Thoughts on Apple and Innovation

The annual tradition of Apple’s fall announcements coupled with people questioning their ability to innovate is still in full force. With the recently announced iPhone X, iPhone 8/8+, AppleWatch Series 3, and AppleTV 4K, Apple is dominating the news cycle once again.

As always, most critics/pundits/reporters/fans are classified as either pro-Apple or anti-Apple. If you must classify me, I would fit in the pro-Apple (full disclosure) camp. However, I’m not above admitting that Apple isn’t perfect.

The main claim by many is that Apple has lost their edge and their ability to consistently release innovative products since Steve Jobs passed away. This shows a deep level of misunderstanding of technology and where innovation truly lies. Innovation is very rarely in how the device itself physically looks1. Innovation, more often than not, lies within the chipsets, the processors, the lenses, the batteries, etc.

Another misconception about innovation is that you must be first-to-market for it to be innovative, but that’s never been the case for Apple in its history. They famously copied the first personal computer from Xerox. There were mp3 players before the iPod. Touch screen devices existed before the iPhone. Fingerprint sensors were available before TouchID. Styluses were everywhere before they introduced the Apple Pencil. Bluetooth headphones were available and popular before AirPods existed. Apple has never been a first-to-market company, but rather a first-to-perfect company.

So when I see people waving their “Apple can’t innovate” banners across the internet followed by claims of who had what first, they’re easy to dismiss. No Apple fan is arguing that the iPhone X is the first to have facial recognition, wireless charging2, OLED displays3, etc. But our experience with the company gives us faith that they will do it better.

Innovation isn’t about the first. Innovation is about the first to get it right.

Lastly, there is a marriage between software and hardware that only Apple can create. They are literally the only company in existence that can create their own internals and pair it perfectly with their own software. If you want to talk about first-to-market AND innovative, this is where you look, and this is where Apple annihilates the competition. If you want to talk nerdy numbers, reach out on Twitter, but here’s a basic overview.

Inside the iPhone X is an A11 Bionic 6-Core CPU system-on-a-chip. It was created by Apple specifically for the iPhone. Other major manufacturers use chips created by Intel (and others) and modify them to work with their devices while also modifying software from yet another vendor (Google) to work alongside it. By creating their own system-on-a-chip, Apple can destroy the competition in device performance.

As a quick reference, the CURRENT MacBook Pro scores out at double the recently released Samsung Galaxy S8. The iPhone X? Well, it beats the MacBook Pro.

The thing about price. Yes, the phone is expensive if bought at full price ($999). But it’s not like they’re the only one with that price point. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is retailing for $960. It’s what you have to pay for the latest and greatest these days.

A few more things that have gone largely unnoticed by the general public:

  • 4K Movies will be available for $20 in iTunes. That's about 30% cheaper than anywhere else.
  • If you previously bought an HD movie on iTunes, you'll get the 4K version automatically.
  • You can now shoot in slow motion in 4K on all new iPhones.
  • Face ID is less likely to be fooled than Touch ID.
  • Augmented Reality on these devices is going to blow people away.
  • Speakers are better on the new iPhones
  • Really awesome new AppleWatch bands.

  1. Yes, there are exceptions to this. However, I'm speaking more of the attractiveness of the design, not the functional power of the design. 
  2. I'm disappointed that Apple went with along with everyone else with this terminology. Wireless charging requires exactly the same amount of wires (1) as wired charging. I do believe it has major benefits, but I believe the name is misleading. 
  3. Apple IS one of the last major players to add OLED screens. As has been widely covered, this was more an issue of supply constraints than simply being late. 
Matt Langford @Mtt

Copyright 2018 Matt Langford