Post Jobs, Apple’s design and innovation have become stale and rotten

When Apple announces its annual update to the iPhone it amazes me how the entire world stops to take note of the latest changes and upgrades. News channels around the globe report about about every single feature, and even the late night TV shows poke fun at Apple and its fans for their unrelenting fanboyism. Apple’s senior management definitely knows how to give a presentation. I feel like Apple’s iPhone announcement has become a TED talk and I come out a new man ready to tackle the world’s biggest issues after the announcement.

The sales are driven by a stable ecosystem and solid products that are no doubt of the absolute highest quality. When you make a purchase with Apple you know you’re going to get one solid product that will easily last you three to five years with unmatched customer service. Its phones also don’t catch on fire.

It’s easy to read my headline and call me biased towards Android and Google. That’s not a fact at all. I am writing on a Mac right now. I use an iPad Pro 12.9″ everyday and think it is the best mobile tablet hands down. Recently I even switched over to the iPhone 6S plus as my primary smartphone for over two months. It’s easy to understand why Apple is so damned good. Yet, there was one glaring fact staring all of us in the face…

Proof that I own Apple products I use daily.
Proof that I own Apple products I use daily.

It’s definitely not Steve’s Apple any longer.

In one of the fastest evolving industries, Apple has become a stale and old fart. The iPhone 7 kept the same exact size, shape and dimensions of the previous two generations. Two years ago most tech writers were complaining that Samsung couldn’t build quality phones with its all plastic builds while Apple made a gorgeous, solid metal phone. Fast forward to today, and Samsung is making beautiful metal and glass phones, and if you can forgive the latest Note 7’s battery and fire issues, you can appreciate the top notch build.

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Image credit Phone Arena

One of Apple’s biggest announcements was the “new” color Jet Black. It also announced the “new” black too. Next year, I’m expecting Apple to announce 50 Shades of Black which will make my head explode. It’s even featured as the main phone on Apple’s homepage.

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When has Gloss black become worthy of an announcement? I see gloss black every time I step outside and look at my neighbor’s car. When did glossy become popular again because if I remembered correctly, people hate fingerprints and scratches. Plus it’s just a shade that’s nothing revolutionary. If Apple wants to paint its phones, can it at least add other colors like red, blue and green?

Then Apple touted the antenna lines moving to places where you can barely see them. Apple is reaching here. LG already covered up the antenna lines with the G5, and on Samsung’s latest devices you can barely see them. Newcomer Huawei pretty much did away with most antenna lines on the Nexus 6P that came out over a year ago.

The movies to come out after Steve’s death all portray him as a jerk but maybe he needed to be a jerk in order to kick the designer’s butt’s into gear. Apple is unable to redesign its hardware without Steve pushing them. Without him I wonder if they are just sipping on gluten free cappuccinos while putting all of their effort into designing the space ship campus.

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Apple designer’s are comfortable and lazy. Being the king of smartphones has made it complacent.

Even the Macbook Pro, which I love, hasn’t changed in so long I can’t even remember when it was updated. The iPad and iPad mini, which again are solid devices, have gone unchanged. Then there is the 5SE which is Apple’s budget phone at $400, with a design so old that Steve was apart of it! The Apple Watch design went unchanged too. All throughout Apple’s lineup is proof that it forgot how to take advantage of one of the world’s best designers in Sir Jony Ive.

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Despite my rant on Apple’s lack of change, I would prefer if Apple notched up the design game

Apple used to lead the way in the design category. It pushed everyone to be better. Now it’s setting a bad example for the industry with its lack of innovation and claims of reinventing features that already exist.

  • Apple Pencil – Samsung did it first with the Note.
  • Airpods – Everyone already had wireless headphones. Samsung’s latest Gear IconX earbuds have a charging case, one touch communication and even use the industry Bluetooth Standard.
  • 3D Touch – Already done with Force Touch
  • Eliminating the 3.5mm audio jack – Moto beat Apple here too with the Moto Z. The Moto Z actually makes sense since the phone is a mere 5.3mm thick. By the way, I hope Samsung keeps the 3.5mm audio jack in its phones so I can charge and listen to my phone at the same time.
  • Dual rear cameras – LG and Huawei beat Apple here too.

Even though other companies did these things first, there’s a high probability, almost 99.99% chance that Apple will do it better. I’m not disputing Apple as being a great company, it’s just no longer the leader in innovation and design. It does nothing that draws in the masses like it once did with things like the App Store, iPod, iPhone, iPad and physical retail locations.

Steve Jobs was a once in a generation genius that no one should expect to match, and he left the tools and fundamentals in place for Tim Cook to carry on his legacy. It’s just too bad that the new regime cannot take advantage of those tools and fundamentals to continue to push the limits.

Despite this article sounding so negative, it’s the truth, and I don’t want it to be. I want Apple to set the bar for design and innovation because it makes the entire industry better and we all benefit from it. The team at Apple needs to read the quote below and get back on track.

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