Apple has a major media event planned for September 9th. It’s being described as Tim Cook’s “big moment”, his defining touch on Apple – a company that has largely been defined by its enigmatic co-founder Steve Jobs. Whatever Cook and his team announces to the world will undeniably be the moment when his era truly points us to which direction Apple is headed. This will be the culmination of a series of steps taken since Cook ascended the ranks to CEO of one of the largest companies in the world: the “Designed by Apple in California” statement of identity, the emphasis on time, care and design at the opening of WWDC 2013, the plethora of iterative products in the form of iPhone 5, 5c, and iPad Air, and the moments of true departure – free offering of OS X, the revolutionary design of the new Mac Pro, an overhaul of the iWork and iLife suites.
This got me to thinking about Apple’s “style”. What is it that separates them from the rest of the technorati? Each company out there today is doing phenomenal work, but Apple is the one company that changed the game more than once, with the desktop PC, the entire music industry, and this new age of the smartphone. They’ve done this with a sense of quiet surety, steadily riding the rough tides of underwhelming product deliveries when the world yearned for the “next great thing”. Apple has a style, and I don’t mean just an aesthetic quality – something that they’re renowned for – but a presence in the tech world that many of their competitors either lack, or try (mostly unsuccessfully) to imitate.
It begins, I think, with their core philosophy. Apple is rooted in a design-first approach. Everything defers to intense research and development, in the creation of an experience rather than an end-product. It’s for this reason that they’re sometimes late to the party: case in point, wearables. Samsung undeniably beat them to it with the Galaxy Gear series, and whatever Apple announces on September 9th will be the culmination of an extensive design process where it is the experience, the sense of wonder and euphoria that its design team strives to imbue in the otherwise stark brushed metal and glass device, that will drift quietly to the foreground. Once the dust settles on the explosive announcement, once the media buzz quietens, it will be that experience – much like it is with iPhone and iPad, and how they ushered in a new way of interaction with our world –that will be the true character of the product, not necessarily the (iWatch?) itself.
I’m not saying that Apple is without flaw. Like any mega-corporation, they will have their darker side. But it is in the zen-like philosophy of simplicity through design, of a quietness and stillness that they go about in an industry that is electrifying and hectic, that Tim Cook’s team distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack. And I can’t wait to see what they have in store come Sept. 9th.