iMac? Just a small, affordable Mac. iPod? Certainly not the first portable music player. iPhone? Smartphones were everywhere prior to Apple’s entry. Tablets? There were clumsy PC tablets long before iPad. Watch? Even Samsung had a smartwatch before Apple.
So, what is final form?
Maker vs. Shaper
My argument is not that Apple is not an innovator. What Apple seems to do best is to define what’s important. Thomas Edison’s most notable inventions often were invented by someone else, but Edison shaped them into viable products that could be used by the masses.
In a way, Apple is the Thomas Edison of the past 40 years.
Elliot Loh has current ownership of the phase that fits what Apple does best.
Think about how that applies to Apple’s entire history as a technology gadget maker.
One way to evaluate Apple: as creators of a category’s final form.
Look at The House That Jobs Built.
Xerox had the point-and-click Star and did not know what it had. Steve Jobs and crew knew immediately and built, shaped, and polished that innovation into the Lisa and Mac, which eventually became Windows, and the rest is history. Apple built the final form.
We see the same effect in other arenas; iPod, iTunes Music Store, iPhone, App Store, iPad, Watch, AirPods, et al. Various form factors for each existed prior to Apple’s entry into the category, but it was Apple that led everyone to the final form.
Regarding such innovation, Loh asked a question that remains unanswered:
Another way to think about Apple’s future: is the Finishing Machine still working?
The latest trend that remains over the horizon and not even in the market is foldable smartphones; or, as in the case of Samsung, a foldable smartphone that becomes a mini tablet, and in the case of Huawei, a foldable tablet that becomes a large smartphone.
Foldable is the future, right?
History tells us that it may be the future but if it is viable at all, Apple will become a major player and define the industry segment’s future direction. In recent years, Apple did it with Watch and AirPods. What do PC notebooks look like today? The MacBook Air. What do smartphones look like? The original iPhone; a flat slab of glass with rounded corners.
When it comes to foldables, the jury is still deliberating, of course. PED:
I’m not persuaded that a transformer phone is anything Apple would want to bring to market. But if it did, I’m confident Jony Ive’s butterfly would be the best. And the most expensive.
As to the latter, gawd, I hope not.