True to form Apple will release the iPhone 5s later this year, probably scoop up some of those iPhone 4 users who have not yet upgraded. Maybe Apple does not want to lose them to Android…nah no one would make that switch!! Anyways. What is interesting is the rumors that Apple plans to follow that release up with an iPhone 6…but it will not be a generation leap for the phone but more of an inexpensive model to go after emerging markets aka China and India. Wise move or sign that the Jobless company is still struggling to find their innovative fast ball? Going after the likes of China and India makes perfect sense – that is where much of the growth is happening.
Apple needs to get a product into those markets that can compete with the less expensive Android versions as well as the likes of Nokia. Makes good business sense. However, this feels like a shift for our friends at Apple. Couple this with the iPad mini, which from a business stand point made sense – go after the tablet market that was being dominated by the Kindle. The iPad mini coupled with the iPhone 6 and it feels as if Apple is not longer looking to lead with innovation but instead focus on diversifying their existing product portfolio to compete in markets they otherwise ignored. Has the Apple innovation engine run out of steam? Maybe. Or is Apple looking to solidify some of its business, focus on some aspects that could be seen as weak spots in their business. Let us imagine the following:
- Apple leverages the iPad mini to go directly after Amazon with their Kindle. One might argue that introducing the mini has already knocked out one competitor, albeit a weak one, the Nook from Barnes and Noble. While I do not think it will take out the Kindle, it is clearly offering a viable substitute product for those looking for a 7 inch tablet. Apple now has a product that can compete at all levels of the tablet market. Check.
- The new iPhone 6, if it is what the rumors claim, gives Apple a device that can go head to head with the less expensive smart phones. This will give Apple a device that can compete with Nokia, who still has a large ownership of the emerging market. Really this is a play to try and fight off Microsoft and their OS that has, no surprise, been adopted by Nokia! Of course it will also allow for Apple to expand its portfolio to compete with Android.
With Apple putting together some offerings that can get them into a more diverse market, they will then be able to refocus on bring us the “next” innovative device. The iWatch? Refocus on the Television? Enhance the iTunes experience?
Let us see what the next few months hold for Apple. For now I think that what we are seeing a business being run like a more “traditional’ business. It is too much to ask for any company to innovate at the pace they did at the end of the Steve Jobs era. Does this mean that Apple is done innovating? Let us hope not. But making sure your business is taken care of first will allow for Apple to one day be able to get back to giving us innovated consumer devices.