Tech Retrospect: Apple listens, reaps rewards

Apple famously likes to dictate what the market needs. But it turns out listening works, its earnings report shows. That, plus the redefinition of "broadband" and more in your look back at the week in tech.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
3 min read


Of the things the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said over the years, "people don't know what they want until you show it to them" is among his most frequently cited quotes, building up an image of a man who ignored customer feedback and did what he thought was right.

That is, of course, an incomplete picture of someone who received plenty of feedback from plenty of sources, but Apple certainly has a reputation of doing what it wants, market be damned. Usually that works just fine, but sometimes the market knows what the market wants, and with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, that's exactly what it got. The result? Another mind-blowing financial windfall for Apple.

The company long resisted making a larger phone, finally taking a tiny step from 3.5-inches on the iPhone 4 to 4 inches on the iPhone 5. It was another step with the iPhone 6, up to 4.7, and with the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, came the long-awaited acknowledgement that one size no longer fits all.

The results are nothing short of amazing.The company sold 74.5 million iPhones last quarter, an incomprehensible number and a figure almost 50 percent higher than the same quarter in 2013. Total revenue for the company in those three months? $74.6 billion. $18 billion in profit, the most profitable quarter for any corporation ever. It's hard to get your head around that much cash, but as a reader very astutely asked me on Twitter this week, what might have happened had Apple gone bigger sooner?

Apple Watch coming in April


When Apple took the wraps off of the Watch last year, many of us hoped it would be in stores by Valentine's Day. No such luck. After blowing the doors off of earnings estimates at the company's quarterly investor call, CEO Tim Cook disappointed some by saying that the thing will actually ship sometime in April. Sorry, Cupid, you're going to have to wait a few months.

Crashed White House drone could ground industry


This week, a DC-based government staffer was playing with his or her new drone when he lost control of the thing. It crashed, where else, on the White House lawn. Soon, the "BREAKING NEWS" banners were flying across the nation's news networks, fueling for all sorts of speculative punditry. It was all ultimately a non-event, but the discussions it spawned raise endless implications that will almost surely make owning a drone less fun in the future. DJI, makers of the machine in question, is already pushing changes that will disable its hardware over the White House. More locations will follow.

FCC narrows broadband definition


Congratulations to marketing wizards working for major American Internet providers! Your jobs just got a lot more interesting. You, now, must invent a new way to sell your company's "high-speed" offerings that fall below 25 megabits per second. The FCC this week said that anything slower than that ""="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="c1b84eca-acfd-4b16-8036-d756889a1020" slug="sorry-your-broadband-internet-technically-isnt-broadband-anymore" link-text="cannot be called " section="news" title="Sorry, your broadband Internet technically isn't broadband anymore" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"c1b84eca-acfd-4b16-8036-d756889a1020","slug":"sorry-your-broadband-internet-technically-isnt-broadband-anymore","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"online"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Tech^Services and Software^Online","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> The intent, surely, is to encourage corporations to dial up the speeds. I think we'll instead soon be swimming in a sea of similar-sounding terms like bigspeed, broadpath, wideband and, my favorite, the largely meaningless "fast."

Google Fiber spreads through the South


One service that won't have to worry about getting creative is Google Fiber. The Big G is bringing its gigabit service to 18 new cities across the southern US, including Atlanta, GA and Nashville, TN. If you live in one of these areas, consider me jealous.

Sling TV is a first, short step toward proper cable-cutting

Watch this: Sling TV review: Live ESPN, CNN and others for $20 per month is great, but not for everyone

While Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime and their ilk are making life easier for those who would eschew a traditional cable TV subscription, none replicate the simple joy of channel-flipping. More problematic for many would-be subscribers, they lack live sports. Dish's Sling TV, recently announced at CES, looked to fill the void, offering a (small) handful of channels streaming to any device anywhere. Unfortunately, as our full review this week reveals, it's the missing channels that really define the service, along with the lack of any DVR-like functionality. Still, this is only the beginning, and things can only get better from here.