If ever there was a company that marches to the beat of its own drum, it’s Apple Inc. The company embraces standards when it is beneficial for the company and its customers, while ignoring emerging improvements in technology components.
What happens with Apple’s introverted attitude is this. The company falls behind the technology curve for awhile, then leap frogs the competition with something better; particularly new components that further differentiate Apple from competitors. It’s that differentiation that is key. Right now, Apple is leaping ahead and falling behind at the same time.
Of Screens, Chips, And 4K TV
Let me start with a few obvious examples. The iPhone and iPad sport Retina displays which basically have a high pixel density so that individual pixels are not visible to the eye from the appropriate distance.
Samsung and other manufacturers already have smartphones and tablets which dwarf Apple’s pixel-per-inch Retina display stats on both iPhone and iPad, so Apple is falling behind the curve, right? Apple does not care. Why? To the naked eye, in side-by-side comparisons, it’s difficult for the average smartphone user to see the difference in resolution between an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy whatever (please note that Samsung’s screens suck up plenty of battery life).
On the other side of the coin is Apple’s custom designed 64-bit multi-core CPUs– the A9 in the iPhone 6s line, and the A9X in the iPad Pro– compete with entry level Macs in benchmark performance and crush the smartphone and tablet competition. With CPUs, Apple is ahead of the curve. Again.
Apple leaps ahead and Apple falls behind.
So it is with the new Apple TV, a new and more expensive Apple TV model with a faster, more powerful CPU, an accelerator and gyroscope for games, and a new platform for applications (which will soon dwarf the offerings of competing devices, including Amazon, Roku, Google, et al). Apple leaps ahead.
And Apple falls behind. Or, not. It depends upon perspective and the value of bragging rights. How so? There’s no streaming 4K TV support built in to the new Apple TV. Even the new iPhone 6s models can record video in 4K, but Apple TV won’t play it without dumbing down the video quality first. Is Apple behind on 4K TV? Maybe. Maybe not.
The maybe not crowd already understand that 4K TV is in its infancy, 4K TVs are expensive, and there is almost no television or movie content available in 4K. A device that plays 4K video does so for bragging rights, not for the practical benefit of millions of customers.
In this case Apple isn’t so much behind the curve as it is behind the bleeding edge. The 4K TV standard hasn’t been wrapped up completely but will be, and it’s also obvious to see the general trends of the TV industry– greater resolution. Other issues abound, including bandwidth required to stream the much larger 4K videos. Yet, the iPhone shoots video in 4K and 4K video can be edited by iMovie.
That’s Apple. Always ahead and behind the curves.