All About Apple
Just to prove that I'm not biased toward Apple, I'm going to start with a list of Apple's major recent snafus in the last five years.
MobileMe was Apple's first attempt at cloud storage. It was a paid service ($99 a year) to store your email, photos, calendars, contacts, and documents in the cloud so your data wasn't trapped inside one device at a time, or so it was advertised. Upon MobileMe's release in 2008, users experienced extremely unreliable service and glitchiness -- the cloud tended to lose something like one in every ten emails, and the service as a whole experienced many blackouts, something unacceptable for a service that includes something as vital as email. And this was a paid service. Apple eventually posted a message on their website telling users they would let customers know of scheduled downtime on MobileMe as they improved the service. Apple gave existing customers four months of free service that same year, but finally replaced MobileMe with iCloud in 2010 with the advent of iOS 5.
a short-lived social network offered by Apple integrated into iTunes. It was introduced in iTunes 10.0 in September 2010 and later removed in iTunes 10.6.3 in September 2012 and replaced with Facebook and Twitter integration. Ping was meant to be a new way to share music and gain popularity for artists,
and had its own array of Facebook-esque Like and commenting features,
along with Twitter-like following features to keep track of new album
releases and concerts around the country. The takeaway here is that Apple doesn't always get everything right.
Antennagate is the common name for Apple's mistake in the iPhone 4. The 4 was released in 2010 sporting a totally redesigned exterior, which features the radio antennae on the outside of the phone-- two of them in fact. One, which reaches around the top left corner of the phone, is meant for Bluetooth, Wi-fi, and GPS. The other, which reaches around the other three-quarters of the phone, accesses UMTS and GSM for cellular data. Putting the antenna on the outside of the phone was meant to significantly increase the reception on the phone, as traditional phones had begun putting the antenna inside the bottom of the phone, as opposed to the older models which sported the extendable type. However, after the iPhone 4's release, customers quickly realized that by placing their fingers over a spot on the bottom-right of the phone caused the cell signal on the phone to fluctuate, then drop suddenly. Steve Jobs is famous for having simply told customers to "not hold it that way," but Apple began the
Mapplegate is Apple's most recent mistake and, in my opinion, the least nocuous on this list. It's also the first and only mistake in this list that occurred under Tim Cook's reign of Apple. I'm not blaming Cook for the mistake, but I will say that the humble apology he posted goes a little above and beyond...in the wrong direction. You can see a transcript below, but when Cook adds that users can try Nokia maps, Microsoft's Bing, Google Maps, Mapquest, or Waze, then adds an entirely new section in the App Store dedicated to "better" map solutions, I think he's overdone it. Sure, the modesty implies that Apple truly does care most about the user, but seriously? Advertising Nokia and Microsoft, two of Apple's biggest competitors, might take customers in the wrong direction. It's a matter of opinion, though.
But They Do a Lot of Stuff Right
The thing about Apple is that it doesn't stop improving. Even for releases of they always do in almost exactly a year, every single year. MobileMe met its end on June 30, 2012, but was replaced with the much better, faster, and free iCloud service in 2011. And they are one of the most innovative and successful companies in the world. Now you know I'm not biased against Apple either. They are the most valuable company in the history of the world after all, so they must be doing something right, right?
There's more than I can simply list here, and it certainly isn't simply limited to the iDevices. Within four decades, Apple has risen to become the highest valued company on Earth and in the history of mankind, seemingly out of nowhere. They have created three entire categories of products within the same decade-- some argue four or even six. There is no doubt Apple is an incredibly successful company, and they have so many knockoff copycats these days, people trying so hard to replicate what Apple could do seemingly with a snap of a finger, and everyone is wondering: how the hell did Apple do it? Why Apple?
Steve Jobs (1955-2011) has his own legacy, even before he returned to and became CEO of Apple Inc in 1997. Many people attribute Apple's turnaround success after nearly hitting bankruptcy in 1998 to Steve Jobs, design guru and master of marketing. I know I myself idolize Jobs and, while he was alive, followed his marketing tactics very closely to learn what made him tick. I do believe it was Jobs who singlehandedly managed to bring the company around and invent three new categories of products and the Apple name as we know it today. He had always been the marketing tactics guy, even since the days when he and Steve Wozniak founded Apple; Wozniak was the programmer nerd and Jobs was the one who could talk the talk and get
However, after his death,
Curiously enough, the period labeled as "Widespread Success" on Wikipedia's Apple, Inc page begins in 2007, the year the original iPhone was released, and 2011, the year Jobs died.
How I Think Apple Did It
One of the reasons Apple is so succesful in my opinion is that they do things right the first time. People ask and wonder and jeer at Apple for having changed such tiny details as customizable backgrounds on the home screen between iterations of iOS, Apple's mobile operating system on iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads (and maybe this month, the iPad Mini). And you may be thinking, well how rare could "doing things right the first time" could be. Look no further than Google. Google released their own social networking website, Google+,
Apple Truly Has Changed the World
It's pretty obvious what Apple's done for you, the reader. But let me explain it in detail, because there are subtle details of how Apple changed the world. Apple created three (I argue four) entire categories of products. Here they are, listed chronologically.
This is back when people still had Walkmans. The portable mp3 player was still a relatively new concept, but there were a few in the market already from Samsung, Sony, and the like with a gigabyte or two of memory. Apple entered the pocket player market when people were still asking "Portable music? Why would I ever want to carry music with me?"
The iPhone, arguably until recently, has consistently set the market standards for how smartphones should look and what they should be able to do.
The release of the iPad initially arrived with lots of jeering-- "It's just an iPod Touch with a giant screen. Why would I want the same thing except unable to fit in my pocket anymore?" Truth is, the iPad was concepted before the iPhone, and it was only because Jobs had the genius to realize "Hey, we can fit this in a phone instead" that the iPhone arrived first. Nobody was quite sure what the iPad was originally. It wasn't the same as the tablets already in the market; those were just PCs with touch screens and a stylus, and pretty much nobody used them except doctors and construction crews. This iPad was supposedly meant for the home, even though it couldn't do as much
This one's more easy to overlook, but I include it because Apple changed
the music industry forever.