Apple has stood at the forefront of customer centricity for over a decade. Instead of designing products that their customers wanted, they invented products that were paradigm shifts in terms of advances in technology. They didn’t just make new products, they created new markets.
Their products were so far ahead of what customers were wanting people became desperate for anything they offer. At a time when MP3 players were strange shapes, small capacity and hard to use it introduced the iPod which revolutionised personal music. When Nokia was creating handsets which were simply becoming smaller and smaller Apple introduced the smartphone and changed the world. When laptops were becoming tired they introduced the iPad.
These developments weren’t simple steps forward, they were massive leaps forward. They completely changed the game. Customers never even knew they wanted these things because they couldn’t even conceive the step forward in technology which was possible.
Sadly those days have gone. Apple has almost become a parody of itself. The product descriptions, the advertisement and the product announcements.
And now there is the AirPod.
For me they don’t make sense, I think they look absolutely ridiculous. But more holistically what purpose do they serve? With the removal of the headphone jack, they had to do something. Have you seen the accessories that come with the new iPhone? Airpods, earphones with a lighting connector and a standard jack to a lighting connector.
I thought Apple was about simplicity? It now comes with more accessories than inspector gadget, and that just to listen to music.
What happens if you want to listen to music and charge your phone? Use the airPods…?
Apple has kept the shape of an existing earphone and simply cut off the wire. For no good reason, they have kept the external shape the same because that is the way it has always been. They have broken the cardinal rule of design, one which apple refused to adhere to. Even simple things, they made their earphones white to stand out. Now it is tinged by a generic sameness.
It seems lazy and doesn’t conform to the image and quality of product which has become synonymous with apple.
I realise the argument will come that the tail of the Airpod has been designed in a way that it houses the tech which connects to your phone but that just reaffirms my laziness stance.
And the Airpod is so generic. I understand they couldn’t possible make 10,000 variations dependent on your ear size; but an ill-fitting in-ear earphone with no tether, what could possibly go wrong?
There are just too many design decisions which have been made without consideration for human use.
Apple has always remained ahead of the curve by ignoring it and building the things it wanted to. They knew if they built things which were truly beautiful people would come. And they built new markets. What they are doing now just feels like exploitation of the avid following they have created for profit. They are no longer to sacrifice capital in order to create incredible products with unmatched service.
I don’t understand why they never created something that was truly in-ear and was adjustable to ensure fit. Something that shifted to fit within the ear’s concha. It would have been both generic and customisable to fit each person. Apple has always been about being individually you, now it takes a juxtaposed one size fits all approach.
The airPods actually look like a parody of a Bluetooth earphone, like the handsfree headsets which were derided in years gone by. They can’t possibly fit every ear type and they will be dropped, lost and forgotten about more than any headphone system in the world, perhaps that not a bad thing.
It seems to be technological progress for progress sake, packaging it as a massive breakthrough without understanding the reality that it is an inferior product. I understand the desire to go wireless, which is inevitable, but at some point, you need to recognise the tradeoffs you are making.
Apple of old would have seen these tradeoffs and understood.
I’m not saying they wouldn’t have still done it, in fact, I am certain they would have.
But they would have done it with far more thought for humanity and far more beauty.
They’d have understood the use cases of the product item. I want to be wireless when I’m running but if I ran with Airpods I’d have lost them both on the first trail.
And that is what my problem is. Apple has become predictable, consistently so. Perhaps unsurprisingly their relentless progress has slowed to iterative sprint.
They should be applauded for how far they have taken the tech industry in the last 10 year.
But it feels like we are losing Apple to dementia, it’s still the same company, it looks the same but something is not quite right and that’s sad, it’s lost the spark that made it beautifully different.
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