Apple have been in and around the Fast Company list of the most innovative companies in the world for the past decade. Their position as innovators is impossible to ignore, after all they revolutionized how people access the internet, how they interact with their phones, and even brought the modern touchscreen into the public consciousness.
However, in recent years they seem to have lost some of this impetus, with their latest offerings being too similar or with needless iterations to existing designs. For instance the iPhone 7 losing the headphone jack, the MacBook Pro gaining some gimmicky elements, and even the Magic Mouse being unusable when it is charging. For a company famed for its design team and the perfect marriage of form and function, they have let their domination in this space slip in the eyes of the public. Suddenly people don’t want to buy the latest iteration of the iPhone, especially with Google launching the Pixel at a similar price and pitching directly against the new iPhone.
Similarly they have had a number of flops, including the Apple Watch, which has failed to make as much of an impact as many people expected, having been late the market compared to others in the area such as Samsung and Fitbit.
They are also well behind other companies in some of the most innovative technologies such as personal assistants, with Amazon and Google having already dominated the market, making thousands of updates to their products after extensive real-world testing. Apple, on the other hand, is yet to even release their version, leaving considerable ground to make up before they can reach the same levels based purely on the user testing of millions of people.
From public perception, all of these elements indicate that Apple is losing its innovative edge, but going on this alone is to perhaps ignore what made Apple innovative in the first place.
The iPod was not the first MP3 player, the iPhone was not the first internet connected phone, the MacBook Pro was not the first laptop. Instead what Apple created was the best versions of these technologies with some additional innovative ideas. The MacBook Pro is the prime example of why the innovation that surrounded the first and more outwardly innovative products still exists today.
Rather than doing what other companies who created laptops did, by taking components designed and built by other companies and placing them all together to create a laptop, Apple designed and built (with the help of exclusive partners) every single part of their MacBooks, meaning that they don’t slow down at the same speed as others, there is no conflicting hardware, and most importantly the system they have created is designed to operate on the hardware. There are no native and approved programs that run on a MacBook that the hardware is not designed to work with, meaning that everything works better for longer.
So have Apple lost their innovativeness? No, they are still the same innovative company they have always been, which is why they sit at number 4 in the Fast Company list of most innovative companies of 2017.
It is certainly true that the work being done by companies like Amazon and Google with their personal assistant technology is impressive, but it pails in comparison to Apple’s use of AI on its phones to do little things like saving battery life or its use on its computers, which works from the computer, not server farms like most other companies. It has also been making moves into the entertainment industry with Apple Music and Apple TV now quietly successful in their own rights.
This isn’t to say that there haven’t been mistakes and frustrations - ask anybody who wants to charge their iPhone 7 and listen to music on their old headphones - but to say that Apple are no longer innovative is simply a failure to look below the surface.