Is Apple still about Insanely Great?

by Francois Joseph de Kermadec

My esteemed colleague Jochen Wolters wrote a piece about the next "Insanely Great" Apple product. Like most, well, insanely great pieces, it got me thinking: does something along these lines have a place in Apple's lineup today?


2006-05-22 10:15:09
You can't seriously compare a technology company to Coca-Cola. Computers and technology rapidly continue to evolve on a daily basis. Coke has stayed the same for about 100 years. Apple has gained all the credibility they have earned recently by being right on the edge of this technology wave, as opposed to Microsoft or Napster who are a year behind in the wake. This is the sole reason people are converting to Apple over Windows now: you don't switch to another type of computer unless there is a good reason for doing so, and Apple is years ahead of Microsoft in technology at this point. But if they stop and fade back, they lose that edge and allow Microsoft (or Dell in the hardware market, or Napster in the music market, ...) to catch up to them and probably pass them.

While I agree with you that at some point Apple will come back to the rest of the pack a bit in regard to technological development (it happens to every major technology company. technology->business), now is definitely not the time to let off the gas...

2006-05-22 10:21:56

Thanks for taking the time to post your comments!

I do agree that computers change more often than cola but it would be a mistake to assume cola drinks haven't changed in a hundred years. In fact, their formulas are revised quite often and adapted as the brand extends into new markets -- which is why French Coke seems disgusting to Americans, for example.

Apple certainly is credible in our eyes and, rightfully so, in the eyes of many people. The question, I think, is whether they have the critical mass of credibility they need to move on to a riskier market approach again. This, of course, would require more statistics than we can compile here for sure but I'd be tempted to say we still have a few months, if not years to go.


2006-05-22 11:26:53
Evolutionists have whatthey call "punctuated equilibrium". Evolution moves along slowly, gradually refining the "design" of species, then in a brief span it goes crazy, leading to the evolution of all sorts of greatly different species, and then evolution slows down again. This cycle has been repeated many times.

This to me is also the history of Apple. The move to Intel was a punctuating event, now we have the slow evolution of all the different platforms (laptop vs. desktop, consumer vs. pro). In due course, Apple will have another punctuating event that will knock of socks off, and after that they will seem to move slowly again.

It's just the way the world works.

2006-05-22 11:34:48
Apple just put our its best products last week and next week if they release anything that will be the best in class. The iPods are only getting better. The Macbooks and MacPros are pretty good. The iMac desktops are some of the best bargains around. It is a great time to be Apple. They are having tremendous success and in an era with such great technology they still have a product, the iPod, that no one can beat. Apple is still one of the most innovative companies today up there with Goggle and Ebay, etc. Can they get better? Sure. Do they have problems? Sure. Could they make an even better product of course and their customer service leaves you wanting, but they usually are better than most, so I think the next product will knock-your-socks-off.
Andreas Bachofen
2006-05-22 11:38:25
When Apple released the iPod, a lot of people thought, that this will be the new blue elephant. Just for consideration...
2006-05-22 11:54:01
I have never had issues with Apple's customer service. And I do believe Consumer Reports has listed them with the best customer service for seven years running now.
2006-05-22 13:16:23
I'm a bit confused by your post, FJ. Are you just saying that you think Apple is prototyping insanely great things, but isn't currently manufacturing anything unexpected? If so, how did you come to this conclusion? Do you have some evidence that Apple is planning to rest on its laurels? I'd say that Apple has come out with quite a few unexpected products in the last few years, from all-in-one "computerless" iMacs, to Mac Minis, to iPods, to the iPod Nano, which totally came out of left field, given the popularity of the iPod Mini.

I'd say if anything, with increased cash, increased brand recognition, and continually improving computer components, we're likely to see more innovation coming out of Apple in the next couple of years.

Walt French
2006-05-22 14:30:56
> Now, go ahead and try marketing blue coke.

Take my "TAB Energy Drink." Please. Maybe Coca Cola only tried test-marketing it for 2 days, and only in Minneapolis, where a seemingly nice young woman handed me a can of the purplish pink poison.

But it IS an example of a big, very conservative company taking a chance with an oddball product. I think the difference is that Apple's test marketing only involves a sample of one person.

2006-05-22 14:39:41

A very interesting theory indeed, thanks for sharing it! It certainly seems to apply here, with a slight difference in that, in this case, Apple is in control of the evolution of its products while evolution as biologists see it is more of a passive process -- at least one we are not aware of when it is happening.

Thanks again,

2006-05-22 14:41:07

I entirely agree with you that Apple is in a great spot right now and owns an extremely innovative line. In a nutshell, we seem to agree. :-)


2006-05-22 14:43:07

That is very true! Of course, the original iPod was a big gamble, and at this time, Apple was still in the shadows of the computer industry -- provided Apple has ever really been in the shadows, that is.

You are very right in pointing out there is no real way to know what a "blue elephant" will be. I, personally, always thought the Cube would rock the computing world... See how wrong I was...


2006-05-22 14:43:53

My encounters with Apple Support / Customer Relations / AppleCare have always been extremely smooth, cheery and courteous. That seems to make two of us! ;-)


2006-05-22 14:47:22

I'm sorry my post is confusing you. Am I in possession of any Apple-related evicence? No, not at all. What I am outlining above are merely thoughts based on my observations of the Mac world over the past months. While I wish I were kept in the loop of Cupertino's most secret labs (who doesn't?), it unfortunately is not the case.

I do not think that Apple is going to rest on its laurels either, no. On the contrary, I believe they are working steadily to keep their line updated and current, with great products. I am merely saying I do not believe now is the time for a "breakthrough", or, in other words, a bet. The "computerless" iMac was a very nice machine (and one I'd love to own!) but it is reminiscent of older computers and it certainly never raised the doubt of whether it would sell or not. That doesn't make it any less great.


2006-05-22 14:49:24

Hmm... My local store here in Paris still carries a few bottles of a deep purple bubbly cola drink covered by a thick layer of dust so it seems the experiment went far enough to reach the modest market that is France. ;-)


2006-05-22 17:31:32
While impatient, I can see that Apple's resources have been concentrated on the Intel transition. Sure, we all expect something new; but it would be more realistic to expect it near the end of this transition. As the desktops and server products are probably being finalized next month I can start to get excited again about new products. You may not get exactly what you wish for; but I'm glad we're not depending on HP or Microsoft for future excitement!

2006-05-22 22:18:36
i heard that in Japan, there are many different varieties of Coke; some of which don't last for longer than a few weeks. Can someone support this?
2006-05-23 00:08:59

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! It is true Apple no longer depends on one single person or company to evolve freely over the coming years and it is most reassuring.


2006-05-23 00:09:37

I confess I am not familiar enough with either Coke or Japan to know the answer...


Sean S.
2006-05-23 18:57:29
Coke in Japan is generally sweeter, to the point of being crack like, or often "sliced" with lemon flavoring. And thats generally the way its been for awhile, so I have no idea where you heard that Coke in Japan has constantly new products (in fact I would argue that Coke and Pepsi generally fail in competition to their Japanese counterparts... Pocari and other bottlers routinely wipe the floor with them).

Back, however, to the article at hand. I doubt Apple has anything else major to announce hardware wise for awhile, except maybe where they plan to go with their server range. Will those move over to Itanium? Or will they stay within the Core family and migrate to Xeon? Alot of people have talked about the Intel switch in regards to the desktop and laptop line, but its the power-users and server industry where the really fat margins are. Will Apple be able to hold their own in the server market, particuarly as IBM's Cell line and Sun's UltraSPARCT1 are put on line running various *nix variants?

2006-05-24 00:26:30

Some very interesting comments and questions: thanks for sharing them!

Apple's next move in the server market is indeed the source of many questions and will be watched closely by enthousiasts and analysts alike.