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Apple's still innovating, but the reality distortion is gone.

Posted by C.S. Hsia on · Comments

"Smaller casing, better screen, improved battery life, a redesigned button, larger storage, new software."

If Jobs said it, it's innovation. When Tim says it, it's the end of Apple.

Since the Apple event announcing the new iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, there's been countless posts from mainstream writers to bloggers exclaiming yet another example that Apple's no longer innovating, and that its best days are long gone. A day later Wall Street analysts joined the parade and downgraded Apple's stock across the board. If you posted anything about Apple on your Facebook wall last week, you were likely besieged by your Android using frieds via comments.

Then the strangest thing happened. Just like Apple of last decade, reviews of the new device were spectacular. Lines started to form, and within hours even one of the world's greatest supply chains was brought to its knees by customers desperate to get their hands on the new iPhones.

Next come the analyst upgrades, the upbeat forecasts, been there, seen that.

A great article came up on TheNextWeb that looks at Apple's supposed lack of or slowed innovation post-Jobs from a time perspective. Back when Jobs ran the show, we were willing to wait patiently for the next great thing, sometimes for 4+ years. In between the major products, mall changes were hailed as massive innovations.

Through six generations of iPods, 5 generations of iPod touch and various varients:

  • The device got smaller.
  • Scroll wheel became touch wheel, became click wheel.
  • A spinning harddrive became flash, and storage space increased.
  • Firewire gave way to USB.
  • The screen got bigger, gained color, then retina.

Each time Jobs took the stage with the above, we were amazed by the innovation. He's "really proud of it", we bought it literally and figuratively.

In many books the "reality distortion field" is described as some mythical power. To me, it's just your reputation and track record. When you have a string of success, you are given a longer leash and the benefit of the doubt.

Will Cook, Ive and Craig one day gain the ability to convince us something both materially and emotionally? It takes a certain level of swagger and confidence to reach that level, but I suspect a few more magazine covers like this one will do the trick.

Bloomberg magazine cover