26 October 2016

Seth’s Blog: “Hardware is sexy, but it's software that matters”

Apple started as a hardware company with the Apple II. Soon in, they realized that while hardware is required, it’s software that changes the world.

Over the last five years, Apple has lost the thread and chosen to become a hardware company again. Despite their huge profits and large staff, we're confronted with (a partial list):

  • Automator, a buggy piece of software with no support, and because it’s free, no competitors.
  • Keynote, a presentation program that hasn’t been improved in years.
  • iOS 10, which replaces useful with pretty.
  • iTunes, which is now years behind useful tools like Roon.
  • No significant steps forward in word processing, spreadsheets, video editing, file sharing, internet tools, conferencing, etc. Apple contributed mightily to a software revolution a decade ago, but they’ve stopped. Think about how many leaps forward Slack, Dropbox, Zapier and others have made in popular software over the last few decades. But it requires a significant commitment to keep it moving forward. It means upending the status quo and creating something new.
Seth Godin

A common theme for Apple critics lately. I find it amusing that the two examples John Gruber offers to counteract the points above are iMessage and FaceTime; while they may be good products, they’re restricted to Apple hardware and as such limited in their ability to ‘change the world’. They fit with Apple’s integrated strategy, but offer very little benefit for people who choose competing products. And I wouldn’t call them innovative by any measure: there were other video conferencing software available (most notably Skype) before Apple introduced FaceTime, and the market for mobile messaging is full of alternatives today, apps that can work on Android devices and even Windows. There is little reason to use Apple’s software when other products offer more features and better compatibility.

As for being a hardware company… the competition is rapidly heating up in that market as well.

The Bezel-less Smartphone: Xiaomi Mi Mix!

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