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Why what you think about that "new category" thing may be all wrong

Erica Sadun, @ericasadun
March 10, 2014
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Spectacle. We love it. That moment when technology changes and our minds are blown. It's easy to forget that many "one more thing" things were actually pretty boring: the iPod mini, Safari for Windows, the Power Mac G5.

Our current obsession with "new categories" derives from the heroin-like highs of the iPhone and iPad. While every year, Apple's laptop and desktop lines iteratively improve in user features and hardware, it's hard to get past that rush of newness that iOS delivered. Even iPod, the consumer device that more or less revolutionized Apple's marketplace in 2001, didn't produce the kind of magical expectations that iOS mobile did.

Is Apple still innovating? Is the Tim Cook catholic...er...in the woods...um...wait, I'm pretty sure there's a metaphor here that means "yes". Yes, Apple is still innovating. Since we haven't had our next holycrapdoodle moment, I'm going to guess that none of these internally developed products have been suitable or mature enough to bring to market yet.

There's the whole wearables thing... If you're willing to strap your iPhone 5S to your forehead, it's already here with its new-fangled motion chip supported by literally several apps! It's not what everyone was expecting, but it kind of positions Apple. There's also Apple TV, which keeps getting better but still doesn't "rule the living room" in any meaningful way. And then there's that car thing, which, *shrug*.

Back in reality, there are lots of hints in iOS 7 about possible future directions. The latest OS now supports hardware keyboards including control keys, and alt keys, and stuff like that. There's also massively expanded support for document containers like RTF. It all could potentially hint at a toasterfridge merging of iOS and OS X -- or not.

The problem is that two major innovations do not a corporate trend make. They were amazing but they may not have been defining as in specifically "Apple is the company whose new products always produce paradigm shift". Sure, we want more amazing but it's not something that it's reasonable to expect on a regular, scheduled basis. You know the meme. Meth, not even once.

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