On Monday, Apple held their yearly Apple Keynote from the historic Town Hall Campus in Cupertino. There was an insane amount of buzz surrounding this event, as many bloggers and journalists (including myself) had pegged it as the launching pad for the a new Apple Watch, a crazy powerful new iPad Pro, the iPhone SE, and maybe a few other magical announcements. After all, Apple is a magical company, right?!?!?!
Instead, what we got was a really lackluster event that I feel is the signaling of some Apple fanboy’s worst fear. Something that should never, ever be written, let alone spoken aloud. I’m not even sure I should be saying this because of the potential backlash from my Apple-loving friends that will read this. But, here goes nothing.
I Feel Apple has lost its ability to INNOVATE.
That’s right, the same company that brought us the MacBook Air, the iPod, and the iPad, are seemingly comfortable with minute updates to their products and services. They’ve become, in a sense, the New York Yankees of tech. While they make these incredible anti-establishment moves (i.e. Defying a court order to manipulate their software for the FBI), they’re just as much of the establishment as any other Fortune 500 company is. The thing is, Apple hides it better than anybody else. As much as they’d hate to admit it, they’ve become status quo. No longer the company heralded by the youth, but rather a company that has been embraced by an older generation. It’s like seeing your parents suddenly start listening to 2 Chainz and Future. Not because they want to, but because they don’t want to be uncool.
I’m not saying that Apple makes terrible products. I’d be contradicting myself, as I’m typing this on a MacBook Pro. What I am saying though, is that Apple’s rebellious spirit seems to have crossed over to the other side with Steve Jobs, and I fear it may never return. Every single iPhone since the 4S has essentially been an incremental upgrade over the last model, following the same formula as the previous. Better screen, faster processor, better camera, 20% more this….. 30% less that….. So on and so forth. There’s hardly been any real innovation in nearly a decade. Apple Pay uses NFC and a secure element, tech that’s been around for 6 years now. The Apple Watch has been one of the company’s largest failures (Don’t quote sales figures, I’m well aware) and after the relative crickets you could hear after their “Apple Watch News” from the keynote on Monday, there’s no end in sight.
So what happened? Where did things go wrong? I most certainly think that most of the blame has to be placed on Tim Cook and his #Squad. I say this because I haven’t really seen Apple be as risky as they have in the past. Instead of being way ahead of the curve, it seems like Apple is merely following it now. Waiting for something new and cool to catch fire, then buying a team who does this new and cool thing really well, then implementing said new and cool thing into the Apple ecosystem after a year or so. Year after year we sit through an hour and a half of people standing on a stage telling us how “magical” and exciting Apple’s latest products are, backed by a 5 minute video of Jony Ive regurgitating the same thing, but where’s the substance? Apple is making a TON of money off it’s customer base sure, but I’m not really sure if people buy those products because they actually like them, or because Apple makes one hell of a batch of Kool-Aid.
Therein lies my problem with the most recent Apple presser. I’ve stopped drinking the Kool-Aid. I can no longer sit back and listen to Apple tell me that their devices are “magical” and they’ll change my life for the better with each passing day. I can’t recall a moment that I miss using iPhone since I’ve started using Nexus devices, and I’ve witnessed scores of people make the same jump without looking back. Apple isn’t the hip, young company it used to be. They’ve traded their youthful ambition for a suit and stock splits for their shareholders. They’re no longer the heartbeat of Silicon Valley, but instead they’ve become the pulse of Wall Street.