Terabits: Has Apple Lost Its Edge?
Apple Inc. is a pioneer in technology, they are world renowned for their invention of the Macintosh back in the day and the iPod, iPhone and most recently the iPad in the 2000’s. They have somewhat trademarked the alphabet “i” for seemingly all their mobile devices and have set a standard for sleek, shiny finishes and build quality. Back in the day, Apple was a new entry into the market where IBM ruled supreme but entering into the next millennium, Apple saw its fanbase (and product base) expand dramatically.
In October of 2001 Apple released the iPod, their version of a portable media player. The device went on to be a huge success, spawning a succession of iPods and ultimately killing Sony’s Walkman series.Next, the company dug its claws into the laptop market with its Macbook Pro in 2006.
Apple then took the world by storm when it unveiled the first real smartphone, the iPhone in 2007. The iPhone was a product in an entirely separate category of phones, no other company at that time could match iPhone and its touch based OS. Apple wowed the masses again when it unveiled the iPad in 2010 which reigns as the supreme tablet in the market in terms of sales.
Yes it is true, Apple has a history of inventing new things, introducing products into the market that we did not even know we needed, making things that forever change the industry of tech. But is that only what Apple’s legacy is made up of? As famous as the company is, it is also infamous for being the sleeper in the tech world. Critics say that Apple knows how to innovate, true, but Apple is no longer a risk taker. When you look back at all of Apple’s product line a trend can be observed, all the generations bear stark similarities with one another.
Let’s look at what gets Apple the most fuss nowadays, its iPhone and iPad line. The iPhone as mentioned before was a game changer. But the iPhone now is not changing any game. Apple announces only two variations of the phone every year and anybody with eyes can see that they are minor upgrades from each other.
Apples has only recently made the device’s screen larger (actually only longer) and put a fingerprint sensor in it. Aside from that, the iPhones 4-5/s/c are essentially the same device. You will notice that those account for five of Apple’s devices from the last 2.5 years. Although it can’t be said that the company has not improved upon its devices every year, the upgrades are far from groundbreaking and certainly not much to talk about.
The Lack of Willingness
Apple’s lack of willingness to aggressively push towards something new shows not only in its hardware department, but also in the field of software too. The upgrade to iOS 7 was probably the biggest since the OS first launched.
In reality though, it is just a new skin.
In terms of functionality, Apple has brought only a handful of actual tweaks to the os. While many may argue about some “additions” to the new iteration of mobile software, the truth still persists that it was only a touch up. What adds fuel to the fire is the fact that Apple’s main competitor in the software department, Google’s Android, can turn its OS into a mirror image of Apple’s literally with just the push of a button. Aesthetics and looks have never been something to worry about on Android, if you feel like your phone’s facade needs some spicing, download a custom launcher and turn it into anything else you want. On iOS though, you only have the freedom to change your wallpaper. Period. Nothing else.
All this fuss however that is from the point of view of criticism, general consumers on the other hand don’t seem swayed away from Apple just yet. The evidence lies in Apple’s sales figures. I may say that the new iPhone and iPad are essentially minor modifications but people buying the products beg to differ, to them it is a new product that validates a purchase. It looks nice and the Apple brand name itself to them is something premium and “a cut above the rest”.Now we can get started with the fanboy war right now but we all know how that ends (it never ends), so instead let us look at some facts.
A bit of Analysis
The iPhone 5S sold 9 million units on its first weekend of release and iPad sales figures crossed 170 million a couple months ago. So what does this mean?
Looking at things from a technological standpoint, Apple is playing it the sluggish way. They are taking things slow and not doing anything extraordinary. Looking at things from the business point though, Apple is playing it smart. They know that their products are highly valuable and customers want them regardless. Just recently Apple’s brand value topped 100 billion dollars making it the most valuable brand in the USA. They are making loads of money with little effort so they are capitalizing on their market value and making record profits. When things start to look a little dim, Apple can choose to amaze the crowds with something new and revolutionary. There is no doubt that Apple has the capability, the resources and the minds needed to pull off something crazy but unlike other firms, it is keeping its innovation for when it needs it.
Ultimately, the answer to the question is a firm “No”, Apple has not yet lost its edge. The folks over at Cupertino are playing it safe and playing it smart. Chances are, they have enough ideas to run all the way through to the iPhone 20 and provided the pace of the technology industry, Apple’s portfolio of new tech will continue to expand.
So what can be expected from the company in the coming years, a revolutionary new iPhone or iPad? Probably not. As long as they keep this pace up there is no need of the “next big thing” but when the table begins to tip away from them, Apple should take the cover off their inventions and jump back into the race.