Is Apple slipping? The first summer Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) scheduled since co-founder Steve Jobs' passing didn't live up to shareholders' expectations, with Apple stock sinking following the much-anticipated keynote address.
Certainly, Apple made important new product announcements. The company released an attractive, thinner MacBook Pro chassis, and the popular laptop models are faster, boast more RAM, and feature USB 3.0 connectivity, among other improvements. 15" models now even feature incredibly vibrant and razor-sharp Retina displays.
MacBook Air improvements were announced. And, the company touted its upcoming Mountain Lion and iOS 6 releases. Those products hold much promise.
But if you felt something was missing, you're not alone.
Businesses were hoping for more
Maybe Steve Jobs set the innovation bar too high, but Apple users have become accustomed to stunning new product announcements and introductions. That didn't happen at WWDC12. Instead, business users were treated to a nicely redesigned MacBook Pro and promises of great new products (Mountain Lion and iOS 6) to come.
I found the MacBook Pro announcement suspicious, though. While a gorgeous, blazing fast platform, the Retina display is available only on 15" models. One must wonder whether the 13" models wouldn't have boasted Retina displays, too, were Jobs still at the helm.
More worrisome was the fact Apple didn't have much to say about the Mac Pro desktop line, a product long overdue for updating. In fact, Forbes notes the company didn't even mention the Mac Pro on the WWDC stage. Nor was the iMac a center of attention.
Reading between the lines, it's easy to see Apple's emphasizing its laptop lineup at the expense of the desktop. Many businesses, though, rely upon desktops as critical workhorses to power daily operations.
Mountain Lion and iOS 6 are important releases. It's understandable Apple invested time, especially at its developer conference, highlighting those products.
Businesses, however, trade on tangible facts. Things you can use now.
Where was the hoped for iPhone 5? What about the much-anticipated mastery of the television?
A new iPhone, especially a unit with a slightly larger screen, would prove helpful to business users. Mobile staff are increasingly dependent upon Smartphones to compose and receive email, update calendars, perform field tasks, and more. An improved handset will prove popular.
Then there's the TV integration so many believe Apple is working to perfect. While a seemingly innocuous product for businesses, organizations are increasingly turning to large displays in presentations, meeting rooms, conference centers and other locations. The ability to quickly and easily stream presentations, documents, screenshots, and other display information from an iPad, desktop, laptop or even smartphone will continue growing in importance.
If Apple can crack the television-computer display integration nut, as many were hoping they had, businesses would have gained another opportunity to simplify technology integration within their offices while also potentially reducing dependencies on other content providers (as there's talk Apple might assume a greater role, too, in content delivery). In the process, organizations would have found yet another product that might drive adoption of other Apple technologies as the iPod so famously did.
For now business users must settle for a beautiful new laptop, some faster computers scattered across the product lineup, and the hope of some compelling new releases later this summer.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.