Apple Design

There is not a lot of innovation coming out of Cupertino

Really, what’s going on there?  Apple for awhile has been riding the wave of good customer vibes and the cutting edge of design and tech.  They have produced some of the most sought after products of the first part of this century.  The iPhone, Macbook Air, and the iPad are all considered the benchmarks of their categories.

As time has gone on, several other companies have made great strides to match Apple in quality and style.  It is like Apple found a design they liked, and have stuck with it all this time.  They make minor changes to the hardware and software, but the overall design strategy has been stagnant.

Apple Macbook TouchbarApple fans get excited every time a new device gets announced.  Recently that was the long-awaited refresh of the Macbook line.  Apple’s line of high-end laptops has not had a major refresh in years.  At Apple’s big event they teased a major change.  Coming in on the heels of Microsoft’s unveiling of the new Surface Studio with its new puck style stylus.  This is a new departure in interaction with the computer that we used to expect from Apple.

The big design change for the new Macbook?  A touch bar where the function keys used to be, not a touch screen, but a touch bar that you can change the icons for.  Uhh, what?  I don’t know who thought this is what the consumer was hoping for.  It does allow you to input emojis easier.  So there is that.

While everyone else is looking to add touch screens to their laptops or go to the two-in-ones.  Apple stayed with the tried and true standard, non-touch screen laptop.  This is the same kind of behavior that Apple used to poke fun at the other manufacturers for. Not innovating.

To touch or not to touch

Touch screens on laptops are not my favorite thing.  I have tried a couple and found the experience to be less than great.  It’s a cool trick, and it kind of works.  I don’t really like interacting with my laptop in that way unless I am scrolling through long form websites.  If I did more creative, photo editing and such, I think the touch or the pen interface would be ideal.  If you just write stuff, like I do, then the standard keyboard and trackpad works well enough.

There is nothing wrong with including a touch screen, even if it won’t get used.  Apple has enough of a fanbase that is price insensitive.  So the extra cost of the touch screen system would be absorbed.

Think about your favorite Macbook that can be folded over into your favorite iPad.  What a game changer that might be.  The fusion of Apple’s two best products.  I think Apple already does the convergence game well, it is just a matter of time till they can put all the pieces together.

That is my holy grail, I want to work on stuff on my laptop.  Go in the other room and pick up where I left off with my tablet.  Then when I hit the road for work I can keep going with my phone.  The laptop should be the place where the heavy lifting gets done as far as computing tasks go.

What happens next

For Apple they need to really pay attention to what their customers/fans want.  The rest of the industry is catching up to them in design and function.  Gone are days of having to choose between something that works and something that is nice to look at.

iPhoneApple completely underwhelmed at their two industry shows, the not-so-new iPhone 7 was just a rehash of the iPhone 6.  Nothing really changed except for some other hardware updates, like the camera and processor.  If someone was looking for a new phone, they have been waiting and will continue to wait. They did remove the headphone jack, ground breaking.

The new Macbooks were the most hotly awaited products Apple was going to unveil.  The Macbook series has not been updated in any real way in several years.  So imagine people’s dismay when the only change that came out was the touch bar and the delete of the ESC key.  The second strike was that the new laptops only have a single USB-C port.  This means that consumers will have to buy several dongles to interface with their external devices.

Macbook AIrThe Macbook Air, which is one of the better laptops they put out, was ignored.  This is where they could have made some hay with the mid-priced laptop market.

The new rumor, based on patent filings, is that Apple is working on a smartphone you can fold in half, like a flip phone with a touchscreen.  This could be something that may be something to get people fired up again.

Bottom Line

Apple needs to launch a new product that one, makes people want it for the sake they didn’t know they needed it.  They also need to launch or redesign something that is edgy and ground breaking.  Their current stable is not the cutting edge it once was, it is now an also ran.  They have managed to hold on to the place of being a luxury item, but even that is starting to slip.

People want stuff that works and some want stuff that looks cool.  It’s nice when you can get something that does both.

What do you think about the lack of direction at Apple?  I would love to hear about it in the comments.  Also, please sign up for our mailing list, to make sure you have the latest posts, right to your inbox.