5 reasons why Apple’s best days are behind it

February 1, 2013

 

apple-money TechnoBuffalo

As we’ve been reading though so many reports detailing the performance of various companies over 2012, I thought it might be interesting if I shared my thoughts on why competition is heating up for Apple, and perhaps why the company’s brightest days are in the past.

1. Lack of product diversity and innovation

There’s no doubt that the iPhone was quite different to the rest of the pack when it initially launched. It was a well designed, sophisticated piece of technology, which offered users an experience which couldn’t be had on any other device. The problem is that Apple hasn’t moved on from that initial design concept. The quintessential iPhone experience hasn’t changed for some time, and the diminutive improvements from one handset to the next don’t fill an essential missing part of the smartphone experience.

Quick, spot the difference!

Quick, spot the difference!

The “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality is fine, but in the meantime the market has diversified. There are now three clear distinct categories of smartphone; budget, premium and “phablet”, each of which offers a definable user experience. Yet Apple seem content to remain firmly in a single category. This is something that, in my opinion, Apple has totally misjudged; Apple products won’t appear if you want to compare sub $100 smartphones, and there’s no comparable product to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2. What’s worse is that it’s now too late for Apple to change tactics. As we saw with the launch of the iPad Mini, when Apple tries to penetrate a market which is already saturated by competitors they struggle to gain traction. The iPod and iPhone have always benefited from being the best in the market from the beginning, but it works both ways. As Apple has previously neglected so many segments of the market, it now faces an uphill battle if it decides to broaden out.

2. Losing the perception of building the best products

Of course, Apple will say that it is refusing to lower standards to satisfy “cheap” consumers, which is fair enough. But when you make a stand like that, you run the risk of backing yourself into a corner. And this is the stage Apple currently finds itself in, it has a small range of perfectly good products, but the products are no longer head and shoulders above everyone else’s. Of course Apple fans will always pick an iPhone over a similarly priced HTC handset, but the preference isn’t so clear cut anymore for the average consumer. galaxy-s3-review-5 The prevalence of Samsung’s high end smartphones over the past couple of years has proven to be a real threat to Apple’s reputation as the superior handset manufacturer. The Galaxy S3 was chosen by many as the best handset of 2012, and constantly rivals the iPhone5 in almost every review. This change in reviewer perception certainly trickles down to future consumer purchasing preferences over time.

3. Not enough interest in emerging markets

First world markets are saturated with technological goods; we can easily get our hands on whatever type of smartphone, tablet or PC we require to fulfill our technological needs. The scenario is very different in emerging markets.

aakash-2-launch-india PTI
Cheap handsets are very popular in China, India, and Africa which his something Microsoft, Google and even Firefox are aiming to take advantage of. However Apple again is choosing not to sell cheap products. But what happens when consumers in these economies start demanding more expensive handsets. Does Apple expect to just be able to walk in and compete against more established brands? Apple is really shooting itself in the foot by ignoring current demand, as well as future areas for growth, in emerging markets.

4. Not open source, and no support for modding

There’s a long running argument about whether a closed or open source platform produces better results. On one hand, Google, Linux, and Firefox believe that superior products are developed when there are lower barriers to entry and an open exchange of information. Companies like Apple, and increasingly Microsoft, prefer to maintain quality standards by tightly controlling their platforms. There are pros and cons to both ideologies, but there’s one major factor which usually prevails in favor of open source, and that’s innovation. OUYA-2 Third party custom ROMs like MIUI, which has over 10 million registers users, and kick-starter projects like OUYA simply aren’t possible when you lock off your platform. MIUI has inspired an entire business spin off, with mobile devices running the ROM available to purchase. Similarly, OUYA, Gamestick, and Android TV devices will be bringing Android to your living rooms in ways no Apple product is even attempting. Whilst these products don’t directly benefit Google, at least financially, third part developers who take an idea and expand it can help to persuade customers over to other Android products in the future. This brings me on to my final point.

5. Android will have the better brand awareness in the future

If you asked me what single thing saw Apple leap from a tiny market share to one of the market leaders, I would say that Apple was very clever at turning people onto their products after hooking them with a single good idea. The iPod was no doubt the first Apple product owned by many people, but it was the catalyst which resulted in users switching to iTunes, and ultimately made them more familiar with the Apple brand. The iPhone then integrated seamlessly with your existing setup, using the same accounts and software. Eventually many users even decided to switch over to Mac entirely, because Apple provided an ecosystem which worked so well with all their products. It was this slow and stubble persuasion which built up its market share, starting from a single innovative idea. However, Apple is no longer pursuing customers in the same way, instead Android is the platform subtly working its way in to most of your day to day technological experiences.

chrome-bugdroid-google-campus-1 Paul Wilcox

How many people use a Gmail account, Google Maps, Google Docs or Chrome web browser, even though they may not own an Android smartphone? How many consumers in the future will be gaming on an Android device such as OUYA, be using a cheap Android dongle to connect their TV to the internet, or be interested in futuristic projects like Project Glass? Google is already a big name, but it continues to spread brand awareness through new technologies, new markets and by letting other companies do the talking. Apple, on the other hand, is left only with its existing reputation to entice new customers.

To conclude

Stagnation is often a problem which blights big companies and eventually becomes their downfall. Microsoft, RIM and Nokia are all companies which failed to keep up as consumer preferences changed, and they are now struggling to keep up with the more innovative developers. The fight certainly isn’t over, but as far as I’m concerned, Apple is going to have to change its approach if it wants to remain on top over the next decade.

Comments

  • Prox

    I know the author did not say he was ranking his points. However my 2 cents as to the which reasons are the primary drivers for Apples down fall.

    1. Lack of product diversity and innovation
    2. Not open source, and no support for modding
    3. Android will have the better brand awareness in the future
    4. Not enough interest in emerging markets
    5. Losing the perception of building the best products

    • jim

      I got the S3 because I thought it was the best product, so I think that these points can’t be “ranked”. My 2 cents.

    • Cock Roach

      Apple is not about technology, it’s a religion, extremely successful advertisement got them where they are… just like religion. Do people really trust religion? Actually yes, they do… and religion feeds of such ignorance. Apple is no different, they are feeding off the naive and ignorant. Good luck!

      • Droidzilla

        I know very smart and aware people who are religious, atheist, Apple owners, and Android owners. It’s not as simple as you make it out to be (few things are).

        That said, I do think Apple is living off of their hype and past and will start to go down. Couldn’t happen to a nicer company.

      • DrCarpy

        I and others choose to believe that I’m created and designed by God. Why is that a problem for you? What makes that belief ignorant? If energy can’t be created or destroyed. So where did energy come from? Look up thermodynamics. That’s a rule in Physics…which my ignorant self passed. So I guess God must have done something. You have the right to believe what you’d like, but being abrasive doesn’t make you smarter or superior, it just makes you rude. Stick to the topic. You can say Apple is somewhat dogmatic without offending the 5-6 billion people that espouse some form of religion.

        • vivekanand

          Religion not necessarily mean God… or anti religion does not necessarily mean a non believer in God ….. religion my friend is a way a way to rule people… it’s like communism…

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.davtyan70 David Davtyan

    Good for you I am totally agree

  • MasterMuffin

    = Apple is going down :)

  • HellG

    In the third point
    is that windows RT on the tablet on the middle o__O

    • Merle Reine

      In further news, Windows 8 is at 1.6% marketshare vs. 76% Android and 12% ios. Windows doesn’t stand a chance.

      • Marvin Nakajima

        I think Windows just has to find their strong areas and push.. They may not beat out iOS or Android but may find a comfortable slice of the market that they can hold on to.

  • Alu Zeros

    Apple just needs to revamp their mobile os for more APIs and they’ll be fine. If they bring touch to their laptops that would help also.

  • Apple_Nexus

    Yawn. We’ve heard this all before. This is more like a list of why Android will survive, not why Apple will fail. What fanboys from either side fail to grasp is that both Android and iOS can co-exist. The success of one does not equal the failure of the other.

    • Matteo Saldospadone

      Agreed. Even though I “hate” Apple I want them to remain an equal to android thus keeping my favourite mobile os from becoming the new windows. Monopols are NEVER good for the custumers.

      • Sam Castillo

        But that’s the beauty of open source, you can’t really have a monopoly, anyone can take your idea and run off with it, creating something new, and potentially better than what you have created. But I do agree that competition drives innovation.

    • Dammacx

      Agreed. The success of one actually makes the other stronger if both are strong smart companies. Even Microsoft is stronger and more innovative because of the competition from Apple and Google. Each company has its good and bad points about them and in the end it comes down to preference. Competition is good for everyone.

    • HaroldCallahan

      If only Apple and Android could coexist, there would be no problem. But Apple has made it crystal clear through words, actions, and lawsuits that they will stop at nothing to destroy Android, and they will not limit themselves to free-market competition in their war against Android.

      As long as Apple is hell-bent on totally destroying Android, I am not going to be complacent with mere co-existence. Apple needs to bury the hatchet in order to win my neutrality.

  • HARLEM HEFNER

    Apple same boring os no innovation to restricted no type of customization reason why I love Android

  • Kemar Burrell

    I definitely like android more as far as phones go, but i think it would go a long way if they had a physical store that sold things that you could actually go to. that way when people need anything technical support or otherwise they can get it easily. the face to face would give the company more of a personal feel that i think its missing in the public eye. just my two cents though as the say.

  • http://twitter.com/Basatne Basatne Electronics

    Emerging markets will probably dictate which smartphone maker and OS will be the most popular in the near future. Who knows, we could see Nokia Windows Phones on top because Nokia products have always been extremely popular in these markets, especially China.

  • mohdamr1

    What is an I phone? Who cares? I will say this three or four years from now !

  • kascollet

    While I agree with most of the reasons detailed here, I’m afraid a massive parameter is under evaluated : the platform drive and the iPad/iPhone synergy.
    With the huge monopoly Apple is keeping in the tablet category (mostly because of hardware sex-appeal and apps ecosystem), one device is supporting the other one.
    Today, if you want the best tablet, you objectively get an iPad. And then, what phone would you choose to compliment your iOS tablet ? The smartphone market is today very mature in the US and Europe and Samsung and Apple will face an ever-slowing growth from now on. On the contrary, the tablet market is booming and Apple eats this cake alone, thus reinforcing it’s platform preeminence.
    I deeply hope 2013 will bring real Android competition to the iPad, and we also shall observe closely Apple’s strategy in China. They still have time to conceive a mid-range iPhone especially for this specific market.

    • Merle Reine

      You are incorrect. 2 years ago, ipad had 95% of tablet market. In just the last 6 months they have slipped to 40% of tablet market. Android tablets, have gone from obscurity to 56% of the tablet market in the US alone. The US is saturated with tablets and smart phones but the growth sector is 3rd world and china,india, etc. They have 2/3′s of the worlds population and they are choosing Android phones and tablets. Android marketshare for phones and tablets in China is currently 85% and growing. Same statistic for India. Apples last stronghold is in the US and they are slipping even here as people switch from apple to samsung android products like Nexus 7 and Galaxy S3.

    • tBs_Battousai

      “Best” I believe is subjective…

    • inchhigh5137

      Dream on

  • Gordon Zar

    Great reading! Personally I do not like apple. Not because they are “premium” or “prestige” but their perception of “advancement” can be quite clearly observed on the difference between iPhone4 and iPhone5

  • http://goo.gl/oBLge Charlie Onassis

    Goodbye Apple

  • Larrry

    I hope the writer have seen the next RIM, Blackberry OS flow and Hub too, its fascinating andinnovative, I love Android phone for flexibility, but looking forward to switch to the new Blackberry.

    • tBs_Battousai

      I’ve watched a few BB10 videos and I can’t say I haven’t seen anything before…
      I’m not saying that it’s not good but it’s nothing new…

    • http://www.linkedin.com/in/ablelawrence Able Lawrence

      That is the whole point. It may be nice to look and hold but will you give up your android phone for it. What is the compelling reason to switch. The only ecosystem with a compelling reason to change is the android. Within android, it is pretty easy to switch – hence Sammy has to be own its toes. Sony and GoogleMoto are on their heels

    • http://twitter.com/myconoclast Dave

      Someone will just come out with a launcher for Android that duplicates the functionality of the Blackberry home screen. It’s Android’s flexibility that gives it the competitive edge.

  • Lund website

    chutya article. lol

  • David

    No no no! Wrong! Apple’s best day are not behind them! You think they are dumb enough not to find a way back to the top? I bet within 6 months Apple will announce something that will explode and all you “downfall of Apple” supporters will be staring at record profit charts…

    • Droidzilla

      They got lucky with the iPod but very intelligently exploited its market penetration. The iPhone is an iPod Touch with calling capability. The iPad is a big iPod. What have they done lately that’s really new and innovative?

      MS going down in the desktop space and Apple going down in the mobile space can’t happen soon enough.

    • Marvin Nakajima

      That remains to be seen.. However, at the pace that new devices and changes are coming I doubt any new advance by Apple will give them more than a year’s jump. If they wait too long that ‘explosion’ will at most only get them back to being neck-to-neck with the leader for a short time.

    • Why?

      Agreed! I think that now that Jony Ive, the legendary designer of the physical aspect of iOS devices, is also now going to be designing iOS we’ll be seeing a complete redesign of iOS in iOS 7

      • Guy De Vos

        Cosmetics won’t be enough to save Apple.

  • Sterling Gawthrop

    Spell check is nor enough, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GET AN EDITOR! or at least have someone proofread for you.

    • Droidzilla

      Thanks for the irony, internet!

      • Sterling Gawthrop

        slow and stubble my friend, slow and stubble.

  • richard spence

    All this and no mention of the death of the creator Steve Jobs. The company started going down the day his heart stopped beating and it might take another original like Jobs to bring Apple back from the dead.

  • http://twitter.com/NandaLinnAung Nanda Linn Aung

    not really intriging

  • http://www.facebook.com/ichuck7 Charles Chambers

    I usually think of cheap android handsets as its weak point. The less savvy customer who buys the cheap android relates android with mediocre slow phones because that’s what they buy.
    I agree with the author though.

    • http://www.linkedin.com/in/ablelawrence Able Lawrence

      I also discourage people from buying low end androids but many are happy and to my surprise their quality (esp those with Android 4.x) has gone up considerably

  • dontuknow

    main point if market is saturated, is price. if u know consumers needs, like internet, few mp3 listening etc. then people will decide to cheaper products. and for now its android….

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.hoyd Jeff Hoyd

    I have a phone running ics 4.0….os it runs great and its not the high end of android phones but its not the low end either…apple has pulled a trick on the world…by the time u get to buying an iphone there’s a newer version out…oh we put n s on the ends of our 4 n now its a whole new phone bull if u ask me….

  • http://twitter.com/myconoclast Dave

    I can think of #6: No real multitasking! Samsung has really impressed me with the dual-pane functionality on some of their recent mobile devices.

  • blairh

    Where do I even begin.

    The only point you made that is even valid is with respect to diversity in the iPhone lineup. I do see this as a weakness however there are strong rumors that we will see a 4.8″-5″ iPhone by this fall or 2014. Apple will keep the 4″ iPhone, which is selling extremely well, and simply add a 5″ model with the same aspect ratio. I would like to see Apple bring a phablet to the market at some point too. That remains to be seen.

    Competition has indeed gotten stronger however let’s be clear about something. 84% of all Q4 AT&T activations were iPhone’s. The iPhone is also doing great for Verizon. The iPhone is still king in America. I expect the iPhone 5 will continue this dominance in 2013. However I agree that Apple must provide consumers with a 5″ model by 2014.

    Apple is specifically targeting emerging markets with a cheaper model this fall that will arrive along with the 5S.

    The open source/modding point is just something Android fans feel the need to point out. Going the close sourced route has done Apple a lot of good and I honestly feel this specific point is pointed out by geeks only. The average consumer could care less.

    Gmail, Google Maps, Drive, and Chrome all have iOS specific apps and they are excellent.

    As long as Apple brings a larger iPhone to the market they’ll be just fine. I understand this is an Android specific site but to compare Apple potentially with the downfalls of RIM and Nokia is absurd. Despite what many Android lovers may think, Apple is still in a position of great power and success at this very moment.

    (Just so we are clear, I have a lot of respect and admiration for Android, but this article is absurd.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/Ladygagalover2693 Christian Harris

    I really hope Apple doesn’t “go down” b/c then I’d be stuck using Android, and that wouldn’t be fun…..

  • PeterBlood

    Downfall? We’re only getting to Act II of what will prove to be Android’s downfall. I love the relatively short span of time and the disingenuous self-serving proclamations of doom and gloom for Apple, like Apple is doing nothing. All half-assed conjecture.

    All this before Apple’s mojo Mjolnir comes crashing down on your heads with 2013 and 2014 promising to be hilarious comeuppance for Google, Android and the clinging freetard base on which Android is built. (It’s funny too the denial of market share change as many of the fools here conveniently forget Apple trounced Android in the States last year retaking majority share while Android precipitously dropped.)

    At the same time Apple doesn’t really want the cheapskate skinflint fringe that pumps up companies like Samsung with BOGOF deals and are precisely the kinds of customers Google ironically doesn’t want and don’t pay off for them. Spare me your “superior device” diatribe, only idiots and mental defectives fall for it. Apple will create a larger phone for those who want it and innovate in iOS to be sure and the Android fan base will be standing there with it’s mouth agape in panic, their house of cards collapsing before their beady eyes.

  • http://twitter.com/joedonbaker joedonbaker

    Wow what a terrible article. This guy needs to get his aspergers checked.

  • 26

    apple won’t go down if they sell their product’s price just as appropriately as their specifications.

    I’ve to say that apple’s price is too much with low specifications…!!

    Goodbye apple…!!

  • Steve Wazniac

    APPLE ROCKS!!!

  • nishantsirohi123

    Apple is simply feeding on the halo they created years ago.

    In american market they have close tie with carriers which are able to sell the devices at subsidized price.

    but in emerging markets phones are sold unlocked, so people pay the entire amount.

    so when you compare the top end devices , 16 GB nexus4 available for 26’000 rupees, the unlocked s3 for 29000 rupees and the note2 for 34000 rupees

    comparing it with iphone 5 whose price goes 49000 rupees for the 16 GB model

    so when a consumer who is shelling out that much money, is not getting value product in return
    and for anybody coming from a feature phone
    regular stuff like ringtones changing, expandable memory and bluetooth file share is essential