Alas, Only Apple
Tim Cook likes to say ‘only Apple’ could’ve done what he just unveiled. Of course, it’s not always true, but often when it is I just think it’s a sad sign of the state of the industry.
I wish there were more design lead companies, especially in the tech industry.
Apple makes a product. If it’s good, it will sell well. If it’s not, it won’t. If it has a poor product, then what about it needs changing? It only needs to work out how to make it a good product or service.
The complaints I often see and experience with Apple are when something they make is hardly good enough or just so. Quite often something accessory. It does its job, and so doesn’t need attention. And it will remain like that for years.
Only Apple and…
In 1998, Google made the best web search, and in 2015, Google still makes the best web search.
It decided to make its income from that search product by adding advertising, shaped by what the user was interested in. With search, it’s easy: the user typed it in for you.
With other products, it’s harder. They must work out what you are interested in by going through your information.
Make an email service? Ok, look through your email messages. Make a phone? Work out the patterns and connections in its usage over time.
I think it’s goddamn lazy of Google. Does it work as a strategy? Sure. Does everything need to follow that strategy though?
Being able to mine information and intertwine it with advertisers is like some sort of crafty engineering hack Google discovered. Oh, this lets us make whatever we can dream of for free!
However, does that really lead to the best products? Apple’s products are constrained by their focus (both in a good and a bad way), but basically if there’s a compelling product that enough people can afford, they have the possibility of making it.
It seems to me that Google are often compromised by their reliance on advertising. A product or service can only work if it somehow leads back to advertising. What a hindrance!
Microsoft is now having to fight for consumer attention by creating compelling products. They are far more interesting for it, just as Apple had to fight for attention with thoughtful products in the early 2000s.
Unfortunately on the whole, Microsoft is a sign that to create consumer hardware you have to be a huge company. The barrier to entry is just so high now. I hope that they and others succeed, for the sake of the industry.
Even for Apple: they need the competition. The company needs their equivalent of the Apple Watch’s activity incentives to stay healthy.
Apps are the expected currency of interaction now. Anything else cannot match the experience, especially when the open alternative, the web, is shown in a box like some sort of intriguing stereoscope.
I think a lot of the constraints of the web browser have to die before the web can match. The web standards groups are limiting certainly not what the web can do, but how.
It doesn’t matter how many of the latest features Apple or anyone else add to their browsers, only staying within a limited browser is helping create the ‘only Apple’ situation.
I think one way of interpreting ‘only Apple’ is to hear ‘only Apple can create products that achieve this success.’
What really needs to be heard is ‘only Apple can create compelling products that aren’t compromised by detrimental agendas.’