I got the play-by-play on the first non-Steve product release. First part of the presentation was how they had caught up to Android. Jobs never would have done that. Trying to edge other products and play “me-too, only better” was what Apple did during the Gil Amelio days, and it didn’t work out too well for them.
The improvements in the camera are welcome, and I think they are going in the right direction with the speech technology. I don’t really give a crap about being able to speak searches, or have a device take dictation, but being able to set and review appointments via voice, or to get updates on weather and traffic via voice would be a great help.
Apple is very proud of Lion. Initially I didn’t think Lion was too bad, but it’s a horrible release. It’s buggy as hell, and Safari is now full of quirks and bugs, whereas it was one of the cleanest browsers out there.
I will probably get an iPhone 4S, but only because I currently still have a 3G (not even the 3GS) with a screen that has streaks of failed pixels all through it. But I worry Apple is headed back down the road to being “me too, only better” while chasing everyone else instead of really innovating.
Perhaps history will repeat itself a bit here. After Apple release the Macintosh (which was truly innovative in the same way iOS was, in that Apple stole/bought the technology from Xerox/Fingerworks), quickly had the technology stolen by competitors (Microsoft/Google), Steve was booted/left for health reasons, leaving Apple to slowly wither as their competitors killed their market share as Apple lost ground in the gadget race.
Only this time it could be worse. Windows 3.0 was a piss poor knockoff of MacOS. Up until Windows NT 4.0, Microsoft arguably had a product that was inferior on nearly every way, and despite the flaws of MacOS at the time, I still largely preferred it to NT 4.0’s user interface. Android is a stellar implementation of the ideas originally pioneered by Fingerworks, and later bought by Apple. Google is also a lot smarter than Microsoft. Apple is going to have to impress people better than they did yesterday if they want to hold on to their market share, which means the iPhone 5 is going to have to introduce something very new.
UPDATE: Speaking of the early Windows NT reminds me, nothing is really all that new, even in technology. It’s kind of like guns in that regard. Microsoft produced NT by snatching away all the top operating system developers from Digital Equipment Corporation. Because of that, it’s long been believed that Windows NT (now just called Windows) still retains an awful lot of VMS-like constructs, and that its internals are very similar to VMS. MacOS is really just a candied up version of NeXTStep, that was developed by all the same people who were brought in when Apple bought NeXT. And even NeXT was just a mach microkernel with parts of BSD Unix grafted on.