'Apple: You’ve Seen It All Before, and Nothing Else Like It'

Joshua Topolsky, writing for The New Yorker:

On Wednesday, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, in San Francisco, the company was in full force with its fall showcase, announcing a variety of new products including a very large iPad, a new version of its Apple TV set-top box, and, of course, a couple of new iPhones—the 6S and the 6S Plus. But what was most striking was not the newness of the products. Instead, it was the fact that we’d seen most of this film before: about ninety per cent of what Apple revealed has already been shown by Google, Amazon, Samsung, and Microsoft.

Mind you, this is not a new skill that Apple has acquired. In fact, some of the company’s biggest hits were simply a rethink or tweak of an old idea or two. The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player, and Apple certainly didn’t create the first smartphone. The company also didn’t invent the first tablet, and when it introduced its new one this week, the main selling point was that Apple had enlarged an object that it had recently shrunk.

Surprisingly astute commentary from Topolsky here. Considering I ended up unfollowing him on Twitter today after a string of obnoxious Tweets that were dripping with cynical smarm, I wasn't expecting something so measured.

I do have to be that asshole and call out the last bit of that second paragraph, though, because it'll bug me like hell if I don't; how is iPad Pro's main selling point the fact that it's a larger iPad? The technology Apple showed off and the insane amount of power driving the device is way more notable to me (and to Apple, it seemed) than the physical size of it. Not to mention Apple Pencil. Seems like Topolsky was going for a specific slant here that doesn't quite match the rest of his piece.

The rest of a piece that, I maintain, is pretty solid. He nails the fact that Apple is a company focused on execution. They deliver so consistently on execution because they care about details. Some details may seem subtle on the surface, but it's often the intangibles that delight. There are a lot of companies that care about delivering first. But there are not a lot of companies that care about delivering right.

It's important that someone like Topolsky recognizes this and writes about it. His online persona is so entrenched in a compulsion to quickly criticize Apple, to the point where he frequently comes off as petty and smug, but mostly misguided. That he is able to place his finger on what makes Apple Apple is a feat, and I hope a reasonable approach like this is a trend we continue to see (don't worry, I'm not holding my breath).

He isn't without his indulgences though. From the piece:

(It’s also worth pointing out that, in 2010, Steve Jobs very publicly derided the idea of needing a stylus at all: “If you see a stylus, they blew it!”)

No, fuckface, it's not worth noting. Keep that amateur shit on your Twitter feed.