iPhone 6 and iWatch debut: Apple back to its Jobs-less style of thinking

Apple product announcements used to command a wide-eyed audience across the spectrum of tech savviness. But from my own personal take on what just happened yesterday and some of the stuff people wrote following the hoo-ha around the debut of the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch, it seems to me Apple has just turned a corner.

As I wrote earlier, the real and unintended milestone for Apple here was its going from being a product trailblazer to no more than a me-too competitor to Samsung and the Android universe. It did that on two counts — (1) playing catch up to screen size and (2) getting in on the “smartwatch” scene.

'Someday, all watches will be made this way.'(1970s ad for digital watches)
‘Someday, all watches will be made this way.’
(1970s ad for digital watches)
Reviews were therefore mixed, more so considering the Apple Watch could only work when paired with an iPhone. Seems like Apple is still hooked on its vertical integration ways. Those of us who had been watching the tech space long enough will recall that this is what did Apple in back in the 1980s and 1990s. It priced itself and shut itself out of the first golden age of open systems leaving the market wide open for Microsoft to seize. Funny enough that all happened at a time when Apple was Jobs-less; i.e. its founder Steve Jobs wasn’t leading it over that period of decline.

Well here is Apple again, Jobs-less and exhibiting symptoms of a bankruptcy of imagination that many hope will not become a trend for this otherwise brilliant tech company. Tim Cook said Steve Jobs would have been proud. That is debatable at best. If we look back at the products Jobs was truly proud of, they were all pretty much products that were unprecedented (outside research labs, that is) and market-creating. The iPhone 6 and Apple Watch are entering existing markets — markets that have already been filled years ago.

The litmus test for a truly great product launch is what I call the Thunderbird Test. Watch an episode of the cult classic Thunderbirds are Go! series of the 1960s and take note of how 1960s sci-fi writers imagined what the 21st Century would be like. They got it pretty much all wrong back then. Apple produced stuff that nobody had imagined before. There were no iPads or iPhones in sci fi even as recently as the 1980s. The commlink Han Solo was using when he kept in touch with the rebel base on Hoth as he searched for Luke was as big as a briefcase. In 21st Century Los Angeles in the film Blade Runner they still had public phone booths (albeit equipped with CRT screens for video calls).

My point is, Apple is the company people watch when they want to see a vision of the future that hasn’t been seen yet by ordinary mortals. In that regard, this year’s launch of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch was a disappointment — including all the tech journalists and bloggers who put everyone up to the hype in the lead up to this event. Bigger touchphone screens? A computer on your wrist? I think Apple could do a lot better than play catch up with some Korean chaebol. Lady Penelope is waiting.

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16 Comments on “iPhone 6 and iWatch debut: Apple back to its Jobs-less style of thinking”

  1. Get your facts straight. The ipod already entered an existing market. So did the iphone. And guess what? So did the ipad. And because of that, at lot of journalists have dissed those products, marking them as failures way before they were launched. I have no intentions of purchasing an apple watch, but history has shown that it is foolish to dismiss Apple right off the bat. Wise men know better than to judge a product that isn’t even released yet, and i thought you would be one of those who would know better. Time will tell if you are going to look foolish like many other journalists. Based on their track record though, history is definitely on Apple’s side.

    1. “Based on their track record though, history is definitely on Apple’s side.”

      By history you mean the last 20 years right?

    2. @Kenny: Dude, nobody here is dismissing Apple. In fact I said that we are all hoping this me-too phase will not become a permanent one for it. Apple is a brilliant if not the most brilliant company in the world,
      and it has been ever since the Apple II. What makes it specially brilliant is the unique way it packages technology and aesthetics into consumer products with far bigger layers of brand equity than most conventional tech products — which is why its fan base is very loyal (Android users are far more inclined to change their preferences than Apple users).

      So don’t get all philosophical here. Its products are great and if you step back enough so you could look beyond those products and regard the bigger ecosystem of marketing, technology, and content delivery systems Apple have put together to more seamlessly connect producers to consumers, then you will see the extent to which it creates groundbreaking value to an otherwise stodgy industry.

  2. so far, the only acceptable wearable technology is a wireless headphone (bluetooth and such) because it actually improves the experience.
    google glass is tanking because using it makes you look like a total buffoon while smartwatches are devices that a) have to be charged regularly or you’ll look like an idjit while using it powered down and b) all of its functionality can be done by your current phone.

  3. A watch this time. I think Apple is depending too much on its being a “status symbol” brand. This is why I’m not a fan. Well, Apple products are sturdy and easy to operate, but I can get the same quality of product for a lesser price elsewhere.

  4. We are now realizing the fiction that was in the movies some years ago. A Computer Watch.

    Soon computers will be as thin as papers , and can be discarded. More sophisticated products are on the way for the IT technology.
    Research and Development is on the path of inventing more sophisticated electronic products.

    Sources of Energy Researches are also vigrously followed up. The demise of Fossil Fuel, as our source of energy, will bring Peace into our civilization…

      1. Dude, I am not smoking any stuff. I was educated in a good U.S. University. I taught for a time at San Francisco State University, in San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

        Now I work in a Technical Research and Development field, for a Fortune 500 U.S. company….I hold several Technical Patents in my Technical work…

  5. “Apple produced stuff that nobody had imagined before. There were no iPads or iPhones in sci fi even as recently as the 1980s.”

    You sure about that?

    What about the PADD (Personal Access Display Device)?
    http://www.toogeektobetrue.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Picard-Tablet.jpg
    http://blog.fora.tv/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/star-trek-ipad.png

    See here for a list of other Star Trek innovations:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulhsieh/2014/06/24/8-star-trek-technologies/

  6. LASER , Invisibility and Body Transport are in the verge of further research. The LASER Gun is still to be perfected. In, invisibility; there is a problem on the eyes. You cannot cover your eyes to become invisible. Star Trek bodily transport; the atoms and mollecules in your body must transport in the right places. Otherwise, you can end up, with your Penis on top of your nose.

      1. I will not deal with people ignorant on advanced technology. They cannot understand bodily transport.

        “Beam me up , Scotty”. “There is no intelligent beings on this Planet”…courtesy of “Star Trek” TV series.

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