Throughout its public life, Apple is a company that has managed to attract an eclectic and devout group of loyal followers. In the past, those followers were largely people enamored with the idea that a computer could really be personal, or that the way humans interface with technology could be as natural and intuitive as scratching your back. They were people who enjoyed reading about the men behind Apple – the Two Steves, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac.
The technology landscape of the time was very black and white for consumers and non-enterprise users, so when individuals first started looking at computing as something they could, and should, be doing at home to make everyday life easier there was a quickly divided camp: those who used Apple products, and those who used something else.
It would take the large part of a decade, beginning in the early 1980s, to sort out the companies with staying power from flash in the pan makers of PCs whose names are now mostly forgotten. Few can argue the fact, however, that Apple created the first PC.
Skip forward a few years, and we have Bill Gates and his company Microsoft taking notice of the way ordinary people were embracing personal technology. The operating system he had acquired from a competitor at a very low price, then built a successful enterprise OS from, might exceed Apple’s success with Microsoft’s licensing policies. If you wanted to use Apple’s UI and software, you had to buy the whole computer – but Microsoft wasn’t making anything. Instead, the company steered clear of hardware and offered its OS to a wide variety of hardware developers so that they could power their PCs with it.
Microsoft’s operating system evolved into Windows, and virtually took over an entire market – one Apple struggled to compete in for years before finally scoring a hit with OS X, the iPod, and the iPhone.
Now, Apple may be approaching troubled waters again. Historically, Apple has undergone hard times whenever its charismatic co-founder and leader Steve Jobs has not been directly in charge. Jobs’ death in October 2011 was followed by the appointment of Tim Cook to head the company. Cook was handpicked by Jobs, but he is not Steve Jobs. Many wonder whether Apple will begin to release products that Jobs would not have approved of (like the New iPad, for example.)
Furthermore, Apple is expected to talk about iOS6 next week during the annual Worldwide Developers Conference, and may even identify a new version of the iPhone. Rumors about the new iPhone are not looking pretty; some of them have a taller iPhone that is the same width as the current model, but with a partially metallic back and the same overall style. This would be a bad move. Even loyal Apple users who have been surveyed are growing envious of their Android equipped friends and relatives, who have a much larger selection of phones to choose from. Screen size seems to be very important to people right now, as well as the thinness of devices. The iPhone looks thick, clunky, and out of date compared with new devices from Samsung and HTC.
Hopefully Apple will pull out of this before they fall too far, but the trend is definitely not in Apple’s favor at the moment. The world is waiting for more than just updates to iCloud, a taller, skinnier iPhone screen, and a new numeric name for the same tired old iOS we’ve had for years.