Why is Apple so far behind with modern technology and components? For example, the Mac does not have Intel’s latest CPUs. Except for iPhone X, all iPhones still have LCD displays. Even the iPhone’s camera, once considered the industry’s best, has fallen behind Google and Samsung.
What’s coming in future Macs, iPhones, iPads, and even Watch? Features already found in competitor devices. As far back as I can remember, going back to the early Macs, Apple seems to be an adopter more often than a first mover. Apple is late to move new technology mainstream into the company’s ecosystem.
Let’s go back in time to computer retail stores. Remember those? Computerland, Businessland, Gateway, CompUSA, Circuit City, and others. They fell away as Apple was entering brick and mortar business. Who won? Today, Apple has hundreds of stores around the world; technology palaces that draw crowds. Who else has such prominence? Nobody. Not even Microsoft. Apple owns retail.
OK, let’s go back again to the iPod era. There were dozens of portable media players on the market when the iPod debuted in 2001. Where are they today? Apple’s iPod launched to heated criticism. It was too expensive and Apple only. Then, along came the iTunes Music Store, then a Windows version, and the rest is history. Apple was late to the party but owned the portable music player and online music store industry.
Most of the world’s PCs run on Intel Inside, but Apple trudged along until the PowerPC CPUs couldn’t catch up to Intel anymore, and Apple made the move which helped to save the Mac. Save? The Mac brings in about half the profits of the entire PC industry with little more than small double digit marketshare. And, what do most PC notebooks look like these days? Macs. Apple was last to the Intel party, but now leads the industry in profits as traditional PC sales dry up.
Now we can move to the iPhone because, again, Apple was late to the smartphone party. So-called smartphones were everywhere but they just were not too smart. In fact, downright difficult for mere mortals to use. Palm, Treo, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Nokia, Motorola, et al — all had smartphones that people hated to use. iPhone was the first phone that was fun to use; intuitive, easy. What does every smartphone look like these days? iPhones. Who owns the industry profits? Apple. Late to the party, first to lead the industry forward.
We see this trend everywhere. Apple was late to the smartwatch industry, but now has the lead in unit sales, revenue, and profits (that requires some extrapolation mashed up with a few guesstimates, but it’s difficult to be proven wrong). Today’s new crop of smartwatches try to do what Watch already does. The same holds true for AirPods. They were not the first wireless earbuds, but they captured the wireless market and own the largest chunk of marketshare which, for Apple, also means the most revenue and profits.
Across the board, since the second coming of Steve Jobs in 1997, Apple remains less a technology innovator and market disrupter but a company which often shows up late to new technology, and then finds a different way to package components and technology that requires other companies to follow. Google’s Android OS? It looks and works like iOS on an iPhone. Android OS-based smartphones? They look like iPhones.
Competitors may embed new technology and components into their devices long before Apple, but history shows us competitors will end up competing with products that look and perform like something Apple made.
Augmented reality? It was being touted as the next big thing as 2017 began, and critics pointed to Apple as lagging at every turn. By mid-2017, shortly after Apple’s ARKit was introduced with capability to bring augmented reality to hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads, suddenly Apple was the company competitors were chasing.
See? Apple is late to the new technology party, but when it arrives, it shows the rest of the industry which way to go.