To say that Apple is doing well these days is to state the obvious. What is there about Apple, Inc. that is not going well? Mac sales are up. Market share is up. The iPod rules portable music. iTunes Store rules online music, TV shows, movies. iPhone is changing the cell phone business. Still, the Apple revolution has become more of an evolution.
Remember the Apple advertising campaign of the late 1990’s? Think Different. Apple courted the creative thinkers. The Mac was about all there was at Apple and had just experienced a near death experience.
With the revolutionary iMac and the revolutionary Mac OS X, Apple bet the entire farm on the future, hoping to stick around long enough to find another next great thing.
Apple found another great thing in the insanely great iPod, the portable music player ecosystem that gave Apple another business line, another leg on the chair.
The iTunes Music Store became the leading online method for obtaining, legally, digital music, TV shows, and movies.
Apple taught the world to sing with legal downloads, and gave us an end-to-end system that was truly plug and play—iPod, iTunes, iTunes Store. Simple is better. Build a better mouse trap and all that, right?
Apple also recognized that the future would not be a pocket full of devices such as camera, music player, cell phone, or PDA (personal digital assistant), and set out to create another insanely great product. But not the one we expected.
Can you argue that Apple is a highly disciplined company not prone to many mistakes in the past 10 years? Yes, a thousand times yes. Proof of that is the iPhone.
The evolution of Apple’s revolution is fully epitomized by the iPhone.
This is not just another product, not just another handheld device that works as a cell phone and a decent iPod and plays movies. It’s not just another award winning design that sports yet another slick graphical user interface.
As it did with Mac OS X, Apple is back to betting the farm again. Quietly. Confidently. Quickly.
Apple is doing what Microsoft did with Windows and Office. They’re creating an ecosystem of connectivity, interconnectivity that works like super glue.
Unlike Microsoft’s products and customers, with Apple, everything comes together and stays together, and no one feels like they’re getting stuck. It all just works.
The Mac—secure, elegant, feature rich, nearly trouble-free (relative to Windows). The iPod, iTunes Store, Mac or Windows—it all just works together. Is there an easier way to buy and use digital media?
Finally, the iPhone—a cell phone that users actually want to use; not just for making calls, but handling email, browsing the web, playing music and TV shows and movies.
With the Mac, iTunes, iPod, iTunes Store, the iPhone, and now with MobileMe, Apple has wrapped up the user experience for handheld devices into a single word—connective ecosystem.
Alright, two words. But it all just works; simply, elegantly, intuitively, and that’s what customers really want.
What’s missing from the evolutionary steps of Apple’s quiet revolutiona?
The living room is missing. The living room is dominated by the television, it’s owned by the remote control and wide screens and high powered sound systems, and the gatekeeper is the cable TV companies.
The status quo fortress has a few cracks, and Apple is front and center ready to wedge itself into those cracks, into the hearts and minds and eyesight of television users everywhere.
But how? What will make it happen?
Question, no Answer
AppleTV? Nearly every household has a Mac or Windows PC. Nearly every household has a television, most of which are connected to the cable company.
Does every household want to purchase yet another box to connect the multiple boxes and devices already connected to the television? Probably not. It’s tough competition. Television viewers have device fatigue.
What can Apple do with AppleTV that it did with the Mac, that it did with the iPod and iTunes and iTunes Store, and that it is doing now with the iPhone?
What will it take for Apple to succeed in the living room?