On September 12th, Apple took to the stage and did two things. They made several key product announcements, and seemed to lose the very essence which gave the company their unique place in the technology space. On September 6th, Amazon presented themselves as a company with the ability to 'Think Different,' taking that same value from Cupertino and superseding their ambition.
The iPhone 5 is already set to be a huge success. The standard course of statistic bragging, product reveal, demonstration and music performance was there, but it felt somewhat lacking in excitement. As if that ideal of innovation and disruption (which was both a masterclass of marketing brand perception and product design ingenuity in my opinion) has disappeared in the face of the iterative curve.
Call it the lack of Steve Jobs' reality distortion field, call it the shift of the company's direction under Tim Cook, call it a change of pace from the brand's status quo of blending technology with the liberal arts. Whatever it is, that mindset seems to be absent, even in the various Apple fanboys I have met on my travels.
Turns out, it's just Amazon who have taken the torch instead. Jeff Bezos showed an interplay of hardware and software comparable (and better in some situations) to that of Apple's offering, demonstrated transformative thinking to move their respective media industries forward, and appeared unafraid to clear out the old in favour of the new. This even comes down to their presentation style, in which they show the smallest of inventions that make their product seem superior to the consumer, regardless of the fact they aren't actually better than others in the market, hardware-wise.
"People don't want gadgets any more."
To me the Paperwhite and Fire HD were not the biggest announcements the company made that day. In fact, the products were secondary to the evolution of Amazon into something more. They have combined technologies that seem pointless individually, but amount to something innovative when put together. Or at least this is how they've been marketed.
It's all there: the rich and well famed content ecosystem that they work to honour, the consumer-centric focus through experimental buying models -- and all from the comany with 'the smile on the box.'
It seems that in the face of overwhelming success, Apple has become the very thing it has always rallied against: a company that has settled. Granted, through its history, full congratulations need to be given for the status it has achieved. You may or may not like them, but considering they've just overtaken Microsoft as the world's highest-grossing technology company, I'd say they're doing alright. But sadly, the fire of innovation and originality had to die out at some point.
Apple are still going to be huge; but the spark has gone.