Losing My Apple Religion. Seeking Salvation At WWDC.

on June 2, 2014

I have crazy-high expectations for Apple’s worldwide developer conference. I expect, at minimum:

  • An iPhone phablet
  • iPad split-screen multi-tasking, necessary for the enterprise, awesome for gaming
  • Touch ID APIs to support mobile payments
  • Seamless inter-app communications
  • Apps that can actually push data onto the home screen — because we are adults and this is the 21st century
  • 25GB free iCloud storage per device

That’s just for starters.

What I mostly expect from WWDC is neither new products nor long-overdue enhancements but rather, affirmation. Too often of late it appears that:

  • Ecosystem trumps product
  • Brand usurps technology
  • Growth precedes usability
  • Margin before accessibility

Does anyone else feel this way?

The creeping doubts refuse to leave — even as I happily work on my MacBook, play on my iPad and yearn for that large screen iPhone.

WWDC Pilgrimage

Today, we mark our annual pilgrimage to WWDC. We learn of the many new products, the updates to Apple’s operating systems, extensions to the platform, the new and better paths to monetize content and services. Everything, no doubt, will be better than before, better than what can be had anywhere else.

That should be enough. Why is it not?

Because we long time users — the Apple faithful — have always held Apple to a higher, more personal standard. Apple is more than a business, even as it has become the world’s biggest business. Why else would we care so much about a developer’s conference?

Apple will never again be run by Steve Jobs. Pirate Apple has become Corporate Apple. Understood. Nonetheless, we want Apple, more so than any other company, and no matter how big, how global, how rich it becomes, to stay motivated not by profits but by an absolute and unwavering:

  • commitment to innovation

Even as iPhone implants itself at the center of our computing life, we expect Apple to:

  • disrupt everything

Is this true of today’s Apple? WWDC will affirm our faith, or dash it.

Clearly, we hold Apple to an impossible standard, not merely a higher one. If Elon Musk can build a reusable space capsule capable of ferrying astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station, why can’t Apple? Why must Apple spend the equivalent of 150 Dragon V2 spacecraft on a single headphone company?

dragon v2

These are the wrong questions.

Apple cannot do everything, cannot be everything. It’s simply unfair and unproductive to make Apple our litmus test upon which to judge all technological advancement and innovation. They make computing products and services. Nonetheless, we can’t help but demand Apple, especially Apple, relentlessly innovate, incite countless new revolutions, lift humanity to ever greater heights, with little more than screens that connect us to the world and connect us to our talents, the parts known and the parts yet-to-be discovered.

Believe Different

Belief sustained the Apple faithful through the dark times. It is this same belief that is now called into question. We want badly to believe in today’s Apple, and not merely admire its many products.

We want to believe blocking our messages was a bug, not hubris.

We want to believe China is not just about more billions, but about bringing the best of American technology to the world.

We want to believe CarPlay and “HomePlay” and “HealthBook” and Passbook are about making our lives simpler, better, not merely add-ons to enrich the ecosystem.

We want to believe that positioning the iPhone at the center of our digital life is empowering, not lock-in.

We come to WWDC to be inspired.  

WWDC faithful

One Of A Trillion

As Apple continues along its inexorable path toward a $1,000,000,000,000 valuation, we hope the company remains personally connected with each of us, somehow.

In a world of big data and globe-hopping algorithms, driverless cars and autonomous bots, we expect Apple, more than any other organization, to power personal connections and accelerate human ingenuity throughout the world. We want it all to just work, exactly as we desire, even as the company extends across a billion customers.

That Apple will introduce more and better devices and services at WWDC is a given. Success is assured. The iOS moat is already so wide, so deep, as to make the company practically unassailable. The company’s shimmering glass headquarters will soon rise over Cupertino, its future set for decades to comes.

It’s not enough. Not for me, not for many of us, I suspect.

Fair? Of course not. But past performance influences present expectations. Which is why I say: Be a crazy one once again, Apple. Show us you are fully prepared to disrupt yourself just as you gleefully disrupt the world. Make us believe that you do now and always will think different.

WWDC has begun. The floor is yours, Apple. No pressure.