What people mean when they say Apple can’t innovate anymore

Haters have been saying that since before Steve Jobs died. Apple has lost its mojo, they say. It can’t innovate.

And Apple fans say, dude, are you high? The iPad is fantastic. The iPhone is fantastic. Face recognition, the display, the small size. The AirPods are astounding. The Apple Watch owns the market. The Apple Watch literally saves lives — if that isn’t innovative enough for you, nothing is.

It occurred to me today that both sides are right in this one. Apple does, indeed, still innovate. What it has not been able to do since the iPhone is innovate in ways that create multibillion-dollar markets, as it did with the iPod and iPhone. And that’s the crisis Apple now faces.

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I think this is completely correct. The Apple of today has not been innovative in a meaningful way for me. I want better ways of getting my work done. I want a computer system that does not put road blocks in my way. (I might still be a bit bitter about Aperture).

Face recognition - my thumb works just fine. I like the iPad (love the Apple pencil) as a platform but give me a platform that can use external storage devices/network devices to manipulate data/photos. I should not be restricted by device capacity. AirPods - they are cute and little, but I have a pair of bluetooth ear phones - not as fancy but I can hear my podcasts for way less money. An iPhone - would love one but the cost of ownership outweighs the benefits. My go to was the Apple iPod - I could do a lot with that machine - but Apple does not appear to be making any more. The iPad mini - what a great form factor - I love this thing for its portability. Not sure about its longevity. Once again something truly useful that might disappear to drive more iPhone sales. The Apple Watch - well no iPhone, so it is a non-starter.

Mac minis - love the new machines - I do not love the unreasonable price of the upgrades. Mac OS - I wait with baited breath to see which features and devices or software will lose support with the next upgrade cycle - I used to be excited with an upgrade and new possibilities.

So this is my take on the Apple of today. Maybe Apple has always been like this, but I remembered when I looked forward to new announcement and machines. I felt the company really supported its users - they cared about creating a product to get work done .

This year Nuance stopped supporting voice dictation on the Mac. But before this went down, I had actually bought a Windows machine (after 20 years) to run Dragon Dictate, because the Windows version was so much better. This has nothing really to do with Apple innovation but at the same time it does. At the end of the day I want a platform that supports getting my work done, that innovates in ways that help me get things done better and faster. If the new whiz bang does not do that - it is useless.


The iPad revenues are about $4.9 billion per quarter for Apple. Services are about $10 billion per quarter.


Mine doesn’t. FaceID is easily an order of magnitude more reliable than Touch ID for me. The XS and 2018 iPad Pro have been a huge quality of life improvement for me in this regard.


Hardware wise, all of Apple’s markets are approaching or are mature. There’s only so much innovation physics allows year to year. (Moore’s Law). Additionally, there currently aren’t products that are close to mature enough to Apple releasing (AR glasses maybe?) Software wise, Apple has prioritized their most profitable products (iPhone) improvements over the rest of their line up. Whether this makes them “innovative” or not is, I think unimportant.

The reality is Apple seems to be transitioning their strategies until they can release their next “innovative” product. Some of these changes have been good, some not.


Interesting, I had assumed that thumb recognition was foolproof.

Good point. I was off by orders of magnitude. But still: Since the iPhone, Apple has not been able to create a market that created the kind of growth it’s seen with the iPhone.

Long time apple fanboy, I got a Mac Plus when they first came out, was a 3rd party Apple developer for many years, and even stuck with them through the dark ages (even wrote code for opendoc and Copeland). Apple has been under-innovating for a while, it is getting worse, and it is rather depressing. If I see one more event where emojis are lauded as innovation I am going to go batty. What about Siri? It is HORRIFICALLY bad, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. People should be fired over its current state. What about HomeKit? Its rather laughable how poorly supported it is. If apple would have made a credible commitment to home automation and encouraged third party vendors to adopt the platform that market would be roaring right now. Finally we get a new file system, APFS, and while it seems like an improvement, there are some MAJOR issues that are not being addressed quickly enough. What about the finder? Or iTunes?

All that said, I still love Apple. I really miss Steve, that adorable misanthrope.


Not much I miss. And I am very happy that iOS/macOS releases don’t look completely different each time. I am also very happy that Apple is lagging behind because it’s not extensively tracking/using user data. Alexa has more features that Siri. But do I really want them, considering the “privacy price”?

Apple isn’t lagging behind because it is “not extensively tracking/using user data”, Apple is lagging behind because management hasn’t made those things priorities. You can create a very good voice enabled systems without violating a reasonable persons privacy desire. Same goes with homekit

I think you are mis-perceiving Apple’s issues, especially Siri’s relative performance. Here is the latest data from the best ongoing study I’m aware of. Google is #1, of course, but they have a huge advantage over the others due to the primary line of work they’re in and they’re not an order of magnitude better.

HomeKit is a more conservative and controlled program than Amazon’s, which I don’t think is worse, but understandably it’s frustrating for early adopters. Have you seen the HomeBridge project?

The rest of the complaints have a little too much short-hand to discuss. What’s the Finder concern about?

I wrote an article about this subject – finished it yesterday afternoon before I started this topic, but it went live this morning.

Apple Really Is in Trouble This Time

My wife could never get thumb recognition to work for her fingers so was grateful to get an iPhone XR for her upgrade cycle. I’ve found it doesn’t work if my fingers are wet, and it rains a lot here (Oregon).

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I have found fingerprint recognition to be reliable – if my fingers are clean and dry. Often my fingers are not clean and dry, as one of my primary reasons for using an iPhone is for food logging with the Lose It app. https://loseit.com/

Facial recognition is nearly flawless, and doesn’t care about the state of my fingers.

I think part of the complaining about Apple is just a case of “what have you done for me lately”.

Apple isn’t so much of an architect as they are a renovator. They look at a technology and decide how to make it work well for an average consumer. Then they design it so it can be produced at scale, put it in a white box, and mark up the price as high as they think they can get away with. :slight_smile:

The iPhone came from the original iPad design which likely came from the crappy Windows tablets Microsoft had in 2000, which came from the minds of countless technicians, and writers, and dreamers.

The differences between the 6S and the XS are minimal to a lot of people. There is a big difference in the technology of the two phones: Face ID, A12 chip, better camera, etc… but in my case, it adds nothing.

At the moment it seems we are waiting for the next big thing that Apple take and improve. What could they come up with that would shake up the market?

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Appreciating innovation is by definition, relative to what’s available in the market. And the competition has caught up with Apple in most areas at least “in the eyes” of the average consumer.

On here , we all are geeks, early adopters etc but for most people, they can’t appreciate the latest Apple technologies without a certain background on how this tech stuff works. Therefore they see no concrete benefits from the latest tech.

To me, unless you’re a Power User that truly needs the processing power of the new hardware and machine learning, etc. you’ll be fine with older devices and might not even need the latest IOS. So What’s the point of innovation if you don’t need it?

Personally, the ‘innovation’ I’ve been waiting from Apple is not a question of new technologies but addressing the things I can’t do yet like:

-Using my iPad as an external HDMI monitor for my DSLR, laptop etc.
-Or my iMac as an external monitor.
-Able to access any hard drive from my Ipad.
-An Apple display with touch screen.
-Cellular connection in my MacBook.
-Etc. etc

But innovation continues at Apple if you care to learn heir patents and about the fantastic technologies that power its devices.

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Maybe Apple’s problem is that they’re still pursuing blockbusters – self-driving cars! augmented reality! – but instead should be more focused on polishing what they have?

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Just because something isn’t meaningful to you doesn’t mean it isn’t innovative. It just means it isn’t meaningful to you.

It’s okay to not find something meaningful or bein ginterestd in a new thing, we are all allowed to have taste, preferences, and opinions, but our individual experience doesn’t dictate whether something is innovative or not.

(I have not stated in this post whether Apple is or is not still able to innovate, this post was entirely semantic pedantry)

Not for everyone and all bodies. TouchID just doesn’t work with My 95 year old grandfather’s fingers, and I’ve walked him through the setup process countless times, careful,y showed him how to authenticate with it, and it just fails again and again.

It doesn’t really matter what studies & benchmarks say, they use artificial conditions to create marketing pieces. Using a product “in the wild” is the true test. Siri is so bad that it is almost unusable to me and I have a top of the line XS Max. Part of the problem is “mis-understanding”, part of the problem is the dreaded “try again later”, and then there is the maddening lack of functionality. It didn’t have to be this way, they could have packaged a verbal assistant that was less tied to the cloud and leveraged the on-device power but Apple has let Siri lie fallow, all we have gotten is half hearted attempts to roll out a new feature for Siri that is promptly ignored after launch by apple. It would not have taken a huge investment to have had things turn out different, a decent budget and some attention. At this point Apple is a second rate follower in this space, I hope things change but sadly I am not seeing the moves that would signal renewed commitment.