The Curse of Being Apple

2001: Another Macworld Expo has come and gone, and Apple has decided not to wow the crowd with some gee-whiz innovation. However, solid performance upgrades were the norm and, I suspect, welcome for a lot of people.

Mac Scope

Of course, a little speed bump here and there was hardly enough to placate those who participated in the biannual rumour feeding frenzy. Several Mac news and opinion sites jumped on Apple for not releasing anything “new” and “exciting”. It seems that Apple is having trouble meeting the high expectations of its users.

Power Mac G4 CubeIt really kind of sucks to be Apple these days. No matter what they do, their adoring fans will likely clobber them. If they push the envelope, they’ll be nailed for being too “risky” (remember the Cube!) in uncertain economic times. If they decide to hold back on any surprises and ride out the economic storm, they are derided for being “boring”. Apple can’t win.

Admittedly, Apple fans are a tough crowd to please. They’ve become used to getting drool-worthy products from Apple. They expect it, much like a child expects dessert after a hateful meal. The Macworld Expo is a treat for Mac users because we can almost be guaranteed something sweet after many secretive months.

Underpromise, Overdeliver

I suspect that Apple may be adopting an “underpromise and overdeliver” attitude. In other words, don’t promise anything too spectacular and then deliver something that they know will knock people’s socks off.

In any event, while it’s nice to hold a company up to a high standard, the moon cannot be expected every time a Macworld Expo rolls around. A new iMac, Power Mac, PowerBook, or iBook is not necessarily a good thing to have at each and every show.

Apple is playing its cards correctly. In the uncertain economic climate and with a lot of focus on Mac OS X, new hardware will, for a change, have to take a back seat. When the PC market heats up again, expect us to be singing “Happy Days are Here Again”.

I’m looking forward to the next Macworld Expo. Things should be a whole lot more exciting then. Apple is going through a small transition now that probably slowed down the product announcements a bit. It’s focusing on OS X, riding out the downturn, and, undoubtedly, prepping some amazing hardware for January.

January makes much more sense for the release of new products. A significant drought in hardware changes will have occurred, meaning more people will buy new machines. The expectation of new machines will also drive the sales of older models. The economy will have heated up a little bit, and more people will feel compelled to replace the aging PC workhorse they bought two years ago.

All in all, nothing now followed by much more later isn’t such a bad proposition.

Apple still has to live with unhappy users, though.

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