No magic, no Apple: Cupertino’s identity crisis in the fading afterglow of Jobs

no magic apple cupertinos identity crisis in the fading afterglow of jobs steve

Apple has several products supposedly arriving over the next few months: an iPhone with a larger display, an iWatch, and an iPad Mini with a Retina display. But not one seems to be that magical. The iPhone is chasing competitors from Samsung to Nokia on display size, the iPad Mini is chasing the Nexus 7 (which is far cheaper) and likely the new Kindle on screen quality, and existing smartwatches aren’t exactly getting people to line up. At least there’s hope for this last one: People weren’t exactly lining up for MP3 players, smartphones or tablets before Apple did them, either. So there could be magic with the iWatch. It just seems unlikely, because I haven’t seen anything truly magical from Apple since Steve Jobs passed. That has me wondering: Is Apple still Apple without magical products?

Where did it go?

I’m not seeing anything really magical from any company at the moment. Google Glass is more geeky than magical, the new phablets from Samsung are huge but don’t seem to be drawing a crowd, and while the new Nexus 7 is selling out, I think that’s because folks see it as a great value. When has anyone seen an Apple product as a great value? Amazing, yes. Magical, yes. Good value, not so much …

In fact, you have to wander all the way over to a Tesla dealership to see anything approaching the kind of magic that Apple products used to have.

So do Apple products suck?

Honestly, some kind of do at the moment. If you have an iPhone and connect to an Exchange mail service, you’ve likely recently discovered your calendar and mail items are “magically” disappearing. Not exactly the kind of magic I was hoping for. If you have an iPhone or an iPad mini, you have a device which clearly lags behind competing Android devices on voice response and screen size, and a Nokia on camera quality. In fact, given the fact that two people have been electrocuted using iPhones last month, it is kind of amazing iPhones are selling well at all (there was a third in Australia). I’m still trying to get my head around these phenomena: How the hell is it even possible to pass enough current through a working iPhone to significantly shock, let alone kill someone? It should be impossible but, for whatever reason, currently the one feature the iPhone has that no one else can duplicate is the electrocution feature. By the way, given what our intelligence agencies have been accused of doing over the last few weeks, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out one of them had rigged some phones to kill people. Yes, I’m getting a wee bit paranoid.

Currently the one feature the iPhone has that no one else can duplicate is the electrocution feature. 

Compared to how we viewed Apple just a year ago, Apple products kind of suck now. I can’t see this ending well for Apple. The company is rumored to have started a Skunk Works program to create magical new products, but it couldn’t come soon enough for me.

Hot products

Let’s go down a list of products that appear to be selling out. We have the new Moto X phone, which you can customize and has a better voice solution than Siri; we have the new Nexus 7, which kicks the iPad mini’s butt; we have the Nokia 1020, which has the killer (metaphorically) camera; we have Google Chromecast, which has already sold so well that Google had to kill the incentive program around it. For the most part, Google is just kicking Apple’s butt up and down the playground, and it isn’t a pretty sight.

No magic, no Apple

I was recently at a meeting of analysts and vendors, and got into a conversation about Apple with one of the ex-Apple executives at the meeting. I got the sense that Tim Cook was hired because he was good at everything Jobs didn’t like to do, and Phil Schiller was basically Jobs’ internal fan club chairman. In other words, you really don’t have a viable company without someone doing what Jobs did. Both executive management and marketing hinged on Steve Jobs’ presence, and the guy’s skill set just hasn’t been replaced. Jobs was Apple’s magician. When he left Apple the first time in the 1980s, Apple apparently failed to learn that it needs a magician, someone who can put magic back in the products. Unlike any other CEO, Jobs focused like a laser on the consumer, not stockholders or financial analysts or IT buyers. Tim Cook clearly isn’t that guy, and until we get a person like that back in Apple, Apple isn’t that company anymore either.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.


Sign In with Apple sticks it to Google and Facebook, for the good of everyone

Apple wants you to use its new Sign In with Apple service, which promises to free you from password hell, without selling your soul to the advertising devil. Is it worth using when it launches this year?

How the Mac Pro’s modular internals prophesy a new future for PC design

Apple's new Mac Pro is here and it looks set to offer video editors a perfect blend of sheer power and expansive expandability. But what if the changes in Apple's new system bleed through into the PC industry as a whole?

The new Mac Pro was the only way to save the Mac from the iPad’s killing blow

The Mac Pro and the iPad were in the spotlight this year at WWDC 2019. Why? Well, the two products paint an interesting picture about the future of both platforms and where Apple is headed with them.

As Google keeps racing ahead, where is Apple’s A.I. strategy?

The contrast between Google’s I/O developer conference and Apple’s WWDC on the topic of artificial intelligence is stark, but what does it mean? We take a look at how Apple has fallen behind and what it might do to catch up.
Movies & TV

Why choose? Disney Plus and Netflix are the peanut butter and jelly of streaming

Instead of debating which streaming video service is better, we should instead be talking about how Netflix and Disney Plus are two equally great and totally different streaming options that will go even better together.

Google Stadia’s platform for everyone promise is already broken

Google Stadia, the upcoming cloud gaming service, pitches itself on accessibility. It's a platform for everyone, playable on any screen. Except that's not quite true. Stadia has many restrictions, terms, and conditions.

Orwell’s 1984 was nothing like actual 1984. But it’s exactly like 2019

70 years ago today, George Orwell published 1984: a dystopian novel that sat squarely in the realm of fiction at the time it was published. Today, however, the book is an astonishingly accurate depiction of the world we live in now -- and…

Microsoft's Xbox Project Scarlett console is awesome, and it doesn't matter

Microsoft has set a release date for Project Scarlett, its next-generation game console. It promises incredible performance, stunning 8K visuals, and lightning-quick load times -- but none of that matters. The console's relevance is waning.

BMW’s i8 Roadster is the Mazda Miata of hybrids. And I mean that in a good way

The i8 Roadster is not best in class for power, speed, or outright abilities. What is does offer is some of the best driving fun for the money. Sounds exactly like the Mazda MX-5 Miata to us.

Ubisoft says its games ignore politics. So why are they so political?

Prior to E3, Ubisoft reiterated again that it doesn't make political statements in games. At its press conference, however, we saw previews of Watch Dogs Legion and Ghost Recon Blackpoint that suggest otherwise.

The true advantage of AMD’s next-gen chips isn’t power, it’s platforms

AMD announced some impressive new processors and GPUs at E3 this week, with plenty of muscle to flex. But the real strength of AMD in the future isn't its power or even its price. It's cross-platform scalability.

I bought a four-year-old MacBook Pro instead of a new one. Here’s why

The new MacBook Pros have a ton of advantages over the older options, but when it came to buying a replacement machine for myself, I found myself returning to 2015 rather than picking up Apple's latest and greatest.

Tim Cook said Silicon Valley built a chaos factory. Are Apple’s hands clean?

The King of Silicon Valley just called it a “chaos factory.” Giving a commencement speech at Stanford University, Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized his fellow tech giants for disregarding the privacy of their customers.

Cadence of Hyrule is the first truly amazing Zelda spinoff

Cadence of Hyrule is the first non-mainline Zelda game to capture the magic of the series. Blending catchy rhythm mechanics with top-down Zelda exploration, Brace Yourself Games has created one of the best games of 2019.