Apple Is In A Perception Slump

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While I'm not part of the "Apple is doomed" crowd that believes the company has to release a revolutionary product NOW to prove that they are still "innovative". After a quarter of record setting sales, profits and a war chest approaching a quarter-trillion dollars, some people are still treating Apple as if they are Sony. No, I think over-all Apple, as a company knows what it's doing. They've proved it time and time again, and even though their visionary, Steve Jobs is gone doesn't mean all of the brilliant people that work there have turned into bumbling idiots. Steve Job didn't hand build the hardware or code the software single-handedly. There was a team in place that bounced around ideas and have created 3 culture changing devices in the past 12 years. There is absolutely nothing to indicate the company has gone off the rails except for it's stock price, which I'm convinced know longer has any basis in reality. However, there are a few holes in the ship that need to be addressed before they become major weak points and create openings for competitors. 

iCloud

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Apple has never had a great reputation for cloud solutions. While iCloud works much better than Mobile Me ever did, it still has a ways to go to be a fully function and reliable cloud service. There has been lots of talk from developers that are not to happy with iClouds implementation. Support for iCloud has been a mixed bag when it comes to 3rd party apps, meanwhile other competitors like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and Amazon offer similar functionality often with more features. There has also been numerous technical issue like down time and the recent bizzare email filter issue. The silver lining in the cloud (sorry) has been Photo Stream. In my experience it works exactly as advertised and is very handy when you have multiple Apple devices. Lets hope Apple has just been working out the kinks and in 2013 iCloud lives up to it's promises.

iMessage

iMessage which is technically under the same umbrella as iCloud, has had problems since inception. It can't be easy sending, receiving and sorting 2 Billion messages a day for any company, especially one with a notoriously sketchy services history. But Apple released iMessage to the public and users expect what Apple usually delivers on, a highly polished, functioning product. Most of the time iMessage works wonderfully, but there are often times when it's down or messages are not showing up on my iPad or iMac. Occasionally they even appear out of order. Granted this isn't an often occurrence but inconsistent enough to irritate even the most devoted Apple fanboy/girl. The past few months have been better than last fall so hopefully all of the kinks are out by the time OS 10.9 & iOS7 are released.

Podcasting (+app)

Apple put podcasting on the map and still remains the top destination for them, yet they seem to not know how they work or what to do with them. At least half of the content I consume in a day comes from video and audio podcast. Yet my iTunes at home is subscribed to different podcast than my iTunes at work, which is different than the Podcast App on my iPhone and iPad, which is also different than my Apple TV. Yes, believe it or not none of Apple's devices communicate with each other when it comes to podcast. It's a complete mess and I haven't even mentioned the Podcast App issues. Mike Elgan wrote an great piece on how Apple is missing the boat by not fully embracing podcasting as the streaming content gold mine it is.

 "Apple should instead set up a brilliant, flexible model for all content creators to showcase their work, and enable users to live-stream, download, pay for, subscribe to and enjoy any kind of audio or video content regardless of who produced it"

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Apple TV

The Apple TV has been the talk of most of 2012 and into 2013. Will they are won't they launch an actual television set or SDK to allow for a true TV App store. Both have been speculated on ad-infintium to the point were people are starting to look for other companies like Intel to solve the TV problem. I'm sure Apple has a genius, diabolical plan cooking behind the scene that they will release when all their ducks are perfectly in a row but the longer they wait the more they give competition time to figure out ways to compete. All they would have to do is release an upgraded Apple TV box with more storage, an App store and maybe a bluetooth game controller to totally control the causal video game market. Make it happen Apple!

iOS

iOS was a ground breaking mobile OS when it was released in 2007. It was the first of it's kind that paved the way for all of the mobile OS's that have come after it. Six years later, the old dog is showing it's age a little when compared to other mobile platforms. Sure it's still one of the snappiest, and easiest to figure out but now that Jony Ive is head of hardware and software perhaps a little nipping and tucking can be made to move iOS into the future. As Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times often states, iOS is great for people new to smartphones but after you've learned how to get around the depth of the OS plateaus. I understand why Apple made the simplistic design decisions early on, but now it may be time to move beyond the wood-grain, felt, and stitching. I'm not gonna go on about how iOS "bores me" or how it needs widgets, but I do believe it could use a re-examination of not only aesthetics but in overall use. There has been lots of incremental changes between the original iPhone OS and iOS 6 and now would be great time to re-evaluate things in order to prevent the dreaded feature creep. Things that people access on daily basis should take more than 2 steps, especially with a digital "personal assistant" on board.

WWDC

Admittedly most of these "problems" mainly affect power users and the technically savvy while average Apple customers rarely use iCloud, has no problem with iOS, and are modestly happy with their $99 Apple TV. But as the piling on continues in the news about the stock price, Tim Cook not being Steve Jobs, and the insane expectations placed on Apple to produce a magical product every couple of years this perception problem could become a reality. Hopefully at WWDC a lot of these issues will be addressed and put to rest, however I wouldn't hold my breath for a complete iOS overhaul.