What are really big numbers? Obviously, it depends upon subject matter, but when it comes to customers who pay money– directly or indirectly– the larger the better. Google’s Android OS might have nearly 3-billion users, but they are not customers because the search engine giant is an advertising company. Apple has a billion or so customers and they pay big money for hardware.
How big are Apple’s numbers compared to the competition?
I ask because I read about YouTuber PewDiePie is the first to hit 100-million subscribers. Now, a long list of subscribers does not necessarily translate into videos watched, but if you check out his numbers you can see why Google likes such influencers; controversial or otherwise.
100-million sounds like a lot, right?
Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg has been one of the most successful creators in the platform’s history, shaping what happens on the site and extending his reach into a book deal, talk show appearances, and sponsorships. But his fame has been hampered by controversies like using racist language and anti-Semitic imagery.
By contrast, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off outtakes have more than 15-million views on Vevo, and the original video has more than 2.8-billion views but her channel has only 35-million subscribers.
Big numbers all.
So, what does this have to do with Apple?
Our favorite Cupertino hardware manufacturer has some big numbers, too, and Tim Cook’s Apple has doubled down on what Apple does best.
While co-founder Steve Jobs was the king of revolutionary innovations and disrupted numerous technology and industry markets– PCs, music players, smartphones, tablets, music sales– CEO Tim Cook has become a purveyor of fine iPhone accessories.
Accessories? Watch, Apple Pay, Beats headphones, et al. In fact, Apple’s Wearables category brings in enough revenue to top iPad hardware sales and almost beats out the Mac. Apple’s total hardware units in the wild probably exceed 1.5-billion now, with 100-million or more new customers each year.
Those are big numbers.
That explains why Apple is moving quickly into content creation to compete against Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, ViacomCBS, Disney, and others. Content is king. Apple has a billion devices that reside in pockets alone, and the company’s platforms are mostly agonistic– you can get content from anywhere on Mac, iPhone, or iPad.
What’s interesting here is the concept of product differentiation where Apple has to copy what others do simply to remain competitive. Apple’s customer base numbers are huge, yes, but Apple’s executives only now seem to understand the need to sell more hardware to help satisfy the cravings of Services and Wearables as important revenue streams.
Samsung, for all its hardware prowess and equally big numbers, cannot move content the way Apple can. Google, like Amazon, can move content into the user or customer base but struggles to sell hardware that competes with Apple, Samsung, and other smartphone and PC makers.
Apple, even with all those big numbers, will compete with an ever growing list of hardware makers, software platforms, and now streaming video content. Big numbers help to get started, but that doesn’t mean the company is guaranteed to win those battles.