Apple starting to talk like Nokia’s Kallasvuo? Or Ballmer?

Confronted with a industry-defining innovation, they laughed.

I was at the World Mobile Congress in 2007 when the iPhone had recently been released, as part of the Nokia blogger program. I remember the then CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo I believe, pooh-poohed the iPhone, saying that Nokia was working on touch screens, but that ‘touch is just another interface’.

Remember Ballmer laughing about the iPhone?

I knew then they were doomed.

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Amazon Echo Show

M.G. Siegler recounts his impressions of Phil Schiller’s recent comments about the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices. Schiller is Senior Vice President Worldwide Marketing at Apple.

M.G. Siegler, Echo Echoing

Here’s Apple SVP Phil Schiller talking to Gadgets 360:

Gadgets 360: Personally, what are your thoughts on devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo?

Phill Schiller: Well, I won’t talk to either one specifically, [I] don’t want to. My mother used to have a saying that if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all. So, instead, let’s abstract the conversation just briefly to some of the general concepts and talk about those, because it’s really interesting.

Just an absurd and asinine thing to say. He has nothing nice to say about the other devices? Nothing?! Even if the current crop of devices aren’t perfect — and I don’t think anyone would argue that they are — it’s foolish not to acknowledge their place in the market right now. Sure, Apple isn’t playing directly in the space (yet), but even compared to Siri, these things are far more compelling.

Moving on:

So there’s many moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn’t mean you’d never want a screen. So the idea of not having a screen, I don’t think suits many situations. For example if I’m looking for directions and I’m using Maps, Siri can tell me those directions by voice and that’s really convenient but it’s even better if I can see that map, and I can see what turns are coming up, and I can see where there is congestion, I understand better my route, and what I’m going to do.

Okay, so this is exactly what Amazon just released today. Ahead of whatever Apple is planning to release. The consensus has long been that Apple doesn’t care about doing something first, they care about doing something right. Per Schiller’s comments above, the Echo Show is clearly what Apple views to be the right approach. So will Apple be able to make a better version of it?

Unknowable right now, of course. But given the state of Siri versus the other assistants, I’m skeptical. Yes, I’m skeptical of Apple. And Schiller’s goofy, aloof snipes certainly don’t help.

More cogently, he sounds like Kallasvuo or Ballmer when confronted by the iPhone.

Originally published at

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Founder, Work Futures. Editor, GigaOm. My obsession is the ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

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