What is Apple’s ‘next big thing?‘ It’s a secret. Well, maybe not so much a secret as it is, ‘nobody knows yet.‘ That’s how disruptive innovation works. Such change is not tied to a calendar and not figured out as easily as looking backwards in time.
Let’s suffice it to say that the sad secret behind Apple’s ‘next big thing’ is that not even Apple knows what it is. Yet. That said, let’s look at another secret that seems hidden in plain sight. The past. Just like the future, the past has a timeline, but in the case of past events, it is clearly visible from the present.
One of the benefits of being a technology gadget watcher, certified in the Apple observations class, is the obvious. I can write about anything, and whether I’m right or wrong, nobody pays much attention; neither now, nor in the future. Yet, my track record of prognostication is there for anyone to see. Yet, nobody bothers to go backwards in time to see how my record fared with the future.
Let’s take Adrian Kingsley-Hughes as an example. He thinks Apple desperately needs a ‘next big thing.’ How so? Basically, Apple’s last big thing was the iPad and that isn’t doing so well these days.
Apple is an oddity. It’s a company that’s doing remarkably well, but over the past ten years it hasn’t had a product that comes close to replacing the iPhone as its cash cow, which means that it has to find ever more inventive ways to make a smartphone feel new, different, or at least a little exciting.
So, all the annual innovations and changes to iPhone through the years mean nothing because it’s still just a flat slab of glass and metal with rounded corners that hasn’t changed a lick since 2007’s original introduction?
Uh, no. But that’s the narrative. Apple only makes changes to iPhone so you will keep buying new iPhones. Of course, iPhones wear out. Of course, iPhones improve each year. Of course, we want new things. We’re human. It’s what we do.
Apple has convinced us that a better screen, a better camera, and a different way to unlock the device packaged into a different form factor is new.
Maybe because that’s how technology works. Everything in iPhone 8 changed from iPhone 7 which changed from iPhone 6s which changed from iPhone 6 which changed from… well, you get the idea.
Apple has not convinced me of anything. This is the nature of humanity. Change. That explains why I don’t eat cheeseburgers and pizza everyday. Change. Variety. Improvements.
And don’t get me wrong, the iPhone X is both bold and clever, but that boldness and cleverness is mostly down to marketing.
Uh huh. Sure. Well, life is just marketing. Got a refrigerator full of food? Marketing. Wear pants? Marketing. Drive a car? Marketing. Married someone from Match.com? Marketing.
Apple is pretty unique in being able to push gimmicky features such as Animojis or a new ringtone and not look like it’s scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas.
After all, you can’t accuse Honda or Toyota or General Motors of putting gimmicks into vehicles which haven’t changed barely a lick in 100 years, amirite? Air conditioning? Roll down the windows. Seat belts? Bah humbug. Such drivel from technology writers is based upon their own inability to provide insightful analysis of market trends, or to detail enhanced usability in software, or to understand how marketing even works.
I’m sure that Apple will sell millions of iPhone X handsets — although the silence from Apple over pre-order boasts feels odd if sales were strong — it still doesn’t take away from the problems facing Apple.
Translation: “Even if I’m wrong, it’s OK, because you won’t remember what I wrote, or even other to check what I wrote at any point in the future.”
Even desperate writers have opinions.
- Overall interest in the iPhone is waning
- Upgrade cycles are getting longer
- iPad sales are weak
- Microsoft is schooling it on what the MacBook should be
- Apple Watch sales are not good enough to disclose
- The only segments of Apple’s business that are growing are related to services and its “other products” category (what’s worse is that of those two segments, services — iTunes, apps, content, and such — is the only area showing significant growth)
Let’s do the Kingsley-Hughes’ list one at a time. You know; just to see how it compares to reality.
- iPhone sales continue to grow.
- iPhones get upgraded every year.
- iPad sales are growing (again)
- Microsoft Surface sales are less than Mac
- Apple Watch is an accessory
- Services are dependent upon hardware
Every point used to prove Apple is desperate is easily disproved and further disproved by a single consideration. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is not Apple, therefore, cannot possibly know Apple executives’ motivations, and does not seem to understand that a ‘next big thing‘ might be here already, or in the making, but that jaded tech writers simply cannot see the forest for the trees.
Is there some kind of law which says Apple must have a new product that fares better than iPhone? Was there such talk among technology critics when Microsoft’s cash cow was Windows and Office. Oh, wait. That’s still the case despite Microsoft spending tens of billions of dollars in a vain attempt to diversify its business. How many Surface PCs does Microsoft sell?
Any ‘next big thing’ should not be compared to iPhone, but should be more of a consideration to market segment disruption. iPod and iTunes disrupted multiple markets. iPhone and iPad disrupted multiple markets. The App Store disrupted a market. Even Watch seems to have disrupted a staid old industry where… insert drum roll here… Apple now dominates.
Tired old writers can only regurgitate tired old memes while hiding behind the shadow of negativity bias vs. taking time and effort to provide a dwindling readership with insightful analysis.
It sure feels like Apple has become a company pretty much focused on making hay while the iPhone sales shine.
And yet everything Apple sells is making hay. So, how about comparing all of Apple’s haystacks with haystacks from Google (advertising) or Microsoft (Windows and Office) or Samsung (chips) or APPL (vs anything else).