Apple’s WWDC keynote was rich with details of new versions of the OS X and iOS operating systems. The lead off video was the best articulation yet of Apple’s design philosophy - in my words, Apple focuses on continuously improving usability while evoking great emotional experiences, while simplifying and avoiding excess features.
The new Mac Pro demonstrated that Apple is committed to continuing deep hardware innovation - the cylinder shaped system is the size of a large flower vase, but packs huge power for pro users.
It’s difficult to immediately absorb all the rich, deep improvements in iOS 7 and OS X. For customers, it means a richer, more engaging, and helpful experience that is best appreciated with extensive hands on time.
iWork for iCloud will bring office productivity to all the major web browsers, not just Safari. But the long term was unclear. Is Apple aiming to help people at work, or only for their personal stuff, forcing them to switch between Microsoft Office or Google Apps and iWork as they move through their day?
So, what does this mean? Apple continues to focus on serving the individual who uses Apple products extremely well within a well defined envelope. The integration with partners is improving, with some API integration to partners within Maps for Mac - I hope to see more of that controlled, effective partner integration. Apple compared well to the Google I/O May announcements, satisfying its developers with next generation OS improvements - but leaving trend watchers hungry for the special event that marks Apple’s reveal of a ground breaking innovation.
I’m looking forward to Microsoft’s Build event at the end of the month, the last of the leading trio’s developer events in San Francisco. But it will take Microsoft through the end of 2014 to prove out the new software ecosystems of Windows 8 and Windows Phone, leaving the Microsoft ecosystem grinding through an extended transition.
Bottom line? There will be the continuing debate about Apple’s industry role - but it’s clear that Apple continues as the industry leading innovator. And as the favorite of developers seeking to make money from a strong, established customer base that spends more.
Frank Gillett is vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.
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