Like clockwork, every month Apple fails to enter a new product category provides just another opportunity for analysts to trot out the same tired claim that Apple has lost its innovative edge. Never mind the fact that innovation doesn't abide by anyone's arbitrary timetable. And of course, never mind the fact that a good five-plus years elapsed between the introduction of the iPod and Apple's iPhone unveiling.
So during Apple's earnings conference call yesterday, Tim Cook made a point of emphasizing that Apple's innovative spirit remains alive and well.
When asked point-blank about Apple's "innovation cycle," Cook responded that "it's never been stronger."
Later during the conference call, Gene Munster asked about new products coming out in 2014 and beyond, prompting Cook to respond:
I would just say, innovation is deeply embedded in everybody here, and there's still so much of the world that is full of very complex products, etc. We have zero issue coming up with things we want to do that we think we can disrupt in a major way. The challenge is always to focus to the very few that deserve all of our energy. And we've always done that, and we're continuing to do that.
I've previously posited that Apple innovations are typically the aggregate of incremental improvements. Indeed, mind-blowing and revolutionary game-changing products, by their very nature, don't come around on a set schedule. But if we look at what Apple has done lately -- with Touch ID, with iBeacons -- it stands to reason that a lot of groundwork is being laid in the mobile payment space that analysts, for one reason or another, can't seem to fully appreciate. Indeed, Cook even noted during yesterday's earnings conference call that mobile payments was one of the thoughts behind the Touch ID.
It's really a bizarre situation when a company like Apple is chastised for allegedly pumping the brakes on innovation when the iPhone 5s, in the blink of an eye, brought fingerprint authorization technology to the mainstream.