Technology

Apple's New iPhone is a Reminder That Innovation Doesn't Always Happen Where, When, or How You Expect

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The future…of losing expensive stuff in Ubers.
Apple Airpods

Today's announcement of Apple's new iPhone—the iPhone 7, for those who are counting—has been regarded in some quarters as a little bit underwhelming. The biggest update, the removal of the traditional 3.5mm analog headphone jack, was widely predicted, and it's not entirely clear whether consumers will respond favorably to the removal of the port, which allows for a thinner, more water resistant device and some spiffy new wireless headphones—dubbed AirPods—with some digital features. (I shed a brief tear for my soon-to-be-obsolete collection of wired, tired, analog headphones.)

There are other changes too: The new iPhone is a little slimmer and a little faster. It has a fancy new dual-camera system, and it comes in a new color, Jet Black—though not, sadly, None More Black. You can now play a nifty new version of Super Mario with just a single finger. But overall there are not a lot of big, new changes. It's a steady, marginal improvement on the previous version iPhone, not a revolution.

You can, of course, interpret this as a sign that innovation is slowing down not only at Apple, the world's richest company, but also in the economy as a whole—another data point in the great stagnation, the slowing pace of economic growth. This is where we're at now: a slow progression slightly better products that fundamentally aren't much different from the products we already have.

But if you look at the birth and development of the iPhone in the context of the last nine years it suggests a somewhat different conclusion: that we never know where big innovations will come from, and that we may not even recognize them when they arrive.

When the first iPhone hit the market in 2007, tech critics were somewhat skeptical of the new touchscreen interface—particularly its keyboard. "Tapping the skinny little virtual keys on the screen is frustrating, especially at first," wrote New York Times gadget reviewer David Pogue, who warned that "text entry is not the iPhone's strong suit. The BlackBerry won't be going away anytime soon."

Less than a decade later, of course, the once-dominant BlackBerry is all but history—and every single major mobile smartphone device boasts a virtual keyboard like the one introduced on the first iPhone.

The first iPhone, however, was still a fairly primitive device. There was no true G.P.S. functionality. It came with the handful of software programs and apps that were loaded when you bought it, and that was it. The App Store, with its wealth of games and productivity apps and time-wasters and curiosities, didn't arrive until the next year, with Apple's second generation iPhone.

That iteration of the device was also seen mostly as a marginal improvement over its predecessor. As Pogue wrote in the Times upon its release, the second generation iPhone could take advantage of faster mobile web speeds, and had some software improvements, plus the inclusion of a true G.P.S.—but, he lamented, "there's not much you can do with it." And although he hailed the new App Store as a "towering tsunami of a feature" that would allow the iPhone to become "a dazzling hand-held game machine," he also noted that "plenty of Appleholics have expressed dismay at how little the handset has changed." Where was the next revolution?

In just a few years, though, the App Store grew into a massive ecosystem, creating tens of thousands of jobs for app-creators and app-creation companies. Some of the most promising, fascinating, and consequential of those apps—everything from on-demand car services like Uber to augmented reality games like PokemonGo to delivery services for liquor, home-cooked meals, and take-out—have been built around the iPhone's ability to provide location data using its built in G.P.S. Many, probably most, of the biggest changes in the tech economy and consumer opportunities over the last decade have been driven by these forces.

The point isn't that this year's iPhone is going to surprise us and reinvent the digital economy again—although, who knows, maybe the wireless headphone revolution will turn out to be the first step towards AR-contact lenses and direct-to-brain implants and the inevitable creation of MindTwitter—but that you can't always see major innovations before they arrive, and economic progress doesn't always proceed along a nice, linear ramp. Instead it arrives in fits and starts and spurts, some of which look like small changes at first, and then moves faster than anyone quite expects. The only thing predictable about it is its unpredictability.

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    1. Fuck Hugh and his butt-boy, SugarFree.

      I say this blog has gone soft in the last decade. We need to start just viciously insulting each other at random times.

      1. We need to start just viciously insulting each other at random times.

        So… be more like Hugh?

        1. FUCK YOU PAUL EAT A DICK Goddamn you’re dumb.

          See? It’s fun and cathartic.

        2. On the contrary. My insults are perfectly calculated and so subtle that you often don’t feel the knife go in.

          Also, I would never stoop to insulting Jimbo. Mental retardation and compulsive onanism are serious problems.

          1. My retardation gives me the strength and enormous penis needed to crush little pussies like you, Homo Hugh! ZING BITCH, nothing tops alliteration.

          2. By subtle, you mean tiny?

            You never feel it go in with Hugh.

          3. My insults are perfectly calculated and so subtle that you often don’t feel the knife go in.

            Where’s all this blood coming from?

          4. …how did you know, Hugh?

    2. Gosh, I didn’t see that coming.

    3. Started working at home! It is by far the best job I have ever had. I just recently purchased a Brand new BMW since getting a check for $25470 this 8-week past. I began this 6 months ago and I am now bringing home at least $92 per hour. Go to this website and click tech tab to start your own business…. http://goo.gl/LtI1C0

    4. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do… http://www.14earnpath.com

  1. Tapping the skinny little virtual keys on the screen is frustrating, especially at first…

    I’ll admit that the iSheep are correct that the iPhone’s virtual keyboard seems to be easier for me to use than any other I’ve tried. However, I use Swype on my android phone, and am a master at it. People come from all around to marvel at my ability.

    1. I tried a couple of those for iPhone and couldn’t stand it.

      Then again I do very little typing on the thing anyway.

    2. I use Swype on my android phone, and am a master at it. People come from all around to marvel at my ability.People come from all around to marvel at my ability.

      I angrily rebuked Swype about a year ago.

      It’s great it you want to type ‘Verisimilitude’ because there are so few swype combos that are similar to that.

      But the common words like ‘people, them, then, is, id, if, for, put, pot, pit’

      I spent more time correcting than I did swyping.

      I’ve now gone to the voice recognition feature which uses the cloud to determine context… it’s not too bad if your environment isn’t noisy.

      1. But the common words like ‘people, them, then, is, id, if, for, put, pot, pit’

        For Swype, the acontextual mismatching pissed me off to no end as well. ‘is’,’of’, and ‘on’ all get converted to fucking o.j. I never drink orange juice and, if I did, I wouldn’t text anyone about it. Oppenheimer shouldn’t be a suggestion every time I type the o-p-p trigram. I probably could’ve lived with is/id/if.

        I’ve found zen with the default swipe keyboard on my LG device and the voice recognition when my hands are otherwise occupied.

      2. Siri doesn’t seem to understand me talking.. it’s like it thinks I have peanut butter in my mouth, even when I don’t!

        I don’t understand it – I don’t have a thick accent of any kind. I used the word obsessed yesterday and siri spelled out SAST. Wtf is that even? WHY YOU NO UNDERSTAND ME PHONE *smash*

        1. Have you tried actually putting peanut butter in your mouth?

        2. What do you have against George Washington Carver?

      3. There are numerous Swype-like keyboards now. On the one I use, you can disambiguate between words by stopping at intermediate letters and/or making little curves. So, “pit” isn’t “————-“, but “\————/\—/”

  2. The biggest update, the removal of the traditional 3.5mm analog headphone jack, was widely predicted, and it’s not entirely clear whether consumers will respond favorably to the removal of the port, which allows for a thinner, more water resistant device and some spiffy new wireless headphones?dubbed AirPods?with some digital features.

    Two minutes ago, I heard a report on BBC News hour about this new fangled iPhone 7. I suspect the reporter was using the spiffy new wireless audio to call his report in, because he kept cutting out.

  3. innovation is slowing down not only at Apple, the world’s richest company, but also in the economy as a whole

    Wait, what?

    The whole economy is chugging along with the wind of perpetual stimulus at its back!

    1. There’s a new wind of innovation breaking…

      1. …it’s blowin’ you and me

  4. When the first iPhone hit the market in 2007, tech critics were somewhat skeptical of the new touchscreen interface?particularly its keyboard.

    Pfft. Remember Slashdot’s review of the iPod announcement?

    No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

    1. “Nobody needs more than 640K memory.”

      /Bill Gates

      1. That was more proof that Gates was never much of a tech guy.

        But because Hillary-does-it-too… I seem to recall a slightly more wordy retort to multi-tasking by the Late Steve Jobs, something about not wanting all the distraction of more than one thing running on your device at a time.

      2. Supposedly that’s an apocryphal quote, and that really he only expressed surprise at how quickly 640k became obsolete.

        This was according to some 80s documentary I saw on VH1 or some such channel.

        1. Supposedly that’s an apocryphal quote

          Figures. Aren’t they all?

      3. No, you should have gone with this quote:

        “I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time.”

    2. And the iPod was lame. Never was able to figure out why people bought them

      1. Because it was hard to get your hands on a Zune.

  5. No headphone jack? Screw that. I like to plug my computer speakers into my iPhone while I work to listen to music.

    Doesn’t matter anyway. I’ll be using my current one for a few more years anyway. Until the battery shits the bed.

    1. For $149.95, you can pair your computer speakers with the upcoming iJack.

      1. why the fuck is Apple stuff so expensive? I use chromecast to do the same thing with my Android and I got it for free but it’s only worth about $30

    2. pro: will come with adapter for headphones
      con: plugs into Lightning port, so not sure if you can charge and earphone at the same time

      1. As far as I can tell you can’t.

        This new phone is a real let down. I need to upgrade my iPhone 6 that went for a dip with me in the gulf of Mexico last March. I was impressed that the phone survived salt water with no real issues, but little quirks are starting to develop.

        1. The Boy dropped his 5S into his Ramen noodle soup. It’s probably the most upset I’ve ever seen him.

          It was a slow, agonizing death, that finally culminated in the iJerk Store, months later, when we took it in to have it fixed. I think it just took it’s own life at that point.

  6. Surely these new headphones will be cheap and widely available.

    1. A little dongle won’t hurt you.

      1. I bet you say that to all the ladies.

        1. No, I tell them a big dongle won’t hurt them….

  7. Apple has a history of dropping standard technologies before their time. I got used to a life without 3.5″ floppy disks and I’ll get by without a 3.5mm stereo jack.

    1. The only thing I don’t like about it is now my headphones have to be charged.

      I haven’t heard anything about whether the technology is “bluetooth” or not, as Apple is famous for avoiding standard technologies to the frustration of its users *cough*usb ports*cough*crappy wifi suite*cough*

      If it’s bluetooth, then the pairing process will run the gamut between seamless and wrecking your car.

      But because I’m not hearing “bluetooth” (without googling it) I suspect it’ll be another Apple propriety protocol, like Appletalk. But wireless.

      1. Yeah that wouldn’t surprise me. Apple also likes to impose its own standards to make it difficult to use third-party accessories that are often much better than OEM gear.

          1. My iPhone likes to chastise me for my generic charging cable.

            1. For me, the generic charging cables have been terrible. They punk out after a few months. The only ones I have left are Apple.

        1. But the oem Apple gear is so dreeeeeammmmy and Bauhaus.

      2. Apple is famous for avoiding standard technologies to the frustration of its users *cough*usb ports

        Excuse me, but I believe the computer that really launched USB ports was… the iMac.

        1. USB ports? Every Mac I’ve owned had them. (Since 2006.)

          Catch up.

      3. Ah shit. It’s not bluetooth. That said, bluetooth wireless is still available.

        And you can get pretty cheap bluetooth adapters for any headphones:

        1. Ah shit. It’s not bluetooth. That said, bluetooth wireless is still available.

          https://crystalbreak.com/best-earbuds-under-100/

    2. Sorry to hear you lost your “3.5 inch floppy.” Don’t worry, the ladies never noticed the difference.

  8. Technology peaked in 1988. What in the ever-loving fuck was wrong with the beige phone on your wall, and reading goddamn Highlights Magazine when you were in the waiting room, instead of playing a game? Also, learn to read a map before you start going somewhere.

      1. What is it with you fuckwits and linking things that I can’t link to at work? Every other link anybody posts in this shit-shack just takes me to a page saying it can’t be displayed. It’s odd, because it’s a different screen than I get when it’s the company firewall blocking my access.

        I blame the blacks.

        1. Some people actually work when they’re at work.

          Just sayin’.

          1. Hey, my employer is perfectly happy with my production.

            And if he wasn’t, I’d blame it on somebody else.

    1. People should still learn how to read a map. GPS fucking sucks.

      1. I agree. I have taught my wife this skill, and I beat her viciously when she fails at an land navigation test. “You don’t know how to determine the back azimuth? How about the back of this fuckin’ hand!” *SMACK*

        1. I have a Gazetteer for my state. It allows me to take the farm roads that Google so stridently avoids.

      2. Meh, I like both.

      3. People should still learn how to read a map. GPS fucking sucks.

        I certainly consider the inability to navigate within line-of-sight and/or a mile unaided as an evolutionary failing.

        1. Holy fuck, I’ve got a co-worker that can’t get us two miles to lunch without me saying turn here at every turn she’s going to miss or this isn’t the turn. And it’s not the first time going to this destination. I told her next time I’m not aiding in navigation and we’re just going to end up wherever we end up.

      4. THOMAS GUIDES OR GTFO.

    2. Commodore Amiga is still the best gaming machine ever.

  9. Fuck those horrible, horrible ear buds. I want to put them in a hydraulic press.

    1. You mean hoo-draulic press.

  10. Shorter Suder-Man: It’s so dreamy….[sigh]

    Removing perfectly good, cheap, reliable functionality and let’s face it, choice, to ensure end-to-end DRM and proprietary do-dads isn’t innovation. It’s pointless change for its own sake. We already can use (shitty) Bluetooth headphones and an easy-to-lose USB-C dongle (only $29.99 to replace!) isn’t a real solution either.

    Happily, there are many other phones to choose from that don’t require laying roses on the Dear Leader’s Rolls Royce as he drives by.

    1. Almost upgraded from the Note 3 to the 7. Ducked that hassle.

      1. I’ve been getting the unlocked Androids (Nexus, Moto) for a few years now. Saved me tons of cash over getting carrier locked, subsidized phones.

        Not top-o-the-line, but enough grunt for 90% of daily stuff. Oh, and a 3.5 mm jack, for when I need it.

        Good luck with using Square readers, iJerks.

        1. Ha! I forgot about Square which even though it’s a ripoff, is still heavily deployed.

      2. Is that the one that explodes?

        1. The Note 7? Yeah. Samsung is recalling them.

    2. I’ve got a dongle for you. RIGHT HERE.

      1. Really? How much does it cost?

    3. I’ve never understood the cult of personality that surrounds Apple. Their products are usually slightly worse performance wise, yet more expensive and compatible with fewer things.

      It’s like it has the elitism built right in or something.

      That being said, most manufacturers are learning some of Apple’s dirty tricks and using the low hanging fruit. Things like a battery that can’t be replaced, so instead of buying a cheap battery you buy a new phone each time. Ugh.

      1. I guess I feel like I’m locked in a bit since I used itunes and all of that stuff.

        After seeing this new iPhone I’m really thinking about switching to an android phone though.

      2. To be fair, most phones have the embedded battery now. I had a Nokia 920, circa 2012, and it had one.

        The last phone I had with a swappable battery was the last Blackberry I owned. And it needed it (Battery pull! Battery pull!) Hasn’t really bothered me otherwise, but it’s a nice to have feature. IIRC, the Galaxy phones have one.

      3. Apple has long had a polish to their UI that makes them preferable, for many of us. Windows has always struck me as awkward, ugly, and sometimes incredibly unpleasant to use.

        Their overall design philosophy appeals to many, too. They don’t just chase feature sets and benchmarks. They have a more integrated approach, which, among other things, means less need for support.

        All Apple batteries “can be replaced.” They may not be easily user-replaceable, true. You may need to go to a repair shop. But all design requires trade-offs. An easily-swappable battery means a larger phone. They figure (I think rightly) that most people don’t care, and will replace their phone before they need a new battery, and external batteries are easily found.

        I’ve never fully grasped the Apple hate among libertarians, given that Steve Jobs was close to a real-life Ayn Rand hero.

        1. Oh, for the love of Christ, that is one hell of a big sloppy blowjob there.

          It’s as if we’re to believe you’re a press officer for Apple.

          Man. The Cult sure is a powerful force to some.

          1. Dude, just because I’ve appreciated Apple since my first computer (circa 1988) doesn’t make me a cultist. They aren’t perfect. I hated the round mouse of years ago. I wish they’d stop trying to make iPhones thinner and just give them bigger batteries. But overall, they have an excellent track record. And whatever you are using now (Windows and/or Android) owes debts to Apple.

        2. Apple has long had a polish to their UI that makes them preferable, for many of us. Windows has always struck me as awkward, ugly, and sometimes incredibly unpleasant to use.

          Remember when Windows XP’s interface was described as “Fisher-Price”?

          1. I would trade Windows 10 for XP any day. Ugliest UI ever.

            1. At least XP could be de-Fisher Priced pretty well. I never used the blocky color version.

              Windows 10 is a whole other mess. What a shitshow Microsoft has unleashed.

        3. This. Especially for someone who works in a career that nearly demands Apple usage.

          I bought my son a Lenovo laptop/tablet for his birthday for school. We didn’t use it for 3+ months because of all the bloatware and viral shit that slowed it down almost immediately upon taking it out of the box.

          I finally took it in and had it fixed for only $140. Original cost was $280. Yes, I know I’m probably an idiot, but he can actually use it now.

      4. You can replace the battery. It just voids the warranty. I find it worth it.

  11. Whoopee. Macs still suck.

    1. Sure, that’s why Apple has been failing for decades and is now about to go out of business. Few sales, no happy customers.

      Fun fact: for years now, the iPhone business alone has had more gross income and net profit than everything Microsoft does, added together.

      1. Fun fact: “Macs” doesn’t refer to the iPhone. Until Jobs returned and remade Apple as a consumer electronics company, the computer business was, in fact, failing for decades and about to go out of business. Few sales, few happy customers in niche markets (education and multimedia production). Even with a realigned marketing strategy based on the success of the consumer electronics business, Apple’s PC business pulls a whopping 7.1% market share.

        The comparison of MS and Apple is pretty stupid on any dimension though, since they operate in completely different markets and MS doesn’t sell hardware. You might as well be comparing Novell or Red Hat to Apple. Those are companies that are actually in the same space as Microsoft. It isn’t 1978 anymore.

        1. MS doesn’t sell hardware

          Oh come on! Windows Phone*? MS Surface? Goddamn X-Box 1, 2 and 3 (or in beautiful MS parlance, X-Box, X-Box 360, X-Box One because it’s third)?

          MS just tends to suck at selling hardware, even if it’s decent (I’ve heard good things about latest Surface, now that RT idiocy has been buried). But they can’t help trying to stick their dick everywhere.

          *I had to look it up to make sure my mind was not playing tricks on me, but after burying Nokia in their ‘partnership’ MS did release their own hardware.

          1. *I had to look it up to make sure my mind was not playing tricks on me, but after burying Nokia in their ‘partnership’ MS did release their own hardware.

            Yeah, I forgot that they had acquired Nokia to release hardware under their own badge. Nevertheless they’re out of the phone business.

            I also thought the Surface line had been discontinued. Whoops.

            I would say that the overall point still remains: MS is primarily a software and cloud services company. Apple is a consumer devices company with fully integrated and inseparable hardware and software. The MS vs. Apple pissing match never made much sense given the very different ways that they make money and the very different products they sell, and it makes less sense with each passing second as the two companies drift further apart in terms of market overlap. A much more relevant comparison to Apple than MS – particularly when you’re referencing the success of their phone platform – would be, say, Samsung or Huawei or Asus or Lenovo. Even Google isn’t a great point of reference since, like MS, they license software rather than sell an integrated product (even their Nexus reference devices are manufactured and implemented by third party OEMs).

            1. Which is all to indulge a distraction from the original point. Referencing the success of Apple’s phone business compared to Microsoft as a rebuttal to the contention that “Macs suck” (a trenchant criticism in its own right) is a non sequitur. Even if comparing Apple and Microsoft weren’t increasingly irrelevant as a standalone issue, it doesn’t address what was said. This is retarded fanboy sniping that dates back to 1980s usenet newsgroup trolling.

          1. Did you have a point? That doesn’t address one syllable of what I said. Literally, not one thing. It’s just completely unrelated.

            1. It’s not unrelated. You were dismissing Apple as not having a lot of market share. I was responding by saying that market share is a worse measure of success than profits and user satisfaction.

      2. Last Citrix conference I went to was a sea of iPhones, iPads, and? Macs.

        1. No way, at a conference for virtualization software that allows cross-platform interoperability you saw people using devices that benefit the most from virtualization software that allows cross-platform interoperability?

          1. Check out any university, any press conference, any Silicon Valley professional gathering.

            1. Everybody I know voted for McGovern! Are we seriously arguing by anecdote over Apple’s PC market share? Jesus Christ.

              Apple’s market share has always been minuscule in the PC space. Stats are above. 7.1% is actually pretty high by historical standards. You can be a fanboy without denying reality. I love running desktop linux, but I’m not going to tell you that it has a better than 2% market share or act like a developer conference where 50% of the rigs will be running linux are indicative of the broader marketplace.

              Even in the mobile space, which is Apple’s burrito, they are a market share minority.

  12. “MindTwitter”

    No

  13. Gads, for years I’ve heard this journalistic trope: “Sure, Apple revolutionized the entire personal computer market. And GUIs, first with the MacOS, and then by building OS X on top of a certified UNIX. And all-in-one desktops. And laptops. And laptops again with the MacBook Air. And smartphones. And digital music sales. And tablets. And smartwatches. But what have they revolutionized lately? Innovation is dead!”

    1. Holy shit, you actually believe that bullshit? Then again, you’re a Trump fan, so…

      1. Every one of those statements is defensible. Tell me why any one of them is untrue.

        And I’m not really a “Trump fan,” just one who sees a head cold as noticeably preferable to syphilis.

        1. Every one of those statements is defensible. Tell me why any one of them is untrue.

          Every single piece of technology you credit Apple for inventing or “revolutionizing” already existed. And half of your statement is ridiculous non-sequiturs, like suggesting that using a BSD kernel revolutionized the completely unrelated GUI…

          1. [My comment got eaten.]

            Automobiles existed before the Model T. Airliners existed before the DC-3. That doesn’t make them less revolutionary.

            OS X was revolutionary (in part) because it was a first-class GUI on top of a certified UNIX, and became quite popular. There were many other GUIs for UNIX, but few cared (and few still care).

            1. Automobiles existed before the Model T. Airliners existed before the DC-3.

              True. But importantly, the revolutionary part of the Model T wasn’t so much the automobile itself, it was the price point and manufacturing process. The Model T wasn’t revolutionary, Ford Motor Co was revolutionary. I would argue that Apple has not introduced any innovations of that level. They do a very good job of taking existing technologies and making them more accessible, which is innovative in a sense, just not the heroic sense industry-making sense you impute to them.

              OS X was revolutionary (in part) because it was a first-class GUI on top of a certified UNIX

              I don’t know what makes that particularly revolutionary in your mind. Unix and its derivatives were not popular as desktop OSes and were frequently used sans GUI. Nevertheless, there were many desktop GUIs for Unix, including NeXTSTEP’s GUI from which OS X was derived.

              FWIW, I vastly prefer KDE on top of my Unix-ish OSes, but to each his own. I’m not going to pretend KDE revolutionized desktop computing for replicating the CDE 20 years ago. I suppose it’s down to a matter of perception.

              1. KDE is aggressively pursuing that “flat” shit that MS and Apple has been slowly feeding everyone the last several years. It’s annoying.

                I’m back to MATE/Cinnamon for most things.

                Fun fact: my professional career started in the early ’00s with much of my time spent on IRIX, the name of the GUI for which I can’t recall. But it was just a means to open vi (yes, vi) to develop and run. And Windows 2000 for a bunch of the rest of it. Yay!

                1. I’ve adapted to flat interfaces now, so I don’t mind it. As an alternative for a full DE I’ll usually just run XFCE. Never was a big Gnome fan even back in the old days, and I just couldn’t get used to the Gnome Shell after the Gnome 3 transition. Every time I stray from KDE I always end up missing Dolphin.

                  1. Forgot about XFCE. I like it from time to time. They’ve really struck a balance between lightweight and highly customizable.

                    Dolphin is a good file manager, though. The many variations of Nautilus are too similar to each other and have some irritating features that seem to be trendy these days.

                    Flat GUI elements are terrible. Annoying wasn’t strong enough a word. Why do they want me to guess if something is clickable or is just part of the background? Why are they allergic to visual cues? Because Apple got rid of their skeumorphic design guru? I don’t get it.

            2. OS X was revolutionary (in part) because it was a first-class GUI on top of a certified UNIX, and became quite popular. There were many other GUIs for UNIX, but few cared (and few still care).

              I’m not sure what you think was “revolutionary” about that. OS X never managed to replace workstations in traditional UNIX applications in science or engineering; large R&D companies and universities use Linux where they used to use UNIX. In addition, UNIX certification had become largely irrelevant when OS X came out: it was neither necessary nor sufficient to serve the needs of what “UNIX” users had moved on to.

              Also, the OS X GUI didn’t even come from Apple, it came for NeXT, which in turn basically ported Xerox’s Smalltalk UI and Postscript to Stepstone’s Objective-C. And the result wasn’t all that great: OS X UI was slow, memory hungry, and inaccurate.

    2. That’s weird because, by your own metric above, Apple was an ‘also ran’ behind Microsoft, IBM, Dell, HP, etc. right up until the iPhone.

      The most revolutionary thing Apple did was give up on the computer business and become a smartphone company.

      1. It’s entirely possible to revolutionize an industry and not be the #1 seller as measured by units. However, by profits, Apple does quite well.

        Apple has not “given up” on computers. True, they have not put much effort into desktops recently, but their shares of laptop and tablet sales are quite good.

        1. It’s entirely possible to revolutionize an industry and not be the #1 seller as measured by units.

          True. Like when Xerox invented the modern point and click GUI. Or when IBM invented a touch screen display for a cellular phone with integrated PDA. Or when Sun Microsystems invented modern cloud computing. Or when Seehan Information Systems introduced the first portable MP3 player. That actually happens quite often. Apple’s success has never been in inventing or revolutionizing anything though. It’s been in enhancing the usability of revolutionary technologies and, more recently, in marketing those enhancements.

          1. Texas Instruments never gets any credit for anything they’ve done.

  14. I will never give up my physical keyboard! NEVER! I hate touchscreen for typing.

    1. You’ll be using a virtual keyboard soon.

  15. As someone who used Palm (strictly PDAs), and then Windows Mobile for my first few smart phones, I was always thoroughly unimpressed by the iPhone. Everyone talked about how cutting edge it was! It was nothing of the sort. My Windows Mobile phones did EVERYTHING it did years before it came out. Like the onscreen keyboard, which actually worked BETTER than any Android phone I’ve had since, and better than the iPhones I have tried. The only thing that was new was the multitouch touchscreen, which I’m sure others were already working on since they hit the market in short order on other phones.

    Other than that nothing my Windows phone of 2004 or 2006 couldn’t already do. When a few things got changed in Windows Mobile that I didn’t like and I switched to Android I REALLY couldn’t understand the OMG THIS THING IS SO AWESOME bit about the iPhone. Every Apple product ever has been so-so when compared to high end competitors in the PC/Android world. They’ve never been leaps and bounds better. I think the thing that tricks people into thinking Apple is amazing is they compare a $1500 Apple laptop to a $400 PC or whatever and it blows it away… Not realizing that an $800 or $1000 Windows laptop would murder it in all ways. It’s all marketing hype and fanboy-ism.

  16. You can, of course, interpret this as a sign that innovation is slowing down not only at Apple

    Apple never has been very “innovative”; pretty much every major feature in their products was either copied or acquired from other companies.

    Apple has been excellent at spotting market trends and reacting to them… that’s where they have been losing their touch.

    1. They used to innovate big time by combining other companies’ technologies into new and useful products. Now they lag a year behind Samsung. The iPhone 8 will probably burst into flames spontaneously, like the Galaxy Note 7.

  17. You can only innovate so far in a given area. Once we got compute from a centralized mainframe to your pocket it became hard to go much further. The smart phone was the revolution, the what. When we got to 1 GHz compute, 10s of GB of storage, and multiple Mbps of connectivity, we got to the point where we can perform any personal compute task at any time anywhere. We can communicate via voice, text, video, and image. We can bank, trade stocks, comment on Reason,…at will. Now we are arguing about form factor as innovation, the how. How big is the screen. What color is it? Does it have a 3.5mm headphone jack? How many megapixels does the camera support? This is the inexorable march to commoditization. I don’t know where “the next big thing” is but I’m pretty sure it’s not in this space.

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  24. Apple’s New iPhone is a Reminder That Innovation Doesn’t Always Happen Where, When, or How You Expect.

    FTFY

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  27. The greatest redesign, the expulsion of the customary 3.5mm simple earphone jack, was generally anticipated, and it’s not so much clear whether purchasers will react positively to the evacuation of the port, which takes into account a more slender, more water safe gadget and some spiffy new remote earphones?named AirPods?with some advanced elements.

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