Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Apple is losing its Innovation Edge

Apple released its iPhone5 with great fanfare on 12th September. But unlike earlier releases, the iPhone5 had no major innovation. For the first time Apple was playing catch-up with its arch rival Samsung and had failed to add any new innovative feature in  iPhone5 .

Apart from LTE, a bigger screen  & the much hated smaller connector -  iPhone5  had no new feature. Apple had blatantly copied Samsung Galaxy S-III in terms of LTE and form factor improvements. With this failure to innovate has made Apple  iPhone5  a follower than a leader. Samsung now leads with its stylus technology used in Galaxy Note and with bigger screens. Nokia too has managed to get ahead in technology innovation with wireless charging & Window's "active tiles" user interface.

The lack of innovation in  iPhone5 and iPad3 could be an early sign of trouble at  Apple. Probably suffering from innovation fatigue and the top management being distracted with endless law suits.

As I see it,  Apple now runs a risk of losing its technology lead right at the crucial moment when Microsoft/Nokia are making a last effort to stay relevant in the market. Apple's iOS has some glaring gaps in terms business applications and is now lagging behind Android and Windows 8.0 in terms of cloud integration. Apple's iCloud is good but is not the best. Dropbox, Gdrive, Office365, & Amazon's Kindle are getting ahead of Apple's iCloud.

If Apple continues on this path of mediocre products, it will soon loose its way and hand over its crown to Google. Will Apple continue to be a leading innovator? We will have to wait and watch. For now I am waiting for the following innovations from Apple:

1. Improvements to its email & calendar client, email client must match Outlook in iOS.

2. Completely wireless device. All iOS devices should be totally wireless. Period.

3. Better Office applications - match MS Office in terms of functionality.

4. Match or beat Samsung Note in terms of copy, paste and edit functionality

5. True multi-tasking, ability to have multiple applications to share the same display and ability to switch seamlessly from one application to another.

6. Safe and secure email, chat, video conferencing with 256-bit encryption. Apple must beat Blackberry in terms of security.

7. Projector Screens. I would like to project the display on to any surface.

8. Virtual Screens. Ability to send the display outputs to other screens - either TV screen, or other mobile phones or computers or cameras or tablets etc. for remote assistance or other interesting uses.

9. Better data management. The current content/data management tools on iOS devices are too cumbersome to use. Apple should match or beat Zoho or Dropbox functionality in terms of data management functions.

10. Better integration of Photo album app in iOS with cloud & other devices to share/distribute photos/videos in real time

11. Projected keyboards. The current keyboard in iPhone is too small to type, instead have the device project a keyboard on to any surface.

12. Enhanced Siri for voice based user interface.

There is an almost an infinite ideas for new innovative features needed in iOS platforms. Bigger screen and faster Internet connection was too little on an innovation for  Apple standards. The next one year will tell how aggressive  Apple will be with its innovation engine. Competitors such as Samsung, Motorola, Nokia are almost catching up with Apple and have even managed to get a little ahead.

Only time will tell if  Apple will continue on the innovation path set by Steve Jobs, or will it fall back on a mediocre products without Steve Jobs - as it had become in the past.

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