The Apple Delay?

Whilst I may be a fairly recent convert to the way of Apple, I’ve started to notice a worrying trend.  It seems as though Apple can no longer announce and release a product on the same day.  Or even within the same week.  I’m not sure whether this is just my perception or not, but I’ve convinced myself that after Stevenotes of days gone by, attendees would duly trek to the nearest Apple store to pick up whatever was released.  Yet recently, you couldn’t even if you wanted to.

Time Capsule Delayed

Since I’ve been an Apple fan the following have been released, AppleTV (1&2), iPhone, Time Capsule, Leopard, iLife ’08, iWork ’08 and most recently the MacBook Air.  None of these products could be purchased the day they were announced.  They could be pre-ordered, but not actually taken home.

This almost makes sense for iPhone.  To release a wireless handset, certain procedures outside of Apple’s control must be adhered to.  Once a device as widely predicted and speculated upon as iPhone left Apple’s HQ, the cat would be out the the bag.  The mongoose would be eating the snake.  The fish would be… well you get the idea.  Keeping iPhone under wraps was crucial to it’s success.  And I get that, I really do.

What I don’t get is products like Time Capsule.  Announced a few weeks ago yet the apple store says 3 – 4 weeks shipping.  Just what’s taking them so long.  This is the company that can make the worlds thinnest notebook and the worlds fastest desktop, but they can’t get a wireless network attached storage device out on time?  Despite the fact that the fundamentals were already there in the AirPort Extreme?  It baffles me.

While thinking about this post, I’ve been trying to come up with reasons for Apple’s new approach, and I’ve got a couple.

  • Cash Flow – By announcing a new product, but not actually releasing it, Apple can rake it in from pre-orders.  Quite unlikely given that Apple always keep an abundance of nicely liquid cash in their giant safe, but other companies have been known to use this tactic.
  • Beat the Leaks – Although Apple is still one of the best high-profile tech companies around at keeping its secrets secret, they are still subject to leaks.  Remember the new iPod Nano, the one everyone knew about well in advance?  Exactly.  It might be that Apple wants to control it’s product announcements so is announcing them earlier in the development lifecycle.
  • Competition – I think this is especially true of iPhone’s announcement. Apple’s PR, and particularly Steve Jobs, have a flair for the dramatic.  They like to be the center of attention and they like to steal shows. Hence the iPhone, despite being a few months from release, was announced at the same time all the other mobile manufacturers were trying to announce their new models.  Guess which one device garnered all the attention.

Unfortunately, for me at least, Apple events have become a huge anti-climax.  They are almost reminiscent of something like CES.  Yes, the wares on show are cool, but I know it’s going to be months if not years before I can actually get my fingerprints all over them.  Anticipation is good, but there’s no need to be a tease.

For those Apple users, nay, fans, that have been around far longer than myself, is this just my perception?  Or were things speedier in the past?