Apple is Not Slipping

By buddy Tom Reding on Apple:

In saying that, I realize that even Steve Jobs has just been copying ideas and improving on them over the years, making them more user friendly and “prettier”. The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player on the market by a long shot, but it did improve on what the other guys were doing. The iPhone wasn’t the first touch screen phone on the market, and the iOS certainly wasn’t the first mobile OS to use the icon based system. And the iPad most definitely was not the first tablet to come to market. And let’s not get started on the Apple Watch, but there was definitely something to be said by the way Apple marketed their products and improved on various subtitles to enhance the overall user experience and tie everything together under one roof. And that is what I like about Apple in general, but with the introduction of Apple Music, and the minute steps forward in improving their phones and other devices, it’s starting to seem like Apple is slipping a bit.

People have been saying this for years, every time Apple releases a phone or tablet or computer or operating system without some revolutionary feature, there becomes a theory that Apple “isn’t who they used to be”. In the world of over-analysis, and kneejerk reactions, and social media, it’s easy to understand how this happens. There is so much content out there, and so many voices that people can (and do) write about anything. The biggest problem for Apple, like almost any company these days, is that there is no way they can regularly meet the unrealistic expectations people have for them.

It’s really no different than a pro sports team like the late ’90s Yankees, or the Patriots of the last decade or so, where once you continually win at the highest level there is no where to go but down. No company can just invent new products with revolutionary features all the time. First of all, it’s just not humanly possible, secondly there needs to be improvement of existing features, not just new ones. That was long the problem with sports video games. Every year a new game would come out with some big heralded new feature, but the same broken things from the year before would still be there. There has to be refinement.

People hone in on small features of devices and exclaim ‘meh’, without looking at the bigger picture. The titanic shift in personal devices that the iPod, iPhone and iPad brought about to technology, music and mobile devices has not been closed to matched by anyone else. That doesn’t mean that no one has made a better music player, smartphone or tablet, it means that no company in the last 20 years has done more to shake-up and push forward the way people use technology and mobile devices.

Maybe iTunes Match wasn’t a great success, and maybe Apple Music will be a colossal failure. But this notion that Apple has lost a step is just stupid. Standalone HBO finally happened with HBO Now. It was exclusive to Apple initially. Does that seem like a random partnership? Google keeps shutting down projects one by one (Google+ anyone?). Supposedly these other music companies like Spotify and Rdio are not sustainable long term because they aren’t profitable enough. You know who is profitable enough? Apple. They can afford to lose money on a service if it sells them more hardware where their make tons of money.

Some might consider me an Apple fanboy, and I do love a lot of Apple products, but I am far from the one of the people that think Apple can do no wrong. I still don’t own an Apple TV, never signed up for iTunes Match and still haven’t activated my trial of Apple Music. When Apple stops selling craploads of computers, tablets and phones people can start talking about them slipping. It’s not unprecedented by any means. There is little argument that some missteps early in the millennium hurt Microsoft, and there is no doubt that Motorola, once the unquestioned big dawg of cellular phones, is completely irrelevant now. But bringing up things like the Microsoft Hololens or Oculus Rift glosses over the fact that these things are not even for sale yet, let alone proof that they will be successful and profitable. There was a point where motion control on the Wii and Microsoft Kinect was the best thing since sliced bread, and both are essentially dead at this point.

Apple has risen and fallen before, but it’s a little early to start talking about their downfall. They are a stupid rich company that continues to change up their products and try new things frequently. No other company has released a product as revolutionary as the iPod, iPhone or iPad in the last decade, and until someone does, Apple is no worse off than other companies doing similar business.