In fact, run down a long list of modern technology products and new features and you’re likely to find that Apple often labeled as an innovator, actually shows up late to all the new tech parties. Why?
Iterate The Revolution
Apple has a long list of product successes. The early Apple PCs, the Mac, iPod and iTunes, iPhone and iPad, plus AirPods, Watch, and many others. None of those products were the first to market, yet Apple defined each market when it launched its own answer to the trends.
Here’s a good example. iPod was not the first portable music player. It was the first that brought hundreds to thousands of songs to a very small device that was easily controlled and managed by the average Mac user. iTunes Music Store was not the first online music download store. Yet, iTunes set the standard and dominated for 15 years.
Here’s another example. iPhone was not the first smartphone; numerous models existed for years before 2007. What Apple did was to cobble together the best hardware components and software to, again, set the standard for the future. Today, almost every smartphone looks like an iPhone, whether it’s a $100 Chinese knock-off or a $1,449 fully tricked out iPhone Xs Max.
Apple seems almost better equipped to take new technology and shape it and mold it into a revolution. Remember, Samsung had a smartwatch long before Apple’s Watch hit the market. In a few short years of steady and iterative development, Watch is the industry leader.
Touch ID and Face ID are two more examples of where Apple was late to the party but shaped how the future would look. Fingerprint scanners and sensors existed before Touch ID. Facial recognition existed before Face ID. Both became the standards which required competitors to match.
Here’s one where Apple, predictably, will be late to the party. Foldable smartphones. Samsung seems to prefer to be first with new technology and all eyes are pointed toward a foldable, bendable smartphone late this year or early next year.
Mobile division CEO DJ Koh:
You can use most of the uses … on foldable status. But when you need to browse or see something, then you may need to unfold it. But even unfolded, what kind of benefit does that give compared to the tablet? If the unfolded experience is the same as the tablet, why would they (consumers) buy it?
For one, a foldable smartphone might more easily fit into a pocket than today’s monstrosities, including Galaxy Note 9 and iPhone Xs Max. Think of a screen larger than Note 9 or Max but at roughly half the size.
They say the proof is in the taste of the pudding. Trends come and go. Samsung loves to be first with new technology, but Apple always seems to be late to the party, and sometimes it doesn’t even bother to show up.
Touchscreen PCs are a good example. Microsoft has ’em. They’re the best selling PCs in a somewhat moribund market. But Apple decided to stick with iPad and Mac (sans touchscreen).
What would a foldable smartphone do? Koh:
So every device, every feature, every innovation should have a meaningful message to our end customer. So when the end customer uses it, (they think) ‘wow, this is the reason Samsung made it’
I’m thinking flip phone of yesteryear but with a high resolution OLED display, and, hopefully, something in the hinge that will lock the two sides of the display, perhaps top and bottom, or even left side and right side, so the larger, folded display resembles a, well, larger display.
Why would Samsung build a foldable phone? Innovation often drives the market and Samsung’s innovation hasn’t driven the market the way Apple’s own iterative innovation has in recent years. Sales of Samsung’s Galaxy-class mobile phones have dropped substantially in recent years while iPhones remain steady and even more profitable.
Apple may be late to the foldable display party, after all, Samsung makes all of Apple’s new iPhone’s OLED displays, but if the party if worth going to, the company will show up; fashionably late, as always.