One of the biggest recent criticisms of Apple, and one of the reasons its stock price is down more than 30% from a year ago, is that it can’t innovate anymore.
Critics say that although Apple leapfrogged the competition with the iPhone and iPad, others have caught up with products that are either just as good or packed with more features.
Apple, of course, doesn’t see it that way.
In a rare interview with Businessweek, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and his colleagues Craig Federighi (VP in charge of software) and Jony Ive (VP in charge of hardware and software design) defended the company’s approach to adding innovative features in new products.
Here’s an excerpt from Businessweek’s story that sums up Apple’s thinking on innovation perfectly:
The line against Apple is that its pace of innovation is off, but Ive and Federighi dismiss that. The two are keen to point out not just new features, but also the deep layers of integration that went into each one. Of the 5S’s fingerprint scanner, Ive says, “there are so many problems that had to be solved to enable one big idea.” Without mentioning competitors (Samsung), it’s clear the two executives think some of what passes for innovation is illusory at best. “We didn’t start opportunistically with 10 bits of technology that we could try to find a use for to add to our features list,” Ive says.
Federighi jumps in: “New? New is easy. Right is hard.”
So, what does that mean?
Instead of loading up their devices with features the way competitors do, Apple prefers to select a handful of important features and make them work perfectly.
That’s pretty evident in the iPhone 5S. The phone may look the same as last year’s iPhone 5, but according to early reviews its new features like the fingerprint scanner are close to perfect. Smartphone makers like Motorola have tried fingerprint scanners in the past, but they didn’t work as well. With the iPhone 5S, Apple made sure the technology was perfect before implementing it in the device.
Now compare that to Samsung. One of the biggest criticisms of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 smartphone is that the company tried to pack in too many features that weren’t very useful. For example, that device lets you control certain actions by waving your hand over the screen. It can also track your eyes and let your tilt the phone to scroll through Web pages. However, both those features (and more), were largely criticised for not working well or being too gimmicky.
According to Apple’s top execs, the company’s approach is to avoid such gimmicks and get it right the first time.
There’s a lot more to unpack from the Businessweek story. You should read the whole thing >>