Apple’s optimistic view of the future

Asymco has more about Apple’s bet on longer-lasting devices:

Apple is making a bet that sustainability is a growth business.

and

An iPhone at $1200 may be less expensive than an iPhone at $600 if the $1200 version lasts twice as long as is used twice as much each day. The $1200 phone delivers 4x the utility at twice the price, making it half the price. By making more durable products, both in terms of hardware and software, the customer base is satisfied and preserved.

This is true long-term thinking, and it seems to permeate the company.

This makes me think about Apple’s view of the future, about trends today that it bets will be mainstream in the intermediate to long term.

Apple bets that data privacy will be vastly more appreciated by customers and mandated by regulators in the long run. That privacy versus convenience is a false dichotomy.

That the population in general will be more aware of and conscious about their everyday physical and mental health and risk factors, and will want help changing their lifestyle for better health (Apple Watch, HealthKit, ResearchKit, CareKit, Screen Time).

That renewable alternatives to traditonal, fossil-fuel based energy will eventually, through markets and regulation, become mainstream.

Apple’s always had a strong view of the world in which its customers live, but its scope has grown vastly.

In the 2000s, Apple made a bet on access and accessibility as part of its digital hub strategy (WSJ, 2001). Its digital stores brought first music, then movies, TV shows, books and finally apps to its customers. iOS had great accessibility built-in from day one. And its early bet on Apple Stores saw its customers being able to touch and experience its devices and software before buying them.

This decade Apple has moved on to awareness and responsibility in a new world of abundance of media and data, and scarcity of energy and attention. It is wonderfully optimistic.

Apple’s public commitment to durable devices

The most interesting part of the September 2018 Apple event was the segment on environmental responsibility (from ~1hr20m to 1hr25m on the keynote video). And of the three-part strategy – increase the use of recycled/responsibly sourced raw material, build longer lasting products devices, and expand reuse/recycling of iPhones and iPads – the second one caught my attention.

Apple’s probably the only electronics devices company, and one of a few major brands, that has publicly declared it wants you to use a product as long as possible, and will help you do so.

It’s walked the talk, mostly. It pointed out that the 2013 iPhone 5s will run iOS 12, that iOS 12 runs in fact faster on a device that iOS 11. This wasn’t always the case – the iPhone 3GS barely ran iOS 7 and iPhone 4/iPad 3 crawled on iOS 9. The iPhone 5, though, runs iOS 10 just fine.

But it also shows up in other ways: the App Store hosts older versions of 3rd party apps so you can download them on older versions of iOS.

Similarly, it hosts older iOS and iPod OSes too – last month, I restored a 2005 1st generation iPod nano and iTunes treated it like a first class citizen, including little touches like identifying the right colour of the device in the icon.

Most of its own iCloud services still work with old versions of iOS – my 2011 iPhone 4S on iOS 6 syncs contacts, calendar, notes, reminders, safari bookmarks, photos, and sends/receives iMessage right out of the box.

Finally, because this is a commitment to good, long-lasting design, there’s also a much higher chance that engineers/designers have thought through little details and edge cases.

I’ve been a fan of before and after photos of cities, building façades and infrastructure projects. On a day of particularly bad traffic on the Western Express Highway in Bombay, here’s a photograph of one of the Metro lines under construction. Perhaps I’ll post another one from the same stretch when it’s complete (don’t hold your breath).

Electric vehicle policy and infrastructure

I’m pleasantly surprised at the building out of EV infra and policy. I did some casual digging around after reading what the PM said at a ‘Global Mobility Summit’ in Delhi yesterday.

From his speech:

“We want to drive investments across the value chain from batteries to smart charging to electric vehicle manufacturing. We will soon put in place a stable policy framework for electric and alternate fuel powered vehicles.”

I’m glad to read this after the government dropped its 2030 target to phase out sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles.

Then licensing clarification, from the Power Ministry in April 2018:

Setting up charging stations for electric vehicles does not need a separate licence under the Electricity Act of 2003, the government has said, giving a big boost to ambitious EV plans…

The clarification sets aside monopoly licensing in favour of an open and competitive development.

Essentially, charging an EV doesn’t involve generation, transmission or distribution of electricity in the traditional sense of the terms.

In May 2018, some target numbers on charging point infrastructure:

“It is expected that 30,000 slowcharging and 15,000 fast-charging stations will be required to be put up in a phase-wise manner in the next 3-5 years. There should be at least two high-charge points and one fast-charging point at every three kilometres in cities. Similarly, there should be electric vehicle charging station every 50 km on highways,” a senior government official said.

The government’s ‘Energy Efficiency Services Limited’ called for a bid for 4000+ EV charging stations in October 2017. No news on what came of it, though.

And surprise – oil PSUs have made at least token gestures to set up EV charging points: Indian Oil in July 2018 in Hyderabad, Indian Oil and HPCL in Nov 2017 in Nagpur. Tata Power also set up some token charging points in malls in Bombay in Jan 2018.

It’s about time for a country wide map of EV charging locations and points. With live info on how many are actually available/in use.

Finally, policy that makes it easier to set up electric vehicle infrastructure is a lot harder, but also vastly more useful, than throwing money at it via sops, such as those as part of the FAME India programme:

The scheme offers sops on electric and hybrid vehicles of up to Rs 29,000 for bikes and Rs 1.38 lakh for cars, thereby lowering their price for buyers.