It seems these days that everyone has an opinion about where Apple is heading. The current popular thing to do seems to be to say that Apple has lost its way and is out of ideas. Dan Lyons, creator of the satirical ‘Fake Steve’ blog wrote one such opinion that was published by the BBC. Mr. Lyons claims that Apple is simply going through the motions and has become an imitator rather than an innovator. He actually had the audacity to question what the venerable Sir Jonathan Ive has been doing with his time since Apple is merely slapping on a slightly larger screen and adding support for LTE. His argument was countered by Adam Banks in his article which was ironically published by the BBC as well.
In order to understand what the future holds for Apple, one must understand what Apple is about, what it stands for, and what drives it. All discussion and understanding must start there or it will undeniably be inherently flawed.
So, what is Apple about, anyway?
Apple is on a mission to make the best possible products that provide the best possible user experience. What drives it is the ultimate quest for the ultimate experience. What it stands for is substance and style over sensationalism and speed of change. It seeks to journey well, and take us all with it. The care and respect that Apple displays for its users is something that is entirely uncommon from a device manufacturer. Companies like Samsung, HTC, and Motorola try to dazzle us with new, now, and next. They think that real innovation means just adding more. More power, more screen space, and even more consonants in words like Maxx. Some incorrectly assert that Apple has only increased its screen size to keep up with Android devices. I believe that this really couldn’t be further from the truth, and that Apple finally increased the size of the iPhone screen when it found a way to do it and not only add something to the list of features, but to add something to the user experience without taking anything away that previously existed (i.e. being able to comfortably operate it with one hand). For Apple, the total experience trumps specs, hands down.
During the iPhone 5 promotional video, the element that I found the most striking was when Sr. VP of Design, Jony Ive was explaining their newest manufacturing techniques, whereby the body of an iPhone is laid on a conveyor belt and two cameras take photos. Almost instantly the “The inlay is matched to the housing in a highly sophisitiated process”, said Sir Ive. Computers match the best pieces to go together instantaneously out of 725 different cuts that could be a possible match. He goes on to say that “…the variances from product to product, we measure in microns. We believe that going to such great lengths is the only way that we can deliver this level of quality”.
Mr. Ive makes it very clear in the video that this is a simple design. He also makes it clear that in order to make something this simple, Apple had to go to great lengths and push the boundaries of what was previously possible with current manufacturing techniques.
So, where is Apple heading?
The answer to that question is simple. Apple is heading toward whatever they can determine makes the user experience better. They are headed toward increased precision and quality in manufacturing. Apple is not in a race with anybody else. They are on their own journey carving out their own path, and it makes absolutely no sense to those who do not first understand and embrace what Apple is about.
As the song says, “If you don’t know me by now, you will never ever know me”.
Here’s to hoping you have a great launch day, and the best unboxing, followed by the best user experience yet!