Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 10th Oct 2013 16:37 UTC
Apple

Insightful article by John Gruber.

So the irony here is that iOS vs. Android (or, if you prefer, iPhone and iPad vs. commodity smartphones and tablets) is in fact a replay Mac vs. Windows - but not in the way that most who make the comparison would have you believe. Judging by its actions, Apple is keenly aware of the lessons to be learned from 20 years ago. To wit, this has nothing to do with focusing on raw market share, and everything to do with keeping the pedal to the metal on design and quality. If Apple maintains a lead over its rivals in those regards, the Mac suggests that Apple can occupy a dominant, stable, long-term position as the profit leader in the mobile market as well - a market that is already bigger than the PC market ever was, and unlike the PC market, is still growing.

As insightful as the article is, it does pivot on the assumption that Apple does, indeed, "[maintain] a lead over its rivals" in design and quality. Design is largely a matter of taste, but as far as quality goes, Apple has, in my view, been surpassed in almost every aspect by Android - at least, when it comes to software. And let's not even get started on internet services, where Apple is a complete and utter joke compared to its competitors. As far as hardware goes, however, Apple's supposed lead is harder to debate - I've held a lot of phones and tablets in my hands over the years, and while many come close to Apple's, I've never held anything that outright surpassed it (save for maybe the HTC One which no one is buying).

Unsurprisingly, Gruber believes Apple does maintain that lead, and as such, arguing his point becomes relatively easy. However, if you ascribe to the view that Android has surpassed iOS in quality (and certainly in design, in my view), it becomes a lot harder to accept that Apple can, this time, avoid the trap it fell into in the '90s.

Now, before people will twist and turn this into me saying Apple is doomed - I don't believe for a second that it is. However, that doesn't mean a repeat of the '90s is somehow magically off the table - Apple has a lot of work to do in order to avoid it. As Tom Dale stated so aptly almost a year ago, "Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services". With Motorola and the Moto X, design might not be the only thing Google is getting better at faster.

Permalink for comment 574479
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

A wonderful fable. The truth is totally different. Bill Gates saved Apple to avoid MS being broken up for antitrust violations.


Apple had over a billion dollars in cash when MS invested $150 million in stock. Getting the MS investment was just PR.

MS was almost totally paralysed for a decade by ongoing numerous lawsuits in the USA and EU that prevented them from taking any competitive action against Google or Apple.


Microsoft were inhibited from deploying their monopoly on desktop OS as aggressively as they would have liked but they could have innovated. Microsoft could have invented the iPhone. They didn't because they are not a product innovation company, they are a company for whom market share is very important because they have always depended on the leveraging of monopoly power against competing products in order to win.

Apple had very little worthwhile to offer for at least 3-4 years after Jobs returned. OSX was basically unusable until about 2004 and the PowerPC architecture was totally uncompetitive.


Most of what Jobs did at Apple in the first few years was internal. He cleared the warehouses stuffed with unsold stock, he drastically reduced the number of SKUs, he closed dozens of in house research programmes and projects that were going nowhere, he remade the Apple Board and the top management and he brought in a little known executive called Tim Cook to revolutionise Apple's supple chain.

The first new product was the iMac in 1998 a year after Job's return, not very technological innovative although it's adoption of the new and barely used USB port standard was startling and made it the first legacy-free PC. It was the product that marked the return of innovative design to Apple.

On January 7th 1998 Jobs announced a projected $47 million profit for the first quarter at Macworld Expo, finally bringing Apple back to profitability.

None of your errors or my corrections in anyway effect the argument I was making in my original comment.

Reply Parent Score: 0