Tag Archives: iPhone

De-seeding Confirmed

Yet another keynote, yet another product launch, yet another iPhone and yet nothing new. Just more of the same. So during the launch of iPhone 7, it was all about the specifications i.e. how it is ‘x’ times better than iPhone 6 in all aspects or to paraphrase all and sundry on the stage ‘how it is the best ever iPhone’. This time around the added version of iPhone 7 i.e. iPhone 8, was quickly introduced and packed off and then the coup de grace iPhone X was unveiled. The unveiling was with it’s customary flair, the proverbial mystery launching and the audiences ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ and yet it just the same. As yet again it was something that was just a strict step-up improvement and definitely not even remotely close to the term – innovation.
If one were to time the entire presentation on the aspects of iPhone X that was spoken about, or the features of the iPhone X that were highlighted – a whopping 75% of time must have been spent on only 2 features i.e. the Face ID and hold your breath – Animoji. The rest 25% would have been on the usual suspects – ‘x’ times better camera, ‘x’ times better battery life, ‘x’ times better processing power, ’x’ times better screen display and so on and so forth. Agree that the Face ID is different and worth mentioning but hell one can’t base it’s entire product unveiling presentation on that very aspect and pray tell, why should one even talk about something so elementary as emojis, no matter in what form, format or manner they are, emojis – seriously!!
And boy, does Apple charge a bomb for iPhone X. It might be the ‘best ever iPhone’, (doesn’t matter it chooses to compete only among itself) and doesn’t claim to be the ‘best ever smartphone’ but it definitely has staked a claim to be the ‘most expensive ever smartphone’.
It is obvious, that the Apple stable really seems bare. Nothing innovative, path-breaking or even remotely eye-grabbing products in the work. Does it behove of a company that prides itself on being on the cutting edge of innovation to just re-hash and re-jig something and present it as the ‘best ever…’? Shouldn’t these annual affairs cease to exist if the product doesn’t exactly ring the innovation bell? Shouldn’t Apple set it’s bar so high that if and when they do launch and introduce a product it would be disrupting the existing product lines and thus necessarily innovative? Otherwise, what all these launches are doing is just to keep the obvious army of fanboy and fangirls happy that they can wrap their hands and heads around a new Apple product, keep the cash registers ringing and ensure that the quarter on quarter number looks promising.
Perhaps, the smartphone has reached it’s evolution life-cycle and there is nothing much one can change but just re-gild or re-hash? Perhaps, there is a need for a completely disruptive idea to break the smartphone industry per se, re-look at the use case of a smartphone and come out with a completely different product. And perhaps, we could have just about seen the glimpse of it in one such earlier product launch in the entire keynote, which was introduced as a footnote – a cellular Apple watch. Maybe and just maybe, a smart watch with cellular capabilities is the answer to the glass ceiling one has hit on the smart phone product.
It is about time that the company takes it’s cue from the short speech of Steve Jobs that was played before the start of the keynote on 12th September – ‘to stay true to oneself’. Otherwise, as were the numerous conglomerates who were too big, smug and moneyed to heed a upstart start-up, Apple might just about find itself being at the wrong end facing similar such upstarts and as the proverbial David vs Goliath fight goes, end up on the losing side.
Over to you, Apple!

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‘De-seeding truly on the way’

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This is just an addendum to the earlier post that I had put on Apple. Attended the keynote (digitally, of course, hell man I don’t have the money nor the wherewithal to be invited at such a bespoke event) for the launch of iPhone 7 and 7 plus on the 7th of September
Is there anything to write home about? Is there anything clearly and disruptively new about the phone? A loud and a resounding NO.
The general spiel is that it is ‘x times faster’ in processing, ‘x times sharper’ in camera resolution, ‘x times better’ in screen clarity, ‘x times longer’ in battery than the earlier iPhone. Well, good for the iPhone 7. Beyond changing a bit here and there, beyond re-gilding the bell and re-tuning the whistle, there is nothing of note in this one.
A few question then that really beg to be asked –
Why is a company which was not too long ago an innovative and disruptive thinker, reduced to mere delta changes in its product offering?
Going forward, is this what we are to expect from the Apple stable – perfunctory step up improvements in the existing product line.
Are there any path-breaking product offerings on the anvil that Apple is currently working on or even exploring?
If no to the above question, then is Apple sorely missing a completely blue-sky thinker along the lines of Steve Jobs, who has the ability to foresee tomorrow’s needs today and provide him/her with solutions hitherto not envisaged?
Only time will tell.

Apple ‘De-seeded’

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Currently, the brand ‘Apple’ is worth anywhere between $145 billion to $170 billion if we were to take the various brand valuation reports. So in essence, if the company were to just hand over the name, logo and other attendant aspects associated with the brand to some company, it would in return get an amount which would be equivalent to the total foreign exchange reserve of the bottom 10 of the top 20 holders of the green back. That tells a lot about a private brand.

But I have a feeling going forward that this is unlikely to sustain. In the next half a decade or so, we will find newer brands upending Apple and the primary reason isn’t that the other brands i.e. Internet brands like Google, Facebook, Cisco would be doing exceedingly well but simply because Apple might falter going forward. Don’t get me wrong, I would be the last person wanting to see this as I really love the brand and would really be saddened, but then it appears that the writing is clearly on the wall. There are 3 strong reasons that I have and let us look at them in detail:

1st Reason: For the past couple of years, there has nothing cutting-edge that has come out of the Apple stable. There are no ‘wow’ products that have graced the Apple portfolio – something that made us sit up and take notice like an iPhone or an iPod or even an iPad. Most of these products were way ahead of the conventional realm that the customers were able to muster – they were due to a certain rigour in a blue-sky thinking. Most were of disruptive nature providing a massive change over the existing product lines. But the past few product offerings are just about providing delta changes over the existing products – be it own or competitors. A better camera or bigger screen doesn’t exactly ring the innovation bell. It doesn’t behove a company which calls itself intuitive and then goes and introduces products which are well just changing a few bells and whistles here and there and packing it nicely. Are we getting any where even closer to what we got when we had a dodgy and clunky candy bar phone in our hand and were introduced to a smooth and slick iPhone. Or for that matter had to fiddle with Walk-mans/Disc-mans with it’s cassettes and discs and in came a unit which had in-built songs and a nice way to toggle through? Highly unlikely, isn’t it?

2nd Reason: The 1st reason brings us to the 2nd important reason as to why Apple seems to run its course. Earlier it was always a strong intuitive power – perhaps the vision of Steve Jobs or the downright dogged disinterest he seemed to have for the consuming classes – that governed the product offerings. Hence, iPhones were available in just 2 colours and one format. ‘This is what I have – take it or leave it’ was the go-to-market spiel. Steve Jobs was legendary in his disrespect towards the proverbial conventional marketing approach – market consulting, research, test market etc. If it was a path-breaking product on the cutting edge, we should launch it in the market – never mind whether the customer is ready for it or not. Never even mind if the new launch is cannibalising our existing portfolio. The customer nearly always looked to take cues from the company rather than the other way round. And it was obvious, a company on the cutting-edge and which prided itself on innovation would necessarily look to lead and be a thought leader as compared to be a follower and try to understand the customer. An intuitive company necessarily has to understand the customer needs silently and provide them with a thought leadership.
Cut to now, where the Apple brought a bigger and an even bigger screen iPhone, not to mention an iWatch. Add the other embellishments – iPhone 5C, various SKU’s (colour options) and you have a portfolio which was going in to near about 10 (thus adding to the keeping cost of the channel)
Following customer’s whims and fancies is a difficult task – the customer wants a bigger screen on a mobile, albeit a smaller on a laptop and as of now it has not made up his/her mind on the size of the screen it loves on a tablet. Thus, following such an animal is fraught with risks and bound to increase the cost to the market – not to mention losing the air of cutting-edge-ness due to being a follower as compared to a leader.
Moreover, just recently Apple launched an iPad air similar to the Microsoft Surface (which it had launched a couple of years back). Something that was not lost on Microsoft too (a company like Apple trying to ape and copy products from its own stable). Since when did Apple start imitating products that others were hawking? This again is the sense that Apple had fallen in to the trap of following and not leading, of introducing what the customer wants now but perhaps afraid to introduce what the customer has little inkling of what it wants. A cutting-edge innovator cuts a very sorry figure when it chooses to follow; it isn’t in its nature. As is the rule of the jungle – the tiger leads but never follows – cause it doesn’t know what it takes to follow or how to follow. That then brings me on to my final reason.

3rd Reason: For the past couple of years Apple has been hoarding a huge cash from the profits that it has generated – cash that it is trying to meaningfully deploy but not been able to. Hence you find the various un-related business that Apple is trying to focus on – self-driving car, investing about a billion quids in completely unrelated business (Didi) and trying to up the service quotient of the company by introducing Apple Pay. So is Apple trying to pivot in to a service company, since going forward the pipeline of cutting-edge products seems dry?

The next few launches from the Apple stable will confirm or deny all of the above, till then it is for Apple to see and plan and for us Apple fans to just secretly wonder.