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Interview with Walt Mossberg on iPhone 5S, iOS 7, Android and the future of Apple

This is the full transcription of Macitynet.it interview with Walt Mossberg of Wall Street Journal and AllThingsD.

This Macitynet interview with Walt Mossberg was conducted by Domenico Panacea at the end of August and it’s a complete analysis of the future of Apple with considerations about upcoming products and technologies and and about people leading Apple but the interviews covers a broader range of matters from Goggle Glass to Windows RT, from marketing to Android…

Walt Mossberg (1943) is a reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal since 1970 e he spent 18 years covering national and international affairs before turning his attention to technology. His Personal Technology column has appeared every Thursday since 1991.

In partnership with his fellow Journal columnist Kara Swisher, Mossberg created, produces and hosts the Journal’s annual D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, CA. Mossberg and Swisher also co-edit the All Things Digital web site, which includes his columns, her blog and other posts.

Here’s the transcription of the interview. (Italian translation and italian spoken video are on this page)

In its famous annual meetings AllThingsD had the privilege to host the top IT leaders like Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and many others, Do you remember a some funny episode with one of these people?

I guess the funniest one I remember was in 2007: we had Steve Jobs and Bill Gates together on our stage, it was the first time they’ve done that in a conference, and we were talking about their relationship, we asked to each one what was the secret thing about the relationship between them, and Steve said: “Well we managed to keep our marriage secret for 10 years”. I think that was his funniest line.

Talking about technology, Apple, with its first iPhone back in 2007 introduced new features that owerwhelmed people expectations building a great wow effect. According to you is there any more space for innovations for the hi-level smartphone area or we have to expect innovations only on other product categories like the iWatch or a real TV with an Apple brand on it?

Well you know Domenico I think the answer is both. I don’t agree with people who say there’s no more room to innovate in smartphones. There are a lot of things you can do. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
One is authentication that is how the phone knows it’s you and you don’t have to type in passwords and all this sort of things:  there’s a lot of work going on there, it might be that the phone recognizes  your fingerprint, maybe that the phone has some other way of recognizing you and immediately entering the phone without having to remember to take any passcode and yet you have security: Apple is working on that like other companies.

That’s just one example, there are others.
I think a voice command and voice asking a question with your voice is something Apple has started to do with Siri and Google has something similar there they have it on their phones. These are just getting started better not perfect yet, there’s a lot of things they can do, it is a lot of work going on to make it possible for you to talk to your phone rather than typing in text or commands and you know this is especially important if you’re driving .
So I think that those are just two examples of a lot of things you can do with the smartphone.
Now it’s also true that Apple is really the kind of company that has made its reputation on, on all new products game changing new categories.
See the  iPad, for instance, people bought them, and someone said  “we don’t we need this, we’ll never use that” and they sold 160 millions of them since 2010.

Apple is a company that’s a little bit like a Movie studio, it needs to come up with big new hits every few years and so things like wearable computing and the rumored IWatch, things like reinventing television which we know they’re working on…these things are also very important for Apple.

walt mossbergAnd then Apple will be the leading innovator also in future years?

I  don’t know. I can’t predict. I just know there’s room for exciting new features in iPhone and in other phones and I know Apple is working on it and will see what they come up with.

They could fail, they could succeed in changing things again but it’s not just iPhone… they have to keep working on exciting new things for iPad and Mac and they have to introduce products in entirely new categories, like television or wearable computing like the iWatch. Oeople expect different things from different companies and what they expect from Apple is game changing features or entirely new game changing products and that’s a big challenge, that’s a big bet. They have to keep doing that.

You talked about fingerprint recognition. Do you think the next iPhone 5S home button would have this kind of authentication system?

Fingerprint is a kind of authentication and I can’t tell you for sure if they’ll have it. I know, I read the rumors, I know  things about what’s coming but I don’t know for sure whether it will be in the next iPhone.

And offline dictation, without internet connection, could appear on the next iPhone models?

It would be a good thing. Google actually already has dictation without necessarily being on the network at least in a limited way and I think that would be a good step but I don’t know if Apple is going to be able to do that or if it plans to do that.

Among the other rumours on the next iPhone we have some reporting about a possibile “gold” model. Would like such a finishing?

This is another rumor , I know different colors are fine, they’re very nice things, I don’t think that’s a big technology innovation but I’m sure they could do it maybe they will

Does Apple really need to produce a Low cost iPhone?

I think, that’s an important business, a business move for them. The cost of smartphones is going down and Apple always makes premium products: the low cost products from Apple are never probably going to be the cheapest phone or the cheapest tablet or the cheapest computer, but you know if you look at the iPod, they made five or so different models of it at all different price ranges.

Right now they’ll really only make new iPhone which is a premium price and they sell the older ones, as you know for less money but I think from a business point of view it would be a good thing if they had a less-expensive model of the iPhone, particularly for the  emerging markets  and also for the people with less money in the developed world also but again I think that is a business decision, that’s not a technology breakthrough

Until know we don’t know it the next iPad mini would be offered with a retina display… It would be possible for Apple to avoid retina displays on mini to keep the difference with standard iPads?

They already have a retina in the iPads. When they went to retina the iPad got thicker and heavier so the challenge there would be to keep a retina screen but make the iPad thinner again and lighter again or  to take the iPad mini and give it to retina screen … Google has just come out with a 7 inch Nexus that has a retina screen so I know it’s certainly possible I would be so surprised if they were not working on that

Do you like Google Glass?

That’s really an experimental product! I have used it, it’s interesting, I think a lot will depend on functionality. Right now I don’t think it does very much so, and they admit this, they are not selling it to everybody just yet, and they need to get more functionality: there are people preparing apps for it, if it did something that was really useful and really exciting I think it could be and if it will be priced at a lower price, I think it could be become a successful product but I’m sorry to say once again I think we just have to wait and see.

Google Glass is going to be a product for a wider market?

It could be.

And the new  Google Chromecast could be a threat for the increasing interest on actual Apple TV?

It’s different on AppleTV because it doesn’t have any apps for content in yet, it’s entirely a competitor to one feature of Apple TV which is AirPlay and it doesn’t have very many apps that it can actually work with yet from  a tablet or phone, they need to develop apps that work with it and they need to do more… but it’s less expensive and it’s very small and so for beaming from your device to TV I think it does good job.

Do you like iOS 7 iCons? Someone hates them! According to you Steve Jobs would have like them? And Scott Forstall?

I can’t tell you if they would like them .I haven’t decided myself when I think of it, I have to live with it for a while right now we only had betas of it and they keep changing I really my way of operating, is that I judge the products as they are released, we don’t have the final version yet but iOS 7 will see next month what it looks like ,I’m … icons are okay and fine, I think people never like when something changes visually I’m going to be much more interested not in design of the icons but in the functions of iOS 7 and how does it improve the iOS device

Professional market is still a priority for Apple?

Clearly it’s less of a priority that once used to be because they had given.. with the all the Apple that I was in trouble and that I did not have very much marketshare they depended a lot that professional market I think now they have a much broader base of customers and personally I write  really for average consumers.
I really don’t cover the professional products very much but I understand the professionals are unhappy with certain things that Apple is doing or not doing but I will say that I think that’s probably a smaller part of their business than it was 10 years ago and I think it’s deliberate I think they focused very much on  much broader market of customers.

Many young people seem to prefer Android. Is it because Android appears lke an open system without rules and young people hates rules? Apple has to be more open and futhermore more aggressive on its advertising? Their latest “brand” spot Our Signature was criticized for being boring…

I think that’s always gonna  to be the case, people have, you know, newer things are more interesting to them.  I don’t think this open thing is very real, i think  is a very small part of the world cares about that android is really open  like they claim because Google put certain conditions on it and if you want to the Google services to be on  the device and Apple isnt’ closed , Apple isnt’ closed, Apple is just curated. It means.   you know there are 900,000 apps that run on iOS:  you can write any app or any browser for the Mac so to me it’s not a close system but Apple does have a curation mindset and I think that protects you from malware.

There is a lot of Malware on Android because Google doesn’t check the apps before they allow to mount to the system so there will always be people who prefer to be able to keep around with the device that was true with Windows, Apple just has a different attitude  and I think Apple does it’s job right. They can continue to be successful with the philosophy they have.

In terms of marketing at least here in United States they spend a lot of money on marketing. Maybe they could do it better but they’ve done a very good job with marketing over the last 15 years. Some people don’t like the advertising that has come along since Steve Jobs’ death  and maybe they need to get better advertising that they spend a lot of money on marketing.

Steve Jobs was famous for his attention to details. Jony Ive is the the one most close to Steve’s spirit?

They used to have lunch together every day, they were  very close. Jonathan Ive is probably the most important hardware designer of the last 15-20 years: all of these beautiful products were his design in collaboration with Steve Jobs and  those designs had an impact on everything: furniture, home decor, cars… everything has taken some inspiration from his designs they have been very influential so now he’s going to try to do the same thing with the software and we will see whether that succeeds or not. He certainly has the credentials as a great designer  with meticulous attention to detail just like Steve Jobs did.

Steve Ballmer says the convergence between PC and Tablet is still necessary. Do you agree with him?

No, I think that so far at least the effort to say “everything can have a tablet interface with a touch screen and at the same time it’s  a regular windows PC”… I don’t think that it succeeded so far and I think they would’ve been better off taking their, what they’ve called the Metro system, which is very nice, and make  that their tablet operating system linking it very close to their phone operating system and improving Windows in other ways.

So I’m not a fan of that idea: I think a tablet and a phone deserve a different user interface than a regular PC does.

Someone says Apple is doing Politics. Is it possibile to connect a tech company with a political party?

I think this is ridiculous it’s ridiculously in United States. There are Republicans like Rush Limbaugh that love Apple products but as a company  Apple has a member as Al Gore leading Democrats on their board. Steve Jobs was a liberal. Apple has  been publicly in favor of gay marriage. So I don’t I don’t think there’s a political coloration of Google or Apple or Microsoft and many of these companies.

Tim Cook is the right leader for Apple? Do you have some suggestions for Mr Cook?

You know Tim Cook also worked very closely with Steve Jobs :he was in all of their executive meetings where all the big decisions were made and Steve Jobs chose Tim Cook to run Apple and Tim Cook is a smart man with a lot of experience in this. He is not, I don’t think, a design oriented guy and that’s why he’s put Jony Ive in charge of that.

I think that Tim Cook’s record in the long run is whether he succeeds or fails will depend on how the products to the company doesn’t even though it’s been almost 2 years now or about two years I think a lot will depend on the new products he is able to bring out or maybe if you can’t if you can’t bring up these game changing products then I think it’ll be clear that he’s not the right guy but I think it’s a little bit too soon to make a final decision on man.

Apple stocks are going up in this moment. Will they reach 700 Dollars quotation like last year?

I don’t know, I don’t care about their stock I don’t follow the stock price I don’t own any of their stock so I can’t possibly tell you what their price of stock will be. I will only say this… I think the price of the company stock isn’t always this good indicator whether it’s a good company with the products of those are two different things.

Apple usually redesigns drastically its iPhone every 24 months following the so called Tick-Tock cycle. It could be better to offer a new really iPhone every year?

I don’t know, might be a good idea but right now I can tell you that it still selling a lot , they’ve  sold 30 million iPhones in one quarter, last quarter, so probably from their point of view they are selling a lot but you know there’s an upside and downside.

If they brand an all new iPhone every year I think it would please Apple fans it might even please the stock market but average people who are not wedded to one company or another they don’t like when a completely new thing comes out less than a year after the one they’ve bought: they get annoyed! So there’s an upside it but there’s also a downside.

Thank you so much from us and from our readers for the interview. It’s been a pleasure and an honor.

It’s an honor for me,  It happens that I love Italy  and I think it is a very important country: it’s my favorite country to visit when I go on holiday or on business trips and I’m very happy to be speaking to an italian  journalist like you.

Thanks! We’ll be honored to have you for a lunch here in Italy!

Ok’s it’s a  deal!

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