The pace at which the world of smartphones and tablets moves today means that the demands from hardcore fans, hungry for bleeding edge updates, are relentless. If a new phone doesn’t cram in a game-changing feature, then it’s instantly dismissed as irrelevant, despite the fact its software may be spanking new and a game-changer in and of itself.
That’s why this week’s words from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak are so refreshing. In an interview with the BBC, Wozniak essentially put demanding fans in their place. “Everybody says, ‘oh my gosh, two years have passed and we need something really new and great from Apple’,” he said. “Well yeah, great advances for mankind don't happen every year.”
Wozniak was answering a question about whether Apple had lost its innovative edge since Tim Cook took over the helm at Cupertino. But his remarks are telling and show how ludicrous things have got that a wholly rejigged iPhone 5S, albeit with a similar design, is dismissed outright as iterative and unexciting in some quarters.
In the past seven years, Apple has released two products that have completely reshaped tech as we know it. The iPhone and iPad were both trailblazers and updates to those devices are only ever going to offer a minor jump on the last year’s model. Cumulatively, that can add up to a huge difference, as is being seen with the move to iOS 7 and a bulging App Store, full of stunning native and third party add-ons.
But to expect that kind of thing annually is madness. For a start, Apple wouldn’t be able to focus on refining its existing portfolio. And furthermore, punters would get bored. They always do. Apple could probably unleash an unfinished version of its iWatch later this year. But it knows it needs to wait to get it right. Just like it did with the iPhone.
Until a product can have a relation to everyday life, its hard for it make the crossover from tech fanboy’s toy to mainstream success. Apple knows this and seems happy to take its time with any major new products. Its profits may have slipped but it’s still got enough in the bank not to fret about rushing out kit that doesn’t cut it.
Woz’s remarks shine a light on how his former company works. While we feast on rumours and specs gossip, perhaps we need to keep them in mind and remember that innovation and life-changing products take time to get just right.
Do you agree with Wozniak's statement? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.