It's been a busy and exciting week in the world of Apple. From the “nonsense” of the new Apple tell-all book, to the introduction of some welcome but surprising entries into the Apple catalog, to Apple being acknowledged for their status as a global brand leader, there's been no shortage of interesting news concerning our favorite tech company. And of course, the rumors continue to swirl surrounding the upcoming 2014 iPhone, whatever it may end up being called (iPhone 6? iPhone Air?). It's been a week chock full of important developments, so read on for the full scoop!
Something Old, Something New
Never let it be said that Apple doesn't continue to surprise me. I typically scroll through the tech news headlines late at night, and this Tuesday, in the wee hours of the morning, the tech coverage websites that I follow lit up with the news that Apple had confirmed the introduction of a new iPhone 5c model in select countries (including China, Australia, and Europe), this one with 8GB of space, making it a perfect fit for emerging markets, mid-tier sales, and lower-priced options. The 5c it is by no means a slouch, coming with all of the innards and specs of the former iPhone 5 and likely costing under $300 whenever it becomes available free of contract. For the time being, the new 8GB iPhone 5c will be available for under $50 though a subsidized carrier plan, in those countries where it is available. Take heart fellow Yanks, Best Buy has offered the AT&T 16GB iPhone 5c fo free with a two-year contract, and Walmart has the Verizon 16GB iPhone 5c for as little as $29, so for now, we still have the best deals on the 5c right here in the U.S.
Another surprise that greeted me in the early hours of Tuesday morning was that Apple was reintroducing a previously discontinued iPad model! A rare occurrence indeed! Gone is the old classic iPad 2, to be replaced by none other than the iPad 4, which if you recall was nearly identical to the previous iPad 3, except of course, for the fact that the iPad 4 has the Lightning connection for charging and syncing. With this change to the iPad line up, Apple has finally phased out the old 30-pin connector throughout its entire iPad collection. In fact, with the exception of the aging antique iPod Classic ($249.00), and the relatively retro iPhone 4S, the 30-pin connection is a relic of the past.
As it stands now, the only remnant of the iPad 2 is in its shrunken down sibling, the iPad mini, which is literally the iPad 2 crammed into a smaller, arguably more attractive, Lightning enabled shell.
The New iPhone 6: Leaks Coalesce Around a Central Theme
While nothing is even remotely confirmed, there are ample reliable rumors and leaked images swirling around the immanent release of a new iPhone later this year. One of the things that seems for certain is that, at long last, Apple will introduce one, if not two, larger-screened phones, something I've been advocating for years now. What these new phones will feature in terms of internal specs, cameras, and even touchscreens (will they be Sapphire, Gorilla Glass, or even IGZO displays?) is still very much a subject for debate among pundits. The one, most consistent bit of information we keep seeing is that the new iPhone will be a larger device with approximately a 4.7-inch screen size, and that a second model will possibly become available at the same time or slightly thereafter, sporting screen size somewhere in the neighborhood of 5.5-inches. Keep in mind, screen size is measured diagonally from upper left corner to lower right corner.
In the past I've written several articles on the importance of Apple introducing a larger sized iPhone to their product line, both to remain competitive in this ever evolving smartphone landscape, and also to satisfy the obvious consumer demand for increased touchscreen real estate. Look out Samsung.
Apple: Most Valuable Brand On The Planet
On Tuesday Apple was named most valuable "billion dollar brand" by brand consulting agency Brand Finance. According to their report, Apple sits comfortably atop a prestigious and profitable list of 500 companies. Apple's brand is reportedly valued at $104.6 billion and they are followed, albeit distantly, by Google at $68.6 billion, Microsoft at $62.8 billion, and Verizon at $53.5 billion.
It seems like despite the chatter and rumors concerning Apple's current "lack of innovation" or stagnation under post-Jobs management, that at least for the moment, things are going quite well for the tech titan. It's refreshing to see a company succeed and thrive on a business model built on quality, integrity, and commitment to ideals and principals instead of simply being concerned about their profit margin. I suspect Steve Jobs would be proud. Speaking of which...
Nonsense or Not, Haunted Empire Stirs Things Up
With the release of her new book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, Yukari Iwatani Kane has effectively called out Apple and its upper level employees for stagnating and dropping the ball in terms of carrying the momentum of the late, great Steve Jobs.
From the Wall Street Journal online excerpt:
Cook proved a methodical and efficient CEO. Unlike Jobs, who seemed to operate on gut, Cook demanded hard numbers on projected cost and profits. Whereas Jobs had reveled in divisiveness, Cook valued collegiality and teamwork. Cook was also more visible and transparent with investors.
Not everyone was so enamored. The changes Cook made were perceived as signs of increasing stodginess. The yearning for more subversive days was also palpable. Skeptics soon began expressing doubts about Apple's future, especially after the rocky launch of Siri, its virtual personal-assistant feature.
'Without the arrival of a new charismatic leader, it will move from being a great company to being a good company,' George Colony, the CEO of technology research firm Forrester Research, wrote in a blog. 'Like Sony, Polaroid, Apple circa 1985, and Disney, Apple will coast and then decelerate.'
Above it all, the specter of Steve Jobs still hovered—somewhere beyond reproach and accountability, beyond the tangle of human fallibility. His successors remained stuck here on Earth."
You can read the full Wall Street Journal excerpt HERE.
In another surprising move, Apple CEO Tim Cook (who just this week was voted by Fortune as one of the world's best leaders) wasted no time in responding and denouncing this book as "nonsense". On the day of the book’s public release Cook had these choice words to say: "This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in the company. Apple has over 85,000 employees that come to work each day to do their best work, to create the world’s best products, to put their mark in the universe, and leave it better than they found it. This has been the heart of Apple from day one and will remain at the heart for decades to come. I am very confident about our future. We have always had doubters in our history, they only make us stronger."
And as is the way of the world in this fast-paced internet society, the book’s author responded almost immediately to Cook’s denouncement of the book, with this thoughtful reply: "For Tim Cook to have such strong feelings about the book, it must have touched a nerve. Even I was surprised by my conclusions, so I understand the sentiment. I'm happy to speak with him or anyone at Apple in public or private."
I myself, have voiced my opinions over the years on the current state of affairs with Apple, as they blaze a new trail in the wake of Jobs’ passing, but what do you think iPhone Lifers? How do you see the future of Apple unfolding in this Post-Jobs era? We invite you to tell us in the comment section below.
Lead image of iPhone 6 concept courtesy of Nikola Cirkovic.