iPhone unveil proves Apple still a leader

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Last week, Apple held its annual iPhone unveiling event in one of its most symbolic venues: the Flint Center for the Performing Arts. This location is where both the original Macintosh and the iMac, which brought forth Apple’s rebirth, were unveiled. As Apple took the stage, many wondered — after nearly three years without Steve Jobs — would its return to this venue mark yet another rebirth or, instead, a decline?

Apple’s event was another successful one, revolving around the new iPhone 6 models and the Apple Watch. With both of these devices, Apple has continued its trend of paying exceptional attention to detail. This attention can be seen everywhere from the way the glass screen of the new iPhone flows into its aluminum chassis to the new user interface controls accompanying the Apple Watch.

However, while Apple’s attention to design has continued past the death of Jobs, one important thing has changed. Historically recognized as an industry leader, Apple is now becoming more and more of an industry follower.

Apple is very late in entering the industry with near field communications (NFC), smartwatches, and enlarged screens. Google has long offered these features to its users. However, has Apple ever been the first to enter an industry? As was the case in the years of Jobs, Apple is often a latecomer to most of the industries it enters. However, it has almost always managed to choose a slow-growth industry and turn it into something enormous.

Take the smartwatch industry. Smartwatches are not exactly new. The Pebble has been around for over a year. However, in that year, Pebble only managed to sell around 400,000 units since January 2013. Compare this to the nine million iPhone 5S units Apple sold within three days of its launch. It is evident that Apple may sell more watches on its release day than Pebble has during its lifetime. The reason the new Apple Watch will be more popular is not because of its specs, nor because people actually need another screen on their wrist. It is because instead of focusing on bragging about the specs, Apple focuses on people. Half of its keynote emphasized everyday people using its devices to make their lives easier.

The new Apple may not be churning out as many ideas that have never been seen before. In a time of maturing mobile industries, it may be finally admitting defeat and making some decisions that it would have never made before, like the iPhone 6’s enormous five and a half inch screen. However, in many ways, the reborn Apple is still the old Apple.

Only the new Apple would have admitted defeat and enlarged its screens while focusing solely on making it operable with one hand. Only the new Apple would be able to think up something like the digital crown, a new twist on the old device found on every analog watch.

Only the new Apple would have been able to enter an industry as a follower but come out a leader. While the new Apple has changed greatly, as it stated during the opening of the keynote: “Different is the one thing about us that will always be the same.”