Post WWDC: Has Apple Fixed Everything, or do Weaknesses Remain?

5 minute read
| Particle Debris

The P.D. article of the week is: ” Apple’s Strengths And Weaknesses.” by Ben Thompson.

After the WWDC keynote, author Thompson bluntly addressed the various keynote elements and Apple initiatives from the standpoint of the company’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s an interesting read, and I recommend it highly.

Tim Cook & team hit multiple bases-loaded home runs during WWDC keynote. But what problems remain?

I do have some quibbles with it, however. For example, a genuine weakness either manifests itself as a loss of business or position against the competition. Apple’s weaknesses are generally a proactive choice rather than grievous mistakes. (Although Apple makes those also.)

For example, an Apple weakness is declining iPad sales. That’s addressed by Thompson, but many of the other weaknesses cited don’t have an obvious manifestation.

In fact, Apple generally succeeds nicely despite analyst assessments of Apple’s weaknesses. That more often than not suggests that Apple’s perception of and adjustments to the market differ from the analyst’s.

Back to the iPad. I strongly disagree with Thompson’s assertion that “bad developer economics is the fundamental reason that the iPad hasn’t fulfilled its potential.” I believe, instead, that the biggest problem with the iPad has been the evolution of its hardware, combined with iOS, to create modern, practical ways of using the iPad and creating content. The iOS 11 homage to macOS GUI principles, in order to get to the next level, proves my point. (More about that on page 2.)

Even so, the observations by Thompson generally punch through the traditional hype of the WWDC keynote and focus on the practical aspects of Apple’s business. A persistent thread in the article is that Apple’s attention to privacy can put it at a competitive disadvantage against, say, Amazon’s Alexa. See, for example, “Former Apple employees rip the company for letting Siri fall behind.

Foremost in my mind in all this is the consumer awareness of what Apple does for them in terms of protecting their privacy. Most any customers will agree that they want their personal data protected, but then they go out an grab an Amazon Echo and the latest Android smartphone. That’s due to the persuasiveness of the ad campaigns that are heavy on glitzy promises and light on the underlying gotchas.

Apple tries to tell it’s story in a simple way, but if Apple has any true weakness, it’s that it hasn’t been able to make the iron-clad case, embedded in the public psyche, that the iOS/macOS ecosystem is truly going to give the average user an edge when it comes to security and privacy. Ads like the above are just too simple-minded and low impact.

I’d love to see an Apple security consciousness raising campaign that rises to the level of Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign. That would be an amazing thing to see.

Next Page: The News Debris For The Week Of June 5th. Stealing from the Mac.

6 Comments Add a comment

  1. mrmwebmax

    +

    Great PD as always. As for thoughts on the iPad and declining sales: I think the problem is that Apple does not build hardware that goes obsolete the moment its unboxed. For years, us Mac users were pointing out TCO when comparing Macs to Windows machines, and making the claim that because Macs last longer they save money in the long run.

    Thus I believe it is with iPad.

    I believe too many people — pundits, analysts, etc. — saw the iPad as having the same upgrade cycle as the iPhone. That’s not going to happen. With programs like AT&T Next, people (like me) can pretty much get a new iPhone every year and it doesn’t seem to be that big of an economic hit. Do I need the latest and greatest iPhone every year? No, not at all, but its a want I seem to be able to (fairly) easily fulfill. Plus with no landline for years now, my iPhone is my one-and-only phone, so it is a critical piece of hardware in my life.

    So is my Mac, as I’m a website/graphic designer, but as I’ve said before somehow my 9-year old iMac keeps fulfilling my professional needs.

    Likewise, my iPad Air is all I need for a tablet right now and more. Critical communication? iPhone. Critical work? iMac. Content consumption and a mobile resume/portfolio? iPad. Of the three, the iPad is the last on my list of needed upgrades, simply because my iPad Air does everything I need it to do without a single problem. I doubt I’m alone in making such an upgrade priority, and I believe that this is truly behind the declining sales of iPad more than anything else.

  2. geoduck

    I have an iPad Air as well and yes, it does everything I throw at it, from writing to graphics to gaming to the latest iOS, to streaming video, to…whatever. But the updated iPad Pro with iOS11 and a Pencil is tempting me. Maybe with next years tax refund…

    The article on how the iMac Pro cost is not out of line struck a chord. Last fall I got an iMac. Part of the reason I was willing to plunk down $2500 for a fairly solid system was that it included a 27 inch 5K monitor. I looked around and I could not build a Hackintosh or a Linux box of comparable strength for the price WITH THAT MONITOR. Not to mention that it would not require any kludges or tinkering to keep it happy, and it came with a warrantee.

  3. MacFrogger

    I second mrmwebmax: “Great PD this week John!”

    I esp appreciated the Ben Thompson article!

  4. ibuck

    The media or analyst schtick on writing about Apple seems to include the obligation that, no matter how good Apple’s latest device or capability may be, a writer must give a not-so-subtle dig at Apple at the end of each discussion, or they will be dismissed by other tech writers. Ben Thompson does not risk such a dismissal by his peers.

    There are consequences. Invidia stock trades at 50 times earnings. Apple with a much broader range of products trades at 17.5 times earnings. Microsoft trades at 31 times. Sure seems like this schtick hurts Apple both in product sales and share price.

  5. dhp

    It’s going to take a while for me to get used to the dark aluminum iMac Pro. Right now when I see it, it first strikes me as a very poorly adjusted photo of a regular iMac.

  6. pjs_boston

    Given that Apple’s ‘A’ series chips are now as powerful as dual core Intel chips, it makes sense for Apple to add features to iOS that make use of that power.

    To that end, I believe it’s possible that Apple might soon make a mouse-driven version of iOS for its consumer motebooks. This version of iOS would use the code base of iOS and would incorporate an interface much like macOS. By using the guts of iOS, Apple would be able to cut the cord on all of the legacy cruft from macOS and make machines that require little to no maintenance or administration. And who knows? Apple might put multi-touch screen AND a trackpad in such devices! With the power of the iOS App Store behind them, ‘A’ series Apple notebooks would truly sell like hot cakes.

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