Has Apple Lost its Innovation Mojo?

Posted on January 15, 2013 9:40 AM by Rob Williams

With the passing of Apple co-founder and visionary Steve Jobs in late 2011 came immediate questions about the future of the company. Would its growth keep on the incline? Would it announce another blockbuster product? Would it keep innovating? There’s little doubt that the company has had a major challenge to deal with, as Jobs oversaw much of the direction of the company. As was proven, his decisions usually resulted in big gains for the company.

Since his passing, however, the company has had a difficult time wooing both press and consumer alike with its launches. CEO Tim Cook isn’t to blame here, as his presentations are good. This has everything to do with the products themselves. The company’s latest iPhone, for example, didn’t bring too much new to the table aside from a performance boost and extra row for your home-screen icons. Unfortunately for the company, this launch also came with it the Apple Maps fiasco.


Then we have the iPad mini, a smaller iPad that drastically cuts back on performance but retails for a much higher price than more attractive Android competitors. While it’s never been uncommon to see Apple products launch with a premium, this was one of the rarer times where the hardware components themselves truly felt underwhelming. There’s always been an argument of how building your own PC will get you better gear than buying a pre-made Apple computer, but this is different  When people have a choice between two 7-inch tablets, and one is faster while costing $100 less – that’s a hard sell. The OS alone will only get you so far.

Fast-forward to last week, when word leaked that the company has toned down on component shipments for its iPhone, hinting that the demand for the iPhone is dwindling. Backed with absolutely no market research at all, I’d quicker say that this might be a sign that not everyone wants to upgrade their expensive phone every single year. However, in Apple’s case, the issue is made a bit murky since its follow-up products have lately not done enough to persuade most to upgrade. Moving from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5 might seem like a big deal, but it might not feel like one if you’re going from a 4S to a 5.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff has stated that Apple needs to “define itself in the post-Steve Jobs era”, rather than try to continue in his direct footsteps. It needs to establish a new outlet and roll with it. Being the most valuable company in the world, it’s hard to imagine that Apple will be anywhere but on top for the next while, but as we’ve seen many times in the past, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

  • http://twitter.com/TheFocusElf The Focus Elf

    For starters, and I know I am focusing on the wrong part of the article here big papa, but I actually like the Apple Maps program! Granted, I am not in Europe and it has not directed me to drive into a building or off a cliff. I also know Apple has acquiesced to the criticism, I just don’t understand why. I have a $400 Garmin, bought within the year and a half, that I prefer the iphone 5 with Apple’s Maps app over. Not only is the device just one million times more responsive, but of course the other convenience of web browser to find the location and then input. I agree though, they do need to get back on innovating and trend setting, i bought the 4s for my wife and the 5 for myself when we moved back to the states, and I’m a tech guy that loves new gadgets, but a 64GB iPhone 5 should last me until I am eligible for the upgrade. And the iPad too, another example of mediocre updates. The mini sure was a “new” product, but having purchased a new generation iPad with every successive launch right up through third gen (March 2012), 4th gen ipad wasn’t as “resolutionary” as gen 3 and just not worth the pesos frankly. So this article resonated with me in a dozen different areas..

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      The Apple Maps fiasco could have been avoided, I’m sure, but I appreciate how Apple handled the situation afterwards. It openly apologized, which is pretty rare from most companies, but especially Apple.

  • e550mercedes

    I say a lot of the negativity around Apple these days is nothing but rummors and down-right
    bullshit, put out by the competition!

    The fact is: Apple’s iPhone is flying off the shelves, and its upcoming financials on the 23rd. should prove just that. The iPhone has very limited availibility in China, yet it still managed to sell over 2,000,000 iPhone 5’s in its first weekend, something that no one else has ever done!

    “Then we have the iPad mini, a smaller iPad that drastically cuts back on performance but retails for a much higher price than more attractive Android competitors.”

    As far as your statement goes above, well it’s interesting to note that the only real negative thing I’ve read about the iPad mini, which, by the way outsells all other Android tablets by a large margin combined, is that it doesn’t have a Retina display, something that it is expected to get by March. The A6 cpu’s have been known to outperform the competition on most levels, and, with the iPad’s more than 300,000 native apps, no other tablet can match it. The iPad still claims up to 70% of the world’s entire table market, a market that barely existed before the iPad redefined the market. Before the iPad, the only real tablets were Windows based, which sold 1.6 million units over a twenty-year period!.

    As far as Apple goes, for a company that is supposedly on the decline, it’s strange indeed that its current sales, revenue and profit are all at historic levels, and growing…. not declining! The iPhone, by the way, is all by its little old self, is bigger than all of Microsoft including all of Windows, Office, its mobile division, the XBox, etc.




    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      You seem to have missed the fact that this article is discussing innovation. You are presenting facts that are talking about successes, and nothing more.

      A friend of mine got his wife an iPad mini for Xmas – why? Because it’s Apple, so it has to be good. Do you think -she- knows the difference between a Nexus 7 and iPad mini? Not at all. She’s just a regular consumer, not like us who peruse tech sites all day. And this, is Apple’s undeniable strength.

      But as the article points out, how much longer can this go on? Had Apple released the iPad mini as a higher-res device (I’m not talking Retina) and packed an A6 in there, there’d be no room for complaint. In this particular case, Apple didn’t innovate at all. In fact, it delivered a weaker product than most people expected. That’s just not like Apple… at all.

      With both the iPhone and iPad came out, it became clear that Apple was a trend-setter. We didn’t see awesome smartphones until the original iPhone came out, and few people cared about tablets until the iPad was released. But the iPad came out three years ago – where’s the innovation been since then? We’ve had evolutionary releases, but every company does. I could very-well be overlooking something huge that I just can’t recall, but the only unique angle I think Apple has had recently came with the announcement of Thunderbolt.

      As someone who digs CPU architecture and other technical bits like that, I consider the SoC in the latest iPhone and iPad to be innovative… but a regular consumer wouldn’t. So where’s the innovation for them?

      I hate to even harp on this, but it feels to me that Apple truly did lose some of its innovation mojo after Steve passed. I worried it would happen, and as the months went on, it just became clear to me that it was becoming the case.

      By the way, none of those URLs work. I’m not sure what Disqus is doing to them.

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