Over on Recode — oh, sorry…I mean Re/code — Uncle Walt posits that Apple is like a movie studio.
Studios release blockbuster franchise movies every few years, and then try to live off a series of sequels until the next big, successful franchise. We are in the early stages of one such project right now: On May 2, Columbia Pictures will release “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” the first of what may be several sequels to the original 2012 film, that was itself a reboot of an earlier series.
Looked at in this way, your almost-new iPhone 5s and iPad Air are mere sequels, iterations of Apple blockbusters that rocked the world when they first appeared. The same goes for your MacBook Air, which has gone through many changes and improvements since Mr. Jobs theatrically slid it out of a manila envelope in 2008 to show how thin it was.
He uses the word “iteration” there but I think he confuses its meaning with the word “derivative.” Iteration implies methodical incremental improvement which, I think, any casual observer would see has been the case with the iPhone and iPad and pretty much everything Apple makes. Constant improvement. Sometimes not earth-shattering by themselves, but when taken in aggregate, adding up to a pretty big deal.
In contrast, Spider Man reboots are derivative. You are literally retelling the same story with minor changes around the edges which, in itself, is derivative of its comic book source material. It might be better or it might be worse. The only thing you can count on is it will be in some way different. But not. The goal isn’t to improve Spidey, only get you to see him again with another actor’s face (and, let’s be clear, to enable Sony to maintain their license to Marvel’s IP).
Movie sequels almost (almost) always do worse financially than their predecessors. Which Apple “sequel” has sold more poorly than the device it replaced? Also, with a few notable exceptions, qualitatively the originals are better, too (Empire Strikes Back and Godfather II being the most obvious examples I can think of). Movie sequels are often a crass attempt to pull more treasure from a productive hole. See Jaws 2, Poltergeist II, Matrix Reloaded, etc.
I also have to wonder what would qualify as a “game-changer” from Apple? Which game are we looking to change? From a financial aspect, there is no way for Apple to create something that generates the kind of revenue iPhone does. Not unless they branch out into oil production or auto manufacturing.
Apple is solely focused on making great products. Sometimes they change games, sometimes they “merely” make those games better to play. But they don’t make ill-conceived bullshit to give tech writers something to natter on about. Walt, of all people, should know better.