Isn’t it funny how the more things change, the more they remain the same? So it is with Apple. The more successful the company becomes, the more it becomes a target for the legions of doom, members of the technorati elite politburo, and the nattering nabobs of negativism.
You would think President Obama was running Apple instead of Tim Cook. Why? Because everything Tim Cook is doing at Apple is just dead wrong, illegal, and against the Constitution. Yeah. Really. It’s that bad. How bad is it? It’s so bad that nobody wants to be Apple.
Declining Apple Envy
It’s as if history does not exist, that there’s no way to learn from the mistakes of the past because nobody can remember the past. It did not exist. Everything is now. Or, tomorrow, but there’s no reference to a history that once was when everybody wanted to be Apple.
Wait. What? Name a company that wants to be Apple. Alright, Samsung doesn’t count because it’s not copying Apple, it’s copying Apple’s products. Scratch that one from the list. It’s Neil Cybart who thinks nobody wants to be Apple anymore (I read it on the internet so it has to be true, despite the fact that I couldn’t find any past reference to companies that want to be Apple as much as they want to steal Apple’s designs instead of running their own R&D division).
Something has changed in 2016. As the smartphone growth era winds down and we begin to look for the next big thing in tech, there has been a surge in pessimism pointed towards Apple’s business model. With many of Silicon Valley’s software and services giants doubling down on their core competencies and becoming more vocal as to where technology may be headed, one thing is clear: No one wants to be Apple.
There you have it. No company on planet earth wants $200-billion in stockpiled cash. No technology company in the world wants over a billion zealous, loyal customers, no one wants Apple’s once valuable brand, either. Really?
Smartphones have reached something of a plateau, a peak, whether permanent or temporary, nobody really knows, but there is some obvious saturation in the marketplace and somehow that only bodes poorly for Apple, not for any other company that sells smartphones and doesn’t make any profit on the efforts. Only Apple is affected.
Instead of wanting to be like Apple by doing hardware and getting into brick and mortar retail, Silicon Valley is now infatuated with data and the services meant to capture such valuable data. Google’s vision of a world moving beyond hardware seems to represent a significant threat to a company like Apple. It’s not just Google. The Amazon Echo has turned into a poster child for this “post-device” world in which some users could theoretically do less on their iPhones and iPads and instead use their voice to interact with a bunch of speakers and a microphone in a stationary tube. In addition to Amazon and Google, Microsoft and Facebook have extensive resources and attention focused on similar types of data collection and aggressive plans with artificial intelligence.
Where are the numbers to back up the successes of the trend toward big data and artificial intelligence? Apple is in both already but doesn’t make public the efforts.
Anybody besides me see a problem with this so-called analysis of no other technology company wanting to be Apple or be like Apple or even mentioned as Apple-like for fear of becoming a technology outcast?
Frankly, that consideration is looney and yet seems all too common from so-called analysts who don’t take time to analyze what makes Apple successful– and how that has not changed much at all since I’ve been following Apple, writing about Apple, and using Apple products for a few decades.
While Apple was making more than $200 of profit per iPhone sold, Apple’s peers were making much less from the software and services running on those iPhones. Even when taking into account the much larger Android user base, we see that other forms of smartphone monetization just haven’t been able to match the profit Apple has received from hardware margins. Of course, Apple’s bundled software and services contributed to those high hardware margins.
Apple is successful because what Apple does is different than technology competitors. Remember, differentiation is a key component of successful product marketing, and Apple is different since it designs both hardware and software and integrates products into a thriving, growing, robust, dynamic ecosystem made up of a gazillion customers (and growing; despite the plateau or peak or whatever it is).
As far back as I can remember few companies in technology have tried to do what Apple does, so why the mad rush for the door to not be like Apple when nobody was invited or crashed the Be Like Apple Party in the first place?
Name another technology company that works like Apple. Microsoft has retail stores but they’re a pale imitation. Google has Android but it’s given away for free and doesn’t make Android device makers much money.
To be brutally honest, most technology companies that compete against Apple use Apple as their own R&D group, copy Apple’s designs and features, bolt on a few of their own, and call it a day. To be brutally honest, Apple might actually have something to fear if a company or two could do what Apple does.
The buzzwords today are big data and artificial intelligence and somehow critics cannot see that Apple already plays in the big data ballpark and has AI installed on over one billion devices. But Apple doesn’t advertise or publicize what it does behind the scenes, because Apple. That’s the nature of the beast. Deal with it. But to assume that hardware and software are commodities and cheaper is somehow better is to not understand humanity, upward mobility, brands, and math. Apple is already into big data and AI, but insightless critics are missing the gene in their DNA which allows them to see the world as it really is.