“Hey Siri”, Think Different

At Apple’s “Hey Siri” event yesterday, a lot of new devices were introduced. As usual, a section of the tech observers were underwhelmed by the slew of announcements and Apple’s stock fell after the event as a matter of routine.

I too, expressed my disappointment on Twitter, but I want to clarify why I was disappointed.

True visionaries who innovate often do things that make us go, “Huh?”, because we are not even on the plane of their thinking to figure out why they’re doing so, or because we think that is incongruous with what they’ve been doing so far.

Facebook buys WhatsApp for $19 Billion. Huh?604px-Apple_logo_Think_Different_vectorized.svg

Google launches Project Loon. Huh?

Amazon wants to test drone delivery. Huh?

Microsoft reveals Hololens. Huh?

Nothing Apple has introduced in the last five years has made me go, huh? Everything they’ve launched is an improvisation of what they had.

Steve Jobs was a visionary. Not because he conceived the iPhone or the iPad, but because he conceived iTunes and the App Store, which revolutionized how music and software were sold.

Innovation requires technical risk (will it work?) and market risk (will it sell?). Failure is an essential ingredient of innovation. Google Glass is generally considered a failure. Microsoft Kinect too. Facebook has had many small failures. Amazon tried something new but failed with the Fire phone.

Apple has been playing it safe on both fronts and making tons of profits. Apple has not failed at anything in the past few years and it will continue making tons of profits for the foreseeable future. I am not predicting any downturn or demise of Apple, I am reasonably confident it will continue to be a powerhouse for many years to come.

But Apple is not innovating. That is what disappoints me.

Once upon a time, Apple distinguished itself by its slogan “Think Different”. Apple is now thinking Thinner, Better, Larger, Easier, Smaller, Longer, Lighter, but not Different.

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