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%)

The Rebuttal

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Is Apple getting old and slow?

    It's time to start our debate. This week our debaters will argue whether Apple needs to be quicker on its upgrade cycle. Debaters ready?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    I'm set

    Apple is losing its luster.

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    Ready here

    The question is "why"?

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Apple's quiet time

    Can we start by all agreeing that it's been a slow year for Apple so far? How much has this dearth of new products hurt Apple?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Apple is slowing down

    Apple has been slow this year, despite the importance of 2013 as a point in which the entire mobile market is growing and evolving rapidly. For both consumers and the enterprise, mobility and the consumerization of IT have changed the game on how we work, play, and communicate.

    Apple was once the leader, innovating rapidly and bringing the most interesting products in the world to market. Today, the company lives on past success and future promises, without the innovation we expect.

    So, yes, the lack of new products has hit Apple hard. For proof, look no farther than Apple’s poor stock performance, which is truly a measure of confidence in the company

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    No rush

    Coming back to my opening argument, why do they need to keep rushing products out of the door?

    What they have out there product-wise is great. The only thing I think they are missing a trick on -- and really need to fix -- is the size of the iPhone's display. It's way too small compared to the real action in high-end Android devices.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Why so quiet?

    Why do you think Apple hasn't made any major product releases so far in 2013? Will the company make up for it with a big fall?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    It misses Steve Jobs

    Under the guidance of Steve Jobs, Apple truly sweated the details to make sure everything was great before releasing a product. This worked incredibly well because Jobs had the vision and genius to create a stream of products that were genuine game changers. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad were so far ahead of the competition precisely because of Jobs’ ability to peer into the future and touch human needs so deeply.

    Today, Apple continues that relentless drive for quality, but has fewer world-changing ideas. Since Jobs set the bar so high, the company is reluctant to release products unless they are “insanely great,” to use his term. Apple’s strategy is to release only the best products, regardless of how long it takes. In the absence of world-changing ideas, however, that strategy does not work because innovative competitors are not waiting around.

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    Few needs

    My best guess as to why they haven't is that they haven't found any particular need in the market to fill. I'd struggle to buy into the idea that they have some sort of internal crisis without that particular idea filling the rumour mill.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Apple's mobile position

    What are the most important data points that tell us about Apple's current state in the mobile device market?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Smartphone market share tells all

    The best indicator is market share.  According to IDC, Android has 75 percent of the smartphone market, compared to Apple’s 17 percent. In addition, Samsung holds a much larger share of the world smartphone market than does Apple.

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    Profit margin and loyalty

    In smartphones, I'd say the two most important data points are:

    a) How much profit they make compared to the other manufacturers? They do very well at this holding most of the profit.

    b) How good their customer loyalty is -- i.e. how many customers they are leaking from iPhone to Android and Windows Phone, and how many customers they are leaking from iPad to Android.

    That second point becomes more important this holiday season.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Rival gains

    While Apple has been stagnant in 2013, what are the biggest challenges that have arisen from its rivals?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Competition from all sides

    Both Google and Samsung now offer phones and tablets in various sizes, experimenting with various form factors, sizes, and operating system features. In addition, Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia signals that company’s intention to be a major player in the smartphone market.

    As Apple sits still, competitors are extending the concept of mobile devices and releasing numerous products. Samsung even introduced a smart watch ahead of Apple’s anticipated offering.

    The ecosystem threat is equally significant. As Apple slides, the Android and Microsoft software environment will grow. Email, music, and other services tempt buyers to each platform and exciting hardware is an important part of that equation.

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    Crowded territory

    This question talks more towards market maturation than product development. We're past the point where we (as in vendors and customers combined) are choosing what these things should look like and what they should do. We're now in a place where competitors loop around each other picking ideas and making incremental improvements.

    That then is Apple's biggest problem -- they had a lot of territory to themselves, and now other companies are fighting them for it.

    This is, of course, great for us as customers of Apple and Apple's competitors.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    The pressure is on Apple

    Updates to the iPhone and iPad product lines are imminent. Do you expect that Apple will do enough to keep up its mobile rivals?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    No radical changes expected

    Second guessing Apple is a no-win task, given the company’s legendary secrecy. Most likely, Apple will release cheaper phones and enhance its iPad line with more storage, faster processors, and better screens. These changes are product line extensions rather than true innovation.

    Although better hardware is great, especially at low prices, none of these changes come close to the full-blown innovation the company delivered in the past.

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    Biggest iPhone, iPad needs

    Apple's biggest problem with the iPad is that it's looking a little expensive compared to the increasingly capable and attractive Nexus 7 and Galaxy Tab 2 tablets.

    With the iPhone, the biggest problem is the screen size, as mentioned before.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Mac changes?

    Beyond phones and tablets, do you expect that Apple will make a big update its to Macs? How important will that be to the Apple's development, with the computer market being in a such a slump?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Don't count Apple out

    Apple announced a new high-end Mac earlier this year. It is a magnificent achievement, even with a price tag that relegates the product to niche status among video and audio production facilities.

    As with phones and iPads, new Macs will offer better features and components, starting at reasonable prices. Even though the computer market is less interesting these days, it is still important and Apple will not be left out.

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    Stay the course

    It is quite nice being a MacBook customer and not being constantly bombarded with new products, or a million variations of a single product!

    I presume you mean the "PC market" rather than the "computer market" -- smartphones and tablets and moving pretty well.

    No one, yet, has done a better job of moving from the lacklustre PC market into the rich-in-profits post-PC market. That could only happen with properly-applied innovation, which lends credibility to a "slow and steady wins the race" approach.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Software showdown

    With iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks releasing soon, is Apple doing enough to innovate its software platforms?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Incremental updates

    iOS 7 brings a new user experience with lots of feature updates. It’s all good, but does not change the world. Incremental updates are wonderful but we should not confuse them with deep innovation.

    OSX Mavericks is the same story – better features, streamlining, and lots of nice-to-haves. Will these changes offer intense greatness that demand we upgrade? No, they won’t.

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    Stability first, new features later

    The core OS cadence for desktop and mobile is probably OK. That is an area where people really need stability, rather than new features.

    Where innovation needs to be faster -- and then it's probably more about "improvement through iteration" in true software engineering terms than just "innovation" -- is in the apps. I'd like to see Siri substantially better, their mapping products better, etc.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Tune in to Apple TV

    How about Apple TV? With the momentum around Xbox and Google Chromecast, how much does Apple need to do there?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Return to the glory days

    Apple TV is really about two things: hardware and ecosystem. Although Apple can certainly do great, wonderful things with hardware, it has lost the window of opportunity where hardware alone can shape the market. Today, the Apple TV must include relationships with movie studios, television networks, and other content providers. However, these groups are gun shy, after learning the hard way, with iTunes, that Apple can reshape their market in ways that are unattractive to them.

    However, Apple is one of the few companies in the world that could announce products and an ecosystem that change television and movie distribution as we know them today. If that happens, especially a low cost, then Apple may be able to reassert its dominance and former glory.

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    Google's the biggest threat

    For me, Google is following Apple with the Chromecast by releasing a device along similar ubiquituous computing (ubicomp) principles.

    Microsoft's approach with Xbox is totally barking up the wrong tree. The cable companies will never allow a strong Xbox proposition to sit between their content and their customers. For another thing, the Xbox makes one TV in the house special, whereas the reality is all devices are becoming TVs.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Wearables

    What about wearable computing? Will Apple make its entrance into this market this fall and do you expect that it can jump in and lead the market?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Great future but...

    Wearable computing is important and Apple will release products in this market. Its ability to lead the market depends on price, features, software, and integration with the ecosystem. If an Apple watch is reasonably priced, has lots of sensors (for health and motion, as examples), fantastic design, and shares data with other services then perhaps it will take off. No one doubts Apple’s ability to do this well, but the wearable market is still too new to make solid predictions on whether consumers will buy these devices in massive quantities. 

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    No market...yet

    I can see why Apple isn't moving into the wearables space. The only big sector of that market is smartwatches, and that is *exactly* the part of the market that you don't want to rush into. (See my opener and reference to Rachel King's piece about how ropey the Samsung Galaxy Gear seems to be.)

    Again: don't be first, be best.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Apple TV -- sets

    And of course, we have to talk about the mythical Apple HDTV set. Is it coming this fall? Would it be wise or a folly for Apple to do it at all?

    Posted by Jason Hiner

    Must be incredibly good

    Everyone has a television, so the market is clearly large. However, the real question is whether Apple can release a TV that is just so incredibly good that millions of people will dump their current set and buy one from Apple. The features needed to do that are a Steve Jobs vision and genius question, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

    Michael Krigsman

    I am for Yes

    No way

    I don't think Apple will ever do a dedicated TV set. Apple tends to build new markets and own them first. There's already too much action in the TV market.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Applause

    Thanks to the debaters for setting up Tuesday's Apple announcement and thanks to you for joining in. Don't forget closing statements are posted on Wednesday and my final verdict will be published on Thursday. Don't forget to vote and please add your comments.

    Posted by Jason Hiner

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