Looking Back at Headlines Titled “Apple Must…”


Harry McCracken, the Technologizer from TIME Tech, has put together a few examples that show what people have said over the years about Apple, which use the words “Apple must…” in their headlines.

Everyone seems to have a strong opinion on what Apple should be doing. To emphasize the seriousness of their matter, many people put the words “Apple must…” in their headlines but, as McCracken points out, there are a few problems to this approach:

1. The things that people say Apple must do usually amounts to following a trend in the industry.

2. Apple does not follow all industry trends, for example, NFC.

3. Apple repeatedly does not do what they must do, but just enough so the results aren’t devastating to analysts and users.

4. In some cases, like making a netbook, the things people insist Apple must do are terrible ideas.

McCracken shows plenty of examples which date back to 1985. Below are three of the most effective examples:

In June 1985, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates along with his colleague Jeff Raikes sent a memo to Apple’s John Sculley and Jean-Louis Gassée saying, “Apple must open the Mac Architecture.”

Apple must open the Mac architecture.

Decreed by: Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and his colleague Jeff Raikes, in a June 25, 1985 memo to Apple’s John Sculley and Jean-Louis Gassée

Why? Allowing 3-5 other leading computer manufacturers — such as Wang, AT&T or DEC — to make Mac-compatible machines would help expand the platform and ensure Apple’s reputation as a technological innovator.

What Apple did: Nothing, until a decade later, when it allowed some third-party hardware companies to license the Mac OS — a decision it reversed in 1997 when Steve Jobs returned to the company.

Aftermath: Microsoft’s operating systems went on to dominate the PC industry for decades. They still do. But almost 29 years after Gates and Raikes’ memo advising Apple to follow the same strategy as Microsoft, Apple isn’t just still selling Macs — it’s also the most profitable PC company on the planet.

In February 2009, CNET’s David Carnoy said, “Apple must do a netbook now.” Apple went on to release the iPad, making fun of netbooks in the keynote announcement.

Apple must do a netbook now.

Decreed by: Cnet’s David Carnoy on February 27, 2009

Why? “It’s the biggest growth category in laptops.” And nobody’s spending $1,000 on the MacBook Air.

What Apple did: It never released anything remotely like a netbook, though I guess you could make the case that the iPad, at $499, was a netbook killer in disguise.

Aftermath: In October of 2010, Apple released much-improved new versions of the MacBook Air, which became very popular. Meanwhile, the rest of the industry, having found netbooks to be profit killers, decided to replace them with Ultrabooks — thinner, slicker, pricier laptops that paid the sincerest form of flattery to the MacBook Air.

In May 2011, Brett King said, “Apple must launch NFC in the iPhone 5.” Apple has consistently avoided NFC in their products for a trend which seems to revolve around their iBeacon technology.

Apple must launch NFC in the iPhone 5.

Decreed by: Brett King on May 10, 2011

Why? With NFC technology increasingly important for mobile payments and other applications such as data-transfer-through-bumping, “it’s either that, or let Google change everything and rethink your iPhone branding strategy.”

What Apple did: It didn’t build NFC into the iPhone 5, 5s or 5c. At this point, I suspect that few holdouts expect it to arrive in any future model.

Aftermath: Mobile payments via NFC haven’t turned out to be as big a deal as many folks once thought they would…though of course, it’s possible that they’ve been hampered by the fact that iPhones don’t support them. Meanwhile, iOS 7?s AirDrop feature mimics NFC without requiring its presence.

To see the full list of McCracken’s examples, please visit the story by TIME Tech here.