I’m an Apple person and yet, ironically, my first computer was an orange. Literally-it was called orange; back then, the idea of a computer named after a fruit seemed ludicrous and after conferring with my dad, I learnt that there was another company that had espoused a similar naming strategy.That was the first time the company from Cupertino came into my collective consciousness . My first experience with Apple though, was not in the form of an actual product, but rather in the form of an ad. In fact, it was an ad featuring the sunflower iMac, which to today’s casual observer looks like nothing more than an iPad with a whimsical mount. However in that day and age of grainy videos, when mainstream computers elicited dystopian images of George Orwell’s 1984, that particular iMac stood out as the only computer that had been designed by humans, for humans. The ‘orange’ on the other hand, was so dreadful that it might as well have been christened lemon; the keyboard had a mind of its own and almost always had the final vote in deciding what the user wanted to type. Want to spell computer with one ‘C’, you say? Why not make it ten ‘C’s while you’re at it. The CPU not to be left behind decided that it was really a soprano singer in disguise and more often than not, it would start whirring away its musical ambitions till the computer collectively decided that it was unreasonable to expect anything to function perfectly for 30 minutes straight. at that time, our expectations as to what a computer should and could do were low, so computers like the ‘orange’ were accepted as a part of life.
So where does this leave the iPhone 7? The tenth flagship iPhone in what has been quite an illustrious family line up. Undoubtedly, it’s a slick looking gadget that will worm its way through the hearts (and wallets) of scores of people, some of whom may even be first time iPhone owners. Yes, the absence of a headphone jack will be a deal breaker for many potential customers, but at least Apple users can rest easy knowing that their phones won’t spontaneously combust when placed on charge. The usual slew of upgrades such as better cameras, faster processors, and (finally) waterproofing are just the icing on the cake. Although the device hasn’t even reached consumers yet, this hasn’t stopped the onslaught of Internet memes and parodies claiming that Apple has yet again lost its way and that Steve Jobs would never allow this to happen.
Sounds familiar? It should. In fact, every Apple product launch has been greeted in more or less the same way. After all, Who can forget the critics from 2007 who stated that a 500$ phone had no place in the market. Or the ones from 1998 who claimed that the original iMac wouldn’t sell because it didn’t have a floppy drive. In truth though, Apple has constantly defied naysayers and has, in the process, pushed the industry forwards. All the hype that exists for Apple products is ultimately justified: their devices have been irritatingly good for the past few years, much to the chagrin of their rivals and if Apple had truly lost its way, there wouldn’t have been an iPhone 7 in the first place.
But just like a candle burns brightest before its demise, critics will then point to the recent Apple Watch and say that it hasn’t really lived up to expectations, which is true but that is due in no small part to the lofty expectations that were placed on the device’s sleek aluminum shoulders.
Most of us only tend to remember recent iterations of hits such as the iPhone and the iPad. These devices were not conceived overnight. Instead they were the culmination of years of hard work and for every blockbuster product, there have been some equally dismal ones (we’re looking at you MobileMe). History does have a tendency of favoring winners, and if you were to switch to an earlier iteration of the iPhone, you would be appalled at the lack of basic features. Similarly, Jobs didn’t always have the Midas touch we now associate him with. His twilight years in Apple were chaotic, to say the least, and his subsequent work at NeXT was nothing to write home about either. However these failures soon paved the way for his greatest hits. It was his second innings at Apple that cemented his place as one of the worlds true visionaries and therein lies Apple’s Achilles heel. Whether we like it or not, Apple’s personality and history is intertwined with Jobs. Sure there were, and still are, tons of people working behind the scenes to achieve the impossible, but ask anyone who they most strongly associate with Apple, and the answer will invariably be Jobs himself.
Additionally, thanks to Apple’s success, our expectations have grown exponentially and are the only things that Apple hasn’t really been able to keep up with. This doesn’t mean that innovation has died in the marketplace, because if Apple’s patent library is anything to go by, Apple’s most fruitful days lie ahead.
Sure it’s no longer the rebel in the marketplace, but its recent stance on data protection and care for its artists ensure that Apple isn’t afraid of challenging preconceived notions.
Apple is still in good hands. Following in Steve’s footsteps was never going to be easy, let alone trying to steer Apple towards new horizons at the same time, but if anyone can do it, it’s Tim Cook.
He has eased up Apple’s fierce policy towards copyright infringement and has done enough to ensure that shareholders have nothing to complain about either. As long as Apple holds true to the basic principles of creating groundbreaking products, and caring for its users more than any other company, I can’t foresee its demise in the near future. After all, Think Different is more than just a motto and is the sole reason why Apple has stood the test of time longer than most of its Silicon Valley counterparts. Better ads won’t hurt either.