A relative asked me for a smartphone recommendation. I paused, realized I couldn’t recommend the new iPhone. At least, not without reservations.
If you have a Mac, I said, I would get the iPhone 6s Plus (god, what a stupid name).
Otherwise, I recommend the new Samsung, the Galaxy S6.
I realized that this has become all-too common. Once, I never hesitated to recommend the Apple product. Unless it was someone who simply couldn’t afford Apple, which I realize is most of the world but those folks aren’t in my neighborhood, I always recommended the Apple product. Smartphone, tablet, computer.
Now, I can’t.
Not Mac — Dell. Not iPad — Surface. Not Apple TV — Roku. Not always iPhone — Samsung. Not Apple Watch — literally everything else.
Why is this?
Spoiler: it may not be Jony Ive.
I just assumed it was time to fire Jony Ive. Since Ive took over “human design”– and since Steve Jobs died — quality and usability and design at Apple have all clearly, painfully slipped. To put it kindly. I mean, as bad as Apple advertising has been these past few years, design and new product has been so much worse.
Maybe it’s not Steve, maybe it’s not Ive. Maybe it’s not even a lack of care — rather, that Ive and Apple are spread over so many products these days, none get the full focus they deserve. Hell, Apple makes so many products, has so many product lines, so many business lines, I’ve lost count.
Maybe you can’t scale quality.
If that’s the case, then *all* of the core Apple strengths are not simply dying, they are doomed.
Yes, I know, only Apple bloggers, smugly attempting to pre-emptively mock the non-believers, ever say “Apple is doomed.” But in this case, maybe it’s true. Apple, at least the Apple as we know it, is doomed. Because Tim Cook has placed profits and growth above everything else, and it’s becoming more clear with each passing day: you can’t scale quality.
The rush to add more products, more services, more features is resulting in all this bad product, and perhaps it isn’t as I initially thought, that Jony Ive has lost it, but that Ive simply can no longer focus on the details — so he must copy and release, copy and release.
The phablet form factor — copy.
The Surface-ification of the iPad — copy.
Back links in the iOS UI — copy.
Apple Music — Spotify copy.
At this point, I absolutely will not be surprised if the next Apple Watch directly copies that clever Samsung Gear watch bevel wheel feature.
And still it’s not enough. Cook demands multiple Macs, iPads, iPhones, Apple Watch, bands, now cars, what next? Apple has pivoted under Cook and is now the YES! company, a clear rejection of the NO! mantra so dearly believed in by Steve Jobs.
It gets worse.
Maybe Tim Cook isn’t just pushing Ive to do too much, too fast. Maybe Tim Cook has no taste? And if Tim Cook has no taste, he doesn’t care much for those who do. Thus, rather than relying on Ive, Cook relies on market research, as he has admitted the company now does, particularly as it seeks to grow profits in the massive China market.
Clearly, focus groups, not Jony Ive are responsible for that hideous Rose Gold theme now taking over every Apple product.
Tim Cook knows scale — procurement, manufacturing, distribution. Not products, not design, not taste. Apple’s product now is scale, and quality doesn’t scale. Sadly, neither does world-changing design.