Did Apple make better products when it was less successful?

Choose the Apple kit you've liked the most

Ipod hi fi
The iPod Hi-Fi isn't in our list, surprisingly

And certainly, if you look at MacFormat's list of everything it has made since 1993 – in those dark Gil Amelio days when nobody ever printed a story about it without prefixing is as "Beleaguered tech company Apple…" – it's easy to come to the conclusion it's a company that works best when it's under pressure – when it's forced to innovate hard to give it the competitive edge it needs to emerge victorious.

But now that it has emerged victorious, and now that Steve Jobs isn't here any more to provide the vision and leadership, is it just running on inertia? We haven't really seen anything other than incremental updates to existing product lines since 2010's introduction of the iPad.

What about the future?

That, though, actually is Apple's magic. It sounds like very dull magic indeed – a bit like when as a kid you ask if miracles are real and someone tells you that in its own way an oak tree growing from a tiny acorn is a miracle – but it's what has propelled it to its current position; a relentless, pragmatic focus on a very few products, making them better and better, and taking away compromise after compromise every year.

We demand revolutionary, not evolutionary products, but in truth that's just an artefact of our constant appetite for novelty. Major shifts in computing – from punched-card Jacquard machines to primitive stored-programme computers, to the terminal, the GUI and the mouse, the smartphone – are rare, and they only happen once improvements in ancillary technologies and social impetus align in ways that are difficult to predict.

Apple was pivotal in two of these revolutions – and there's no reason to think it's not capable of fomenting more in the future – but the evolution that happens after each one is just as important. There is, after all, a reason we're not still driving Ford Model Ts.

Vote at macformat.com/mf20 to crown the best Apple product of the last 20 years, and for the chance to win an iPad mini!