Recently, a headline on Quartz publication stated out loud that Apple is not an innovative brand anymore. Apparently, the person who co-designed the Mac with Steve Jobs made this statement. So, even if Apple’s new iPhone 5S received only outstanding reviews since the release, critics couldn’t hold back their comments much longer. Disappointed that Apple didn’t release any device to compete with Google’s Glass, analysts begun wondering what happened to projects such as the iWatch or iTV and why are Jonathan Ive and Tim Cook only keeping these projects on drafts.
Starting from Quartz’s headline, we started wondering: When was Apple an innovative company? If you look back at the Cupertino manufacturer’s history, you can see that usually there are huge time periods between major product releases. Not to mention that Apple has rarely been the first company to bring a new device category on the market. As an example, the first iPod was released years after the MP3 emerged; while the iPhone has been long time believed to be unjustifiably expensive and beneath other phones developed on older and more experienced platforms.
Another supposition is the one according to which Apple is behind Google’s wearables. Fadell stated that during his time in the company, he worked on something quite similar to the Google Glass.
We believe this supposition to be quite far from truth, if not completely wrong. Max Chavkin claims that while interviewing former Apple staff for the Oral History on Apple Design, for Fast Company, he learned that opposite to Google, Apple is a very disciplined company and doesn’t let the public know about, or see devices that haven’t been fully tested or entirely finished. And apparently, Jonathan Ive’s industrial design lab, 1 Infinity Loop is full off prototype devices and even a secretly developed headset, similar to the Google Glass.
More than that, while making the documentary, Fast Company discovered that the Cupertino company is developing augmented reality headset prototypes since 2006. Later on, the idea was confirmed by Tony Fadell during the interview for Apple’s oral history. Currently the CEO of Nest Labs, Tony Fadell used to be the head of Apple’s iPod division and stated that the device Apple was working on during his time there was a headset similar to the Google Glass.
Fadell goes on to say that he even built a few of those prototypes and the initial concept was representing a face-mounted screen able to create an absorbing entertainment experience, just like in a cinema. However, Apple seemed more focused at the time (and probably now as well) on the wellbeing of their major lines of products than on developing new ones. Another abandoned idea he recalls gladly is the Apple digital camcorder, a concept discarded by the arrival of the Flip camera.
Even though the idea that Apple could have launched a face-wearable computer a few years ago is flattering for Apple enthusiasts, boxing those ideas for later usage seems very logic. Considering that last year, the iPhone alone gathered a revenue of $80 billion dollars and their brand new low cost iPhone, recently launched, which is expected to bring at least half of that income, Apple doesn’t need to create niche designs as they do not target that market yet.
Another clue towards the fact that Apple isn’t behind Google’s Glass, is their approach on the headset. From Fadell’s statements we could also realize how would Apple see such a product if they would ever build one and in opposition to the Glass, which is mainly a communication device you can also use for photos, emails and Internet searches, Apple’s headset is designed as a new media-viewing device. More like bringing a theater in your home environment rather than taking Facebook photos and replying emails. So, as we mentioned above, Apple is once more targeting mass markets while Google created a high-end headset targeted on engineers and maybe game addicts. And this is why we believe that Apple’s iWatch, if they’re going to build one, is going to be more of a music player and health tracking device rather than another wearable ‘smartphone’.
So, the conclusion is that when Apple will be launching a headset such as the Glass, it will definitely be targeted towards mass markets and not niches. And we bet that when this will happen, there will be other people wining about Apple not keeping up with its competitors.