Apple showing a lack of creativity

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Apple showing a lack of creativity

Like a giddy kid waiting for Santa to show up on Christmas Eve - and like many other people, I’m sure - I was glued to my laptop monitor way past midnight on Tuesday, counting down the seconds until Apple released its new smartphones and wearable device.

I could hear my heart beating, ready to burst out of my shirt.

When the cover was lifted on the iPhone 6 and Apple’s first phablet, the iPhone 6 Plus, as well as the company’s first wearable device, it was clear that Apple had done it again.

The devices looked fascinating and the audience in Cupertino, California, shared the same sentiment, as they applauded and cheered.

The new slimmer and slicker look as well as the upgrades to enhance speed will undoubtedly appeal to consumers who have switched to the larger screens of Samsung smartphones and phablets in recent years.

But, as exciting as it was, the unveiling didn’t have the magic that completely blew my mind as Apple device releases once did.

Every previous launch of an Apple product - whether a smartphone, laptop or even a desktop - caught me completely off guard and took me to a whole new world.

Before I go on, I’ll be honest and say that I’m not really a tech-savvy person who knows every detail about tech devices. Explaining to me what application processor is used or the difference between operating systems that a device runs on is like trying to tell a runny-nosed toddler what string theory is.

But as a consumer, I like my smartphone to look and feel amazing. I like to whip out my smartphone for whatever reason and still look cool doing it.

And Apple’s iPhone has done the trick so far.

But will the new iPhones and wearables follow suit?

Apple smartphones were never all about having the best camera or the best operating system with lightning-fast Internet access to download movies and music.

Instead, they have always had an innovative design that changed the entire way you look at things and the lifestyle you live in. It was that simple yet elegant look, championed by Steve Jobs who dressed in jeans and a turtleneck, that put Apple’s products on an entirely different playing field.

Apple’s product designs pushed the envelope and set a higher bar, not only for its competitors in the tech industry, including Samsung, but also other industries from fashion to furniture and even TV commercials.

From the first Macintosh computer to iPods to smartphones and iPads, every product that Jobs introduced didn’t just change the electronics industry, it changed the way we live.

Runners with an iPhone strapped to their arm listening to music became cool. People with an iMac on their desk looked stylish, young and liberal. Students typing away on their Apple laptops at Starbucks on university campuses made geeks hip and fashionable.

But looking at the latest iPhone makes me wonder - has Apple’s design innovation reached its end? I can’t shake the feeling that the new iPhone closely resembles Samsung’s Galaxy.

From what I can see on my computer screen, the front of the iPhone 6 still has that unique Apple look, much like the iPhone 5 that I use. But the side and the back look like a Samsung gadget.

It may be the phone’s thinness or the curved edges that make it look more like a Galaxy. Even the frame’s metallic look has been ditched in favor of a more plastic feeling, similar to that of the Galaxy.

The Apple Watch surely has increased the competition in wearable smart devices. It looks far better than Samsung’s Galaxy Gear series. Samsung may go down in history as the company that created the first fully functional smartwatch, but Apple has raised the bar.

Although its interesting interface makes the Gear seem prehistoric, the Apple Watch looks pretty much like a digital watch. From the numerous speculations of what the device would look like, the one that caught my attention had a flexible display that made the watch look like a cool wrist band. If Apple had used that design, it would have really deepened my loyalty to the brand.

But Apple’s not the only one struggling with designs. When Samsung released the Galaxy Alpha, at first glance I thought it looked very much like the iPhone.

In recent years, smart devices have come to completely dominate our lives. The gadgets have vastly improved since 2007 when the first iPhone changed the world. But since Jobs’ death in 2011, the magic has been wearing thin. Maybe we’re becoming more difficult to please. But as far as I can tell, innovation seems to have been buried with Jobs.

For Apple or Samsung to introduce a device that could change everything - as the first iPhone, Macintosh computer, iPod and iPad did - they need to go back to the beginning and be bolder.

Though software like camera functions and Internet speed are important, companies should try to come up with a design that has their own trademark.

As Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

During the presentation, Apple stock prices went up over 4 percent compared to its Monday close but after the smartwatch was introduced, the stock price started to fall to end 0.38 percent lower at $97.99.


by Lee Ho-Jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]


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