Posted by Dan Delaney | 11th Nov 2012
October marked the first year anniversary since the passing of Steve Jobs. In the past year, Apple continued to grow and produce some excellent products. For me, the Retina Macbook Pro is a big step in the right direction for Apple, and rumours of a smaller iPad were confirmed which in my opinion - though expensive - will prove to be a huge success.
However, the recent release of the iOS 6 has been plagued with complaints. Apple Maps replacing Google Maps has highlighted data mistakes and overall functionality has been lost. I do not believe iOS 6 would have been allowed to get released under Steve Jobs until Apple Maps was significantly more powerful than the Google alternative. Similarly, the App Store pushing out corrupt binaries in July was a high profile mistake that Apple simply wouldn't have made when Jobs was still at the helm of the company. Of course there were mistakes when he was around, but these were simple quality control problems. It may seem strange to be highlighting the failures of Apple, considering their stock is at an all time high and they are reporting record profits, but how much of this is the legacy that Steve left behind?
They've gone 'thermonuclear' on Android with their patent wars, had some successes and some defeats in the courts around the world. I believe this is indicative of the way that Tim Cook's Apple are prepared to stamp out competition rather than spending that money on quality control. Not that it hasn't been successful, the $1bn win against Samsung gave credence to their arguments about patent infringement but threw up far more issues about the patent system. Some of the arguments were pretty desperate, and some of the things they've been able to patent beggar belief. In my opinion, companies should not be able to patent an idea, just a specific implementation of that idea. Apple seem to have lost a little focus on consumers and more on continuing their company growth. I don't have an iPhone, but if I did I'd want it to be pushed to innovate by credible competition from Android and Windows Phone devices. If Apple continue to force companies into the courts whenever they release a phone, there will be far less competition capable of putting up a fight in the way that Samsung have been able to. Whilst that may help Apple in the short term, looking further along the line how can Apple continue to innovate on their mobile devices when no-one else is prepared or able to provide a credible alternative?
I don't want to see Apple stagnate in a similar way to Microsoft in the late '90s, but I fear that will happen with Tim Cook in charge. Whilst they'll continue to release innovative products at the moment, there will come a time fairly soon where they'll release products that have had no footprint in the Steve Jobs era. Perhaps the long rumoured entry into physical TVs will be the next big thing from Apple, but I don't think that Tim Cook will push through on delivering what would have been revolutionary under Steve Jobs.
My 5 year old MacBook is a truly fantastic Apple product - but in the last few months it has finally been deemed out of date. Mountain Lion will not support the GMA950 in this device - not that there's any reason for it apart from Apple being unprepared to support it. It has been shown to work, and work pretty well, by hacking the correct drivers into the system. Conversely, Windows 8 is supported and runs fantastically well considering that this laptop was a low end device (in PC terms) when Windows 7 was released.
The recent firing of Scott Forstall may be a step towards Apple taking a look at itself and assessing which direction the executive team will take the company. Their cross licensing agreement with HTC announced this week could be an indicator that they're prepared to call a cease fire on their patent war where it's not financially beneficial.
Only time will tell if that's enough to keep Apple at the top of the pile.