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Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Tech’s next logical step

In Business, Economy, Entertainment, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Science, Technology on September 15, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAs Apple releases details on the next iPhone (number 7), some changes in the product have met with mixed reviews. The main point of contention is Apple’s decision to do away with the headphone jack, partly in an effort to waterproof the device, a fault that users have complained about for years. But another obvious reason was to force consumers to purchase expensive Bluetooth, wireless ear buds.

Whatever the purpose, major changes in technology have always given pause. As consumers, we hate change. We like what we like and it needs to remain as we remember it. The white, wired headphones have been a symbol of the Apple device culture since the iPod burst on the scene in 2001.

A natural progression from the success Sony experienced in the 1980s with the Walkman, the iPod kept Apple from bankruptcy and ushered in a new era of personal technology. The times change and technology changes with it.

Just to make the point, let’s not forget that earlier this year, the last VCR rolled off the assembly line and into the history books.

Technological innovation is driven by a host of influencers, from government research to the demands of the consumer. A company like Apple has great pressure on it to be innovative but can’t always hit the mark. The Apple Watch is a good example of this kind of fluid change in consumer following.

When it debuted, the wearable tech was going to revolutionize how we use smart phones, monitor our health and more. But even now, it has underperformed in almost every way, especially in sales. Either the public wasn’t ready for it, or the device wasn’t robust enough for the consumer.

Of course, Apple has tried to respond to complaints regarding the watch, issuing updates and several changes to the next model, but it may be too little too late. Or, it’s entirely possible, the gadget just isn’t going to fly, and that happens sometimes.

vm700_manualIn the 80s, the Commodore 64 and the Apple II were the pinnacle of home technology, offering games, word processing and the first glimpses into what we now know as social media. Today, a smarter phone and thinner tablet seem to be the highest demand consumer technology, with better Internet connection and more apps being the selling points.

So where are things headed next? That’s a good question and every major tech company in the world would pay big bucks to whoever could tell them. But, barring a psychic hotline with a beam into the future of the next iPhone or Kindle Fire, it’s a coin toss.

While innovation is the goal, the consumer is a fickle mistress. Developers always proceed with a best guess combination of “this is what would be great tech,” “since they like this, they should like that,” and “let’s just build it and see what happens.” There’s really no way to tell.

During my days in tech, I worked in the programming side, watching companies like CompuServe and AOL amass the fortunes of Midas and then sliding down the hill of obsolescence in a relatively short period of time. But, here’s my educated guess, in case you’re wondering.

Television is still king of advertising and, to capitalize more on that, it will become more mobile soon as well, allowing you to watch live TV over your cell phone with a digital receiver transmitted via your wireless carrier. Wireless cellular companies are going to have to step up their game, in both speed and bandwidth.

I work with a lot of Apple products in my career, but I think that the iPhone is about to be dethroned as the hippest, coolest thing on the market. Partly because the iPhone 7 really has no major innovations and the cost seems to keep going up. That said, every device manufacturer must stay ahead of the game with better operating systems and app availability.

My forecasts here could be totally off the mark. But, whatever happens, it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep up with the times. There are endless possibilities, but you need to have patience and be open-minded about change.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com.

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Once innovative, Apple’s image is bruised by publicity stunts

In Economy, Media, National News, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on October 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm
Apple CEO Tim Cook sitting at Steve Jobs' right at an event in 2007. (Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Apple CEO Tim Cook sitting at Steve Jobs’ right at an event in 2007.
(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

The business community can learn an important lesson from Apple – on what not to do. At one time Apple was the pinnacle of panache when it came to unveiling new innovations.

Back in those days, the media and the faithful alike waited with baited breath as the late Steve Jobs glided to the stage in his signature black turtleneck, taking the pulpit from which to spout gospel to millions of faithful disciples. Once there, he had the audience in the palm of his hand, they’d buy just about anything he was selling because it was innovative, new and, above all, elitist.

Since Jobs’s death, however, the company seems to be trying to recapture that fanaticism in a way that seems almost a parody. As hard as he may try, Apple CEO Tim Cook, just isn’t the ‘cool guy’ that Jobs personified on stage. He doesn’t easily pull of the slacker look in an untucked black button-down and jeans. Plus, there is little innovation in what he has to unveil, just more of the same.

Even avid Apple followers have been disappointed with the company’s offerings over the last year. Many snobby Apple-ites seem to think the plastic-bodied iPhone-5C, a unit developed to be cheaper and more colorful, tainted the line, allowing too much riffraff amongst the Apple crowd. Now, if you can afford cell service, you can probably afford an iPhone – not so elite anymore. It’s like the country club admitting anyone who can tie a necktie. How dare they?

The “big unveiling” announcements are, to say the least, becoming tiresome. They were great when there was true innovation to be released – the iPhone, the iPad, etc. – but now, it’s just more of the same thing. Sure, they’re lighter, a bit faster, and offer prettier colors, but there’s really nothing that is substantially new about any upcoming product from the corporate giant.

In the past eighteen months, Apple has seen a decline in sales for its iPhone and iPad devices, partly due to excessive cost. During that time, the company lost market share, slipping from 65-percent down to 50, with Android-based phones and tablet computers now boasting control of the other half, and that number is expected to grow as more applications (apps) become available. So the need for Apple to make another announcement before the upcoming holiday shopping rush was vital. For the business community, however, all eyes should be on Apple’s marketing mistakes right now.

Tablet computers, for example, are in a market that is still coming of age. It’s a critical time for manufacturers, including Apple, who will need to work harder to set themselves apart from the competition. It’s likely they are all making more money from replacement devices than from new sales.

As mentioned earlier, other than minor alterations to existing equipment like extended battery life, larger screens and lighter weight devices, there are very few additions to Apple’s product line. Cost is still excessive for most consumers. A larger MacBook Pro, with a 15-inch screen, comparable to the average Toshiba or Dell laptop, will average more than $2,100 while its closest competitor barely exceeds $1,500 with similar specifications.

Additionally, there are just too many of these unveiling announcements and the format and style just don’t suit the new leadership. There is just no way to recapture Jobs’s methods and energy and they shouldn’t be trying. Overuse of such a public relations event becomes tiresome, not just on the media but on the consumer as well. If Apple is going to make such a big deal out of these announcements, there should be something worth hearing about – lately there hasn’t been.

It seems like Apple is done shooting for innovation but now relies instead on brand loyalty and publicity stunts, such as offering free operating system source code. It might take a while, but without something original on the horizon, new users are going to continue to migrate toward Android and Microsoft devices.