Apple has a pulse. Every year follows a pattern. iPad announcement in the fall, iPhone in the spring. I have a vague idea of how it works, but I expect something new from them every so often.
Major events for small improvements to existing products, and every so often, something really new (it's been a while). They give you something to think about. For example, I got a new iPad Air, and it's lovely. I didn't think it would be. But I look forward to running apps on it. This is a new experience. It's good.
Other companies, Amazon, Google, Microsoft -- they also have pulses, but none so well-defined as Apple's.
They talk to distinct audiences: analysts, shareholders, reviewers, developers, users.
Facebook and Twitter will report more and more to analysts and shareholders, but neither really has a pulse for the other groups. Especially Twitter. I'm a committed Twitter user, somewhat reluctantly because I've always been concerned about them doing what they, in the end, did -- closing down the platform-ness of it, becoming an advertising vendor.
But would they have been smarter to develop a pulse for users, even if it wasn't core to their business? So that at least some of the new features they put in the product are for us? To make users feel wanted, and to keep their imaginations engaged, as Apple tries to?
That they don't and don't appear to have the capacity for it, makes it possible for a competitor to emerge that is tuned in to users. Maybe we don't even have to create the technology? I'm waiting for the Amazon toolkit that makes it easy for me to create a Twitter, fully scaled, no fail whales.