Five things Apple should to do to rekindle the magic

Five things Apple should to do to rekindle the magic

Summary: Apple is floundering since the passing of Steve Jobs. It needs to do something to get its mojo back. Here are five things the company should do.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Laptops
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Industry watchers have been waiting to see how Apple might break out of the doldrums it's been in since the passing of Steve Jobs. Apple is still in good shape, with great products and cash out the wazoo, but there's been nothing magical for a while.

The company needs to do something to demonstrate that the magic isn't gone; it's just been resting.

It won't take anything earth-shaking to make that statement, simple actions will return Apple to the limelight. One or two such actions will propel the company back up on the stage where it wants to be.

Here are five things so Apple can pick and choose what it wants to do.

Retina in the Air

The MacBook Air has been around for a while and it's still a fine piece of engineering. The two available sizes cover most everyone's needs, while still being as thin and light as can be. The long battery life is outstanding, and the recent price drops make them more affordable than ever.

As good as they are, they're still missing the Retina Display now found in almost every other Apple product. They're good without the high-resolution displays, but they'd be almost perfect if they had them. Of course, Apple would need to make sure the battery life wasn't impacted too badly while using the Retina Display, but it's done that before with the iPad.

Bring back the big MacBook Pro

The two MacBook Pros are a work of art with the simple aluminum casing and the Retina Display lacking in the MacBook Air. Long battery life and outstanding performance are enjoyed by owners of either the 13- or 15-inch model. Like the MacBook Air, they are great laptops without shortcomings.

It's time for Apple to bring back a 17-inch MacBook. The larger display would be a boon for some professionals who need as much screen real estate as they can get when on the go. Imagine the beautiful 15-inch MacBook Pro stretched out to accommodate a 17-inch model. That would be something.

I still see folks working in public venues with old 17-inch MacBooks. When asked why they do so, they almost always mention needing the larger display. If you build it, Apple, I'm pretty sure they will come.

LTE already

Speaking of the MacBook Air and Pro, they have one glaring omission that Apple simply must fix. It's high time to make integrated 4G/LTE an option on every MacBook in the store. Forcing customers to do without connectivity or to use a mobile hotspot when away from Wi-Fi is not very cool.

Make LTE an option at purchase time, and price it properly. Give MacBook owners the ability to get online everywhere, like they can do with all of your other products. Your competitors do this, you know.

Join iPhone and iPad at the hip

You know what would be cool? Sitting in front of the TV, iPad in hand and iPhone in the pocket. Phone call rings in on the iPhone, and also on the iPad in front of you. A swipe of a finger and you're engaged in the call on the iPad. Finish up and hit the end call button, then pick up with whatever you were doing on the iPad before the call.

Linking could be done over Bluetooth, and should handle text messaging as well as phone calls. The iPad should handle this stuff just as well as the iPhone. Why take the phone out of the pocket when the iPad is right there in front of you?

Release the iBeats line quickly

If Apple is indeed buying Beats Audio, and it seems likely, then get a premium line of iBeats headphones to market fast. Change them up a little, say put the Apple logo with the Beats logo, and get them for sale in the Apple Store. Have both wired and wireless models to appeal to everybody.

To be really cool, put a Touch ID sensor on them so they wake up the MacBook, iPad, or iPhone to which they are connected. The action would also wake up the headphones and get them connected. This would make them part of the Apple ecosystem by offering a user experience tailored to Apple's products.

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Topics: Mobility, Apple, Laptops

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22 comments
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  • Apple is floundering?

    So that's why they just has a record quarter and their stock is up 10% this year when the Nasdaq is up only 1% or so?
    Rogifan
    • Depends on when you look

      Sure, but they were only up about 5% in 2013, compared to the S&P's 30%+, so they're still well behind over the last 18 months. It all depends on the timeframe you pick.

      Not that I would say they are floundering, by any means.
      SleepyBob
    • Lost their magic.

      They aren't floundering. They're stagnating. Their hardware innovation has been stalled for a few years. Their sole focus has been on faster, thinner, and lighter. They're long overdue for a magical, game changing introduction of something new. They've been coasting. They've been milking their previous innovations without offering anything substantially improved for the past few years. They now sell stylish but mediocre hardware that has been surpassed by many other devices on the market. They've resorted to making user interface changes which don't actually improve usability in any way. In fact, many of us had to use accessibility settings to make their personal devices usable again after the last round of iOS updates.

      Hopefully, we'll get some useful improvements in cameras, storage, connectivity, and other functionality with the next set of hardware updates. Apple product introductions have been reduced to very repetitive iterations of thinner, lighter, faster, lately. They do need to bring back the magic.
      BillDem
    • It's not about the almighty dollar..

      It's about artistic integrity. It's about moral integrity. It's about creativity, the Apple "magic". Something Steve Jobs knew all too well. When ideas were a little tight, he even got all the enginerers in a room to chant "OM" ! He'd give books that had nothing to do with computers to his employees to read to "inspire" them..
      Changing the color of the case, or increasing the size of the screen, as someone else here mentioned, is not "inspired" ;-)
      Nick Ettema
    • Obvious

      7 to 1 stock split is your answer.
      sickntired44
  • Shallow

    What a superficial article. Running a multi billion company and putting it back on the success track requires so much more than a button here, a better display there.

    "Apple is floundering? Despair not! Let me cram in my clever feature wishlist." Maybe Apple should make you CEO.
    h-fate@...
  • Get out of court?

    ;)
    Boothy_p
  • I'm not sure any of that would be considered 'cool' in the way you suggest

    If Apple did something to make wearables worth actually wearing. That would be cool.
    Releasing a laptop that could actually bridge iOS and OSx would be cool.
    Releasing some sort of set top box that does for streaming video like iTunes did for music. Even better if it was for cable television.

    Things like that would be amazing.

    Saying that something like upping the screen resolution on an existing laptop, rebranding Beats, re-releasing an old version of a MacBook or putting LTE in a laptop is something that should be considered "magical" just shows how low the bar has been set since Steve Jobs passed away.
    Emacho
    • Apple TV

      does the streaming video thing, including iTunes and Netflix. Needs more services though - right now there are only about 15-16 services (iTunes, Netflix, Vimeo, Youtube, WSJ, Bloomberg, and some others.)
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • But so does almost every other devices and....

        they tend to have more options than an Apple TV does.

        I'm talking about something that offers ala carte, true on demand or something that changes the way content is delivered to users in the way it currently is. Similar to the way ITunes changed the music industry.

        I just don't think the content creators are ready to play ball yet.
        Emacho
  • Built in LTE

    While this would be nice, it isn't strictly speaking necessary. I use a USB LTE stick in my Macbook Pro, and get the benefit without having to pay extra for the hardware, or being tied to a single wireless provider.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
  • The distant future.

    AI is coming along, slowly, but in the future it may be possible to have a computer that "learns" as well as just "remembers". Your own personal Forbin Project. The possibilities are endless. It's hard to imagine what that would be like or evolve into but would someone please at least get it started.
    trm1945
  • How about removing restrictions

    Stop using such a crappy OS that limits you so much.
    John Hanks
    • Examples of why it's crap?

      Curious to see what makes it a crappy OS.
      sjanofsky@...
      • I don't have time to list them all

        Just look at any "wish list" that iOS users have. How about access to the file system? How about letting me use my data as I want with any app I want? How about being able to search for a folder to file email away? How about using my MP3 files as ringtones? How about not relying on apps to fill every missing feature in the OS?
        John Hanks
  • One Thing That Apple Could Do

    is convince the Sheep that it is still the 1980's - no wait, they've already done that!
    Mujibahr
  • They should...

    Remove web browsers from all their devices and force users to buy and download proprietary apps for everything. Their anti-plugin campaign to cripple mobile browsers was very successful in selling apps and locking people into their proprietary system. If only Steve Jobs were around to write an open letter to the w3c complaining about how dangerous html5 is and how it ruins the user experience on their products.
    chb11
    • If I was Apple....

      I would try to make money on my software rather than give it away for free.
      Free is only good for the consumer, in the short term.
      The problem is Apple lacks incentive in running a profitable software business for themselves when they are rolling in the 30% tax and hardware profits.
      When saturation kills their sales volume, they will need long term scalable profits.
      warboat
  • LINK BAIT! MADE YOU LOOK!

    I wish I was floundering with Apple's bottom line.

    I guess this is why Tim Cook is the CEO of one of the world's most successful company and James Kendrick is still a 30 pound (mental) lightweight who throws rocks from the Cnet sidelines. However, since you cannot think for yourself, here are your answers:

    1. Retina Macbooks Air laptops will come when battery technology can keep them running for 12-hours between charges. Unless you can change certain laws of physics (you should be able to if you're such a genius), then you'll have to wait.

    2. The 17-inch laptop is dead. When was the last time you really saw one at Starbucks? Nobody wants to schlep around such a beast. This is why the iPad is so popular! Yes, I was a fan of the 17-inch laptop. I still own a 17-inch Powerbook. But I would not buy a laptop so big and I would venture to say that with my over 30 years in the business, I have a bit more experience than you.

    3. Go buy an LTE hotspot. Since laptops are more durable than phones and tablets, it makes sense to separate them because the standards will change. Then what, you want to be stuck with old technology? Then what happens if you want to travel with your laptop and you're in a country that does not support LTE? What if you're someone who doesn't want LTE but it's built-in? What ever happened to having options?

    4. Have you ever used Facetime on the iPad and iPhone? While it does work, it is not as seamless as you describe. However, that is an outlier feature for the techie crowd. Most normal people couldn't care less. It's sort of like Gene Munster's Apple Television!

    5. The ink has barely dried on the Beats deal and you're already giving advice? Most normal people know that mergers and acquisitions take time and may not go as smoothly as some would like (see AT&T and T-Mobile, Comcast and Time-Warner, etc.).

    Relax. Take a load off. You're trying to play in the big leagues swinging a minor league bat. Please come back when you have something more coherent to contribute!

    To ZDNet/CBS Interactive: If this is the caliber of writers you hire, then hire me. I can write drivel that is at least plausible!
    sbarman
  • catching up is magical for Apple?

    That's aiming pretty low for magic.
    While stupid consumers keep pushing fat stacks of cash in Apple's direction, they have little incentive to improve things for the consumer. They are doing fine for themselves at the expense of their users.
    The magic spell is still working on the sheep. The sheep that got out are gone forever and none of the catch up features are going to woo them back.
    warboat