Last week's launch of the iPhone 6 was a highly anticipated event and for months prior, rumours swirled as to what new features the phone may have and what it would look like. It came as no great surprise that the launch dominated media coverage in a way that only a company like Apple can. Despite the fanfare, many have been left feeling underwhelmed by the new product offerings.
It’s interesting to read the reactions of the iPhone 6, as many people feel that Apple is now in catch up mode, no longer at the forefront of innovation with the loss of Steve Jobs. Comparing the differences between the iPhone 5 and 6 and considering the two years that have passed between product releases, the developments are unremarkable. There were no big surprises, and nothing revolutionary to speak of.
A differing opinion is that Apple has never been an innovator, and the success of the company lies in its ability to copy and improve preexisting products in the market. As an example, Microsoft’s tablet PCs went on sale in 2002, achieving little consumer cut through. Eight years later, the iPad was announced, changing our entire approach to desktop and mobile.
When Apple launched the iPod in 2001, it was an exciting moment in tech history, revolutionising the way we listened to music. Again, idea wasn’t new or groundbreaking, as other companies have released less successful MP3 players years prior to the iPod’s release. Apple was able to take the idea and fine-tune it, creating a product that had mass appeal.
(As a side note, it was interestingly to learn that with the release of the iPhone 6, Apple quietly removed their iPod classic, signaling the beginning of the end for the faithful iPod.)
The release of the Apple Watch certainly piggybacks off the current boom in wearable technology combing popular products like the Fitbit, the Samsung Gear 2 Neo, and the Garmin. It will be interesting to see how this watch develops further, and how Apple fine tunes this product offering.
Personally, I’m inclined to sway towards the idea that Apple is playing catch up. It’s been a long time since the company has delivered the wow factor of the iPod or the iPad, creating a new product line from an unknown or unpopular product category and completely disrupting an entire industry. Instead, they are building on their competitor's successful developments from as little as six months prior. Rather than trailblazing, Apple is now playing catch up.