Apple started life back in the 1970s and quickly became the hubris-filled garageband-like tech company that people loved or hated, though sometimes at the same time. My first foray into personal computing began with a CP/M card and VisiCalc on an Apple II in the very early 1980s, years before the Mac became a glimpse of the company’s future.
Apple has changed through the years but not much has changed at Apple (assuming you can see the nuance). The company that true techno-gadget and PC folks loved to hate came into success, lost success, and returned to become the world’s most successful company, albeit without one of the co-founders.
Here we are cruising into the 21st century and Apple products continue to stretch the boundaries of delight with a carefully crafted blend of hardware and software that still defies the status quo; hardware that fails the competition on specification, software sufficiently integrated to motivate customers to pay more for less because somehow the total always remains greater than the sum of the parts.
Today’s new crop of products is no different, although seemingly behind our pre-determined schedules of upgrades and revolutionary next great things.
Let me take MacBook Pro, circa late 2016, as the perfect example, but one among many. By most user accounts, it is a blazing fast machine albeit without the flexibility, options, or open doors reserved for machines with the professional monicker. Apple, true to form since Steve Jobs introduced the Mac in 1984, doesn’t want customers mucking around inside a Mac. What Apple has done is change the definition of professional rather than build a product that card carrying certified professionals, members of the technorati elite politburo all, require. Instead, Apple’s new MacBook Pro line expands the professional wannabe credentials to a new level.
These new MacBook Pros are likely faster than any MBPs before them, so why all the noise?
Somehow these changes Apple makes in a product line seem to benefit the masses of customers more than the niche customer, which, way back in the day, was a much larger segment of Apple’s base, back when the Mac was synonymous with Apple, before the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Watch.
Speaking of Watch, what’s not to like?
Sure, it’s easy to come up with a list of reasons why Watch is a failure and why nobody should buy one ever, but it’s just as easy to come up with as many reasons why kittens are dangerous because they become cats. Yet, Watch brings in more revenue and profits than any watchmaker below Rolex, and Watch fills a need; actually, a variety of needs, a growing number of needs, and not just the list of needs that members of a technology cult seem to mistake for wants, but never find their way to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
In the few decades my wife and I have been married I’ve purchased a dozen watches; mostly as gifts, with prices ranging from four figures to two, and few of them ever saw the light of day because she didn’t want to be encumbered with anything to remind her she’s late yet again.
Apple Watch? She loved it. And loves it. The new one is Watch Series Two; faster, brighter, water resistant, and just as easy to respond to texts, phone calls, alerts, alarms, and calendar events without ever having to fish around in a bag for the tethered iPhone. Yes, Watch is an expensive accessory only available for iPhone users, but it serves an interesting purpose in the digital age– more convenience; a device that offloads some of the day-to-day, minute-by-minute functions we use an iPhone for, without actually using the iPhone.
My wife hated watches. She loves Watch.
That’s what Apple does. Technologists may hate Apple’s methodologies because they don’t fit the status quo of specifications and expectations. Believe me, Apple’s customers don’t care, hence the love.