Saturday, September 13, 2014

An Ode to Apple

Reams will be written, songs sung and billions made.

Apple will laugh all the way to the banks, as we queue up for a last swipe of a physical credit card at an Apple store to buy the latest of Apple ware.
Apple will now open our hotel rooms as we check-in, ask us to stand up and move around a bit and yes, tell us the time.
Also, give us that taptic hint when it is time to pick up the kid from school.
Isn’t all this cool ?

Let me step back, from all the hype and hoopla..

After years of self-denial, Apple launches big screen phones
After years of self-denial, Apple agrees one style doesn’t fit all.
(So is it simply that Cook’s right and Jobs left ?)

No, there’s more to it.

After years of authoritative (dictatorial?), product innovation, Apple accepts the wisdom of the crowds.
After years of isolated excellence, Apple joins the mass movement of mediocrity.

OK, am being unfair.
Yes, there are several shiny little nuggets in the products just launched.
The digital crown is a truly smart thing, but it isn’t going to change the world in the way the single physical button on the iPhone did.
(Oh, BTW, didn’t someone recently tell us that skeuomorphism is so old school?)
There’s a lot more, I know.
Few, if any, of them though, would truly wow you, and not for long.

But this is not merely about what Apple makes – it is as much about what makes Apple.
It is not merely about what Apple gives us – it is as much about what we give back to Apple.

Apple makes shiny cool gadgets. Excellence makes Apple
Apple makes tonnes of money. The very best engineering R&D makes Apple.
Apple gives us pride of ownership. We give love back to Apple.

All of this this has been true for a very long time.
But equally true is that there is a decline.
Yes, miracles don’t happen every day, nor do disasters.
But small mistakes accumulate.
accumulate into something bigger.

With their latest announcements, Apple has bought membership into a new club.
The club of me-toos, the club where marketing exceeds the product
They still retain some excellence – may be in marketing, in branding, in the shiny gloss of their presentation (notwithstanding the streaming glitch).
But the excellence in product R&D is now relegated to a nice-to-have, or at least minimized to a digital crown, with precious little beneath it.

No you don’t need an OctaCore or a mega screen or some super res.
Cool products are not merely the result of the greatest and biggest engineering specs.

But cool products are necessarily original – or an original take on an existing, un-cool one.
iPhone was uber-cool when it launched.
iPad was surely cool, very.
They changed the world. Period.

The iPhone6 and 6plus are screaming “me too” at the Galaxys and their ilk
in semi-muted decibels, thanks to lesser guts under the sheen.

The watch, at best, is confusing. Will you buy it because of the aluminium/gold/multiple straps?
Aren’t there dime-a-dozen watches with these bells and whistles?
Oh, but you say, this one is also “smart” ? Really ?

Smart as in a smart phone, it isn’t.
Smart as in a smart-ass, it is.

Doodle your way to glory. Share a heart-beat. Save yourself the trouble of looking up your iPhone.
If Apple calls this smart, well, they aren’t. Anymore.
(The conspicuous silence about the battery life is undoubtedly another example of the latter variety of smartness).

Not long ago, Apple was a product of excellence.
But these are products of mediocrity

What goes up, comes down.
That is nature.
Sad but true.