CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again


Apple's biggest advantage put to the test

On Tuesday, Apple will unveil more than one product. This will show whether the company's main strength -- hint: not the ecosystem -- is still intact.

But will it? Apple

Like a 15-year marriage, the excitement isn't quite what is used to be.

Over the last couple of years, the rumors have proved to be more accurate, the veil of secrecy impossible to maintain in the constant winds of worldwide babble.

Yet on Tuesday, Apple has an opportunity to strut a little more purposefully than it has in recent times.

Lately, there seems to have been a greater concern with expanding its geography than its imagination. Perhaps this merely indicates that technological innovation is slowing down and profit pressures are speeding up.

However, the loyalty people have toward Apple (loathed by many) is based on one aspect.

It's not, as some rationalists would have it, the ecosystem. Neither is it that largely misunderstood word "marketing."

Critics have always fancied that Apple wraps its products in fancy boxes and ads, and this somehow fools people into buying products that are inferior. (Inferior to whom?)

No, what Apple has always sold extremely well is taste.

Some people know how to dress, some don't. Some people know what looks good, and some people wear plaid shirts to the opera. Some even put a stripey tie on to "match" that plaid shirt.

Those looking to define taste find themselves enmeshed in nebulous terminology. Yet Apple's computers, phones, and tablets so often appear and instantly cause both admiration and envy.

This is the company that managed to produce a turquoise computer and make it desirable.

This is the company that took the existing concept of the tablet and turned it into a necessary accessory.

On Tuesday, Apple is expected to release an iPhone 5S, a less expensive iPhone 5C, and maybe an iWatch.

Perhaps it might surprise some by even revealing a larger screen phone. Just, you now, to maintain its one-more-thingness.

But the tangible (and intangible) look and feel of all these things might sway many who are currently wavering.

If the iPhone 5C carries with it a certain style, it will be a far easier sell (even to those who don't want to be seen with a "cheaper" phone).

And what of the alleged iWatch? When Samsung revealed its Galaxy Gear, I found myself thinking it looked a trifle male and nerdy. I also wondered why on earth anyone would need one.

Except, of course, in order to surreptitiously take perverse photographs in bars, while pretending to be tapping the phone screen. How cool is that?

If Apple unveils a watch, it is the taste level of its design that will move more minds than anything the watch can actually do.

If you're really supposed to wear this thing all day, it had better enjoy a wearable look that might attract admiring looks.

Of course, Samsung, HTC, and Nokia have all tried in their various ways to create their own taste profiles. The HTC One, especially, is a phone that deserves far more exposure and success than it's had.

However, if Apple can make its new offerings desirable at very first sight, it will go a long way toward re-establishing an emotional connection with real people that has undoubtedly wobbled.

When your lover's looking around to see if there's something better out there, you have to remind him or her just why they fell in love in the first place.

It's never features like legs, face, muscles, or money that pulls us toward someone else. It's how they carry themselves.