During the earnings report call, Tim Cook mentioned remote technologies a couple of times. The Apple Watch facilitates remote ECG monitoring for telemedicine. Peloton worked with Apple’s team in New York to deploy a fleet of Macs so they could work remotely. They also see a trend where the iPad and Mac should see improvements on a year-over-year basis largely due to online education and working remotely.
I think, there are things from just a great reminder of how important our products are for remote work. And it’s pretty clear to me that where things will get a lot closer to normal than they are today, obviously. I think many people are finding that they can learn remotely. And so, I suspect that trend will accelerate some.
Apple sees this trend but they aren’t communicating that to current and potential customers. I think the company can do better with marketing remote services like iCloud, FaceTime, and collaboration between people. Of course, they also released new products like the iPhone SE and iPad Pro. That demands a significant portion of advertising, but I would think remote services would also be marketed during the past month or two.
It’s not just a lack of marketing, though. It may be that Apple recognizes it’s not up to par on the technology side. For example, two weeks ago I shared a link to a survey of 1,630 people about video chat apps people are using during the pandemic. I know surveys aren’t definitive data but I think they can be used as a measurement of some customer sentiment.
The results showed that while FaceTime was the easiest to use, and the best service for one-on-one calls, it didn’t make any dent at all for group chats. Not too surprising, considering that Apple only added Group FaceTime in iOS 12.1.
As another example, with the introduction of iOS 13 and macOS 10.15.4, we can now share entire folders in iCloud. Meanwhile, services like Dropbox and Google Drive have had this feature for years. With folder sharing, iCloud is now a viable alternative to these services, but is it too little, too late?
Even before this, Apple had included collaboration for documents in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. This means that people can edit these documents even without an Apple device (on iCloud.com), which is important in the enterprise sector if everyone isn’t running the same platform.
But collaboration isn’t solely an enterprise feature, and this pandemic with its work-from-home mandate has caught Apple with its pants down. And I think this is the same reason why Apple is weak in the education market. It’s not just the lack of cheap hardware, it’s the lack (or late adoption) of group software. As the saying goes, there’s no time like the present.