Two things are at work here. Apple is in reset mode. And, Apple is still Apple. They’ll release new products when they’re good and ready. Unless, they’re ready enough to be released early.
Translating The Obvious
How is it that Apple is in reset mode? When Tim Cook fired Scott Forstall and reshuffled the executive deck it was because Apple had released a product, Apple Maps, that wasn’t quite ready for prime time.
The deck shuffle meant that Sir Jonathan Ive would take over design duties for software and hardware, including iOS and OS X.
We’ll get a look at both during the summer WWDC but it’s obvious what’s going on. Tim Cook is resetting Apple.
I’d like to say that Apple has learned a few lessons, but I’m not so sure. A few years ago MobileMe launched as a disaster that took awhile to fix. Maybe that was Steve Jobs fault for not allowing a pipeline of communication about the impending problems from employees working on the project.
What about the recent iMac debacle? Apple announced the launch of the new thin-screened iMac and then couldn’t deliver the product for months. Sometimes Apple isn’t as smooth of an operation as we’re led to believe.
Another example of the reset is Tim Cook’s comments during the recent earnings call with Wall Street analysts. Cook said:
Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can’t wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014. We continue to be very confident in our future product plans.
Translation: We can’t move any faster than we’re moving, so be patient. New products will get here when they get here. Deal with it.
Another way of looking at Tim Cook is with an eye of skepticism. During the same conference call Cook sounded more like politician than executive.
We will continue to focus on the long term, and we remain very optimistic about our future. We’re participating in large and growing markets. We see great opportunities in front of us, particularly given the long-term prospects of the smartphone and tablet markets, the strength of our incredible ecosystem which we plan to continue to augment with services, our plans for expanded distribution, and the potential of exciting new product categories.
Translation: This is what Apple’s lawyers told me to say. It’s the company line. Deal with it.
Of course Apple is focusing on the longer term. Of course the company is optimistic about the future. Until they give it all away, there’s about $150-billion in the bank, and a few hundred million loyal customers eagerly waiting for what’s new.
Expanded distribution? Two words: China Mobile. China’s largest telecom operator is twice as large as all the mobile carriers in the U.S. and represents a huge growth opportunity for Apple.
What about those exciting new product categories? iWatch? iGlasses? iTelevision? Cook didn’t say Apple would deliver a new product category. He said Apple is excited about the potential of new product categories. Who isn’t excited about the potential of new products?
Here’s one I like. Cook pointed out the problems with larger smartphone displays.
Our competitors have made some significant trade-offs in many of these areas in order to ship a larger display. We would not ship a larger-display iPhone while these tradeoffs exist.
Translation: We’ll build a larger screen iPhone when we can do it the way we want. Deal with it.
Does Apple’s executive team think that most smartphone customers can tell the difference between an iPhone 5 display and a larger Galaxy S4 display? Apple’s attention to detail is commendable, and has served the company well, especially when hardware and software and ecosystem make up the user experience that Apple works so diligently to cultivate.
My view of Apple’s reset and Cook’s execuspeak is straightforward. For better or worse, Apple is quickly becoming Cook’s Apple, and by this time next year we’ll see if the reset Apple is the Apple we’ve known and loved.