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When Apple revealed the iPod back in 2001, a little more than eight months after iTunes was released, the vision was much greater than just the device. An entire online shopping experience, which gathered the credit card numbers of more people than any other company on earth, was attached. The forethought behind a simple, well-timed device changed the way people bought, listened to and interacted with music. Since those days iTunes has not evolved much and despite new and shiny releases, Apple has not innovated their business to much extent. Without Steve Jobs at the helm, Apple’s creativity has stagnated quickly, and seems to be rotting from the inside.
There were many other MP3 players and media devices when Apple came out with the iPod. The difference was that Jobs understood what people wanted, even before they did. The improvements made to the device paved the way for the release of the iPhone in 2007. The iPad followed three years later and ran on the same operating system: iOS.
Since 2011, the year Jobs passed away, Apple seems to have lost their vision. Despite the fact that consumers replace almost indistinguishable devices at a premium year after year, the frustration of knowing how similar they all are is growing. With the iPhone 6 continually being hyped and hinted at, chances are the grand reveal will leave a lot to be desired.
When the iPhone 5c and 5s came out in 2013, it was described by Derek Ross of Phandroid as: “A phone that hasn’t changed that much from its predecessor, but includes just the right amount of marketing fluff to make it sound amazing.” Despite sales being high, the Apple mystique that drives people to spend their money on a newer, almost identical model, is beginning to make the consumers look irrational.
According to the research firm Canalys, one-third of all smart phones that shipped in the first quarter of 2014 had screens larger than five inches. The “phablet,” as it is commonly referred to, represents a major share of the market which Apple does not entertain. The market share represent a larger slice of the pie then Apple currently has, and seems like an easy niche to fill given their track record.
The latest attempt at modernization is Apples proposed acquisition of Beats; the Dr. Dre headphone company. While doing well, Beats is not an innovative or original concept, and the company has no remarkable patents Apple would acquire in the deal. It is just a celebrity endorsed headphone company that has gained a reasonable market share.
Speculation about whether Steve Jobs would have made such a move are pointless. However the reasoning, perhaps a hidden agenda we do not understand yet, will reveal more about the internal workings and vision of this stable by increasingly unremarkable company. The real issue is not money. Monetarily Apple is doing very well, but consumer confidence, and with it stocks value, can be lost overnight. There are no guarantees in business, and a company’s ability to align itself with trends, or create them, can be vital for long-term success.
With the years of innovation behind it, and technology changing and improving faster than ever, Apples lack of creative growth might be an indication of the people who are now running it. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is find a new coach, especially when the one who took you to the finals is a relative. Current market shares and sales trends would indicate that all is fine, but actual product lack of growth and development might hint that the Apple is rotting from the inside.
Opinion by J. Benjamin