By Sachit Bhat

3MinSB - Issue #39: The Chip



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November 19 · Issue #39 · View online

Thoughts on life and the everyday.

Hello world and welcome back!
Apple has been on an event tear these last few months, unveiling yet another iteration of Apple hardware classics including the iPhone, MacBook, and Apple Watch (as well as a clever bundling service). Yet it’s been the smallest piece of hardware that has garnered the most attention: Apple’s custom processing M1 chip. There are countless ways to view the shift and its relative impact, but wanted to give a quick rundown here.
For years, Apple had been dependent on Intel’s processors for its MacBooks and Desktop computers, creating an intrinsic divide between their mobile and computer division. Apple already builds the silicon chips for its iPhones and iPads (which is why apps are so cross-compatible). The chips are built on the ARM architecture, which is different than than the predecessor x86 that Intel uses. Building out a computer processor that also relies on the ARM architecture further consolidates the ecosystem of applications across Apple devices, making it easy for developers to create, and drive more value for each application released.
On a related note, the shift to custom chips is a clear signal of Apple’s public and longstanding desire for control over the stack. While most large product-based corporations have to rely on external third-parties to handle manufacturing or logistics, Apple is looking to optimize through control over their software and hardware, two key facets for such a device driven company. Each dependency on a third party supplier or distributor limits flexibility for scheduling releases and updates, as well as creative control. Apple sees this as a chance to build for the longer-term, working through potential short-term compatibility errors and bugs for what could eventually be an integrated ecosystem of devices, apps, and software/hardware pieces. Apple has proven its expertise in supply chain management, and has continued to push towards custom hardware and a lack of dependencies.
The move is one that is not entirely surprising, though could spark a new push towards consolidating resources and optimizing for long-term growth. The need for external providers is necessary when resources are limited in areas that require expertise, but Apple is at a spot where the strategy has shifted towards services, as well as garnering profits out of their existing hardware through upgrades and consolidation.
As Big Tech continues to grow, their goal is to further isolate themselves from the interdependent ecosystem that most early stage companies are subject to. Apple is not alone in this strategy - Tesla is also continually consolidating products to control the supply chain and creating a more complete vertical integration.
The change will be a gradual one, though the initial reviews have been positive. This has been a long time coming for Apple, and could determine a future path for the best ‘Silicon in the Valley’ (had to).
Round 39!

When Big Bets Go Wrong
I’ve written about survivorship bias before, especially in relation to startups, where massive successes narrow the view of what it takes to get there. When writing about the complexity convection last week, I was digging both into successful products as well as those that didn’t have quite the impact intended. Enter Google Graveyard, a compilation of killed Google products and features over the years. There are some patterns that emerge from the graveyard: attempted social networking platforms (Google Buzz, Orkut, Google Hangouts), messaging services (Google SMS, Google Talk), and productivity apps (Timeful, Google Helpouts).
Google Graveyard - Killed by Google
A Problem Worth Considering
I’ve vaguely mentioned the learnings and issues I’ve faced in tech consulting in the past, but as I transition to a new project, this article has become more prevalent than ever. The nature of consulting is cyclic, as projects are driven by sold work and option years, as well as quick employee turnover and shifting priorities. Documentation is the literal lifeblood for understanding existing applications and processes, and the problem persists and expands in scale unless proper handling.
Technical Debt as a Lack of Understanding
Tweet I'm Reading
Seeing these tweets continue to drive me towards wanting a Twitter, but I’m sure I don’t have the self-control to properly limit myself. Most social or content driven platforms utilize some type of recommendation engine, but the suggestions come with high impact tradeoffs that can determine the overall functionality of the app. The battle over Tik Tok is not for the platform, but the lucrative and engaging algorithm behind the video feed.
TikTok, Instagram, and the Quadrant of Deep Understanding… "
Thank you all for reading! Until next week.
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