First, it was the iPod and iTunes that Microsoft’s Zune was set to destroy. Then it was Netbooks (remember those?). Then iPhone killers by the dozen from BlackBerry, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, et al. Now, Apple’s entire business– anchored by billions of downloads and billions of shared revenue is under attack thanks to, well, something. Soon, though.
Siri, Meet Chat Bot
Every year or so Apple is struck by a genetic malady which causes critics and members of the technorati elite politburo to fall into a deep, coma-like sleep, and then awaken to an epiphany of doom. Apple owns the application business for mobile devices, but that business is doomed.
No, Google Play does not have a single iPhone killer to foist upon humanity, but you know Google’s public relations machine is in overdrive because everywhere you turn, Apple is doomed.
What is it this time?
Big data. Or, rather, artificial intelligence based upon big data. And this AI and BD is fronted by a Siri-like voice assistant, only better because everyone knows Siri is to 2011 what Apple was to 1996. Of course, it might not be totally voice assistants, but it could just as easily be web apps (as opposed to native apps, which are better) because other than performance or capability, apps on the web are better in every way than a native app which can do more than most of us ever need.
Two words: Microsoft Word.
It’s also possible that these big data bots, voice assistants, or disembodied intelligence hiding in the nether regions of our mobile devices will be a form of augmented reality, or perhaps virtual reality, but you’ll definitely need some kind of helmet or straps to hold the VR screen in front of your face, a technology so advanced it could cost $1,500. Or, be made of cardboard.
Regardless of where the future takes us, Apple won’t be there because the powers that be have spoken and the future is tied up in bots; chat bots, voice recognition assistants, or something else integrated into our mobile devices and therefore our lives, but nobody will dare say who or what the winners will be but it’s mostly unanimous that Apple will be the loser.
Here’s the problem with future reality. First, the bell curve tends to stay a bell curve, so one end of the great unwashed masses attaches itself to the future bleeding edge, while the other end trails hopelessly behind on an iPhone 5, while those that take up the most space on planet earth fall somewhere in the middle and continue to use what they’ve always used; something that works.
Second, that also means that apps come in all varieties and Apple isn’t likely to be left behind just because app developers make more money off Apple than off Google Play, or wherever else app store wannabes exist. That also means the graveyard of apps doesn’t cover the whole city of apps, so if all you look at are the apps that don’t get updated and don’t sell and become orphaned, die and don’t get buried (otherwise, how could we call them zombie apps?) is not completely representative of the rest of the app universe.
Bots Are People, Too
Bots are apps. Just of a different religion or genetic makeup or heritage, but definitely app-like in both appearance and stature, but apps nonetheless. Actually, apps are so powerful these days they have their own apps. Some apps are even platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and coming soon to an iPhone near you, Apple’s own messages.
One concern I have about the future is the race to the bottom, the unending downward turn toward free and cheap. Google is the chief proponent of free because it doesn’t sell anything. Google gives away apps and bots and anything else that could destroy Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, or your privacy and security because the search engine giant doesn’t make money selling things. It makes money selling access to information, and that business model itself– if allowed to continue (and there’s little reason to doubt that Alphabet wants Google to continue, otherwise why would they create a new logo?) would fall into itself because nobody would have the hardware which is needed to run Google’s free apps and view their free ads.
Two words: Self destruction.
If you believe that big data, chat bots, and free apps on free hardware is the future, then just say goodbye to Apple right now as the company is totally doomed.