Apple no longer innovates

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,351
462
Brazil
The latest events at Apple have me wondering. Apple is no longer the leader it used to be, and now it is a follower. This has not yet impacted Apple's market value or the revenues, but it may in the future.

Under Steve Jobs, Apple was all about innovation. The motto was to "think different". The products were new and fresh, and really innovated in many ways. Apple delivered products nobody had ever seen before, and, in this process, it created new market niches. The products did not always have the best specs in the market, or the most features, but they held on their own because they were different from anything else.

Under Tim Cook, Apple is about making the best. I am yet to count how many times Tim Cook mentioned that Apple's products are the best, in a way I never recalled Steve Jobs doing. But products are not really innovative, and many of them are simply copycats of existing products. The products quite often have some of the best specs in the market. Apple's products now are kind of luxury, and they sport higher price tags to show it.

Let me give examples. After Steve Jobs was back at Apple in 1997, Apple released some very innovative products. The iMac was released in 1998, and it was a colorful all-in-one that innovated in design. The redesign of the iMac in 2002 was also a radical departure. The iPod was released in 2001; it was not the first MP3 player in the market, but it was the first one that created a true platform for listening to music. I don't remember any product similar to the Apple TV when it came out in 2006. The iPhone was of course the breakthrough product we all know. Not the first smartphone, but a very well executed one. In 2008, Apple released the App Store, with apps to be installed in the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Also in 2008, Apple unveiled the breath-taking MacBook Air, which would craft the definition of ultrabook. Multi-touch gestures for the MacBooks were introduced in 2008 as well. In 2010, Apple released the iPad, which redefined the tablet market. In 2010, also came the "retina display" for the iPhone, which would make way into the iPads and Macs.

Now, Apple is a follower, not a leader. All the efforts are towards making the best, and making their products better. But I see very little innovation. Apple no longer defines trends.

The iPhone got a bigger screen, and that happened after all other smartphones in the market had large screens. The iPad got a pen(cil) and a keyboard, contrary to all Steve Jobs beliefs; and in doing that it became a competitor to the Microsoft Surface and other tablets. Apple released a smartwatch, following Samsung and other companies. The HomePod is a speaker that had no reason to exist except that apparently Apple had to compete with Google and Amazon in this particular market segment. And now Apple is in the business of streaming. It released Apple Music to copy Spotify, and will release its own Netflix-like service after nearly every company seems to be doing the same.

In addition to this, Apple is constantly increasing its prices, as if it wants to position itself as a premium, luxury brand. Under Steve Jobs, Apple products were expensive, but still affordable. Steve Jobs knew that the consumer is price-sensitive. Now these times are gone.

Apple adhered to market segmentation as well, and this is consistent with the price policy. Under Steve Jobs, there was just one iPhone. One size, different storage options. The same with the iPad. Steve Jobs wanted to keep it simple and was against the policy of offering a trillion different products at different price points. Now, that is exactly what Apple is doing. We have the iPad and the iPad Pro; and the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR.

And yes, there are the new features. Steve Jobs used to reduce features, take them away to give minimalistic products, get to the core of each of them. No unnecessary features. Now, it seems to be the opposite. There is Force Touch, Face ID, Touch Bar, and other features nobody really asked for, and yet they are here.

Somehow, I prefer the old Apple. It just looked more honest and more focused. Now, Apple is doing little to differentiate itself from Microsoft, Google and Amazon. It is just one of the giant tech companies of the Silicon Valley, living on the glories of the past, on its legacy of innovation, and on the premium quality of its products. But there seems to be very little innovation going on.
 

1911

macrumors member
Mar 11, 2008
53
7
Sorry but this is just a lot of text for nothing, old rehashed ideas.
Mac OS X started going downhill after 10.6.8.
Maybe Apple needs to do what Microsoft did with their OS, time for MAC OS Professional.
Targeting their products for the lowest common denominator doesn't do much for their name.
 
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clarencek

macrumors regular
Apr 8, 2008
185
163
Not sure what the point is. Steve is gone. We all miss him. But there’s no going back to that.
 

revmacian

macrumors 68000
Oct 20, 2018
1,745
1,448
USA
I made a couple changes that I feel would put the OP into proper perspective.

Title: "Apple no longer innovates to my expectations"

The latest events at Apple have me wondering. Apple is no longer the leader it used to be, in my opinion, and now it is a follower. ...
Given the fact that there were no cell phones when I grew up, I am quite grateful to have Apple products and they work perfectly for my needs - I wouldn't buy them otherwise. Steve Jobs is gone and it is unrealistic to expect Tim Cook to behave in exactly the same way that Steve did.

There is a reason our fingerprints are unique.. no two human beings are identical.
 

sunapple

macrumors 68000
Jul 16, 2013
1,940
2,953
The Netherlands
The biggest problem with your post is your glorified view of ‘the old Apple’. These posts are nothing new, but they all have this in common: Steve Jobs would have... or Steve Jobs would never have...

Let me tell you how I feel: Apple under Jobs = current Apple under Cook.

Apple is not just about one person, it’s a culture (the company and its people) and it was al defined by Jobs. Therefore, not much would’ve been different if he were still around, it’s all a continuation.

People chanting ‘Apple is doomed’ also happened before, after or even during the release of all major products in the last 20 years under both SJ and Cook.
 

BigDO

macrumors 6502a
Dec 9, 2012
827
1,358
Good post, and I agree with your points.

Apple products currently are definitely best of breed, polished, reliable. However they are also completely predictable, and the excitement is almost gone (with the faint glimmer being products like AirPods).

When it comes to desktops/laptops, I see absolutely no reason to use Apple, and this is without even taking price into equation.

It is bittersweet if you're a tech enthusiast rather than simply a consumerist wanting a premium product.
 

Pakaku

macrumors 68020
Aug 29, 2009
2,247
2,322
Mac OS X started going downhill after 10.6.8.
Maybe Apple needs to do what Microsoft did with their OS, time for MAC OS Professional.
Targeting their products for the lowest common denominator doesn't do much for their name.
???

OSX feels pretty "professional" to me. What are you on about?
 

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,351
462
Brazil
The biggest problem with your post is your glorified view of ‘the old Apple’. These posts are nothing new, but they all have this in common: Steve Jobs would have... or Steve Jobs would never have...

Let me tell you how I feel: Apple under Jobs = current Apple under Cook.

Apple is not just about one person, it’s a culture (the company and its people) and it was al defined by Jobs. Therefore, not much would’ve been different if he were still around, it’s all a continuation.

People chanting ‘Apple is doomed’ also happened before, after or even during the release of all major products in the last 20 years under both SJ and Cook.
Well, not exactly. It's not glorifying "old Apple". Tim Cook seems to be a great manager, but not a so great leader. Apple is doing great at managing the current products, but it looks kind of lost as to what direction it is taking. It lacks leadership, even though management has been great.

If I were a shareholder, I would be concerned. Apple is a great company in the present, but the future is not so certain. Apple may commit the same mistake some other large companies did in the past, including Xerox, IBM and Microsoft, which is to rely on its size to keep relevant.

It is not clear to me whether Steve Jobs was able to insert his culture into Apple. It might have been a one-man show.
[doublepost=1541504170][/doublepost]
Good post, and I agree with your points.

Apple products currently are definitely best of breed, polished, reliable. However they are also completely predictable, and the excitement is almost gone (with the faint glimmer being products like AirPods).

When it comes to desktops/laptops, I see absolutely no reason to use Apple, and this is without even taking price into equation.

It is bittersweet if you're a tech enthusiast rather than simply a consumerist wanting a premium product.
Yes, kind of. Nothing really new on Apple's line up for a few years now. Why is Apple launching a speaker, a smartwatch, a streaming music service, and now a video streaming service? Those products already existed before and were well executed (except perhaps for the smartwatch, which I am still not sure it is a good idea at all). I am not really sure someone needs an Apple streaming video service to compete with Netflix, HBO Go, and the new one to be launched by Disney. Google, Microsoft and Facebook seem to be innovating more than Apple at this point.
[doublepost=1541504454][/doublepost]
From about 500 other identical threads started on MacRumors since Steve broke his fans' hearts and left them
I have never been a great fan of Steve Jobs. But I have to recognize that he did a great job taking Apple to another level.

Tim Cook is good, but he may lack leadership. I may be wrong, but Satya Nadella is doing a better job at Microsoft, making it fresh and innovative, than Tim Cook is doing at Apple, by launching the same products over and over again (look, new features, more premium!), and copying what the competition is doing.
 

sunapple

macrumors 68000
Jul 16, 2013
1,940
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The Netherlands
Well, not exactly. It's not glorifying "old Apple". Tim Cook seems to be a great manager, but not a so great leader. Apple is doing great at managing the current products, but it looks kind of lost as to what direction it is taking. It lacks leadership, even though management has been great.

If I were a shareholder, I would be concerned. Apple is a great company in the present, but the future is not so certain. Apple may commit the same mistake some other large companies did in the past, including Xerox, IBM and Microsoft, which is to rely on its size to keep relevant.

It is not clear to me whether Steve Jobs was able to insert his culture into Apple. It might have been a one-man show.
It was definitely not a one-man show, which is what I'm trying to say and Apple is his culture. If you read the story about the Snow White design language which was developed in the late 70s (Keep It Simple, Hartmut Esslinger) you'll see how much culture within a company comes into play rather than just having a great leader. It's not like Steve came up with iPhone, designed it and brought it to market all by himself.

The future is never certain, but the risk of Apple becoming IBM is not really bigger than it was back in the day. In fact they have so much success and cash that they can afford to make a mistake better than ever. I don't see Apple becoming the mess they where in the 80s/90s anytime soon.
 

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,351
462
Brazil
I think we need some fresh and innovative "Apple sucks" threads instead of the the same recycled posts
I agree, but I will certainly not come with new and fresh ideas for Apple. Apple is the one investing over USD 10 billion a year in R&D, just to come up with new products which are the “Apple version” of what someone has done before...
 

sunapple

macrumors 68000
Jul 16, 2013
1,940
2,953
The Netherlands
I agree, but I will certainly not come with new and fresh ideas for Apple. Apple is the one investing over USD 10 billion a year in R&D, just to come up with new products which are the “Apple version” of what someone has done before...
Provide me with one Apple product that was not "the “Apple version” of what someone has done before".
 

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,351
462
Brazil
Provide me with one Apple product that was not "the “Apple version” of what someone has done before".
Actually they were kind of “Apple versions”, but they had a different approach. Perhaps the Mac Mini or the Apple TV or the iMac? The iPhone, the iPad, they were all the “Apple version”, but very well executed devices, while the predecessors were kind of clumsy.

Lately, the “Apple versions” seem just more premium, without being particulatly innovative.
 

sunapple

macrumors 68000
Jul 16, 2013
1,940
2,953
The Netherlands
Actually they were kind of “Apple versions”, but they had a different approach. Perhaps the Mac Mini or the Apple TV or the iMac? The iPhone, the iPad, they were all the “Apple version”, but very well executed devices, while the predecessors were kind of clumsy.

Lately, the “Apple versions” seem just more premium, without being particulatly innovative.
Nope, all the same. "Apple no longer innovates" is something people have been chanting forever and I don't see any good arguments. If they launched a flying car next year, it wouldn't make much of a difference to these people.

Just buy whatever products you want and if you think you shouldn't buy shares, don't.
 

C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
48,451
17,116
Yes, kind of. Nothing really new on Apple's line up for a few years now. Why is Apple launching a speaker, a smartwatch, a streaming music service, and now a video streaming service? Those products already existed before and were well executed (except perhaps for the smartwatch, which I am still not sure it is a good idea at all). I am not really sure someone needs an Apple streaming video service to compete with Netflix, HBO Go, and the new one to be launched by Disney. Google, Microsoft and Facebook seem to be innovating more than Apple at this point.
To be fair, as I recall, many were saying similar things about Apple deciding to launch an MP3 player. That certainly turned out quite differently.
 

skaertus

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Feb 23, 2009
3,351
462
Brazil
To be fair, as I recall, many were saying similar things about Apple deciding to launch an MP3 player. That certainly turned out quite differently.
I remember that at the time, no major company had released an MP3 player, with the exception perhaps of Compaq and Creative. Microsoft would only release the Zune line years later. Apple was not the first one, but it was nearly the first major company to embrace the technology.

Now, it is different. Netflix is already a billion-dollar business with over 100 million subscribers. HBO is a major player in the TV business, and over 40 years old. Amazon, which is the second company after to hit a trillion dollars of market cap (after Apple) has its own streaming service. And Disney, which nearly owns Hollywood in the last decade, is launching a service with premium content and very well known property.

The market is pretty much well served with options for streaming video. Nobody really needs Apple to step up and make its move. And I honestly think Disney will simply destroy Apple in this department.

The iPod was a revolution in the business. The iPhone changed the world. The iPad created a new business from a type of device nobody cared before.

The Apple Watch? Well, it is doing OK, and it finally got 17% of the global market (which is not a particularly major business itself) three years after the initial release. It does not sound really mind-blowing to me, or is it?
 

C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
48,451
17,116
I remember that at the time, no major company had released an MP3 player, with the exception perhaps of Compaq and Creative. Microsoft would only release the Zune line years later. Apple was not the first one, but it was nearly the first major company to embrace the technology.
At those times even those were petty big companies, and part of it was that even the little companies already had essentially flooded the market with all kinds of players that many people ruled it out as being anything even close to worthwhile for a company like Apple to even touch, let alone actually compete in.
 

Tech198

macrumors G5
Mar 21, 2011
14,824
1,898
Australia, Perth
Stopped reading after the first sentence o_O
So did I ..

Apple borrows technology like TouchID, FaceID, and wireless charging, and claims it as 'they invented it', because its first on iPhones, Macs or other devices.

It's not wrong, but it's not an invention either.
 

ACD0236

macrumors member
Nov 2, 2016
60
38
I like innovation. But why do I like it? Because it's useful to me.

My point is: do we really need all-out innovation? Or do we need quality in the features we get rather than quantity?

Did we really need bezel-less displays on smartphones? I thought so, so I ditched my iPhone 6 for a Samsung Galaxy S8+. It lasted one year, then I replaced it with an iPhone 8 Plus. Why? The Samsung had a bezel-less display, and a stunning one, but what did it add to my experience? To the everyday productivity and usability of the device? Edge shortcuts?

I used to be all out in comparing specs and I was greatly underwhelmed by any iteration of the iPhone after the 5S, I was underwhelmed by the "old" processors in the iMac and the lack of features in the MacBook Pro when my father got Windows Hello and pen support with full Windows 10 in his Surface. But then, out of necessity, I went out and actually got them. I got the 2014 iPhone 6 in 2015, the 2017 iPhone 8 Plus in 2018, the Mid-2017 iMac and Mid-2017 MacBook Pro respectively in April and October 2018, and you know what? I don't care. Because they're so good that I enjoy using them to do my work (they're tools for me, and that's saying something since I use them a lot) without even thinking about other login methods, the bezels and pen support.

I'm not advocating for ugly, old and not updated products because they "do their work". I love innovation, I love seeing the industry get ahead, I hate those companies that keep running Windows 7 because they use an old software which wouldn't run on newer systems, I dislike those advocating for backward-compatibility at all costs (one of the reasons Windows has become the mess it is today), but neither do I think that we should get foldable phones or flying iPads just for the sake of having them.

I'd much rather prefer Apple investing in perfecting what we already have and make the platform even more stable, suitable for professional use in the many fields it has potential in, and ultimately more enjoyable to work with. I don't buy Apple because it's innovative: I buy Apple because when they make something, they make it pretty damn near perfect. Not perfect by any means, but you see an attention to detail and a coherence between design and functionality, hardware and software you won't get, in my opinion, anywhere else.
 
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