If you walk into any Apple Store looking to buy a Mac, it is like stepping back in time two years — and those two years are not just regular years, they are technology years. In comparison to regular calendar years, technology years have like a 10:1 ratio. For example, this would like be walking into your local car dealership and the most current model they were selling was from 1996!
In the wake of Apple’s WWDC keynote event this past Monday, it appears we are in for a storm of hardware releases coming this fall. A Tsunami of products are now overdue, but launching so many highly needed updates together brings tremendous risk.
No big game changers have come about with Apple’s updates over the past few years. Apple TV’s big moment was Apps, yet it does not support 4K nor does Apple have it's own streaming package. This Fall, Apple Watch will be 18 months old. iMac’s are becoming ancient, and the current MacBook Air was just entered into the Smithsonian. Walking into an Apple store today feels like being time-warped back to 2014. The only thing you may notice is a slimmer MacBook in three different colors and a larger iPad. Modern hardware updates have been sloth slow.
April 24, 2015. It was to be a big day in Apple’s history, and a big day for Tim Cook to show the world he could match the brilliance of his predecessor Steve Jobs. Apple Watch was finally available for sale. It was Cook’s first new product category and it was fully under his direction and guidance. The result? Yawn.
Apple Watch is cool and works well within the Apple eco system, but it wasn’t a must-have item, and yet Apple spent abundant resources on bringing this gem (pun intended) to market. Products that suffered in Apple Watch’s development wake have been iPhone, iPad, iOS, Mac and OS X. It seems under Cook Apple can really only fully focus on one item at a time, which is exactly where Apple is today.
It is clear Apple is focusing on the iPad Pro line, trying to re-ignite a market segment it started with the original iPad. Lately, Microsoft has made a lot of noise in this market with its 2-in-1 Surface 1, 2, 3, and now, 4 models. The sell is you can have a real Windows computer but also a tablet when you want one. Instead of carrying two devices around you can just use one.
With the arrival of the 9.7" iPad Pro and its starting price point of $599, I began to wonder for whom is this product targeted? For starters, the new iPad Pro has many of the same features as its larger 12.9" sibling coupled with a few extra goodies, such as Apple's latest 12-megapixel iSight camera technologies, 4K video, and a higher resolution front-facing FaceTime camera. Technology aside, the answer that will – or will not – drive 9.7" iPad Pro sales is going to all about the screen size. Is it worth saving $200 to settle for a 9.7" display, or is it best to wait, save and purchase the original 12.9" iPad Pro?
I have a son who is battling this very question. He could certainly get into the iPad Pro 9.7" much sooner than saving and waiting to get the 12.9" version, but he is also an artist, and the extra screen real estate is likely to make a big difference over time. The questions for him are, how big a difference, and will he regret the smaller screen once he purchases it? If he purchases it?
2015 has not been a great year for Apple, but the year had started with great promise. Apple Watch was to be Cook’s new product category, helping balance Apple’s sales ledger from heavy iPhone success. It was to be Cook’s version of the introducing the first iMac, iPod, iPhone or iPad to the market. However the Apple Watch launch was blundered like no other in recent Apple history. Within hours, Apple Watch inventory was depleted from online sales, leaving nothing for in-store purchases — on the first day! You could come in, try on a Apple Watch, decide which one was right for you, select additional bands, and then go over to a Mac and order online with a delivery not to happen for the next 2 or 3 months. Awful. What should have been a great success, and caused huge lines in the malls across the country turned out to be a big, big dud. Since then Apple has built up the inventory to match a marginal demand, but Cook and company missed their big opportunity that the iPhone had upon its first day of sales.
I have bemoaned Apple’s laptop lineup before, but every time I look at it, I still cringe. I can not imagine someone going into an Apple Store today and clearly understanding the reason (and the difference) between a 13" MacBook Air and a 12" MacBook. Or between an 11" MacBook Air and the new iPad Pro.
Tim Cook is running all about this week talking about the iPad Pro as his new notebook. He claims all he needs is his iPad Pro and his iPhone. Fine, fantastic. But while he is euphorically trying to restart growth in the iPad line up, he is, at the same time, furthering muddling the notebook line up, making the consumer choice confusing. Sometimes I long for the days where the authoritarian Steve Jobs would say you can have a notebook and it comes in these three models — that’s it. Jobs loved simplicity and Apple’s product lines almost always reflect that. Everything was easy to understand. The differences between each model was clear, including the pricing, and therefore made the choice simple for the purchaser.
The auto industry: dull, unimaginative, predictable. The car market has remained relatively unchanged for decades, and a gluttony of focus group developed cars has helped keep it that way. The industry slowly innovates, making glacial ice-ages look fast.
The result is, at best, is incremental improvement, with Detroit scrambling to find the next niche segment to gain market share. But cracks in plodding automotive market are starting take place. From startups, to radical new fuel alternatives, the auto industry is on the precipice of the largest transformation in its history, and Apple appears ready to usher in its own sea change of ideas.
This weekend was more frustrating than most. I was going to show my wife some pictures I had taken on my iPhone. But within reach was my iPad. I picked up my iPad, opened the Photos app and my pictures were not there. What? Hmmm. So began the weekend hunt to figure out why.
First you must understand I try to avoid using iCloud (or anything that involves a third-party “learning about me”) as much as I can. For Books, for Podcasts, for Messages, for Notes, Music and Video I am unable to avoid using Apple’s syncing services. However, for Photos, Contacts, Calendar and Mail, I have some other options. For the later three I have my own hardware running OS X Server. But for photo syncing I want to continue syncing locally — between my Mac and iOS devices — when on the same Wi-Fi connection.