Originally Posted by bigpics
I still read the articles, but I'm starting to give up on the forums - there's a few realists, sure - but the rest have circled the wagons in a circle of denial that the Asian (aided and abetted by Google) invasion is evolving faster than Apple is innovating, and that the strategies that work when one has a new device class to themselves won't keep working if all the new releases are simply iterative, even if well-executed.
And I personally think the management of Apple is very bright, dedicated and competent at what they do. But also think they haven't replaced that departed "disruptive gene" in their makeup since Steve Jobs died. It's always an evolving tech world, and corporations can never just keep doing what they've been doing with incremental iterations as the market changes. And so far, Apple's singular strategy is becoming less competitive in the world of the Android assault where they no longer have "first mover" advantage in any line of business they're in.
Leaving the question, not is Samsung evil, rather, who at Apple is going to demonstrate that the company is still the master of the end-around play that will put the competition back on its heels again for another few years and restores Apple's cachet as both disruptor and true innovator?
Ives refines things. Cook manages things. Schiller markets things. Etc. But who at Apple is going to come up with and shepherd the next NEW THING from concept to roll-out as Jobs did - often having to roll over internal opposition in the process - at least 4 or 5 times?
The question has NOT yet been answered. And certainly not by the entire round of updates in 2012 - the largest number of new releases, but all simply arguably improved versions of existing products. With overly spendy MBPr's, nifty MBA's, a nicer, lighter phone that nonetheless is beginning to look like a miniature, despite the (actually now somewhat compromised) purity of its one-handed ergonomics, the (IMO) less desirable form factor of the Nano, no storage increase across the iDevice line, no SDK for the ATV, flashy but less serviceable iMacs (with actually dumb things like an SD slot in the back), and also purity to Steve's notion that touch screen enablement on Macs implies muscle arms, although Apple's the company that taught us to just reach out and touch our devices, and one would only have to access items by touch when it was the most intuitive thing to do.
To me, they seem locked in their own RDF without their founder - riding the horses that brung 'em to the top, but no new horse in sight for the next leg of the race.
And much like Apple apparently (though I'm hoping they'll prove me wrong), the posters are simply re-iterating stale memes, with chants of "Samsung is evil," Apple "still" leads in profitability, "Samsung steals, has no imagination, etc., etc." while that company executes its business plan at a machine-gun rate of new SKU's. It's not Apple's strategy, but it's working for them..... ...and all of the emerging form factors (including offerings from WinWorld) are finding - and will continue to find their niches. Apple is also eschewing participating in the largely now silly, but someday pervasive "Internet of things," which may also come back to bite them.
Meanwhile, no single device may outsell the Apple entry nearest its category, and certainly are likely to bring in more profit in 2013 or even '14, but cumulatively there are at least a few echoes of "it's the '80's all over again." Not that I'm saying Apple will face dire straights or anything like extinction, but they do stand to lose their image as the great leaders of the new "ecosystem of the future." and become just another huge tech company among others.
If you simply crave someone to agree with your point of view, there are plenty of pro-Android/tech elites sites that cater to that point of view. I simply don't understand anyone coming here and then finding people who disagree with you and then throwing your hands up in disgust and complaining there aren't enough "realists" here. That's a indirect way criticizing people who don't agree with your as what? Living in a reality distortion field? Is that what you want to say?
Your post is essentially: Steve Jobs is dead, and the "disruptive gene" went with him, and here is my "proof": Apple has only made incremental changes in 2012! If Apple doesn't renew it's "cachet as disruptor and true innovator" every year, I'm going to declare the SKY IS FALLING and ITS THE 80S ALL OVER AGAIN.
Except. Except. Except...
That's not how disruptive change works. That YOU THINK that's how it works is a testament to Apple's legendary secrecy and internal refinement before the theatrical unveiling of the breakthrough new product on stage at Moscone Center. Apple does this so well, it makes it seem like innovation is so easy, so commonplace: it's practically growing on innovation trees. You begin to expect it! Have you listened to yourself? "Where's my regularly scheduled breakthrough?" you impatiently demand. "If Apple doesn't blow us away 2013, it's the 80s all over again!" You proclaim yourself a "realist." Is that a realistic expectation? For any company? Let alone Steve Jobs' Chocolate Factory?
Or is it more realistic for big disruptive breakthroughs to come a long every once in a while, and for released, mature products to see only incremental changes? Steve Jobs said it himself at the unveiling of the iPhone, that Apple was truly lucky that it could bring the first Mac, the iPod, and now (then) the iPhone, the first touch phone to market. Three disruptive products in 30 years. (Then three years later the iPad could be considered a disruptive product, but one can argue it's essentially the iPhone, but larger). These disruptive changes don't happen every year, and you can't expect when the next one will happen. It's completely unrealistic. You can stick a time table out there and demand Apple follow it, but that's not how it works.
But even in the "mature" product categories, Apple is aggressively pursuing incremental changes at a rapid pace. Look at the Mac: Thunderbolt. SSD standard. Retina Displays. Bonded IPS screens. Ginormous batteries. Super thin and light profiles. Optical drives jettisoned. And look, The MacBook Air is dragging the rest of the PC laptop industry along with the Ultrabook clones. Oh, but I guess Apple "stands to lose its image a a great leader" (according to you) because the MacBook Air is merely "nifty." Uh, right. So nifty, EVERYONE THAT ISN'T APPLE IS TRYING TO CLONE IT. Poorly and cheaply, I might add. If I didn't know any better, I'd say all these changes add up to leadership in an otherwise "done" product category: the personal computer.
So let's answer your QUESTION, the one you say has NOT been answered yet: who is the new Steve Jobs at Apple?
But Apple isn't doomed, and here's why: Steve Jobs wasn't the source of innovation at Apple. Steve's name isn't on every patent application. Steve was a two things: product tastemaker and focus. Focus is saying "no." Focus is knowing the right things to say "no" to. Companies like Google don't understand what "no" means, which is why they are spending money on, among other things, cars that drive themselves and aug-reality nerd goggles. But theirs is a completely dissimilar approach, I know (and I don't really want to use this post to talk about Google).
Jony Ive has the tastemaker part covered. He's been there for years, and Apple's products reflect his and Steve Jobs' values.
Focus. I believe under Tim Cook, Apple has remained focused. They haven't gone off and exploded into every which product niche with bloated confusing product lines the way Apple did under John Sculley. The way Samsung does with its dozens of phones. Apple has apparently continued to say "no" to some very obvious niches, like ginormous phone screens and cheap iPhones.
Innovation came from lots of hard working people at Apple. Many of them you never heard of. Steve didn't invent Multitouch, or The App Store, or iTunes Music Store, or the iPod click-wheel, or The Apple Retail Stores, or any of the big disruptive ideas from Apple. He could look at a novel idea or new technology and see where that product was going to be in 5, 10 years. (You only had to hear Steve describe something very similar to iCloud way back in 1997 to realize his far future grasp). Granted, that "visionary" role is hard to replace, but the visionary isn't the source of innovation; the visionary merely exploits and directs it.
The bottom line is, I think you're way overstating Steve Jobs' role at Apple, and you're wrong to assume that a "disruptive gene" exists only in a single figurehead. Steve put a system in place, namely Apple University, to teach the next generation of Apple leaders the lessons and values of the Steve Jobs CEO era. That's where the disruptive "gene" is: it lives on with the people who have journeyed down this road with Steve, and just 15 months after his death, it's a little premature to start proclaiming those who disagree with you "in denial" of Apple supposed doom.
Edited by Suddenly Newton - 1/22/13 at 9:59pm