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Is Apple moving away from the vision of Steve Jobs?

1 October 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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As the world’s most valuable tech company introduced its new take on the iconic iPhone this year and radically changed the size of iPad, many eyebrows are being raised. As the Apple watch comes around and there are talks of an Apple self-driven car somewhere in the future, many are wondering if the company is going the way Steve Jobs would have wanted it to.

At the beginning, until the death of Steve Jobs, the iMan was the image behind the success of Apple. Whatever Apple became, from its cultish logo to the historic products like the iPod and the iPad, were fired by the almost unlimited imagination of one man who took it to its heights from a garage-operated start-up. 

Today, Apple fans wonder aloud if some of the very basic principles Jobs operated on, are being shed by the company he found. For an example, the iMan hated a stylus on his phone and said nobody wanted one. He preferred the touch of the human finger on his phone, a task I find tough sometimes, especially for the ladies with long finger nails. Yet, the iPad that was launched this year comes with one. Many have said that there is a reason for that but Jobs would never have said yes to one.

Steve Jobs insisted that all Apple apps have real-life connections – the iBookstore featured lifelike wooden shelves, Mail app had a linen background and the Notes app looked like a writing pad. Yet, after Jobs passed away, Apple fired the software executive who championed Steve’s preferences.

Steve Jobs never liked big phones – yet the succeeding iPhones have been getting bigger. The very fact that Apple products are moving away from the vision Steve Jobs had for the company could mean many things for the future and the company. And how would it play out eventually?

Steve made a strong case for smaller tablets – in 2010, he is on record as having made a trademark rant on the subject. “There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen,” said Jobs at the time and assured everyone that Apple would never make tablets less than 10 inches. Yet, a year after he passed away, Apple released the 7.9 inch iPad Mini.

While it might be a good thing to recall ties to its iconic founder, sometimes it is all about understanding changing customer preferences and meeting those needs – which tend to change as time goes by. Is Apple getting the mix right – meeting customer expectations while retaining some of the Jobs magic that made Apple what it is today?

Apple’s current CEO Tim Cook isn’t exactly Steve Jobs – and everyone acknowledges that – Cook prefers to work quietly behind the scenes. On a positive note, he has turned around Apple’s philanthropic commitments. While Steve Jobs wasn’t big on giving to charity, Tim Cook has changed all that. But Cook, who is a mastermind of operations, critics believe, has a far better grasp on what Apple needs in order to succeed in the long term. 

As Android platforms gain popularity, good business dictates that Apple must learn the lessons – as they should – and include some of those features in their iPhones. That has been happening quietly behind the scenes; yet, Apple has indeed included many such features. 

And from a consumer’s point of view, it makes sense too. There cannot be a rigid we-will-not-do-it-because-we-are-who-we-are policy when it comes to meeting consumer needs. That’s now how business works today. When Jobs did it, it worked for a time but such thinking cannot be relevant in today’s market place. 

Yet, for the hundreds of Steve Jobs fans who faithfully leave notes on his death anniversary and would wait for hours in line to get their hands on the newest Apple product, the connection between Jobs and Apple weakening is sad news. In their mind, Steve Jobs left the world’s most valuable tech company a legacy that cannot simply be erased with product developments that almost deny their founder’s vision.

Will Apple completely take off the legacy iMan left behind? Only time will tell.
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at nayominiweerasooriya@gmail.com)
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