Has Apple gotten lazy?

Has Apple gotten lazy?

Summary: I know it's hard for a company to reinvent itself on essentially a semi-annual basis, but the fact of the matter is that Apple's over all product line has become stagnant. iPod hasn't had a huge enhancement since video, iPhone, although intrinsically software upgradable to add valuable feature releases, hasn't seen anything great since Exchange support (despite much publicized need of several enhancements), and the entire desktop line hasn’t received much needed attention in a very long time.

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I know it's hard for a company to reinvent itself on essentially a semi-annual basis, but the fact of the matter is that Apple's over all product line has become stagnant. iPod hasn't had a huge enhancement since video, iPhone, although intrinsically software upgradable to add valuable feature releases, hasn't seen anything great since Exchange support (despite much publicized need of several enhancements), and the entire desktop line hasn’t received much needed attention in a very long time. Once a revolutionary and now evolutionary force in design, Apple has gotten lazy.

Apple had a less than game-changing presentation at Macworld Expo. If you need evidence of this, just look at the value of AAPL lately.  The response from the stockholders was like a collective "that's all?"  Even Apple has stated that more than anything, their next OS X release is going to be evolutionary, so they can't use the excuse that manpower has been pooled to complete the release of Snow Leopard.

The only other conclusion that one could draw from this is there is some great product in development. Apple, after almost saying word for word that they don't need Macworld Expo, must have a media event in the next 2-3 months to release whatever products weren’t ready for the event, thus showing the world that Apple indeed does not need Macworld Expo to peddle its product. Should this not be the case, and Apple doesn’t change gears quickly, I fear that Apple will lose the market share that it has gained.

(Contributed by: Mike Waters)

[poll id=165]

Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, Operating Systems

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  • Evolution vs. Revolution

    In IT I believe a steady flow of evolutions is preferable to revolution.
    Vista was supposed to a revolution. The desired changes were so profound MS couldn't deliver they couldn't even deliver after reducing the specs.
    With apple at least software, older drivers, older Macs and old hardware still work after new releases.
    Revolutions are for selling a hype, for the stock markets that in spite of their recent experience still expect companies to grow at steady 10%+ rates all the time. In depth development of products is needed much more in this world instead of hype after hype after hype.
    CChello
    • try this again

      you can not install os X on older macs, you can not run os 9 softwarw on os X macs unless you completely load os 9 in a virt on os X

      So how can you same that "With apple at least software, older drivers, older Macs and old hardware still work after new releases"

      Apple is the worst about being backwards compatible.
      rparker009
      • Cretin rparker009,

        you can and you can. Apple is the near best in backwards compatibility.
        ýlysdexia1
    • Why Apple v. Microsoft

      The question is about Apple keeping up with its own reputation for innovation; not are they better than Microsoft.

      Why can't Apple be discussed without the obligatory MS bashing?
      vernma@...
  • Fair go!

    Does an event Apple have to be game changing every
    time. There are times when companies need to settle
    down, take stock and solidify existing lines (Hint: World
    recession). Apple in the past 12 months has revamped it's
    notebook line, with a whole now method of construction
    and new chipset. It updated the iPhone and iPod Touch,
    and opened the App Store, to make the iPhone one of the
    premier handsets in the world and put the Touch in a
    position to nip at the heals of the major handheld gaming
    platforms. The iPod Nano got a fair make over. They
    launched Mobile Me (not Apple's best moment) which is
    starting to look promising. The upgrades to iLife and
    iWork, though not earth shattering, are strong and
    worthwhile upgrades (looks like I can now move on from
    iMovie '06). And, I would, almost, put money on an update
    of the rest of the Mac line-up within the month.
    Remembering in the past 24 months Apple has turned the
    whole mobile phone industry on it's head with one device.
    So no, I don't think Apple has been lazy, maybe just taking
    a breath.

    On the Macworld situation, why would Apple use it to
    release something groundbreaking when it's trying to show
    that it doesn't need it anymore. That would have been
    counter intuitive. To all those lamenting the loss of
    Macworld, get over it. Effectively, only those in North
    America could attend. The only part of interest to the rest
    of the world was the Keynote, which Apple can hold
    anywhere or anytime. Macworld really meant very little to
    the rest of the world. Apple is trying to push itself as a
    world brand now and not just be America-centric.
    Macworld just wasn't part of that plan. Get over it.
    A Grain of Salt
    • You're right

      I agree with Grain of Salt - how much can people expect of Apple - in the last 12 months they've totally redesigned the laptop line and the iPod Nano, laucnhed the iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software, App Store and Mobile Me, and updated iLife and iWork.

      Come on people, isn't that enough for 12 months work?

      Calm down.
      julianlove
  • RE: Has Apple gotten lazy?

    Maybe those among us who seem obsessed with micromanaging Apple from afar have become lazy -- we're so enamored with seeing groundbreaking products every quarter or so, that we tend to panic when that doesn't happen.

    Chill out. Apple will WOW you again, and then you'll complain at a later date, once again, that they don't do this frequently enough for your preferences.

    Desert is great; sometimes we need to eat our vegetables.
    SkateNY
  • How do the best sell for lifetime?

    Why of course, they get an interview on the
    Oprah/Dave/Leno show. And then renting an RV with their
    Brand name/logo splashed all over traveling from city-to-
    city playing to sell-out crowds.

    Hello Cleveland! Hello Derwent, Virginia!
    dascha1
  • A little impatient, are we?

    The iPod is still selling very well and making lots of money for Apple. The line is mature and nearly perfect. Major changes cost money to implement. In this economy, don't expect too much too soon.

    Apple does not follow any predictive pattern for release and always keeps the fans/analysts guessing. This also keeps products from experiencing the "osbourne effect" (whether it truly exists or not) as people are not "waiting to buy".

    I still have my 40GB iPod 3G with all solid-state buttons. Its black and white screen and larger package has lower battery life than a new video iPod, but at 5 years old, it's only down to $100/year for cost of ownership. As long as it works, I do not need a new one. (I also have a 4GB iPod mini, 8GB iPhone, and the wife has a shuffle).

    The market is nearly saturated with iPods of all types and sizes. I believe Apple is moving towards the iPod touch as its premiere model and potential gaming platform. It needs to lower prices to do so.
    Eriamjh
  • Lazy? Down right complacent....

    Since their move to the Intel processor they have gotten lazy...I think they have plateaued for now....
    nappy_d
  • Response from Author

    I suppose it?s only fair that I disclose that I use both OS X and Windows based computers. That being said, perhaps what was intended to be an undertone to my original article was too subtle. Apple traditionally has two things it?s good at ? making hardware that looks good and software that?s intuitive for people to use. Now, let?s examine Apple?s premium laptop line. In 2001 the Titanium PowerBook G4 was released. It was the first Apple laptop to pack a G4 processor, and a completely new design for Apple. Two years later, Apple released the Aluminum PowerBook G4 which addressed many of the TiBook?s shortcomings, but the product was arguably not as revolutionary as the predecessor. The design of the AlBook carried over into the MacBook Pro in 2006, while the internals were completely reworked to accommodate the replacement of the POWER components with x86 architecture. Finally, in 2008, Apple released the Unibody MacBook line, thereby melding their ?entry? level laptop offering with their premium line, which is where we are today. This same general pattern can be seen across all of Apple?s product lines. As the underlying hardware is now the same for OS X and Windows based machines, the consumer focus has shifted to design. Throughout this timeline, non-Apple hardware vendors have gotten better at design.

    Apple has benefited from Vista stumbling out of the gate and not being able to get up afterwards. OS X is a great operating system, but have there been any major updates since 10.3? I have personally used the Windows 7 beta on a machine that admittedly was plagued by Vista. Even in beta form, this operating system is measurably faster and easier to use, which, assuming MS doesn?t screw things up, means that they may have a solid product on their hands.

    One of the readers mentioned this world recession. What do you think is going to happen if non-Apple vendors can put a reliable, decently designed product in the hands of the consumer for half the price of an Apple-branded machine? As far as the predictive product cycle is concerned, take a look at this article from the NY Times (http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/a-strange-macworld-expo/). Near the end of the article, Phil Schiller shares with David Pogue the following:

    ?[Schiller] noted that Apple marches to certain annual product cycles: the holiday season (Novemberish), the educational buying season (late summer), the iPod product cycle (October), the iLife development cycle (usually March), the iPhone cycle (June). ?
    Mike Waters
    • Maybe your headline is misleading.

      After reading your reply, to me it should read: Has Apple
      become lazy with the Mac. Your whole reply focuses on
      the Mac and OS X, one of Apple's tiers. Apple has been
      concentrating mainly on it's handheld lines for the past
      year. I'm sure the cry for the iPhone SDK put a few other
      projects on the back burner. So, the Mac probably hasn't
      had the attention that it should've. That said, go and have
      a look at the average "PC" notebook trackpad. An unmitigated mess of buttons and special areas for
      scrolling. Now look at the latest Apple line. Design
      improvement can be subtle, they don't need to be ground
      shattering. The removal of the "visible" button with its integration to the trackpad and the implementation of
      gestures make it visually appealing machine and a highly
      usable one. Let's hope, though, the rest of the Mac line-
      up gets a good refresh soon.

      On the OS front. The "evolutionary" step of Snow Leopard
      is huge. I would think to do what they are doing, it would
      take a complete rewrite of OS X. I can't see that it can be
      reduced in size, have bits added (Grand Central, Open CL)
      and optimised to go faster by taking out and changing a
      few lines of code. It is a major rewrite. Windows 7, on the
      other hand, is just putting good on bad. Nothing is really
      changing except for a few tweaks and performance
      enhancements. Snow Leopard should set Apple up for the
      future. It is their next generation OS. Be patient.
      A Grain of Salt
      • Late getting to this blog...

        You contradict yourself terribly here:

        [Apple] "I can't see that it can be reduced in size, have bits added (Grand Central, Open CL)
        and optimised to go faster by taking out and changing a few lines of code. It is a major rewrite."

        [Microsoft] "Windows 7, on the other hand, is just putting good on bad. Nothing is really changing except for a few tweaks and performance enhancements."

        So, are you saying that in order for Apple to perform all the same things that Microsoft {aside from the added bits since, unlike Apple, MS can't do much without permission of the EU and DOJ} is doing they need to totally rewrite their OS but Microsoft only had to tweak theirs? That would imply that OSX must be a mess.

        Also, Microsoft is doing this while still supporting millions of hardware configurations while Apple is dropping support for all of their older PowerPC models from their OS.

        Very impressive!
        Too_Busy_To_Be_Here
        • It wasn't meant to be a slam on MS

          I will though stick by my statement that Windows 7 is just
          good on bad. I will also agree with you that OS X is a bit
          of a mess, hence why Apple is cleaning it up. Windows is a
          mess because it has to support every piece of hardware
          out there. They cooked that goose, they live with it. OS X
          is a mess because it has to support two completely
          different architectures as well as 32 bit and 64 bit
          machines, all from the same package. There is no OS X
          PPC 32, OS X PPC 64, OS X Int 32 or OS X Int 64. It's all
          thrown together in the one package. Other than the port
          to Intel there have been no real rewrites of OS X, that I
          know of. It has basically just be tweaked and added to for
          the last 8 or so years. Vista was supposed to be Microsoft's
          rewrite and streamlining effort and they failed (well
          documented fact). The enhancements to Windows in
          Windows 7 look good, but they are still on Vista's, in my
          opinion, broken base.

          Apple on the other have will have to rewrite from the base
          up. All the apps in the OS have to be rewritten in Cocoa, it
          will be full 64 bit, The PPC support will be taken out, and
          OpenCL and Grand Central need to be written from the
          ground up . As I'm sure a ton of other things as well. All
          with a hell of a lot smaller staff than works on Windows.

          Now back to my point about what the Author was saying,
          "Has Apple become lazy", my answer was no because they
          have had so much going on in the last 18 months, not to
          mention the CEO's health, that they have probably not had
          time to scratch themselves. See my first post about what
          they have achieved in that time.

          I apologise if you thought my comment was a slight on MS
          as it wasn't meant to be.
          A Grain of Salt
    • Oh really

      So how much is apple paying you or giving you in hardware and software to keep them sounding much better than it really is ?
      rparker009
  • Stock a good indicator?

    You really think stock price is a good indicator at present?
    zbeauvais
  • RE: Has Apple gotten lazy?

    I Think Apple has been more than an iventive company, it has been a evolucionary company. I am pretty sure they haven't invented the mp3 player (ipod), neither the iTv (no sure this the name) nor itunes (firts was napster or mp3.com). In fact I am using an ibook and I don't thing is something new in anything, even the OS has a linux Kernel (or somthing like that). the point is they convert existing technology in real products. They are very powerful in product development from a marketing point of view. This has been the strategy of Jobs since last crisis...Now the company is plenty of productlines to develop and to market...no sure they need to "invent" something new.
    paperilla@...
  • RE: Has Apple gotten lazy?

    Shareholders should be dancing in the streets that Apple has decoupled its product-introduction cycle from this tradeshow. In particular, its January timing was decoupled from any of the tidal rhythms of the marketplaces Apple serves. It enforced artificial deadlines on developers both in and out of Apple and was outrageously costly for everyone involved due to the larcenous unions and city. The auto industry has been gradually decoupling its product introductions from the antique early-Fall "model year" cycle for many of the same reasons. But more than anything, the day of the mega-tradeshow is coming to a close, and Apple recognizes it.
    scott_jordan@...
  • RE: Has Apple gotten lazy?

    I've been holding out on an Iphone and will continue to do so until it has video capability and a much, much better camera. Those are two items I use a great deal and before I switch to the Iphone, those must be present in it.
    kevmark58@...
    • "I've been holding out on an Iphone..."

      Maybe you should take another look at the iPhone
      3G. It has video capability (unless you're talking
      about video recording) and the camera, while
      not perfect, produces better images than any
      previous cell phone I've used, though admittedly
      without any direct zoom capabilities.

      I purchased an iPhone 3G just after Christmas and
      have really been surprised at its capabilities. As
      yet, I have had zero complaints about it since in all
      actuality, even the lower battery life is easily
      explained by the fact that I use it [b]far more[/b]
      than I ever used any cell phone before it. Take the
      time to learn its capabilities and you might just
      find it can do most of what you want a smart
      phone for.
      Vulpinemac