Like the rest of the tech industry, Apple is a company that is in constant change. Sometimes the change is celebrated, and sometimes the change is uncomfortable. In other wards, Apple always has its eye on the ball. It just may not be the same ball we’re accustomed to watching.
This week, I happened to encounter a myriad of articles that went into some detail about the changing face of Apple. I’ll go into them on page two here.
As a lead off article, I present a two part series from Daniel Eran Dilger.
- Editorial: The future of Steve Jobs’ iPad vision for Post-PC computing
- Editorial: The future of Steve Jobs’ iPad vision for Post-PC computing, part 2
Perhaps nothing launches a discussion more powerfully than author Dilger’s opening chart that displays the relative contribution to Apple’s revenue from various products over the years. Here it is.
The Guardian of Forever
This chart is most informative and invites one to ask a key question. When the revenues from a product start to decline, is this an outward sign of impending Apple failure? Or is it, in light of the chart above, part of an evolving mix of Apple products? We know the answer of course.
I am mindful that this is not exactly the same question as a decline in a market segment, but they seem related. For example, as I’ll point to on page two, Apple may be losing favor in the education market. However, schools (and students) buy many different Apple products, including Macs and iPads. So it’s harder to analyze the import of a decline in a market segment.
Another factor that comes into play is that a vertical slice in time in the chart above doesn’t reveal Apple’s roadmap for the transitional future. I saw a reference recently about how, if Apple hadn’t developed the iPod, the company might not have pursued the iPhone. (Apple’s market success with that tiny music player, and the manufacturing methods, paved the way for a much more capable but similar device.) For example, a vertical slice through the above chart in 2006 would have never reflected what Steve Jobs was thinking about with the iPhone. Or the consequent drive to negligible iPod sales in 2016.
All this is on my mind because we are at another crossroads. Apple’s inattention to the Mac in 2016 combined with the difficulty in seeing how the iPad can evolve to meet all our technical needs is creating angst and frustration. When Apple presents the idea in its advertising that an iPad can replace a complex PC, two things happen. First, the PC owner is intrigued with the proposition and may seriously consider it. +1 for Apple. But the very technical Mac users break out in nervous, laughter. Then derision. -1 for Apple.
Apple doesn’t show us its roadmap. Indeed, Apple executives probably didn’t sense that the end was coming for the iPod until 2009. That informed the company about how to proceed with the iPhone. One can plan, but the course of events, customer acceptance, technology and serendipity can influence and amend a company’s best laid plans.
Against this backdrop, I’ll continue with some of the related articles that I found this last week about change: trends and nervous reaction to change.
Next page: The tech news debris for the week of February 27th. The pain of change.