It's April 2013, and Google
(NASDAQ:GOOG) is dominating headlines after sending out its first string of Google Glass devices. The HTC One received a flood of stellar reviews and has tech heads touting it as Android's newest flagship device. Nokia
(NYSE:NOK) is about to finally get one of its Windows
(NASDAQ:MSFT) Phones on Verizon
(NYSE:VZ), and BlackBerry's
(NASDAQ:BBRY) 10.1 OS just leaked onto the Web for impatient enterprise users.
And as for Apple
(NASDAQ:AAPL), it may debut an iWatch
sometime this year, perhaps before or after the release of the iPhone 5S. Or will it be the iPhone 6
? Who knows? Apple is not talkin'.
It's April 2013, and we still don't have any idea what Apple has up its sleeve.
Tim Cook: His lips are sealed.
Even in last night's conference call for the company's long awaited second-quarter earnings report, CEO Tim Cook refused to discuss specific plans for future rollouts."Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware and services we can't wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014," he said.
So although the general consensus is that Cook has bought himself extra time by announcing that Apple will return $100 billion to shareholders by the end of 2015, the fact is that Apple also reported its first quarterly profit decline in a decade. Growth has slowed and margins are down. As of yesterday's close (before earnings were released), the stock had plummeted over 40% from its September 2012 high
Analysts are wondering if the former indisputable leader in mobile innovation has enough steam to keep it on par with its competitors. And who could blame them when Cupertino maintains its classic radio silence in between product launches? Its tight-lipped R&D that once lent itself to intrigue is now just allowing others to steal the spotlight with consistent (and oftentimes, exciting) updates of what's to come.
Even Apple's rumor mill is feeling a little drab this year. Up until recently, it would spark some fantastic theories.
"Oh, this'll be the iPhone where Apple ditches cords completely and debuts wireless charging!"
"Apple is prime to finally launch its own TV set. Jobs said he cracked the code!"
"Did you hear about the new iPad? It's going to have a capacitive bezel!"
But we've come to learn that when the time came to pull back the curtain, the updates were relatively expected -- maybe 4G LTE support, a different charging wire, and a Retina Display or two -- confirming only a handful of analysts' most conservative predictions. No wireless charging, no HDTV, no capacitive bezel. Dreams were dashed, expectations were lowered, sales were...well...still pretty high.
However, that fevered excitement in the interim has waned. We're months away from the next iPhone's (summer? fall?) debut and the most exciting rumor making the rounds is a fingerprint sensor on the Home button. And as painfully dull as that sounds, it might actually be delaying its release
Apple's reputation as a technological magician that could consistently pull a diamond-studded rabbit from behind a black turtleneck and acid-washed jeans is no more. The stage act barely changes and we can now see the trick coming from a mile away. And the element of surprise means absolutely nothing if the build-up is six months of silence and the rabbit -- to belabor the metaphor -- is exactly the same as the last one, only a year older with a new spot and another patch of gray.
Cupertino cannot retain or regain a feeling of agonizing anticipation if it keeps building up expectations without any payoff. You could easily blame consumers and the media for their rampant speculation of products and features that Apple cannot possibly deliver, but in the absence of any details -- aside from a talking point along the lines of "Oh, you're gonna love what we have in store!" -- it's hard not to blame the nonvocal source.
So what is Apple to do? In the words of a hard-nosed detective: Start talkin'!
While it might be antithetical to the company's entire ethos, it needs to start hyping upcoming products with specific details. Let's hear exactly why the next iPhone or iPad will be the "best one yet." It should start firming up some release dates long before invitations to convention centers are sent. Nothing would get tongues wagging more if the next iPhone has a specific launch date months down the line and a feature we've yet to see anywhere else.
And until that happens, Apple can't worry about others stealing its ideas when its competitors are soundly beating it to the punch. (See: Apple's embarrassingly proud 2012 introduction to panoramic photos.) In fact, boldly announcing products and features would boost competition in a mobile arena where endless patent lawsuits trump actual innovation. Where's that palpable fear of falling behind and restless determination to implement more features to keep customers interested?
They're over at the companies who constantly talk about what they're working on.
Apple can't afford to be silent and clandestine during the six-month interims between product launches. Because now, in April 2013, it makes it sound like it doesn't have any new ideas at all.
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Disclosure: Minyanville Studios, a division of Minyanville Media, has a business relationship with BlackBerry.
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