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A brief recent history of Apple's product swerves

A brief recent history of Apple's product swerves
From TechCrunch - September 16, 2017

The perennial refrain of Android fans is that Apple is just adding stuff to iOS that theyve had for years already in their mobile ecosystem. And its certainly true that Cupertino makes a point of waiting until it believes a technology is properly baked and the time is juuuuust rightor at least commercially judiciousto introduce a new product or capability, one which has likely already been in widespread use across the mobile platform aisle.

Hence the company is often charged with being an innovation laggard. While its senior execs are always fielding questions about why such and such a product or feature isnt in Apples line-up yet.

The companys strategy for, you could say, mismanaging expectation has seen it frequently swing from publicly rubbishing a device type or technologyto warmly embracing it a few years later. (Or, well, not, in the case of Flash.)

Steve Jobs was master of this dark marketing art.You dont usually see his more mild-mannered replacement, Tim Cook, deploying the kind of extended public trashtalking that Jobs indulged, raging out at this or that rival tech as ludicrous, impossible to use and horribly designed. Before performing a complete U-turn down the line.

Cook mostly limits himself to getting a bit fired up aboutAndroid security and fragmentationduring keynotes. But the current Apple CEO has still presided over some major swerves in its position on tech developmentsfrom finally inflating the screen size of the iPhone, in 2014, to adding and (now) extending support for NFC, as well as introducing wireless charging in its newest iPhone 8/8 Plus and iPhone X models.

He was also at the helm when Apple outed a stylus for its iPad Pro linebraving the inexorable flakgiven Jobs very public loathing for such sticks (among many jabs at styli, Jobs left us this choice quote: If you need a stylus youve already failed).

The lesson here is that Apple has always saidand will always saywhatever it needs to in public as it bides its time, continues its analysis and waits until its target mainstream market will appreciate the utility of what its developing. As Jobs also used to say, the things Apple chooses not to do are as important to what it does include in the products.

And of course it does notalways get this balancing act right. It was, after all, rather slow to increase smartphone screen size and move into the phablet space. Yet at the same time lots of iPhone users clearly liked the four-inch handset form factor, hence Apple subsequently re-introducing it, with the iPhone SE.

A more major misjudgment came in 2013 when it tried tooffer a plastic-backed iPhone, aka the iPhone 5c. The market responded with a resounding: no thanks!and the model was quietly discontinued. (Perhaps because offering a cheaper build material went against Apples grain of expanding the pool oftechnological innovations it offers users.)

But any statements the company makes that appear intended to rubbish rival innovations should be read as a placeholder signal which states: yes Apple is interested, yes Apple is looking, yes Apple is probably testing and prototyping; but no Apple, is not yet ready to take the plunge.

Apple did not make the first personal computer, nor the first tablet computer, nor the first smartphone. Measuring it against what comes first isto paraphrase Jobsa boneheaded way of looking at the company. Rather its energy is spun up and spent on doing the hard assessment work of figuring out how to make key technology innovations accessible and usable across the broadest audience. From toddlers to senior citizens.

And the mass consumer adoption of these technologies is the real innovative heart of Apple.

So when this refiningmodus operandimeans the company has to publicly change course and contradict something its said before, its execs dont even feel the need to break a sweat. Because this is the reality of the task theyve set themselvesto guide consumers one more rung up the tech ladder.

Thats the kind of engineering business Apple is in.

OLED displays

2013, Tim Cook: Some people use OLED displays, but the colour saturation is awful.If you ever buy anything online and really want to know what he color is, as many people do, you should really think twice before you depend on the color from an OLED display.

2017, Phil Schiller:This is the first OLED display great enough to be in an iPhone.

Wireless charging

2012, Phil Schiller:Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated.

2017, Phil Schiller: Words cant describe just how much nicer it is to just put it down and pick it up whenever you want to charge without every having to plug in a cable again.

NFC

2013, Craig Federighi,touting Apple AirDrop as a better alternative to NFC: No need to wander around the room, bumping your phone [mimes bumping phones]

September 2014, Eddie Cue: Weve got a groundbreaking NFC antenna built across the top Apple Pay is easy and secure and its private.

September 2014, Tim Cook, on Apple Pay: It is so cool!

Larger displays

Third party keyboard apps

Smart speakers

Stylus

iPad Mini

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