Apple should think different again


By Camron Owens

It’s easy to forget how monumental the technological advances Apple has made in the past ten years are. I still remember my first iPod Nano and how it completely changed my world when it was released in 2005. With this device, I was suddenly able to listen to Bowling For Soup’s “1985” anywhere I wanted to, all at the spin of the click wheel. 

Now, I use Apple products in almost all areas of college life, for things like note taking, communicating and homework. Apple’s innovative products were among the first that allowed college students to explore new worlds and create. With iPads and Macbooks, we were given interactive textbooks.

But Apple’s press conference last week made me realize that it is not the innovative and exciting company that it was back in 2005. To me, none of the products were game-changing devices like the iPhone and iPad were. When the iPad was released, it was the mullet haircut of the tech world; it was a product built for both the business and party scene. Students could take notes and play games with their very own study partner/DJ. It let users learn and create on the same platform.

The only products Apple unveiled last week were new versions of its iPhone and operating system, along with Apple Watch and Apple Pay. Of these, Apple Watch sounded most intriguing to me, but it didn’t seem new. Companies like Pebble and Samsung have already ventured into smartwatches, neither finding the same success they did in the tablet industry. 

Where is the Apple I once knew? Where is the Apple that made exciting products for educators and students? Apple’s new watch doesn’t offer students anything different from its other products, and I doubt the majority of college students even wear watches. I haven’t seen many. 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

I fear Apple Watch could become a nuisance or distraction in the classroom. It allows users to make phone calls, send messages and give loved ones gentle “taps” they will feel as small vibrations. It’s annoying enough to hear iPhones going off in class, but imagine sitting next to someone whose wrist won’t stop vibrating.

When Apple announces a new product, consumers expect something long-lasting. We expect products versatile enough for both business people and babysitters. To me, the Apple Watch seems almost like a gimmick.

Apple Pay seemed new at first, as it allows the user’s phone to double as a credit card. While the idea is intriguing and would save students the hassle of carrying around an extra 0.2 ounces of plastic in their wallets, Apple’s security has come under fire recently. Due to the recent iCloud hack in which private photos of many celebrities were stolen from Apple’s cloud service, it is hard for me to trust Apple with my credit card information. This product could be more of a risk than an assistant.

While Apple products can be seen virtually anywhere on campus, many college students believe that Apple has lost its touch. In a recent survey conducted by Chegg, only 64 percent of students rated Apple as “cool,” while Google and Amazon received scores of 71 percent and 72 percent respectively. The study was conducted by asking students about how likely they were to buy the company’s products, how the company related to students and what students wanted out of the company. 

It’s easy to see why students have this belief. Google is creating self-driving cars and glasses with computers in them.

I think Apple used to show consumers how much better the world could be through technology. They gave us programs like Garage Band and iMovie to help us create quality content and express ourselves. Apple’s upcoming products seem to give us technology we already have, but in different forms. Technology has always been about improving on techniques used in the past. Taking risks on new technologies is how companies like Apple become such highly regarded brands.

The company seems to have exchanged creativity for convenience. While convenience is nice, I miss the encouraging and innovative spirit that used to come along with the company. One of the best aspects of technology is that people all over the world are able to use powerful systems and devices to express themselves. As a student, it’s difficult for me to see how the Apple Watch will change the way I learn or create.

While Apple is a business looking to fulfill the demands of consumers, I hope that they and other tech companies will not only look at the convenience of consumers, but also the creative needs of students. Apple’s slogan used to be “Think Different,” and most of its products encourage us to do so.  Still, it’s hard to think different when many of its new ideas seem so familiar.

Camron is a junior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected].