What kind of innovative does Apple have to be?

“‘Can’t innovate anymore, my ass,’ senior VP of product marketing Phil Schiller declared Monday after unveiling Apple’s new Mac Pro,” Justin Fox writes for Harvard Business Review. “The cylindrical black desktop is very cool-looking. But it’s the latest iteration of a high-end niche product that Apple has been selling for years. It is a textbook example of what Clayton Christensen dubs a sustaining innovation, a product aimed at existing customers that improves on what went before it and is able to demand a premium price. Except for a few dark years in the mid-1990s, Apple has always been very good at sustaining innovation. The key to its phenomenal success over the past decade, though, has been — to use Christensen’s terminology again — disruptive innovation. The iPod/iTunes combo, the iPhone, and the iPad all disrupted and redefined markets, and in the case of the iPhone and iPad created entire new ones.”

“The sustaining/disruptive dichotomy doesn’t describe everything important about innovation. It’s probably overused and certainly gets misused a lot. But it so perfectly fits the debate over Apple’s innovation quandary that it’s a little strange it doesn’t come up more often in this context,” Fox writes. “Until Apple comes out with its next big new disruptive thing, and it succeeds, the ‘Apple can’t innovate anymore’ meme will live on, whatever Phil Schiller’s ass thinks.”

Fox writes, “The harder question to answer is whether Apple can remain successful and keep growing without another disruptive innovation… Sustaining innovations may sustain Apple’s fortunes for quite a few years more. They won’t create new fortunes, though. It takes a different kind of innovation to do that.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Patience, Padawan.

iPhone was released 5 years, 7 months, and 19 days after iPod. iPad was released 2 years, 9 months, and 5 days after iPhone. Tim Cook has been Apple CEO for 1 year, 9 months, and 19 days.

Designing something requires focus. It takes time.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “TheloniousMac” for the heads up.]

80 Comments

  1. Apple is a big, giant tech company has been created many wonderful products, and continues to do so. However, it is extremely please everyone including anlysts who gives AAPL hard time, therefore in my opinion Apple needs to create big-giant MAGIC WANDS to please everyone. Thousand Smile :).

  2. This guys another hater that was taken by surprise by Apple’s ‘disruptive innovations’ to begin with. Now he’s an expert.
    Why do we give these guys our time?

    1. I think noes would have “looked” worse than no’s.

      That being said, I wonder if it was a mistake. I’ve never seen noes used in any context but no’s is fairly common as in “the no’s have it”.

  3. What has Justin Fox ever innovated? Just another worthless journalist hack making yet another deep and profound analysis of Apple’s doomed future. He can GFH.

  4. For the most part, I have enjoyed my Apple products for years, but try as they might, this company is losing its way. They trickle out a little here, and dribble out a little there. All while demanding more coin for baby steps.

    We want more magic. Time for us to move on, perhaps, and switch to the innovative side.

      1. avalanche |ˈavəˌlanCH|
        noun
        2 a sudden arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities: we have had an avalanche of applications.

        trickle |ˈtrikəl|
        noun
        • a small group or number of people or things moving slowly: the traffic had dwindled to a trickle.

        I’d say closer to a trickle than an avalanche.

    1. Presumably you mean to switch to Android and/or Windows?

      See ya back here soon.

      The pace of innovation “over there” is indeed amazing. Trojans, viruses, phishing scams. Every day someone is releasing a new one.

    2. Haha another infiltrator. So what company would at be and why? Fact is It is delusional to imagine that Apple has actually innovated any faster than it presently is and I have followed it since 1988. However such delusion makes good copy from people who denigrate every disruptive innovation when it does arrive, feel stupid and angry when proved wrong and so retaliate by claiming the company is no longer doing what the writer derided in the first pace. Classic hack/ analyst BS but while there are unthinking sheep…

      1. Upon reflection, I would like to apologize to the community here, and the fine employees of Apple itself. I ask for forgiveness, and I bow my head in shame, for posting such drivel earlier. I lashed out in an evil way. Many apologies.

        I have had a rough last week at work, and my love life is in shambles presently. Note to self: Juggling three women at once is too dicey. Must focus and simplify. A good mantra to follow.

        I will fend off the advances from the other side(s), and stay within the folds of the Apple family. Thank you for your understanding.

        1. Bizarre, but we’ll take you at your word. Jugglers, especially of women and chainsaws, are at risk of far more than a damaging riposte from a casual forum post.

    3. Really?!? So what is Apple supposed to do, drop iOS altogether and release a nanobot OS that your local Apple Store Genius injects into your butt so you have all of your email displayed on your retinas? Gives a new meaning to “Retina Display.”

      People like you are just amazing. The iPhone (and thus iOS) is not even 6 years old. I guess the magic just died for you. Feel free to divorce it and try whoring around a bit — an Android tonight, WinPhone tomorrow, and maybe even go BB for a little fling. Try slumming it with a feature phone — I think Nokia still makes a few.

  5. Speaking as a journalist of more than 50 years, it amazes me how anyone, especially someone who is supposed to be a journalist, can attend (or watch) the keynote June 10 and come to the conclusion that there was no innovation in the various announcements made by Apple. To me, the announcements made were every bit as jaw-dropping as any announcements about ground-breaking hardware. After all, the greatest things about the hardware announcements were the software innovations which went them. You can build hardware until the cows come home, but without great software, they are nothing more than shells. The Apple wannabes prove that.

      1. All news sells.

        Positive versus negative, don’t know the winner of that race. But you have a point.

        Your stereotypical phrasing, absent facts, is duly noted.

        1. You’re 100% right. All news sells. Sellers are differently coloured, is all. It would appear, to a casual observer, however, that negative news sells better to certain cohorts; and that when it comes to Apple, more tongues are salivating than with any other catchphrase in technology. Thus, since Apple secrecy rivals that of the NSA, precious little positive news can exist; hence, on balance the Apple news is negative. Q.E.D.

  6. The only innovation we got yesterday was a new iOS that looks just like Tim Cook. Weak, timid, sissy, uninspiring. It looks like what Apple may have started with and then evolved into what they are now abandoning.

    Oh, I guess we are getting a new Mac Pro that may fit the real definition of “innovation” – at least Phil wasn’t bashful in claiming that. Only problem is that Steve Jobs himself abandoned the pro market when he converted Apple to a mobile device company so Wall Street is going to simply yawn at finally getting around to the customer base that is smallest among all Apple customers.

    Apple is Sony now. Just with fewer products.

      1. No, Jim… it’s not the same broken record. Tim had his chance in front of a world wide audience yesterday and during the two hour presentation AAPL plummeted from plus $6 at the opening of Tim’s show to a minus $3. Investors uniformly unimpressed and what’s new about that is, agreed, nothing. I just hope when the celebration dies down, like it is doing today – i. e. Jim Cramer and others, somebody with some sense on the Apple Inc. board will begin to raise questions about the company’s future and Tim’s failure to generate any kind of excitement for it. That would be new and I could talk about something else.

        1. Apple has generated excitement in the apple community. It generated anxiety in the competition. The landscape is competitive and political. If you don’t like apple products, you have options. 550 million iOS users think differently about the products than you though.

        2. “No, Jim… it’s not the same broken record. Tim had his chance in front of a world wide audience yesterday and during the two hour presentation AAPL plummeted from plus $6 at the opening of Tim’s show to a minus $3.”

          Jay, it is the same broken record, Apple Stock drops every Monday of a WWDC. It did in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007, 2006, 2005, andy 2004 and 2003.

          This article could have been written yesterday, but it was written last year.

          http://www.forbes.com/sites/gregorymcneal/2012/06/12/wwdc-2012-marks-a-decade-of-apples-stock-failing-to-meet-investor-expectations/

          I’m an investor in Apple and I am impressed with Apple but it’s no where near as impressive as the pile up of “death knell Apple is doomed” nay sayers that litter the side roads of progress and innovation. They certainly have a lot more market share and a larger chorus and that certainly must be an attraction to some.

        3. Open: $444.73
          13:00 $446.90
          15:00 $443.32
          Close: $438.89

          Source: finance.google.com. All times Eastern. June 10, 2013

          There was no plummet… according to Google’s charts. What’s your source?

        4. Tim did a 2 hour presentation in front of 5000 iOS and OS X software developers and not one of them bitched about the lack of innovation.

          Every developer there was very happy with the possibilities for greater riches.

          Perhaps you are listening to the wrong people or you are very stupid. I’m going with the latter.

          1. Not taking sides but as a developer I appreciate the fact that the key to customer retention, outreach, and general success in the marketplace is largely due to the extreme efforts expended by the company as demonstrated in these dev conferences. The rest is up to us and the laws of human nature and economics, not to random pop-psych philosophers or sleazy market gurus. Dollars, baby.

        5. It’s called “selling the news”. BTW sorry you didn’t note that Samsung Electronics stock has fallen 8.8% over the past three trading sessions after downgrades by JP Morgan et al. over declining G4 sales estimates. Heads should roll in Seoul over the diminished future of the company.

          1. And yet no “Samsung no longer innovates” or “Samsung’s on the long slide downhill”.
            Apple does more innovating than the rest of the computer and mobile industries put together. Fer chrissake, just about every phone in existence is an iPhone wannabe. Then we have the Air wannabes. Over the years, Apple has led the way over, and over, and over.

    1. Gosh Jay. I feel so naive now I realise that my excitement at yesterday’s announcements just means that I missed Tim Cook’s timidity, amongst other epithets you trawled from the bottom of your stygian imagination.

      I was excited by the confidence on show; the breadth of talent evinced by the number of superb Apple presenters and the beauty of the new Mac Pro. I won’t use it as I probably don’t have the budget for it. As a writer I am desperate for as much screen space and storage as possible and that can be covered currently by my 24″ iMac with second 24″ Cinema Display.

      Still, I am glad for the true power users who will find that this fits their niche. Apple maintains its lustre as the tech firm sans pareil.

      1. Even this small sample of your writing tells me that your emotional responses to the keynote were genuine, and that your attention to the nuances of the proceedings were not negligent in any way. Then again, a master of words can confound as well as convey. A naysayer would claim that. But I was there. The sense of the crowd, when you’re in it, can’t be denied. That “timidity” was actually a calm self-confidence projected by a man able, finally, to answer his tormentors with something real enough for them to fear. His gratification at developers’ response was palpable, as he is only human, but with this unparallelled organisation at his command it continues to shame the opposition, whether they can bring themselves (as did the likes of John Dvorak) to admit it or not.

    2. Jay, how many iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and iPods does Apple sell compared to the number of MacPro sales? Even back in the heyday of MacPro sales, before the mobile devices? Not even close to iMac sales.

  7. The Mac pro looks very cool but it is not what pro users want. Can’t change or add graphics cards, can’t add more internal storage and thunderbolt is extremely expensive. Pcie is technically faster then thunderbolt and cheaper. If this costs 2500 it will take another1500 to get hard drives set up and all because of the cost or thunderbolt

    1. My two partners and I own a small production company with gross revenue in excess of $1MM. We produce all kinds of films…training, promotional, TV spots, documentaries. We are the Pro Users you are apparently alluding to. We want these new Mac Pros. Sure they may be expensive but we expect they will save us a lot of time (You know…the value component). Some people may not want them. So what else is new? But you might want knock off the sweeping “Pro User” generalizations. It just confirms you have no clue what you are talking about.

    2. You do know that Thunderbolt IS PCIe? The price will come down when manufacturers get off their fat arses and start making gear in volume, just like it’s always happened.

      =:~)

  8. Sometimes innovation in Apple products lets me get ahead of competitors that are using Windows products. But mostly my success comes simply from hard work. My work is made easier by the continuous refinement Apple has engaged in. I’ll take that any day over innovation, all other things being equal.

    Which means, in the context of this article, that Apple continues to get money from me, 35% of which is pure profit for them, which I think means they’ll continue to be quite successful even if we see no further “disruptive innovation” for some time.

  9. Since the year 2000, Apple has been “disrupting” about every three to four years.

    iPod, followed by the iTunes Store – 2001 to 2003
    iPhone – 2007
    iPad – 2010

    Well, it’s now 2013. Phil Schiller’s ass says the next disruption is right on schedule. “Disruptive innovation” takes time and secrecy. “Sustaining innovation” is ongoing.

  10. You know why I don’t take much stock in analysts or the tech community at large? Because even the day the iPhone was introduced and shown to the world, easily 50 percent of the voices out there cried, “But there’s no keyboard!!!!!”

    When iPad was introduced, easily 50 percent of these people said, “It’s just an oversized iPod touch!”

    When the pros out there start playing with the new Mac Pro and seeing how easy it is to expand those puppies from that powerful core with Thunderbolt, it’s going to create the new desktop paradigm.

    I shit you not, there will be copycat products about two years out. Samsung has got five people in a room right now reverse engineering it from photos they’ve seen and we all know it.

  11. Tim Cook and company continue to re-enforce the franchise.

    I thought Apple’s dividend hike, stock buy-back plan were brilliant. Monday’s announcements tell me the team is looking through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror.

    Is AAPL a growth stock? Not in the usual sense. Is Apple the next Nokia, Blackberry? Not even close. Is Apple the next Microsoft? Only in Microsoft’s dreams.

    I would not bet against Apple compared to the competition as we go down the road.

    1. Let’s get objective for once:

      1) Apple has very successful stores, both physical and virtual. that’s what makes the money. the rest of the keynote didn’t deliver anything entirely unexpected or earth shattering.
      2) There was little in iOS7 that wasn’t demanded by users for a long time. Nice feature improvements, yes, but the design style definitely doesn’t receive universal praise from all (colors and thin fonts are downright revolting to some people), so it is unlikely to cause a huge population of Android, Windows, or Blackberry fans to switch.
      3) Mac OS 10.9 doesn’t appear to be much more than a minor update as well. It will take more time to see if fundamental efficiency improvements are there, but I don’t see anything that screams must-have. Moreover, enough with the goddamn cloud already. Most pros can’t use 3rd party servers even if they did offer superior accessibility and security, which no cloud actually does. The Mac OS continues to bloat with “features from iOS port, which is not what hardcore users want.
      4) Mac Pro delivers anticipated tech specs while forcing a sea-change in connectivity. Apple had better hope that Intel’s Thunderbolt finally takes hold in the 3rd party peripheral market, because right now pickings are slim and prices are expensive — there’s no way that a current Mac Pro user could connect his legacy peripherals to the new Mac Pro without adapters or docks. Not even his current Apple Pro keyboard.
      5) Increased battery life in the MacBook Air is very much welcomed. But again, not unanticipated.

      Sorry to say it, but I rate Apple’s innovation to be more evolutionary than revolutionary. The one product that really does break the mould, the new Mac Pro, is a VERY compromised design that I predict will suffer similar issues that the Cube had. Cook shouldn’t have wasted Apple money on a stock buyback program, but rather launched a family of iPhones and — if the Mac line is now going to be 100% Thunderbolt dependent — a new line of Thunderbolt accessories, including a modern 4k resolution display and Firewire/USB dock to replace all the ports that were removed from the Pro.

      1. I understand what you are saying. I just have to respectfully disagree.

        Innovation, game-changing innovation, is rare. Jobs reinvented some markets and exploited others. He also had some lambent failures. Cook, building out the infrastructure and steering the franchise through the growth company perception to the next, yet-to-be-defined perception, has proven himself to be equal to the task.

        There’s no quickie nirvana when it comes to innovation. It happens when it happens. I don’t see the current crop of Apple competitors being capable of of producing a game changer. Do you?

      2. Ape has been innovating continuously since the late 90s.

        Every 5 years or-so they invent a whole product category.

        Every 3-10 years they completely rethink an existing product or product line (iPod nano, the current iMac form-factor, iOS 7, unibody MacBooks & MacBook airs, etc.)

        The rest of the time they’re releasing annual -evolutionary- versions of their various products.

        Apple hasn’t completely re-thought the iMac in 10 years now. No complaints. The MacPro was a decade (with an amazing form-factor for the time). Now it’s time to move on. Etc.

      3. I think Mike makes some good points. During the Mavericks presentation, I was wondering why we have had to wait so long for many of the new features. Users have been asking for most of them for years. It’s tough to get excited about them finally fixing the Finder as they should have a long time ago. I’m not sure what they innovated in the Mac Pro. Didn’t they just put together parts made by others into a powerful configuration that is minimally upgradable or even usable without super expensive peripherals? Do you want your desk covered up with peripherals that should be inside the computer? I have wanted one of these, now I’m not sure. Also, as competitors narrow the gap with what their devices will do, which they have already done minus the ecosystem, stability and security, it will be tougher and tougher to justify paying the Apple tax; especially when you pay 2-3 or more times the price and get less of some hardware to which people have become accustomed. Maybe not for us Apple fans, but for the uninitiated or those with just an iPod or iPhone, taking the plunge up to a Mac computer of any kind requires more of a leap of faith than logic or so it seems to them anyway. I’m speaking personally of ongoing conversations I’m having with several folks who are trying to decide what to buy. I’m having a very tough time convincing them that Apple is the way to go with a computer.

  12. If Apple is a non-innovative company – then what is Dell? Blackberry? Nokia? Name another company that has a better line of products. After years of everyone wanting smaller products – now Samsung has people believing that innovation is making phones BIGGER. Even Steve Jobs said he was extremely lucky to have introduced three innovative products in his lifetime! Now apparently Tim Cook is supposed to come up with life altering products every few months – like what, ioS based decoder rings? – grow up!

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