With all due respect for Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, the title I came up with today has two questions, both of which can be answered by ‘No‘ if your glass of life is half full, and a fully qualified ‘Yes‘ if your glass is half empty.
The Law has been called a ‘journalistic principle‘ and an ‘old truism among journalists.’ Regardless, it’s a simple postulation. “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” So, is Apple in decline? Yes. And no. Or, is Apple ready to unveil and launch the next great thing? No. And yes.
Confused Much, Reader?
So much of life depends upon perspective, and two different people can view the exact same thing in different ways. Just ask Dennis the Menace and nemesis Mr. Wilson. If your perspective in life is a glass half empty, then Apple is in decline. Mac sales are down. iPhone sales are down. iPad sales are down. Ditto for revenue and profits. And Apple is too skittish to tell us the status of other products like Apple TV, Apple Watch, or anything else that can be counted.
That must mean Apple is in decline, right? It’s arguable, but it depends upon your view of what’s in the glass.
Alright, maybe Apple is just coasting along, waiting for technology to catch up to where Apple wants to go next. You know, skating to where the puck will be, and all that. That’s a fair enough argument, so what’s the supporting evidence?
Let’s take the Mac. Apple remains beholden to Intel for CPU’s Inside, so whatever slows down Intel, slows down Apple’s Mac upgrades. The Mac Pro hasn’t been upgraded a dime since it was introduced almost four years ago. Not. One. Upgrade. In the meantime, the technology world has moved on, but Intel’s Xeon CPU’s– although upgraded three times since 2013– are not giant leaps forward, but the next one will be able to handle Thunderbolt 3 transfer speeds, so maybe Apple is waiting for the chip giant to get on a delivery schedule it can keep. GPUs, the graphic engine that drives displays on the Mac Pro? No upgrade, either, despite some decent advancements in that segment of the industry.
Then again, faster Intel CPU’s Inside are available for Dell personal computers, so why not stuff those into an iMac? What’s wrong with a quad core CPU option in a Mac mini? And what’s with the RAM limit on the new MacBook Pro? Apple says battery life. Apple lied. The new MBP already has terrible battery life. What about upgradeability? Apple’s Macs used to have upgrade options for battery, SSD and hard disk drives, graphics cards, RAM, and for some, even the CPU. Today’s Mac upgrade strategy is for you to wait a few years and buy another Mac.
Apple Could Do This
Let’s take the iPhone. Apple designs its own CPUs which kick Android OS-powered devices in the cojones so Intel isn’t to blame (except for that whole cell phone data connectivity issue) for much with iPhone’s woes, but every smartphone looks and feels and works much like an iPhone so Apple must be ready to launch the next great smartphone thing. I’m thinking, wireless charging, micro-bezel case, dual cameras, quad-HD OLED screens. No. Wait. Those things are available already. On Android smartphones.
How about the iPad? Apple’s CPUs rule again. iPad has a Pencil and smart keyboard option if you buy the Pro models, but the company still sells three year old iPads as if they were new. They are not. They’re old. They just haven’t been opened from the box yet. What’s coming? Faster CPUs, yes, Pencil capability across the line, perhaps, but what about better cameras and wireless charging (I’m thinking MagSafe connectors on iPhone and iPad would be cool)? Wait. Other Android devices already have those.
Touchscreens? Everything is a touchscreen these days. Except Macs. Artificial intelligence? It’s all the rage in the tech press, yet Siri is installed on nearly a billion iOS devices but still can’t order pizza, or understand queries from Scotland or Mississippi. Amazon sold a few million Echo devices with Siri-like Echo voice control, and has no trouble delivering porno to three-year-old kids asking questions. Echo will start ordering products on your Amazon account just from sounds playing over a television. AI revolution? Not yet.
So, in the end, the answer to the questions are as you would expect. It depends. Decline? Yes. Sales and profits and unit sales are down so, yes, Apple is in decline. Ready to launch? Yes. Because Apple must be working on something, if anything to get Mac, iPhone, and iPad back to the same level as available from competitors, but there must be something else for which the company plans a comeback to prominence. Something, right? Right? Hello? Is this thing on? Can you hear me now, Apple?