Skip to main content

Apple Is The Industry Gold Standard - But Why?


Speaking at the iPhone 7 launch Tim Cook claimed that “the iPhone is the industry gold standard. The phone by which all other phones are compared” and its hard to argue with that statement. Furthermore it’s probably true to say that across the industry Apple is considered to be the gold standard.

I’m not sure that Apple has earned the right to that claim in recent years.

There’s no question that Apple gets an easy ride in some sections of the media, which allows it to gloss over the major problems that its products have. The screen size argument is a good example. Everybody else was producing and selling large screen phones in quantity whilst Apple was still arguing that the 4” screen was all customers needed.

When it did launch its big screen design commentators luxuriated in the arrival of the phone and its screen real estate, despite the fact that Apple had managed to deliver a big phone with a relatively small screen and a bigger phone with a still comparatively small ‘big’ screen. Then there were the other mistakes that Apple made with its design. Dismal battery life, a fragile chassis, a slim body that had to be enclosed in a case.

Even though Apple was playing catch-up, the iPhone 6 physical design was botched. It excelled in one area only – it looks good in ads and photos. Gold standard? Not so much.

At least the iPhone 6 was a leader in other areas then? Again that’s hard to justify. iOS remains a static icon based UI, tethered to a number of clunky bolt-ons – why two shades for notifications and settings? Why only use half the screen for one? The camera is good but far from class leading and its software inconsistent.

With the 6S Apple introduced little that was new and with the 7 marginally more so.

Now the Apple Watch. It sold mainly to absolute Apple diehard fans, and amongst the few that I know who purchased the Watch nobody is wearing it anymore. Apple got next to nothing right with the Watch, and whilst it sells relatively well that doesn’t excuse its mistakes.

The MacBook? Possibly the most compromised machine ever made at launch. Underpowered with an ergonomic nightmare of a keyboard and a trackpad. Phenomenal battery life and screen, but at what cost? And whilst the performance error was resolved by the 2016 update the other issues are here to stay.

iPad Pro? A half hearted attempt to clone the Surface. The original iPad was probably the last seminal product Apple produced. By the time the iPad Air 2 arrived Apple had pretty much nailed everything you could ask for in a mobile focused tablet device. Except that by then the market had strongly indicated that tablets weren’t what it wanted. With the arrival of the iPad Pro Apple deviated from its original targets and managed to make a product that was worse in every way than the machines it was designed to compete with.

For now I’ll put to one side the issues with iCloud, Apple Music and iTunes, even though each on their own is just as indicative of product quality. Tax woes? Let’s park those too, for Apple is far from alone in having problems in this area.

In the last five years Apple’s mantra has amounted to ‘bigger or thinner’ and that’s a weak ideal to hang a claim to being the industry standard upon. Especially when we know that others are doing it so much better.

For a company which spends copiously on R&D I have to wonder why there are so many misses in its recent catalogue. And when it gets things wrong why is the company so afraid to throw them out and start again? Tim Cook has access to a war chest like no other in the whole of human history. Replacing a weak product should be an easier decision for Apple than other company out there. Steve Jobs wasn’t afraid to kill the things that didn’t work. Tim Cook appears much more so.

There’s no question that Apple does what it does well, it plays to its market and its customers and plays them well. Does that make it the industry gold standard. I would argue not.


Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

F1: Robert Kubica's Williams Test Asks More Questions Than It Answers

Comparing driver's times at a tyre evaluation test like last week's Abu Dhabi event is difficult at the best of times, but when trying to assess the performance of a driver who has been out of the sport for six years, that difficulty level is raised even higher.
On the face of it Robert Kubica's test for Williams was a success. Fastest of the three Williams drivers present the headlines look promising. However, taking into consideration the different tyres used to set those times muddies the water considerably.
Kubica ran a three lap qualifying simulation on the new 'hyper-soft' tyre - which should have given him a two-second advantage. Correcting for tyres it would appear that Kubica was significantly slower than Sergei Sorotkin - who was on the harder 'soft' tyre - and marginally quicker than Lance Stroll, the team's only contracted driver.

Stroll's family fortune currently funds Williams, so there' no chance that he will be anywhere but in a…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…