That seems to have been Apple’s position since I began using Apple’s products a few decades ago, and following the company online for many years (over 2,000 articles on Apple and applications). It seems as if Apple says, “We innovate our way.” Indeed. Has anything changed?
Apple certainly has plenty of competition and that breeds enemies. Samsung could be considered a frenemy because it competes with iPhone but provides Apple with high quality components. Enemies are everywhere and you can read their drivel online in various digital technology rags. One of the more prolific Apple-oriented journalists in recent years is Daniel Eran Dilger. Few are as good at slicing and dicing the mounds of errant journalism lobbed against Apple.
Where is Apple’s innovative iPad, MacBook Pro hardware to rival Microsoft’s Surface?
Apple just hasn’t done much with either form factor since Steve Jobs died in late 2011. His era brought about the iMac, Apple Stores, iPad and iTunes, Intel Inside, iPhone and App Store, iPad, and the Mac App Store. Think market disruption.
Since then, CEO Tim Cook bought Beats Music, launched Apple Pay, pushed Apple Music into the market, introduced Apple Watch, brought out AirPods, updated everything but at a slower pace, and, what else? I’m trying to come up with a market disrupting product and all I can bring to mind are accessories to iPhone.
What does that say?
Meanwhile, Microsoft launched the Surface line of PCs, notebooks, and tablet notebook hybrids. It’s likely you’ve seen a few of the television commercials which compared a Surface something to an iPad (which doesn’t have PC-like features) and the Mac (which doesn’t have tablet-like features.
In his typical fashion, Dilger slices and dices the issue appropriately. Apple’s many critics point out how iPad and Mac have not been updated or innovated the way Microsoft has with Surface. Well, I’m here to tell you that such criticism is valid. It’s true. Apple hasn’t done much with either iPad or Mac in recent years while Microsoft went from zero to $1-billion a quarter with Surface.
Some of those new Surface products appear, on the surface (pun intended), to be innovative. I like the touchscreen of the hybrid models and think that might be worthwhile on a future Mac with a detachable keyboard. In fact, I would like a detachable keyboard for iPad because Smart Keyboard is rather sucky to use.
Relatively speaking, though, those are minor comparison nits and nothing close to a platform jumping issue.
So, what’s truth? Where’s the reality?
Dilger wants Apple’s critics and customers to look elsewhere because Microsoft’s innovation with Surface hasn’t done much in the marketplace because most PC users don’t use the Surface touchscreen as a tablet, so it’s not really an iPad. The Mac needs more upgrades elsewhere in the line, but I’m patient.
If you want to see Apple doing creative, innovative computing form factors, look beyond the stagnant PC business and note that Apple is alone in successfully selling wearables, luxury-class home audio and other novel, futuristic shapes of applied computing devices.
Yet, those are not the market disruption products of Jobs’ era as much as they are accessories for iPhone. That bothers me.
Combined, iPad and Mac sales dwarf Microsoft’s Surface sales which have remained mostly stagnant for four years (as have iPad and Mac sales, though the former has picked up in sales, while the latter has kept pace beyond the PC industry), so one cannot argue that the Windows maker’s efforts have yielded the profits Apple sees with iPad and Mac.
Like it or don’t, Apple marches to the beat of a different drummer. Henry David Thoreau:
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
We may want Apple to Think Different our way, but that’s not how marching to the beat of a different drummer works, does it?