Watching the Google event last week, I was struck by how exciting it was. We were seeing new products that are some of the most beautiful , and even more importantly, new ideas. The Clips and the Pixel Buds are nice looking products but their differentiatior is the software they run. They both provide other ways of accessing Google's machine-learning services, which is something that their competitors will never be able to do.
The Google Home Mini is directly aimed at the Amazon Echo dot in both size and price, and gives users integrations to home automation solutions while also giving the Google Assistant an entry into the home. It's a small donut-sized puck, covered in cloth with lights underneath.
The Pixel 2 phone is lacking in all sorts of ways that will mean I'll stick to my Samsung S8, but for most people it's a great device and gives the option of a pure Android experience for users. It also has the best camera on a smartphone, which relies on some interesting technologies to do depth detection and on machine learning to do face and scene detection and processing.
Contrast this to the recent Apple event, where there was no real unifying vision to the presentation. The iPhone X looks very nice, but giving up TouchID for FaceID seems like a huge mistake. Adding wireless charging to all the things is nice, but they're just catching up with the rest of the industry. OLED allows an edge-to-edge display, but they're late to the market. If you were to compare an iPhone 8 with an iPhone 6 you'd be hard pressed to see any differences, and while the iPhone 6 style was interesting at the beginning it has not aged well in the 3 years since. Especially since the iPhone 6 was widely considered to be a serious step back from the iPhone 5.
Apple has long been a company that gives its customers fewer options, but with a curated user experience that will be a joy to use. We buy Apple products because we believe that since the company has full control over the hardware and software they will be better integrated. We trust their judgement because they have engineers working on cutting edge technologies and they know where the industry is going. We show off our Apple devices because they look like the future. They are sleek and pure. They use premium materials that no one else uses.
The problem with Apple right now is that none of those things are true in late 2017.
In fact, they haven't been true for quite a while. The design of the Apple Watch hasn't changed since it was released. The Macbook Pro finally changed last year, but they ruined a leading product by taking away MagSafe, the SD card, and the escape key and giving users a bunch of ports they can't use and a keyboard that has major problems. The iPhone finally has a new model this year which is the first new design in 4 years. The Mac Pro and the iMac continue to be jokes that don't even offer upgrade options for users that have been desperate for a new model.
In the next post I'm going to go into more specific problems with their current strategy. Stay tuned!