Apple guy gives Xbox team some advice

Chuq Von Rospach, who works at Apple, gives us some advice on how not to introduce a product. Funny how soon he forgets that I couldn’t find an iPod Nano 4 GB black in time for our wedding anniversary a few months back. We finally found one about a month later, but truth is it is extremely hard to make enough gadgets to go around — especially when demand goes nuts.

I just bring this up because I’m seeing reports of iPod Nano shortages again — this despite MONTHS of sales and preparation. The Nano is very simple to make compared to an Xbox (it has far fewer suppliers to rely on, is much smaller too so can be shipped in greater volumes).

I notice a little bit of FUD, there, though, cause Apple fired IBM and went with Intel (IBM is the chip vendor for the new Xbox). Why did Steve Jobs fire IBM? Cause IBM couldn’t get Steve Jobs any new portable chips, which is why Apple hasn’t shipped a new portable computer in quite a while. Did that cost them sales? You betcha! When I met with Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, he was showing me his new Sony portable computer. Said he went with it instead of an Apple product cause it was a “ton faster” according to him. It’ll be interesting to see what Apple brings out in January at its MacWorld show. I brag about Matt cause he’s one of those guys who’s always used Macs.

Oh, and Chuq wrote about the folks who were waiting in line last night: “Sorry, but some people need to get a life.” Oh, Chuq, how about THESE PEOPLE. Do the folks who wait in line for YOUR products (er, just to be able to visit your stores, even) need to “get a life?” Got it. Hey, Apple folks, if you’re waiting in line to buy one of Apple’s new products after next month’s MacWorld, come and see what an Apple employee thinks of you!

You’re always welcome to stand in our lines, though.

71 thoughts on “Apple guy gives Xbox team some advice

  1. Dare I say “apples and oranges?”

    The fact that Microsoft intentionally chose to launch the 360 in time for the holiday season despite its admitted knowledge that they couldn’t come close to meeting the demand for the much-hyped product is far greater than any supply shortage Apple has perpetrated. Does Apple have supply shortages? Sure, sometimes.

    But you didn’t see the Nano hyped on a half-hour MTV program MONTHS before it was available to the public, did you? You didn’t see Apple whipping up the frenzy on the newest iMac by running an ARG, did you?

    Of course you didn’t.

    Apple has recognized its chronic undersupply problems and taken a major and controversial step to fix them. Microsoft, on the other hand, has tried to ignore its supply problems and taken major and controversial steps to exacerbate them.

    I’m an XBox fan and an Apple fan, but I can tell when a supplier of one of my favorite gadgets has let me down.

  2. Dare I say “apples and oranges?”

    The fact that Microsoft intentionally chose to launch the 360 in time for the holiday season despite its admitted knowledge that they couldn’t come close to meeting the demand for the much-hyped product is far greater than any supply shortage Apple has perpetrated. Does Apple have supply shortages? Sure, sometimes.

    But you didn’t see the Nano hyped on a half-hour MTV program MONTHS before it was available to the public, did you? You didn’t see Apple whipping up the frenzy on the newest iMac by running an ARG, did you?

    Of course you didn’t.

    Apple has recognized its chronic undersupply problems and taken a major and controversial step to fix them. Microsoft, on the other hand, has tried to ignore its supply problems and taken major and controversial steps to exacerbate them.

    I’m an XBox fan and an Apple fan, but I can tell when a supplier of one of my favorite gadgets has let me down.

  3. J, I agree completely.

    Intel was the way to go because they have shown to have the R&D, chips and volume now, sadly IBM and Freescale did not when it comes to the chips Apple needed. It also widens Apple’s possibilities regarding the CPU supplier, at the moment they have just one supplier for G4s and one for G5s. If Intel can’t deliver the goods for some reason switching to AMD (or even Via or Transmeta (if they still make chips, didn’t check)) is much easier than switching the whole CPU architecture.

  4. J, I agree completely.

    Intel was the way to go because they have shown to have the R&D, chips and volume now, sadly IBM and Freescale did not when it comes to the chips Apple needed. It also widens Apple’s possibilities regarding the CPU supplier, at the moment they have just one supplier for G4s and one for G5s. If Intel can’t deliver the goods for some reason switching to AMD (or even Via or Transmeta (if they still make chips, didn’t check)) is much easier than switching the whole CPU architecture.

  5. Robert, sorry for the delay but I was almost internetless yesterday.

    You say that Apple’s laptop trend is flat. I honestly don’t know what statistics you are looking at but at least this chart (http://www.cuk.ch/redac/totheend/imgtxt28/segments_history_b.jpg) would seem to tell otherwise (or we have different definition for trend, I have no financial schooling)

    I would interpret that chart so that sales of apple laptops have been increasing both when looking at plain numbers and share of it’s computer sales. Sure there is fluctuation but that should be quite normal given that apple’s product cycles are not in sync and given that new introductions, like the mini, easily push numbers up after introduction (even when not taking in regard the effect of filling the channel). Likewise an older product or supply problems (Yes Apple has had and most probably will have more than their share of those) make the opposite effect.

    And frankly Apple’s laptop sales of last quarter are nothing but very impressive given the age of the designs (ok, with some small revamps) and increasing rumours of the Intel machines being just round the corner. Could they have been better given a hypothetical laptop-G5 definitely, would they have been worth the major redesign, on a short term maybe but on a long term no.

    Link to the whole article (french, sorry): http://www.cuk.ch/articles.php?unique=766

  6. Robert, sorry for the delay but I was almost internetless yesterday.

    You say that Apple’s laptop trend is flat. I honestly don’t know what statistics you are looking at but at least this chart (http://www.cuk.ch/redac/totheend/imgtxt28/segments_history_b.jpg) would seem to tell otherwise (or we have different definition for trend, I have no financial schooling)

    I would interpret that chart so that sales of apple laptops have been increasing both when looking at plain numbers and share of it’s computer sales. Sure there is fluctuation but that should be quite normal given that apple’s product cycles are not in sync and given that new introductions, like the mini, easily push numbers up after introduction (even when not taking in regard the effect of filling the channel). Likewise an older product or supply problems (Yes Apple has had and most probably will have more than their share of those) make the opposite effect.

    And frankly Apple’s laptop sales of last quarter are nothing but very impressive given the age of the designs (ok, with some small revamps) and increasing rumours of the Intel machines being just round the corner. Could they have been better given a hypothetical laptop-G5 definitely, would they have been worth the major redesign, on a short term maybe but on a long term no.

    Link to the whole article (french, sorry): http://www.cuk.ch/articles.php?unique=766

  7. Jonathan,

    It wasn’t just new CPUs for laptops. Apple had to put up with a major supply restriction problem for pretty much the whole life of the G5 line. They probably left a billion or more on the table each quarter, just from the lack of parts.

    That’s why I think it’s hilarious when the AMD fanbois proclaim that Apple should dump Intel for AMD. It doesn’t matter if the AMD parts are faster, if you can’t get them in *quantity*.

  8. Jonathan,

    It wasn’t just new CPUs for laptops. Apple had to put up with a major supply restriction problem for pretty much the whole life of the G5 line. They probably left a billion or more on the table each quarter, just from the lack of parts.

    That’s why I think it’s hilarious when the AMD fanbois proclaim that Apple should dump Intel for AMD. It doesn’t matter if the AMD parts are faster, if you can’t get them in *quantity*.

  9. The one thing that’s common to both iPod Nano and Xbox 360 is a less-than-perfect build quality. Countless people have had their Nano screens scratched, but atleast they can still listen to the Nanos unlike the frozen Xbox’es.

    PS: Anyways, it costs pretty much nothing to dispense advice, and there’s lots of it to go around here!

  10. The one thing that’s common to both iPod Nano and Xbox 360 is a less-than-perfect build quality. Countless people have had their Nano screens scratched, but atleast they can still listen to the Nanos unlike the frozen Xbox’es.

    PS: Anyways, it costs pretty much nothing to dispense advice, and there’s lots of it to go around here!

  11. This comparison isn’t even close to being valid, supply shortages are a normal temp thing, worldwide launches with sustained low stock aren’t, that’s the height of arrogance actually. And what’s with the Apple bashing? I, for the life of me, don’t get how people still can take you seriously anymore.

  12. This comparison isn’t even close to being valid, supply shortages are a normal temp thing, worldwide launches with sustained low stock aren’t, that’s the height of arrogance actually. And what’s with the Apple bashing? I, for the life of me, don’t get how people still can take you seriously anymore.

  13. I’ve been hearing about the iPod Nana shortages I’ve been to several Target stores and each time they had several in stock.

  14. Ramping up production is always hard. Now, on supply and demand. You are not going to be perfect (produce exactly the right amount of products for your demand), which error would you try to make? Too much product or too little? If you know anything about economics too little is the right answer. Not having product available leads to some sale lost, but having too much product loses money directly. Shortages, when you have a hit in your hands, is good… So both the Xbox and the Nano are doing great. Don’t sweat it.

  15. Ramping up production is always hard. Now, on supply and demand. You are not going to be perfect (produce exactly the right amount of products for your demand), which error would you try to make? Too much product or too little? If you know anything about economics too little is the right answer. Not having product available leads to some sale lost, but having too much product loses money directly. Shortages, when you have a hit in your hands, is good… So both the Xbox and the Nano are doing great. Don’t sweat it.

  16. Thanks for linking to that blog post. It was very well written, unlike your juvenile attempt at a rebuttal. It wasn’t a mean-spirited article, and gave MS credit for doing some things right, but your response is dripping with venom, so I guess he must have been right on with most of his criticism. You didn’t actually refute any of his points, so I’m guessing you agree with them, and are trying to say “but other people screwed up too, see?” Sad.

  17. Thanks for linking to that blog post. It was very well written, unlike your juvenile attempt at a rebuttal. It wasn’t a mean-spirited article, and gave MS credit for doing some things right, but your response is dripping with venom, so I guess he must have been right on with most of his criticism. You didn’t actually refute any of his points, so I’m guessing you agree with them, and are trying to say “but other people screwed up too, see?” Sad.

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