October 5th, marked a year since Steve Jobs’ death and his contribution to making technology accessible to the masses continues to improve the lives of everyday people across the world. However, has Apple as a company changed since Jobs’ passing?
The Wondrous World of Retina
One of the greatest ways in which Apple is staying true to Jobs’ goals is through their inclusion of Retina technology into all of their new gadgets.
A few months ago, Apple announced their new line up of gadgets, software and the upgraded Pro at the WWDC conference in San Francisco, California including their new operating software ‘Mountain Lion.’ However, it is the Macbook Pro that garnered the most chatter among tech fans. Enriched with the visually-intoxicating Retina display, the screen is the highest resolution display the company has ever put into a notebook. The resolution is marked at 28800 x 1800 and boasts over five million pixels – three million more than an HDTV.
This makes the laptop’s graphics so sharp and detailed that they should evoke verifiable gasps from the user, as the clarity of the images make them as beautiful as visible life. The company also claims that typography on the screen is sharper than the printed page, which should make perusing the internet, reading books and creating word documents a total pleasure while guaranteeing no eye strain. The clarity of the screen is matched by the powerful graphic NVIDA chips installed on the Pro.
The power specs of the laptop are incredible as well; designed with an ‘all flash architecture’ the laptop is not only the most powerful laptop the company has ever manufactured, but the fastest. The flash technology allows the laptop to deliver data up to four times faster, while only taking up ten percent of the overall space of a traditional hard drive.
This flashdrive and the removal of the Ethernet and FireWire ports make the new Macbook Pro 15 inch substantially lighter than the old version, but not as light as the Macbook Air. Also, the luxury laptop will not be light on the wallet. Marked at $2,199 the new Macbook is expensive, but many fans and experts would argue its visual holiness is worth every penny.
The iPhone’s Newest Evolution
Another gadget released after Jobs’ passing is the iPhone 5, which was released last month to mixed reviews. The new iPhone 5 has a much larger four inch screen making videos and media ultimately more watchable. The screen size has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and is made of the company’s luxurious Retina display technology which has wowed customers on the new Macbook Pro and iPads.
However, while the new iPhone has an upgraded A6 processing chip, up from A5 – it also has a smaller SIM card making it harder for users to swap their cards from their iPhone 4. While the shrinking of all these elements makes the technology appear ‘slimmer’ it also limits a user’s freedom.
This seems to be a trend with Apple after Steve Jobs. Their new Macbook is an undeniable beauty, but they also minimized the internal components of the luxury laptop, even going so far as to surge them together, making it ultimately impossible for the user to upgrade their RAM and memory without going through Apple.
Basically, the company is offering us enhanced looks in exchange for their increased Monopoly and mono-control over their devices. Much like their dismissal of YouTube from their stock applications in hopes of increasing video sales on iTunes, the company often compromises user liberty for higher profit margins.
However, Jobs himself was a tech-geek who strived to maintain the freedom of the user’s experience. Such desperate moves to control the user’s purchasing options seem to indicate a lack of confidence in their creativity as a brand after Steve Jobs. In many ways, Apple has become more and more blatant about stealing the product ideas of competitors. For instance, the new size of the iPhone 5 is strikingly similar to the Android HTC – their biggest smartphone competitor.
It seems like Apple’s new commitment to following consumer trends, instead of setting them, is a major divergence from the interface-trailblazing company who won our loyalty in the first place.
Veering from Steve Jobs’ Wishes
Unlike Apple’s new tendency to please consumer trends, Steve Jobs could care less about pleasing people. What drove Jobs was his tenacity to follow his own vision - he knew what he liked, and what he hated. He was the driving force behind the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, he held very strong beliefs on what consumers wanted in a tablet, and what they didn’t.
For instance, when the Kindle Fire, and the other smaller screened tablets hit the market, he scoffed at their limited usability saying such devices were not ‘sufficient to create great tablet apps’ and would be ‘dead on arrival.’ He even test used a Kindle Fire and this is what he had to say, “The most striking observation from testing the Fire is that everything is much too small on the screen, leading to frequent tap errors and accidental activation. You haven’t seen the fat-finger problem in its full glory until you’ve watched users struggle to touch things on the Fire.”
He even went as far to call Amazon’s efforts at making such a miniscule device a borderline conspiracy, “If I were given to conspiracy theories, I’d say that Amazon deliberately designed a poor web browsing user experience to keep Fire users from shopping on competing sites. Amazon’s own built-in shopping app has great usability, so they clearly know how to design for the tablet.”
However, rumors are swelling that Apple is set to release a mini version of the iPad, currently coined the iPad Nano, and the iPad Mini. Speculation suggests the miniature version would boast a screen between seven and eight inches, offer users premium transportability, as well as a discounted price. However, what does this all say about Apple’s future as a brand? While Apple notoriously derived inspiration from competitors, this seems to mark a brash move to compete with the Google Nexus Tablet, which could indicate Apple sees them as a real threat to their empire.
However, the iPad Mini could actually hit those markets that the bulkier iPad can’t quite nudge itself into, including the education market, which is looking for more affordable tablets for digital education books. The iPad Mini is rumored to be released in October 2012 with a price tag of approximately $250-$299, and its release could mark the beginning of Apple’s inevitable departure from Jobs’ mono-managed vision.
In the end, it is Jobs’ commitment to staying relevant that made Apple such an indestructible force in the gadget world. So as long as Apple keeps its finger on consumers’ desires, while also trailblazing simpler interfaces so children and grandparents alike can participate in the joy of technology, then they are bound to please the original vision of their famous founding visionary.
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