Name a technology company that designs, builds, and sells gadgets that also gets more criticism from each new toy than Apple. That silence should tell you that Apple gets an outsized share of criticism from members of the technorati elite.
The original Mac’s mouse? Critics slammed it as unnecessary. The iPod? Overpriced and too proprietary. iPhone? Too expensive. iPad? Just a big iPhone. Watch? Who needs it? That’s standard fare for whenever Apple introduces a new product, but there’s a way to tell whether or not Apple’s latest will be a hit.
What. Mac. Pro?
Apple’s executives claim the Mac Pro is selling well, but never divulge actual numbers. Remember way back in the day, back to the turn of the century, back when Steve Jobs launched the original iPod with those classic bright white earbuds? The music player was overpriced, under powered, Mac only, FireWire only, and came with a 5GB hard disk drive. A real hard disk drive that could hold up to 1,000 songs.
Critics howled. But Apple persisted and over a couple of years we began to see the iPod phenomenon on the streets as people would walk around with those highly visible bright white earbuds in place. That was the mark of an iPod user. Success was just around the corner.
We see the same thing these days with Apple Watch. Again, critics huffed and puffed and called it crazy expensive and underpowered and completely without a value proposition. But Apple persisted, and two years later we began to see the Watch phenomenon on the streets. As understated as the Watch design is, and as many watchbands as are available of all colors and designs and materials, the number of Watch users is growing steadily and you can see them every day.
Apple’s new AirPods are the same thing. It’s the iPod earbuds effect all over again. AirPods have been on the streets just a few months and already I can see more and more each day because, like the original iPod earbuds, they’re highly visible, brightly white dongles dangling from the ear.
You can’t miss ’em. And they’re growing in number because Apple made them a delight to setup and use– much like the original iPod– and more functional than expected.
Except for the Mac Pro, Apple doesn’t seem to pay much attention to critics, and even the most vocal AirPod critics know they’re priced competitively to other wireless earbuds which do less. Apple has another hit.
And, speaking of a hit product, let me apply the same observational technique to Apple’s Mac Pro, circa 2013. If you can tell that a company has a hit product because you see more of them in the wild, then what of a product that’s an obvious dud– the Mac Pro? You just don’t see many of them outside of an Apple store. It’s not a highly scientific method for determining a product’s success, but it works.
The Mac Pro is a dud. AirPods are a hit. Why? Because I see hardly any of the former, and a growing number of the latter, even after just a few months. It’s not a scientific method but it is math.