Apple naysayers are a dime a dozen these days, and you don't have to dig very far on any business or general tech website to find someone who thinks Cupertino is akin to a barn on fire. So when I say I was actually shocked at how ridiculous CNBC's recent "Three things Apple needs to do right now" op-ed is, you know it has to be especially bad. And it is.
The article was written by Michael Yoshikami, CEO of Destination Wealth Management. Let's dive in.
Apple is trying to tap into the billion-dollar industry of health and well-being monitoring, which is currently dominated by Sony and Fitbit. This is an encouraging sign of innovation at the company, something many question whether Apple possesses or not now that Steve Jobs is no longer at the helm.
I think it's well past time to drop the whole "can Tim Cook lead Apple?" schtick. Under Cook we've seen the release of the iPhone 4s, 5, 5c and 5s, the iPad 3, 4, Air, and both minis, and a wealth of new Mac products, not to mention the completely revamped iOS 7.
Yes, many of those -- particularly the products released in late 2011 and 2012 -- are evolutions of products that were likely well underway while Jobs was still calling the shots, but we've seen absolutely nothing to suggest Cook is anything but perfectly in tune with what consumers want. Suggesting otherwise is irresponsible, useless hand wringing.
Without innovation, tech companies get left behind. That's something Apple knows all too well and something we've seen in a couple of other tech giants recently.
Apple ≠ BlackBerry. Apple ≠ Sony. Apple ≠ HTC.
Apple can't just come out with a new iPhone that is a minor upgrade to their current iteration; it simply won't fly.
Correct, and that's why Apple has never, ever done that in the history of the iPhone. There's no reason to think it's going to start now.
Apple needs to do three things to regain their reputation for innovation:
1. Present to the marketplace new products in untapped segments (such as TV, payment mechanisms, and health-tracking devices)
First, I'd argue that Apple hasn't lost any of its reputation for leading the way with new and unique technology. Its smartphones and tablets are the most capable, shaming its competitors almost universally, and when Apple introduces a new iPhone feature, you can mark your calendar and expect it to appear on a Samsung phone within six months.
Second, these new product categories read like something the author overheard at a Starbucks in the valley last summer. Yes, Apple is building a team of health experts that are almost certainly working on adding new functionality to existing gadgets, creating an entirely new product, or both. Yes, Apple is interested in expanding its capabilities in the living room, as evidenced by emphasis on its Apple TV offerings. And yes, mobile payments are something every company would like a piece of.
Telling a company it "needs to do" something it's already doing isn't prophetic.
2. Deliver a next-generation iPhone that isn't just evolutionary but instead contains meaningful technological advances such as the fingerprint scanner included in the iPhone 5s.
Let me rephrase this one to make its silliness crystal clear: "Remember how Apple introduced a revolutionary feature with the iPhone 5s just a few months ago? Well they need to do that again... or they're doomed." This is a bit like saying that Paypal needs to keep taking online payments or they're screwed. Yeah, we get it, Apple needs to keep being awesome.
3. Paint a clear vision as to their view on the emergence of new technology and how it will be incorporated into products.
Is this the 1980s? Do you want a mission statement? Apple paints a clear picture of their view on new technology every time a new Apple product is introduced. Apple has never been shy about both introducing completely new features and adopting fantastic functionality from its competitors. If you don't know how Apple feels about this, you really haven't been paying attention.
I believe Apple will shock skeptics and demonstrate in 2014 that innovation is alive and well at the company. While no one can replace Steve Jobs, there is ample bench strength that will push Apple into new markets with innovative products.
Oh lovely, and the entire rant is wrapped up with a prediction that Apple will be just fine. Of course it will. Apple will be fine because the company doesn't read ridiculous lists of things it "needs to do." Nothing to see here, folks.