Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Execution Matters

Joshua Topolsky has written an article for — of all publications — the New Yorker about Apple’s “Hey Siri” event. It’s an astute article that is, unfortunately, couched in a language that contrasts being first to introduce a feature with companies that copy that feature — namely, Apple. I think that does a great disservice to observations like this:

In the age of digital, execution is staggeringly important, and there isn’t a single company in existence that can pull off polish and simplicity like Apple. While other companies struggle just to get all of their devices and services talking to one another, Tim Cook and friends are worrying over the details that actually make consumers pay attention. The products don’t just work the way they should; they feel the way they should. Reducing friction, even a single click, can change the way a user perceives an entire product.

That’s a brilliant nutshell-sized description of Apple’s strategy: great products that work great together. But I’ve intentionally omitted that paragraph’s first sentence:

And that’s part of the reason why Apple’s “me too”s end up feeling like “me-first”s.

Once it’s defined within those parameters, Topolsky’s article starts feeling like a “me too”, doesn’t it? Haven’t you read this critique before? (The headline: “Apple: You’ve Seen It All Before, and Nothing Else Like It”.)

And, of course, Topolsky simply couldn’t resist the requisite quoting of Steve Jobs’ quip in the context of the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil:

(It’s also worth pointing out that, in 2010, Steve Jobs very publicly derided the idea of needing a stylus at all: “If you see a stylus, they blew it!”)

That’s lazy.

This article is a kind of meta critique of execution. Topolsky’s originality shines in his observation that execution is what counts, but it’s shrouded in the same kind of language that’s been used since the introduction of the original iPod, and probably before that. At least the iPad Pro has wireless and more space than a Nomad.