That Sucks

by Dave Michels

In late December I tweeted an article that declared Everything Apple Introduced This Year Kinda Sucked. Apple’s big launches included: MacBook, Apple Watch, Apple Music, Apple Pencil, iPad Pro, Live Photos, 3D Touch, and Transit directions in Maps. The public’s reaction included yawn, overpriced, too complex, and WTF. But in Apple’s defense spectacular, by definition, can’t be applied to all or even most launches.

I guess it was schadenfreude that caused me to tweet the article. I don’t have anything against Apple, but the company’s meteoric rise has come to an end. With Jobs gone, the race to mediocrity has begun.

Upon further reflection I realized that it wasn’t just Apple that kinda sucked. There simply isn’t much a manufacturer could do in 2015 to match the sizzle occurring in the cloud. 

There really were not many new products that excited me in 2015.

Polycom introduced three new room system solutions: Centro, Trio, and Debut. The Centro I don’t get, but will withhold judgement until I try it. The Trio is a darn nice conference saucer. As a video device I’m not too excited about the bolt-on video processor and Logitech USB camera. It doesn’t have an HDMI input either. They Debut is my favorite of the three, but it’s limited to small rooms. The huddle room is the big opportunity right now, lots of new stuff on the market and coming to market.

Microsoft desperately wants to be a hardware company which still strikes me as odd. The company now manufactures game consoles, mobile phones, tablet PCs,  notebooks, and room systems.

Oddly, one hardware market that Microsoft ignores is IP phones. This is odd because 1) a common criticism of SfB is that the solution requires multiple vendors to complete it and 2) it’s a category that continues to grow.

That’s more than can be said for the PC business. Gartner reported a 7.7 percent year-over-year decline in PC sales in the third quarter of 2015. It’s actually worse than that for Microsoft because Gartner included Macs in those figures and they gained share. The PC seems stuck right now – should be more laptop or more tablet? Should be it be big or small? Should it have a touchscreen? Is a PC even needed? 

The wall mounted Surface Hub, which was announced in March for September 2015 for less than I expected, has already been pushed twice and price adjusted up ten percent. Meanwhile, I’m sure sales of the prior generation known as LRS have effectively stopped at SMART and Crestron.

There were several major launches this year, but they all seemed pretty boring to me. I was ready to buy a new phone, but kept waiting for the next launch. I finally pulled the trigger on the Moto-X Pure Edition. I like it – but it’s heavy, has a non replaceable battery (hello, batteries are consumables), and it doesn’t have a finger print scanner. The perfect phone just didn’t exist in 2015. I suspect that will change soon. The market is huge and there’s a ton of R&D taking place at Apple, Samsung, and others.

Although the OnePlus Two smartphone kinda sucked, I will say its VR launch was very clever.