There has been a negative narrative surrounding Apple in recent months, ranging from a plummeting stock value to an overall belief that the company is no longer being innovative. Much of the coverage has been blown out of proportion, and often comes from the same few sources — yes, we’re talking about you, Bloomberg, Reuters and The WSJ.
Let me remind you that it has only been three-and-a-half years since Apple introduced the iPad in January 2010. Three years prior to that, the iPhone practically reinvented the smartphone market. Earlier in the decade, five-and-a-half years beforehand, the iPod was launched — it would quickly go on to become the world’s most popular portable media player.
Simply put, Apple needs time to work on new products. M.G. Siegler says it best:
After all, it’s been so long since the last truly innovative product, the iPad, came out. Um, the iPad came out three years ago. Three years! Guess how much time there was between that product and the last “truly innovative” product, the iPhone? Three years. Guess how much time there was between that product and the last “truly innovative” product, the iPod? Five and a half years.
Newsflash: true innovation takes time. Apple has by far the best track-record in recent history when it comes to such products. But how quickly we forget how long each one took to come to market. There needs to be a Turn so we can appreciate the Prestige. But screw that. We want more, better, faster. Cue Louis CK.
Over the weekend, it was revealed that Bob Mansfield has stepped down as Senior Vice President of Technologies at Apple. As confirmed in a statement by the Cupertino-based company, Mansfield will remain with Apple to “work on special projects.”
“Bob is no longer going to be on Apple’s executive team but will remain at Apple working on special projects reporting to Tim,” an Apple spokesman said, referring to Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive.
According to well-connected Apple pundits Om Malik and John Gruber of GigaOM and Daring Fireball respectively, that is no euphemism.
“There’s nothing punitive with Mansfield’s role change, nor health problems or anything like that,” Gruber writes. “Just a more focused role on certain new products. His un-retirement as a senior vice president last year was always intended to be transitional, not permanent.”
You might be wondering how this relates to Apple and innovation.
It relates a lot. Apple says that Mansfield is working on special projects, but that really just means new products. The rumor mill has suggested that Apple is working on anything from an iTV and iWatch to the iPhone 5S and iOS in the Car. Like the original iPhone and iPad, these are products that could define entirely new markets; these are products that could be game changers.
One could argue that Apple is actually being more innovative than ever, beginning with the entirely new direction it is taking with its iOS software for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Moreover, the new Mac Pro — albeit not an extremely popular consumer-facing product — shows that Apple still does hardware design best.
I strongly believe that in the next six to eighteen months, we will see even further innovation on display. Apple is working on exciting new things, but everything remains behind closed doors. By the end of the next calendar year, I think we’ll finally get a glimpse at the new products that Apple fans and the media have been clamouring for.