To hear members of the technorati elite politburo tell the tale, Apple has lost its way; innovation is dead in Cupertino. What’s the reality? Apple chugs along, same old, same old; denting the universe and changing the world.
Well, what was Apple’s last big success? iPhone, right? After all, name a product that has changed the personal computer landscape as much as iPhone? Did Apple stop innovating back in 2007 when Steve Jobs launched the original iPhone?
As with many of Mac360’s staff– we’ve been slicing and dicing Apple for almost 15 years– I started my Apple life with the Mac (Jeffrey and Ron date back to Apple II and the CP/M days with Osborne 1). That was back when Apple and the Mac were synonymous. Along came iPod and iTunes and Apple– for a few hundred million new customers– became the iPod company. After iPhone became a hit, Apple is more known as the iPhone company.
Does that mean innovation is dead at Apple Inc? Nope.
Innovation in its modern meaning is a “new idea, creative thoughts, new imaginations in form of device or method”.
There were point and click PCs before the Mac. There were portable music players before the iPod. And, there were so-called smartphones before iPhone.
Innovation is often also viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs.
Every one of Apple’s major products fills that definition with ease. Apple was seldom first with a product, but often defined the product’s future.
Such innovation takes place through the provision of more-effective products, processes, services, technologies, or business models that are made available to markets, governments and society.
iPhone is a good example, yes, but the same definition and methodology can be applied to products and features Apple introduced after the revolutionary smartphone.
Tablets existed before iPad, yes? What do tablets look like today? iPads. Apple redefined the device and made it mainstream.
An innovation is something original and more effective and, as a consequence, new, that “breaks into” the market or society
Yes, that definition and the ones above fully define Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad. What has Apple done since?
Dave Smith argues that Apple’s three best inventions since iPhone are Watch, Apple Pay, and AirPods. One can argue the merits of the selection and the perspective.
So, let’s do that.
The Apple Watch is Apple’s only wearable device.
Except AirPods. And Beats headphones.
The Apple Watch is one of the best ways to learn about your health habits, and improve them. It tracks your movements throughout the day — and it knows the difference between movement and real exercise, so you can’t cheat the system — and gives you feedback to help you meet activity goals to stay healthy.
Indeed. No qualms here. The iPod effect (where those iconic white earbuds began to show up everywhere; which marked iPod as a hit product) is in full force with Watch. Even better, Watch is new and has plenty of opportunity to grow beyond an always available iPhone on your wrist. Add an oxygen meter, a glucose monitor, and other health oriented features and Watch could rival any product; iPhone or otherwise.
Apple Pay offers a more elegant and secure way to pay for goods.
This is a somewhat silent innovation and less used in the good old U.S. of A. than in other developed countries. Again, Apple did it right by creating a vastly superior system to make payments. Private and secure met convenience and ease of use; an innovation similar to Touch ID or Face ID.
There are still no wireless earbuds quite as good or user-friendly as AirPods, despite the number of facsimiles out there. To be frank, everything else out there is simply an “AirPods alternative
Indeed. Yes, you’ll see $30 Chinese made knockoffs on Amazon, and, yes, they’re Bluetooth, too, but they do not work as well as AirPods, don’t have the same features, and definitely do not sound as good. As with iPod and earbuds, iPhone, and Apple Watch, AirPods have become iconic.
So, yes, Apple continues to innovate the way the company seemingly has innovated since Steve Jobs returned in 1997. Think of it this way. What was Apple’s major product under Jobs in the last century?
Then, along came iPod and iTunes, iPhone and iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Apple Pay, AirPods, and each new version is an improvement upon the last. Some Apple critics will confuse bullet points that competitors use as the guide for so-called innovation. That’s wrong.
Innovation is related to, but not the same as, invention, as innovation is more apt to involve the practical implementation of an invention (i.e. new/improved ability) to make a meaningful impact in the market or society, and not all innovations require an invention.
Inventions and bullet points on a product list are not indicative of innovation if impact on the market or society is part of the definition. Yes, Apple remains a very innovative company.