Is Tim Cook Right? Is Innovation Dead In Mac App Development? [Poll]

One of the more intriguing and, in our minds, controversial comments Tim Cook made during his interview at Goldman Sach’s conference:

“The innovation has moved away from PC development to the tablets and smartphones. Who is making PC apps now? No one, except the usual suspects.”

That’s a bold thing to say. When Cook refers to “PC development” the context of this question makes it clear the’s also referring to Mac development. That’s a strange comment to make when one of the legs on Apple’s stool of businesses is the Mac App Store, which is a lucrative business in its own right for Apple.

But is Tim Cook right? Have Mac and PC developers stopped innovating? Are all the innovators working on iPhone and iPad apps now? Take part in our poll, then please feel free to give us your thoughts in the comments.

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  • IAmTimBaker

    I wouldn’t say it’s “dead” but it’s definitely suffering. The last great innovative Mac app that I can recall was Sparrow before it was swallowed up and effectively killed off by Google. All the innovation happening on a mass-level is debuting on mobile first before it, if ever, makes it’s way to the PC (PC being non-mobile or tablet). Examples include Mailbox, Clear, Tweetbot, just to name a few.

  • lowtolerance

    I wouldn’t say it’s “dead” but it’s definitely suffering. The last great innovative Mac app that I can recall was Sparrow before it was swallowed up and effectively killed off by Google. All the innovation happening on a mass-level is debuting on mobile first before it, if ever, makes it’s way to the PC (PC being non-mobile or tablet). Examples include Mailbox, Clear, Tweetbot, just to name a few.

    What was innovative about Sparrow? It’s just a nicely designed email client.

  • IAmTimBaker

    What was innovative about Sparrow? It’s just a nicely designed email client.

    It was innovative in the fact that it was the first email client that really took the power of the Gmail web interface and put it on the desktop. I’m not saying it’s as innovative as an app like Mailbox, but it was the first app to take a more cleaner approach to email in a field where all the other email apps are cluttered messes.

  • xraydelta1

    I need and want refinement more than innovation. A lot of software still doesn’t work quite right, or isn’t fast enough or fails at critical moments. Let’s focus on those things for a year or two, OK?

  • RadachyJS

    I feel that Mac app innovation isn’t dead. What has decreased in recent years is the use of less portable, “traditional” computing solutions; the general development curve has shifted mostly over to mobile department. Unless Apple decides to completely cut their Mac lineup, there will always be innovation. Where I see the possibility for innovation (and I hope there is) is the cloud/integration department. Case and point, Day One.

  • marioyohanes

    I think it’s not dead, yet… Perhaps halted or stuck is the correct assumption. The reason devs no longer put their time on desktop app is because developing desktop app is time consuming, requires more resources while at the same time generating less income. In mobile on the other hand, you could easily get your first million dollars if your app is good enough. Not to mention headhunters and acquisition are looking for talented mobile devs, not desktop anymore.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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