March 22, 2015
This article explores how, under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple has deteriorated away from a focus on innovation to an exploitation of short-term gains.
Apple has become a jeweler, has changed designs just for the sake of change, and has stopped its focus on innovating the next wave of technology.
In short, these guys are Cooked.
Watches are jewelry
No one buys a watch to tell time. If you have one, you might look at it to check the time but that is not the reason you bought it. You think Breitling and Rolex are 100 times more effective at telling time than Swatch to justify that price difference? No, its a show-piece; it’s jewelry.
Functional watches can’t drive margin… but jewelry can!
Smart watches don’t bring a substantial value-add to really drive margin for a company like Apple. You think people are going to be answering texts on an iWatch? Heck no. Maybe it’s a better “fit-bit” but considering the pricing Apple launched with, this thing is all about show and proves the first point. In short, Apple has launched a jewelry line!
A jewelry line?! Steve Jobs is firing someone right now from his grave. Will people buy it? Heck yes. Is this the future of technology like the iPod, iPhone, and iMac were? Heck no.
Change for change’ sake (not function) has driven recent design
Jobs always focused on cutting features to provide the most elegant and functional machines possible. He’s remembered for saying,
“I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.” (link)
This hasn’t carried over to the new thinking. The new (Samsung-copied) flat design that’s harder to read was the major “upgrade” in an early Cook release.
Additionally, Apple has layered in additional steps to get the same functions done. For example, if I am texting a friend and I want to call him, I used to be two clicks away. Now, I am three. They have layered in the decision between a FaceTime Audio or Voice Call.
Something like 95% of calls are audio! Why the added step there? If I really wanted to make a FaceTime call, I could go into my contacts. To make matters worse, the options between FaceTime or Voice Call are found at the bottom of the screen while the first two clicks are at the top. This is a big pain especially since on the bigger phones the third click requires a hand shift, not just a thumb movement.
Now for some, this point may seem ridiculously small. But this is exactly the brilliant thinking that Jobs brought to every detail and is what set Apple apart.
You’ve heard the saying that lawyers have to make edits to justify their hours. It seems the design team now makes edits to justify their existence.
Cook’s Apple has spent the last few years focusing on iterations of its most successful products… iPhones in colors! (No innovation.) iPhones in different sizes! (No innovation.) Jewelry with iWatch! (Nothing innovative.)
Jobs has perfectly predicted this as the demise of companies like Apple.
“Some very good product people invent some very good products, and the company achieves a monopoly. But after that, the product people aren’t the ones that drive the company forward anymore. It’s the marketing guys …Because what’s the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business from is yourself? … Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason. But by then the best product people have left, or they’re no longer listened to.”
Tim has masterfully been able to ride the innovation that has brought them to the top and figured out how to sell more of those products. But it looks as if there is no effort being put forward to bring forward the next wave of innovation.
Where should they go instead?
Apple needs to focus on leading the next generation of technologies and make sure to pick the right ones. As Jobs put it,
“Focusing is about saying ‘no’.” (video)
My vote would be towards the car and home. Car systems are in need of a total revamp, especially from the software technology side. There have been rumors of Apple and Tesla… that’s a merger I like. The home today is a group of disjointed technologies. Apple TV was a fine first step but they haven’t gone far enough. The technology has matured to where Apple could bring the home all under one roof (pun intended).
Listen to Jobs
Apple has fallen into some of the same habits that lead to their fall many years ago. Tim is using their powerful brand to drive more sales of existing products. This will help the bottom line in the early years but lead to its demise in the long term. Apple is not where it is today because they kept making better iPods.
“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it”. (link)
I can’t help but look at the last two years of Apple and feel like Tim Cook doesn’t “get it.” It seems Apple doesn’t know the Apple model. Apple has launched a jewelry line, made useless design changes, and stopped its focus on truly innovate product design.
In short, Apple is Cooked.
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