iPod. iPhone. iPad. Why Apple is Done Inventing New Devices.

iPod. iPhone. iPad. Why Apple is Done Inventing New Devices.

Most of Apple’s money comes from recently invented gadgets. More than two-thirds of Apple’s revenue comes from product types that didn’t even exist five years ago (iPhone and iPad). And 78% of Apple’s income is made by products unimaginable just ten years ago (throw in iPod and iTunes).

That means, in order to stay on the same growth curve in the current decade, Apple will have to invent product categories as new as the iPod, iPhone and iPad were, right?

Wrong.

The new products were part of a killer strategy Apple came up with in 1997. Apple will dominate the future by sticking to the strategy, not by trying to invent more product categories.

Apple became the most valuable company in the world twice this week, trading places briefly with Exxon Mobil. But Apple and Exxon aren’t even in the same league in terms of coolness, greatness or any other ness you want to throw at it. One company sells flammable muck sucked out of the ground to be converted into air pollution, and the other makes the MacBook Air, the most perfect computer every built.

Apple used to be a big loser. I mean that literally. Some 14 years ago, Apple had been losing money year after year. The conventional wisdom was that it’s glory days were in the past.

The PCs wars were over. Microsoft had won. Attempts to invent new platforms, most especially the Newton platform, had failed. The company was in a pickle. If it tried to be unique, it would remain a shrinking, minor fringe company. If it sold out and tried to be more conventional, it would be destroyed by more efficient conventional competitors.

Apple was not only a loser, it seemed that there was no possible way it could win. It was a relic from the 80s, a minor footnote in the history of computing.

The lowest point in the company’s history came in 1997. Out of desperation, Apple forged a new partnership with Microsoft in which that company invested $150 million dollars in Apple in exchange for a promise by Apple to offer Internet Explorer as the default browser on Macs, and other promises. Apple needed the money. And the partnership.

Apple had sunk so low in 1997 that they were willing to try anything. So out of sheer desperation, they promoted Steve Jobs from “advisor” to “interim CEO.”

Jobs, no longer just a visionary loose cannon, had become a skillful leader. The whole experience of being driven out of his own company, and building a new company from scratch, taught Jobs to be the complete visionary dictator he was born to be.

Jobs packed the board with loyalists, unceremoniously deleted entire product lines, and re-structured the company around a breathtaking, new, long-term vision.

The new vision was to transform Apple from a computer company to a content appliance company. No, THE content appliance company. No other company had or currently has the same strategy.

Apple clearly devised this strategy in 1997. That’s when the “Think Different” advertising campaign launched. That campaign broke all the rules for positioning computing products. Instead of “buy this, it’s faster, cheaper, runs more software,” the pitch was: “aspire to genius, we’ll give you the tools to create.”

So while Microsoft sees itself as a company that makes software, Dell a company that makes hardware, Google a company that sells advertising and HP a company that provides turn-key business solutions, Apple would obsess over content — big products for creating it; all products for consuming it.

Of course, Apple products are multi-purpose devices, useful for communication, business, doing taxes and other purposes. But the content creation and consumption would be the company’s laser beam focus and the centerpiece of the Mother of All Winning Strategies.

Apparently Apple noticed in 1997 that nearly all the ways that people consumed content sucked. Hard.

People were paying $12 to $18 per CD for music, then carrying around massive CD players to listen. Television was always horrible. Cable TV services were (and are) clunky, non-intuitive and expensive. Car radio never had anything good on. Books and magazines were expensive and wasteful.

Apple could see that new digital technologies, combined with the Internet, could fix what was broken in content consumption. But Apple could also see that the various content industries would fight to prevent needed change.

People talk about the iPod, iPhone and iPad as merely new gadgets that Apple invented, which succeeded because they were appealing consumer electronics devices. But you can’t really understand why they were all so incredibly successful unless you view them in the context of the content strategy.

While Apple’s competitors were focused on building devices, Apple was focused on transforming how people interacted with human culture. The iPod was created to use digital media and the Internet to fix what was broken about audio content. Likewise with the iPhone, the iPad and Apple TV.

The theme with all Apple’s new products in the last decade has been to use digital technology plus the Internet to fix what’s broken about how people consume content. And likewise with Macs and MacBooks — Apple has improved those products by fixing what was broken about both the consumption and creation of content.

And that’s why Apple is done creating whole new platforms. There will be nothing in the coming decade equivalent in newness to the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Apple’s full line enables the company to fix what’s broken about all the major ways people consume and create content.

I do believe Apple will offer a TV set at some point. But they can’t claim to have invented the TV set. It’s not a new gadget platform in the same way as, say, the iPad is. A better TV is not the same as inventing the TV.

The important point is that Apple absolutely does not need to keep entering whole new businesses like it did with iPod, iPhone and iPad in order to continue growing and dominating.

The iPod, iPhone and iPad didn’t make Apple billions because they were new, high-quality gadgets. They were that, but they enabled the company to improve content consumption in places where people would be consuming content anyway.

Apple needs only to continue to perfect the platforms it already offers. For example, Apple will continue to add touch-friendliness to Macs. Look for all-touch iMacs and all-screen MacBooks (where the keyboard is a screen) in the next five years. Yes, Apple will continue to innovate brilliantly. But those innovations will be improvements to existing lines, rather than the creation of all-new lines as represented by the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Apple’s continued growth will come from growing marketshare, new markets and new revenue models. The iOS platform, in fact, is the likely model for all future business.

On the iOS platform, Apple makes money from sales of the integrated hardware/software appliance. Then it takes a huge cut of all third-party app sales. Then it takes a cut of all content downloaded to the device. It makes money selling advertising that will be displayed on the device. It will make licensing revenue from desperate competitors who copy the device.

Apple will continue to grow revenue by rolling out this model more completely to desktop and laptop devices, and also television.

And Apple will be happy to leave the low-margin, high-maintenance businesses to sucker… I mean competitors. The PC clone vendors, the Chinese tablet makers, the Korean cell phone makers — Apple will let them claw at each other for near zero-margin hardware sales.

Apple is the most successful company in the world because Apple has the greatest business strategy ever devised: Fix what’s broken about creating and consuming content.

Apple invented three radically new gadget platforms in a single decade. But those inventions were only means to an end. Those inventions inserted Apple into all the major ways people consume content.

Now that Apple has product lines that offer the best experience for creating and consuming content, both on the desk and on the go, no further product lines need to be added.

The invention of whole new gadget categories at this point would mean Apple was trying harder for smaller markets, for the fringe, for the periphery.

And that’s something Apple hasn’t done since 1997.

  • dcj001

    “I do believe Apple will offer a TV set at some point. But they can’t claim to have invented the TV set.”

    But they will be able to claim that they will have invented the only good one. It will definitely have features that many have not yet imagined. And many will say, “Why didn’t I think of that?

    “iPod. iPhone. iPad. Why Apple is Done Inventing New Devices.”

    “Everything that can be invented already has been.” This statement was released in 1899 by the U.S. Patent Office. If these “experts” ran the world, we would still be sitting in the dark. Apple will never be finished inventing new innovative products that provide great experiences.

  • lwdesign1

    Mike, I know it’s been an interesting turnaround from being a profound Apple basher to an Apple supporter (and I applaud your efforts) but your prediction reminds me of the famous quote: “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” 

    You’re sticking your neck out nicely for the headsman’s axe on this one. I believe that Apple has several more devices and MAJOR improvements on other existing devices and technologies up its sleeve that it will roll out over the next 2 decades. That’s the marvelous thing about “invention”. Inventors and innovators come up with ideas no one else has thought of. I’m holding out for an Apple-branded teleportation device (the iTelePad?) so I can visit my sister in Canada more often. 

    Shakespear put it eloquently in Hamlet: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

  • SbMobile

    Good article. I feel the same about pretty much most of what you said. I don’t think Apple will make Mac & iMac screens touch-based, because it doesn’t seem practical. I think Apple has done the right thing by introducing gestures in Lion more predominantly. By the next iPad release, regular iOS users will be used to swiping & pinching as commands for iOS devices & Mac’s. So I think the “TouchPad” is the future for Mac’s.

  • L.

    Good points, but Apple will surely be at the forefront of sentient robots and AI super computers. The singularity is near.

  • Joel Balderas

    You do not make a logical argument. Apple did not invent the phone, portable music player, or tablet. They radically innovated each category, essentially creating the market in the case of the iPad. What is there to keep them from doing that again, particularly with the TV. Or let say a car, fridge, dishwasher. Those aren’t areas Apple would normally go into, but I can’t sit here and predict what radical jumps Apple will take in light of the jumps they have already taken. 

    Apple will continue to revolutionize products. I think its short sighted to say someone who did the impossible can’t and won’t do it again. They may not, but to say that is to deny what you have already witnessed.

  • NajibBoss

    i can’t believe that i actually read the whole thing..:P

  • dcj001

    “I do believe Apple will offer a TV set at some point. But they can’t claim to have invented the TV set.”

    Apple will be able to claim that they will have invented the only good TV.

    “iPod. iPhone. iPad. Why Apple is Done Inventing New Devices.”

    “Everything that can be invented already has been.” This statement was released in 1899 by the U.S. Patent Office. If these “experts” ran the world, we would still be sitting in the dark. Apple will continue to invent innovative products that provide great experiences.

  • Ryan Collins

    Nope. Because I won’t be satisfied until I have a MacBook Pro Standard Phone, capable of running the full OS X/iOS hybrid in my pocket

  • Tallest_Skil

    Nonsense.

  • Denver Sangrey

    “I do believe Apple will offer a TV set at some point. But they can’t claim to have invented the TV set. It’s not a new gadget platform in the same way as, say, the iPad is. A better TV is not the same as inventing the TV.”

    But Apple didn’t invent tablets, mp3 players or smartphones either, so…

  • Aws

    so what happens when steve jobs leaves, Apple will be a thing of the past… The future is with IBM & Google simply because their names not leaders define hardware and information.

    we “Google” the internet and we manufacture IBM compliant machines…

    look at apple now and you can see their problems, Apple is scared shitless from Android, just look at their sue spree, they’re suing every manufacturer of phone / tablet … apple is pathetic !

  • atimoshenko

    I hope you’re wrong, because of all of the things we do in this world, the consumption of “content” (I guess by this you mean mostly the combination of news, literature, music, video, and games) is only a limited and relatively unimportant fragment.

    On the other hand, it seems to be that we are on the cusp of transitioning from a world in which we interact primarily with the (forgive the crude terminology) ‘physical’ side of objects (that is a big, tawny, cat-looking thing approaching me) to the ‘informational’ side (that thing is a lion, and it is liable to successfully attack me). The transition is occurring due to the proliferation of personal devices capable of intermediating a humans ‘informational’ interaction with a ‘physical’ object, and it would be a shame if Apple were to lose out on this. And there is a lot of radical innovation to take place here over the next 5-10 years (hell, there isn’t really any established vocabulary for it yet).
    As an aside, I also do not see how the “we’ll cream off 30% of any and all monetary transactions on our devices” strategy will be sustainable into the future either…

  • DysonApps

    And why would these products stay stagnant? Will they just sell the same products with spec bumps every year? Of course not. They are continuing to dominate categories they have never been involved in. Look at the iPad and MacBook Air. They’ve killed the netbook category. Who’s to say they won’t make a car? Or a segway? 
    This article represents the kind of closed-mindedness that got Apple to where it was in 1997. The same thinking that thought Apple HAD to put the Mac OS on their tablet and that a phone couldn’t POSSIBLY run OS X. 

    I’m not saying that Apple couldn’t rest on its laurels and stay boxed in these categories while staying successful, but why would they?

  • Tom McGrath

    I think Apple will set it’s sights on making the future into the future we imagine it to be. Maybe they’ll make 2020 into what we thought 2000 would be like – full of robots, holograms, perhaps the odd flying car. Jonathan Ive did say he would like to have designed cars if he didn’t work for Apple… Even if he did say he wasn’t very good at it. It could all happen. I hope the hologram stuff does though… I’d love to see FaceTime go holographic… Perhaps with a whole person appearing in the room.
    P.S. The first holographic 3DTVs are set to go on sale next year, personally, I can’t wait.

  • DysonApps

    And to quote Jobs himself: “Good artists copy, Great artists steal”.

  • Theyseeyoutrollin

    so you’re saying “apple is pathetic” yet you’re reading cult of mac …. 

    troll much?

  • Alfiejr

    the problem with TV is not LCD hardware. it’s the constrained access to content and the sh*tty UI. (e.g., check out the horrible Sony Google TV remote control.)

    so that’s what Apple is re-inventing. iPad scene mirroring wirelessly via Apple TV is the revolution, coming next month in iOS 5. whatever content you can see on the web or do with an app on your iPad you will be able to see/do on your TV. iOS becomes the TV’s UI.

    it’s the missing link, a will be a true “killer app.”

  • oriorda

    I’d be fascinated to learn which mobile devices are IBM-compliant. Please do tell.

    You might be interested to know that Apple’s data demonstrates that hardly anyone searches on its mobile devices using a browser. People use specific apps to find what they’re looking for, bypassing Google entirely. That’s the phenomenon that worries Google, seeing its entire business model disappear.

  • 011Bojan

    It’s the vision that transformed this company. But let’s not be discouraged, there is always place for improvement and competition.

    This should be a great motivation for every enterprenuer. If you can dream it, you can achieve it.

  • Ross Freeman

    You don’t have any facts or examples to back up any of these points. Steve created Apple knowing that some day he’ll be forced to leave. Already, he’s beginning to give more of his power to other company representatives, and all still seems to be fine because these people have been working with Steve so long that they understand what he does and doesn’t like. You also don’t back up your point of how Apple is scared of Google. Yes, they are suing many companies right now, but that does not imply in anyway that they’re scared. If someone stole your idea and began selling it to people, would you just sit there as they made millions off of it? Next time you go bashing one of the world’s most successful companies, please at least show some facts and examples to back up your point, don’t just post meaningless crap.

  • Michael Whalen

    ExxonMobil is the trade name of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Not Exxon Mobile (may be a Mac Lion autocorrect problem!).

  • evilbillcosby

    apple doesnt “invent” new categories.  they systematically identify and exploit market weaknesses.  they will continue to do so.

    nice linkbait tho

  • baby_Twitty

    i am absolutely HORRIFIED that this article failed to mention the introduction of 1st generation iMac – the all important product that took Apple Computer Inc out of the grave and kick-started it back to life.

    If anybody wants to learn about the revival of Apple, you must understand what happened during the period when Steve jobs introduced the iMac and how he marketed it. And also the first generation clam-shell looking iBook.
    (No not the iBooks app on the iOS, i’m talking about the original apple iBook laptop and… don’t call yourself a true Apple or Mac fan if you don’t know the the story behind the 1st generation iMacs and iBooks.)

    Watch this all important Apple history turning introduction by Steve Jobs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

    .

  • James Katt

    Apple isn’t done inventing new devices.

    Remember what Steve Jobs said. Apple skates to where the puck will be, not where it is.

    Unfortunately, YOU, Mike, cannot see there the puck will be.  Thus, you cannot predict what Apple is going to do.  Your article is an admission of your own shortsightedness.

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    It doesn’t matter how rich or powerful Apple becomes.  There are still jackasses out there swearing that Apple is already on the road to destruction.  Those jackasses will never go away.  To them Apple will always be a flash in the pan, a temporary placeholder in the computer industry only there to wait for Microsoft’s return as the rightful owner with some updated Windows 8.  The jackasses believe that nothing can ever be accomplished with a computer unless Windows is the OS.  Sorry, Apple but the Wintards are waiting for you to slip up with your mighty Triad of mobile devices.  Only then can Microsoft return to the forefront of the computing industry.  Two years, three years tops for Apple before it comes crashing down to earth with all its cash reserve gone for good.  The jackasses are praying for that day.  See you at Apple $450.

  • Daniel Vancea

    Apple obsessions with batteries, will lead to a breakthrough in this direction. I’m waiting for that ZPM that will power a car for 1000 miles!

  • InformationWorkshop

    This article was so hard to read because it seemed to ramble on about this and that.  And I agree with everyone else that you misunderstand what you’re talking about here.  You also used incorrect terms like “invent.” And you have this certainty in what you’re saying instead of offering us something to think about, with some killer takeaway points.  But I don’t think you care.  You submitted your article and you’re done.  Like the reviewers on American Idol, I can only say that you are handsome and that’s a great color of shirt you are wearing, which is another way of saying…   You phoned this one in.

  • lwdesign1

    When I think of my first Mac SE/30, its 16 MHz processor, 1 MB of RAM and 40 MB hard drive, it’s amazing to think of how far Apple and the computer industry in general has come. I currently have more RAM installed in my MacPro than all of my first 15 hard drives COMBINED. As processors become ever faster and more capable, as data storage solutions become smaller and faster, as battery technology and life improves, and as Apple’s R&D wizards continue building on such a rich history of innovation, I can visualize MANY more possible avenues for development into the future.

    Some of you old-time Apple users may remember the Apple Knowledge Navigator video made by Apple back in the early 90s: http://video.google.com/videop

    To say that Apple won’t be inventing anything new is absolute hogwash. Steve was already planning artificial intelligence in the “old” days, and we’re now approaching the processing and storage capability to make all this feasible. AIs and voice input are very much a part of our near future. Wearable computers with connections to the cloud or personal data systems could replace phones, iPads and iPods with an always-connected lifestyle. How about an over the ear wearable computer capable of visual cortex communication for video display? It’s not so far fetched, and I’d bet research is being done on technologies similar to this, right this very moment. 

    Indeed Mr. Elgan, though you’ve become a Mac supporter, your vision still seems stuck in the somewhat stagnant Windows world. Apple is all about creating new futures, and they have proven this time and again. The general public is just now waking up to what Mac users have known for over 2 decades: Apple produces amazing products, and the iPhone, iPad and iPod are merely routes of discovery that are creating new Macintosh users by droves every day.

  • DoTheDeeu

    Dickhead predictions by a “journalist” dumber than a bag of rocks in a lavatorial blog. I don’t expect anything better from Cunt of Mac anyway.

  • phinias

    i was excited and looking forward to reading this article. Then I read it… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Markacianfrani

    The Macbook Air is definitely the most perfect computer every built.

  • Patrick Gray

    You know… I’d love to see you do a better job of it, Dü.

  • Jack

    This is something I wanted to point out, as well. Apple saw that music players, tablets, and smart phones were complete crap, so they worked to change that by making elegant and intuitive devices. I can see them doing the same thing to the television.

  • Fring

    Please, enough already with the ‘Microsoft saved Apple with $150m investment’ meme. How do you save a company that has $1B in cash with a purchase of non voting shares later sold at a profit)? The relevant info you omitted – MS was keen to avoid anti-trust problems by developing Office for Mac and they had just been found guilty of stealing QuickTime code. So not so much saving Apple, more like MS saving face.
    Yes, the event was important, but then so also is getting facts straight.

  • Eat Sleep Mac

    Apple doesn’t invent, they reinvent and revolutionize.

  • alexflint

    Great article! Really sums up Apples strategy. It must be so exciting for Steve and his team to finally see this 15 year plan starting to pan out. It’s the greatest “Told Ya So!” story in the history of business.

  • alexflint

    Why did you visit the site and read the article if you clearly hate it so much? Go away troll.

  • Javier

    NBT: Wearable computers!

  • Mike Elgan

    To suggest that Apple did with the iPhone, iPod and iPad what most other handset, music player and tablet makers did — which is to say: “Here. Here’s a device.” — is to completely misunderstand why Apple has succeeded. 

    Sure you can say that Apple didn’t invent the music player, phone or tablet. But that’s like saying Starbucks did not invent the coffee shop. 

    Of course they didn’t. There is no such thing as from-scratch invention. Everything is a mashup. Every innovation is an improvement on, or a new use for, something previously invented. 

    What Apple and Starbucks invented was a new set of behaviors. 

    You’re suggesting that Apple’s big idea with the iGadgets was “hey, lets sell a device.” If that were the case, which it isn’t, then the next step would be “hey, let’s sell another device.” 

    That’s completely missing what Apple has done. The reality is that Apple said “hey, let’s transform content consumption.” Those devices simply got Apple’s foot in the door of how people consume content. Now they’ve got best-of-breed products in less-than-phone size, phone-size, bigger-than-phone-size, laptop size and desktop size. 

    That covers how people consume content. To come up with a new gagets just for the hell of it is totally inconsistent with Apple’s winning strategy. 

  • Mike Elgan

    Well regarding the improvements, let’s be clear that you’re agreeing with what I said in the column. Let’s not pretend I said otherwise. 

    Regarding whole new devices, are you suggesting that these new devices will not be focused on content creation or consumption? 

  • Mike Elgan

    I disagree. I think they’ll turn our iPhones and iMacs into sentient AI supercomputers. 

  • Mike Elgan

    Can you give me an example of an inventor who doesn’t do that? 

  • lals8989
  • Mike Elgan

    In argumentation theory that’s called a straw man argument. You mischaracterized what I say, then attack your mischaracterization. If you can show me where I said Microsoft’s $150 million dollars saved Apple, I’ll give you $150 million dollars.

  • Mike Elgan

    Thanks for the correct. I’ve fixed it. 

  • ? Planeta Apple ?

    I totally disagree! I’m sure we will see year after year every new invent from Apple… 

  • Mike Elgan

    Don’t worry. I’ll keep track of this. I’ll be back with an I-told-you-so or a I-was-wrong-about-this.

  • Mike Elgan

    There’s really nothing else like it in the history of technology. 

  • fidelvti

    There is no reason for your argument because it’s impossible to predict the future in a precise way. In my opinion, Apple has tons of money, so they can sit on top of the hill and watch their enemies falling as they try to catch them. Or (and that’s a better idea) they can use these resources and their coolness to attract the people they need to invent new stuff. Is that easy.

    I think the key point here is leadership. Mr Jobs won’t be there for the ages. He’s kind of a dictator, but a visionary at the same time. But, most of all, he’s a very inspirational person. If they manage to put in front of the company another inspirational person (a tough guy, secrecy-obsessed, another visionary) why we wouldn’t see some new devices?

    There are no correct answers for your question. Future (fortunately) it’s still unwritten.

  • auramac

    Illogical, and baseless. Only a visionary can invent a new advice, or predict one. The author is not a tech visionary- he just plays one on the internet. otherwise, he’d be the CEO of some company.

  • dcj001

    It depends.

  • Ethankz750

    May I point out that the company that “sells flammable muck sucked out of the ground to be converted into air pollution” could drop the petrol producing part of its company and not drop 1% of its overall income? Need I also mention that said company produces a large percentage of all materials used in Macintosh and Apple products? The company that Apple passed up deserves more respect than that of a non-chalant disregard for their international importance. I love my macs, I do but, your fawning over Apple’s rise to greatness comes off biased and nauseating. Macs are not the perfect computer, far from it. But that does not mean they are not fantastic devices. Apple’s success is built off of wow factor and the non-computer literate public. They do their job well but, could easily be vastly improved. For the record: HP built, innovated, and distributed the first tablet in the early 2000′s. Apple has never invented anything, so there is no inventing for them to no longer do. Palms where the first touch based, app using, hand held devices. Internet TV was pioneered by PC users. HP, IBM, and Intel are still far more powerful than Apple and do more to push technology forward. In closing, your article, while filled with historical facts on Mac, resembles an umbrella with holes cut into the fabric. It holds no water, no validity. But then again, thats why you write for the occult of mac.

  • diesel-benz

    So a better TV is not the same as inventing the TV. Yet, a better MP3 player is the same as inventing the MP# player and a better tablet PC is the same as inventing the tablet PC?

  • Brett

    The statement is misquoting one by Pablo Picasso, but to be honest, I’m not even sure what it means.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/S

    Some people make no distinction between copying and stealing creative works (intellectual property). It seems to me that in order to “steal” an idea, one would have to somehow deprive the originator of the idea, which seems impossible. Either way, the quote is nonsensical, and I’m surprised Steve said it.

    Maybe someone here can explain what he meant.

  • Toxic Popcorn

    Lets be clear.  Apple did not invent the MP3 Player or the Cell Phone. None of these were apple “inventions”. They were improvements to existing inventions.

    Apple took what were margin products and made them more user friendly and added features and functionality.

    What about gaming?  The TV is a given.  But gaming could be the next big thing for Apple.

  • Miguel Garcia-Guzman

    I think that stating Apple’s vision as “to become THE content appliance company”, undermines the real vision of Steve Jobs. His vision is to make Apple the company that “creates the best user experience” of consuming and creating content. Indeed, his biggest achievement is that “user experience” has become so important that the “appliance” has only the role of becoming irrelevant. We have stopped talking about “technical features” to just value the “user experience” and this is what defines Apple’s vision. Everything is set and designed to provide the best possible user experience, for any task, any form of activity and content consumption.

    There are many areas where Apple will innovate all with the purpose of improving the user experience by making the most effective combo of hardware-software. Where is the limit? How many more devices are needed? We will see … but in the path to provide the best “user experience” of any activity that can be digitalized, Apple will be there innovating and redefining life.
    One BIG area that remains to be transformed is television. Terrible user experience, and difficult market to enter. In this area Apple has not been very relevant and does not provide the best user experience. I look forward to seeing that change in the foreseeable future.

  • Joe Naflish

    no, Apple blends… they look at the phone and walkman and ask, will it blend? haha

  • ibgwiraga

    OMG me too!!

  • ibgwiraga

    I am just waiting an apple gadget with a battery that last for a month in a single charge.

  • ibgwiraga

    Keep dreaming dude, the universe hears you.

  • ibgwiraga

    implant computer?

  • Brianna Wu

    I don’t know if you’ve been into Apple long enough to know what Claim Chowder is, but with respect? I’d heartily nominate this piece. 

  • lals8989
  • Charles

    Only a fool does not fear Apple for he is willing to jeopardize the future for a temporary sugar high. One day Apple will be the most reviled company in history.

  • VakNee

    Amazing, Apple really is just cool like that and make no doubt about it, Steve Jobs rules with an iron fist.

    http://www.anon-vpn.it.tc

  • aardman

    Sorry, you constructed an after-the-fact story to fit the observed events.  Its called “narrative fallacy”.  The article did not mention one shred of evidence that in 1997 Apple set out on this grand project to be the revolutionary content appliance company.  That’s not to say that that is their grand strategy now but in 1997?  Nah.

  • peteywheats

    A.D. 10, Roman engineer Julius Sextus Frontinus:”Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for further developments.”

  • Brandon Dillon

    They are somewhat doing that now with iOS gaming. I would like to see them have a standalone gaming console, but I don’t think that will happen.

  • Brandon Dillon

    When you think of phones, you don’t necessarily think of iPhones, even though Apple dramatically changed what phones today are.

    However, when you think of tablets, you think of iPads. You don’t think of any tablets before it. In peoples minds, they invented tablets. Same with the iPods. In my school handbook from middle/high school where it says not to bring MP3 players to class, it doesn’t say MP3 players, it says iPods.
    With that said, they pretty much did invent a new category with the iPad/iPod.

    I can see where he is coming from, and most other non-smartasses probably do too.

    There is a lot of “link bait” on this site, but this is not one of them.

  • Steven Chaffer

    Is it Du—sh bag?

  • JoeSpaulding

    What about the home theater receiver. As it stands, the one I have it is a horrible mix up of analog and digital UI. Switching between sources (iPod dock, optical disk, cable box, game console) is very un-Apple like. I see a lot of room for improvement and it fits well with the strategy you have outlined.

  • JoeSpaulding

    What about the home theater receiver. As it stands, the one I have it is a horrible mix up of analog and digital UI. Switching between sources (iPod dock, optical disk, cable box, game console) is very un-Apple like. I see a lot of room for improvement and it fits well with the strategy you have outlined.

  • Brandon Dillon

    HP may have built the first tablet, but where did it get them? Was it even significant at the time? It didn’t turn any heads. Now you can’t turn your head without seeing an iPad somewhere in public or on TV. If you don’t like CoM or who writes for them, then why do you come here? There’s plenty of other Apple product related blogs to choose from.

  • lsla46
  • Dilbert A

    “To suggest that Apple did with the iPhone, iPod and iPad what most other handset, music player and tablet makers did — which is to say: “Here. Here’s a device.” …”

                                                                                             That’s not what he said.

    “Apple will continue to revolutionize products.”

    That’s what he said.

  • Dilbert A

    This was a poorly written article. Confusing, wordy, and poorly structured.

    It reads like it was written at 4 AM.

  • Dilbert A

    Wesley, Read the full quote.

  • Mark Mayer

    The use of the word “steal” is provocative, but think of it like this. A band or individual musician might perform a cover of a song by another band, that is, they’re essentially copying the song. Long established practice, and pretty much all bands do it. However, a really great musician or band can take someone else’s song and really make it their own song, decidedly better than the original.

    A good example of this is Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song, “Hurt”. I like Trent Reznor’s/NIN’s version, but the Cash version blows it away in terms of emotional impact. I realize this is subjective and some will disagree, but imho, Cash “stole” the song and made it his own. Reznor is a fan of Cash’s version, and had this to say about it, “[I feel like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn’t mine anymore”.

    Back to Apple: Apple does something similar by remaking and redefining product categories, i.e., the iPod, the iPad, and the iPhone. They remade MP3 players into an easy-to-use mass market product. They remade the mobil phone. They re-invented the tablet. They took a pre-existing product category and “stole” it, making it theirs. Outside of the tech world, ordinary people think of Android phones as being “like an iPhone”, if they’re even aware of the existence of Android. Other MP3 players were described as being “like an iPod”.

  • Mark Mayer

    I’m living in a country where only the wealthiest have iPhones. However, I’ve been seeing some cheapo touch screen Android phones, owned by “ordinary” people. They look nothing like any version of the iPhone, but when I ask these people what kind of phone they have, they always say, “iPhone”. (Interestingly, I ask if they’ve bought any apps, and the answer has always been no.)

    Granted, this isn’t ALL phones, but in my limited experience, if it has a touchscreen, people are thinking “iPhone”.

  • Mark Mayer

    Yeah, Mike has some big gaps in his Apple history. Also, the $150 million investment in non-voting aapl shares by MS was part of a settlement over MS’s misuse/misappropriation of code in Quicktime.

    Mike also takes some liberties with history by suggesting that 1997 was the year Apple developed this supposed strategy. iTunes didn’t come out until 2001, it was based on an application called SoundJam MP, that was released in 1999 and bought by Apple in 2000. According to Leander Kahney, Apple didn’t start working on the iPod until 2000.

    Jobs didn’t unveil the “digital hub” concept until 2001. 

    Mike, if you read this, I think you have an interesting perspective and interesting theories, but you don’t seem to know much of the history of Apple. I know you’ve been covering the tech world for a bajillion years, but you obviously weren’t concentrated on Apple. Maybe take some time and brush up on the finer points?

    Also, take a peek at Pete Mortensen’s piece on the digital hub and the significance of the iPad: http://www.cultofmac.com/the-dawn-of-...

  • ryanmr

    I don’t think anyone knew the entire series of events that would make the up course between 1997 and today. The iPod’s name wasn’t made up by Jobs or Ive and it was developed in a year. The i[name] convention started with the iPod. The iPhone was admitted to be a concession at some point too; the iPad was too hard to make at the time. There might have been a general direction in which to move the company towards, but nobody knew how it would happen.

    The next product revolution I see in the lines are increased pixel densities. As for the next big product? I don’t know but that’s part of the fascination with Apple. You know enough to want to know more.

  • Mark Mayer

    I can show you “where”, but it would require prying open fring’s skull and exposing his grey matter to the air. Even then, I admit, it would be difficult to point at a particular glob and say, “There. That’s where his imagination is and where you said that.”

    So, just send me $150 and we’ll call it a day.

  • Mark Mayer

    I could see Apple doing something with streaming a game from the iPad to the AppleTV and using the iPad (or iPod touch or iPhone) as the controller. 

  • Mark Mayer

    Jobs started talking about the digital hub in 2001. I wouldn’t be surprised if the concept was already rolling around in Jobs’ head in 1997, but I don’t think they really started developing the idea into a strategy until 1999 at the earliest, when SoundJam MP was released by Cassady and Greene and subsequently bought by Apple in 2000. It was released as iTunes in 2001.

    And “content appliance” has got to be the most awkward and grating rewording of “digital hub” ever.

  • imajoebob

    Taking the macro/high altitude view, Apple is just doing the same thing over again since Jobs created NeXT.  They breakdown what a device needs to do into component parts, figures out what can/should be done to control the process, and locks it away from the user.  That’s why you can’t use every crappy component under the sun in a Mac, why you can’t run every format of digital media on your iPod, and why you can only use a limited number of carriers for your iPhone.

    If memory serves me right (and it may not), that was a basic principal of NeXT.  The OS was designed to be untouchable to the user (which begat OS X), and they also championed reusable code with their “revolutionary” object oriented interface (NeXTStep).  At least it was for a desktop system.  It was programming with Lego blocks.  In some ways it’s the grandfather of the iPhone applets.

    I think the reason the AppleTV hasn’t gone anywhere is because Jobs hasn’t quite figured out how to differentiate it from other available systems.  Until Apple figures out now to “revolutionize” a way to manage content and delivery, it’s just a me-too product.  Cable TV with On Demand and NetFlix already does most of what AppleTV promises.  

    In the future Apple will bring to market new products that do their job better than anybody else, but concentrate on the core capabilities of the company (so don’t expect a table saw).  The other key is that the product(s) can’t have an analog iPad app (or is that a digital?).  But they eventually will.  No matter what Apple may introduce, the one likely constant is future convergence.  The iPod converged with the iPhone (even though iApple never introduced a stand-alone); the iPad has begun converging with the Mac.  Whatever Apple does introduce will become part of the iPhone/iPad/Mac device within a short time.  

    Which probably points us to Apple’s true “vision:” a single, all-encompassing personal digital device.  Think of all the devices Apple has already supplanted with a single device: the phone, the music player, GPS, radio, TV, VCR, PDA, Netbook, Kindle, calculator, and it’s fast approaching the full-blown PC.  The future is likely a very small box you plug into your iPhone display, pop out and into your tablet, or your notebook, or your desktop.  As soon as they can get a fully functioning PC into a 2x2x1/4 inch box it’s a done deal.

  • baby_Twitty

    “The i[name] convention started with the iPod.”

    ABSOLUTELY WRONG.
    the “i” in Apple’s products began with the 1st generation iMac introduced in 1998.
    iMac was Steve Jobs first vision of an Apple product that would be DEEPLY integrated with the Internet services and a brand new type of computer that would be instantly acceptable by normal everyday users; at home, at work, and in schools.

    Apple’s future products thereafter follow the same vision and philosophy, that the success of a good product is to ALWAYS place the consumer at the heart and center of the design.

    Later along the years came the iBook laptop, iLife, iWorks etc… iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad etc etc… All these products continue the same approach of Steve and Apple that they must be INSTANTLY acceptable for use by the mass consumers. That is why today, you see iPad being used by hospitals, schools, airlines, restaurants, grandparents, young kids and working adults all over the world.

    At the same time, Steve Jobs is a practical business man, all of Apple’s products MUST be economically viable, they must be able to feed themselves or he would either discontinue it, but most of the time, he tries to revamp a failed product. Because he believes mostly NOT in admitting defeat, but rather keep learning from the mistakes and come back with a BETTER re-designed product. (Apple TV, Mobile me < iCloud, etc..etc..)

    Whatever comes out of the Apple’s product line in the future, the vision will still be the same. Be it the Apple Stores, Apple Care services, Mac OSX, iOS devices, Power Macs,… he ALWAYS puts average consumers’ interests FIRST.

    Please also READ the comment i posted about the iMac much earlier, below.

  • ryanmr

    Oh, you’re absolutely right. My mistake. Let me correct myself, the iPod wasn’t named by Jobs or Ive, but the convention was already established. The “i” was oriented at the Internet.

  • Michael Grant

    The one big content consumption system that’s still missing is one that does for the TV set-top box what the iPod did for MP3 players. An evolution of the Apple TV, or maybe even the iPad, could do it, with TV, movies, concerts, news, etc. delivered on a true on-demand basis, commercial-free, from that gimongous server farm in North Carolina. Of course Steve will have to strong-arm the networks to force them to supply the content in a consumer-friendly way (no unskippable previews on our DVDs or distracting little video ads for other shows at the bottom of our movies!!) — or just buy them up? (Is that what the war chest is for?) 

  • jnjnjn3

    The iPod idea didn’t have a particular strategy behind it, it was just an opportunity because someone saw a 1.5inch hard disk nobody had a use for.
    Apple divised the ‘strategy’ on the go, so to speak. No master plan.
    The iPhone came to be because a joined development of a Motorola phone with iTunes on it didn’t work out the way Apple would like. So they went for it themselves. No master plan behind that either.
    And the app store came to be because developers wanted to develop native apps on the iPhone instead of the web app strategy Apple was very explicitly promoting. Not Apples idea at all.
    If Apple is good at one thing, it is recognizing a good idea and be exellent in implementing it.

    J.

  • Michael Grant

    After that sample of your insight and perception, I can’t wait to read your articles instead. Not.

  • Martin Grashoff

    These more things Hamlet was referring too were morons, aka ghosts…

  • Martin Grashoff

    I strongly support your comments regarding ExxonMobil (also applicable to the vast majority of other oil companies).

  • Eric Z

    I definately agree with your global view of things!
    Jobs got the vision down, now all the others are playing catch-up; á la HP,Honeycomb,WebOS etc. etc. Those companies are concentrating on singular devices while Jobs has the whole concept under wraps. What interests me more however, is how is the single most valuable company in the world going to “save” America? It’s an interesting paradox, the most successful company(ies) in the world are in USA, but USA is broke! Apple is the single larges employer in the Bay Area, but not everyone can work at Apple. So we are witnessing (maybe?) a handful of “bubble communities” of successful silicon valley emplyees, surrounded by unemployed “have nots”. Looks like novel material! But what’s the novel going to be called? TerminatorVI, Bladerunner2,Mad Max V?

  • Eric Z

    It’s interesting to see how defensive Apple employees get! I think Mike’s article is in general supportive of Apple/Jobs. Since you’re a Jobs employee I will take this opportunity to tell you directly why I don’t own a Mac – which by the way I consider to be the best OS out there. It’s simply because of Apple’s/Job’s DRM and “product lock in” policies. No other company practices such dictatorial product lock in as Apple. Even Windows is a “free-er” or more open system. So yes- I am a Linux geek. My system belongs to me. But to all of you hardcore Mac fans out there – how does it feel NOT owning your OS? It bugs me so much that I won’t buy one!

  • Hampus

    Of course the would be content creation or consumption devices, everything fits in one of those two…
    Doesn’t mean it isnt a new device, you call the iPad a new invention even though tablets did exist before (they were just very crappy), what stops Apple from reinventing the tablet or the smartphone once more?

  • freediverx

    Wow, the instant I read the title I knew who the author was…

    Apple didn’t invent computers, digital music players, smart phones or tablets. They re-invented them in a unique way that made them irresistible. They delivered brilliant features and design that redefined each product category as if it were brand new.

    If Apple ever releases a TV, rest assured it will be every bit as revolutionary as their past devices. The flaws/opportunities are obvious, but no company has yet had a) the vision to redefine it or b) the ability to work around the stranglehold that tv/movie studios and cable companies have over the content and its distribution.

    BTW, couldn’t stop laughing when I saw you parrot Microsoft’s flawed vision of the future of computing by writing that Apple will release an iMac with an on-screen only keyboard – an idea that Jobs himself declared doesn’t make sense since your hands would get tired after only a few minutes interacting with a vertical surface.

  • Hampus

    By definition an inventor makes something new, he invents it.
    It’s easy to find things that are real inventions and not just improvements of old things.

    I’d say the wheel, the lightbulb and the phone for example.
    Of course, you could argue that the lightbulb is just and improvement of the torch and that the phone is an improvement of the telegraph or screaming very loud…
    But that doesn’t really make sense. The phone and lightbulb where new things, nothing as it before them.

    The iPad and the iPhone, while great products that I love are just old things done better, the concept of the smartphone or the tablet has been around for quite a while and executed.

  • freediverx

    Painful, wasn’t it?

  • freediverx

    Applauding oil companies because we use a lot of products made from oil is like applauding Mussolini because he made the trains run on time. 

  • freediverx

    You must be new to Mike’s writing. Regarding him “phoning this one in”, sadly this is as good as it gets.

  • freediverx

    In defense of Mike’s grasp of Apple history, it should be noted that he was very busy shilling for Microsoft when that history was being played out…

  • xxrotiboyxx

    yes.. haha

  • freediverx

    There’s a big difference between the sort of copying and stealing Picasso and Jobs have done and what most of Apple’s competitors do. An artist copies or steals an idea and reinvents it in a completely new way. 

    For instance, the iPad2′s smart cover seems to have been partly inspired by a Japanese bath tub cover:

    http://tinyurl.com/6jcvqmw

    Many apple products seem inspired by Dieter Rams’ Braun product designs from the 1960s, which in turn seem inspired by the Bauhaus design movement of the 1920s.

    Now if Apple had released their own bathtub cover or transistor radio copying an old design, that would place them in the same category of artist or innovator as Microsoft and Google.

  • Jorge del Río

    Brillant article!

  • freediverx

    “I think the reason the AppleTV hasn’t gone anywhere is because Jobs hasn’t quite figured out how to differentiate it from other available systems.”

    They figured it out long ago, but they still haven’t figured out how to get around cable companies’ and tv/movie studios’ stranglehold over content delivery, which is what is truly holding us back.

    I suspect that in Apple’s vision, computer and tv are seamlessly integrated. No more need for 12 different remotes, or a universal remote that requires an MIT degree to program. No more tangled mass of power cables, audio cables, video cables, and network cables. No more dealing with five separate, horribly designed user interfaces to control five different devices. No more waiting several long seconds every time you want to switch between one device and another or between audio/video sources.

  • freediverx

    “The iPhone was admitted to be a concession at some point too; the iPad was too hard to make at the time. “

    Apple had the iPad idea first, but they put it on the back burner when they realized the concept could be squeezed into a mobile phone. The potential there demanded fast action.

  • freediverx

    Awesome find. I need to save that one for future use…

  • freediverx

    Perhaps you can enlighten us by telling us which companies we should admire.

  • freediverx

    As will we…

  • freediverx

    It was a hell of a lot more than that. They also gave us a usable interface. Until then, digital music players had infuriatingly terrible UIs.

  • ggore

    ….and if you believe the premise of this article, I have some Prime seafront property to sell you located near the beach in western Oklahoma!    

  • wolfus

    Your comment here completely contradicts what you say in the article about TV. Apple could very well drastically alter the landscape of television viewing, yet you say “A better TV is not the same as inventing the TV.”

    Which is it? Can they make a device (MP3 player, phone, computer, tablet) become better, or do they actually have to invent it to count?

    I’m sorry, but if there’s a market ripe for Apple’s picking, TV/movies seems to be it. They’ve blown it with Apple TV so far, but to assume they can’t do something bigger in the next few years is pretty bold, and if they fix the problem with the current model of TV consumption any less innovative than any of these products would be insulting.

  • Tombo

    I remember the first time I heard about the iPod.

    It was a gloomy time. People had discovered getting music without having to go to the store and buy a whole CD. They were hooked. Napster showed them the way but was shut down a few years before. The RIAA was suing people left and right and using bully tactics. Suing college students, mothers with children and sweet old grandmothers. It was very high profile, and it was decimating. You could read about a new case almost daily. The Judges seemed to forget about fairness and awarded judgments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to the record companies. Sony went as far as installing a root kit built into their CD’s.

    Then came a breakthrough. Not a technology breakthrough, but something seemingly more impossible. Apple had made a deal with the record companies to distribute digital music online. This doesn’t seem like a big thing these days, but back then, it seemed an impossibility (I hesitate to use the word miracle, but figuratively it was pretty close).

    The iPod was introduced and became a hit. It was a new interface design created to be so intuitive that the manual that came with it was largely unneeded. It’s biggest feature was iTunes and with it, the ability to download music online for free. It came with strings attached. Downloaded music required a format that included DRM, but it was fair. It was fair to the record companies because they now had a reasonable expectation of protection of their IP, and they could make money on online digital music. It was fair to Apple, because they provided the technology for a cut while the record companies provided the IP. All three parties win, the consumer, the producer, and the distributor.

    Later came movies with iTunes, then the iPhone, which seemed to break divert from the path which had a next logical step to the iPad. That makes me wonder how much of what has happened since the iPod was preplanned, anticipated, or pure reactionary. It’s been an interesting ride for an industry that had mostly stagnated since the Zip drive and affordable >40m hard drives.

  • Rikgoodman

    An Apple fan boy if I ever heard one! Not that you’re wrong about Apple’s products. They are wonderful, but they didn’t invent them. They revolutionized them, yes, but they didn’t invent them. Apple took a miserable experience with the UI and made it “Magical”. And they did it on the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Now if they could only re-write iTunes so it wasn’t so cumbersome.

    What will Apple do in the future? Who knows. But they will continue to innovate products and reintroduce them into our lives. Maybe they won’t be groundbreaking innovations but whatever they are they will be better than the products they replace. Unless, of course, they are the Newton.

    Rik Goodman

  • Michael

    You’re really stuck on the idea of “content.” You used the word 18 times in this piece. It’s an idea from the 90s (“Content is King!”) but is inadequate to encompass why iDevices are selling like hotcakes.

    An obvious example would be that iPhones are actually telephones, not content appliances. They are preferable to other smartphones because they are so versatile and user-friendly. They are BETTER than other smartphones, and being BETTER is actually Apple’s core strategy, which Steve Jobs emphasized in his 1997 keynote. (You simply made up the idea that Apple’s strategy was to be a content appliance company, and no amount of repetition of the word “content” will alter the fact that it’s merely your idea and not Apple’s.)

    So, is a telephone conversation “content” according to your standards?

    These devices are extremely versatile. The App store is proof. Because they are portable and so intelligently designed, they are capable of doing new things. Those new things aren’t being dreamed up by Apple so much as by app developers. Haven’t you read how the design team and execs at Apple are surprised by those new uses? How they had never imagined those uses themselves, but are pleased and proud to have have made them possible? It’s reminiscent of Visicalc, the first spreadsheet program, which increased sales of the Apple ][ by a factor of ten, because the Apple team had never imagined such a use. (Is a spreadsheet “content” by your standards?)

    It’s a lackluster argument to insist that content is driving all of this growth. What’s driving this growth is everything, all together. Apple devices are more than delivery systems for entertainment or web browsing (or whatever). They have far more utility than that. The key is that if they do anything, they do it better.

  • jnjnjn3

    Not so, some Walkmans had excellent and easy controls.
    Did you see the first iPod? It was terrible bulky and not particularly pretty.

    J.

  • macgizmo

    I’m a Mac fanboy and even I found this article yawn-inspiring, and to some extent misguided.

  • Harvey Lubin

    ” It will make licensing revenue from desperate competitors who copy the device.”

    It’s very unlikely that Apple will license iOS, it’s user interface design, it’s code, it’s hardware design, or anything else.

    To do that would be to fall into the same predicament as when the original Mac OS was licensed to other PC manufacturers in the 1990′s. 

    Remember that the first thing that Steve Jobs did when he came back to Apple was to end those licenses. Many people complained, but it turned out to be a very smart move for the company.

    The suits that Apple has against other companies who are infringing Apple’s patented inventions, are not to get them to license the IP that they have stolen, but to get them to stop using Apple’s patented IP, and to get compensation for the loss to Apple due to the theft.

  • Harvey Lubin

    “Microsoft’s flawed vision of the future of computing by writing that Apple will release an iMac with an on-screen only keyboard”

    I agree with you. Having a multi-touch interface on a large-screen desktop computer makes no sense at all. Even though some PC manufacturers have done this, their products have not sold well, and those that have bought these PCs have likely stopped trying to touch the screen after about a week of “Gorilla-arms” pain.

    Steve Jobs did comment about this, but it’s ironic that Apple patented a design for a touch screen iMac.

    Touch screens work well for kiosks (like the screens found in airports) or for mobile devices with screens small enough to hold in your hand or lap.

    The MacBook Air with its 11″ and 13″ screens would be useful with touch screens added (either without a hardware keyboard, or with a keyboard that disappears behind the screen), but it would be senseless to put a touch screen on a 17″ MacBook Pro.

  • Gene Cowan

    Here’s how I would have put it, in just a single sentence: Apple was a company ahead of its time, and the world finally caught up with it.

  • greekandlatin

    “One company sells flammable muck sucked out of the ground to be converted into air pollution, and the other makes the MacBook Air, the most perfect computer every built.”

    Yeah, I hear you.  But as much as I love Apple’s products, if I’m going to be an honest consumer I have to acknowledge that those beloved products are transported to me by vehicles powered on flammable muck.

  • greekandlatin

    “One company sells flammable muck sucked out of the ground to be converted into air pollution, and the other makes the MacBook Air, the most perfect computer every built.”

    Yeah, I hear you.  But those beloved products couldn’t reach so many people without being transported by vehicles powered on flammable muck.

  • jongar jabbar

    I understand what you are trying to say and i do agree
    there is hardly much Apple can bring any more. Stuff like the iphone was rumored since 2001 probably(released 2007) and we always knew tablets were coming(we just didn’t think it will be in its current form) .

    I don’t see either any more Apple products to be made just improvements on what is available. I can see them innovate new peripherals like printers, monitors, modems, servers…etc

    What i think Apple should do is go back to software.They can release their own Officer competitor. iLife could be highly improved. I think the whole itunes Store should be remodeled, the current form sucks in my honest opinion. I also think its about time to have the next OS. Lion is just an update. We need a new written from 0 OS, the kind of jump between os 9 and X and win 3 to 95.

    It must be innovative, easy to use, fast, extremely compatible. There is no need for my computer to run HOT while watching a simple flash video in the 21st century.
    Any one who agrees, please tell me, how long do you think OS X would survive in the future?
    its already at 10.7! there are only 2 more 0.1 to go!

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    You know you’re on an Apple fan blog when an unproven article is longer than some proven article. I LIKE IT ?

  • Dilbert A

    My earlier comments were deleted by someone at COM.

    If anyone wants to use the way back machine to see them, you’ll find that I disagreed with the author’s arguments and said that the article was wordy, confusing, and poorly argued. 

    I also pointed out in the author’s reply to commentator Joel Balderas , He attempted to use a strawman argument against Joel who said his article main premised was poorly structured. Ironic since the author later (correctly) called-out another commentator for doing he exact same thing to him.

    I guess those individuals who’ve attacked the author for such transgressions in the past where justified.

    That’s a shame.

  • Dilbert A

    “To suggest that Apple did with the iPhone, iPod and iPad what most other handset, music player and tablet makers did — which is to say: “Here. Here’s a device.”                     
                                                                                             That’s not what he said.

    “Apple will continue to revolutionize products.”

    That’s what he said.

  • Joel Balderas

    I agree Apple has facilitated consumption and creation, maybe that is their strategy. You can’t just make a pretty box and expect to make money (Apple’s history shows that). I don’t think Apple is about selling independent products; they are definitely interested in a vertical monopoly. That is why I stayed away for so long, but now the product (in the wide sense) is excellent making my life easier. And iCloud is going to finally tie together all the pieces.

    Yes, Apple has a strategy and they are selling more than strands of a web. They are selling the whole web. I just think it is more reasonable to think they can add more strands to the web than to say the product is complete and perfect.

    Maybe… iGlasses, iHome, iCar, iTV… I have to say it is hard to think of what may be the next strand in the web, I don’t know what it will be. Great innovations seem impossible and cannot be predicted by the public. That is what makes it so great. 

  • Dilbert A

    My earlier comments were deleted by someone at COM.

    If anyone wants to use the way back machine to see them, you’ll find that I disagreed with the author’s arguments and said that the article was wordy, confusing, and poorly argued. 

    I also pointed out in the author’s reply to commentator Joel Balderas , He attempted to use a strawman argument against Joel who said his article main premised was poorly structured. Ironic since the author later (correctly) called-out another commentator for doing he exact same thing to him.

    I guess those individuals who’ve attacked the author for such transgressions in the past where justified.

    That’s a shame.

  • evilbillcosby

    apple did not invent tablets or mp3 players

    period

    public perception is meaningless in this discussion
    how about you read the article above
    or even JUST the thread title

    do not twist words or topics

    in other words
    dont be so spineless

  • Fring

    OK, mea culpa. I jumped to a conclusion not supported by Mike’s post. It was a bee constantly buzzing in my bonnet that provoked the wrong response. fring fail.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    Yeah, compared to today’s greats. I mean, in 10 years, today’s iPod’s will look complicated and less sexy too.

  • Kev Mcgovern

    Lets face it, Apple is nothing but a high tech toy company now.

    They are no longer about innovation but all about how many disposable gadgets they can sell each quarter.

    They design their products with planned obsolescence and require constant ‘updates’ which are designed to cripple last months model just in time for the new and improved 1.1x faster, brighter and lighter version.

  • Stephen Cook

    Good comments Matt. Currently television is in the same state of flux that music was ten years ago. My mom has Time-Warner cable & at least three times a month I have to reboot the cable box & reprogram her remote. Why do we have to have three remotes to watch television? Because Time-Warner, DirectTV and the rest insert their boxes into the mix as dongles, so you can’t watch TV without them, and the boxes and remotes are awful. Dittos for the TVs. Do we really need a remote with 43 buttons, a slidebar and two rocker switches? That’s just the DirectTV remote. There’s also the television and DVD remote. 
    Anyone who thinks that television isn’t ripe for a complete reinvention is wrong.

  • Peter Keeris

    “The lowest point in the company’s history came in 1997. Out of
    desperation, Apple forged a new partnership with Microsoft in which that
    company invested $150 million dollars in Apple in exchange for a
    promise by Apple to offer Internet Explorer as the default browser on
    Macs, and other promises. Apple needed the money. And the partnership.”

    But I was told that Microsoft marketed Office 96 deliberately with bugs, so that accountant agencies and lawyers could not work with these programs and changed therefore to computers with Microsoft. And then Bill Gates found out that he needed the innovative character of Apple and took that $ 150 million shares in Apple. Because Windows was based on the Apple GUI concept!

  • Max Walker

    It is definitely what Apple SHOULD focus on next, and I can guarantee they would make one hell of a TV… Can you imagine a TV reinvented in the same way as the iPod and the iPhone reinvented their areas? It would be groundbreaking…

  • Ian McPhee

    I would like to see apple take their shot at Transport. An apple branded car would be a mistake, however, using their innovations and business strategies I would welcome alternatives to fuel guzzling vehicles that pollute and we pay top dollar for, not to mention fuel prices that will continue to rise until its exhausted).

    If Apple were to take their moxie and engage in the idea of ‘how can we make this better’, like they do with information technology, I think we could see some very exciting developments in the future. 

  • David Chan

    This site is “Cult of Mac” expecting any sort of objectivity is probably asking too much.

  • David Chan

    Really? No successes, nothing else changed the tech landscape like Apple? Are you really sticking to that story?

  • GooneyGooGoo

    Apple is more than done with new ideas, they’re done with everything.

    http://bit.ly/dI3hcF

  • lals5757
  • Zulvianes Budiman

    Another great article to put Apple in some perspective of thinking. :)

  • facebook-100000670318505

    what ever

  • etileved

    Total nonsense… enough with those assumption of yours… total BS.

  • lals5757
  • oneindianguy

    going by the same chain of thought, the content distribution chain is pretty broken too- and should see someone (Apple?) pick up and reinvent a more reliable,relevant distribution mechansim … (replace/ augment/ enhance internet/data services – 3g/LTE) and directly challenge comcast, verizon, at&t et al

  • Simon_FS

    The article misses the obvious: Apple will diversify beyond the “content delivery” systems it has developed — both in hardware (iPod, iPhone, AppleTV) and software (iTunes, iCloud) — into “content creation.”

    I don’t mean merely the content editing it had long ago enabled (i.e. iMovie/Final Cut/GarageBand) — but I predict Apple will next invest in optics and video sensor technology to create a high-end iOS-based hybrid camera-camcorder platform. Think of it: the Apple HD CinemaCam… that would make Sony/Panasonic/Canon nervous.

    Already, the basic technology is built-into all its portable devices (Macbook/iPhone/iPad/etc.) This will take it a step further into the professional realm, and  be a natural evolution, building on its obvious deep connections in the publishing and entertainment industries (that is, if they can get past the debacle of Final Cut Pro X. ;)

    So forget the “Apple Television set” — that’s boring, and Steve Jobs won’t bother with such an uninteresting competitive space. Imagine instead the Apple video camera that will revolutionize what will appear *on* your TV (and Internet.)

    Think it can’t happen? Back in 1994, Apple offered one of the first digital camera, the “QuickTake”, partnering with Kodak and later Fuji. And remember back to Motorola’s lame attempt to make a pre-iPhone “iTunes enabled” device., which only served to encourage Apple to jump into cellphones.

    Now, Apple has the money, technology and market presence to develop a new video/still device on its own.( It’s already partially responsible for the death of the Flip.)

  • Kiril Varbanov

    LOL, the author seems to like Apple a lot. OK, who cares? This is a company with couple of devices – not a broader range, so anyone can do the same. It’s just that companies usually offer more than one choice, they do not tell you what’s good for you.
    In the end, I have my own brain, and I can decide. It’s the same about Ferrari, for example – the 458 Italia has only one engine – not a bad car at all, but very expensive – could I have the diversity of, let’s say, BWM, Mercedes or even Lexus?

  • Freek Monsuur

    They’re not done yet. To complete the circle of content consumption
    devices they need to work on televisiom, home stereo (speaker/amplifier)
    and car stereo. Maybe they should buy BOSE or do similar things…

  • Freek Monsuur

    I think it’s all about devices. Those devices can be used for something more generic than content, I don’t know how to define it, but it would include “content, communication and data”. People like nice toys to interact with those things. And if those devices are portable and work together very well, we like them even more.

  • scapelle

    I think Apple is all about creating a unique experience for the user. Every update they make to software or hardware works toward that. 

    While I don’t think a new iSomething will be coming out soon, that’s not to say that a need won’t arise down the line. If Apple identifies an area they could improve for the user, I’m sure they would jump at it. 

    Apple is all about innovation. You can’t innovate by planting your feet to the ground and saying, “No more new devices.”

  • freediverx

    Sony has some of the worst UI designs I’ve ever seen. The first iPod’s UI was far better than anything else on the market at that time.

  • freediverx

    I wouldn’t say that Apple will never add touchscreen capabilities to their desktop and/or notebook computers. This wouldn’t surprise me at all as a supplementary input method, with kiosks as an excellent use case. I just don’t think it makes any sense to replace a standard keyboard with a vertically oriented on-screen substitute.

  • lsl66
  • kentramsay

    The author’s comment about Exxon selling “flammable muck which is converted into air pollution” is interesting in the level of ignorance it displays. First, the author is a major user and beneficiary of the “flammable muck” and has been his entire life. He has no plans to change this. Second, Apple is also a major user and beneficiary of this muck. They use it daily in massive quantities to do their business. Third, without this muck, the author and Apple would not exist as they do now. This muck is a miracle of creation that enables this author to have his cushy career, producing little and getting paid decently. Getting to and from work and speaking engagements and leisure travel, all courtesy of the muck he stupidly derides. The muck also provides a million products that this fool uses daily but in his ignorance he is unaware of their basis in the muck. Ignorance is bliss. And the muck requires tens of thousands of intelligent and actually productive people (unlike our author) who find this muck, miles below the ocean surface or the icecap or the mountains. They then transport the muck and convert it to meet the inane requirements of politicians across the country who insist on designer muck, tailored for their particular municipality or state. I thank God for these people. They do what they do and barely complain about the arrogant hypocrites like this doltish author who use the muck like fiends and then piously attack it. I was in California last week, the headquarters of today’s environmentalism. I have never seen so many gluttonously consuming muck at the most rapid pace possible. Where would California be without the muck? I wish Exxon would deny California the muck for just a year or so, to see if there was any integrity there. If yes, then Mike Elgan would be smiling as he, and Apple, and his state reverted to a pristine paradise, reminiscent of 500 years previous, with no muck, and no computers and no time to whine.

  • zagatosz

    Give it a break. I think the point is that Apple is new technology company and Exxon is  an old industrial firm. Either you drank to much caffeine or you work for the American Petroleum Institute.

  • Ed_Kel

    Great article however I have have to agree with most of the comments here; Apple didn’t “invent” the MP3 player or the tablet PC or the mobile phone. They simply made them work better.

  • lals43
  • MacGoo

    Some good points, some bad. There are many markets that Apple could apply the same principles to – to say that Apple’s potential new product categories are sapped is categorically close-minded. New hardware opportunities are TVs, DUMB phones, a successful touchscreen desktop experience, etc. Then there are the software/content opportunities. Anyone who thinks that Apple will not develop a Netflix competitor in the near term is deluding themselves, and there are many other opportunities as well. 

    In short, it’s bordering on egomania to presume to say Apple is changing their established business practices just because you don’t see an obvious “new” product opportunity. As others have said, Apple didn’t invent any of these product categories as you seem to think. They simply revolutionized them – and they’ll keep right on doing that.

  • krulwich

    BLOG message response at http://goo.gl/IXzLf – “At the end of the summer in 1985, just about 26 years ago to the day, I was at dinner with Bill Gates… He was talking about what was then a radical idea – the move of movie and music content to computers. At the time he thought the future was CDROMs… My point is this: One of the world’s brilliant thinkers had correctly predicted the computerization of media consumption, and had simply failed to predict the changes in technology that would revolutionize how that media consumption would happen… So what might the future of content consumption technology hold in store? Here are just a few thoughts: 1) Eyeglass-based heads-up displays, 2) Devices with projectors, 3) Wristwatch displays, holographic displays, …. http://goo.gl/IXzLf 

  • imajoebob

    Apple talks like they want to deliver Cable/Satellite with built-in DVR and on-demand.  Oh, wait.  A bunch of people already do that, except they also deliver live programming AND the broadband Apple needs to support its services.

  • kentramsay

    No – Oil is more important to civilization than Apple computers.  That’s all.  And the stupid idea that oil is evil is pervasive in California and America.  It is an infantile idea.  Of course, if one wants to know an organism that takes in a totally natural product (air)) and expels a toxic, earth destroying poison (CO2), that would be Mike Elgan.   He is a Global Warming destruction machine, spewing CO2 and methane through his exhalations and farts, and in the process he is in full earth destruction mode.  

  • virt hdd

    Exxon Mobile and cars are way cool! ~ until alternative energy becomes longer lasting and faster.
    We have no idea what new devices Apple and others may invent, in the 1970′s who would have thought you would some day have a computer you could easily put in a suite case, and have plenty of room for a couple days change of clothes?

    Access your home PC from your Apple iOS device by using the 2X client App from http://www.2x.comalso has client for Android. Voted 20th overall best Android App!

  • virt hdd

    I think Apple will continue to innovate hardware as well as software. They do have some smart devices but they will continue.

    Access your home PC from your Apple iOS device by using the 2X client App from http://www.2x.comalso has client for Android. Voted 20th overall best Android App!

  • virt hdd

    I believe Apple will continue to create new devices – it was hard to imagine in 1970 that you could hold a computer in a bag and carry it with you and that bag would be lighter than most typewriters.

  • Tony Reynolds

    The sum of the parts is worth more than the whole. The one point that no one has mentioned, though it’s been alluded to, is that to a large degree, Apple’s success is do to their Ecosystem. Being a part of their Ecosystem has benefits for both creators and consumers of content.

  • StevenGarone

    I think you’re giving Apple a bit too much credit.  What they realized is that if they focused on image instead of usability or ubiquity, people would want it.  They decided to become the Ferrari of computing.  I mean, it’s not nearly as functional or even as cost effective as other solutions, but dang if it ain’t pretty.

    People’s propensity for assuming higher priced things are more advanced was to Apple’s benefit.  They added some bells and whistles, sold it all for ridiculous profits, and laughed all the way to the bank while everyone was talking about how they were a hippie company that’s, like, all about the art, man.

  • J Y

    Just wait until a Kinect like camera is added to the iPad 12, the possibilities are endless if technology continues its current trend of begetting more technology.Assuming Moore’s Law holds true, what will computers look like in 2021?http://yodabillclintonwillferr

  • Austin Hagele

    your claim of saying Mac (lets call them by there real name) “hey, lets sell a device.” isnt there strategy is just retarded Mac comes out with new products every 6 months casue all the apple fan boys have to have the new coolest one, how many generations of Ipod were there? and were any leaps and bounds better then the last? no it was just newer so people wanted it there strategy is totally “hey, let’s sell another device.” Another thing the MacAir being the best computer ever? hey i have this dvd that explaines how it isnt. what you cant play dvds? oh you have to bring out your brick of an add on dvd player to play it? ill wait.

  • Mickie N

    I had to stop reading half way through, I thought I could do it but the smug/unverified bullshit factor just got way too high.

  • Metrosine

    Ah apple, the king of repackaging readily avaiable technology into a sleek design. I fail to recall a single lnvention of apple.

  • JAY

    HERE

  • smithlinda

    Hello! I like this post. In this post there are Some good points, some bad.There are many markets that Apple could apply the same principles to – to say that Apple’s potential new product categories are sapped is categorically close-minded. New hardware opportunities are TVs, DUMB phones, a successful touchscreen desktop experience, etc. Then there are the software/content opportunities.

    Thank you so much.
    cheap ipod touch

About the author

Mike ElganMike Elgan writes about technology and culture for a wide variety of publications. Follow Mike on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in Apple, News, Top stories |