The Apple Announcement and the Future of Modesty

Apple’s latest product announcements were improvements to existing iPads and iMacs. This, not surprisingly, caused mild disappointment among those who had no reason to expect more but somehow felt they’d be surprised anyway. The fact is, modesty is the reasonable move to expect from Apple. And that can be fine for Apple’s business.

The latest announcements included thinner iPads, upgraded iMacs, including a new Retina Display model, and the new Yosemite version of OS X unveiled at the World Wide Developers’ Conference in June. A bigger iPad may still be on the way but it wasn’t ready in time.

The new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus may be the last to yield a massive rush of buyers and even there we don’t know how long the rush will continue after the most avid iPhone owners have bought the new one. The year old iPhone 5s and even the two year old iPhone 5 remain quite usable. (I have a 5s and so far I don’t see a rush to get a 6. The 6 Plus is just way too big for me.)

Apple is doing a fine job of maintaining the software of its existing models. iOS 8 is available on models back to iPhone 4s. While new iOS releases have new features that won’t support some old hardware, many users don’t feel disappointed because they lack, say, the fingerprint touch device. The changes on iMacs are even more modest. I’m almost embarrassed to use a 2010 iMac (a bit enhanced) and a 2011 MacBook Air. Unless the upgrade to Yosemite brings real trouble to either of these, and tests suggest it performs fine, I plan to keep them in service for a while. (I wish I could argue that 2012 Windows articles are satisfactory.)

Years ago, this would have been a crisis for Apple. The only way the company could sell most of its Macs was by getting existing customers to upgrade. iPhones and iPads continue to grow, but the expansion is at best flattening out, especially in the U.S. In fact, the dramatic improvement of Android offerings, and its own new Lollipop software version, will made it harder to get customers to jump to the iPhone.

Microsoft’s miserable Windows 8 sent many Windows users to Macs and helped generated a very strong shift. It’s too early to forecast if Windows 10, now out in an early test version, will re-ignite PC enthusiasm of Windows users, many of whom seem happy with Windows 7. But if Windows 10 delivers solid design and features Microsoft has promised, Apple may find it harder to sell Macs.

But this is not a crisis for Apple. For most recent years, Apple has grown from generating massive markets for new products. Today, its markets will depend on slower growth and the product replacements by current customers. It may be unexciting, but it is the future of a maturing, successful company.

Published by

Steve Wildstrom

Steve Wildstrom is veteran technology reporter, writer, and analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area. He created and wrote BusinessWeek’s Technology & You column for 15 years. Since leaving BusinessWeek in the fall of 2009, he has written his own blog, Wildstrom on Tech and has contributed to corporate blogs, including those of Cisco and AMD and also consults for major technology companies.

8 thoughts on “The Apple Announcement and the Future of Modesty”

  1. Nice to see you again, Mr. Wildstrom, please take care yourself a lot. I totally agreed with your comment. Apple has become an adult company, a maturing one. Its incalculable success in mobil computing and communications has converted it in a real monster (in the good meaning of the word).

    With no more economic problems that to keep filling the billion dollar treasure chest, Apple can devote itself to improving the excellent products it already have and invent some others that we still do not know.

    We do not know if Apple already has the new product that will revolutionize any other market, but what we do know is that no one and nothing can threaten the existence of Apple as an entity that generates technology, welfare and employment for millions of people worldwide. Good for them!

  2. Lollipop is a red herring. No meaningful market segment cares about an OS. The OS is the least relevant part of an ecosystem for most users. It’s what gets in the way of apps functionality.

    Similarly most users won’t upgrade for Windows OS either. Especially when the gains are marginal over 7 on the desktop. They buy new hardware when the old one breaks or gets too slow. They just happen to get whatever OS comes with it.

    apple keeps strengthening their ecosystem and while each feature is incremental the cumulative UX gets better and better. Continuity is already proving very cool, family share better amortizes content spend, handoff is convenient. Nothing is great per se but it all adds up which is what keeps people loyal and evangelical and drive constant upsell to people who have any Apple devices.

  3. I agree. And it is a very, very good thing.

    Whereas most people are blinded by the revolutionary products like the iPod, iPhone, iPad and maybe Apple Watch, another amazing and maybe even more important thing about Apple is their ability to annually ship improvements.

    Keeping an almost annual release cycle for Mac OS X for over a decade is a superb display of discipline and project management.

    Apple is both the Tortoise and the Hare. Unfortunately, most people only look at the Hare.

  4. “iOS 8 is available on models back to iPhone 4”

    That should be 4S — the 4 can’t be upgraded to IOS 8.

  5. I almost expect Apple to surprise everybody and come out with a product that *is* exciting. When would they do this? By the end of 2015.

  6. Everyone is spoil when it come to Apple announcement. one thing I do know is Apple is getting Ready to re-revolutionize how computing operates; and microsoft again will wait after every annual announcement to reveal what they copy and Samsung will pump out new programs to try outdo the iPhone and yet they will fall short. The NEXT announcement will Re-Revolutionize how we are using computers, every year Apple improving their product to work flawlesly. their product is becoming more powerful, faster their 8 megapexil is more advance then the samsung latest galaxy camera. And yet people are missing what their about to reveal next.

  7. Superb post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.

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