Wade, I humbly disagree with you on your bullet-point list.
- The force track pads are not as responsive or nimble as other input devices. They aren’t always accurate and at times over-sensitive (even after being adjusted).
- The Apple watch? Not really. Its essentially a knee-capped device that doesn’t do much without the iPhone (definitely not a standalone). Also didn’t really push the bounds from things like Pebble very far. So I don’t see that as an advance.
- The touch bar. As a UX designer and Product Designer, I loath such gimmicks. Also from a developers perspective taking some keys away and making them harder to get at through secondary means is not good. OLED touch screens and UL touch screens have been around for ages. In the 90’s and early 2000’s they were referred to as “soft keys”. Nothing innovative about them at this point.
- I don’t know much about the HomePod which speaks more than anything about how little it is talked about in mainstream anything. Maybe it is innovative?
- Airpods, a slight innovation, but it doesn’t really give a better user experience or usability to headphones. In fact from a customer’s perspective they have the same charging problem as other blue-tooth headsets, they are over-priced and easy to lose because they aren’t easily secured to one’s ears.
- 5K display? Please. That isn’t innovation. It is just adapting to the next incremental variant (a logical yet unnecessary step from 4K).
- The iMac Pro? I don’t know anything about the “Pro” edition but the line up hasn’t seen much significant change in years.
- Perhaps the keyboard mechanisms should be higher on the innovation list. But I still don’t see it as a ground-breaking innovation.
All of those things aside. Perhaps you’ve forgotten their lousy attempt at originally launching Apple Maps? How about bumper-gate? How about current delays with finger-print/face recognition tech?
Apple has fallen into some of the traps that competitors did long ago. Over cannibalizing their own product line up. Steve never would have had so many sizes of iPhones. Why would you need an iPad Mini if you have a iPhone 7+. Why would you need a MacBook Pro if you have the iPad Pro?
Again, my disagreements may have slight bias to them. But it isn’t because of my own personal preferences. It is because as a Product Designer and User Experience designer, my goal is to design what best fits the customer. Some of the items you’ve mentioned don’t really move the bar in a convincing way (why upgrade from iPhone 7 to iPhone 8? — these problems have already been noticed).
I’m not against Apple as a company. I think they’ve added lots of interesting technology, products and advertising over the decades. I just don’t see them continuing their legacy of “wow” without Steve at the helm. It is hard to replace a visionary leader.
Apple has indeed rushed a few of their products to market. And they have a serious mess on their hands with the iTunes / App Store / Radio interfaces. They’ve gotten cumbersome and far from the sleek and efficient Apple brand.
Lastly, a big pet-peeve of mine both as a customer and designer is the mouse for the generation of iMac that I own. Where is the charge port for it? On the bottom! What does that mean? I can’t use it while it is charging. It is very annoying. I don’t know a single product designer that in good conscience would have allowed that mouse to hit production with that flaw.