Some of these selfies collected on Brainjet are clever and that will lead to even more selfies.
Who hasn’t snapped a selfie? It is so common today that selfie has its own entry in Webster’s Dictionary and was the 2013 word of the year!
Have you ever wondered why Samsung, Google, Microsoft and other technology giants stick their respective greedy little fingers into so many pies that are so far removed from their core businesses?
Samsung is a bit different, of course, but seemed to have little issue with competing against one of its largest vendors, Apple, in smartphones. Google, on the other hand, is a search engine advertising company (over 90-percent of revenue and profits), but, when it comes to diversifying new features, has struck more than Reggie Jackson.
Microsoft doesn’t fare much better, either. Windows and Office accounts for most of the company’s revenue and profits, both enormous, but diversifying attempts have left a string of failures through the years.
Apple’s diversification efforts have met with better success, as each product line seems to grab customers from other lines (iPod halo effect helped the Mac, iPhone halo effect helped the iPad, etc.). So, what if Apple decided to diversify beyond the basic hardware lines and get involved in new products; specifically the content which gets stored, used, and played on Apple’s many devices?
We may think of Apple as the world’s largest music store and media mall, but what if Apple decided to become a record company and signed up independent artists instead of waiting for traditional record companies to do the deed?
Apple’s iBooks is a good book publishing and distribution platform, but Apple itself isn’t really a publisher in the traditional sense, right? What if Apple changed that and expanded the iBook business to include signing bonuses, advance payments for writers in exchange for exclusivity?
Apple could easily drop a billion dollars into the television content business with exclusive TV shows and movies for streaming on iTunes?
Granted, such scenarios make for a lot of ‘what ifs’ but Apple has more money than the entire television and movie industry, the music industry, and the publishing industry combined, so why not grab as much of that business as possible and make it exclusively available to Apple’s customers on Apple products?
Antitrust issues aside, Apple would be presented with the Samsung quandary (not exactly a quandary for Samsung, though) whereby it competes against the very partnerships that exist to make Apple’s content business what it is. Lucrative, yes, but a requirement to help sell the devices where the content is displayed.
Content creators want and need a stage for their creations, and a revenue stream to fund more creations. Is Apple willing to do what Netflix and Amazon are doing and fund independent content, exclusive to their platforms?
I don’t think Apple has a choice.
Each of the major technology giants in the Apple sphere of influence have their own management, development, and marketing styles. Yes, everyone steals from one another, though Google, Microsoft, and Samsung are more blatant about it than Apple.
Apple designs and builds computers, smartphones, tablets, apps and services that work well together in a cohesive ecosystem. Google is a search engine advertising company that dabbles in technology. Microsoft makes money on Windows, Office, and royalties from Android device sales, and not much else. Samsung is a technology conglomerate, a goliath that sells everything from washers and dryers to smartphones to chips.
Trials and tribulations aside, each of these companies does business much as they always have.
What would happen if Apple decided to conduct business the way Google, Microsoft, and Samsung conduct business?
First, Apple would launch Apple Search, a proprietary search and advertising business that would immediately dwarf Yahoo! and Bing in the mobile segment of technology, just based on the number of iOS devices that use the web. Out with Google, Yahoo! and Bing. In with Apple Search.
Apple has the money and technical chops to do search Apple’s way and the impact would be immediate and serious (especially on Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft’s respective stock prices).
Second, Apple would port iWork apps– Pages, Numbers, and Keynote– to Windows and Android, along with FaceTime and Messages. Yes, that would be a stupid thing to do and of little benefit to Apple, but can you tell me how Google benefits from apps on iOS? How does Microsoft benefit by putting apps on Android and iOS? No one makes much money doing that, but Apple has more money than Google, Microsoft, and Samsung combined, so why not?
Third, unlike the trio of titans it competes against, Apple has enough money to go on a really big shopping spree. What would Apple buy up? Chip foundries, screen and display companies, device manufacturing companies, and the entire television and movie industries. Hey, Amazon and Netflix are funding original content, so what better way to compete in an area where it doesn’t belong than buying the whole shebang, and leaving each segment to rot on the vine, right?
That’s what Google, Microsoft, and Samsung tend to do with their purchases.
For whatever the reasons, and I suspect fear is a motivator, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung feel the need to involve themselves in any business segment that touches their core operations. After spending many tens of billions to diversify, Google and Microsoft are much what they’ve always been. The former a search engine advertising company with a technology hobby, and the latter a purveyor of a moribund PC operating system and office suite (both in decline). At least Samsung was a diversified conglomerate before deciding to steal designs from Apple and compete against a customer.
Conversely, what would happen if Google, Microsoft, and Samsung decided to conduct business the way Apple does? Despite deriving an increasing percentage of revenue and profits from the iPhone, Apple is a diversified company with many very profitable product lines.
That’s what Google, Microsoft, and Samsung have been trying to do for years.
What’s Apple’s secret to stellar revenue and profit growth, despite being an already huge company? Any CEO running a company with a few billion in annual sales will tell you just how difficult it is to grow 25-percent a year. That’s another new business of $500-million that needs to appear from somewhere. Apple seems to be defying gravity as both revenue and profit have hit stratospheric levels. Again.
Apple has a secret to success that actually is simple to understand, but difficult to implement, and not easily replicated by competitors; whether smartphone, tablet, or personal computer makers.
Customers have a special relationship, a bond of sorts with their Apple products, therefore, an allegiance with Apple itself; one that transcends typical store-to-customer, or product-to-customer relationships, and it’s a bond that is neither easily broken, nor easily created by Apple’s many competitors.
Microsoft, Samsung, and Google can put up store-within-a-store retail operations in Best Buy, but those do not equate to Apple’s retail stores which feature associates who do not work on commission, instant assistance without obligation, and technical service to repair what’s broken, and to show customers how to use their products.
Who else does that?
Whether it’s iOS or OS X, iPhone or Mac, Apple forgoes the laundry list of bullet point features in favor of usability. My iPhone will not do nearly as much as can be done on my friend’s Samsung Galaxy Note 4, but what my iPhone can do is done easier, faster, simpler, and with less headache, speed bumps or hiccups.
That ease-of-use and dependability breeds an ongoing relationship that is positive, grows, and benefits both Apple and the customer.
What’s the relationship that PC users have with Windows? For many, if not most, it’s antagonistic. Windows doesn’t make their computing lives easier. If anything, for many users, Windows is in the way.
What’s the relationship that smartphone users have with Android? A few love the complexity, but for many, if not most, it’s overkill, more complexity in an already overly complex world. That explains why iOS usage for smartphones and tablets far outweighs Android devices, despite Apple’s much smaller marketshare.
Apple’s customers get more usage from the company’s products because they’re easier to use, do what customers want, and iOS and OS X are less ‘in the way’ than Android or Windows. That relationship and trust between device maker and customer takes time to build, is constantly nurtured and cultivated, and just cannot be replicated as well by Apple’s many competitors.
Apple’s secret isn’t really a secret in the typical sense, but it is not understood well by technorati elite, market prognosticators, competitors, or Apple’s critics.
On Wall Street, a company’s performance is only as good as what it is expected to do next quarter, not what it did last quarter. For Apple Inc, last quarter was one for the record books; record revenue and profits, record unit sales; more profits than any company has ever seen in a single quarter. Ever.
What can Apple do for an encore that will satisfy Wall Street’s naysayers, members of the technorati elite, market prognosticators, and critics busily grinding their axes at Apple’s expense?
It won’t matter what Apple does. It’s in the company’s DNA to do what it does, regardless of what the stock market, critics, or competitors do. Is that arrogance and hubris? Or, is it simple confidence that the road less traveled still needs to be traveled by someone who knows where they’re going?
For much of the past few years Apple has done the impossible. It’s considered impossible for a company to grow itself organically (vs. buying another company to increase revenue by a large percentage). Average selling price of the hot selling iPhone should have gone down as market share and unit sales went up. It did not. ASP went up, too. iPhone sales increased by almost 50-percent in a single quarter.
Just as crazy is Apple’s severely conservative guidance for the current quarter, typically the company’s softest of the year. iPhone and Mac sales remain so strong that even this quarter and next quarter look positive.
For Apple’s many critics and doomsayers is it ‘time to put up or shut up?’ Forbes contributor Peter Cohan is already on the offensive with yet another list of why Apple is doomed. It’s filled with the usual suspects, too; many of the same ones that have been trotted out after every successful quarter Apple’s had in the past five years.
Allow me to do a quick walkthrough of each one so you won’t be tempted by another member of the so-called Forbes contributor network which gives the likes of Cohan free reign to embarrass themselves in public.
Stock is too expensive. Oh, puhleeze. Have you seen Google’s stock? Or, Microsoft? Or, Facebook? Or, any other competitor that has a single product line vs. multiple successful product lines? Which company wouldn’t trade places with Apple’s financials in a heart beat?
Smartphone prices are falling. Except at the premium segment of the market; the one ruled by Apple. Have critics not learned anything about the Mac’s business model?
Margins are declining. Except at the premium segment of the market; the one ruled by Apple. Have critics not learned anything about the Mac’s business model?
iPad sales are dropping. Remember, the iPad is Apple’s most successful new product, selling more units in less time than even the iPhone. So many iPads remain in use that it owns the usage statistics. iPads are hand-me-down products which makes it more like a Mac than an iPhone. Apple’s challenge here is how to make it better than nearly perfect. Still, which company makes more tablets than Apple makes iPads?
Apple Watch overhyped. By whom? Apple? All we’ve seen so far of Apple Watch are a few videos, some webpages, and… well, plenty of critics who call it a failure without wearing one. Will it be as successful as the iPhone? No. Better than iPad? Probably not. But longer term, capable technology will be that small and that useful.
Inability to innovate. That canard? If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, Apple innovates differently. Instead of pie-in-the-sky R&D promotions, Apple makes products that people can buy and use. Each product receives what I call iterative innovation; steady improvements over time. Crazy-assed ideas– passed off as innovation– that never see the light of day are not Apple’s style.
What is Apple’s style is disruptive innovation. Apple disrupts markets with new products. Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, App Stores, as well as innovation that seldom gets viewed by the public and certainly not by the likes of Forbes’ Peter Cohan– manufacturing innovation. Apple is an expert at building high quality products that cost the same to make as do cheaper imitations. That gives the company tremendous flexibility and higher margins, greater profits.
Isn’t it time for the critics– so much embarrassed by being so wrong so often about Apple– to give it a rest and just shut up for awhile?
Sundays are my day to crash; sleep late, grab the newspapers, and dig into someone else’s look at the condition of the world around us. From what I can tell of my nearly 20 years as an adult, not much has changed.
Microsoft is still losing money on everything but Windows and Office (and it’s giving those away mostly for free on mobile devices), completely missed the mobile device revolution, but all that turmoil has pushed the stock higher. Google is trying desperately to be like Mic– Microsoft. How? By sticking its nose into every potential money losing business opportunity while remaining what it always has been; an advertising company.
Elsewhere around the world China has become Apple’s biggest iPhone market. Government officials in the U.K. and U.S. have declared war on privacy while crying ‘national security‘ but threaten to jail anyone who can expose their own secrets and misdeeds. And, speaking of misdeeds from the last century, repeated in the 21st century, the Russians are invading neighbors– again– while crushing freedom of speech, press, and religion– again.
Truly, the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.
Sony has become the poster child of companies which ignore the perils of cyberterrorists while the most advertised product in the Mac community is called malware by users who paid for it but now are trying to get rid of it. The U.S. has become more third-world-like with crummier and slower Internet service at higher prices than much of the developed world, and a state legislator in Missouri wants to pass a law that requires customers to provide a driver’s license for additional identification when paying for goods with Apple Pay (or any smartphone with wireless payment built-in). Oh, and merchants would have to record the license number and attach it to the transaction. You know, just to be sure, to avoid liability, blah blah blah.
What’s changed in the world since 1956? Not much, apparently. Phones are cooler, though, but people seem to be much the same greedy, thoughtless, infantile bastards they’ve always been. And let’s not blame it all on government officials. Somebody brings those folks back to office in election after election. A case in point is that the President’s proposal to ensure workers get six week’s leave each year is opposed by the elected officials who get 33 weeks of paid leave each year. They get paid $174,000 a year to keep in line those who get paid $15,000 a year.
Back in the day– my day, not necessarily your day– the Mac was my refuge against the trials and tribulations of those handcuffed to their Windows PCs all day. Today, not much has changed except my Mac remains a refuge, but now I have an iPhone and iPad which keep the digital gremlins at bay. The rest of the world should be so lucky.
Truly, the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same.