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Apple's Problem Isn't Cosmetics, It's Google

Stocks in this article: AAPLGOOGMSFTSNEINTCNVDAQCOMBRCM

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I've been owning Apple (AAPL) stock because I think it's one of the best-managed companies in the world, and Apple has had an epic run based on the iPhone and iPad products. However, recent events and trends are causing me concern.

The setup for Apple's big June 10 developer conference keynote sounds like this: Every analyst is enamored by the prospect that newly appointed chief software designer Jony Ive will have eschewed the so-called skeuomorphism design language.

What is skeuomorphism? It's the charming icons in the iOS software that we have seen since it was first launched in 2007. Basically, a "books" app icon looks like a wooden bookshelf, the "notes" app icon looks like a yellow notepad and so forth. You get the point -- an icon looks like something analog in the real world.

The great hope for Apple now is allegedly that it will relinquish this skeuomorphism in favor of a so-called "flat" design of its app icons. What this means is a design language that looks a bit more like -- wait for it -- Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Phone 8.

No, I kid you not -- if the rumors are true, Apple's next invention is to make the iPhone and iPad look more like Windows 8, which is "flat." This is supposed to reignite Apple's earnings, which have stagnated so far this year.

Aside from the perpetually bored tech press, have you heard any normal person complain about Apple's skeuomorphistic design language on his or her iOS devices, begging for Apple to simply copy the Windows 8 look? Only then will they run to the Apple store and buy more Apple products again!

Me neither.


If Apple thinks its problem is the look of its software, I get seriously worried. If it thinks that it can have a bright future based on copying the look of Windows 8, there's a screw loose somewhere.

Obviously, I'm exaggerating a bit here. It can't be that bad -- or can it? We had better hope Apple is going to get a design revamp right. I have every reason to believe it will be as beautiful as anything. Also, I don't mind some aspects of the Windows 8 look anyway.

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