Apple Still Doomed
- Blog Post by: James Lileks
- June 11, 2013 - 12:20 PM
The default position among tech writers these days is “Apple has lost its way” stories, which are so much easier to write. Samsung! No innovations! Jobs still dead! and so on. Pundits can either insist that Apple has Lost Its Way, or wonder if Apple has Lost Its Way. The latter route means quoting people who like to say “as featured in the Wall Street Journal” when peddling their insights to others, as if that bestows legitimacy. From the Wall Street Journal:
This week, Apple Inc. will try to regain its shine.
Get it? Good.
The company's annual developer conference, which begins Monday, looms as the latest crossroads as the technology icon struggles to maintain its trendsetter status since the death of Steve Jobs.
One of the slides in Monday’s presentation noted that the iPad has over 80% of the tablet market. Imagine you’re a technology CEO who has 82% of the market but is well aware that some tech writers who haven’t invented anything in their lives, aside from some ingenious entries on an expense report, think you’re no longer a trendsetter. You’d be at the kitchen table at 3 AM with a tumbler of scotch wondering what the hell you’re going to do.
Apple's streak of game-changing devices has stalled and the iPhone and iPad seem stale, compared with new offerings from Samsung Electronics Co. and others. Software blunders, like Apple's widely panned mapping app, have raised doubts about the company's ability to build cutting-edge mobile services.
I’ve removed the little stock-chart notes from the story, but if I’d kept them in, you’d see that Samsung’s stock was down 6% after the announcement, and Apple’s down .06. Anyway: In order for a streak to stall, something new has to flop. Right? Or she’s saying that they haven’t introduced a category-defining product since the iPad, which means doom Doom DOOM I tells you, because the rumored hoverboard / TV / matter replicator some people thought they were going to invent was nowhere in sight on Monday.
Software blunders, like the mapping app. Which is better now, although I still use Google for the moment. “The company’s ability to build cutting-edge mobile services.” This is a reference to iCloud, which works better than any other previous Apple cloud-based system - admittedly a low, low bar, but most objections seem to be “it’s not Dropbox.” I share those objections, which is why I also use Dropbox. But the new version of iWorks ties the apps into the browser, which is going to be nifty. It’s not cutting-edge, but what does that mean? iRadio isn’t cutting-edge, inasmuch as there are many music streaming services, but Google - you know, the innovator - has a paid service, and Apple’s is free, albeit ad-supported. That’s the opposite of the usual arrangement. But still, doom:
Investors and customers are lusting for big new products, like a television, which is being held up by discussions with cable companies and TV networks, as well as content companies, said people close to the talks.Apple wants to be able to offer a new type of service with the device that relies on cooperation from the networks and cable operators.
Is there any evidence that customers are lusting for an Apple TV set? None. People might want an Apple TV with more features, but if they did roll out a DVR with network support that allowed for a la carte pricing and all the other things people want so they can cut the cord, tech writers would say it’s an improvement, not an innovation.
But don’t take the author’s word. Here’s a real person:
Customers are also getting antsy. Nabil Sarih, a 33-year-old taxi driver from San Bruno, Calif., said he is satisfied with his iPhone—for now. But Mr. Sarih, who bought his first iPhone years ago, adds that he thinks the Samsung Galaxy phones his friends recently bought are much "cooler" because they have features like the ability to run several apps at once. "Apple's losing its edge," he said.
As they said about Cronkite: if you’ve lost the San Bruno cab driver, you’ve lost America. I’m not sure what sort of multitasking he wants to do - play “Dark Side of the Moon” while watching “Wizard of Oz,” maybe - but you have it now.
For a review of OS7, Gruber asks if Ives can design software as well as hardware, and says yes. Oh my yes.
iOS 7 is not perfect; this new design framework will evolve and improve over time, just like iOS’s original aesthetic did. But it’s a conceptual foundation that corrects all of the excesses of the original iOS aesthetic. It’s radically different but not disorienting. Less flashy, less bling, more subtle, more refined.
This is the first product of the post-Jobs Apple. The result shows that in some ways Apple’s software design has gotten better, because it was Jobs (and Forstall) who had a penchant for exuberant textures and gimmickry. Jobs’s taste in hardware was nearly perfect, but his taste in software had a weakness for the saccharine. Wood grain, linen, Rich Corinthian leather, etc. It was all just sugar for the eyes. This is a weakness Jony Ive’s software taste clearly does not suffer.
Can’t wait to get my hands on it; I just hope Apple is still around in the fall.
Meanwhile, here’s some novel thoughts: if you like your phone, great! If it does what you want and works well for your needs, then grand. If it’s different than mine, who cares?
I know, crazy talk.
NEWS Oh, well, this changes everything. An ONLINE PETITION is GATHERING STEAM.
VIDEO Keeping up on events in Turkey? Where molotov cocktails bloom in the streets? The mood in the cities is strained, shall we say. Here’s a guy on public transportation who’s half in the bag and starts chanting anti-government slogans. A dissenting citizen quiets him down in a fisty fashion.
A LiveLeak commenter gives a translation: "liar tayyip" "dishonest tayyip" "dishonest prime minister" and then owww, which is the same in any language.
ART For some reason the Daily Mail decided to put up some WW2 VD posters.
More here. In related art news, a graphics designer was justly offended by the awful graphics in the PRISM Powerpoint:
. . . and decided to do something about it.
Ahhh. Much better.
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