Will Apple Ever Give Us What We Know We Want?
Up in Cupertino way, a little company you might have heard of has been quietly gnawing away at various consumer electronics markets. Once a niche player in a Windows dominated computer landscape, it was like one lonely Apple tree in a forest of oaks. Okay, maybe not oaks. But now though it's different. Apple trees are popping up everywhere in that forest; however, we aren't getting much say in what type of apples are growing.
Gartner is reporting Apple's market share is up to 9.5% in US, from under half that of a few years ago. Intriguingly, the Mac's continued upswing followed three of the biggest backflips in IT history from Apple: A multi-button mouse, Intel inside and Windows native on Macs. Without doubt the halo affect of the iPod and now the iPhone, the move of applications to the internet, and security and usability advantages of OS X have been major factors, but those three have also played their part.
It does make you wonder that maybe when you give consumers what they want, instead of giving them something and telling them it's what they want, that it will sell by the truckloads. It's worked for Microsoft.
However, I think I've reached a new stage of my Apple journey. Five years on from that first Mac, I'm finally resigned to the fact Apple will never even do 1/10th of the products userland, including me, is begging for.
Without thinking too hard, here's a list of some of the products I - and others - have yearned for over the recent years
- Headless iMac (not a mini, a proper desktop)
- iPhone nano (pretty much just a phone)
- Mac tablet
- MacBook mini/nano (ultra light MacBook)
- OS X licenced to third party computer manufacturers
I doubt we'll ever see most of these. And yet there's no reason any shouldn't be hugely successful.
What really inspired this piece was a rather excitings story I read on TUAW this morning about a concept proposed by OLO Computer whereby the iPhone could be docked in a laptop-like device where the trackpad normally is. You'd then use your iPhone with a large screen and keyboard. I thought it was a sensational idea, but then realised we'd probably never see it from Apple, nor would Apple provide the means in the iPhone to make it possible.
I seriously expect we will see such devices within a couple of years, but all will be driven by phones running either Android or Windows Mobile.
I tell you what though, if such a device comes to pass and Apple doesn't get on board, my loyalty will be severely tested.
I noted today too that there has been a surprisingly large disappointment in the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Despite all the rumors being true, and userland then knowing what to expect, on MacRumors folks are voting massively in the negative regards the new Apple laptops. This implies folks haven't had their needs met by Apple. Again. Reading some of the comments, high among the gripes is no matte screen option on the MacBook Pros, and I imagine the loss of Firewire on the MacBooks has probably put a few people off-side too.
This is not to say Apple doesn't listen. The shuffle is one example, video on the Pod is another. But those wins for consumers, those times where Apple has clearly provided what the public has been demanding, are few and far between.
You'd think, with five years being a Mac user, I would have learnt long ago that Apple has its own agenda, and one that often doesn't match with that of the consumer. But I've finally resigned to the fact that what I want (and many others want) is probably rarely going to come out of Cupertino.
Don't get me wrong, though, I have still greatly appreciated what Apple has provided, and some of it, like the multi-touch, usable-internet iPhone, have been wonderful surprises. But I do wish for so much more.
It's great that Apple provides products we didn't know we wanted, but wouldn't it be nice if it did provide a few more of the ones we know we want?