This piece by Don Frommer really summed up what’s been happening to Apple recently. The problem, according to Frommer, is not the lack of great products or innovation, but the lack of a “surprise” element or “wow” moment from the company during the unveiling of new products.
It’s not that Apple isn’t making great products anymore: You’d be a fool to argue that the iPhone 5S, retina iPad mini, iPad Air, and various Macs aren’t the best computers that any company — not just Apple — has ever made. Step back more than a couple of product generations, and the newest models are amazing improvements.
And it’s not that Apple has stopped innovating. One particularly impressive feat — which will never get the appreciation it deserves — is that in half a decade, Apple has scaled from a company that can reliably design, produce, sell, and support 75 million gadgets in a year to one that can move that many in three months. (The first time Apple sold 9 million iPhones in a quarter was three years ago — September, 2010. This year, it shipped 9 million iPhones in a single weekend.) This despite increasing competence and competition from Google, Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft.
But where Apple has disappointed recently is in novelty, or surprise. Perhaps this is unfair, but it’s real. Apple became the company that delivered “new”. People got used to hearing about new stuff all the time — iPod nanos, iPhones, MacBook Airs, iPads — and now it seems like it’s been a while. The more people got, the more they wanted. And then you have to work even faster.
I think the lack of surprise is largely due to the tenacity of bloggers to get the latest leak of unannounced Apple products.
I’d say give it another year. Tim Cook has now been chumming the water for a while, and if Apple was just going to keep rolling out iterative updates to the iPhone and iPad until we all fell asleep, it’d be a waste to keep bringing up the whole “new categories” line. It’s not like he just showed up when Steve Jobs retired. Tim has been around this whole time, and doesn’t seem like the bullshit-artist type.
If it becomes mid-2015, and Apple hasn’t shipped anything new, then it might be time to wonder what’s up. But for now, enjoy your new iPad, relax, and get excited. I risk sounding like a naïve Cubs fan here, but: If it’s “new” you’re after, my guess is that next year will be more interesting.
I also agree with Frommer’s assertion that Apple faithfuls need to give the company more time.