WWDC 2013: Apple [AAPL] delivered its message loud and clear today as a confident Tim Cook took the stage to conduct fellow executives as they put forth the proposition that this Fall, Apple will be coming out with all guns blazing.
[ABOVE: Jony Ive lets us know what design means.]
Apple shares the recipe
All the ingredients are there:
[ABOVE (left): This is what a market-leader's OS graph looks like.]
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, seems to have got over his initial discomfort when presenting from the stage. This time round he seemed far more confident, far more in control. He seems to have found his role leading his people by enabling their own achievements. He'll share the spotlight and tries to maintain the entire company in its focus on its main ambition: To make the best products in the industry.
If a commitment to excellence in tandem with an ability to delegate to a strong, ambitious and creative team is the mark of a weak leader, I'll eat my hat. A strong leader barks only when a bark is required, and the quiet man showed his teeth last year with the removal of Scott Forstall.
iOS is another animal. The new breed seems to have its own existence within the device. Designer Jony Ive has clearly focused on developing a logical user interface, while also working with depth and layers to create a software entity that appears to have life within the iPhone or iPad. Existing iPhone owners (back to the iPhone 4) will install the new OS and feel as if they have a brand new phone, and a more powerful one.
You see, as far as I can tell from the brief demos we saw today, when you move your iDevice around in certain views you'll see matching activity on the display. In this way the iOS becomes a living creature nestled inside of the hardware. While I fully expect that statement to become my own passport to an eternal place on Pseud's Corner, my point is that Ive has given iOS a much stronger sense of identity, dumping skeumorphism in favor of an interface that isn't retro, isn't imitative and certainly isn't flat. This OS works in three dimensions.
As Ive puts it in the video above:
"Design is more than the way something looks, it's the whole thing, how something works. Design defines so much of our experience."
[ABOVE: With iOS 7 iPhone now offers easy access to your most used controls with Control Center.]
Tomorrow belongs to?
Today's WWDC event also provides us a few hints as to Apple's general strategic direction. This year's crop focuses on:
No surprise that Apple stock's a little volatile subsequent to the announcements. There were only two immediately available new products: the MacBook Air and iTunes Radio. Apple's promised improvements are all scheduled for release "in Fall".
Investors naturally concluded the next few months will be a little slow for the company. Perhaps they are right -- Apple's not so worried, with a few billion dollars in the bank it can afford to wait a little while in order to ensure the integrated end-to-end vision of post-PC computing it is developing can be executed as precisely as a Jony Ive design video.
It may be instructional when considering what the company is plotting to consider these words from Ive:
“There is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation—it’s about bringing order to complexity.
“iOS 7 is a clear representation of these goals. It has a whole new structure that is coherent and applied across the entire system.”
That structure doesn't stop with the system. It is being applied across both Apple's product range and its manner of execution.
Faster, better, longer, cheaper
What then can we expect from these unconfirmed, undiscussed and not yet revealed devices on the basis of today's announcements? Some answers seem obvious: battery life improvements, display technology improvements, better power management and much improved flash drive performance. And, if the rumors can be believed: a cheaper model in support of the flagship edition.
When will we see these?
Apple has told us just enough that we know we only have to wait a few more weeks before it hits the market fighting. With what I saw today I'm relatively confident that when it is ready to deliver, it will deliver solutions that reinvigorate its already world class franchise. If I had any Apple stock I'd be booking a fantastic spring break next year.
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