We’re about to identify 10 variables that suggest Apple isn’t quite sure what it should do next, or where it should invest in R&D, but before diving in here’s a little tidbit: Apple has been around for decades, and mostly played little brother to PC. IBM ruled the world when Apple was working hard to get Apple II into grade schools across America. Brilliant marketing. Apple unrolled its greatest developments as those 1980s kids became adults; however, is it possible Apple peaked with the advent of the iPhone? Is the company headed in the wrong direction? Let’s consider.
10. The Death of Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was to Apple what the Pope is to the Catholic Church. Can the organizations function without their figurehead? Sure, but it leaves a lot of wiggle room for conflicting ideas and subordinate chatter. That seems to be the issue with “The Fruit Company” since the death of Steve Jobs in 2011. So far, all we’ve really gotten after his death are a couple of biopics—one that stunk, and one that was fantastic. What we were all probably hoping for were better price points on a lot of product that have been offered by Apple for the last 10 years. The Apple Watch, and the variety of tablets is an example of overkill and over saturating a market that already has too much crap to sift through. Without Steve, Apple is missing the succinct, “No. We’re not doing that, we’re doing this.”
9. The Legal Battle With Samsung
The first chink in the armor after the death of Steve Jobs came in the form of a $2 billion lawsuit filed against Samsung. Damn. Yes, Apple did win the suit, but their allegations were soon met with a counter lawsuit from Samsung, alleging the same crimes against Apple. Ultimately, both tech entities were sour that the other had stolen patented ideas and incorporated them into their newest tech. Apple alleged theft for tablets, while Samsung alleged Apple jacked a few ideas to make the iPhone 6 better than the iPhone 5. (How could it not be?) Apple was eventually awarded some $930 million, but it was eventually agreed that Samsung could pay a cool $540 million and let that be that, because Apple was going to eventually be strapped for paying Samsung for the same issue. This distraction—beginning in 2012—was noticeable in subsequent product execution.
8. Eternal Incompatibility
No, that is not external incompatibility, it is eternal—as in infinite—incompatibility. We understand that Apple is the GDI (gosh darn independent) of the computer and tech manufacturing world, but its products’ inability to sync with all standard mass media is now proving to be more of a pain in the butt than a simple annoyance. Add to it failures like iPhone 5 and the less than impressive iPhone 6, and it seems people are over the whole smart phone thing. Everyone has one, they all do similar things, app developers are working across the board and the pure bred mindset of Apple has seemingly run its course. Android is outselling Apple in America. Perhaps it would be different if updating to a new version of iOS didn’t make a quality machine fart out after a few years, but all this device management? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
7. Patents Expire
If you blow minds with a new technology, or heck, a new hairspray, and you went about the proper legal channels of having your idea or formula patented and copyright protected, you’re going to reap tremendous financial rewards if the entity becomes a desired commodity. However, those patents will eventually expire, and the beauty of free market enterprise is inserted into the business equation. For Apple, the iPhone was it. Regardless of being an Apple lover, hater, or remaining completely indifferent regarding brand loyalty, the iPhone flipped the tech world on its head. That was June 29, 2007, and so much has changed since then. Not in the grand scheme of things, but regarding smart phone features and usability. All manufacturers are privy to the tech and offerings. The iPad was cool, but merely an improvement on tech, and then Steve Jobs died…Apple seemed to sit and stare.
6. Obsessed With Aesthetic
Not all obsessions are a bad thing…not in the beginning, that is. Apple has always offered the sexy. Even with Lisa—though regarded as an Apple fail—the machine was so much better looking than what the rest of the industry was offering. To a certain extent, it is true: if you want to market something to someone without a lot of expertise or technical know, they’ll be lured by their eyes. They’re fresh fish. And then the two-tone iMac? Who didn’t love the sexiness of that machine? The DVD/CD-ROM was like a little robot sticking its tongue out at the operator. Delight! Then the iBook, and the MacBook, and the MacBook Pro, and the MacBook Air. Good lookin’ machines. Unfortunately for Apple, every computer/tech manufacturer is dropping aesthetic dimes at Best Buy. That stuff fades—just like us—it’s not something that can sustain.
5. Obsessed With Branding
Do you think—considering there’s an Apple store in…like…every mall— that Apple may have spent too much on advertising over the past ten years? Might they have focused more on product development, as well as R&D, over becoming the cool kid? It’s a tough call. There is no doubt those catchy iPod, iPhone and iPad commercials lured people into the stores and created a demand for the retail stores in the first place, but then it seemed like the company was more concerned about getting the white Apple sticker on a person’s car (or what have you), as opposed to prepping for the counter punch that was inevitably going to come from Microsoft, Samsung, Google…the list goes on. To their credit, Apple was able to create a subculture with its brand, including people who would tell you how and why their tech was superior…at every opportunity.
4. The Purchase of Beats
Before Apple fanboys riot against this point and proclaim the genius of the business deal, let’s rap. Pun intended. Was it less expensive for Apple to buy Beats than develop quality headphones and offer them at a decent market price? Audio professionals: quick question for you? What do you think of Beats by Dre? Apple has prided itself on offering the best of the best for the past 10 years, then they buy a brand that specializes in building great looking headphones with inferior sound quality. If you’re expecting someone to pay $300 for headphones, they should probably offer better dynamic range than a 1998 Chevy Cavalier with two 15″ subwoofers in the truck, and two aftermarket 6x9s in the rear glass. No, Beats aren’t terrible, but they’re far from superior. We presume Apple may make changes, but the executive brass may simply milk the cash cow.
3. Partnered With Taylor Swift
This one was relatively unbelievable—talk about getting pushed around by the Homecoming Queen. Rewind a year. Let’s address 2015, which Apple’s CEO Tim Cook called the company’s most successful year ever. (Thanks, China!) When Apple announced it wouldn’t be paying royalties for the three month trials of Apple Music subscribers, Taylor Swift took exception. She also took to her blog, and passive-aggressively chided the company for its decision to do so (as if artists haven’t made more than they ever could have dreamed before the advent of iTunes). Apple hit the panic button—a very 2015 strategy—and immediately changed the policy. They took the incurred cost on the chin, and then Taylor scratched their back by allowing the first streaming of 1989, as well as exclusive rights to the concert tour “documentary,” which Apple obviously paid for. So…Apple is one of Taylor’s new puppets?
2. Surface Pro & iPad Pro
Let’s get ready to rumble! A bold proclamation. A proclamation based in subjective objectivity. Apple was in such a rush to lasso its loyal users, they released the iPad Pro before it was ready. Anyone buying it desired the iPad Pencil. Not enough were manufactured. Many Apple apologists who insisted on the iPad Pro bought themselves a stylus-less device, which equated to a freakin’ huge iPad. As it stands, Apple is a generation behind with this work tablet, but it is capable of running Mac OS. Here’s where Apple really lost its way, and lost this competition: software developers knew Microsoft was leading the way in this venture, and Windows scored dibs for all the really sweet “draw on your computer” developers. In terms of interface, Microsoft has offered a machine that is every bit as enjoyable as Apple. The tablet champ has been dethroned.
1. The Rumored Apple Car
For the love of Elon Musk, what is Apple doing with all these automotive developers on staff? And these aren’t just car designers and engineers. They’re automotive software developers, and experts in the realm of artificial intelligence. Apple: are y’all makin’ a car? Of course, the company has never come out and stated “We’re making a car!,” just as it didn’t leak iPhone love until it was time to rock ‘n’ roll. We’re trying hard to imagine an AppleAuto (which you know they’re gonna call it), and if it’s as good looking, and artificial intelligent’cy as Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina, it’s going to turn heads, but let’s imagine a realistic price point on this future beast. Close to six figures? Why not affiliate with an automotive manufacturer? Oh. Right. Apple-only compatibility. This is certainly intriguing, but…so is a train wreck.