The rule, of course, is this: “For any headline or article title that ends in a question mark, the answer is ‘no.’” And so it is here. Does anybody really understand Apple? Since Apple is made up of humans, and humans constantly change and evolve and are not easy to understand or predict, then, no.
What Apple Does
While there once was a discussion about whether Apple was a software company or a hardware company, Apple itself has squashed that debate.
Apple is a hardware company. Nearly 90-percent of the company’s revenue comes from hardware; personal computers.
The Mac is a personal computer but so is the iPhone and the iPad. They have different capabilities, yes, but computers all.
Members of the technorati elite and stock analysts have criticized Apple’s every move for decades. That’s not likely to change because the only thing necessary to understand about Apple is this.
Apple thinks different.
The company has hundreds of millions of loyal customers who love Apple products; many are highly vocal and decidedly defensive. Most don’t care about the politics of the industry; they buy Apple gadgets and love the experience.
Why? Because Apple truly, deeply worries about the user experience for each product.
That’s why iOS has fewer features than Android. It’s why the Mac is not a piece of commoditized plastic with an Intel sticker. It’s why OS X is a honkin’ powerful version of Unix underneath, but friendly and inviting on the surface.
Apple In Transition
What we need to remember about Apple is this. Apple is a company made up of people, and humans, for better or worse, are notoriously difficult to predict. Remember when Steve Jobs introduced iMovie and thought the Mac should be the king of digital video?
That direction didn’t work. The timing was bad. Apple course corrected with iTunes, and Rip. Mix. Burn. was born. Apple, as a company of people, is capable of going in unexpected directions. Who saw the iPod coming? Or, iTunes (thank you, SoundJam)?
On the contrary, the iPhone and iPad were easy to predict. Apple had a profitable and growing iPod business to defend– one that was about to be swallowed by smartphones with iPod capabilities. The iPhone defended and expanded that business. The iPad is an obvious spinoff from the iPhone (though Apple worked on an iPad before the iPhone).
That was then and this is now. Apple is in transition once again. Though all business segments are highly profitable, growth has slowed thanks to some rather huge annual revenue and profit numbers where a brand new $10-billion a year new business, a miracle in itself, is only a drop in the bucket for growth.
So, what’s next? Those who thought they understood Apple were shocked at the news of a Beats Electronics purchase. Others are disappointed Apple hasn’t bought Hulu or Netflix. But the signs of the past few years indicate Apple remains on the move– and moving toward the fashion industry. Technological fashion. iPhone. iPad. iPod. Beats. Wearable technology, anyone?
Apple Inc. The Burberry and Gap of technology.