Attention to detail. Finely crafted technology that opened up new ways of working and playing. Re-defining the user experience. That’s Apple’s hallmark ever since the Mac debuted decades ago.
Today’s latest product event, replete with videos that ended abruptly as if not quite finished, demonstrations that failed to ignite the imagination and product features that, well, were just features, suggests the magic may be gone if not just fading.
Apple seems to be losing its vision of what makes truly innovative products. A 12mp camera on the new IPhone is 50% better than before, but 30% less than Samsung Galaxy’s 16mp, (though 4K video is a win that most displays won’t be able to show.)
The future of TV, we were told by an enthusiastic Tim Cook, is the app. For several years now smart televisions have had apps. That’s not an innovation, that’s playing catch up to much less expensive or built-in rivals.
Apple TV is now a gaming machine with a Wii-like controller, a shopping assistant (a.k.a. e-commerce) and voice-activated movie specialist. One highlight, a re-vamped retro Frogger game that had, wait for it, a multi-player mode.
The Siri voice control, if it wasn’t a canned exercise, hopefully works a lot better than the IPhone, which still can’t find simple places on widely inaccurate maps. Would Steve Jobs have allowed that kind of inattention to detail slip by? Somehow I really doubt it.
Even the new IPad, bigger, made better with an expensive add-on stylus dubbed the, you guessed it, iPencil, which gained a chuckle from the audience, outpaces rivals with some gains in pressure sensitivity. At 1.5 pounds and larger than the original iPad it hardly sports an ebook form factor. But, we’re told, you can finally watch movies in the park.
Seriously Apple. That can’t be a selling point.
Perhaps the most innovative design element was 3D touch. Certainly a technological breakthrough, but people aren’t buying the underlying sophistication that engineers love. They’re buying functionality and most of the demonstration involved standard swiping. Do we really need another way to open email?
Maybe the medical uses of showing patients a torn meniscus or monitoring your baby’s heart beat on your watch will appeal to some. Maybe not. A high-priced Hermes leather watch band doesn’t solve the e-mail latency and missed message problems that users are complaining about.
The crowd, stocked with employees cheered at every new reveal, but if the day’s stock movement was any indication investors were not impressed.
One Republic wound down the event with a somber opening and high energy finish, but consumers weren’t looking for a rock concert.
Apple needs to get back to basics, listen to their customers and create products that make people’s lives significantly more efficient, enjoyable and entertaining. In other words. Innovate.