Apple's First Failure of the Tim Cook Era

Obligatory comment: Apple is still crushing it and will have phenomenal earnings and profits for years, if not decades. That out of the way...

Apple failed today. For the first time in about 10 years, they held a press event where the butt hurt was almost palpable before the last white on black slide was complete. The biggest problem is this product announcement fell victim to the exact same problem that everyone else in the industry has suffered with for years, and I hope Apple is able to correct course immediately. That problem is the obsession with numbers.

Quick, excluding all iOS 5 features already announced, what's one new feature that Apple announced today? Find my friends? Siri? You can count them on one hand, and still have room for a wicked pinky ring. But then why did the conference go on for as long as it did? Apple spent an enormous amount of time covering chipsets, download speeds, talk times and lots of other nitty gritty. Boooooooorring.

There's a rule in publishing that says for every equation you have in you book, cut your total sales by 10%. Apple used to understand the corollary about new product announcements... Numbers = death. There's nothing sexy, inspirational or engrossing about numbers and specs. They do not connect to users, or encourage people to create new experiences. And, worst of all, there's nothing unique about them to your platform, where people now get to compare in what they think is an objective way column a and column b. Congrats, even if you took the lead, you're now in a race you don't want to be in.

Apple got to where they are by being completely the opposite of numbers - inspiration, style, image. The numbers were always good (sometimes great), but they only served to support the larger vision that they were selling - if you bought Apple products, you were this kind of person. Now it is, if you buy an iPhone 4S, you have got something that has an A5 chip in it. That is not how they will win.

It's snarky, but this image sums it up nicely: