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.
There is a long, sordid history of products being introduced as iPod, iPhone, and iPad Killers. You know the deal. Product “X” is introduced and it will be an Apple Killer because hypothetical products of the future are always superior to Apple products of today, yada, yada, yada. The problem with this theory is that repeated experience has shown that it just ain’t so.
The only thing experience teaches us is that experience teaches us nothing. ~ Andre Maurois
My rule of thumb is that a product isn’t real until it 1) has a ship date; 2) has a firm price; and 3) has been reviewed by independent third parties.
In the case of news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation. ~ Voltaire
You would think that critics would want to wait until AFTER they had gotten their hands on a product, and perhaps even wait until AFTER they had received some actual sales numbers, before declaring said product a “killer” of anything. But no. Why wait when one can be so wrong, so far ahead of time?
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as Sherlock Holmes, From “A Scandal in Bohemia”
Below is a rogue’s list some past Apple “Killers”, grouped by company. I am quite confident that critics have learned nothing from the past and that they will soom be adding many more “Killers” to the list come this Fall. Critics and competitors alike should remember the words of Helmuth von Moltke the Elder (attributed) before declaring any product an Apple “Killer”:
No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.
If everything that we have heard about the upcoming Kindle tablet is true (upgraded Android front end, 7-inch touch screen, $250 price), we think AMZN will have another big product success. ~ Naked Value, 27 Sept 2011
Last year, we wanted to build the best tablet at a certain price. And, this year, we wanted to build the best tablet at any price. Take away the price and it’s still the best tablet. It also happens to be only $499. ~ Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon.com, 6 Sep 2012
Feature for feature – the latest Amazon) Kindle Fire is better than the latest iPad. ~ James Altucher, Seeking Alpha, 27 January 2013
Amazon is well on its way to effectively replicate Apple’s business model. ~ Victor Anthony, Topeka Capital, 25 September 2013
But when it comes right down to it, the BlackBerry Storm will be the superior mobile device and represents a true iPhone killer. ~ Andrew Hickey, ChannelWeb, 14 Nov 2008
At today’s BlackBerry developer’s event, RIM announced their iPad-beater: the PlayBook. ~ Brian Barrett, Gizmodo, 27 September 2010
Just the pent-up interest in the PlayBook is really overwhelming. ~ Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO, Research In Motion, 16 December 2010
The launch of Storm 3 gives RIMM the long-awaited answer to the iPhone and high-end Android devices. ~ Michael Li, Investing Blog, 16 January 2011
The sales of the PlayBook have been fantastic, we’ve re-ordered multiple times and it’s exceeded our expectations. ~ Ben McIntosh, Harvey Norman’s Computers, Australia, 22 Aug 2011
‘iPhone Killer’ BlackBerry 10 is here: iPhone is Dead! ~ Bob Brown, InfoWorld, 30 January 2013
Sorry Apple, the BlackBerry Z10 Is Hotter Than the iPhone. ~ Jesus Diaz, Gizmodo, 28 January 2013
BlackBerry 10 will be launching here in the US soon and I think they will increase their share to 3rd place and may even pass iOS in a couple years. ~ Matthew Miller, ZDNet, 14 February 2013
Google plans ‘to market a tablet of the highest quality’ in the next six months. ~ Eric Schmidt, Chairman, Google, 19 Dec 2011
Put simply, the Nexus 7 has redefined the mini-tablet category and raised the bar enough that it doesn’t matter whether Apple releases a Retina-class iPad mini this year or not. ~ Paul Thurrott, Paul Thurrott’s Supersite for Windows, 1 August 2013
If Galaxy Gear quickly creates a buzz, it will be hard not to look at the new iPhone and wonder why Apple is late to the smartwatch party. Samsung’s timing is beautifully calculated to challenge Cupertino. ~ Douglas Ehrman, Seeking Alpha, 5 September 2013
Hewlett Packard (HP)
8 Reasons Why Apple Should Fear HP/Palm… ~ Devin Connors, Tom’s Hardware, 7 May 2010
I hope one day people will say ‘this is as cool as HP’, not ‘as cool as Apple’. ~ Leo Apotheker, Hewlett Packard, 27 January 2011
In the PC world, with fewer ways of differentiating HP’s products from our competitors, we became number one; in the tablet world we’re going to become better than number one. We call it number one plus. ~ Eric Cador, Senior Vice President of the Personal Systems Group, Hewlett-Packard, 21 May 2011
iPad has come under additional pressure from Intel Bay Trail tablets. iPad’s future may hinge on whether ARM foundries can catch up to Intel. ~ Mark Hibben, Seeking Alpha, 30 April 2014
Apple’s A7 64 bit processor was a breakthrough last year, but this year Apple will face competition from Android phones running 64 bit Intel and Qualcomm processors. ~ Mark Hibben, Seeking Alpha, 20 June 2014
Apple iPhone Doomed To Failure — Windows Mobile 7 Plans For 2009 Leaked. ~ Mitchell Ashley, NetworkWorld, 11 January 2008
We are not at all worried. We think we’ve got the one mobile platform you’ll use for the rest of your life. They are not going to catch up. ~ Scott Rockfeld, Microsoft Mobile Communications Group Product Manager, 1 April 2008
About 20 million devices will ship with Windows Mobile on it. We will outsell the iPhone. ~ Robbie Bach, Microsoft, 8 June 2008
7 Reasons Why The Windows 7 Phone Is THE iPhone Killer. ~ Jamie Riddell, CEO of Digital Tomorrow Today, 16 March 2010
Microsoft workers celebrated the release to manufacturing of Windows Phone 7 last week by parading through their Redmond campus with iPhone and BlackBerry hearses. ~ Microsoft Employees, Microsoft, 10 September 2010
For the first time since its introduction in 2007, Apple’s iPhone is going to take a backseat at AT&T as Ma Bell prepares a glitzy launch of three Microsoft Windows 7 phones. ~ Scott Moritz, TheStreet.com, 1 October 2010
The Lumia 900 and its successors will help Microsoft to reclaim the number 2 (replacing iOS) ranking in smartphone operating system market share in 2015. ~ Wayne Lam, IHS analyst, 19 Jan 2012
Having a secure Windows tablet that works with all the Windows applications — we’re hearing a lot of demand for that and we think that will be quite attractive. ~ Michael Dell, CEO, Dell, 9 March 2012
If Microsoft could ship today, Surface would send ripples across the tablet marketplace. ~ Joe Wilcox, Beta News, 19 June 2012
Author’s Note: The Titanic sent ripples too.
Author’s Note: Please be certain to check out the device used to send the above tweet.
Lookout Apple, Here Comes Microsoft: Surface Tablets Break Into Top-5 ~ Gary Krakow, The Street, 2 May 2013
Microsoft can better give what a lot of folks wanted in the initial iPad – a single product solution – and with a price/legacy software tradeoff that Apple doesn’t have in a similar product. ~ Rob Enderle, TG Daily, 30 September 2013
IDC reports that Windows Phone sales dropped by 9.4 percent in Q2 2014 compared to the same period last year. They’re now at just 2.5 percent.
And the Surface? $1.7 billion in losses…and counting.
I believe that this device (Droid) is the best smartphone on the market today. ~ Sanjay Jha, Co-CEO, Motorola, 28 October 2009
iDon’t have a real keyboard.
iDon’t run simultaneous apps.
iDon’t take night shots.
iDon’t allow open development.
iDon’t run widgets.
iDon’t have interchangeable batteries.
Everything iDon’t…Droid does.
Verizon, 18 October 2009
So I’ve got this DROID X. And I have to say, suddenly, I get it. I understand why this thing is surpassing the iPhone as we speak. ~ Paul Thorrott, Paul Thorrott’s SuperSite for Windows, 21 September 2010
iPad Killer: Truly, Really, I mean It. …Motorola’s new XOOM tablet is poised to become THE best non iPad tablet on the market when it ships later this year. ~ Jim Louderback, Huffington Post, 6 January 2011
Given what I’ve seen of Honeycomb and Motorola’s excellent tablet, Cupertino will have some serious catching up to do with their iPad 2. ~ J.P. Mangalindan, Fortune, 4 February 2011
Nokia may hasten the end of the Apple revolution. ~ Kofi Bofah, Seeking Alpha , 30 October 2013
You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two- year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone. Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later. ~ Major Palm investor & co-founder of Elevation Partners, Roger McNamee, 5 Mar 2009
The Palm Pre Will Be an iPhone Killer ~ Ross Catanzariti, PC World, 2 Apr 2009
We have a really good opportunity to become No. 2 in tablets fairly quickly. Possibly No. 1. ~ Jon Rubinstein, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Palm Global Business Unit, HP, 23 June 2011
Imagine Samsung introducing revolutionary new lines of mobile phones and tablet computers with twice the battery life of Apple devices! Imagine colors more vivid than you have ever seen in any display before and half the thickness of Apple devices! The foregoing is not just a hyperbole; Samsung is pouring billions into making this happen. ~ Nigam Arora, Contributor, Forbes, 10 Feb 2012
Dvorak: ”I’m telling you, look at this product coming out of India called the Adam.”
Curry: “And it’s a what it’s a pad?”
Dvorak: “It’s an iPad Killer. And I hate to use that term since the iPad is probably dead anyway.
No Agenda Podcast, Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak, 25 February 2010
Our tablet will be better than the iPad. ~ Chang Ma, VP Marketing, LG, 20 August 2010
(W)ith a new, potentially more compelling tablet coming — the Cisco Cius — the iPad’s success in the corporate world could be short-lived. ~ Don Reisinger, Channel Insider, 5 August 2010
We have an extreme focus on the innovation of LePad and LePhone because these products will dominate the future market. ~ Liu Chuanzhi, Lenovo, 27 January 2011
According to data from research firm BITG, checks at 150 Verizon Wireless stores indicate that in some cases the Thunderbolt is outselling the iPhone 4. …the iPhone may have met its match. ~ Ed Oswald, technologizer.com, 1 April 2011
Sony, Lenovo, Dell to Launch ‘iPad Killers’ in 2011. ~ Paul Thurrott, WindowsIT Pro, 28 April 2011
We will prove that it’s not who makes the tablet first who counts, but who makes it better. ~ Howard Stringer, CEO, Sony, 31 Aug 2011
All in all, I am impressed with the new phone (Atrix 2). And I think Apple has reason to finally be scared of the competition. ~ Cullen Roche, Seeking Alpha, 25 October 2011
Exhibit A: Xiaomi’s MiPad. Although we could easily focus on Microsoft’s recently launched Surface Pro 3, Xiaomi’s recently unveiled MiPad is an equally serious, if not more so, threat to the iPad Mini. ~ Andrew Tonner, The Motley Fool, 26 May 2014
That which does not kill me, makes me stronger ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Lessons Learned And Unlearned
First, don’t call anything a “Killer”. That term has overstayed its welcome. There will be product killers in the future, but we’ll only know that after the fact, not before.
Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. ~ Andre Gide
Second, can we not just wait until a product exists before we compare it to an existing product? Seriously. What is our major malfunction?
Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is that you’re stupid and make bad decisions. ~ Bill Murray (@BiIIMurray)
Third, unreasonable people should not be reasoned with. They should be mocked.
You can always reason with a Troll. You can always reason with a barnyard animal, too, for all the good it does.
Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out. ~ Sydney Smith
Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone. ~ Ayn Rand
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