This Lost in Mobile article about a Cult of Mac piece saying maybe Tim Cook's non-combative style is leading to a less innovative feeling Apple led me to this ramble:
Arguing with my sparring partner, we got to think about what innovation is, like the iPhone launch – if it was more the thunderbolt of a new idea, or incremental progress suddenly revealed. I think it’s both – someone high up gets a vision of “hey maybe we could do this if we have the tech” and then a team has to put in the hard, slow trudge of all the steps to make that happen. (Or maybe, someone in the middle-to-high level gets the idea and pitches it to the very highest, even ruffling some peer’s feathers – the process that this article says might be breaking at Apple)
I think usually that vision takes the form of a new interaction, something that wasn’t possible with the current configuration of stuff.
I think some of the current state of Apple is the lack of a big idea. Look at Jobs’ last big 3: iMac was a matter of presentation and wrapping – actually a freshening of the very original information appliance concept, but redone beautifully. iPod’s innovation was the clickwheel – and it was a great one. iPhone’s interaction innovation was putting the new type of touch sensitivity (already used in say laptop trackpads) and putting it behind glass. (And visual voicemail )
In this view, iPad really didn’t represent interaction innovation (to be fair, it represents the innovation that then got diverted into the iPhone, so by the time it came around it was kind of ho-hum, just larger) And the same for the Apple Watch. The interaction of “smaller and on your wrist instead of your pocket” doesn’t involve all that many new forms of interaction. What will the next interaction innovation be? Well if i could say for sure I might be rich. It might be in voice assist, where Apple seems to be lagging on execution a bit (some argue it’s because they’re more privacy conscious than their rivals?). Random pipe dream: what if clear touchscreens could remold themselves slight to provide tactile bumps? Like tell your thumb where the virtual cross pad was, or have faux physical slider points… no idea if the supporting tech for that is even on the horizon, but it certainly sounds cooler than edge to edge curved screens, doesn’t it?
So we turn to Microsoft. They made a bet that the future of laptops and tablets might be doable with one OS. And they paid the price for that, some of their earlier attempts were really painful to use, and even now the legacy aspect they lug along is offputting for some. But now there is some exciting interaction innovation; giant, desktop workspace touchscreens and intriguing tactile physical dials are making a hard press for “creatives” – it’s a historical shame Apple is falling behind supporting that group. (Compare to the iPad Pro message, where Apple is saying “you can do all your pro work without a real filesystem” which honestly I’m not sure I believe.)
If I thought Window was anywhere near as acceptable as MacOS I might be tempted to swapback, but I’m not willing to gamble 800 bucks and find out its not. (And that’s another way Windows might suffer from people like me who could potentially be persuaded to “switch back” – I tend to compare the hardware on my mom’s $250 cheapie Windows box to the $1000 hardware of my Macbook Air, and that’s clearly not fair.)
Sorry, a bit long winded there