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Walt Mossberg Says Apple Lacks a Breakthrough Product

Isn't it too soon to judge?
Apple Water Cooler
August 31, 2016

Tech expert Walt Mossberg in his column for The Verge says that even though Apple has been wildly successful financially since the Steve Jobs-era, it “lacks a breakthrough product.”

Mossberg, a veteran technology reporter, is someone I deeply admire, but there are times when some of the things he says just sound a little bit out of wack. You can argue whether the Apple Watch is a breakthrough product, and most would probably say it’s not, but I think it’s one that is going to require many more years before we can definitively say that. Those hoping for an iPhone-like breakthrough product to fall out of Apple headquarters are living in a fantasy world. These types of products happen maybe once every 20 or 30 years. Mossberg ought to know this.

Take, for example, this part in his piece where he criticizes the Apple Pencil:

Cook also introduced a huge 13-inch iPad Pro, with a snap-on physical keyboard, which Jobs thought unnecessary, and a stylus, which Jobs mocked and hated, even scorning the idea during the original iPhone launch. This year, Cook followed up with a smaller iPad Pro.

The Pencil on the iPad Pro has absolutely nothing to do with Jobs mocking the stylus during the 2007 iPhone keynote. I don’t know why certain people keep bringing this up. Jobs poked fun at the stylus for being the input device, something that was all too common with the touch screen devices at that time.

The Pencil on the iPad Pro is not meant to replace the finger but rather has been designed for the professional who looks to make more precise drawings, something that I think Jobs would have seriously appreciated. After all, the industrial design team at Apple still, to this day, sketches on paper with a pencil to come with ideas.

Walt Mossberg

Walt Mossberg

That said, Mossberg isn’t wrong about a lot of his criticism. Apple not touching the Mac Pro for three years is downright embarrassing. Going nearly 500 days without a MacBook Pro update is ridiculous. Not likely including a pair of wireless earbuds with the upcoming audio jack-less “iPhone 7” is also bad. All these things are good reasons to be frustrated with Apple.

In the end, I think Apple is going to be just fine, and I believe that we’re going to see some amazing breakthrough products in the coming years. What many of us forget is the amount of time it takes to make something truly innovative. People forget that there was a six-year gap between the introduction of the iPod and the introduction of the iPhone. We’re only five years into the Tim Cook era, and it feels like every year people are calling for Tim Cook or some other high-level Apple executive to step down.

Maybe we should remember that innovation is not something that comes out of nowhere, but something that takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. The more we remember this, the better off we’ll be.