Can you feel the winds of change? Apple is a company that does two things very well. Innovate. And iterate. The company jumps ahead with dramatic innovation, usually in an artful blend of what’s old with something strikingly new. Then, for the next few years Apple iterates, iterates, iterates. In short, polish and shine. Then rinse and repeat.
With Scott Forstall gone as Apple’s iOS head, and Mac OS X slowly adopting some of iOS’s shinier and more visible features, it’s safe to say that Apple is working on the next level of innovation after a few years of iterating until the cows come home.
This isn’t true of the great unwashed masses of iPhone, iPad and Mac users, but some of us are outgrowing both iOS and OS X.
Over the weekend I visited an Apple Store and witnessed an interesting and compelling event. On two large tables I saw two generations of iPad users. On one, a dozen very senior citizens were gathered around a table and receiving instruction on their new iPads from an very young Apple associate.
On the table right next to the senior citizen class was the opposite, six or eight children, a few with parents looking over their shoulders, as they navigated through the iPad, usually playing games. That visual contrast says plenty about Apple’s customer products. Both young and old are content, happy, and enjoying Apple’s latest wares.
What about the rest of us; the media technorati, the pundit elite? Have we outgrown iOS and OS X? Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says Apple has fallen behind competitors in the smartphone arena, specifically Samsung. As is typical of Wozniak in the 21st century, he’s short on details as to what constitutes being ahead or falling behind. That’s often the case with tech media pundits as well.
My perspective is similar, but different. I want to see more usability in iOS and OS X. Those floating tiles in Microsoft Windows RT and Windows Phone are attractive and would make a nice addition to iOS and OS X. It’s a flick and swipe world, so why not on iPhone, iPad, and Mac?
But here’s another perspective. Apple’s iOS (and to a less extent, Mac OS X) provides more advanced functionality to more of the customer base than Android OS, Windows Phone, or, in the case of PCs, Windows.
How so? Apple’s ability to update iOS on a larger percentage of iPhones and iPads means that more customers get the latest features, more recent bug fixes, more frequent and easier updates, and get to use iOS on devices for a longer period of time than customers using Android OS or Microsoft Phone devices.
In that contest, it’s not even close. Apple customers get the latest while most Android users suffer with generations old products.
Media technorati and the pundit elite can point to a few features here and there where iOS might be a little long in the tooth compared to the latest Android OS (or Windows Phone OS), but it doesn’t matter. Those features are often merely different, not necessarily better, and, well, so what? It’s not like Android users can easily download and update their devices to the latest and greatest in a way similar to iPhone and iPad users.