Here I sit at my PC at the end of September 2012 and wonder where all the time went. Looking back on this past month, “lackluster” is the only thing I can come up with to describe it. Maybe I am just a little extra grumpy today and if that is the case, please accept my apologies up front. However, I can’t help but look at this past month and not wonder what good came from it. My colleagues and I have conversed back and forth several times about how dry the news cycles seem to be in regards to the tech industry. Not that there isn’t any news, but most of it lacks any pizzazz or appeal for our audience. This could be the result of an abysmal global economy. However, I believe there is a greater underlying issue and the wretched economy is merely a symptom of that issue. The issue I speak of is the severe lack of INNOVATION! Google search defines innovate:
Make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.
We’ve had no shortage of press releases from high tech vendors touting their innovation, but I ask you, which of those supposed innovations has made you want to dump out your pocketbook and go shopping? To be honest, this reality isn’t all bad, that is if you have the ability to think creatively and the guts to take a risk in this market.
In my case against the tech industry, let me introduce exhibit A, Apple. Go to Apple’s website, http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/, and see “what’s new”. Notice, I went ahead and put the entire URL there because I want you to see that Apple literally put the words “whats-new” in the link. Now glance down the page and tell me what is the first thing you see listed. Here’s what I see, “Maps Take a Whole New Turn”. Seriously I don’t even know where to begin here. Let’s start with their original logic. You’re telling me that with all the genius that resides in the headquarters of Apple, the most innovative new thing they could add to their IOS was a map? Please let me jump off the couch, go trade in my iPhone 4S, which by the way, many AT&T users have found that their upgrades aren’t available for upgrade to the iPhone 5 yet, and shell out massive dough for an upgrade. Of course, if you have the iPhone 4S, you can upgrade its IOS to 6 for free, but then you’ll probably end up like my boss who came to me freaking out because he no longer has Google Maps anymore. But Apple gave you a map, right? Yeah and unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you know by now that Apple CEO, Tim Cook, had to write a public apology for the horrid piece of work their map turned out to be. Now, to my second question. Why in the world is that stupid map still listed as your number one addition on your IOS 6 “what’s new” page? Unfortunately, the lack of innovation doesn’t stop there. Siri gets some tweaks by adding additional languages and letting you ask for sports scores. Facebook is much more integrated into IOS 6. Yet with all these lackluster features, people are flocking to get their iPhone 5′s. This to me, is beyond all logic and speaks volumes about the cult that is Apple. Now there are some who believe Apple is going to pull us out of the recession. Folks I don’t know if you realize that kicking out Google Maps and YouTube from Apple makes them more of a closed system. A closed system stands to help no one besides the ones inside that closed system.
Amazon announced its Kindle Fire HD, which hasn’t hit the shelves yet. This time last year, Amazon was all the buzz with the announcement of their first Kindle Fire. To be honest, I thought their timing was great and they really did innovate with that first Kindle Fire. Let’s face it, the previous Android tablets weren’t selling well and sorely lacked something that the iPad had, cloud storage. Since Amazon had their own cloud storage, all Kindle Fire purchases could be centralized and stored in one place. They also were able to integrate Amazon Prime which could deliver movies and other digital content straight to the Kindle Fire. This year however, it was almost like you could hear a pin drop when they announced their newest lineup. I honestly hate this for Amazon because they have a pretty good thing going with this new Kindle lineup, but it’s just not innovative. It’s all just little tweaks and improvements.
The last mystery to be unraveled will be the pricing on Microsoft’s up and coming tablet, the Surface. Microsoft seems to be creating the most buzz and curiosity, and quite frankly, I believe they are stalling the tech companies in a major way right now. There are a lot of vendors out there who are manufacturing Windows 8 tablets, but try getting a price for them. Everyone is waiting for Microsoft’s October 25th announcement on the Surface before they even dare to price their own stuff. Honestly, Microsoft is creating almost all the buzz right now. It’s like they’ve loaded all of their canons and firing them simultaneously in the hope that something will hit its target. Seriously, if you could consider they are introducing a new OS with Windows 8, a new Windows Phone OS, the Surface Tablet, and Office 365, you have to agree with me that they are like the little 3 year old in the corner screaming “look at what I can do Mommy!” Gees Microsoft, get some focus! I hate to be the bearer of bad news Microsoft, but you’ve got two problems. Number one, Windows 8 is such a radical departure from anything your users are used to seeing, all you will do is confuse them. Mark my words, the holiday season is going to be really confusing for the average consumer out there. When all of these new Windows 8 machines hit the shelves, people are going to freak out at how different it is. The second problem you have is you are packaging confusion with innovation. It’s all just a variation on a tired old theme. One thing these Windows 8 tablets have going for them is they will be more powerful, but I am not sure that will be enough to make a big enough sale to drive millions to your product.
So now I appeal to you geniuses out there. As I have outlined for you, this is what happens when the MBAs run the show. The Ivy League graduates that run so many of these companies. Don’t get me wrong, they will make money, but they don’t have the guts to gamble. We need more dropouts like Zuckerberg, Jobs, and Gates who had a vision and made a real difference in their world. Calling all innovators out there, now is your time. Calling all investors out there, for goodness sake, please find some of these innovators and fund them. Let’s put September 2012 behind us and move forward!