After watching the history of Apple’s birth, rise, fall and subsequent rise again at the Jobs movie screening this week I couldn’t help but think about the current state of Apple and the tech giants around them.
The film’s backbone seemed to be based on how Jobs saw the world. “We’re here to put a dent in the universe,” Ashton Kutcher posing as a pretty convincing Jobs said near the end of the film. I wondered if this motto was still relevant for some of the companies that have been known to change the world.
The Jobs movie comes at a time when Apple seems to be having a pretty hard time keeping up with categories they created. The company has recently been criticized for not innovating fast enough with news of other smartphone and tablet makers eating away at their market share.
Apple’s innovation seems to have been resorted to thinner, cheaper, lighter and faster versions of the same thing. The recent unveiling of iOS7, albeit pretty sweet looking, is what Tim Cook called the “biggest change since the iPhone” which wasn’t as earth shattering as many had hoped. And the rumoured September event is expected to only show us updated devices that look exactly like the ones we have sitting at home including the first cheap iPhone being called the iPhone 5C.
The world is hoping that Cook will pull a “one more thing” at the September event to shake things up and prove that Apple is back at what its best known for – creating something we never knew we needed.
But Apple isn’t the only sleepy tech giant who seems to be falling behind the pace of innovation. In a time when companies are working on controlling things with our mind, Yahoo releases a browser toolbar; BlackBerry opted for a QWERTY keyboard; and Microsoft announced a new gaming console which is already getting flack before it has even shipped. Some other big names featured in the Jobs film like IBM and HP are still around but are nowhere near making the waves that they once did in the 80s and 90s.
Has the time come for a new breed of tech titans?
We seem to be seeing the dawn of new era of technology with new forms of computing which are being led not by the brand names of the past but from a new group of companies who seem to have the same passion for changing the world as Jobs did.
Companies like Thalmic Labs and Leap Motion are making your mouse, keyboard and even your touchscreen a thing of the past with their gesture-controlled devices. Thalmic Labs’ MYO armband has been shown controlling things like the robot toy Sphero and even a Parrot Drone using only the movement and muscles in your forearm.
Augmented reality smart glasses company, Meta and Oculus Rift, the virtual reality gaming device are proving that digital can allow us to live in this world while creating and exploring new ones. Meta’s concept video shows kids creating 3D digital worlds, virtual games of chess being played on a physical tables and the ability to sculpt a vase in mid-air before pushing it into a 3D printer to make it come to life.
As if all of this isn’t sci-fi enough, InteraXon, Emotiv and NeuroSky are all working on devices that will let us control things with our mind with their brain-sensing headbands which measure and interpret our brainwaves.
If there is any exception to the bigger tech companies it’s Google. Google continues to make headlines for projects that push the limits in a number of areas such as space, with their rumored Space Elevator project, driverless cars and wearable computing, with the recent launch of Google Glass. All of these projects come out of the Google X Labs, a separate facility from Google, perhaps the reason why the company is able to innovate so quickly.
This all being said, if there was one other message I took away from the Jobs movie, its that tech companies go through peaks and valleys and you never know who is going to come back out on top. We have seen many surprises and comebacks over the years and I expect this trend will continue as we enter a new era for technology.
The Jobs movie, starring Ashton Kutcher as the iconic Apple co-founder, opens today in theatres across the nation. If you are an Apple enthusiast you have probably already pre-purchased tickets on your iPhone. But non-Apple loyalists will also find this movie pretty entertaining and very inspiring. WARNING: You may find yourself leaving the theatre and wanting to start your own company from your garage in order to leave your own personal stamp on the world.