Apple: Same dog food, reheated

Apple: Same dog food, reheated

Summary: Cupertino is resting on its iLaurels while fierce competition from the valley is eating its lunch. 2014 will be a seminal year for Apple and all eyes are on what Tim cooks up at WWDC this June.

Apple: Same dog food reheated - Jason O'Grady
Photo: O'Grady

Larger iPhones? 

Larger iPads? 


Where are the moonshots? Where is the innovation? Where is the leadership? Apple, I'm afraid, has lost its way and is on a collision course with mediocrity while hungry, eager and cunning competitors lap it in the race to win the hearts and minds of increasingly savvy consumers. 

A couple of recent headlines got me thinking this way and Cupertino's lethargic pace of development and innovation is starting to worry me, an Apple customer and enthusiast since the original Mac in 1984 and the Lisa before it. 

The two recent news events that prompted me to write this piece involve Google.

First came the news that Google had acquired the hotest home automation startup in the valley – Nest Labs, creator of an innovative thermostat and smoke detector. Nest is the brainchild of Apple iPod prodigy Tony Fadell and is stocked with over 100 Apple refugees that followed Fadell to Nest. Nest gives Google access to smart, Internet connected appliances in millions of homes and a boat load of innovation and talented engineers. But the icing on the cake was that "Apple was not in the mix" and didn't express any interest in Nest. What? Nest is stocked with most of the Apple engineers that developed the iPod and Apple didn't even bid? 

Second came the news that Google is developing a glucose monitoring contact lens to help those suffering with diabetes, which affects one in 19 people. That's right, forget about connected eyewear (Google Glass), Google's going to put a sensor directly on your eyeball. Can a neural implant be far behind? 

Punctuating all this comes the news that Tim Cook begrudgingly settled with the FTC over predatory In App Purchases (IAPs) that target young kids in its App Store. Rather than taking the high road and pledging reforms (many of which as quite simple) Mr. Cook chose to belittle the settlement and side with morally bankrupt developers that target sneaky IAPs at three and six year old kids. Reprehensible!

I personally have to refute several App Store charges per month that my kids accidentally make because shady developers of well-known "princess," "fairy," and "pet" apps trick my kids on touching the wrong button. The real subterfuge here is that Cupertino made $10 billion from its App Store in 2013 so its not going to doing anything that would jeopardize that income. 

Apple's labs are chock full of iPhone and iPad prototypes that have already be released by Samsung, HTC and Motorola. Meanwhile Google is barging into the American home (and body) in substantial ways while Apple's sad, black hockey puck sits idle in millions of entertainment centers.

Say what you will about Google, but one thing you can't say that it's "stagnant" or "stuck in a rut" like Apple is. And Nest and the connected contacts are just part of the story, look at Google Glass, autonomous vehicles, bandwidth by hot air balloons. Hot air ballons! I'm not advocating that Apple do everything that Google's doing, but for heaven's sake Cupertino, stop being a cheapskate and spend a nickel of your $150+ billion cash horde and do something new!

The rumored iWatch is nothing but vapor at this point, AppleTV is a laughing stock and Apple hasn't innovated since the iPad came out in 2010. Regardless of Phil Schiller's shallow sound bites, Apple hasn't innovated much in at least four years. 

And it's not just Google that's eating Apple's lunch. 

Amazon kicked the iPad's ass in display technology. The display in the Kindle Fire HDX shames the iPad and the mini's inspiration was clearly the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7. How about the iPhone 5's begrudging adoption of widescreen ("tallscreen?") aspect ratio? If millions weren't locked into the Apple "ecosystem" (code for the walled garden of iTunes Apps, movies and music) most would have defected for the better screens and price points of competing devices from Amazon and Google. And one word: drones

Facebook. Love it or hate it, it's a fact of life and most everyone uses it. Apple had the chance of a lifetime to turn iTunes into the biggest music-site-cum-social-network in the world, but it let it rot to the point of becoming a joke. I challenge you to find one user that thinks iTunes is "good." 

Twitter has hatched a ton of innovation (in the form of startups), including Square, Medium and Jelly. 

Microsoft has made a credible attempt to merge the mobile and desktop markets, their message being that tablets are PCs and PCs that don’t have things like keyboards and backward compatibility are deficient. Maybe Windows 8 isn’t a complete home run, but in the long term the approach could be a threat. How about the iPhone 5c looking like a Lumia? iOS 7 taking cues from Metro, including the app switching gesture from Windows Phone and the app shutdown gesture from Windows 8? The split on-screen keyboard idea came from Windows 8 as well.

I put the blame for the rudderless Apple squarely at Tim Cook's feet. He's an operations genius, but not the genius that Steve Jobs was. But to be fair, almost no one could fill Jobs' shoes, it's just that Jobs picked Cook, who's more of an MBA, number cruncher that a technology genius. So Mr. Cook is responsible for righting the ship. Mr. Cook is also the one that released the iPad mini with a putrid (non-Retina) display, based on three year old technology, virtually ceding the market to Android. 

All is not lost however. Apple has shown glimmers of innovation with Touch ID, iBeacons, the new MacPro and 64-bit iOS 7 on the software front, but those are mere blips on the technology radar. Apple failed to extend Touch ID to the latest crop of iPads (or the Mac) and the MacPro only has a tiny market because Apple waited too long and lost many of its loyal pro users to the dark side. 

[Update: iOS in the Car has the potential to be huge, but has yet to be delivered]

Cupertino needs to reassure its developers and customers that it's still relevant in 2014, or they'll simply jump back in their self-driving cars, read news updates on heads up displays, and start dinner, laundry and feeding their pets remotely as they commute back to their climate controlled homes. 

All eyes will be Apple this June at WWDC 2014. Will Apple return to a culture of innovation, or will it be the same dog food, reheated?

Topic: Apple

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  • Hmm

    The only thing that's reheated dog food is the drivel that passes for analysis on ZDNET. I'm sure this post will get tons of clicks from the Google and Microsoft bots, so in that respect it will have served its purpose.
    • It got a click from you.

      Does that mean it attracted the Apple bots too?

      (Advice: Don't be a hypocrite)
      • Yes

        And I see I was right too.
        • But provide some evidence.

          It's best to point out some of the drivel...

          I particularly liked the comment at the end

          "All is not lost however. Apple has shown glimmers of innovation with Touch ID, iBeacons, the new MacPro and 64-bit iOS 7 on the software front, but those..."

          So the new MacPro is software?

          The new 64-bit iOS7 ... doesn't that run on the new 64 bit A7 processor. The first 64 bit application processor in a phone?
          Henry 3 Dogg
        • A fanboi from AppleInsider has arrived...

          DED is a fanboi's fanboi. Full of illogic and is on an anti-Apple crusade of the highest order.

          Of course DED is no scholar either and what Apple fanbois actually think is irrelevant to the real world...

        Windows 3x through 9x and Mellinnium (all reheated, DOS dogfood, all crash prone and forgettable OSes).

        NT 3.1, 3.5, 3.51 and 4, Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8x (all reheated NT dogfood, with extra bloat and ugly UIs that tried to justify another attempt at MS taking your money for the same unreliable, crash prone, virus prone, spaghetti code garbage).

        Office 3.0, 4x, 95, 97, 2000, Office XP, 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2013 (all reheated Office dogfood, with minimal application changes, just cosmetic UI switcheroos to justify paying MS more money for the same program).
        • You are correct .... but somehow ...

          ... morons want to experience the same exact level of crappiness and instability with Android ... but Android is great because it is from the Google and "free" (as long as you ignore all the private data collection).
          • seriously?

            You familiar with the recent activity with apple and the NSA? Wow.
          • Seriously?

            You familiar with the recent activity with GOOGLE and the NSA? Wow.

            .....See how easy it is to say that

            On the Apple side, that was one analyst personal opinion to get web hits, and it got them, But NOBODY proved it.

            Now away from propaganda to facts.

            Google is the Top spender in technology in lobbying money.

            Google is in the top 5 contributors to Obama from anywhere.

            Google is actively fighting in court for the rights to read and study EVERYTHING that you do, say, search, you're location, who you call, What you text, now when you get home (Nest).

            That's why Android, Gmail, G+, Google, YouTube is so called free, you giving up your life info just to use them.

            That's why I along with millions are dumping Google like a hot rock.
          • more seriously?

            "That's why I along with millions are dumping Google like a hot rock."

            this explains why hardly anyone uses Google these days, and why I feel so alone ...
          • A Lot Of People Use Google.

            You have to if you buy a Android phone and want to use it's services, have you seen how many Androids are being sold on Chinese street corners in white boxes, that a lot of Google accounts, do your homework before you comment.
          • Corrected

            ...Recently I dreamed that I along with millions are dumping Google like a hot rock.

            Fixed that for ya.
          • Odd you should bring that up

            I've owned windows 3.1, 98, XP, 7, and 8.1 PC's, android 2.2, 2.3, 4.0, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4 phones, and 10.6, 10.8, and 10.9 Mac's (as well as Macintosh Performas)
            Out of that entire list, the android 2.2 phone was unstable, the Windows 98 was unstable, the Mac 10.6, 10.8, and 10.9 were unstable. It just cracks me up when Apple guys think their software is flawless, or rather it would crack me up if the crap OSX had done to me didn't cost me so much time and money.
          • Get Real!

            You noticed that I stated that Windows really didn't give me much in problems, just hardware issues, put your glasses on this time when you read it.
            If I didn't like Windows, I wouldn't buy them, never said Windows was bad.
            I guess you want us Apple/Windows guys to lie to make you feel warm and fuzzy about yourself, Is that it?
        • Why do you think that is?

          The coders at Apple or Google are no smarter than the coders at MS. The reason Windows has been buggy or bloated or unstable more than, say, MacOS is because of the use case it fulfills. That is to work on cloned PCs created from a myriad of parts suppliers and a hoard of PC makers. Then it has to run not only latest and greatest but be backward compatible to devices and applications, some of which go back 15+ years. The system is so open to customization, can be plugged into a machines that run millions of dollars of equipment, can be embedded into chips, etc and so on.

          Truthfully it's a wonder Windows works at all with all the uncertainty and hot app and hardware mess it has to deal with.

          During the XP days, I made a break to Mac because the OS and hardware were far better at the time. Even used Linux desktop here and there. But Vista running on good hardware was rock solid and had a nice UI with good functionality. W7 was better. And now W8, no matter the complaints, is very innovative and risk taking for MS to merge into mobile.

          I like MS Office for various reasons but that is more use case. Most individuals don't need full Office and Google Docs or something else would fill their needs.
          Rann Xeroxx
          • Another reason why Windows is flakey,

            The real reason IMHO that Windows is flakey is because it is bloated with non-OS software designed to lock out competitors. Eg. A stable OS does not include browser software in the kernel like Windows does.
          • There is no browser code in the kernel

            I don't know where you get your information about software development or Windows architecture, but Trident is not in the kernel or kernel mode.... It is in the win32 subsystem, waaaaay up the architecture diagram from the kernel.

            There is no browser code in kernel mode drivers or the kernel.
          • why else does a browser font crash the system?

            It has to be in there somewhere.
          • Never heard of that

            But if a browser did crash an OS due to a font in a browser, more than likely its a video driver issues. In fact a very large number of issues in Windows can be traced back to the video driver, thats way is imperative that you ensure you get a very stable and reliable video card and up to date drivers. Pay attention to what's baked into those laptop motherboards or GPUs.
            Rann Xeroxx
          • that came from

            MS's refusale to take IE out of Windows siting the fact that the browser is part of OS a long while ago.