For what you may ask?
The announcement of the new iPhone 7, dummy!
I guess the real question is whether we care anymore. Or maybe we care too much and just have lost faith with Apple to wow us with the kind of form and function that changed our lives and even the world with the initial launch of the iPod and ultimately iPhone.
As I write this, it's just over 24 hours to go before the "big reveal" (air quotes = sarcasm) and current rumors are slightly better camera, bigger screen coverage to the entire surface, wireless charging, some degree of water resistance and no headphone jack at all (WTF?)
So apparently, the force touch of the 6s didn't exactly set the world on fire. Shocker! What about the other features? I guess the bigger screen coverage is pretty cool although I do like the tactile feel of being able to press a button and have it perform the functions of a button. I'm not sure about the disappearing headphone jack...I absolutely welcome a world of no wires (I probably spend 2-3 hours a day untangling my current headphones); I'm just unclear about the practicality of sticking a bud in my ear and what happens if it falls out...the white wires serve that "safety net" function in a very low-tech way.
I actually think our friends at Samsung have done an exponentially (arguably explosive) better job at out-innovating Apple when it comes to mobile phones. From screen coverage to screen curvature; from retina scans to the stylus option; from wireless charging to wider lenses for selfies.
...but perhaps the one feature that to me becomes the killer app is a phone that doesn't break when you drop it and doesn't fritz when you spill water on it. For me, my nails on a chalkboard moment is seeing self-respecting professionals walking around with a screen so cracked it looks like someone hurled a rock at a mirror (and is subsequently enjoying bad luck as a result).
That accolade belongs to the Droid and Android OS.
Also, before we give too much credit to Samsung, they just recalled 2.5 million (yes, 2.5 MILLION) Galaxy Note 7's, so one step forward, one step back.
I guess the lessons for innovation are as follows:
- If necessity is the mother of invention, why isn't practicality the father of innovation? Instead of innovating around the wrong features, why not fix the most basic pain points like screens that constantly break
- When you look at the entire competitive set, I don't think there's any doubt Samsung has innovating the MOST....but is most necessarily best? First mover advantage is not the same as fast mover advantage (and visa versa)
- Perhaps the real innovation is the new business model and revenue stream associated with pricing leasing models. It's allowed the likes of AT&T to deal direct with its customers and bundle in added value services like insurance (no more Applecare)
- To that end, small businesses (startups if you like) have mushroomed around the service and repair friction associated with smartphones. Replacing your cracked screen or impotent battery is now truly "better, cheaper, faster."
- Back to Apple. I don't think Cook v Jobs is necessarily the key barometer when it comes to actual innovation; I DO think it is the ultimate litmus test when it comes to PERCEIVED innovation and our tolerance for mistakes, marginal improvements, deception (delaying the release of key functionality) and getting excited about "meh" features like the launch of Siri. That's what Jobs did so well. In Steve, we trusted. I guess the learning is that you need a strong leader to steady a ship, even if it's bearing for turbulent waters...
- The iPod saved Apple in my opinion. And the iPhone built on this success. Apple opened the walled garden associated with the iPod OS to welcome in the Microsoft Windows nerds and benefited greatly from the halo. They essentially swapped the walled garden of a device for an entire ecosystem. Right now, features like Airplay make interoperability a dream, but what happens when someone emulates, imitates or makes it likewise just as easy or even easier. Can we see a day where Apple everywhere is replaced with Amazon everywhere? We would be foolish to say no.
- Back to Jobs. His arrogance was endearing. In his void, any remnant of arrogance is just annoying. Isn't it time for Apple to start listening to its fanboys and girls? Ask us what we want.
- Or maybe it's OK if Apple looks to the competitive crowd and honors the adage, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Not to belabor the point, but PA-LEASE can we make screens unbreakable...or at the very minimum, less fragile!
- To be clear, the takeaway for Apple is clear. Pick up the pace, lads. The "S" in your 6-monthly mega-announcements stands for "Shit" (sorry, no less eloquent way to put it.) If you can't innovate quick enough, then change and ultimately manage our expectations. Stop with the whole Orwellian Production under more secrecy than a plot twist on The Walking Dead. Let go of the black turtleneck sweater and tortoise shell glasses and just issue a press release. Or don't and renew your wows (get it?)
- Maybe we've just come to the end of the line when it comes to innovation around a smartphone. I mean how much bigger can it get? How much better should the camera be? I don't believe that and I don't think you do either. I was watching 60-minutes recently and saw a scientist talking about CERN, The Large Hadron Collider, the Higgs boson or so-called G-d particle and when asked about what might be possible in the future which could include travel to other dimensions, teleportation or other episodes of Star Trek, his response was terrific: You know, if you had asked somebody in 1900, “Do you think we could take a device out of our pocket and push a button or two and talk to your spouse halfway across the world?”
So no to point 10, but maybe or yes to the title of the article.