Forget the technical shambles that was Apple's live stream - complete with constant crashes
and Chinese overdubbing - the real story behind today's event was that whilst Apple certainly can innovate, their days as a true hardware innovator appear to be over. And along with hardware you can kiss goodbye to sexy too.
The thing about an iPhone was that no one could ever say you weren't cool. The utter elegance of the device did the talking and Steve Jobs, with his own brand of icy cool, let the world know. Sure, he wore West Coast normcore denim and a roll-neck but he rocked it. And so did the phone. It did things that phones had never done before and it did them in a way that was tangibly elegant & sophisticated. This wasn't some piece of plastic from the Far East, it was engineering, desirable engineering.
So let's start with the core products, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. If these phones didn't have Apple badges on them, would anyone know? I really doubt it. The market has slowly caught up with Apple and where they were once were unique, they're now left with little more than that a slightly bigger screen size and NFC functionality, neither of which are actually new features to the market.
If we turn to the watch, sure it looks 100% a Jonathan Ive creation, but aside from sharing heartbeats with your nearest and dearest, is there a single feature on this watch that either your iPhone or an existing sports watch can't perform? I don't see it. It looks beyond gimmicky and at $349 no one is going to dump that Rolex in a hurry. And as for the kids... they stopped using watches years ago. This feels too late in the offing and far too light on new features.
Apple Pay, this looks interesting but since when was Apple about payments? In a world where consumer trust is the only thing that matters, the iCloud 'hack' couldn't have some at a worse time. Don't get me wrong, I think Apple Pay has genuine merit in the long term, but it won't help them sell a big phone for $1000 for Christmas. I get it: people derided the iPhone before the explosion in apps made them useful, the critics missed the vision etc etc, but encouraging developers to back your platform is somewhat easier than changing the way global retail works.
Yes, we're moving towards a cash-free society, and what world wouldn't be better without store cards, archaic credit cards and so on but Near Field Technology-driven retail is a long way off the mainstream. Junk food leader McDonalds and overpriced coffee behemoth Starbucks may be on board. Great. At least then the Health Kit will come in handy. 'Planned obsolescence' only used to apply to the product, not the user. Did no-one see the irony?
But what worries me most is the loss of sex appeal. Let's not forget, it's not just about features. And Apple are starting to look very middle-aged. Tim Cook may be amazing at supply-chain management but he's no cultural icon. And the ambassador for iPhone, Phil Schiller is pure dad-at-a-school-disco. Where's the slick understatement of Jonny Ive? Gone. And then we had the gamers. The operative was wearing a snood. And the watch guy... seriously.
The whole thing was starting to look about as cool as a Microsoft event right up until U2... at which point the event's credibility managed to smash through rock bottom. I'm not sure that even Blackberry would stoop so low. And that's when it hit me. Switch out the brand logos and would anyone really know? It could have been a corporate event for anyone.
The sex appeal that Apple once had is long gone and so too has the eye for truly radical products. What we're left with is a bunch of corporate nerdsters in stonewashed denim looking about as cool as Bill Gates.
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