Greetings one and all!
As we march through September I must confess, I’ve been too busy to blog. Last month, I was blessed to see my best friend and business partner launch his first event for his personal brand, Dream Nation. #ProudBroski.
And the month before, I started a new job. Since July, I have put together a valuable bit of research for email marketers, wrote a piece for Marketing Week magazine on Media Convergence (scroll to the bottom) and most importantly, I got to tell the world why WWE lays the SmackDown with its digital transformation. Would it be an understatement to say its been an eventful couple of months?
In the midst of all that, Apple put their party faces on and released the next iterations of their iPhone. Now if we had met two years ago, I would be telling you that I listened to the keynote from the WWDC and I followed the live blog from the product launch event and all of the subsequent reactions blog posts. This year round, I was definitely not that guy. However, I was eager to see what they pulled out of the bag. And as you all know, this is what they presented to the world:
Ain’t they a beauty?
Steve Jobs would be proud. Especially the 5C. Yes I am aware it is made out of “beautifully, unapologetically plastic” as Jony Ive boldly proclaimed. And the bright colours from the hardware and iOS 7 is enough to give your eyeballs a neon themed party on a daily basis. But… haven’t we seen this story before? Remember these?
The end of the Smartphone
Obviously the smartphone isn’t going anyway any time soon. Smartphone penetration worldwide is on the up and up and its only going to increase as the technology spreads. The question is which smartphones are people buying?
Much has been made of Apple’s “inability” to shift smartphones in more price sensitive regions, such as China and India. Sales outside of affluent Western regions tend to be less than impressive as consumers opt for budget counterparts. Meanwhile, in the US, UK and other countries where iPhone’s have historically sold well, the competition continues to mount with Samsung applying pressure with their feature-rich, not-as-expensive-as-an-iPhone premium devices, as well as other brand’s premium offerings. So in order to maximise profits and “milk the cow”, Apple have had to diversify.
Thats where those colourful iPods come in. The industry outlook was much different back then, Apple dominated music and the MP3 market but they were preparing to cannibalise their own product with the original iPhone. So they they made iPods in all the colours under the sun, as a way of getting as much out of their markets as possible before moving on.
I feel Apple are headed in a similar direction with the iPhone. Not that the smartphone market is on its way out, far from it. But Apple is pivoting towards a new direction, a new flagship that they hope to be as profitable to Apple’s balance sheet as the iPhone has been. While the iPhone 5C and 5S may not be every innovator’s dream, together they make excellent business sense. And that is where the whole process falls down.
Can Apple still innovate?
The lifecycle that the iPhone has followed has been textbook Steve Jobs. He would have loved it. Sure, he would have put a bit more bounce into those keynote presentations, but the iPhone has gone mostly to plan. The problem is, the next step in the story is where Apple surprises the world with their brand new product.
Those ideas that have had fan boys camping outside in the cold, sent stock prices flying and have given every tech blog worth its salt a content plan filled with 6 months of rumours, reactions and product reviews, have always come from Mr Jobs. Tim Cook, as excellent as he is, is not the innovating genius that his predecessor was. Is he capable of producing THE next iconic product? Only time will tell. But if I was an Apple investor, the next 12 months are set to be an interesting ride.
So what do you think? Did Apple lose its sparkle when they lost Steve Jobs? Or has he built a legacy and system that has truly surpassed in him? Jump in the comments and sound off!
Until next time, I’ll be preparing for the NBA season. Roll on October 29th.