Investors and customers yearn for an Apple iThingamajig

“Let’s play a little game,” Nick Bilton writes for The New York Times. “If you were Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, and you could have any gadget in the world that you wanted, what would it be? Forget that such a gadget doesn’t exist yet. Remember, you’re the chief executive. of Apple — you can just pick up your iPhone 10, scroll down to Jony Ive’s number and tell him to build you an iThingamajig.”

“So, what is it? A new iPhone with a double-sided screen? A 160-inch Apple television? (Too small? Maybe 260 inches?) An iWatch? Maybe you want an Apple-branded car?” Bilton asks.

“I’m sure we could play this game till the iCows come home,” Bilton writes. “Meanwhile, a lot of investors seem to be asking themselves this question, especially after Apple’s earnings report on Monday… Investors also exited the stock this week for another reason. Wall Street, and customers, have been waiting and waiting and waiting for an entirely new product category from Apple. You know, an iThingamajig.”

“In March 2012, Mr. Cook said Apple’s pipeline was ‘full of stuff.’ In May 2012, he said ‘the juices are flowing,’ at Apple and ‘we have some incredible things coming out.’ Then in an April 2013 earnings call, Mr. Cook said that there was ‘the potential of exciting new product categories,’ and that ‘we’ve got a lot more surprises in the works.’ Again this week he promised a new product category,” Bilton writes. “But we still haven’t seen it. It’s like listening to your friend at the bar say he can pop a beer cap off with his teeth, but he keeps using a bottle opener.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Tim, have we got a fable for you: The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Just kidding! A little birdy keeps telling us with ever-increasing urgency that something is definitely coming – and sooner than later.

Patience, padawans. Not much longer now.

FYI:
• 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 2 years, 5 months, and 8 days.

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

38 Comments

  1. Sounds like Tim is just trying to please the investors and trow a bone to the media.
    Whenever they pull new products, upgraded products or what ever, my late 2012 mac mini works like a champ just like my Apple TV and my iPhone 5 and I bet they will keep running for some more years. So new products or not, the customer still very satisfied.

    1. If you read the quotes provided above, Tim did not promise any *new* products until the past week when he promised a “new product category.” And there was certainly no specific release timeframe. His statements from the April 2013 earnings call addressed the “*potential* of exciting new product categories” and “surprises in the works.”

      The 2012 quotes — ‘the juices are flowing’ and ‘we have some incredible things coming out’ — are generic statements that do not explicitly promise a *new* product category. After Tim made those statements, Apple released a number of great products – the iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad mini w/retina display, iPhone 5 and 5s, new iMacs, retina MacBooks, etc. I consider most of these products to be incredible.

      I feel compelled to point this out because what the analysts and pundits infer from Tim Cook’s statements are often wildly different than what he actually said or “promised.” Many of the analysts and pundits sound rather petulant about their “disappointment” in Apple.

      Please note that I am not saying that Apple is performing flawlessly. On the contrary, Apple has released some buggy software, has failed to sufficiently capitalize on iCloud and AppleTV and expand the functionality of those elements, and has failed to release a larger flagship iPhone in a two-tier format (say 4″ and 5″, for the sake of argument). Apple has also failed to properly maintain, grow, and innovate in their retail space. And Apple needs to dedicate more resources to support its pro customers as well as the development of its consumer products – iWork, iPhoto, iTunes, etc. Don’t build the infrastructure if you are not going to maintain it!

      Still, despite all of these shortcomings, Apple is still a great company producing great products. You may not like everything that Apple does or every product or service that Apple releases…but where would you be without Apple?

    2. My halo keeps working fine too. Tim’s problem is like so many others. Don’t talk about any product or service until you are ready to start shipping them. That was how Steve Jobs and Apple did it for years. Vapor ware and vapor products is a PC game. I wish Apple would talk about what they have done. On the iPhone, IT STARTS WITH THE WORLD’S ONLY 64-BIT iOS and CPU SMARTPHONE!!! Then talk about everything else that know one else offers like:
      • billion dollar server farms all around the world
      • dedicated Apple stores
      • the “halo” and it’s ecosystem
      • etc.

      Man up Tim and the board. You are running the largest technology company in the world and Apple should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time by now!!!

      1. Why is it that no one actually gives a damn about Apple’s 64-bit CPU? I’ve heard very few people in the industry saying it’s an impressive feat. All I ever hear about is how iPhones are too expensive, the displays are too small and Apple isn’t selling enough of them. Everyone believes Android ended up being the 800 lb. gorilla in the smartphone jungle while iOS became the organ grinder’s dancing monkey.

      1. In all honesty, looking at Apple’s struggling share price, does this look like a company that’s sitting on $159 billion of cash? Not even close. If anyone looked at how poorly Apple has been performing over the past year or so, they’d swear this company was Cisco or Oracle or some other company with a faded past. Take a look at AppleTV and tell me that product is made by a company that has $159 billion in the bank and yet is barely matching up to Roku 3 standards. Does the iPod Classic seem like a product that is made by a company with $159 billion in the bank? It looks like a forgotten product. Has Apple been spending too much time working on the iPhone or the new Mac Pro? It would just seem that Apple has the resources to keep all of its products up to date.

        It’s like there was some huge gap of time where Apple seemed to take a nap. I’m not saying they weren’t doing anything but it’s like all product flow stopped in 2013 and it makes me wonder what good is all that money in the bank doing for Apple. This isn’t a complaint. I’m just really puzzled. I’m just waiting to see what products there are in this mythical pipeline that Tim Cook likes to talk about so much. Apple is getting a bad reputation as a company and there’s really no reason for that to be happening.

        1. Tim Cook did not need a Thingamagiggy. He needed variety in the iPhone Line up, That WOULD have been the product wall street AND the public was looking for. WAS… It’s all catch up now for Apple. I was just in a Best Buy and was beside myself looking at all of the INSANE variety that Samsung has for phones compared to 2 versions of what appeared to be a very small iPhone, especially when lost in a sea of Samsung and other designs. Point is, Samsung worked WAY faster to get their variety out in a shorter time frame than Apple Had.
          Another question.. With all of Apples Money, Where are their Killer Apps? Why don’t they have developers making great APPS, Apps by the THOUSANDS, not, Dumbed down “pages” or Final Cut Not-so-pro Vista???
          They don’t have ONE killer app. What is going on? it’s embarrassing at this point for AAPL.

        2. Like you John, I’m losing hope here.
          Aperture has been abandoned by pros, Adobe steams two versions ahead while Apple cannot be bothered to provide even rudimentary features to keep up.
          It will take years to rebuild the trust Apple lost with the FCPX debacle and the new iMovie has so many 1 star reviews it’s crazy.
          Apple dumbed down iLife apps to keep ‘feature parity’ with the iOS versions – but the two can’t talk to each other, so what’s the point?!?!
          iWork apps now fair better on the two OSes, but in the process Apple gave office professionals a right royal rogering by ripping out features they foolishly relied on.
          You should read the forums, it’s not pretty.
          As you said John, this from a company with $159b in the bank??????
          O_o
          Apple – We couldn’t care less about an iThingy, fix the problems first please.

    1. Sales growth is slower at Apple than at the competition. Therefore, investors are switching their bets to back the faster horses. That’s why Cook needs to accelerate. To prevent another Mac market share scenario where margins are high but software choice remains inferior to the competition.

  2. Wall St. is out to lunch when it comes to Apple. If Apple followed the advice of the financial analysts, they would have gone out of business years ago. Instead they are the biggest tech company in the world.

    Apple’s unrelenting focus on great products instead of the bottom line has padded their bottom line very well indeed, but Wall St is too blind to their own propaganda.

  3. … and when the iThingamajig gets released, the analysts will tell us what’s wrong with it, why it will fail and they will make the stock drop.

    Then when it sells a gazillion, the analysts will tell us that those numbers are already baked in and Apple needs to innovate some more.

    1. Microsoft innovated corporate computing, for better and worse.
      Google innovated internet search, for better and worse.

      We all know you’re biased, but at least give credit where credit is due.

    2. Downvotes to come…MS Surface Pro is taking the inside of a macbook air and jamming them into an iPad. It’s pretty impressive from a tech/innovation standpoint.

  4. We’ll see something in March…

    1. New AppleTV (and completely revamped interface), then at the WWDC this Summer, an SDK will be released for it.

    2. iPad Pro (iOS updated to support multi-touch trackpads)

    3. Updates to iPod touch (finally!)

    4. iPhone 5cx – the iPhone 5c with a larger display.

  5. The nice thing about having $100+Bn is that you can ignore the share price, ignore the Trumps and Icahn’s and all the shrill Wall Street types and bring out the next insanely great thing when its the game-changer you are seeking. If it’s only 95% right, then wait until it is better.

    That is the true legacy of SJ. Real investors take the long term view not the race to the cliff.

  6. After the iPod was released, rapid improvements were implemented, and derivative model iPods arrived regularly. The iTunes Store grew dramatically, and Apple had those great Hodgman/Long ads that illustrated to people how the Apple ecosystem and products worked better. Several Macs were released in that period with game-changing build quality and performance. That’s why the time between the iPod and the iPhone was just a blink. Everyone was pleased with Apple’s passion for improvement.

    The iPad release was quick because it is a derivative product, the underlying technologies and software were already in place. It happened quickly without any strong leadership required.

    With a couple exceptions, Tim Cook has done nothing but predictable product refreshes that were long overdue anyway. He has less than a year to release something truly new, or Apple will see even more investors leave. Apple TV, the Mac mini, the whole range of iPods, and much Apple software all need significant updates. More derivative iPhones can’t come soon enough. Apple can’t expect to be considered “Premium” when it falls behind. When the world tells you that a 5″ phone is what they want, then get off your asses and offer them one, Cook. When users complain about iOS7, don’t just shrug and say change is tough — address their legitimate concerns! Cook seems deaf to his users.

    Fact is, in many product categories, Apple sales growth is little better than population growth. So “record sales” doesn’t mean much. Cook flubbed the iPhone strategy, he’s not executing any Apple TV strategy, and he’s done a crappy job growing the Mac division. Compared to the competition, Apple is not moving as assertively, and the only possible explanation is Cook’s weak leadership.

    1. When has Apple EVER released a product that SOME users didn’t complain about? NEVER. It seems more prevalent in this day and age because everybody and their brother have an opinion about Apple and are blogging it. Most of those people are usually whiners and complainers – you know the old saying, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

      I’m assuming you have many years of experience in developing products? You know they could actually be coming out with something that is truly revolutionary and they’re waiting for all the pieces to come together; hardware, software, backend infrastructure, licensing, etc.

      1. Interesting commentary but I don’t see how your points conflict with mine. MDN boards are chock full of reasonable requests for Apple product improvements. Read for yourself instead of criticizing me.

  7. Can we find Tim’s actual quote. Because I’m almost positive he said all the good things that were coming was going to be fall 2013 and all of 2014.

    He clearly thought a plastic iPhone and the Mac Pro were the fall innovations. He still has all of 2014 left.

  8. I’ll continue to predict that Pono will be incorporated into some Apple hardware device. How about expanding an AppleTV model to incorporate Pono? Pono either is, or is not the next big thing. We shall see.

    1. Walter aka Neil Young.. nice try!

      I don’t see how Apple needs Pono. Apple moving to lossless audio codecs seems well within their capabilities technically. It currently seems more of a licensing issue and file size considerations at this point.

      It would be nice to see Apple truly make great products (like they say they want to) by never selling an iOS device below the 32GB threshold as a minimum. In the iPod realm, the classic model has 160GB. The flagship iPod touch maxes out at 64GB. Unlike the iPod classic, we are now also using apps that can take up huge amounts of space on our iPod touches and iPhones. There should have been a 128GB model years ago, and we should have a 256GB option by now rendering the iPod classic model EOL’d.

      The lossless audio codecs will make sense if Apple can break the 128GB barrier, and stop insulting it’s customers with iOS devices with 16GB capacities or less.

  9. Family vacation. Dad drives from Florida to Yellow Stone.

    Kids ask, rightly so, “Are we there yet?” The thing is, they are still in Florida. Dad says, “Almost” And this goes on and on.

    !!!

    So the issue is, we know what it takes to make new products and new categories. However stop leading us on. Tell us, “We plan on coming out with something, I can’t tell you what it is or when, but we are working hard on new ideas.”

    MDN, makes a good point, there are lulls between new product categories. I say, tell the kids to be patient, and good things will come. In the mean time, watch this video or play this game.

  10. Here’s a hypothesis:

    Wall-Nut Street is so strung out on cocaine, meth, whatever, that it treats the world like it owes them a high.

    So dammit Apple! Get Me High!

    IOW: Drug addict mania.

    And I wish I could say I was joking. Knowing someone who is indeed a coke addict, I’m kind of afraid I’m correct.

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