How did Apple do on the innovation front (posteriors aside)?

June 11, 2013

Here’s what we’re reading/watching today:

1) Yes, we heard about Apple Senior Vice President of Marketing Phillip Schiller’s innovation/derriere-related comment. So, how did Apple do on the innovation front?

Phil Schiller, the senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, talks about the new Mac Pro during the keynote address of the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Monday, June 10, 2013 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, talks about the new Mac Pro during the keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10 in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg/AP)

The company made quite a few reveals Monday during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC2013) which continues through June 14. There was Apple Radio, bringing Apple into the Spotify, Pandora and recently announced Google Play Music All Access universe. Then there was the “flat” mobile operating system design, which isn’t really flat at all. The parallax effect, which uses the phone’s motion sensors to generate the perception of depth between the background and the app icons, led to more than a few oohs and ahhs. Gizomodo’s Jesus Diaz describes it as being “like magic distilled from squeezed rainbow unicorn ponies sandwiched between glass and metal.”

Okay.

The new Mac Pro’s cylindrical design is another significant pivot away from past design features (granted, all Apple offered was a peek).

The new Mac Pro is previewed at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Monday, June 10, 2013 in San Francisco. The new Mac Pro will be the first Mac to be assembled in the U.S. in many years. CEO Tim Cook promised last year that the company would start a production line in the U.S., but didn't say where. Apple said the new computer will launch later this year. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
The new Mac Pro is previewed at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on June 10  in San Francisco.  (Eric Risberg/AP)
The new Mac Pro is previewed at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Monday, June 10, 2013 in San Francisco. The new Mac Pro will be the first Mac to be assembled in the U.S. in many years. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
The new Mac Pro will be the first Mac to be assembled in the U.S. in many years. (Eric Risberg/AP)

Then there was Mac OS X Mavericks, which marked a departure from the big-cats naming convention the company had followed for years with its operating systems. And then there’s the planned integration of iOS into cars in 2014.

Love it or hate it, that’s quite a bit of new stuff for developers to chew on. But how did the company do in terms of innovation? As The Los Angeles Times’s Chris O’Brien and Salvador Rodriguez write:

“The effect of anything announced Monday won’t be known for months. The company said most of the new hardware and software products wouldn’t be available until this fall or later in the year. After initially pushing the stock price up during the keynote speech, investors ultimately drove it down $2.92, or less than 1%, to $438.89.”

Then there’s Mercury News Columnist Troy Wolverton, who notes that innovation is in the eye of the beholder. Where one person may be waiting for the next big product, another may be just as excited about the ease brought to their daily lives by new, more incremental features:

“As a longtime iPhone user, I’m excited about many of the changes Apple announced Monday. I’ve been clamoring for a quick settings feature in iOS for years. Using “cards” to multitask was one of the things I loved most about Palm’s webOS. And the new AirDrop feature, which will allow users to quickly share photos and documents with other nearby iOS users, looks really cool. But none of these things is likely to jump-start Apple’s sales — or reassure investors and fans who are anxiously awaiting Apple’s Next Big Thing.”

Over at Harvard Business Review, Justin Fox begs the question “what kind of innovative does Apple have to be?” Fox drills in on the question through the lens of Harvard Business Prof. Clayton Christensen’s sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation concepts, writing:

“The sustaining/disruptive dichotomy doesn’t describe everything important about innovation. It’s probably overused and certainly gets misused a lot. But it so perfectly fits the debate over Apple’s innovation quandary that it’s a little strange it doesn’t come up more often in this context. As it is, Apple’s critics and partisans mostly talk past each other. The former are bemoaning the lack of disruptive innovations; the latter are celebrating the steady flow of sustaining ones.”

But Fox departs from the academe with this bit of frankness: “Until Apple comes out with its next big new disruptive thing, and it succeeds, the ‘Apple can’t innovate anymore’ meme will live on, whatever Phil Schiller’s [derriere] thinks.”

And then there’s CNBC’s Jim Cramer, who said Monday that McDonald’s, as in the fast-food chain, is more innovative than Apple: “One’s got a needle-mover, and that’s that egg-white McMuffin.”

So, there’s that.

For more on WWDC, check out The Post’s Hayley Tuskayama’s coverage of the conference, and let us know what you think of Apple’s performance on the innovation front in the comments.

2) We tuned in to watch The Washington Post Live event on Digital Privacy, in the wake of revelations surrounding the NSA’s classified data-gathering programs. The event was live from 8:30-10:15 a.m. ET Tuesday. The Post’s Tim Lee live-blogged the event here. Some of the big questions centered around whether government data collection and private data collection are different, and whether the government should be hands-off when it comes to Internet advertising.

3) Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the international space station, formally announced his retirement from the Canadian Space Agency on Monday. (CBC via Gizmodo)

4) Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton launched her official Twitter account Monday and has tweeted once. She has 362,500 followers as of the writing of this post. Here’s hoping tweet number two doesn’t break the Internet.

5) General Electric announced today that it plans to invest $2 billion in health-care systems and applications software over the next five years. The company announced their investment plan Tuesday via a release. The investments will focus on increasing efficiency in scheduling, data entry and asset management as well as cost reduction and cutting down on redundancies. The company is not alone in pushing to be a go-to in a digital health care. Microsoft and IBM are also competing to lead in big-data-fueled health-care applications, even as the public finds itself debating the nature of privacy in an increasingly digital world.

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Emi Kolawole | June 11, 2013