Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Jia Yueting recently had some harsh words for Apple. During a speech at the China Entrepreneur Club (subsequently summarized by CNBC), Yueting boldly called Apple outdated while emphatically intimating that the tech world has effectively passed Apple by. Driving the point home, Yueting said that Apple’s product design chops were “obsolete.”
Now I know what you’re all wondering: who in the world is Jia Yueting?
It’s a fair question, and though Yueting is far from a household name outside of China, Yueting, through his company LeEco, has his hands in all sorts of products and services. Not only is LeEco often regarded as Netflix of China, the company also develops smartphones, HDTVs, and more recently, electric vehicles. Put simply, Yueting has aspirations to take on both Apple and Tesla.
With respect to Apple, Yueting brought up the recently released iPhone SE to bolster his point about Apple’s lack of innovation:
One of the most important reasons [for slowing sales] is that Apple’s innovation has become extremely slow,” he said. “For example, a month ago Apple launched the iPhone SE. From an industry insider’s perspective, this is a product with a very low level of technology…We think this is something they just shouldn’t have done.”
While questions about Apple’s innovative edge are certainly fair game, bringing up the iPhone SE to prove this point is impossible to take seriously. As we’ve highlighted before, the release of the iPhone SE was a strategic move designed to patch up holes in Apple’s product lineup. In other words, it wasn’t an opportunity for Apple to show the world the most advanced mobile technologies it’s been working on. What’s more, to categorize the technology packed into the iPhone SE – effectively an iPhone 6s – “low level” is absurdly laughable.
Moving along, Yueting said that Apple, given its track record for innovation, needs to step it up.
As an industry leader, Apple should be developing more cutting-edge products, Jia said. The iPhone was still a leader five years ago after being launched in 2008 but now the concept has “fallen behind,” he said.
“We believe the next generation of mobile internet will be more open, more ecosystem oriented instead of being a closed loop…Ironically, Apple’s over-dominance, lack of internet-thinking and the closed off nature of its systems, all hindered innovation in the internet mobile industry,” Jia said.
It’s almost comical, really. Truth be told, the arguments against Apple in 2016 are the same today as they were back in 2009, 2006 and 2003: Apple’s best days are behind it, they no longer know how to deliver innovative products.
Rinse and repeat.