Today, Apple is the iPhone company and every other product or revenue stream is second string to the mother of all cash cows. Where the iPhone, the Mac, and iPad were once at the top of their respective games, much of what Apple builds these days can be described as basic mediocrity with patches of brilliance.
Pay More, Get More
Yes, our favorite Cupertino technology gadget maker has products that own the premium end of the spectrum in each category. That means higher gross margins and profits from whatever product Apple pushes out the door. We pay more for Apple kit, so why shouldn’t we expect more?
The problem? How do we define the more that we pay to get?
For iPhone, Apple’s in-house designed A-Series chips make iPhones run rings around the competition; even old iPhones are faster than many new Android-based smartphones. That was and is a brilliant strategy that Apple executes well.
What about iPhone displays? The best and most expensive iPhones come with Samsung OLED displays inside. That means the best OLED displays show up in Samsung Galaxy smartphones. The Mac has a similar problem thanks to its reliance on Intel Inside. Mac hardware is no longer easily differentiated from Dell or HP but comes with a higher price tag.
Yes, iOS and macOS are key points of differentiation, and Apple seems to be pushing privacy and security as issues beneficial to customers– a differentiation where Windows PCs and Android smartphones won’t go. Yet, it all boils down to tap this or click that, privacy and security not withstanding.
Apple Watch has plenty of competitors at lower prices but few that integrate as well with other hardware and software. Brilliant on Apple’s part, of course, and with the company’s own chip designs inside, even older models are well differentiated from competitors but at a lower price.
You can’t do that with a Mac.
AirPods? There are many Chinese knock-off models available for $30, but none provide the same level of integration as Apple’s AirPods, so, again, the brilliance is in the combination of hardware, software, and ecosystem. Yet, AirPods batteries die quickly; mine are all but dead after less than two years of use.
My growing fear is that Apple products have reached a level of mediocrity with a few patches of brilliance, yet we pay more for the privilege of having all the parts well integrated– hardware, software, ecosystem.
What I want from Apple is the best in every category. The best hardware, the best software, and the best ecosystem which integrates components and capabilities from each product. Instead, we have patches of mediocrity that meets up with patches of brilliance. Sometimes, nothing is better than an Apple product. Sometimes, everything else is better than Apple.
That needs to change.