As the world’s leading consumer technology company, Apple is often criticized. From human rights violations in China, to Apple Music in every living room across the United States, we scrutinize the behemoth’s choices.
Even as a lifelong Apple loyalist, I have been disappointed in recent years. Between the lackluster Apple Watch and larger screen sizes on mobile devices posing as innovation, Apple seemed to have lost its edge.
But the Touch Bar is new. It’s deliberate. The market wanted a laptop with a touchscreen, but Apple refused and delivered a product with more confidence and purpose than expected.
There are two recurring Apple criticisms, which never go away. Apple is always ahead of the curve, or behind it. It just depends on who you ask.
Apple moves fast. They removed the CD-ROM drive ahead of the curve and it’s regarded as a visionary decision. But giving us AirPods in lieu of a headphone jack is still TBD — seriously TBD.
Apple can move slow too. You have those larger screen sizes that hit stores a little too late, just like the iPad stylus. There are more examples than just those, but you have to downplay the importance of product vision to fault Apple for taking its time.
There’s a vocal community that deconstructs Apple products down to their component parts to compare the costs. As if unassembled computer parts offer the same value proposition as complete products. That’s just insane.
Your meal will cost more if you go to a restaurant than if you buy the same ingredients at Trader Joe’s. But what about ambience? What about service? What about the chef’s years of experience? How much do those parts cost?
You can buy a whole crate of toilet paper at Costco for less than 12 rolls at CVS, but maybe you don’t want to push around an orange flatbed shopping cart on a concrete warehouse floor for 90 minutes. Maybe you don’t mind walking into a store, that’s not on the outskirts of town, to buy enough toilet paper for the next 2 weeks at a premium.
You can’t reduce user experience down to a set of tech specs. Most people willingly pay more to use a product that is designed and engineered for consumers end-to-end. And they’ll pay even more if it’s done well!
Apple sits out trends to see which technologies endure, while discovering how new technology can improve their products. Sure they could do what Microsoft does and launch a hybrid touchscreen monstrosity the moment the economics make sense, but that would be impulsive and shortsighted.
What’s beautiful about the Touch Bar, and why it is the most exciting innovation from Apple since the iPad, is its design. Unlike the watch, which felt uninspired and opportunistic (Apple has since refocused it as a high-end fitness tracker), this design feels inevitable.
Removing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 felt characteristic of Apple, but in an unattractive way. It made me sympathetic to Apple naysayers.
We’ll get to a post phono jack era soon enough, but it was premature to do that right now. Felt more like an exploitation of the brand’s former power to preempt and dictate market trends, than a prophetic move.
Apple manufactures premium goods and we have to be patient. Most of us understand how much consideration goes into each design choice they make. Samsung rushes its products to market because it can’t win on quality.
Samsung is stuck in a vicious cycle, where they have to be the first to market just to retain market share. That company is so preoccupied with first mover advantage, it released a phone that literally explodes!
So no Apple, you don’t need to show off by shedding optical drives and headphone jacks to stay ahead of schedule. Take your time with your design. No one has the right to rush you.
Just continue to release products that don’t catch on fire, and we’ll be happy.