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Apple is probably the only company in the world that everyone has an opinion on. And they usually aren’t middling, not-fussed-either-way opinions either. You either love or hate Apple… either buy every iDevice you can get your hands on or refuse to even install iTunes and QuickTime on your computer.

Whatever your personal feelings are on Apple, iOS, Mac OS X, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Jony Ive, premium pricing et al, it’s time to put those biases aside for just a few minutes to decide whether you feel Apple is on a downward slope. This week’s We Ask You is wholly dedicated to discussing the possibility that Apple’s time in the sun is coming to an end. Or not. You decide.

This Week’s Question…

We want to know, Are Apple’s Best Days Behind It? We’re not asking whether you think Apple is done for, because it’s clearly not about to go bankrupt. It has lots of money in the bank, lots of fans, and lots of talent remaining at the company. But it has lost Steve Jobs Is Apple's Downward Spiral Inevitable Without Jobs? [Opinion] Is Apple's Downward Spiral Inevitable Without Jobs? [Opinion] All technology companies experience peaks and troughs. Products come and go, execs get up and leave, consumer tastes change. Just look at RiM and the fortunes of the BlackBerry platform for proof. Apple is just... Read More . And it appears to have lost the golden touch that seemingly precluded it from criticism and negativity. So, has Apple peaked?

The obvious germ of this question is the recent unveiling of iOS 7, Apple’s new operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It has split opinion in no uncertain terms, with some of the devoted faithful loving the changes and others hating them. James gave us an overview of all of the changes made in iOS 7 What's New in iOS 7? What's New in iOS 7? A new generation of iOS is nearly upon us, revealed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last week. Guided strongly by (Sir) Jony Ive, iOS 7 marks a clear departure from the skeumorphic UI elements of... Read More , while Tim detailed how to access the iOS 7 beta How To Access iOS 7 Beta (And Downgrade To iOS 6) How To Access iOS 7 Beta (And Downgrade To iOS 6) The web is awash with talk of Apple's new mobile operating system in the wake of WWDC 2013. As with all new iterations of iOS, Apple developers get access before the rest of us who... Read More . Meanwhile, Yaara is running a poll asking for your opinions on iOS 7 What Do You Think About iOS 7? [MakeUseOf Poll] What Do You Think About iOS 7? [MakeUseOf Poll] iOS user or not, you’ve probably heard of the latest release from Apple. iOS 7 is only available in beta so far, but has already made some waves, with users calling it anything from revolutionary... Read More .

This latest product unveiling isn’t the only reason to ask this question, however. Since Steve Jobs died and Tim Cook took over the running of the company, Apple has become somewhat complacent, or at least that’s how it appears to me as an outsider. The original iPhone was a game-changer, as was the original iPad. And witnessing the once-humble Macintosh evolve into the Windows PC-beating Mac has been phenomenal.

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However, things have slowed down considerably over the past couple of years. Rather than releasing innovative new products with the capacity to change the world, Apple has released new versions of its existing product line, with incremental changes being the order of the day. The Apple share price has dropped as a result, and some are arguing that Apple, along with Google and Facebook, have peaked. What do you think?

Is Apple going to rise once more The Rise And Fall And Rise Of Apple: A Brief History The Rise And Fall And Rise Of Apple: A Brief History The success of Apple indeed lies with their attitude of "Thinking Differently". While the company may not have always been heralded as a success, their strength over the years has come from great vision and... Read More ? Can Tim Cook and Jony Ive successfully steer the company between them or will new blood need to be brought in? Was Steve Jobs Instant Inspiration: Watch Steve Jobs' Greatest Ever Speeches Instant Inspiration: Watch Steve Jobs' Greatest Ever Speeches Not everybody is a fan of Apple. Nor was everybody a fan of Steve Jobs, one of the two Steves who founded the company, and the one who turned it from an also-ran into the... Read More the reason for Apple’s rise to the top? What products, if any, should Apple be developing behind the scenes to once again shake up the industry? Are you happy with the incremental updates and feel Apple is doing enough to please its consumer base?

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told Us. One reader will be chosen for the coveted Comment Of The Week, getting their name up in lights, and the respect of other readers. What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to fellow MakeUseOf Readers. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Bill Selak

  1. Rudi Niemand
    June 24, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Best days? Probably not. But, their innovation... yes. Not in regards to hardware (look at the new Mac Pro) - mainly software, just look how much they've ripped off from Android and Windows Phone for the "all new" iOS 7. Then again, all companies go through the same problems. It's just a shame when they could be using some of that money they've been making and maybe running some design and creativity competitions that are open to the public of course, and using it for inspiration. Just a thought.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 24, 2013 at 7:31 pm

      That isn't a bad idea. I think Jony Ive is too much of a control freak over the look and feel of hardware and software to allow the public to have a say on Apple products though.

  2. Tim
    June 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    If you believe Apple’s stock price has fallen because of some perceived lack of innovation, you lack enough understanding of the market that you probably shouldn’t comment on it. There are two reasons that Apple’s stock price has dropped: (1) Too many big investors holding too many of the shares, leaving the stock vulnerable to the choices of just one or two funds making a choice to reduce its holdings, and the market immediately noticing a large number of shares being sold; and (2) the inevitable flattening of Apple’s growth curve (no company can continue to grow at the rate it had been). It didn’t matter that the company was still announcing record earnings and was the fiscally healthiest company in the world. It wasn’t going to grow at the same pace - and analysts decided it was time to reduce holdings. Period. You may make any assertions you want about lack of innovation (although I would tend to agree with Phil Schiller), but it’s just silly to connect the stock price to those assertions. You might want to read Horace Dedlu and Philip Elmer-DeWitt if you want to understand Apple as a business, instead of as a romantic notion.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 24, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      I was talking very vaguely about the connect between the share price and the lack of innovation. I personally don't think profit is the only way to determine if a company has peaked or not.

  3. Harshit J
    June 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    No because many Apple fans still believe in Apple and continue to do so. It does not matter if the iPhone is getting only incremental updates or the iPad has become boring. What Apple does is that they make something great out of what is already available or exists. They did it with the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Apple is going to release a smart watch and if they do it right, then we are going to witness a new wave to amazing smart watches which have been failed to get big success till now. So, don't hold your breathe for Apple going down soon.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 24, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      There's a big difference between having peaked and "going down." I mean, Microsoft is still going strong despite a distinct lack of excitement surrounding the company in recent years.

      I'm not convinced smartwatches are game-changers. I wouldn't buy one personally.

  4. dragonmouth
    June 21, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Define "best". "BEST" in what way?

    As a corporate entity Fruitco will plow along, buoyed by its past successes. It is like a supertanker, it takes a very long time to change course. It built up too much momentum. Apple is going down the same road as Microsoft. They both are mature, profitable, stodgy companies with little vision.

    As an innovative, Golly Gee Whiz, What Won't They Think of Next tech company Apple has hit a dry spell. Imagination and innovation died with Steve Jobs. Fruitco is being run by corporate functionaries. There is no visionary to show the way. Might as well brink back John Sculley or bring Steve Ballmer over from MS.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 24, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      Best as in peaked. Whether that means profit or share price or innovation or game-changing is up to you.

      There would be a bloodbath in the blogosphere were John Sculley to be brought back to run things lol.

      • dragonmouth
        June 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm

        "There would be a bloodbath in the blogosphere were John Sculley to be brought back to run things lol."
        Let's not get dramatic. As the nephrologist said about kidney stones "This too shall pass."

        I meant Fruitco needs another visionary like Jobs, rather than another corporate drone like Sculley or Amelio, to lead them. There is little imagination needed to run Pepsi or Rockwell or National Semiconductor. As an analogy, anybody can build a sports car, even a very fast sports car. But only Enzo Ferrari could give us the Dino, Testarossa, F40, 308 or 365.

  5. Jon Green0
    June 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

    The last real innovations Apple produced were the MacBook Air*, the iPhone and (to an extent) the iPad. Since then, it's all been uninspired retreads of existing product; step-change technology improvements.

    The iOS redesign? OK, there's a different set of pictures on the screen. No paradigm change, just look'n'feel. Well, just look. The feel's unchanged.

    And the results are showing. The fanbois who bought every new product the day it was released...don't. The shiny isn't shiny. Long queues outside Apple Stores for new iPhones are a reminiscence for Apple execs, not a reality. Not any more.

    Apple needs to relearn risk. To take dangerous decisions that shake up markets. To take punts on ideas and products that plough new fields. That's what we loved Apple for, even as we hated them for ridiculous pricing and lock-in strategies.

    Microsoft has started by shooting its own feet, with successive bad choices, most recently the Windows 8 fiasco that damaged both their corporate markets and home consumer interest. and is currently working its way up its own femurs with successive shot-gun blasts of high-profile media failures.

    Apple is in danger of becoming Microsoft: the Next Generation. Boring. Staid. And yet, it's not at any risk of entering the corporate market, given the product prices. It would be a bold executive indeed who proposed replacing all the corporate PCs with Apples. Bold and short-tenured.

    We have to wonder: what next for Apple? Because if it doesn't start innovating again soon, someone else will.

    • Jon Green0
      June 21, 2013 at 10:42 am

      (*) Me amongst them. I still don't like the non-replaceable battery and hard drive, and the paucity of USB ports...but I've got an Air-a-like Ultrabook myself now.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 24, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      Apple is already like Microsoft in many ways... just with more passionate fans and a higher profit margin on its products!

  6. Jim Gibson
    June 21, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Apple is a world leader in its game but there are now chinks in it's armour and other company's are right behind them. They need to look at themselves closely and see what their competitors are providing for their customers. I'm sure Apple will survive this period in their history.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 24, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      I'm sure they will survive, but whether they'll be on top in the way they were though the noughties is another question.

  7. Eyram Amedzor
    June 21, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Apple lacks innovation. And since the death of Steve Jobs they havn't made giant strides especially in software development unlike the android folks. I personally think they are trying to get back into the spotlight through these numerous court cases.
    Apple, I think is getting lost, if they had been using Google Maps, they would have been on the right path..lmao

    • Dave Parrack
      June 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      Apple Maps is/was spectacularly bad LOL.

      • Andrew
        June 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm

        Depends on where you are. In some places it's terrible. Here in Ontario it actually has new subdivisions and roads that's Google Maps doesn't.

  8. kevin gnanaraj
    June 21, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Apple can certainly surprise us, but whether that surprise is innovative is partially subjective, because there are so many leaks that we know what to expect, and aren't awed when it does come. Apple still does innovate, but since it's not really a secret, it's not something to be amazed at, and we believe Apple's best days are behind us.
    The new Mac pro was certainly an innovative surprise, that shows that Apple can still come up with good new things

  9. Humza Aamir
    June 21, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Although many innovative ideas are associated and credited to Apple, it's more than often that someone has probably done it before. Walkman before the iPod, the Windows Tablet before the iPad but few devices have caused such a stir as the iPhone did when it was launched back a few years ago and all the smartphone hype these days, the huge slice of the market, cash and customers which rivals like Samsung, HTC and Sony etc seem to enjoy, all owe it to the iPhone, particularly the iPhone 4.

    It seems Steve Jobs really did play a critical role in all of Apple's processes and products. I don't think we have come across a truly revolutionary product in terms of design or innovation from Apple after Steve's departure. The tech giant is only stretching those ideas and when it did try on it's own, they gave us the Mac Pro which due to it's absurd shape, won't be winning any design awards soon. If the memory's not mistaken, the guy who came up on the stage during WWDC while revealing this product did say 'Can't innovate anymore, my ass' and what came up next on the screen was anything but.

    To be honest, what Apple really can't do these days, is fill it's own shoes. They do have beautiful products on offer ranging from desktops to laptops to smartphones to tablets but the day is not far away that the trademark design becomes long in the tooth and since the competition has caught up so fiercely, it may come sooner than expected.

    But Apple's not the one to blame is it? It's in the human nature that once it's elevated to a certain height of innovation, beauty and the perfect blend of form with function, it only expects more and more in the next iteration. It's the way tech works, we can't go back and we can't even stay where we are for more than a few months. Even the Galaxy S4 from Samsung is suffering from this and the sale figures suggest an inevitable downhill as well.

    And are Apple's best days behind it? Looking at their recent efforts with iOS 7 and other products from the WWDC, they certainly have 'improved' themselves and 'kept on' with the times. But as the firm's best days were defined by the array of jaw-dropping gadgets and revolutionary ideas and not mere 'improvements', it's just demoted itself from the tech throne and is no more leading the competition but is only a part of it, just like everyone else out there.

    • Jon Green
      June 21, 2013 at 11:13 am

      To be honest, Humza, Apple had stopped innovating some time before Steve Jobs left for the final time. They really do, as I noted in my own comment, need to start taking risks again, and thinking well outside the current market, as they did ten years ago. Whether they can do so with an amiable suit running the shop rather than a driven technophile is open for debate.

      • Humza Aamir
        June 21, 2013 at 4:06 pm

        I agree Jon, it's the unpredictability of Apple's future that has set so many legs trembling (the investors obviously). A person who thinks out of the box is now more important than ever because the tech is all there to choose from, what's needed is an idea, a solution to a problem or a product that makes us think of how we managed to live without it.

        A 'driven technophile' as you said, gives soul and purpose to an org and it's products. People already take the reliability and performance of a product for granted, it's the design and the execution of it all that matters.

      • Dave Parrack
        June 24, 2013 at 7:21 pm

        I think you've hit the nail on the head about the need to start taking risks again. Releasing slightly better versions of existing hardware is the easy thing to do but it cannot go on forever.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Apple is certainly a victim of its own success. Those few years when the iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad arrived are going to be hard to beat.

  10. Vic Conrad
    June 21, 2013 at 4:35 am

    To me, this is another form of the claim used many times in the past that Apple is irrelevant. I would never count Apple out. The company will surprise you, and has many times in the past, just when the mainstream opinion is that the company is on its way out. I expect Apple will continue to surprise us in the future.

    • Harold
      June 21, 2013 at 4:48 am

      Apple never surprised me. I believe there going to further decline.

      • Andrew
        June 21, 2013 at 11:14 am

        Further decline all the way down from the profit leader in mobile and one of the most valuable companies in the world?

        • Dave Parrack
          June 24, 2013 at 7:18 pm

          Is profitability the only measure of success that matters to you? I personally think there's more to it than that.

        • Andrew
          June 24, 2013 at 7:44 pm

          That's a bit of an unnecessary dig, isn't it? Of course it's not. My response was only in the context of Harold's comment.

          Other than Google Glass, and perhaps the Occulous Rift, I'd have a hard time seeing anything "surprising" out there. Is Samsung in decline because they just keep putting out variations on the same equipment? Is MS in decline because they relented, and are moving Windows 8 back to a more Win 7-like look and feel? Of course they aren't. Both companies are doing great. So why does this metric get applied to Apple?

      • Chinmay Sarupria
        June 21, 2013 at 3:59 pm

        "Apple never surprised me." Who cares? Apple always surprises the world with its products. Apple is still earning a tremendous profit and will continue to earn in the future.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 24, 2013 at 7:17 pm

      I'm not saying they are on the way out, just that they seem to have lost their mojo of late. It's entirely possible they'll surprise and fascinate us all again in the future.

  11. Junil Maharjan
    June 21, 2013 at 4:04 am

    Every company has its best and worst days. We just have to take a look at microsoft, nokia, etc. Though Apple is not revolutionizing any technologies as it did with smartphones and tablets, they are still earning a lots of money selling those technologies. Profit-wise they are one of the greatest companies existing today and product-wise, they have one of the highest number of users but these users are being attracted to other technologies. Probably it might be due to the choices of hardwares available or the lack of new innovations.

    • Dave Parrack
      June 24, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      So, Apple is having a flat period in the same way as other companies have, but you think they'll bounce back?

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