I realize this isn't exactly an Apple to Apple comparison, but the latest 64GB iPad Pro 12.9" with A12X is $999 and the 10.5" 64GB iPad Air with A12 is $500 less at $499. Add "cellular" to the iPad Pro? $150. Are those price differences fair? Or should consumers (including manufacturers) expect to pay more when they get more?
 


Probably worth noting that Intel’s lead for the 5G work moved to Apple about 5 days before the settlement.
Engadget said:
Apple poached Intel's 5G leader weeks ahead of Qualcomm truce

Intel's decision to bail on 5G modems may have gone hand-in-hand with Apple's truce with Qualcomm, but it's now clear there were hints of a shift weeks earlier. The Telegraph has learned that Apple poached Intel's 5G phone modem leader, Umashankar Thyagarajan, in February. While the departure itself wasn't a complete secret (Thyagarajan's LinkedIn profile confirms the switch), the news outlet claims to have email showing that the ex-director was the project engineer for the XMM 8160 chip at the heart of Intel's plans. He also "played a key role" creating the Intel modems used in the iPhone XS and XR.
 


Probably worth noting that Intel’s lead for the 5G work moved to Apple about 5 days before the settlement.
From various reports I've read/heard, it sounds like Intel (specifically, its new CEO) didn't see much future in modems as part of its product portfolio.

Given the timing of Intel's pullout (mere hours after the settlement announcement), it's likely Intel decided it wanted to drop doing modems, and so went to Apple and said something like:

Look, we don't see a good future in modems for us at this point, and you're becoming your own fab more and more every day, so there's little incentive for us to continue down this path given that you won't be an on-going customer for us in the future anyways.

... at which point Apple tucked its tail in, and worked something out with Qualcomm.

Essentially, it seems Intel's decision was the main trigger for this settlement.
 


Of course, even if Apple eventually does develop their own 5G modems, they're still going to need licenses for Qualcomm's patent portfolio, so their settlement will remain important for them.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
More details about the Qualcomm-Apple settlement:
The Verge said:
Qualcomm will get at least $4.5 billion from Apple as part of its patent settlement
How much is an apology worth? Well, if you’re Apple, it turns out the number is at least $4.5 billion, which is the amount that Qualcomm revealed in its Q2 earnings it will get from the settlement agreement between the companies, which had previously been embroiled in an ugly patent dispute for the past few years. The Apple / Qualcomm settlement was an unexpected shift that came early in the trial between the two companies.
 


More details about the Qualcomm-Apple settlement:
According to this article, Apple stopped paying Qualcomm while continuing to use Qualcomm technology. It's actually a bit more complicated:
Forbes (4/28/17) said:
Apple Is Withholding Royalty Payments From Qualcomm As Legal Battle Continues
Apple does not directly license from Qualcomm. Rather, Apple's contract manufacturers -- such as Foxconn and Pegatron -- pay the Qualcomm licensing fees and Apple is supposed to reimburse them. Now, Qualcomm said, Apple has recently informed the San Diego, California-based chipmaker that it plans on not paying the royalties owed to those contract manufacturers until the current legal dispute between the two companies is settled.
As the "current legal dispute" is settled, this "payoff" may just be what Apple should have paid earlier.
I realize this isn't exactly an Apple to Apple comparison, but the latest 64GB iPad Pro 12.9" with A12X is $999
Have to wonder how my day would go if I helped myself to one of those without paying Apple?
 


IDC has a report out on the smartphone market that paints a much grimmer report on Apple sales than the dollar totals it reported.
IDC said:
Smartphone Shipments Experience Deeper Decline in Q1 2019 with a Clear Shakeup Among the Market Leaders, According to IDC
Apple had a challenging first quarter as shipments dropped to 36.4 million units representing a staggering 30.2% decline from last year. The iPhone struggled to win over consumers in most major markets as competitors continue to eat away at Apple's market share. Price cuts in China throughout the quarter along with favorable trade-in deals in many markets were still not enough to encourage consumers to upgrade. Combine this with the fact that most competitors will shortly launch 5G phones and new foldable devices, the iPhone could face a difficult remainder of the year. Despite the lackluster quarter, Apple's strong installed base along with its recent agreement with Qualcomm will be viewed as the light at the end of the tunnel heading into 2020 for the Cupertino-based giant.
 


I'm sure there are many reasons for Apple's falling sales, but just maybe they could look at their offerings and understand they're not giving consumers what they want. Phones, iPads, Macs and watches are all just incrementally updated, and Mr Cook seems to think they will fly off the shelves.

I'm in the market for a 'sports' watch and have explicitly excluded an Apple watch just because I don't want to reward Apple for the direction they're taking. There are plenty of alternatives, and I suspect Garmin will be winning my money this time around.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I'm in the market for a 'sports' watch and have explicitly excluded an Apple watch just because I don't want to reward Apple for the direction they're taking. There are plenty of alternatives, and I suspect Garmin will be winning my money this time around.
For what it's worth, I had a conversation yesterday with a friend who is an enthusiastic Apple customer but who bought a Garmin sports watch, because it has higher battery capacity and runs longer (e.g. for an "Iron Man") vs. an Apple Watch's smaller battery and shorter run time.
 


I was in need of a replacement and couldn't locate a 2TB model with a delivery time of less than 10 days, so I now have a MacBook Pro with 1 TB of storage and an external 2TB OWC Envoy Pro EX. With half the internal storage, a full restoration from backup was not possible.
Issues like these (and the keyboard problems) have led me to stop recommending Apple laptops to my corporate clients. I'm sure I'm not alone in withdrawing my recommendations, but I have little doubt that Apple will blame disappointing Mac sales on external factors, like supply constraints or organic decline in general computing sales, rather than on their own vain focus on thin designs and non-standard, non-upgradeable/non-repairable hardware.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Issues like these (and the keyboard problems) have led me to stop recommending Apple laptops to my corporate clients....
The issue, then, is what operating system those clients will have to use. Will they use Windows 10, or can they use Linux?
 


IDC has a report out on the smartphone market that paints a much grimmer report on Apple sales than the dollar totals it reported.
Does IDC actually know anything? Maybe, maybe not.
Daniel Eran Dilger said:
Editorial: Latest IDC estimate of Q1 2019 iPhone sales 'highly inaccurate' to the point of 'embarrassing'

... The only way Apple could have seen unit sales drop as fast as IDC reported would be if buyers had suddenly upgraded to extremely expensive phones, driving Apple's Average Selling Price to above $850. That's absurd, and inconsistent with historical quarterly shifts in average selling price.

Apple's ASPs are extremely high in the industry, but not that high. In fact, iPhone ASP appeared to peak with the launch of the $999 and up iPhone X last year, reaching a few dollars shy of $800. This year, market data shows that Apple's sales were lead by iPhone XR, which starts at $750. There's no possible way Apple's ASP rocketed upward as Apple's product mix shifted to a model that cost three quarters as much.

Cybart estimated that Apple sold more than 43 million iPhones in the quarter, which wouldn't change Apple's third place position in global unit sales, but would represent a difference in unit sales that at least makes sense when compared to its reported decrease in iPhone revenues. Those sales would imply an iPhone ASP in the March quarter of about $722.
 


The issue, then, is what operating system those clients will have to use. Will they use Windows 10, or can they use Linux?
Apologies in advance for this cry from the heart.

To be fair to Apple, while I'm no longer actively recommending Apple systems, I'm also not necessarily recommending that businesses that use Macs actively switch to other platforms, especially if they are primarily Mac shops. However, for most multi-platform businesses, it's hard for me to think of a reason to recommend an increase in the ratio of Macs to other platforms, and it's been a few years since I've counseled against increasing the ratio of PCs to Macs.

It depends on the requirements, but for most end-user computing, Windows remains the primary choice, not Linux or macOS. That's not because of any overwhelming technical superiority, and it's actually in spite of the interface changes, intrusive updates, and increased telemetry gathering seen in Windows 10.

A lot of the issue is on the hardware support side. If a system breaks or is stolen, then repair or replacement very often is much easier/faster on the non-Apple side of the fence. When Apple hardware was seen as much more reliable than PC hardware, repair/purchase turnaround wasn't seen as much of a major issue. Now that we can't be certain if something as fundamental as a laptop keyboard will work reliably for the expected lifetime of the computer, we're in a very different situation. It is simply unacceptable to expect businesses to continue paying a premium for systems that look cool but have a significant likelihood of hardware problems from a company that has demonstrated a multi-year indifference to actually resolving the underlying issues.

Since it's been covered so often at MacInTouch, I won't go into the other issues of paying premiums for old hardware designs that have little or no upgradeability, require expensive dongles for road warriors, or have limited, overpriced configuration options. (I've seen Fortune 100 enterprises with large numbers of traveling/remote staff disqualify entire lines of computers from procurement bids because of something as seemingly trivial as dongle requirements. After analyzing help desk tickets, they've seen that replacing lost, forgotten, or broken dongles can add up to be a significant hit to productivity and the bottom line. That's a big part of why so many Dell, HP, and Lenovo laptops still have built-in Ethernet and USB ports.)

In addition, despite the great work of companies like Jamf on the Mac, it generally is much easier to find the tools and expertise to support significant numbers of PCs and integrate them simply and (relatively) inexpensively into corporate environments, and Apple has made the situation worse by making it much more challenging and time-consuming to provision new hardware via standard images. Again, it's not a huge issue when you're dealing with small numbers of machines, but once you get past a few dozen, manageability becomes a serious concern.

On the software side, again, I won't go into detail regarding the many issues often discussed already on MacInTouch, but I can't avoid raising the most basic issue of all: trust. While Apple has done a very good job on the security side of the equation, how comfortable are any of us that this year's new release of macOS won't include some seemingly arbitrary change or show-stopping bug that breaks a critical app or causes data loss? Those can have as much impact as a security breach! These things have always been a risk with new OS releases, but by being on an annual release cycle, the risk has become essentially constant. Also, does anyone really know the date when security updates stop for older versions of macOS, how thoroughly updates for older systems are tested, or how completely vulnerabilities are catalogued and addressed? (Note that I did not even mention Apple apps. Can any business seriously rely on the features or interface of an Apple app being relatively stable over time, especially now that we are moving into the Marzipan era? How many people have been burned by relying on iWork, Aperture, or other Apple "pro" apps over the years?)

On another note, the advent of browser-based or cloud-enabled tools reduces the friction of switching platforms. If your primary tools are Microsoft Office, Google's G Suite, Evernote, Adobe, Slack, etc., it's not too difficult for businesses to keep running the same software, but on less expensive, faster, more flexible hardware. While switching platforms can hurt the custom workflows of people who have extensive knowledge of macOS, the truth is that casual users (i.e. the majority of business users) have little trouble switching. Interestingly, this suggests that Apple should do everything it can to make Macs and macOS better and more reliable to stay competitive, but Apple seems to be pursuing either vanity projects or benign neglect.

Why not Linux? I think Linux can make sense for organizations that are almost exclusively based on G Suite or one of the alternative Office software suites (like LibreOffice), but once they reach a certain size, they inevitably start feeling pressure to adopt a certain number of Microsoft Office licenses because of network effects. If you end up needing to exchange significant numbers of Office documents with third parties, you end up running into too many formatting problems or other incompatibilities, despite the impressive efforts of the LibreOffice/OpenOffice folks. It's hard for me to recommend Linux as a general, end user computing platform primarily because of the Office issue, but it can be a great niche fit for power/technical users, for extremely casual users whose work doesn't call for much beyond email or web browsing, or, of course, for server applications.

I write this as someone who had no interest at all in computers until I first laid hands on a 128k Mac in college, when I quickly became a Mac Evangelist. We've ended up in a strange place. I'm old enough to remember buying a particular platform in order to run a particular piece of equipment or software tool. Now we're in this strange place where people are asking if perfectly good printers, key productivity tools, or even $20,000 scanners need to be abandoned because a "free" OS update is imminent. Something is very wrong with this picture.

P.S. Apple should consider itself very fortunate that Microsoft shot itself in its own foot with the changes in Windows 8/10 aimed at collecting more user data and "modernizing" the interface. If Microsoft had continued incrementally enhancing Windows 7 without the Windows 8/10 gimmickry, the contrast between the stability, reliability, manageability, and predictability of Windows over current incarnations of macOS would be truly stark for corporate customers, and I think Apple would be feeling a lot more pain in business environments.
 


It is simply unacceptable to expect businesses to continue paying a premium for systems that look cool but have a significant likelihood of hardware problems from a company that has demonstrated a multi-year indifference to actually resolving the underlying issues.
Excellent summation, truly hits the nail on the head. The quoted text should be pinned to Tim Cook's forehead so he sees it every morning in the mirror.
 


I'm sure there are many reasons for Apple's falling sales, but just maybe they could look at their offerings and understand they're not giving consumers what they want. Phones, iPads, Macs and watches are all just incrementally updated, and Mr Cook seems to think they will fly off the shelves.
I wonder how much of this maliase is due to Cook abdicating to Mr. "thinner, thinner, thinner", who is an artist and not an engineer or usability expert.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I wonder how much of this maliase is due to Cook abdicating to Mr. "thinner, thinner, thinner", who is an artist and not an engineer or usability expert.
There may also be some contributions from "Mr. Bean Counter" to this issue, as thinner products reduce shipping costs (and might reduce some material costs, as well).
 


Apologies in advance for this cry from the heart....
I am 100% with you. Indeed, if Windows 7 were still the standard, I might not have gotten a new Mac at all. I do not appreciate Dongle Hell, incompatibility with my monitor (oh, but don't worry, shutting off FileVault will fix it!), the near impossibility of getting Apple to take said incompatibility seriously, constantly searching for (and buying new) dongles for each generation of computer, and now... having to stay where I am or pay various companies thousands of dollars for all-new software when the old stuff works just fine.

I did not upgrade my laptop past the "good keyboard" generation; if it fails, I have to buy a used one.

That said, Windows is still problematic... my favorite being trying to install Win7 or Win10 onto an HP laptop whose drive has been erased, from CD or USB, and being told that it can't install because it doesn't have the right CD or USB driver... while running from the CD or USB....

I tried going to Linux, but while it looks great, each flavor I try just isn't ready for prime time in key ways. It's partly the software interchange issue, but it's also the numerous things that can and do go wrong, with mysterious and very complicated solutions.

Apple has gone way too far into “styling and design,” when, with their larger market share, they can be serving a wider range of customers. Maybe we're not typical, maybe those of us who want minitowers or good keyboards are exceptional, but they have large enough scale that they should be able to provide for all of us.
 


I wonder how much of this maliase is due to Cook abdicating to Mr. "thinner, thinner, thinner", who is an artist and not an engineer or usability expert.
My favorite example of this was the changeover made in the iMac (I think it was the move from the 2011 model to the new, "thinner" 2012 model). Mr. thinner, thinner, thinner's great invention. I can hear the conversation now...

Thinner: "Hey Tim, I have a new better iMac design - it's really great, you will faint over this one."
Tim Cook: "Super, what is it like, Jony?"
Thinner: "We made it way better, Tim. We removed the ethernet port, we replaced that pesky 3-1/2" 7200rpm hard drive with a teeny5400 rpm drive, and we got rid of that ole stupid DVD SuperDrive. Who named that thing anyway? Oh, we also glued it shut to keep small children out of the iMac and anybody from messing with our memory."
Tim: "Wow, Jony, that sounds great, but not quite enough for me."
Thinner: "Okay, Tim, ready for this - Ta Da - it is now thinner!"
Tim: "Now that's what I'm talkin' about. Just what a desktop computer needs. Nice job, Jony."
 



Jose Hill's post is excellent and parallels my experience quite closely.

My personal feeling on the current state of Apple hardware is that I fail to see how you can call a MacBook Pro a professional machine when they removed all the onboard I/O in favor of the modules on the outside... and locked us out of the modules on the inside. The only "pros" they pleased by making things thinner were "road warriors"... completely forgetting that most people on the road are actually going somewhere to work and would appreciate not having to carry a second bag full of dongles.

In the past two weeks, I've done something I never thought I'd do: I "Gazelled" my PITA 27" iMac that never worked well from the beginning (and Apple could never catch/diagnose) and got a small-but-more-capable Windows PC, and I ditched my iPhone for an Android model.

I won't lie... I have some work to do get things whipped into shape. But I'm willing to go through that headache in lieu of putting up with overly "designed" hardware and software. This was a huge step for somebody who has used Apple computers since 1981 and been an iPhone user since the earliest of days.

Apple brought this on themselves. I'm sure they won't miss me, but they might miss my money. They've stolen the joy I used to have with their products. My little collection of Apple computers will be replaced with some other hobby, I'm sure. It's just too painful to see those wonderful little machines from back then and recall the excitement they engendered. I'm just going to move on and explore other things instead.
 


I think Linux can make sense for organizations that are almost exclusively based on G Suite or one of the alternative Office software suites (like LibreOffice), but once they reach a certain size, they inevitably start feeling pressure to adopt a certain number of Microsoft Office licenses because of network effects.
When Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 went EOL, I removed it from our systems. Our Macs now have NeoOffice, a recommendation I think came to my attention from Ric responding to a persistent print format problem in LibreOffice [OpenOffice] on Mac. Linux systems come with LibreOffice. We do exchange complex documents with attorneys, some who work for us, some representing other parties, and although they're almost all on Word (there may be a few on WordPerfect?), we've had no issues we couldn't solve by just being very clear that "We don't do Word." Funny how that gets people to be helpful when you're paying them.

Recently, I've read that Kingsoft's WPS Office (Windows/Linux) may be even more compatible with Microsoft Word and Excel than LibreOffice. I've not tried it.

Different view: my wife's last IBM Thinkpad came with Red Hat Linux pre-installed. All the IBM clients she serviced were Microsoft Office shops, and the accountants and database administrators with whom she worked used Access to download chunks of giant databases. They used Excel macros to further process data and prepare reports for management. She had to get permission to re-image her new laptop with Windows and Office, so she could do her job.
I wonder how much of this malaise is due to Cook abdicating to Mr. "thinner, thinner, thinner"
Remember those Pixar Lamp iMacs? Mine happened to be the second worst computer I ever owned, unreliable, buggy, just shut down for no reason. That aside, I loved the form factor with the pivoting 17" screen I could adjust to any angle, pull close, push back. The little round speakers were great, too. But it was freakin' heavy. Had to be. Pulling that arm holding the monitor around meant it had to have a weighty base. And it came in a huge box.

Tim Cook was a China supply chain guru brought in by Steve Jobs to streamline Apple production. That meant closing Apple's US factories and outsourcing manufacturing overseas. Apple gear doesn't come in by boat, it comes in by air freight. That means Apple isn't holding expensive inventory in shipment or in warehouses.

Replacing designs such as the Pixar Lamp iMac and cheesegrater Mac Pro saved enormous weight and space. "You can never be too rich or too thin," attributed to Wallis Simpson, was long applied to upscale products like watches and the original Razr cell phones. Thin's stylish. Thin's fashionable. Thin sells. Jony Ive may be the public face of "thin," but it's Tim Cook's supply chain logic that mandates "thin" as a policy. Not sure why that translates into systems with so few ports - the latest Dell XPS 13 has:
  • MicroSD card reader
  • USB-C 3.1 with Power Delivery and DisplayPort
  • Headset jack
  • two Thunderbolt 3 ports with Power Delivery and DisplayPort (4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3)
I tried going to Linux, but while it looks great, each flavor I try just isn't ready for prime time in key ways. It's partly the software interchange issue, but it's also the numerous things that can and do go wrong, with mysterious and very complicated solutions.
While Windows and Mac have a range of interchangeable, commercial, applications, a switch to Linux isn't seamless. There's just some software for which there's no desktop Linux replacement for Mac or Windows options. That said, I've not had any "mysterious and very complicated" Linux problems. That's probably because I've been setting up standard, new, Intel-based systems with Intel WiFi, Ethernet, and Intel graphics. That avoids a lot of potential issues which come with trying to re-purpose older hardware.

In the latest round of Linux updates (Ubuntu 19.04 versions, Fedora 30), setup of even proprietary graphics cards has been automated. I've noted substantial ease of setup improvements in Linux installs from 2015 to present. But that's on 100% Linux systems. Trying to set up your own partition scheme, and even dual booting, can get more complicated. I just let the installer have its way with an entire SSD, and in minutes I have a working install ready to go.
 


Jose Hill's post is excellent and parallels my experience quite closely.
... and I ditched my iPhone for an Android model.
Ditto on both points. Aperture loss is a big deal for me, and I made my first step into Android a couple of years ago, when the one main feature I cared about - plus-size screen - would cost literally twice as much on iPhone, plus Android had some other features (dual SIM) that are useful to me. The iPhone features I lost (mainly learning a new OS) were minor to me.

Overall it's close to five years since I last bought new Apple hardware out of my own pocket. I used to average one or two major products a year (not including Airports, which obviously I'm not buying anymore, either). No compelling products on offer at a reasonable price, plus, for me, dongles are a serious pain.
 


There may also be some contributions from "Mr. Bean Counter" to this issue, as thinner products reduce shipping costs (and might reduce some material costs, as well).
Mr. Bean Counter is not the only one that may be happy. Mr. Green will be pleased as well, because thinner and lighter products require less raw materials and energy to produce, package and transport. It's a double advantage.

That is, unless they make the products so thin that they become fragile and break sooner, of course.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Mr. Bean Counter is not the only one that may be happy. Mr. Green will be pleased as well, because thinner and lighter products require less raw materials and energy to produce, package and transport. It's a double advantage.
Mr. Repairman, Mr. Recycler, and Mr. Upgrader might disagree about the wisdom and ecological impact of thin, glued-shut products that are inaccessible, unrepairable, and non-upgradable.
 


When Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 went EOL, I removed it from our systems. Our Macs now have NeoOffice, a recommendation I think came to my attention from Ric responding to a persistent print format problem in LibreOffice [OpenOffice] on Mac. Linux systems come with LibreOffice. We do exchange complex documents with attorneys, some who work for us, some representing other parties, and although they're almost all on Word (there may be a few on WordPerfect?), we've had no issues we couldn't solve by just being very clear that "We don't do Word." Funny how that gets people to be helpful when you're paying them.
Those of us who depend on people paying us for our written products can't be so insistent on not doing Word, although I did manage to persuade a book publisher that I was not going to waste my time learning LaTeX when they could convert files from the previous edition into Word.

I do virtually all my magazine writing in Nisus Writer Pro, and submit RTF files that the editors turn into Word. Many publishers use change-tracking for quality control, which can be done in Nisus but not as well as in Word. Once you get into fussy little details of fonts, symbols and, especially, equations, for the final version of an article, I find it pays to work in Word. So far, I've been able to stay with Word 2011, but eventually I expect I will have to 'upgrade' to the current version.

Word is pretty much required for self-publishing to get the fine points of typesetting correct, although I have heard of people using other software, especially for text-only ebooks.
 



Word is pretty much required for self-publishing to get the fine points of typesetting correct, although I have heard of people using other software, especially for text-only ebooks.
Of course I can't find it now, but I heard a podcast interview with an author who uses LibreOffice to submit manuscripts to publishers.

I also heard Bob LeVitus ("Dr. Mac") interviewed on Episode 53 of the Mac Power Users podcast. Host (and also author) David Sparks is all about automating workflows, markdown, etc. Prolific author "Dr. Mac" is all about producing finished books and columns by sitting down, avoiding distracting influences, and typing in Word.

While searching the Internet for the author interview, I found this (below), showing use of LibreOffice far beyond my own. While it's focused on LibreOffice, it might have useful information for any aspiring author.
Fritzheit said:
Authoring Novels with LibreOffice
I finished the first draft of my first novel in 2005 using OpenOffice. Since then I've written two more novels and more than a dozen short stories. I switched to LibreOffice in 2010 after Oracle Corp. acquired Sun Microsystems. (For a brief overview of my story writing process, see my writing process.)

Briefly, the following article will detail how to use LibreOffice to write a novel from an editing perspective (without going into the creative aspect), starting with word processing and finishing with PDF files suitable for submission or creating a POD, as well as e-book files ready for publication via Amazon.
 


Empty space for cooling air to circulate inside a computer doesn't add weight. A laptop that's thicker doesn't necessarily use more material or add weight, as perforated air-grilles could replace solid sides.
But it requires more material to package it. That does add weight and requires extra raw materials. That packaged item also takes up more room, which means that fewer fit in a given volume of shipping. That in turn means more shipments, which costs more energy. I will gladly give you that this is a tiny amount per item, but given the humongous amount of stuff that Apple ships, it does add up.
 


Empty space for cooling air to circulate inside a computer doesn't add weight. A laptop that's thicker doesn't necessarily use more material or add weight, as perforated air-grilles could replace solid sides.
It may, however, require more packaging for the product. It may only be fractions of an inch, but it all adds up. Larger packaging may mean a lower number of units per a given shipping container. Both weight and package dimensions are of equal importance in this regard. Just try calculating the shipping costs for a large box containing only packaging peanuts across country. The dimensional weight of the package well exceeds the actual weight of the contents.

Otherwise, I am with you, George. I have long railed against the "thinner and lighter" design ethos of Apple these last years. That, along with the lack of choice. With Dell, HP and others, I have choices where there are clear differences between the model lines.
 


To take a breath and a step back, I just got a brand new "corporate-grade" HP laptop from my employer. And I have to say: I hate it. The Bluetooth works with some headphones, but not others. The included wireless mouse (with its non-standard, non-rechargeable battery) uses a huge USB dongle that lights up on mouse movement, which is annoying at best. The keyboard feels flimsy, and I constantly hit the Home key instead of Backspace, since it's in a column of keys to the right of the keyboard.

And think Windows devices don't mean carrying additional dongles and cables? Well, there's my wireless keyboard dongle, the aforementioned mouse's giant dongle, the DisplayPort to HDMI dongle, because HP's own DisplayPort didn't work consistently with HP monitors (or I could just carry a nice VGA cable!), the giant power brick with enough cable to plug the laptop into another zip code...

Then there's Windows 10, which I like over Windows 7, but still annoys me with its barrage of useless notifications.

Finally, I can't tell you how many times someone on my small technical team has sent their laptop back for repair, or in a conference call, someone says, "Shoot - my laptop just shut down..."

I certainly can't defend this as all things Apple being perfect, but at least Apple - for better or worse - is trying to get away from some of the annoyances I've described above.
 


But it requires more material to package it. That does add weight and requires extra raw materials.
Both weight and package dimensions are of equal importance
I just maxed out a 15" MacBook Pro (i9, 32GB RAM, Vega 20, 4TB) at the Apple Store: $6,649, before tax.

It ships in the same box as the "intro" $2,399 15" i7. The 2TB SSD takes up no more shipping space than the base 256GB SSD. And the profit margin Apple gets from selling that 4TB drive (buy now, or never) has to be staggering. They get to keep the 512GB that's "stock" in that model, then sell users the 4TB for $2,800.

Well and good, but even after the embarrassing "fix" required to take the original 2018 i9 out of the freezer for its own good, those computers don't deliver the performance they could, and that their price would justify, because they have to throttle to keep from self-basting. Saw today a suggestion the butterfly keyboard issues aren't grit, but heat....

Yes, my point about the Tim Cook supply-management-driven design "policy" agrees that Apple saves money from thinner and lighter.

Note it is Apple, Inc., that's saving money, and that's an example of Apple, Inc.'s interests diverging from its customers'.
 



I guess everyone has their horror stories about their {Mac/PC/Linux} machines. I own and use all three platforms.

Linux (Mint in my case) is lovely and works reliably, although apps for photo management and editing are not to my liking; seems like too many contributing-geeks demanding many similar functions, whereas a commercial developer would have resisted the feature creep and released something svelte and efficient. For email and Web use with some LibreOffice thrown in, however, it's fine. Older Macs that can't upgrade to Mojave are also perfect candidates for Mint; you can keep 'em running securely for years (as long as the video hardware doesn't fry).

macOS (Sierra on my 2015 iMac and 2014 MacBook Pro) works fairly well, although Finder issues (e.g. can't eject removable media) are common. Very rarely do I encounter a system freeze - maybe once every 6 weeks (but I am doing some data recovery things with my iMac, so I can't get angry; bad hard drives do tend to wedge the Finder).

Windows 10 (on a 2015 HP Envy 750), SSDs, 24GB RAM, and an Apple 23" Cinema Display (really!): I mostly run Lightroom on this box, along with Affinity Photo and Luminar. Gee, I have those apps on my iMac, too. They work pretty much the same (although the latter two still need a bit of tweaking from the developers for the Windows platform). Email and Web use are fine and reliable.

I believe Apple doesn't want me as a customer any more. I won't buy the MacBook Pro trash and recommend to everyone they avoid the MacBook and MacBook Pro like the plague. iMacs are still fairly good, although repair is a nightmare, but, when that T2 chip arrives in the iMac like the alien face-hugger it is, I'm out of here. Sorry, Apple.
 


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