Has Apple Shown They Can “Think Different” Without Steve Jobs?
There was once a time when Apple was synonymous with innovation, cutting-edge technology, avant-garde design, and moments that made you simply step back and say, “wow!” However, in the years following the death of founder Steve Jobs, many have begun to question whether the tech giant retains the vision and groundbreaking capacity for innovation that made it the most popular and ubiquitous tech company of the early 21st century.
Apple has come under fire, particularly in recent months, for its perceived lack of new, innovative products. The company that gave the world the Mac, the iPhone and the iPad has been uncharacteristically silent on the development front in recent months. Since the death of Jobs, the company has released the iPhone 5, which was, in essence, the exact same device as the preceding iPhone 4S, but with a slightly larger screen, provoking almost universal derision from tech pundits and competitors like Samsung, who savaged Apple in commercials for their newest smartphones.
The public reception of Apple’s native Maps app was equally disastrous following several high profile incidents of misdirection and a general lack of quality. This represented an embarrassing failure for Apple and a PR boon for competitor Google, whose own Maps app Apple sought to replace.
These factors, plus concern over the deprivation of Jobs’ strategic creative brilliance, have contributed to a 5 percent drop in Apple’s stock price from its peak of $705 last fall.
Apple managed to silence some of its doubters with the recent unveiling of the new Mac Pro desktop computer, which comes complete with a revolutionary new cylindrical design. However, this won’t end up doing a huge amount of good for Apple’s public persona, given that the Mac Pro is undeniably a niche product, primarily purchased for those working in intensive media development positions.
In addition, consumers holding their breath for a complete redesign of the rapidly aging iPhone will have to wait at least another year to be satisfied. Although Apple is expected to unveil a new, low-cost iPhone aimed at developing markets around September 10, it is expected to simply take the form of a colored plastic iPhone 5 and not to break any new ground in terms of hardware design.
However, there are some encouraging signs coming from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. This September, Apple will be releasing its completely revamped iOS7 mobile operating system. This update ditches the dated skeumorphic design that the operating system had become known for and replaces it with a much more modern and minimalist aesthetic. In addition, rumors of a new smartwatch and Apple TV give consumers reasons to be hopeful regarding Apple’s future.
This iOS7 update is perhaps the most important though. It represents a complete abandonment of many of Jobs’ favorite iPhone features. As unintelligent as this may seem, this is actually the best strategic move for Apple. Jobs’ undeniable genius, recently portrayed to dubious effect by Aston Kutcher in this year’s critically panned Jobs, formed the lifeblood and soul of Apple. Following his death two years ago, Apple has found itself serving up products with little to no deviation from those that Jobs designed several years ago. While this allowed for something of a transition period, it’s highly encouraging that the company is abandoning this practice with iOS7.
By divorcing its new products from Jobs’ influence, Apple is freeing itself up for increased innovation in the future. Although it was harshly criticized, and perhaps rightly so, for continuing to religiously adhere to Jobs’ design language, the freedom to innovate without constraint will allow Apple to return to its former role as the vanguard of the tech industry.
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