I must confess I am somewhat shocked that AnandTech’s founder, Anand Lal Shimpi, has announced his retirement at the ripe old age of just 32. The Forbes story notes correctly that the teen wiz kid who founded what today is the “gold standard” in detailed, thorough tech journalism—especially in regards to the review of products—is departing from his baby after 17 and a half years. As the owner of Architosh after nearly that long I can tell you, it would not be an easy thing to say good bye. Clearly the opportunities afforded by working at Apple must have been very enticing and possibly reassuring.
For Apple, Things Can Change
So the Forbes story notes in an update that Anand Shimpi is leaving his beloved web publication and departing to Apple. That was confirmed. This is truly surprising on many fronts. Firstly, AnandTech.com is truly a PC geeks heaven of sorts. For those who love to get under the hood and tweak and experiment, Shimpi’s publication is one of only a handful of truly professional publications worldwide that possess the detailed knowledge of and have the coveted access to the technology companies producing all the gear that goes inside modern computing devices. I mean that outside of paper-era publications like PC World, et cetera.
So, what would one of the world’s leading PC Geeks do at Apple?
This has got to be one of the best questions of 2014, and here are a couple of possibilities.
Redesign the Mac
Is it possible that Apple’s new Mac Pro is actually failing in the industry for which it was designed? This is a very fair question to ask. The new beautiful and beasty machine has caused a wide range of reactions in the industry—from the hooray’s of Apple fanboys to the detailed sharp criticism of highend studio based professionals in the world’s of 3D, engineering and architecture.
But why would Apple go to someone like Anand Shimpi for that problem?
While not exactly a hardware engineer (and let’s recall who Steve Jobs was and his role in every Apple gizmo) Anand Shimpi is an authority and reference point for high end PC and workstation professionals and his knowledge has weight. If there was someone on the outside of Apple who was deeply knowledgeable in a total sense without the biases that come from specific professional practices (who out in the real world doing real work doesn’t use specific tools and workflows and thus develop biases?) Anand Shimpi might be one of the very best.
All of this thinking is assuming one important thing however—the new Mac Pro isn’t doing nearly as wonderfully as Apple would have liked. And that’s an assumption that hasn’t proved true yet. But if it is, think of the implications for Apple. They built a brand new manufacturing facility just to produce this all new important machine. There maybe more riding on the success of new Mac Pro than people think.
Aside from the Mac Pro Apple’s philosophy of design wouldn’t lend itself well to an ultra “get-under-the-hood” guy like Anand Shimpi. So Apple’s other Macs don’t seem like an area where Shimpi could play a major role. Nor do Apple’s even more closed iDevices seem like strategic territory for Anand Shimpi.
Other Shimpi Roles at Apple
Shimpi has built a phenomenally successful online publication built around technical know-how. It is possible Shimpi may have taken a position at Apple to lead a new type of publication of some sort…one that focuses on the types of users Shimpi already is good at serving: professionals and enthusiasts.
With Apple’s new partnership with IBM kicking off it is clear that Apple means business again. And that’s a great thing to see. I recall the days when Apple had excellent industry veteran people involved in its many enterprise verticals. For Apple to succeed in the business world it must have the right people who can speak the languages of its prospective users. With such emerging successes coming to light, a new kind of publication that can speak to the rest of the market about advantages Apple brings to professional users (across some of the most technically demanding verticals) is something that Apple has benefitted from before. Could Anand Shimpi play a pivotal role in such an endeavor?
These are just ideas. What Anand Lal Shimpi is doing at Apple is anyone’s best guess. Maybe he just wants to work inside the shiny new spaceship coming in a few years!
But here is the thing. Apple is a consumer-oriented company. Has been mostly throughout its years. But just at the time when the world expects Apple to produce even more consumer-oriented products like the anticipated iWatch, the tech giant seems poised to re-enter the enterprise market where the Mac in particular has deep room to penetrate and grow. While the Apple-IBM partnership seems oriented around that so called new platform—iPad—the Mac still has a major role in the years ahead. My guess is, if Shimpi is indeed Apple bound, his role has something to do with this bigger mission.
You can read Anand Lal Shimpi’s goodbye post here at AnandTech.