Under founder Steve Jobs, Apple reinvented itself as “the” company for tech-savvy folks – their computers were preferred by professionals from graphic designers to composers, their iPhone and iPad set the bar for their competitors in regards to mobile technology, and, despite their expense, iProducts have expanded into every market due to the sheer innovation used to exploit and create new niches for technological products.
This is what Apple has been famous for: cater to the elite technological sector. Create a need for Apple products. Make Apple users feel like they are special, ahead of the curve…and support that feeling with innovative, groundbreaking ideas.
This isn’t happening anymore.
Apple’s latest releases have lacked the “wow” factor of the earlier ones. Their latest operating system update resembles their competitors’ products more than their own. They talk about interesting ideas (such as the iWatch, new TV products, and a billing system for their library of books and music), but the products actually given to the public are simply updates and reimaginings of those they have already published – Apple has not actually presented a NEW product for three years, the release of the iPad. Yes, they make them smaller (iPad mini) or update their functionality (iTunes Radio), but there is nothing new, nothing to make people sit up, take notice, and wonder how Apple’s competitors will ever catch up.
And they are catching up. Despite breaking new ground in mobile technology with the iPhone and iPad, Apple has been steadily losing market share to companies like Google. In fact, Google has proven so successful that their shares have begun outperforming Apple by more than 30%.
Instead of focusing on new innovations or how to counter this perception, Apple’s reaction has been to become defensive. From the famous “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass” comment from Phil Schiller to bashing Samsung before the release of their S4, Apple seems to think that attacking the competition is better than improving and innovating their own products. This is drawing harsh criticism from many quarters, with some people claiming that all Apple seems to be able to do now is to give its products a “new coat of paint.”
Other companies are outperforming Apple in innovation, something which has not happened in recent memory. Google is at the forefront of these efforts; its new headset-computer idea, Google Glass, is attracting investors and techies alike. Many of Apple’s own employees are finding that the company is no longer the haven of ideas and progressive thought that it once was, and employee dissatisfaction is increasing. Other companies are snapping up former Apple workers at an unheard-of pace.
Not All Bad News
This isn’t to say that Apple is in imminent danger of collapse – the company is the second-highest profit earner (after oil giant Exxon-Mobil) in the world and has a net worth of almost $400 billion. Apple’s existing products still continue to sell well and they have a lot of potential for innovation and growth. What worries investors and customers alike is that Apple seems to have lost the “eye of the tiger” that it used to have, and many people are wondering when, or if, we will be seeing the next new thing from Apple, Inc…or if we will find out that they have given all they have to give.