No technology company as large and complex as Apple, and one with over 1-billion customers and users (even Google can’t say that), will have a few weak spots that affect the overall grade. But, hey, it’s early 2018 and what bette time to reflect on 2017, right?
Not Just Numbers
If one were to grade Apple just based upon financials, the company looks pretty. Still, some areas seem to suffer. iPad sales are up. A little. Batterygate isn’t going to help shine the public’s impression of the company, stock price be damned.
Here we go:
Financials – It’s hard to improve on the company’s ability to make money, but no company on earth has performed better than Apple when it comes to stashing away profits, Irish tax haven notwithstanding. Repatriating a few hundred billion dollars thanks to a new tax plan won’t hurt. Score: A-minus.
Mac – If ever there were a product category that languished under the shadow of iPhone it’s the Mac. Many models have not been upgraded in years, and too many Windows PC makers have better hardware specifications for less money, iMac Pro notwithstanding. In fact, shipping iMac Pro in late 2017 is what moved the score to a C-plus. Apple should be ashamed at what it has not done with the Mac.
iPhone – Apple upped its game on the iPhone line, kinda, sorta, mostly. The iPhone X is a big hit and customers seem happy with the remarkable display and ease of use with Face ID– despite the price tag. Even the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are improvements but not a big change in the form factor at all. Worse, Apple still sells iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, 7s and 7s Plus, and iPhone SE as if they are new devices. They’re old already. Score: B.
iPad – This once and future king to personal computing has fallen on hard times that have resulted in drastic action from Apple. First, the iPad Pro and iOS 11 bring more PC-like functionality to a decaying brand. Second, the 9.7-inch iPad brings a very competitive price tag at $329. Too little, too late. The iPad is not a Mac competitor and not the winner of the post PC revolution (iPhone). Score: B-minus, but only because iPad Pro and price.
Watch – No, Watch is not a hit in the iPhone is a hit sense, but nattering nabobs of negativism take note– the iPod effect is in full bloom with Watch. Nothing else comes close, and the LTE option is the start of more to come. If Apple can add an electrocardiogram function to blood oxygen to blood glucose monitoring, the world of wearable tech will change forever. Score: A-minus.
Services – What’s not to like about software and services that makes money hand over fist to the point where it becomes Apple’s second largest revenue and profit stream after iPhone. App Stores, iTunes, and everything else without a specific category is a monster by itself. Still, Apple is a hardware company, and if not for hardware, Services would be an asterisk. Score: B-plus.
Apple Stores – They said it couldn’t be done but Apple did it anyway and today’s crop of Apple Stores are the place to get service and support, view new products in a pleasant environment, and, increasingly, it’s the place to learn how to do. Nobody anywhere else in the world has what Apple has in Apple Stores. That said, and to echo Yogi Berra, “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.” Score: A-minus. It is crowded.
I could go on and dig into AirPods, Beats, plus macOS and iOS, but let’s look a combined issue instead.
Privacy And Security
– These go hand in hand and deservedly so. Nail the latter and the former looks good. Apple has touted its position as the Privacy King yet the company is in bed with Google for a ffew billion dollars to keep Google as the default search engine on Safari. Google is not about privacy and security and culls
victims user data with impunity. What about security? iOS remains on top of the mobile device category, but macOS High Sierra has had its share of problems in recent months. Score: B-minus, but mostly thanks to iOS. macOS would get a C-minus alone.
Overall, Apple gets a B. Can you name another technology competitor with a higher grade.