Matt HealeyWednesday,19 June 2013

The Snap:

Apple held its Worldwide Developer Conference this past week. I saw some highlights from it while I was off trail. My overall takeaway from the conference was “blah.” There was no earth shattering announcement. The major announcements according to the brief highlights I saw were longer batter life, iOS and Mac OS improvements, and a new music streaming service. This is not what a tech leader announces at its biggest event of the year.

The Download:

I am an outspoken critic of Apple, but to be fair, under Steve Jobs they were a very innovative company. What Apple did to the MP3, smartphone, and tablet markets is impressive. I am not sure that I would own my current Samsung Galaxy S3 or Tab 2 if not for Apple. And for that they deserve a lot of credit. However, it now seems that Apple’s R&D cupboard is indeed empty. I have no doubt that the iOS updates and improvements to battery life are important and took a lot of engineering talent. However, they lack the headline grabbing cachè of the iPod-iPhone-iPad. They feel a lot more to me like the kind of innovation we see from the mature tech giants.

Further, I question some of the innovation. Apple has always been good at hardware. They have not always been good at software. Many friends of mine have had considerable problems with iTunes. I remember one friend in the software business who said the following: “You will not know true pain until you install iTunes.” Then there were the problems with Apple Maps. And so on. Apple has a questionable reputation when it comes to software.

My prediction several years back was that open would beat closed. At that time I did not know who it would be — Microsoft, the quirky Android upstart, etc. Now, it is coming true. Open does beat closed. The reason is innovation. Apple is lost and the sheer mass of companies trying to innovate on the Android platform is gaining the upper hand. Android does not require one company to do all of the innovating. Granted, Samsung has taken a lead, but HTC, LG and others are all trying to innovate on the Android platform. More people working on the problem, more different approaches, and more investment lead to a better solution. Apple never had a chance.

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