Apple's 2016 in Review

More than anything else, I think it’s almost an inevitability given the size and scale Apple has grown to. It’s still trying to act like a fairly small company — and it’s not working as well as it could. … Apple’s corporate structure needs some changing to better function at the size that it has grown to.

My worry is that Apple isn’t seeing this, because it’s looking at the sales numbers and they look fine, with many products under backlog and strong demand (including the new MacBook Pros). If you just look at the numbers, things are okay. But what Apple’s always been good at is looking beyond the numbers to the things they don’t say — and I worry they’ve lost that.

I agree that Apple needs to look at the intangibles, particularly the qualities of their products that make them Apple products. Von Raspach points out that the Pencil and AirPods are exceptional products – they very much have it in them to make products of top-quality. I’ve pointed this out in previous posts throughout 2016 that today’s Apple can still execute products as well as they ever have.

Von Raspach also addresses the complaints of edge-case users, and elaborates on why they’re still important for Apple to serve:

But here’s the problem: sitting in this niche of excluded users are some of Apple’s strongest supporters, the influencers that create word of mouth, and to me, most importantly it includes a significant number of the developers Apple depends on to create it’s Mac and iOS apps.

Right now, the only real option Apple has offered these users is the iMacs, which seems to be their answer for high end machines. That may work for some, even thought it won’t be their first preference for many. It’s clearly left many disgruntled and some thinking of jumping ship to other manufacturers, either running Linux or Windows. ...

It’s been over a thousand days since [the Mac Pro] has seen an update. As Apple’s high end flagship, this is unconscionable. It shows a lack of respect for its high end power users that have depended on it.

His whole bit on the Mac Pro is scathing as it is, sadly, true – or at least what is perceived to be true consensus-wise. I think the Mac Pro and the whole ordeal associated with it personifies what Apple thinks of the edge-case users that could massively benefit even from simple regular updates to the Pro.

One last thing he doesn’t really make explicit, but I get a sense that he’s trying to say with his piece, is that Apple has been abysmal at communication. That’s another thing I pointed out in my posts throughout last year – the lack of a Jobs-like figurehead to communicate Apple’s general direction and philosophies to the media, the industry, and customers makes Apple seem standoffish and even confused, not the awe-inspiring, secret-keeping magician they may still perceive themselves to be.

I’d like to add a bit to that now, though. It’s one thing for communication to be almost non-existent while the actions reflect that all is well. However, it’s getting to a tipping point where neither the words nor actions assure a positive outcome in the long term. I should reiterate that Apple has the capability – all the capability in the world – to make things right. I think it’s simply a matter of what they prioritize doing, and who they prioritize listening to, from here on out.