On walkabout in life and technology

The 'It Has Happened Before, It Will Happen Again.' Apple

The Apple I know and loved was doomed, so the press said. It was the crazy, emo teenager of a company. Willing to try anything, mad, crazy, radical, different and apt to succeed and fail in spectacular fashion. Against all odds, the Apple of old did not fail. Because of this we now have amazing computers, thin and light laptops, iPods, OS X, iPhones and iPads. Can you imagine a world without Apple products?

The modern Apple has grown up, thanks to Steve Job’s maturity, Tim Cook’s solid, intelligent leadership and a team of experienced people taking ownership, saying no and getting things done the Apple way. It’s the grown up but still young adult. Smart enough to know its limits, but still daring enough to challenge the status quo and push the envelope. Because of this we now have solid and mature Operating Systems, a regular update schedule, and reliable iCloud. Yet the old teenage Apple is still pushing its limits with Apple Music, Apple Pay, the Apple Watch and maybe something in TV.

What Apple is trying to do is hard. Its blitheringly hard to make good software, ridiculously hard to make hardware that’s both functional and beautiful, and insanely hard to perform and perfect design and documentation and support and services and research and manufacturing and distribution. The modern Apple does it all, and on a regular schedule no less. Its seemingly impossible, yet year after year, they keep up the pace.

Next week will be the second of their annual announcement extravaganzas. The surprise is gone, we know how it will work, the keynote, the players, the japes and jokes, and roughly what will be announced.

Its the “It has happened before, it will happen again.” Apple.

Solid, stable, regular, mature.

But not boring.

The teenage Apple released products when it could, letting product lines wither and seem abandoned until a major new release ambush or product death. The modern Apple still does this for new innovations and hobby products, Apple is still Apple. But for mature products, it now operates on a mature schedule. New OS X and iOS annually, new iPhones and iPads annually, amazingly all shipping on time to massive numbers of people world-wide.

In my opinion, the grown up Apple has found a wonderful balance. For maturing products, a regular update schedule, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure (Swift is an example) to show they still have it. For new innovations, the surprise and wonder of old remains. The recent Apple Watch and Apple Pay launches prove it.

So next week, I too will be following a regular schedule, closing the door to my office, watching the live stream of the Apple event, laughing at the jokes, seeing if there are any new features being announced on existing products, and waiting to hear the launch dates for the new OS X and iOS and iPhone and iPad.

I know the script. We all do.

Except for one part.

One more thing.

At some point (or maybe more than once), Apple’s presentation will pause. The crowd will go silent. The corner of the speaker’s mouth will curl up in a smirk. We will all hold our breaths. They will wait a moment longer.

And then they will announce “one more thing”.

The modern grown-up Apple will slip away, the gleeful teenage Apple will stand tall on the stage, and maybe, just maybe, will change the world again.

Follow the author as @hiltmon on Twitter.