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.
As many of us are still digesting the new iPhone as well as being bombarded by a deluge of advertisements both for the iPhone and against the iPhone (feels very political!), Apple rolled out a new iPad. The mini iPad.
So what to make of this new iPad…one that I doubt would have ever been rolled out had Jobs still been alive. A couple of observations:
To me the whole strategy for this product was to go after the smaller and less expensive tablet market. Unfortunately the price of the device might have added a level of difficulty. The price, $329, is much higher than I thought it would be. Much more expense than the devices that it is suppose to compete with – the Kindle, Nook, Galaxy and Nexus. These are all priced more than $100 cheaper than the iPad mini. I am not sure if this is going to be sustainable for Apple. At this price point are they really a viable option for that market?
From what I can tell the form factor is just a smaller version of the iPad – no surprise there. So nothing in that makes it more appealing than the other tablets of that size.
The reality is, tablets are great devices because they are really just blank canvasses that allow access to content. They have to be portable, light, durable, have a good UI and have access to content you would want to carry around with you. For most I would argue the deciding factor is a combination of price, size and what content is accessible. If Apple is looking to attract clients of the other smaller tablets to come over to the iPad mini, I think the high price point will be a barrier too high. Is Apple looking to appeal to their install base with another shiny Apple device? Maybe. But that risks cannibalizing sales of the regular iPad.
It feels like Apple is riding two horses at the same time. That is never a good recipe for success. If Apple really wanted to go after the install base of Amazon and Google, then price appropriately. If Apple just wants Apple aficionados to added one more Apple device to their roster, I am not sure that will generate enough revenue.
As Rick Leighman said: “They just think they can slap an Apple logo on anything and people will buy it.”
That might no longer be true…
“So they made the iPhone bigger and are shrinking the iPad…”
Apple is set to unveil its newest device. Well not really “new” since it is a different version of their iPad tablet. Now speculation is rife on what the price point will be for the iPad mini – the $199 price range that will put it in direct competition with the likes of the Kindle Fire, the Nook and the Nexus 7 or a higher price point around $250? That price would put it higher than the aforementioned tablets but lower than its big brother full sized iPad. Question remains…does this matter? What I mean is, does the release of a new iPad indicate a decline in the once all powerful Apple? I am not saying Apple is about to go by the way of RIM, but has Apple lost areas to innovate?
Think about it. When the iPad came out it created, or really jump started, a dormant space – the tablet. The iPhone and more importantly the app store, revolutionized the smartphone. Take the idea of using your phone for calls and emails to a whole new level. The iPod was the first truly user friendly MP3 player. The iPad mini…what is at the core of this roll out? One could argue that Apple is moving down stream and putting out a fighting brand to take on their rivals in the smaller tablet market. But that would be a me-too move, something that Apple has avoided doing for many years. Apple has created the market, not been a follower.
The introduction of the iPad mini might prove to be a wise business move, allow Apple to get into the game in a space that Amazon has quietly taken to be its own. However it could also be an indication of what is to come from Apple – a company run more like Mitt Romney – focused on market analysis, finding margin, taking market share from others. Not like an Obama styled company – built on vision and looking beyond the horizon. Time will tell if Cook and the rest of Apple can find new places to create a market. Or if the passing of Jobs will prove to be the tipping point for Apple.
Well well well, look who is getting back into the tablet game! Microsoft. Least we forget that before the iPad became a part of our every day vocabulary, the Microsoft operating system was powering the first versions of “tablets.” I remember my boss had a tablet, which was really just a lap top with a screen that swiveled to sit flush on top of the key board and a stylus that allowed you to write directly on the screen. Very sleek, but nothing compared to the iPad or the Android powered tablets we see today.
But now our friends from Redmond have come out with a new tablet, one that is going after the Galaxies and iPads of the world. But is it too little too late?
The video demonstrating the device is sleek and the device itself looks intriguing, but the reality is it looks like…a real thin laptop. See video:
Is Microsoft wasting its time? Maybe. But they are big enough that they can afford the investment and even if this is a lost leader they need to try and wrestle away some of the momentum that Apple and Google are enjoying in the tablet world.
The reality is that tablets, like the iPad, are cutting into the Microsoft domain of corporate IT. I remember a meeting I had about a year ago with a dozen members of my company at the time, including executives. There was one laptop open. 5 years ago there would have been one laptop for each participant. Instead we were all on our iPads. IT departments have been racing to find a way to monitor these new devices and ensure they are secure. It used to be so easy – windows and Blackberry servers and you were set! Not anymore.
The introduction of the Surface for Microsoft might give the IT departments an out, a way to get tablets in the hands of their employees while retaking control of the device. It is a gamble, and I do not think you will see people giving up their iPads. However, the Surface gives Microsoft a fighting chance to become relevant in tablets and could curtail the explosion of non Windows devices getting into the corporate ecosystem.
As the laptop’s role as the computing power horse for corporations continues to wane, the Surface might just give Microsoft a chance to regain some of the market share they are losing.
Apple’s iPad has been nothing short of a phenomenal success, but why should that surprise us after the iPod and the iPhone, the latter thrusting Apple from a zero market share to being one of the major players in the smart phone business. The iPad is expected to potentially surpass 12 million units sold in 2010 and double that in 2011. Apple’s tablet computing device has already had a drastic impact on the sale of more traditional computing platforms – laptops. None of this is too shocking.
Apple has earned the mantle of the “cool” device company, the one that has simple to use, powerful, flexible and sleek hardware devices coupled with a content distribution network – iTunes and AppStore. Put all these together and the consumer will naturally gravitate to your product when their alternative is the old Windows style offering.
What I have come to appreciate with my iPad…and I am someone who waffled on the iPad – first I wanted one, then I thought it wasn’t something I needed, eventually purchased one and now love it. But what the iPad has become is not a web surfing device, not a replacement for my laptop to do computing but a wonder entertainment device. I realize that might encompass so of what I just mentioned. The iPad has allowed, or pushed, television viewing to be an individual outlet. The television has always been a communal activity. Granted, I realize that some of us watch hours of television alone, but at its core it is for a group of people to aggregate around: watch a movie, the World Cup finals, the evening news, the season finale of Survivor or the launch of the space shuttle just to name a few activities.
What the iPad has brought is the ability to take this experience and truly allow the individual to control and enjoy it on their own. The form factor is much more personal, you sit at your desk and watch a movie, lie in bed and watch the last tv series or while in the airplane catch up on an iTunes movie from last season. The ability to truly personalize the selection and viewing of movies and television has finally been truly unleashed thanks to the iPad and other personal tablets.
While all the apps are great, and the form factor is basically a iPhone/iPod Touch on steriods, the iPad and its form factor is more adaptable to the visual nature of video. That might be its greatest app. Now if I could only get real time streaming television to my iPad….