Sure, there was the Mac, then the iPod, iTunes Store, iPhone, the App Store, iPad, but since the latter’s introduction in 2010, what? It’s time for some good old fashioned product disruption, Apple style. All the pieces are in place. For what? For free apps.
iWork For Free
To preface this idea for disrupting an entire industry, let me state the obvious. It’s already underway. And, there’s something you need to read first.
James Daly’s great article in Wired, circa June 1997, ‘101 Ways to Save Apple‘ is a great read and it sets the stage for what Apple seems to be doing already.
Some of the 101 ways are absolutely looney. #1 – Admit it. You’re out of the hardware game. Remember, that was back when Apple was nearly broke and just prior to Steve Jobs taking over again.
#3 – Start pampering independent software vendors. Hello? App Store, anyone. Apple does it well these days.
#10 – Get a great image campaign. Apple’s ‘1984‘ TV commercial was iconic, and shortly after Jobs returned to Apple the award winning ‘Think Different‘ campaign heralded Apple’s return.
Others on the 101 list were equally prescient. #19 – Get rid of the cables. Go wireless. #23 was Create a new logo. #31 was Build a PDA for less than $250. That was 1997. In 2013 dollars it’s called an iPhone.
#34 was obvious. Port the OS to the Intel platform. #38, Make it easier for ISV’s to make apps. #39, Build a laptop that weighs two pounds. #50 was Give Steve Jobs as much authority as he wants. One of my favorites was #57, Bring back John Sculley. Why? He would provide a convenient whipping boy.
Some of the 101 are really silly. #69, change your name to Snapple, dupe Quaker Oats into buying the company. #73, Rename the company Papaya, push into South America. #81, Merge with Sega.
#17, though, caught my eye. Build some decent applications that the business community will care about. That didn’t happen, of course. Apple cut a deal with Microsoft to keep Office on the Mac for a few years, and it remains a cash cow for the Windows maker.
Free Is Good
What Apple did instead was to create a bunch of apps that customers care about and desperately needed, and made them free with every Mac. iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, and Garageband. Those apps personify Apple’s approach to app building, and created a clear differentiation between Mac and PCs.
Now it’s time for Apple to take a cue from Google, but disrupt the industry again by making their basic platform apps free. Free iWork– Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iCloud. Garageband? Free. OS X Mavericks? Free. Buy Pixelmator and make it free on the Mac (and with an iPhone, iPad version).
In fact, Apple has a number of highly touted, much loved applications that would make both the Mac and iOS devices best of breed, and highly desired– Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, Aperture. Build iPhone and iPad versions and make them all free. That disruption won’t disrupt the third party applications business for Mac or iPhone, but it will put a dent in Google’s free app business, and further depress Microsoft’s attempts to revitalize their moribund mobile business.
Free. Disruption, indeed.