Apple is the second most profitable tech company in the world and has gone a significant way to determining the paradigm within which we communicate in the 21st century. Steve Jobs left a legacy, through the Apple Company, as the most brilliant software designer and innovator of our time with the invention of the Macintosh computers, and the iPod in the year 2000. Apple’s mobile operating system now dominates the mobile communications industry. Apple’s revolution, which is arguably still ongoing, began in 2001 when Jobs created iTunes and paired it with the iPod. In doing so, he took Apple from a tech company to an all-encompassing entertainment company. The iPhone in 2007 changed mobile phones forever and iPad followed, each new invention teaching us new ways to interact with people and the world around us. To this day, millions of people await the next big announcement Apple is going to make, each new announcement evoking even greater excitement and media coverage than a music festival or an international awards ceremony.
However, since Jobs’ death in 2011 – and particularly with the release of the highly anticipated iPhone 6 – many have started to criticize the company as losing its sense of innovation. The optimists still value Apple’s latest projects while some argue the company is experiencing a slight and temporary slump. Some more negative critics are starting to sense that Apple has reached its limit of original ideas and are now only focusing on improving existing ideas. The following are five arguments from just such critics, who believe Apple’s days of manufacturing breakthroughs are gone.
5. Aesthetics Only
Apple’s latest products are perfect examples of how the company has been focusing most of its energy on style and aesthetic rather than on innovation, software and hardware. The two newest versions of the iPad – the Air and the Mini –have no significant new features to offer except for the fact that they are thinner and lighter and somewhat faster than the previous version of the iPad. The front and rear cameras are exactly the same, the retina hasn’t been improved, and Apple didn’t even integrate some of its newest features – such as the fingerprint scanner – into these iPads. The biggest changes to the iPhone with the 6 and 6 Plus are the style – the larger screens – a style, which is derivative of the Samsung Galaxy’s trademark look.
4. Competition Heating Up
There is no doubt about it, the iPhone is still the hottest phone on the market and is still the number one selling phone out there. The only problem is, Apple must do whatever it takes to keep it like that. Over the past couple of years, the formidable Samsung Galaxy phones have many wondering why Apple didn’t think of comparable innovations first. The Android has many advantages over the once unrivalled iPhone. For example, Samsung preempted Apple in what will probably be the next biggest interface technology – gesture control and eye tracking. The iPhones will definitely have to come out with the same sort of technology, following in Samsung’s footsteps rather than forging the way.
And let’s not pretend that nobody noticed that the newest iPhone 6+ looks exactly like a Galaxy. Apple has previously stated they would never be a company that would make a phone too big for your hand, yet they have done just that – likely so that they do not start to fall behind on the competition biting ever more insistently at their heels.
3. No New Products
Apple hasn’t released a new product since 2010 when it introduced the first iPad. This year, during Apple’s release conference to announce the iPhone 6, they revealed their first completely new technology – the Apple Watch.
Which technically isn’t actually any new technology at all, in fact.
It comprises all the existing technologies and features of the iPhone or iPad, but presented a bit differently. Apple’s newest product is simply a blend of all their other products in a different – albeit very cool – format. They’re not even the first ones to make a smart watch, either. Probably the only surprising thing about the Apple Watch is that it’s called the Apple Watch instead of the iWatch – which is the closest that Apple has come to innovation with this product.
2. Partnership with IBM
The International Business Machines Corporation is an American multinational technology corporation, with its main focus being the manufacturing and marketing of computer hardware. On July 15 of this year, IBM and Apple announced a partnership deal that would include selling Apple products – mostly iPhones and iPads – to IBM’s big corporation clients while creating simple-to-understand business apps. IBM will be using their business and corporate connections as consultants for ideas and feedback for these new apps. The apps will include many business models taken up by IBM and its customers. The deal itself is no shocker, considering current Apple CEO Tim Cook worked for IBM for 12 years before he joined Apple in 1998.
The deal can be seen solely as a profit-based decision, but more importantly, it can be and should be seen as a decline in Apple innovation. American management consultant and Forbes contributor Peter Cohan asserts that Cook is trying to maximise profit by continuing to sell products invented by Steve Jobs instead of taking a risk and inventing new products. The partnership with IBM further emphasizes a worry that has begun to sprout in everyone’s mind – especially those of Apple shareholders and investors – that the company does not actually have any more tricks up its sleeve and needs to secure as much profit and power as it can with its current products and alliances.
1. Losing Sight of Jobs’ Humanitarian Approach
“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with Liberal Arts, married with the humanities that yields us the results that make our hearts sing.” Steve Jobs said this so passionately at an Apple conference in 2010, but four years later it seems that the company in which he tried so hard to instil these values has lost sight of them.
Jobs always believed that the reason Apple was so successful is because they were consistently at the intersection of technology and the arts, and that their devices were a product of astute critical thinking. Jobs always wanted to focus on creating products that were intuitive but fun to use, but lately Apple products seem to be losing sight of that mission in favour of a sleek technological focus. During the newest iPad and iOS8 introduction, CEO Tim Cook focused solely on the “beauty” of the program and the “speeds and feeds” of the technology – never once mentioning, as Jobs typically did, the great stories and memories that can be created through the new technology.
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