You've seen the linkbait...er, headlines:
"Apple loses ability to innovate"
"New Apple products tread water"
And, of course, the now-perennial:
"Is a Jobs-less Apple doomed?"
Sure, Apple may have sold a record 9 million new iPhones during their first weekend on sale, but where's the excitement, where's the pizzazz, where's the frickin' innovation that the pundits demand?
After all, what does this year's crop of new products bring us? Iterated iOS devices, Macs, and operating systems. Each adds a sprinkling of new features, interface tweaks, and improved performance. Ho and hum, right?
Wrong. If you believe in a whiteboard strategy of planning your future in weeks, months, and years rather than simply reacting to what the other guy is doing, Apple is right on course.
This crop of products and updates reminds me of the release of OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). For those who don't recall, this was a point in OS X's life cycle when Apple put the brakes on new features and instead concentrated on under-the-hood technologies that would serve the Mac well in the future. For example, 64-bit processing became a big deal under Snow Leopard, thus allowing the Mac to take advantage of faster register and math routines as well as to access huge amounts of memory.
And today's products are similar how? Many of them make little difference now, but will do so in the coming years. Let's run them down.
Not just a newer and faster smartphone, the iPhone 5s has some interesting capabilities.
Fingerprint scanning: Apple has two plays here. First, the added level of security may help convince reluctant agencies and companies (and their IT departments) that the iPhone is a better bet than the all-but-dead BlackBerry and any phone running an "open" OS.
Second, the ability to purchase something with the press of a finger is incredibly powerful. Break away from the limitation of approving purchases just on the iStores, venture into the real world of walk-around shopping, and you've realized the dream of the iPhone as money.
M7 chip: The phone's M7 chip handles motion-related tasks--that is, how the phone is moving. Wonderful as this function is for operating fitness apps (and for taking stress off the main processor), I can envision it helping me as a parent. When my child eventually gets behind the wheel, it would be great if a chip like this reported to the OS, "She's driving. Shut down texts, calls, and other distractions. Her dad will thank us."
64-bit processor: The iPhone's A7 chip is fast because it's fast, not necessarily because it's 64-bit. But a 64-bit chip is useful for our future selves. Developers can start using a single 64-bit code base rather than working with both 32-bit and 64-bit (and using bridging software to allow old code to run on new hardware). Future apps developed in 64-bit should be able to run on the iPhone 5s even though it may be two generations behind the current model. And, of course, new apps will soon take advantage of the A7's advanced number crunching.
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