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[Digital Simplicity] Apple showcases a ‘game-changing’ way to sugarcoat past errors

Do you know how to get immense thanks and respect from an innocent kid in a single day? First, in the morning, you gently take away her favorite toy, claiming it’s bad and unnecessary for her. In the evening, you give the very same toy back to her, claiming it’s an “all-new” toy with the most advanced features ever that pro toy users love. To pull off this feat, you have to prepare a lot, including a nice presentation on a big screen and plenty of complex charts that justify your move.

Once your magical presentation is over, she’ll be deeply grateful and respect you for offering such an innovative toy.

By the way, when I was watching Apple’s latest event for its “all-new” MacBook Pro models with new chips that started at 2 a.m. Tuesday in Seoul, I couldn’t help being mesmerized by the way the US tech giant promotes its past mistakes as part of its game-changing innovation.

I do not mean that Apple’s technologies in general are fake. I own a pricey iPad with the much-touted M1 chip that came out this year, as well as other equally overpriced Apple devices. Overall, I think highly of Apple’s hardware in a sleek design and I have no doubt that the company is a front-runner in the global tech sector, setting all-new paths for others like the unsuspecting Samsung Electronics to follow suit.

As for Apple’s “completely reimagined” MacBook Pro models, they were promoted as having a “stunning new design” and “game-changing” features “previously unimaginable on a notebook,” according to the company.

While I was bored by the almost endless charts praising the “game-changing” performance of M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, I was once again entertained when Apple was about to justify its decision to drop the Touch Bar and readd the precious MagSafe power connector, SD card slot and HDMI port.

Interestingly, Apple did not give any word, much less a half-hearted apology, about its misguided moves to keep the unpopular Touch Bar and remove all the popular ports in 2016 that annoyed or disappointed many Apple fans. Instead, Apple praised the MacBook Pro’s newly restored ports as its “most advanced connectivity ever,” as if we all had the memory span of a goldfish.

In other words, Apple already had the most advanced connectivity in 2016, but decided to give up on the useful ports. The question is why it bothered to do so, even though it was easily imaginable that pro photographers and videographers who had to use the SD card on a daily basis would have to bring around extremely inconvenient external port adapters.

It all comes down to Apple’s innovative strategy to rake in more money by selling its “official” port connectors that are usually overpriced compared to third-party products, as the MacBook Pro had only USB-C ports. In the following years, a growing number of users complained about the extra hassle and costs to buy additional connectors, including from those pro users that Apple repeatedly mentioned during the online event as if it cares about them.

Of course, it was not the first time that Apple reversed its ironclad policy on its products. Remember the late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs’ famous (or notorious) disdain for the stylus? Apple’s iPad models are currently designed to be used along with the Apple Pencil, and if this is not a stylus, I don’t know what it is.

The first-generation Apple Pencil was connected to the iPad through the Lightning port. The charging position was ugly, if not frightening. Many users in an online forum said that people had to skip Apple’s first-generation products since they were intended to be tested by early adopters on the market before launching an upgrade later. Indeed, the second-generation Apple Pencil came out with a fix, which means those who purchased the first-generation stylus were required to buy the upgraded Apple Pencil 2 as well as a new iPad that supports only the new stylus.

All this means much more profits for Apple, the mastermind behind the game-changing trick of offering an overpriced, yet not-so-perfect product first, before rolling out a slightly better model or taking away useful features in the name of aesthetic simplicity, only to readd them later as the “most advanced technologies.”

Overall, it was fun to watch Apple proudly presenting past innovation as something new, and I expect its next event to be similarly “groundbreaking.”

By Yang Sung-jin (insight@heraldcorp.com)

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Yang Sung-jin is a senior writer at The Korea Herald. -- Ed.
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