Friday, 21 June 2013

Where’s Apple’s mojo gone? Oh, there it is.

First a disclaimer: I’m an Apple fanboy. Handing back my Dell windows machine was the highlight of quitting my last job. Every time I start using a new piece of Apple hardware, it just works. And I’ve bought a fair bit of hardware: MacBook, Mac Mini, Time Capsule, Keyboard, Magic Mouse, Track Pad, Airport Express, Apple TV, several iPhones, and slavishly following upgrades of OSX and iOS. I’d buy the Apple watch in a heartbeat, and I can’t wait for Apple iTV to revolutionise the broadcast industry.

However, recently I find myself buying less and less stuff. My MacBook is 3 years old, as is my current iPhone. They still do the job that I bought them for, and still as stylishly as when I first bought them. So to people who say that the pace of technological obsolescence has increased, I agree politely, but point out that Apple is a shining example of how technological advancement can mean extending hardware lifespan, thereby reducing spend over time.

I still remember the Microsoft days, when my laptop needed to be replaced every 18 months due to win-rot, and my phone every 12 months because the next thing was so much better. I’m starting to worry that I’ve lost that upgrade urge completely. I think it’s because Apple has stopped giving me a reason to upgrade, that the technology advancement in OSX that means that my MacBook is still perfectly usable, but that the new MacBook Air isn’t innovative enough to make me want to change (still waiting for the retina display). What’s worse, it seems that Apple is now following, rather than leading.

Take the announcements made at the recent WWDC. iOS 7 is a welcome refresh, because it will make my 3 year-old phone visually new again (it’ll be the “red wedding” for skeumorphism). But it won’t be market leading, because all the new features have already been seen in Metro, Jelly Bean, Web OS. It won’t open up new innovative use cases for me using my iPhone. OSX Mavericks is fundamentally a point release, which I’ll happily pay $30 for, but it won’t open up new innovative use cases for me using my MacBook. Where’s OSXI?

Actually, there was one bright light of innovation: the new Mac Pro. Not only does it look completely different from anything else on the market (I’m thinking Darth Vader’s meditation chamber), but it’s also hugely forward thinking in capability (support for 3x 4k displays, new circuit layout with central air cooling, illuminated port, only upgradeable via thunderbolt). I may not want it, but I’m pleased there is a mad-as-a-bag-of-cats product in the portfolio. Thank you Apple, my faith is restored.

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