In 1997 Steve Jobs reintroduced both himself and Apple (AAPL) to the world. Clad in his trademark black mock turtleneck, ill-fitting shorts and Birkenstocks, Jobs explained to a small audience that Apple had been resting on its laurels for too long.
“Even a great brand needs investment and caring if it’s going to retain its relevance and vitality and the Apple brand has clearly suffered from neglect in this area in the last few years,” Jobs said dourly, “and we need to bring it back.”
Like a retro hippy version of Don Draper, Jobs said the company needed to get away from boasting about features and benefits and focusing on why Apple was better than Windows.
“Apple at the core, its core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. That’s what we believe.” With that Jobs unveiled the Think Different campaign. It didn’t mention computers at all. Instead it honored the men and women who changed the world with their unwillingness or even inability to fit in with convention.
Apple is no longer an unconventional company. Apple is old. When Tim Cook stands on stage to kick off Apple’s weeklong Worldwide Developers Conference his goal won’t be to shock the world but prove Apple is still capable of mildly surprising Wall Street and devotees.
Expectations are that Apple will unveil iOS 7 mobile operating system, hints at Mac OS X and perhaps a music streaming service called “iRadio.” According to David Garrity, tech analyst and principal at GVA Research, the only sizzle likely to come from the iOS7 is in its ability to support other potential products.
“With Apple, interconnectivity across computing formats has been the hallmark of what they’ve been able to do,” Garrity tells Breakout. Beyond that he’s looking for innovations allowing the new mobile OS to hook up to wearable devices like watches, health monitors and products that “go beyond what we know.”
Aware of his lack of charisma and rap as more of a bean counter than visionary Cook needs to cede the stage to other leaders of Apple in the post-Jobs era. Design head Jonathan Ive in particular is someone investors are anxious to hear from. So far the most whispered about innovation expected from the new iOS is an elimination of skeumorphism --icons intended to resemble physical equivalents, like the shelves on Newstand for instance.
Suffice it to say skeumorphism isn’t what’s keeping Apple’s stock from moving back above $700 again.
In order to recapture the imagination of investors and acolytes alike Apple needs to once again think different. “We really need to be something that’s not just new but something that serves to amaze.”
The waiting is over. Apple’s WWDC event is here. Sit back, relax and see if Apple still packs any sort of punch (Ali’s “Think Different” ad).
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