Apple slips closer to becoming 'just another tech company'

Announcing products only to later delay their launch is something that other tech companies did. Now it's becoming something Apple does.

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So, Apple has pushed back the launch of the HomePod smart speaker to "early 2018." Last year it was the AirPods that were delayed.

Given how carefully Apple crafts product launches, especially around the all-important holiday period, it feels alarming that Apple is missing beats and is turning into "just another tech company."

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Apple didn't go into any details as to why it had to delay the release beyond a very vague "we need a little more time before it's ready for our customers." For a product that was demoed on stage back in June at WWDC isn't ready almost five months later, and won't be until some "early 2018."

Apple was in in similar situation last year with the AirPods, although the company did manage to get them out of the door just before Christmas.

It's also interesting to note that Apple has yet another product that's scheduled for launch before the year is out. The iMac Pro, which was teased at WWDC 2017, was slated for December. However, it feels strange that we've not heard anything about it since June.

Will the iMac Pro be released this year? At this point in time I'm willing to bet a modest steak dinner that it too could be delayed.

So what could be behind the HomePod delay? A few things spring to mind:

  • The technology isn't ready
  • Apple's supply and/or retail chain is constrained by iPhone X/8 production and distribution and Apple doesn't want to add another product into the mix
  • At this stage Apple doesn't want to distract from iPhone sales

Whatever the reason, pencilling in a launch date for a product only to later kick it into the future feels careless at best. It hints that there's pressure within Apple to announce and unveil products that are far from ready for market, and that suggests that Apple's desire to push new products out of the door is outstripping its capacity to keep to schedules. And since the iPhone is Apple's primary product, that has to take precedent over everything else.

If it were just the occasional launch schedule slip then I wouldn't care about it too much. Stuff happens, and even Apple with its deep pockets and hefty bank balance can't overcome every problem. But these schedule slips are the latest in a series of Apple slip-ups, ranging from buggy releases, boring product launches, and the absence of a "next big thing."

As much as I don't want to bring up the tired old "Apple wouldn't have done this under Steve Jobs' watch" trope, a lot of what's happening at Apple lately is different from what the came to expect under Jobs. Not to say that things didn't go wrong under his watch, but product announcements and launches felt a lot tighter for sure, as did the overall quality of what Apple was releasing.

With each passing year Apple slips further towards being "just another tech company."

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