The future for Apple?

John Naughton revisits the cult of Jobs, being wrong, and how Apple is headed for disaster, because it has decided to enter the car industry. The comments point out what a weak effort it is, and that Naughton is antipathic about Apple.

I don’t agree with his premise that Apple can’t make a successful car. It’s a well-worn idea that Apple has, for many years, followed the template of Braun (Dieter Rams) and Sony to try to design better, innovative products. Process engineers recognise how far ahead of the pack Apple is, and although we don’t know much of the detail, Tim Cook tightened their manufacturing and distribution processes to an incredible extent. Their products are not perfect, but Apple has great commercial momentum for new products. Indeed, because of Apple’s consistency and ability to simplify complex propositions, it can make them attractive objects at the same time.

I do worry (like many others) that Apple is getting overstretched. Jony Ive has just relinquished daily control of user experience, probably to have a better overview of Apple’s numerous projects. It’s no concern for Apple as a company, but perhaps it is for those who rely on their computers. Perhaps for Apple to succeed in cars, it will need to concentrate attention there, and, before too long, stop making traditional computers. That would be a huge shame, because in the lab we use a lot of UNIX software on the Mac, and it’s very convenient for scientific software. I get the impression that more and more scientists are using Macs these days. It’s just one less thing to worry about. They are durable, reliable and lightweight (in terms of software, as well as mass).

That being said, Apple continues to outgrow the PC industry in general, and has also sold 700m pocket UNIX general-purpose computers in the last few years. Probably worth keeping going with that for while, whilst continuing to think about the next big thing. It’s strange (to me) that detractors like John Naughton think that Apple’s position is unstable. Why not think of Apple as a very successful design company, that can disrupt established markets with quality? It’s not luck. The market – the customer – responds to quality. It’s not only about price.

Update: Perhaps I was too kind. Gruber, John Kirk at Techpinions and the Macalope lay into John Naughton and his “craptacular” “backasswards” “cognitive dissonance”. Stop beating about the bush guys, spit it out!

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