Apple’s Ambitious Bet on its Ecosystem is What Other Companies Should be Worried About
What would you do if you had a successful line of products whose numbers have been increasing consistently? You would pay more attention to that, right? Or would you focus on other categories which are struggling or on the verge of extinction already?
The answer to that question is what drives most technology companies nowadays. Should they continue improving the services they’re good at or experiment with something that’s obviously won’t be as profitable as they hope for? Most conglomerates continue with both of these approaches, however, never truly worry about the ones that aren’t doing so well in the market. But in the process of all this, the organizations tend to forget one big part of the puzzle – the number of users which will ever use their service is limited, and unless they have a new plan ready to implement, there will be a point where enrolling more people will be near to impossible.
To overcome these hurdles, once every few years, companies come up with an entirely new category of products. A decade ago, it was the smartphone, then tablet computers, convertibles, smart watches and so on. Now, it’s easily understandable that not every company can succeed in each trend. Hence, they either give up or create a half-baked product that is only going to waste their resources. For instance, smartwatches have either led to a demise of several startups or are having an existential crisis in the rest of the cases.
Apple doesn’t follow this roadmap for its development. It never completely shifts focus to any particular type of product, be it the iPhone or the Macs. On the contrary, the Cupertino giant places all of its eggs in the ecosystem and software that powers each of these devices. And that’s one of the reasons any new line of products it launches is an immediate hit irrespective of the industry’s state.
It Just Works
There is a range of advantages this strategy brings to Apple. The most important one is that it creates an inescapable cobweb of integrations which users intimately get accustomed to. In addition to that, every Apple-branded product they own effortlessly syncs with one another which is an extremely convenient feature to have. Apple doesn’t necessarily need to worry about its hardware being the best at a specific period.
The most prominent example of this is the Apple Watch, that is selling stupendously well even if it’s priced almost as the owner’s iPhone. Another one is iMessage that seamlessly bundles together all sorts of IM traits on a single platform. If you have ever lived in an iPhone-biased household, this situation would be much more apparent.
I recently switched to a Mac and the only thing that’s stopping me from completely decamping over to the Apple base is iPhone’s largely restricted interface which is actually getting better every day. Apple has, over the years, fabricated more coherent and granular-level connections among its operating systems and that’s the only thing which matters or will eventually matter.
Okay, here’s a scenario which will clear any doubts you are having – I have two gadgets which run on software developed by Google – Android and Chrome OS. Now, if you would hand these out to someone who doesn’t have any prior knowledge about them, he would say these are developed by two different companies. That is entirely due to the fact that other than Apple, no one is thinking about an intersection where these products can come and exchange data without any barriers whatsoever.
What Others Are Doing Wrong
This leads to another discussion – why is Google not following the roadmap which Apple does? That’s because Google handles each of its services individually, unlike Apple, that only cares about the core ecosystem and hence, their hardware plays well with one another. Moreover, Google seems to be careless about where its products are headed. They are constantly improving Android (which has reached a whopping 2 billion active devices) and ignoring products like Chrome OS, Android Wear and tablets completely. Obviously, you can argue they have sort of done well with Chrome OS, but except for schools, they are unable to move forward thanks to the Play Store compatibility still being in beta and buggy in all kinds of bad ways.
Another company which is unable to progress beyond its most successful lineup is Microsoft. They have been making computer software for ages and despite that, still, haven’t figured out another line of products on which they can partially depend as well. They tried phones, wearables, almost everything. Windows 10 has been a grand win for them, but people aren’t buying traditional computers that often now and if they continue with this method, there will be a time when they will have nowhere to go.
Crowning software integrations as the nucleus of their new plans have allowed Apple to garner enough momentum to push forward any kind of new hardware. A leader in tablets? Check. Successful smartwatch business? Check. Positive Mac sales? Check. Phones? Check (*scoffs*). There’s a good reason why Apple has been able to consistently manage to pull this off despite several impediments such as the headphone jack controversy, mixed reception for the new Macbooks and more.
Apple’s strategies have always been a center of attention with their unorthodox take on the market and consumers. Despite being the last one to adopt the ascending trends, the Cupertino conglomerate has consistently managed to push forward its ecosystem and revenue. Companies like Google and Microsoft might be ahead of them currently as far as numbers are concerned. However, their dependence on a platform is slowly leading them into a muddle. Even if for a minute we argue what ventures these have planned for the “future”, no one can actually stay afloat by betting on what’s to come instead of what’s present. Apple knows it, and it’s high time others realize as well.