Mac Information

Apple Macintosh, iPod, iPad and iPhone news and advice in Dublin, Ireland


It's About Innovation and Increments, Not Market Demands

Apple has always been a company which steadily improved products. Year on year advances and changes, with well chosen launches and introductions for new technology. So how did it reach a point where some members of the press suggest that Apple *need* a brand new product now, saying that their future growth and profits depend on this?

For example, one analyst is quoted as saying “to re-accelerate growth, Apple likely needs to launch new products…” [link]. However this is simply untrue. In the past, Apple has steadily grown through incremental changes, launching a product and then following up with year on year changes to refine and improve this product segment. The major innovation, which breaks up an existing market and redefine its direction, is the exception and not the standard. The iPod, the iPad and iPhone all came years apart and after the initial launch, Apple would improve this with changes and innovation by adapting the improving its product to stay ahead of the competition.


The iPod is a classic example of this. The original iPod was introduced in 2001 and did not receive huge acclaim at the start. Instead its popularity grew as Apple modified the design, with incremental changes and the parallel changes to iTunes. Each year in recent times there have been new iPods, not redefining the industry, but keeping the iPod ahead of all competitors. Even today the iPod dominates the digital music market.

The same pattern has been adopted for the iPhone and iPad, with yearly updates, improving and adding features with each new model. So why do so many analysts demand completely new products from Apple, as if this was the general driver for the company’s growth? For a company which launched two game changing products in the last six years (iPhone and iPad) why does anyone expect Apple to launch a new product frequently?

This is partly due to simple laziness. We believe that many of these analysts don’t understand Apple’s history and only know the headlines. They believe that the iPod, Mac, iPhone and iPad came from an innovation production-line and therefore there must be another new gadget ready in the automatic pipeline. Talk of a new Apple TV set shows this- an ill-conceived idea that Apple should enter this mature market. This makes no sense, as the margins in the this market are low and Apple are far more likely to enter a market which it sees as where we are heading rather than a market that has already existed for years.

It is entirely possible that Apple will launch a new product, possibly in 2013, but they will only do this when the product is right, when it is ready to launch (I.e. high quality and refined) and not when the market demands a new “innovation” from them. Apple has never reacted to expectations, instead choosing to enter at a disruptive moment, changing the direction of a product category or creating a grand new segment.

Apple constantly innovate; but this does not have to mean brand new products in new markets at regular intervals. In fact this type of predictable schedule defeats the essence of innovation and the flexibility that Apple needs to surprise and delight consumers. .