Does Apple need to innovate faster?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | September 9, 2013 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: It's been quite a while since Cupertino's last game-changing product.

Michael Krigsman

Michael Krigsman

Yes

or

No

Matt Baxter-Reynolds

Matt Baxter-Reynolds

Best Argument: Yes

82%
18%

Audience Favored: Yes (82%)

Closing Statements

Apple is lost

Michael Krigsman

It is sad and hard to acknowledge that Apple’s glory days of innovation are past. My worthy debate opponent argues that Apple’s products are so good that short-term product delays don’t matter in the larger scheme of Apple greatness.

This tempting argument is wrong, however, because the company has run out of “insanely great” ideas. That the real problem and explains why the company once known as the world’s innovation king is now relegated to product line extensions and little more.

We all miss Steve Jobs’ vision and he did change the world. Today, sadly, Jobs is gone and Apple is lost. Sure, the products are still great but they are not fundamentally new. The recent announcement of new iPhones just confirms the verdict: innovation is history and new products are nowhere to be found.

Please vote yes and send a message to Apple that we want more!

They're doing fine

Matt Baxter-Reynolds

I'm writing this a couple of hours after Apple has announced the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. What have they innovated?

They've brought in a new 64-bit processor -- the first of its kind in the mobile space. They're trying to take an end-run around local user security by making biometric authentication easy. They've also introduced new photo features to cement the cameraphone/smartphone combo front-and-centre in the user's digital life.

Most importantly, though, the iPhone 5C is taking the identity of the smartphone and reworking it into a new fashion trend. Splashy, pastel colours with mix and match cases. A (hopefully) new way of making a post-PC device's software look in iOS7.

Is this really not fast enough? Apple are innovating -- I'm not sure whether what we're expecting at technologists is that well matched with the non-technologists in the market actually need?

Trust me, they're doing fine.

No longer the undisputed market leader

Jason Hiner

The Apple innovation question is top-of-mind following the launch of the latest iPhones. Is Apple still doing enough to be considered a market leader in mobile devices? As Matt points out, the company has never been on the bleeding edge. It's mostly focused on being really good at bringing important innovations to consumers at just the right time that they are ready for them and when those innovations can be delivered at a reasonable cost and in a customer-centric way. 
 
Nevertheless, Apple is under intense pressure from Samsung and other Android device makers. Companies that used to simply follow Apple's lead on every move are now iterating faster at refining and introducing features in smartphones and tablets. Apple remains one of the market leaders, but it's no longer the undisputed market leader.
 
So, Michael gets the win on this one.

Talkback

50 comments
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  • Innovate... no. Diversify yes.

    They need a fleet and not just a singular device to compete. When it comes to tech, they're good. Except for the whole mapping fiasco.
    mikedees
    Reply 2 Votes I'm for No
    • I don't think Apple needs a fleet.

      A fleet of devices yes, but not of the same device. Apple has a phone, that is enough for their model. I think perhaps two may be too many at this time. A server, a high-end desktop, a low-end desktop, a beefy laptop, a slim laptop, a high capacity ipod, a lightweight ipod, a 10"ish tablet, a 7"ish tablet. Is there room yet for a big-dog phone and a small-dog phone yet? I think there will be, but I don't think the small dog is small enough for starters (not small in size necessarily, but simplicity.)

      There are enough companies already who have a fleet of phones, a fleet of computers, a fleet of mp3 players with varying options and price points. Too many options leave many consumers petrified with indecision, Apple excels at telling customers what they want. They need to stick with the model and create a new catagory just as they've always done. I think when they find their killer features they will release thier TV, they should have a 48"ish and a 72"ish, maybe a 24" kitchen, but every size possible. There are many emerging markets; 3D printers, watches, glasses, biotech/implants; when they find their killer features they will open new simple categories and I think they should stick with this proven model of success.

      For me, I will stick with shopping obscure chinese companies looking for something no one [that I know] in the states has. I will poor over features, prices and reviews, such is my entertainment. I will recommend an Apple to anyone who will never want to dig beneath the skin of their devices. (I don't know if my dad will forgive me for recommending an iPhone to him, he talked himself into it though, lol.)

      If Apple becomes a company like every other company, when they only have a 10th of the potential customers paying for each device because they have 10 devices in each catagory. When they have to spend a 10th of their potential budget developing each of their 10 devices, only making them a 10th as good. When they become like every other company, which they will someday (hopefully not today), they will loose their edge, their appeal and innovation.

      My 2 cents.
      shadfurman
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • Innovation is important longterm

      but for now Apple make lots and lots more money than their competitors.
      In fact, they stand head and shoulders above the others.
      But it would certainly be nice to see something new from them.
      I'm NOT holding my breath for anybody else to revolutionize the tech world like Apple have.
      Apple is Apple, no one is like Apple.
      Mikael_z
      Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
  • bigger screen

    just have bigger screen and apple is all set because their ios gets a significant upgrade.
    rv498
    Reply 1 Vote I'm for Yes
  • Apple MUST continue to be perceived as innovative ...

    ... regardless of reality. When Jobs returned to Apple, he fashioned the "new Apple" as a leader in innovation. Apple built up a reputation of producing premium products at premium prices. Apple products look really "sexy" - style over substance, if you will. This is one of the reasons why Apple customers are loyal - almost to a fault!

    Let's face it, I can buy a MacBook Air with an 11" screen and an Intel Core i5 processor for $999 or I can buy a Windows Core i5 notebook for as little as $499.

    For that extra money, the MacBook Air is prettier. It is more durable, it is lighter, it has a longer battery life.

    On the other hand, the Windows Notebook is more flexible. There are more vendors, more options, more applications. Some would argue that the Windows notebook is also more complicated to learn to use.

    These differences have kept Apple competitive and profitable despite the nearly 10:1 difference in market share between Windows and Mac OS X.

    Enter the tablet. By any measure, the tablet is a far simpler device to learn to use than either Windows or Macintosh computers and while far less powerful, a tablet can easily meet 90% of the typical consumer's needs.

    Apple had the good fortune to be the first to turn the iPhone into a tablet but it didn't take long for the Android smartphone OEMs to figure out how to do the same with their devices.

    Like Microsoft, Apple cannot live on the razor-thin margins that Windows and Android OEMs must live on so they must continue to foster that image of creating technically superior products at those premium prices. With Steve Jobs gone, Tim Cook (or his eventual successor) has a tough job ahead to avoid being just another tablet maker.

    Between the Amazon tablet line up (all models $499 or less) and the Samsung line-up (also all models $499 or less), the ubiquity of Wi-Fi and the availability of cloud storage, it is going to be more and more difficult to justify Apple's $130 premium for 4G Cellular coverage and $100 premium for incremental capacities greater than 16GB.
    M Wagner
    Reply 5 Votes I'm for Yes
  • Innovation?

    Krigsman, you're not really using the term "innovation" correctly.

    If "innovation" means "first", iPod wasn't the "first" MP3 player by a long chalk. What made the iPod special is that it EXPANDED the category, largely because of iTunes. MP3 players were a tiny niche market before the iPod.

    What you're really saying is: Apple needs to diversify. They need to create more market-leading products in more categories, categories that Apple either creates, reshapes, or greatly expands.

    This is a tall order, but lots of other companies have done it. And not doing this really does signal decline.

    Take Sony and the iPod for example. Sony basically invented portable audio with the Walkman, DiscMan, and NetMD players. It was assumed they were going to dominate MP3 players as well. But hamstringing from Sony Music prevented any Sony MP3 players from taking off.
    rtechie
    Reply 1 Vote I'm for Yes
    • Innovation does not necessarily mean first

      Real innovation changes the game -- that requires a great product, brilliant execution, and marketing skill. Apple's past success relied on those three attributes and today is missing the boat.
      mkrigsman@...
      Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
    • Apple didn't invent the mp3 player

      But they innovated with how to use it. The click-wheel made it very easy to scroll through thousands of songs to find the one you wanted.
      rynning
      Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
    • Incorrect. The iPod reset the bar for MP3 players

      because it was the first one that didn't suck. It had fast transfer speeds, great capacity, an awesome user interface and a great music management software on the computer side. It was the combination of these USABILITY innovations that made the iPod the giant it was in the market.

      This always amazes me. Ivie pretty much sums up Apple's entire philosophy every time he describes a produce, and people STILL don't get it. Here, let me help: Technology is most successful when it disappears.
      baggins_z
      Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
  • Apple does not innovate

    Apple takes other people's ideas and polishes and markets them. Somehow they get patents for things with boatloads of prior art, which is baffling to me.
    john-whorfin
    Reply 3 Votes I'm for Yes