How Tim Cook disappointed Apple fanboys everywhere

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The fourth of October was a date marked down in every geek’s calendar, especially those in the Apple cult. Apple’s keynotes have become events that rival Christmas Eve in terms of anticipation.

Oh how ringing the sense of disappointment in the Apple fan club must have been after Tuesday’s keynote.

When Steve Jobs said farewell to the company and left Tim Cook at the helm of the world’s most valuable tech empire, everyone expected Cook’s reign to begin with a bang. Sadly very little “bang” occurred in his first keynote.

The affair played out like a variety show, with various Apple top executives stepping up on stage to unveil software updates, new apps and the iPhone 4S. Apple dazzled with videos and pictures and clever talking artificial intelligence but the audience waited for Cook to surprise them with the iPhone 5.

The infamous iPhone 5 has been the subject of rumours for the past few months, with leaked photos and tales of abandoned prototypes littering the web. These rumours had started to take the form of whispered legends, with fanboys hoping the legend would become real.

As the event dwindled and Cook stepped back on stage, the eager audience waited for the big unveil… the “one more thing” so to speak. They were to be left disappointed. Cook’s role at the keynote seemed more like MC than that of CEO. He set the stage for other Apple executives to unveil the products.

Perhaps though, this is just down to the kind of person Cook is.

In his description of Cook, Mashable correspondent, Chris Taylor, says: “The plain truth is that Cook is an inventory guy. That’s how he made his name at Apple: understanding the life cycles of products, and making sure his stores weren’t saddled with too many of them. Keeping inventory low, unsexy as it sounds, is a big part of what makes companies wealthy. And from that perspective, there’s one major reason to release the iPhone 4S now: Making sure all your iPhone 3GS customers, who have just left their two-year contracts, upgrade to a new device.”

The iPhone 4S, which was introduced by Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, is pretty impressive, no doubt. It has an A5 chip which is also found in the iPad 2 and with a killer graphics processor it is able to run games like Infinity Blade 2. That’s pretty cool, but an iPhone 4 with a better processor? Oh and a slightly unnerving voice-activated assistant that allows you to have a conversation with your phone. That’s the best thing Apple has to offer us?

Is there really an iPhone 5 prototype sitting in Apple top-secret vault? There must be, the rumours couldn’t have emerged from thin air and Apple wouldn’t have gone through the hoop-jumping it did to get back the “lost” prototype. If the iPhone 5 will launch in 2012, Cook must be holding out for something amazing to be added to it.

Perhaps as Taylor points out, Cook is waiting for iPhone 4 users to near the end of their two-year contracts so he can lock them into another two years with the iPhone 5. That approach makes business sense and devoted Apple fans will probably wait.

There is also the Android “problem”. Is allowing Apple fans to salivate over a product he didn’t even hint to the existence of going to cause them to run to the ever-growing Android market? Perhaps, but the loyalties will probably win out.

Cook is not the “innovator-in-chief” Steve Jobs was. He is, however, a competent leader that understands the ones and zeros. He doesn’t have the style and flair that Jobs had and that’s just not good enough. Keynotes are more than just market share and software updates they are supposed to be exciting and full of surprises, well at least one.

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  • http://twitter.com/mobivangelist Peter Matthaei

    Apple bungled the keynote yesterday, but not because of the no-show of the mythical, telepathic, holographic iPhone 5 or because of the lack of surprises (Steve’s last keynote, at WWDC ’11, didn’t have any real surprises either).  The pacing of the show was simply off.  What should’ve been a 60 minute affair was dragged out way too long, with the first 45 minutes being an epic rehash yielding only three new things: a novelty postcard app, a find my friends app, and a release date for iOS 5.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not Apple failing to be innovative by “only” releasing a souped-up iPhone 4 after a 16 month wait.  Smartphones are nearing the end of their “rapid innovation” phase.  The iPhone is starting to become more like a MacBook Pro.  Remember, the MBP has had the exact same look for three (four?) years running, with only under the hood improvements.  That doesn’t seem to stop anybody from buying Macs.

    There’s a lot of talk (even in the article) about how this provides an opportunity for Android.  The problem is, Android is similarly at somewhat of a plateau in hardware innovation.  The current innovations on Android phones that haven’t made the jump to iPhone yet are all rather “experimental”.  3D?  (Reviews ain’t so great; resolution goes down the pooper when the 3D effect is on; battery life takes a serious knock; very gimmicky.)  4G/LTE data?  (Network coverage spotty at best, battery life problematic, real speed gains negligible over HSPA+.)  NFC?  (Where do you use it in the real world?  Too many role players who have to get their act together to build a compelling ecosystem…)

    The problem isn’t the lack of innovation; the problem is that smartphones are fast becoming good enough.  (As with most new technology, things are most exciting when they’re crappy but full of potential.  That’s why I had a WinMo i-mate device years ago.  It sucked, but it hinted at a future of having a proper, touch-based computer / gaming console / media center / office suite / phone in your pocket.)

  • nobody

    And now Steve Jobs is dead

  • Pingback: Tim Cook is a genius: Why there’s no iPhone 5 just yet | memeburn

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