Apple Claim Chowder: Evolutionary Or Revolutionary

on September 4, 2014
Reading Time: 7 minutes

With an Apple Event fast approaching, I’m reviewing critiques of past Apple Events to see how accurate they were. Turns out, not very. Critique is needed and welcome. Repeated errors? Not so much.

Evolutionary Or Revolutionary

The iPhone and the iPad have received a lot of criticism for being evolutionary, not revolutionary. I take strong exception to this sentiment. Apple’s iPhone and iPad — which are only seven and four years old, respectively — have been about as revolutionary as tech can get.

Before And After

From 1906, to 1956, to 2006, we went from the horse to the car to the airplane. However, as the photos below demonstrate, the way we read, entertained ourselves and communicated, while waiting to ride in the horse, the car and the plane, remained largely unchanged…until the iPhone arrived in 2007.

1906

1956

2006

Subway

Convergence

Further, look at the two photos, below, showing the multiple tasks that we can now accomplish with the aid of a single device.

photo.php

Update

Inevitable

Finally, perhaps the critics think that this is no revolution at all; that this is all simply the inevitable result of the march of progress.

Hardly.

Thousand

Android.before.iPhone

Jobs.buttonphones.2007

Things do not happen. Things are made to happen. ~ John F. Kennedy

Critics think Apple’s products are evolutionary? I beg to differ. And reality begs to differ too. They’re as revolutionary as it gets.

An Attitude Of Ingratitude

If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself. ~ Tecumseh

There are (at least) two reasons why we don’t appreciate the significance of the iPhone/iPad revolution.

First, change seems to come very slowly when we’re looking forward but very rapidly when we’re looking backward. The iPhone was a leap. The iPad was a leap. Some acknowledge that they were revolutionary but claim that everything since has been evolutionary. I disagree.

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. ~ Bill Gates

Sometimes, evolutionary can be revolutionary too. During the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, personal computing improved at breakneck speed. The changes were gradual and iterative but they came so rapidly, one after the other, that the effect was to change everything in a very short period of time. The same thing is happening in mobile, today.

Big things start small. ~ Hiten Shah (@hnshah)

Big things do indeed start small. But they don’t stay small for long.

The second reason we don’t appreciate what we have is because we’re an ungrateful lot.

Human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. ~ Aldous Huxley

    It’s been years — considered a long time in tech — since Apple delivered a “mind-blowing” product that made a cultural dent, some say, harking back to the iPad in 2010 and iPhone in 2007. ~ Jon Swartz, USA Today, 4 October 2012

Seriously? “It’s been years….” You mean it’s been, like TWO years before that article was written and FOUR years before today, since Apple changed everything. All over again? Geez, what a bunch of slackers they are.

The discontented child cries for toasted snow. – Arabian proverb

All this ingratitude reminds me of a joke:

    A woman was driving down the street in a sweat because she had an important meeting and couldn’t find a parking place. Looking up toward heaven, she said, “Lord, take pity on me. If you find me a parking place, I will go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life and give up sex and tequila.” Miraculously, a parking place appeared. She looked up again and said, “Never mind. I found one.”

3d clown - puppet, juggling with color balls

Claim Chowder

Here are some past quotes regarding “evolutionary” vs. “revolutionary”. They haven’t stood the test of time very well.

An ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree eating acorns, but never looking up to see where they come from. ~ Timothy Dexter

    (T)he iPhone itself may not be so great after all. ~ Randall Stross, professor of business at San Jose State University, 12 December 2009

    The iPad is not the revolutionary product so many hoped it would be. ~ Don Reisinger, eWeek.com, 28 January 2010

    Yet for some of us who sat in the audience watching Steve Jobs introduce the [iPad], the whole thing felt like a letdown. ~ Daniel Lyons, BusinessWeek, 28 January 2010

    Ultimately, the iPad is a large iPod touch: a great device to draw your inspiration from, but perhaps not the seismic shift in technology that we were expecting. ~ Claudine Beaumont, The Telegraph, 28 January 2010

    The company once notorious for its ability to upend convention and revolutionize markets may no longer have what it takes, worry some technology journalists. Call it the iPad or the iPlod, but the message seems clear: Apple may have lost its mojo. ~ Jeremy A. Kaplan, FOXNews.com, 28 January 2010

    Behold: The Apple iFlop. Neither “truly magical” nor “revolutionary,” the cluelessly named Apple iPad tablet device has dropped like a shiny wedge into the gadget game, dividing tech watchers in to opposing views — the critical and the adoring. ~ Scott Moritz, TheStreet.com, 28 January 2010

    Apple’s new iPad device is destined to disappoint (and not just because of the unfortunate name). ~ Russ Wilcox, CEO E-Ink (makers of Amazon’s Kindle), 28 January 2010

    It’s not going to revolutionize anything, it’s not going to replace netbooks… ~ Bruce Beris, bruceb consulting, 4 February 2010

    Tablets look cool, but the reality is they don’t do anything new. ~ Michael Comeau, Minyanville, 5 March 2010

smartphone-gadgets-killed

    The iPad is a not so ‘magical’ e-reader. Expect to hear a lot of: ‘I spent a cold night in line for this?’ ~ Scott Moritz , TheStreet.com, 9 March 2010

    (T)he Apple iPad is not unique, nor necessarily the best of breed in the media tablet sector it is spearheading. ~ Anders Bylund (TMF Zahrim), 11 March 2010

    And while Apple would be expected to ignite the tablet computing sector as it has done with MP3 players and the smart phone, there is something it can no longer do: sneak up and surprise the competition. There is no surprise with this device; it is just a huge iPod touch. ~ John C. Dvorak, MarketWatch, 26 March 2010

    In short, I don’t get the ‘magical and revolutionary’ vibe that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs touted at the iPad’s January unveiling. ~ Rob Pegoraro, Washington Post, 9 April 2010

    The iPad is useless. Beautiful, but useless. ~ Josh Belzman, MSNBC.com, 20 May 2010

    Right off the bat, I’m glad to see that my initial reactions to [the iPad] were accurate. Anyone who believes this thing is a game changer is a tool. ~ Paul Thurrott, Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows, 6 October 2010

    I cannot see a need for the thing [iPad]. ~ John Dvorak, MarketWatch, 22 October 2010

    I can’t imagine anyone under the age of 30 wanting an iPad. … Furthermore, I do not recall ever seeing anyone under 30 actually using an iPad. ~ John C. Dvorak, PC Mag, 13 December 2010

    But I don’t see any overwhelmingly compelling capabilities that would make people sitting on the tablet fence go out and have to buy one, despite some attractive apps. I don’t see this as heads above the competition (especially the Xoom) right now. Apple didn’t really move the bar all that much. ~ J. Gold, J. Gold Associates, 2 March 2011

    The iPhone is heralded as the most revolutionary mobile phone in human history, but the cold and harsh truth is that for all the cheering and punditry, the iPhone’s impact on the world is negligible. ~ Thom Holwerda, OS News, 29 Dec 2011

Commuting

future-of-the-image

    Apple’s new iPhone 5 is a well-crafted device that’s likely to please the company’s fans and sell in the tens of millions. But if you’re looking for something truly innovative in a smartphone, look elsewhere. ~ Troy Wolverton, Mercury News, 12 Sep 2012

    Key take aways: Innovation at Apple is over… Just incremental improvements, nothing ground breaking. The best is over for Apple. ~ Trip Chowdhry, Global Equities, 23 October 2012

    And I’m really struck by this mini iPad thing. As if that’s any kind of a product innovation. You know, once you start just changing the size of your products, I really think you’re not exactly innovating. I wonder if they’re going to start coming out with the tutti-frutti iPad, where it comes out in different colors. As if that would be some sort of innovation… ~ Jeff Gundlach, CEO, Doubleline Capital, 7 Nov 2012

    However, for the company to truly move forward as a tech power, Apple should hang-up on the iPhone after one more iteration – presumably the iPhone 6. You might disagree. Granted, the phone is still selling well. However, aside from a different chip and larger screen, the change from the 4S to iPhone 5 was not that significant. ~ Richard Saintvilus, Forbes, 6 January 2013

    Google glasses may look and seem absurd now but (Brian) Sozzi says they are “a product that is going to set the stage for many other interesting products.” For the moment, at least, the same cannot be said of iPhones or iPads. ~ Jeff Macke, Yahoo! Breakout, 27 February 2013

    Enterprise tablets now exist that provide the best of both worlds between end user and IT, which puts the Apple in a precarious position of needing to add more robust enterprise features. Until that point, Moor Insights & Strategy recommends enterprises re-evaluate their iPad pilots and deployments. Enterprises should immediately evaluate the latest enterprise tablet offerings from HP, Dell and Lenovo and make their decisions on future deployments incorporating those additional options. ~ Patrick Moorhead, Moor Insights & Strategy, 15 March 2013

    Nothing new is coming from [Apple’s] pipeline. The iPhone5S and the iPad Mini aren’t new products. ~ Stephan Dube, Seeking Alpha, 28 May 2013

    Let’s face it this new iPhone is just an upgrade, a refresh, dare I say a sequel. I am sure that true tech devotees will tell me how wrong I am, that this new device is smarter, faster, revolutionary, etc. But to me and millions like me it seems a lot more evolutionary. It looks a whole lot like the last iPhone and the one before that and the one before that too. ~ Sandy Cannold, ABC News, 23 Sept 2013

    (T)hese days, Samsung sells the most smartphones, and up-and-coming manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE are nipping at Apple’s heels. The new iPhones — at least the ones being spun from the rumor mill that claim color as the big innovation — do not exactly sound like great leaps in technology. ~ Nick Bilton, New York Times, 8 September 2013

    Remember when the iPhone was truly innovative? Think hard, because you’d have to go back to 2007, and the release of the first iPhone. But since then, Apple has been tossing out retread after retread… ~ Paul Thurrott, Supersite for Windows, 13 September 2013

    The 5c may be this year’s Surface RT. ~ Rick Munarriz, The Motley Fool, 13 Sept 2013

    Apple’s innovation problem is real. … Rivals have caught up to Apple in the markets it once dominated, and the tech giant’s rumored future products appear to be more evolutionary than revolutionary. ~ Julianne Pepitone and Adrian Covert, CNNMoneyTech, 8 September 2013

    The most that Apple could think to do with the new, faster processor in the iPhone 5S was animate 3D effects that make some users feel ill and a fingerprint sensor that solved a problem that wasn’t exactly pressing. Apple’s new iOS7 mobile operating system, which felt ‘more like a Microsoft release,’ crippled many older iPhones and led to complaints of planned obsolescence. ~ Christopher Mims, Quartz, 30 December 2013

    By copying the work of others, Apple seems to admit it has fallen behind competitors. ~ Transcend Asset, 5 June 2014

Lessons Learned And Unlearned

I can think of (at least) three lessons here.

First, little people belittle greatness.

To belittle, you have to be little. ~ Khalil Gibran

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Ridicule is the tribute paid to…genius by the mediocrities. ~ Oscar Wilde

Little men with little minds and little imaginations go through life in little ruts, smugly resisting all changes which would jar their little worlds. ~ Zig Ziglar

Second, we often do not see what is right before our eyes.

You see, but you do not observe. ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Third, acceptance comes in stages.

All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Apple Claim Chowder Series:

Introduction
Events
Killers
Cynicism
Product
Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
Business Models