The election isn’t one of hope; it’s one of despair; and both sides are guilty of spreading rhetoric to infectious levels. The year began with the belief that Apple would launch a slew of new products beyond the expected late summer release of a new iPhone. We’re suckers, right?
What we got this year was a new iPhone, but no new iPads, a new Watch that looks and works much like the old Watch Series 0, and a couple of more expensive MacBook Pros that are somewhat less pro than last year’s models. Like the politics of 2016, ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.’ Put another way, French to English, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’ The proverb of that old saying goes something like this:
Turbulent changes do not affect reality on a deeper level other than to cement the status quo.
Disappointment and disaffection seem to have become the status quo. In other words, don’t get your hopes up too high because they’ll come crashing down soon enough. Everyone wants change in Washington, but they keep voting for the same people.
My fear is that Apple has become sufficiently status quo in the 21st century that disappointment and disaffection reign supreme among the customer base that, somewhat like Democrats and Republicans, have nowhere else to go. While Apple Inc. sits on a humongous cash hoard that sovereign nations envy, this can only be described as Apple’s terrible, horrible, no good very bad year.
Apple incrementally improved the MacBook Pro and nothing else Mac in 2016. Nothing else. No, macOS Sierra doesn’t count. That’s a annualized requirement. Two new iPhones, as expected. No new iPhone SE. No new Mac mini, no new iMac, no new Mac Pro. Apple TV was last year. Watch still looks and runs like Watch from last year. To be fair, Apple started 2016 with a new iPad Pro model, a slimmed down version of the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro from last year, and even doubled down on the Pro price with a few new features. iPad sales continued to drop this year so the Pro series didn’t do much to stem the downward flow.
Apple’s financials took a hit this year, too, with continued drops in revenue, profits, and unit sales. No, Apple isn’t in danger of losing profitability and it owns the lion’s share of profits in whatever product category it’s in right now and that’s not likely to change.
But everything is going down these days. Except R&D expenses which have hit all time records in recent years. What do we see in the product line with all that money? An extra camera on the iPhone 7 line. Touch ID and a slick looking Touch Bar in the MacBook Pro models.
Apple decided to get out of the standalone display business and work with display partners to make devices that are truly Mac compatible. Apple decided to get out of the automobile business. No Apple Car for you. Instead, we’ll hear about autonomous software or something; which seems a strange response to the industry changes since Apple is a hardware company. As a hardware company you might think Apple would want to attract the creative professionals who relied on powerful, expandable, flexible Macs in past years. Nope. Microsoft is doing a full court press on the pros, winning every television commercial battle, and the hearts and minds of Apple’s growing cadre of critics.
Apple will make plenty of money in 2016; likely more than all competitors, and more than some of them combined, but things are not going up these days, and they’re not even looking up because 2016 will go down in history as Apple’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.
Until next year.