7 Apple Initiatives that Will Kill the Competition

| John Martellaro's Blog

Apple is systematically putting many initiatives together in a strategic way. Looked at in isolation, each is nothing for competitors to worry about because it looks like another puzzle piece. Taken as a whole, the effects will be lethal for the competition.

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I have been thinking lately about all the bits and pieces of Apple's strategy. If one reads widely and puts into perspective all the items I'm going to look at below, a larger picture emerges. Ultimately, however, this article is part observation and part informed speculation. There are some elements of truth in the list I have created, but there's also a healthy dose of theorizing.

Of course, there is not doubt that Apple does has a long term strategy. Those who suggest that Apple is aimless and drifting and is about to fail based on product release cycles are not looking at the sum of the parts.

Here's my current working list of observations about Apple's strategy.

1. Seize greater PC marketshare. As the PC market implodes thanks to tablet cannibalization, there will be opportunities to exploit that effect. It's not just a matter of selling more iPads. Rather, there are several additional components of a strategy that can lead to a significant increase in Mac market share.

After all, the Mac's market share has been rising for many years now. Why not nudge that tendency along even more?

One of the things that can help is to lower, not raise the price of the entry level MacBook Air. Some thought that Apple would release a Retina MBA at WWDC, but now the strategy seems to be coming into focus. And that's to leverage the quality, thanks to advanced manufacturing techniques, and lower the price of the MBA to entice, via the iOS halo effect, those who still need a notebook computer. A Retina display at this point in the technology would force Apple to raise the MBA price and would be counterproductive.

Now, on to some speculation. Another way to grab a greater part of the PC market would be to launch a 12.x-inch iPad. The curent iPad Air, given its 9.7-inch size and capabilities, can only assume so much of the standard PC workload. However, a larger display iPad along with productivity improvements in iOS 8 could attract those who thought only a PC with a large display could meet their needs.

2. Develop the look and feel of OS X to further distance itself from Windows. This is really an extension of item #1, but deserves a separate entry.

It's been widely analyzed, even by Paul Thurrott, that Microsoft hosed up the Metro interface. This is another opportunity for Apple. One might phrase it this way: Given that Microsoft borked the integration of the PC and the (Surface) tablet, where can Apple, an expert in user interfaces and user experience, take the desktop/laptop interface?

To suggest that Apple change OS X look-and-feel for the sake of market share may be distasteful to some and annoy others. On the other hand, product design is not just about aesthetics. It also involves continued success in some quantitative way. Could this be why we're hearing about an OS X makeover in the style of iOS ?

3. Develop health and fitness monitoring by leveraging Apple's technologies for personal data security. Back in February, Apple published a greatly overlooked document entitled "iOS Security." In it, Apple lays out chapter and verse how it has developed a deep infrastructure for platform security in many areas. Here's the sobering table of contents.

Looking at that document, my thoughts turned to the recent court cases against Samsung. What are the valuable lessons learned from these trials? I surmise, in my own perhaps narrow view, that look-and-feel are easy to copy. Top level functionality is easy to copy. What's really hard to copy is a comprehensive security technology that's been folded into Apple's established ecosystem.

After all, who doesn't want their sensitive personal health information in the hands of, say, Samsung?

Next: Strategy Items 4 through 7

Comments

Substance

Nice to read some forward-thinking about Apple that is only limited to wearable devices and AppleTV.  This is also the first time I’ve seen it pointed out that Apple’s been doing a lot of work in security (besides TouchID) and married it with Apple’s circling the wagons around a mobile payment system.

Substance

Messed up my first sentence above, should have read “...about Apple this is not just limited to…”.

MacFrogger

John John John!  What’s with all this talk about boiling frogs?! 

That’s downright ghastly, me thinks!  wink

MacFrogger

MacFrogger

John John John!  What’s with all this talk about boiling frogs?!

It’s downright ghastly, me thinks!  wink

MacFrogger

aardman

I have to chime in on Mr. Wilson’s assertion that hardware inevitably commoditizes.  I could not believe that anyone who claims to be a venture capitalist would say such a thing.  Mercedes Benz, Miele, Rolex, Leica, Bang & Olufson, etc.  There are countless examples of products, and the companies who make them, that have defied the supposed inevitability of commoditization.  And I would count Apple among them.  What is common among these products?  One, they are sold to consumers, not businesses.  Two, they are products that people invest their identities in.  Which people will do only if three, they sell damn good product.

What makes Mr. Wilson’s assertion even more mystifying is that it is made in this day when the twin races to the bottom that we know as the Android and Windows show has cemented iOS and OSX as the aspirational products in their respective markets.

iJack

Industries to disrupt, John? Surely that has to be Initiative #8.
My money is on biotechnology in the near-term, avionics in the longer-term.

Woochifer

Very astute observations. They really look at the big picture and how Apple’s ecosystem linkages work together—something that spec and feature-obsessed critics miss most of the time. Dating back to OS X, Apple has been about laying out a strong foundation and then building out from there. Apple also keeps the product lineup and supply chain simple and streamlined.

Even though OS X and iOS look and operate differently, they are based on the same foundation. With the A7 SoC rapidly deployed across multiple product lines, we can now see Apple’s 64-bit mobile platform transition in progress.

Apple’s security model with iOS works BECAUSE the platform is a closed loop. This indeed sets the foundation for eventual entry into mobile payments. Apple clearly plays the long game, and new features such as 64-bit CPUs and Touch ID are more about seeding the market and setting the table for much wider future adoption.

Compare this with how Microsoft and Samsung operate. Until recently, MS was more about shoehorning the Windows desktop UI into any and all places (like the Start button on the tiny Windows Mobile screen), even though the underlying mobile and desktop kernels were very different. Even though MS has now unified more of the code base, they still take the one-size-fits-all approach with the UI—only this time they have taken the mobile environment and shoved it onto the desktop.

Samsung just proliferates and tries to hit every conceivable product segment—the ultimate quantity play. Yet, underneath it all, they don’t seem to have any sort of long-term strategy. Just as an example, they bifurcated the Galaxy S4 last year by going with their in-house octa-core CPU on some models, and an off-the-shelf SoC from Qualcomm on others. With the fingerprint reader on the new GS5, they have already opened it up to third parties, but it does not tie in with the rest of the Android ecosystem and the security model is unknown. And then there’s the constant churn of new and often duplicative features that in the end do not add much more than another check mark to the spec sheet.

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