Not all Apple innovation rumors will be right on Tuesday

Not all Apple innovation rumors will be right on Tuesday

Summary: Based on the predictions of the Apple punditocracy, the intersection between innovation and expectations will be found Tuesday in Cupertino. There's a growing list of products that they say will be introduced at an invitation-only event. However, what the pundits believe is right for Apple often doesn't jibe with Apple's strategic plans. Many will be disappointed.

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I was shocked watching news roundtables on Sunday: there was plenty of talk about Apple's forthcoming announcements and the prognosticators all sounded as if they had spoken to sources walking the executive halls of Apple headquarters in Cupertino. There was no hedging with a "maybe" or an "according to sources" or "according to reports." Everything was certainty.

If there's any certainty about Tuesday, it's that there's little true certainty about all of the announcements. There is always a chance for error, even a great big error, when it comes to Apple and such announcements.

What announcements are said to be coming? Apple's reported invitation said the products (or announcements of products and services) will "brighten everyone's day." The list keeps growing:

A new model of the iPhone, perhaps the iPhone 5S or even iPhone 6 (more believe in the former than the latter);

A less-expensive iPhone with a number of different, colorful plastic enclosures. Perhaps Apple will bring back the flavored colors of the second-generation iMac G3: the original blueberry, strawberry, tangerine, grape, and lime, as well as the later graphite, ruby, sage, snow, indigo, Blue Dalmatian" and "Flower Power;"

A new set of iPods;

A larger iPhone, aka a phablet, which would correspond to the regular and mini models of the iPad;

A new edition of the AppleTV set-top box or even an Apple-branded, super-smart television;

a new flavor of iPad; and

Apple's first entry in wearable computing, the oft-rumored iWatch wrist-computing device.

Then there's the announcement of a deal with China Mobile for the iPhone — whatever iPhone that might be.

The word "brighten" could mean so many things. So, there's a great deal of room for disappointment in whatever the announcement or announcements prove to be. This won't be the first time.

In a post some five years ago, I recalled a strong rumor of a mobile computing, iPad-like device way, way back in 1997. Instead, Apple announced its first laptop with the PowerPC G3, which for the next half a year or so made it the fastest laptop on the market; a new desktop; and a total revamp of the company's store-within-a-store retail strategy — which was the genesis of the Apple retail stores.

But to the reporter from a national newsweekly sitting next to me in the auditorium on the De Anza campus, down the road from Apple headquarters, all of this was a "big waste of time." The "missing" announcements were now a "failure" on Apple's part.

No doubt, there will many calls of failure on Tuesday afternoon for products and strategies that have been noting but smoke.

The intersection of innovation and expectation can require a GPS to find. Shortly after the introduction of the iPad in the spring of 2010, I was on a conference call with financial analysts about the possibilities of the new mobile platform. I mentioned how strong a collaborative tool that the iPad would be for business.

The analysts responded that "of course, Apple would come out shortly with a mini iPad" line, perhaps even several small form factors aimed at different segments. They couldn't believe that Apple would neglect any chance to sew up the tablet market.

They didn't appreciate my response that I doubted this course of events for a number of reasons. First, Apple executives had said on several occasions that the larger form factor was the best for input and, in my view, as a collaborative tool. Secondly, Apple wanted to prove the category, which they did. The iPad mini came out two years later, in its own time.

Perhaps the same lackadaisical schedule will be seen with the iWatch. I was interested in Jean-Louis Gassée's Monday Note about the potential for wristwatch-style devices. He is doubtful.

Two elements appear to be missing for wearable technologies to have the economic impact that companies such as Apple would enjoy:

The device needs to be easily, naturally worn all the time, even more permanently than the watch we tend to take off at night.

It needs to capture more information than devices such as the Jawbone do.

A smartwatch that’s wirelessly linked to my smartphone and shows a subset of the screen in my pocket… I’m not sure this will break out of the novelty category where the devices have been confined thus far.

Maybe later than sooner for that iWatch?

Topics: Apple, iPhone, iPad, Laptops, Mobility

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31 comments
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  • What innovations?!

    Apple (as others) is using current technology and assemble and implement it in way consumer wants.
    They have very polished software, great hardware, probably the best looking devices and great marketing - innovation word is used with exaggeration.

    So far it was amazing how Apple kept a big market share with just one or two(and "half" sometimes) device. Those days are ending, their big "innovation" will be the release of more models and cheaper ones... and I believe it will be good for them.
    AleMartin
    • Innovations means a different case color

      That's the best Apple and the hype machine could do in the lead-up to this event.

      Morgenstern desperately tries to associate the imminent Apple event with "innovation" -- but with no legitimate basis whatsoever for doing so.

      As usual, the attempted-hype, rumours, and leaks (aka official PR campaigns), were all about colour and other superficial trivia. This is because, as usual, Apple's latest product is basically the same as the last one, so there's nothing much else to whip-up hype about.

      In iPhone 5S, the "S" stands for "similar".
      Tim Acheson
      • Shall we wait 'til after the launch before calling a lack of innovation?

        Tim Acheson

        Morgenstern associates the launch with innovation based on apple's long history of game changers. Of introducing the devices that other people imitate.

        Exactly why all music players, smartphones, tablets are always measured against Apple's devices. Will the new Dell tablet be be an iPad killer? nobody every asks will anything be a Galaxy Tab killer.

        And you query his lack a legitimate basis.

        Based on rumours of what Apple will release, you are calling what they will do un-innovative.

        But all that means is that the people who devise the rumours aren't very innovative.

        And you call him desperate.
        Henry 3 Dogg
      • If that is the case Timmay

        Then ALL Android devices and some of your precious WP devices should also bear the "S" designation.
        athynz
    • How Can You Not Know?

      Apple innovated PCs and has sold several models since.
      Apple innovated desktop software and has sold several models since.
      Apple innovated MP3 players and has sold several models since.
      Apple innovated Phones and has sold several models since.
      Apple innovated Tablets and has sold several models since.

      The real question is: What previously failed technology will Apple innovate next?

      True innovation is making a market where there was none before!
      Gr8Music
      • 3.5/5 ain't bad

        Possibly on the tablet front and 50/50 on the PC, but all your other examples were already available at the time and doing well. Definitely wrong on the desktop software, MP3 player and phone examples.
        DJL64
        • You must be too young to remember

          No, they were not "doing fine"
          Gr8Music
        • Hardly on the MP3 player and phone examples

          The MP3 market was stagnant due to crappy Zune and other mediocre offerings - there IS a reason why the average person refers to an MP3 player as an "iPod".

          The smartphone market - wow it sucked out loud. Blackberry was the best, WM was a distant second and there was no third at all. Apple completely reinvigorated the smartphone market to the point that all devices bear a superficial resemblance to the original iPhone.
          athynz
          • Before, not after

            I was talking about the situation before iPhone, not after. I have a 5th gen iPod and I'm very happy with it, but even the 1st gen wasn't the 1st MP3 player. Never had a Zune, so I can"t comment on whether it was "crappy" or not.
            As for smart phones, my Nokia N95 had downloadable software, great music player, fully functioning GPS, video playback, accelerometer and 3G before the iPhone came out with 2G and without a 3rd party app store. Don't get me wrong, I think the iPhone is a great device, but let's not rewrite history!
            (No the N95 wasn't perfect either. It was butt ugly, the screen was tiny and the batter cover was such flimsy plastic crop I got through about five or six of them.)
            DJL64
          • @athynz

            Actually I agree with DJL64 regarding the MP3 and smart phones.

            I will not argue about iPod being a breath of fresh life into the MP3 market. But it is just that. Breath of fresh life. Zune? I have no idea about that. Even though there were lot of mediocre offerings, there were few which may not be as compact and slick as iPod; but better in terms of sound and storage and media support even before that. They were as costly as iPod when released but ugly.

            Regarding smart phones, Blackberry was actually good. They were mostly used by the enterprises and mostly by CXOs. So it neither needed apps nor being flashy/compact. They satisfied the enterprises and that's the reason it was stagnant. Not to mention about Symbian. You might be based in USA and it may explain the lack of mentioning it. It sufficed day to day needs of many. iPhone breathed fresh air into the touch technology in phones.

            I mean both of them were great but they solved a problem which doesn't exist at that time.
            spicycheeks
  • What innovations?!

    Apple (as others) is using current technology and assemble and implement it in way consumer wants.
    They have very polished software, great hardware, probably the best looking devices and great marketing - innovation word is used with exaggeration.

    So far it was amazing how Apple kept a big market share with just one or two(and "half" sometimes) device. Those days are ending, their big "innovation" will be the release of more models and cheaper ones... and I believe it will be good for them.
    AleMartin
    • Repeating your

      post shows desperation.
      athynz
  • Apple Needs To License IOS More Widely

    No single company can match the relentless cadence of new Android devices. In the early days, Apple's release cycle gave it a lead of a few months each time before Android caught up again. But since about the IPhone 4S, that has no longer been the case, and Apple now looks like it is struggling simply to stay afloat.

    IOS needs competition between multiple hardware makers, like Android enjoys. Otherwise Apple's much-vaunted profit margins will simply continue to shrink, until it starts circling closer to the plughole, like it did in the 1990s. Last time it took someone of the calibre of Steve Jobs to rescue it; who will step up this time?
    ldo17
    • struggling

      ((( "...Apple now looks like it is struggling simply to stay afloat." )))

      Apple makes more profit from the iPhone than the entire rest of the smartphone industry combined. Apple's iPhone division alone is worth more than all of Microsoft or Google. Apple has $150 billion in the bank, more than the gross domestic product of Hungary. If you seriously think that Apple is struggling to stay afloat, then you're spending waaay too much time on ZDNet.

      ((( "IOS needs competition between multiple hardware makers, like Android enjoys." )))

      There is no competition in the Android market. There is Samsung, which makes 95% of Android's profit, and then there is everyone else, fighting for the most meager of table scraps. Licensing iOS gains Apple less than nothing — it will never, EVER happen.
      buddhistMonkey
      • Re: Apple makes more profit from the iPhone than the entire rest of th

        Haven't you heard? Samsung has surpassed that.
        ldo17
      • Cult

        The Roman Catholic Church makes more money than Apple. Innovation? Quality? Or a matter of Faith and the parable of the Emperor's New Clothes?
        Tim Acheson
        • Cults abound

          Here in the ZDNet forums - you have the Apple zealots, the fAndroids, and the Microsoft propeller heads... then there are the paid shills like yourself. So how much is Ballmer paying you and will those paychecks continue once Elop takes over?
          athynz
      • never understand it

        Why are people so happy and quick to brag about how Apple is charging more for a similar product.
        67cougargt
      • @buddhistMonkey

        "Apple's iPhone division alone is worth more than all of Microsoft or Google. "

        No. n/t.
        spicycheeks
  • "brighten everyone's day"

    iLight?
    iFlashLight? (not likely... no Flash on Apple stuff)
    geert.depickere@...