I’ve been an Apple fanboy for ages. I bought my first Mac almost 17 years ago and since then I’ve bought at least one piece of Apple hardware every year. It started with a G4 Cube, then a PowerMac G4 and Cinema Display, followed every year by the new desktop. When Apple began making iPods, I started buying the new one every year too. Then around 2004 I switched from Power Macs to iMacs for the amazing design and bought the new one every year. After that it was the new PowerBook every year, along with an iPod, then the new iPhone and even iPad every year. And yep, when the Apple TV came out, I added the newest one to my yearly lineup.
As little as a few years ago, I was buying five to six pieces of hardware from Apple each year. This year I bought none. That’s right: for the first time in 17 years, I didn’t by a single piece of hardware Apple made in the last 12 months. And it’s because 2016 is the year the company lost its magic. It’s the year all the hype about its rumored upcoming new products was finally just that – hype. It’s the year Apple’s “innovations” ceased being must-haves and the year your current older Apple products became good enough to hang on to for a few more years. In short, 2016 is the year Apple became a disappointment. Here’s why.
The last time I felt Apple introduced something on the iPhone that I couldn’t live without was the iPhone 6. Yes, that iPhone finally brought up larger screen sizes, but more importantly Apple had innovated its way into the contactless payment market. It was a feature that really solved a problem: the time-consuming task of paying for goods at tills. But Apple hasn’t innovated with the iPhone since then. The 3D Touch display of the iPhone 6s was more gimmick than anything and this year’s iPhone 7 – or as I like to call it, the “iPhone 6ss” – was hardly worth a press conference.
What problem has the iPhone 7 solved? None. It’s marginally faster than the 6s; it’s got a few new colors, but besides that looks almost exactly the same as the 6s; and, worse, its “revolutionary” dual lens camera on the iPhone 7 is restricted to just the Plus model–meaning fans of the 4.7-inch screen size had even less of a reason to upgrade than normal. In the end, Apple’s flagship product didn’t deserve its status as the flagship smartphone in 2016.
Apple’s newest laptop for professionals was an even bigger disappointment than the lackluster iPhone 7. Pros waited four years for a redesigned MacBook Pro and when it was finally released it became evident it was no longer a “Pro” laptop. “MacBook Premium” might be a better moniker. Again the main feature, the TouchBar, is mostly a gimmick. Pros already know most keyboard shortcuts by heart and they are much easier to implement than have to look down at the tiny LED display. But let’s not waste time getting caught up on a gimmick.
The real problem with the Pro was that Apple has finally, utterly, and completely abandoned functionality in favor of design. All ports but USB-C were jettisoned so they could make the Pro just 17% thinner. Pros didn’t want thinness, they wanted a powerhouse portable workstation that meets their needs with both the standard USB ports, the new USB-C, SD card slots, and HDMI out. To top it off, the chipset in the new MBPs are already outdated and the RAM maxes out at 16GB.
If Apple wanted to create a beautiful, minimalist, thin, 15-inch laptop, they should make a 15-inch MacBook to go along with their 12-inch model. Pros need more than beautiful design. They need functionality over form–and at that, Apple has failed them.
Apple Watch Series 2
Apple, the Apple Watch isn’t going to happen. Yes, it’s neat that the Series 2 is waterproof and has GPS, but it’s still a niche product and is never going to achieve mass appeal. All you need to do to prove my point is to walk into Europe’s flagship Apple Store in Covent Garden in London on a busy Saturday afternoon. The three Apple Watch display tables they have almost always have ZERO people by them (and on a good day, maybe about 2) looking at the device, while the rest of the store is packed.
I’m not suggesting Apple was a disappointment for even trying to continue to breathe life into this non-product for the second year in a row, but they were a disappointment for pouring so many of their resources into it (and a book that solely exists to massage Jony Ive’s ego) that they neglected giving proper attention to their core products–the Mac and iPhone.
The Mac and macOS
Speaking of the Mac…Not only was the 2016 MacBook Pro a huge disappointment, it was disappointing that Apple gave virtually no attention to the rest of the Mac lineup. The MacBook line got a slight spec upgrade, the Mac Pro (haha-not) still hasn’t had an update in three years. Neither has the Mac mini. The iMac basically looks the same and has the same features it has had for seven years. Apple even decided to get out of the display and Time Capsule and wireless router market. When Microsoft is out-innovating in the desktop market (with the Surface Studio) you know Apple has lost it.
And besides rebranding OS X to “macOS” and giving it Siri, nothing exciting happened for Apple’s computer OS. Matter of fact, nothing exciting or unique or revolutionary has been added to macOS/OS X in years. Perhaps that’s because–as is completely obvious after this year–Apple does not care about the Mac any longer.
Apple’s Media Services
Finally, Apple was a disappointment in 2016 because they still don’t have a streaming video service. I know it’s hard to compete with Netflix, but if everyone else is trying, and doing so pretty successfully, surely the richest tech company on the planet can give it a go. From HBO GO to Hulu every other company on the planet is getting into the streaming game–but Apple falls flat on offering such content. I mean, if Amazon–the company I buy my socks from–can offer a kick ass streaming video service, how is it Apple cannot?
And make no mistake–this is a serious problem for Apple. If my cloud storage is from Dropbox and my online documents are in Google Drive and my music is from Spotify and my movies are from Netflix, there’s very little reason for me to keep buying into the Apple ecosystem, especially when their smartphones, laptops, and OSes, are frequently becoming chronic disappointments.
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