For Apple, “change” no longer refers to revolution. It refers to fashion. Apple is becoming more like Prada and less like Edison.
This has been the case for some time, it was just harder to notice as the iPhone was undergoing large-scale adoption. But in retrospect, Steve Jobs’s keynotes functioned more like catwalks than like product demos. And the Apple Store has always been a boutique as much as an electronics shop.
But now that Jobs is gone, we can see this shift from futurism to fashion more clearly. Take this week’s iPhone announcements. Instead of promising change and revolution, the iPhone 5C offers itself “For the colorful,” a slogan we’d be more likely to see from Benetton or J. Crew than from Apple. The company (maybe we should start calling it a “label”) is releasing a new line, seasonally, and needs to train its audience to feel increasingly comfortable dropping hundreds of dollars each season. The “change” in question is not regime change, but a change between tennis at the club and dinner downtown.