When the first iPod came out, the world was still bracing for the new millennium. At the time, the idea was revolutionary. You could store all your music on a device small enough to fit in your pocket. Then, the iPhone made a touch screen only device that was easy to use. The Macbook led the way in combining power with utility, and the iPad brought tablet functionality to everybody.
So, what have they done lately?
In the technology industry, there’s no such thing as resting on your laurels. Yet, that appears to be what Apple is doing. They’ve allowed competitors to catch up and even exceed them in some of their core product offerings.
Take for instance the iPhone. The latest generation of these devices was most notable for not having a headphone port. Left unsolved is the biggest problem facing Apple’s mobile devices: the lack of storage.
Meanwhile, Google’s Pixel phone has a longer-lasting battery, a higher-quality camera, and can do everything the iPhone can do. It also comes with unlimited cloud storage. It’s in nearly every measurable way a better piece of technology than the iPhone. By refusing to innovate, Apple has left the market wide open, and Google has pounced.
The company’s other offerings fall similarly short. The bold new feature on the new generation of Mac Books, the Touch Bar, is a watered-down version of the touch screen capabilities that have become part of the PC ecosystem for pretty much every other manufacturer. To get that functionality, users will have to dispense with the magnetic latch on the power cord, one of the neatest engineering tricks Apple had for its laptop line.
In streaming video, Apple’s allowed its exclusive partners to drift from the fold. Twitter streaming, previously available on televisions only through Apple TV, has now been ported to Android TVs and Microsoft’s Xbox One console. The driving force behind Apple services now is that they work well with other Apple services. If none of those services are particularly good, the company’s going to be in a lot of trouble.
Even in their response to this trend, the company’s imagination just hasn’t been there. The new product line Apple is reportedly developing is a wearable glass headset, like Google Glass. To be clear, Google Glass didn’t fail because it was bad technology or because of a lack of software support. It failed because there was no clear need for the product in the lives of consumers. Yet, that’s what Apple is turning to in response to dragging iPhone sales.
What made Apple unique during the peak of its innovation was the way it adapted its technology to the actual lives of consumers. Make a useful product and the money will come. Now, however, it seems the company has tried to put monetization first and foremost. The result has been a series of setbacks for what could otherwise be really cool tech.