On nearly every front, 2012 was a great year for Apple. The company’s No. 1 selling tablet got a hot-selling little brother in the iPad mini, and the iPhone 5 is a smash hit. Plus, Apple has the best-selling laptop in the United States with the $1,199 MacBook Pro. On the other hand, Android had a big 2012, too, with Google’s OS gobbling up 75 percent of the market share for all smartphones shipped. Plus, Apple’s tablet share has dropped 10 percentage points in a year thanks to low-cost slates like the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7.
Apple has also had its share of self-inflicted wounds, such as a half-baked Maps app that led to the ouster of senior VP Scott Forstall. And while Apple is still worth $135 billion more than Exxon, the company’s stock has fallen nearly 20 percent from an all-time high of $705 in September, to below $580. Part of that decline is due to a perception that Apple is merely iterating instead of truly innovating. Here’s what Apple needs to do in 2013 to be more innovative, more profitable and (yes) cooler.
With more than 400 million iOS devices sold, it's clear that consumers really like the simplicity of Apple's mobile operating system. The fact that the core UI experience hasn't changed much since the original iPhone back in 2007 has made it easy for people to pick up an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad and know exactly what to do. However, as Microsoft demonstrated with its Live Tiles for Windows Phone 8, smartphones can strike a balance with a UI that's both intuitive and dynamic.
Sure, adding a Notification Center helped, and Siri has certainly spiced things up, but the overall look and feel of iOS remains static and boring. RIM's upcoming BlackBerry 10 Flow interface is more engaging, because it treats each open app as a mini widget and makes it simple to check your unified inbox at any time. Changes may alienate some long-time Apple customers, but with legendary designer Jonny Ive now leading the charge for "Human Interface," I expect bold, but calculated risks, such as icons that can be enlarged to become widgets.
Editor-in-chief Mark Spoonauer directs LAPTOP’s online and print editorial content and has been covering mobile and wireless technology for over a decade. Each week Mark’s SpoonFed column provides his insights and analysis of the biggest mobile trends and news. You can also follow him on Twitter.