Does Apple really need ‘a game-changer’ by the end of the year?


Today’s must-read comes from the legendary Walt Mossberg of Re/code, who explains why Apple is like a movie studio. The company regularly churned out “game-changing” products under Steve Jobs, Mossberg writes, but we have yet to see a truly innovative device since Jobs’ death more than two years ago. While Apple has introduced some solid new features and design changes, it hasn’t created an entirely new category of devices or perfected a gadget where all others had stumbled.

Noting that Apple executives have promised to announce impressive new products in the second half of 2014, Mossberg throws down the gauntlet:

But sequel time is almost up. It’s time for a new franchise. And it had better be desirable, logical and elegant.

I understand what Mossberg is saying — Apple certainly needs to produce another revolutionary product at some point if it is to maintain its image — but I don’t share Mossberg’s sense of urgency. As Mossberg concedes, Apple once again set new sales records for iPhones and iPads during the 2013 holiday season. And there are many ways it could continue to build on its successful franchises with innovative “sequels” — I think the market would welcome an iPad targeted at the enterprise, for instance, or an over-sized iPad designed for families.

One reason the iPhone and iPad have been so successful is that neither was too early to market. Apple may have some amazing kind of connected eyeglasses up its sleeve, or it may be developing wireless health monitors that go far beyond anything we’ve seen. But there’s no point in introducing them out until they’re fully baked, and the market is ready for them. Apple is still making big money from the App Store and generating enviable margins from its hardware, so the company will be just fine if it doesn’t trot out a game-changer before 2015.

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