Just reading through this article relating to the accusation that Apple is ‘boring’ and ‘unimaginative’ ( link ) and to a certain extent I can understand many of the criticism particular by John Gruber when Microsoft uploaded the video onto YouTube entitled “Productivity Future Vision” where John pointed out that ‘pie in the sky’ rather than the real world. This really goes to the heart of what I think is lost in translation when Google and Microsoft go out on a limb to create things like Google Glass and HoloLens where they’re very much like a concept car – even if it isn’t commercially successful lessons are learned from the experience and then those lessons are then folded back into the next product or a variety of products.
A product needn’t be a major success on day one because it can occur where an organisation over shoots what consumers want and then dial it back a few notches to something that is more about what people want. Apple for example and their Cube computer, the early Apple TV and the development of Front Row, the early implementation of ‘Documents and Settings’ where Apple over extended itself believing that they could automate everything behind the scenes but it annoyed developers because it hide all the details they needed when debugging their application and why there was a sync failure to the cloud (not to mention the fact that according to one developer who said that he couldn’t find out the success or failure of a given sync until the connection was closed off which at that point there is no way to recover) not to mention the first and second generation of MacBook Pro ‘Retina’ and the iMac 5K both having woefully under powered GPU’s given the number of pixels that had to be pushed given the screen size. In other words Apple does go to the edge, maybe less aggressively than Microsoft or Google, but they do take chances and thanks to great marketing even products that probably should be held back are eventually shipped without too much of a repercussion on their reputation – the ‘reality distortion field’ at world as they say.
So Apple does take risks and occasionally sit on the edge of new products but in terms of grand pie in the sky Apple doesn’t make things like Google Glass or HoloLens because Apple’s view on technology is that technology should be part of your life rather than in your life and dominating every aspect of your life. When I saw the ‘Minority Report’ inspired video aka ‘Productivity Future Vision’ I was creeped out because rather than technology making our lives better it resembles something closer to ones personal space being invaded – the idea of separating work from private life, private life from the public sphere on being connected with others is unsettling. Where as Apple keeps that fine line of separation between you and that world it appears that in the Microsoft/Google world they want to mix the two and many in public aren’t willing to cross that line – they still want that line of separation.
This it the reason why many of these products like Google Glass and the HoloLens never get beyond the headlines of blogs and a few new stories later. Heck, just check out the 3D televisions and when it was launched that apparently the future – laptops, desktops, mobile phones etc. were apparently meant to all 3D because it was the wave of the future but here we are in 2015 and the interest in 3D screens was like a bell curve, a massive incline then a massive decline once the hype wore off. Same thing happened with the Google Glass, lots of media razzle-dazzle and excitement – you sometimes wonder whether these ‘pie in the sky’ are just grand PR stunts rather than genuine cases of “here is a product that is viable and we’re going to ship it”. I could imagine HoloLens in a scenario of maybe working in an engineering scenario and being able to visualise a 3D project created in Solidworks and able to rotate it in and work collaboratively on the project.
When it comes to me I’ve maintained my outlook.com account and going to be holding out till the end of this year to see what Windows 10 eventually turns out like particularly when there is the big Build 2015 conference when more details are given and hopefully some sort of timeline as to when it’ll be ready to ship to the web. In the past making a decision over the future of my own personal computing it was a pretty easy decision to make – look over at Android and shudder, check out Windows and wondered what the programmers at Microsoft had been doing for 2-3 years then scurry over to the Apple online store to get my Apple fix in the form of a Mac and an iPhone. This time around the situation has changed quite a lot (I’ll go more detail in a future post) in both the hardware and software stakes. Microsoft has upped the quality of their own software and the hardware world has resulted in consolidation resulting in less fragmentation and a more consistent experience. In other words, the fractured clusterfuck combination of hardware and software that existed in the Wintel world which made the Apple ecosystem so enticing no longer exists to the same degree – Windows 10 being the icing on the cake that makes the Wintel ecosystem once again competitive and able to go head to head with Apples vertically integrated model.