Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller, who had a rather busy week this week, sat down with TIME to talk Macs, Blu-Ray, Windows 8, and more.
Harry McCracken for TIME:
I began by asking him about the streamlining of Mac hardware that’s been going on for years now. Apple has put its computers into unibody cases, sealed in the batteries, removed the optical drives, dumped hard disks when possible and either shrunk or eliminated many once-standard connectors. Rather than adding new features with abandon, as tech companies usually do, it’s whittled the Mac down to its elegant essence.
McCracken goes on to say that many of the changes have been controversial, at least among some observers, but they never seem to hurt Mac sales. What is Apple’s strategy?
“This is what Apple has always been about, and the Mac has been about, from the first Mac and first iMac,” Schiller said. “It’s always been about making the best Mac we know how. Among the many benefits are making it easy to use and affordable, with great features. This high level of integration is part of delivering on that.”
Schiller then pointed out some of the downsides of the technologies Apple has removed or downplayed. Mechanical hard drives for one. Schiller says they use more power, and are more likely to have reliability issues than solid-state storage. Schiller then went on to say that old technologies are “holding us back, they’re anchors on where we want to go.”
Schiller also adds that while competitors are afraid to remove things that have outlived their useful purpose, Apple tries to find better solutions, and feels that their customers have given them a lot of trust.
McCracken brings up the fact that Apple began removing optical drives from their laptops years ago, and mentions that the new iMacs are the first of that lineup to not have the optical drives, was it a difficult decision?
“It actually comes from similar thinking as with the portables,” Schiller said. “In general, it’s a good idea to remove these rotating medias from our computers and other devices. They have inherent issues — they’re mechanical and sometimes break, they use power and are large. We can create products that are smaller, lighter and consume less power.”
Schiller makes a good point that a major reason for having an optical drive, software installations, has gone largely digital, video is no longer drive driven either, saying “Blu-ray has come with issues unrelated to the actual quality of the movie that make [it] a complex and not-great technology… So for a whole plethora of reasons, it makes a lot of sense to get rid of optical discs in desktops and notebooks.”
Schiller of course, believes that iTunes is the perfect alternative to Blu-Ray, as it lets you buy a movie, and then allows you watch it on all your Apple devices.
When McCracken mentions that pundits have long said that Apple should start making cheaper models of their Macs, but has noticed that that dumbeat has seemed to die out, Schiller replies “…We wouldn’t make something cheap or low quality. When the economy is difficult, people care a great deal about the things they spend their money on. Customers have come to understand that Apple’s products aren’t priced high — they’re priced on the value of what we build into them.”
When McCracken asks Schiller for his take on Windows 8 and Microsoft’s tablet/PC strategy, Schiller demurely says, “Primarily, we think about what we’re doing, not what others do.”
Sounds like Schiller lets his boss Tim Cook give the quotes on that subject.
For more of Harry McCracken’s interview with Schiller, head over to TIME.