Is the Apple Honeymoon Over?

Back in the early 1990s, Apple came within yards of becoming another fossil in the history of computer technology. With a heavy unbalance between the quality of their hardware and its price, a platform they failed to update for far too long, a lack of hardware options and almost no creativity, Apple began to circle the drain faster and faster. Computer nerds began distancing themselves from the once-loved computer giant; around 1993, owning a Mac had become a technological taboo.

Apple’s future only grew bleaker; market-shares plummeted. Attempts to defibrillate the company back into business failed over and over. The company had begun to focus more on suing companies like Microsoft for using mice with buttons, a technology Apple claims to be the father of.  As Apple began to flatline, hardly anyone expected them to pull through its slump. Truthfully, not many people even cared.

Like a godsend, the advent of the iMac, MacOS X and perhaps most importantly, the iPod revitalized Apple in a big way. Its stock soared. Its audience suddenly began to blanket the country – and beyond. People began to feel they could trust Apple again, and invested in it to such a degree to allow the iPod and iTunes to forever revolutionize the way we as a species experience our music. The company, gone from rockstar to a has-been in rehab, had climbed to the top of the world and was only headed upwards.

Groundbreaking. One can certainly argue that Apple has earned this bragging right.  Maybe it’s this aspect of Apple that excites so many people; advertisements for new products like the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad makes us feel like kids watching toy commercials during our Saturday morning cartoons again.

However, it looks like Apple is hitting a plateau again. Even the iPad, while well-received by many people, elicited confused remarks from many others: “It’s just a bigger iTouch with some new features thrown in.” The most explicative Apple product of this resurfacing problem can be found in the Magic Trackpad, released just this year in July. Has anyone seen this thing? It’s nothing but a big chrome square propped up by a cylindrical power button. Granted, it’s sleek. Simple. And it oozes Apple chic. But, as Bryan Lunduke’s Webserver points out, who the hell actually uses a trackpad by choice? Trackpads are a technology we only use when a mouse isn’t an option. The Magic Trackpad shows that Apple has taken to its reputation of developing such innovative product designs that it’s gone over the brink; it’s become more concerned with form than function. If an alien computer executive visited Earth and examined the Magic Trackpad as the first piece of human technology, he’d think that Apple is a company completely out of sync with its customers.

Of course, we cannot continue to demand worlds of creativity from Steve Jobs. After all, he gave us the iPod and the iPhone. With those two products alone he has single-handedly forever changed the course of human technological development. It can’t hurt to have something like that on your resume. But at the end of the day, Apple is a business. What’s more, it’s entrenched in the most rapidly evolving, unstable, ever-changing businesses out there: the computer business. Apple may have given us some real treasures in the past, but like any business it needs to stay on top of its game. It needs to be able to deliver to the ever-increasing demands of its audience or risk being toppled by its rivals.

And Mr. Jobs, if you’re reading this: please – no more Magic Trackpads.

AE Anteater is a fourth year English major. He can be reached at emailremoved@uci.edu.