THOUGHTS ON APPLE
HELLO TIM, EDDY, PHIL,
My name is Scott Jackson and I am a fan, advocate of Apple who happens to also have a small business of one, soon to be two, that supports other small businesses with their tech needs in the Venice, and Santa Monica area. I pride myself in helping others to achieve things that not only help them, but empower them to do great things with solutions that Apple may provide.
No matter how small I might be, I am one of your champions on the street, and I see a growing threat to the Apple foundation as it stands today. In short Apple is losing ground, by no other than Google. Not just Android, but services. I know you know this, but hear me out. I will list the issues as I see them with experience, and I hope you and your team takes this conversation as an opportunity to evaluate and weigh out what is being said.
Those who know me, know that I am Apple through and through. I bleed six colors. I love what Apple represents, but I am also critical and fair. I try to be balance in my opinions. For me Apple provides dreams, that embodies the desires that are unfolded upon the world to do whatever their imaginations will lead them to. I also love the enriched user base that uses an Apple solution. I want that to continue, but Apple should also evolve to an even more challenging space, that can compete with other solutions that are inching closer and closer if not surpassing Apple in some areas.
GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR
What does Global Thermonuclear War truly mean? It doesn't mean suing your competitors, it means you need to iterate quickly, keep the competition off balance with fast releases. This was the genius of Steve Jobs in the 2000s. The pacing was incredible. It made Apple's competitors regroup and rethink how they were going to compete, and when they had something, Apple comes out with yet another revision that sends them back to the drawing board to rethink their strategy again. Apple was definitely on their toes relentlessly.
Instead of Apple fighting over Patents with Microsoft in the late 1990s, Apple put their energies into the product. Apple won because they produced great products, and they did this at an unprecedented pace. Apple 3.0 needs to get back to this strategy a.s.a.p.! Does fighting over look and feel matter? If Apple would have succeeded with their look and feel lawsuit with Microsoft, it is estimated that Apple would have garnered $1.2 billion. In contrast to the over $400 billion in market capitalization because Apple decided to instead focus their energies on the user experience. This is Global Thermonuclear War. Fight back with innovative products, not wasting time, nor bringing the brand name down in court. Taking the HIGH road always wins.
WHERE IS APPLE PUBLICLY?
Apple has been extremely silent this year, and this is worrisome. It feels that Apple has really slowed down, and Apple doesn't appear to have this urgency to move quickly. It has been often stated that Apple moves on it's own dime, a fine luxury to have, but let us not fool ourselves that the world stops without your presence. Remember Apple's quickiness has set this pace for more than a decade, if anything Apple needs to continue that pace and move even faster. You wanna keep people wondering as to what Apple is doing, while using the Press/Social as much as you can. It not only builds up excitement, but it inspires the industry, the world at large. Don't fade away like this again. This is BAD for Apple.
The lack of public events is actually a disservice for Apple. Apple used to have 5 to 6 public events a year. This kept Apple in the Press/Social space constantly. This year not so much. Instead of products, the Press/Social are questioning Apple's future, Apple's direction. This is REALLY BAD. Not the kind of talk or debate you want.
Bring back WOZ to do some of the Presentations at Apple. Not only is he a co-founder of Apple, but everyone LOVES the guy. He can only empower the brand further. It will bring new highs of enthusiasm and much needed energy.
SCHEDULING OF PRODUCT RELEASES…..BALANCE
Whomever is advising you to fold the bulk of the products into the 4th quarter calendar year, STOP LISTENING TO THEM! Apple isn't some college business textbook course example. Think about it for two minutes. Why would you make Apple so top heavy in one of the four quarters of the year? So that you can pump up numbers in that quarter revenue wise? I really hope that isn't the strategy. The big problem with that, is now you are making your customers decide which product to get, thus the adverse effect is going to occur. You are going to weaken numbers per product, not increase them. If the iPhone, iPad, MacPro, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod, AppleTV, new product category, and whatever software you plan to release comes out at the same time, then you are actually making it extremely difficult for anyone to pick or decide which one product they want, instead of releasing the product between quarters. Giving some space, giving the Press/Social to talk about it further, thus building up more customers who are thinking about it to actually purchase it. SPACE. THOUGHT. DECISION. PURCHASE. Folding everything together only muddles the messaging and waters down the attention that each product receives. You don't want that! This is BAD! You want balance, a nice even flow between products. Being so TOP HEAVY to one quarter is damaging, especially for those who buy more than one Apple product over the course of the year, now you are making them to decide to pick one, while they hold off next quarter, or the following quarter to pick up the second product, or even worse, they skip it altogether and wait for the next generation. This is BAD yet again. PRODUCT BALANCE PLEASE!
THE REAL BIG PROBLEM…SERVICES BY GOOGLE
We live in a time where solutions involve more than just releasing hardware, but the entire ecosystem, from hardware to the software services to support it. This has been true with Apple since the advent of iMovie, iTunes and the entire iLife suite, and this has served Apple well for the most part. However we are seeing a radical shift on how the ecosystem is defined. Apple currently holds two of the three major categories of this ecosystem: great hardware and great support, but Apple's role in software services has been lacking. No question when you live in an Apple atmosphere, the iCloud solution presents a good harmony between your Apple devices and communication, but this gets confused when you break that up, and that smooth synchronicity between third party providers in hardware or software isn't as clean, nor smooth as it should be. The entire Apple solution breaks down when you have an Apple customer who owns a MacBook Pro, but uses a HTC One as a smart phone. There is this disconnect between services for Apple. This needs to change quickly, otherwise you will see Apple fall further behind, and become another niche solution when it comes to these services. As history has shown us this before and this isn't ideal for future growth.
I am reading on a daily basis, why people are switching to the Google ecosystem. Here is one example of 100s if not 1000s of switchers. http://paulstamatiou.com/android-is-better
This is dangerous for Apple's future growth. The reason why people are using more and more of Google is because they want harmony between devices. Google's ecosystem works on iOS, Android, OS X, Windows and Linux. It works on everything, whereas on Apple it isn't so connected. This is yet again extremely BAD for Apple.
SOLUTION: HOW TO COMPETE WITH GOOGLE ON SERVICES
You want a BOMBSHELL effect onto the WORLD?! Something the world will never see coming?! Open up Apple's Services to other platforms. Remember the reason why iTunes/iPod worked so well, wasn't that that you kept it locked down to Apple users. It was because you allowed it on the Windows platform. This is why iTunes has become the juggernaut we know today. So why isn't iTunes on Android? Why isn't iTunes everywhere in fact? This makes absolutely no sense. Amazon and Google are pretty much everywhere aside from being on Apple's devices. Get iTunes out there everywhere for starters.
How does Apple get other services out there outside of Apple's hardware ecosystem? Simple! You monetize it like Google. Take Apple Maps. Let's say you offer this everywhere; on the web, on Android, Windows Mobile, how does Apple support those services? Exactly like Google with monetization. For those who purchased Apple hardware, they don't get monetized and they get free support from the Apple Stores. CHOICE. REAL CHOICE. Google can't offer this, but Apple can. To be frank, Apple has no choice but to offer this solution. You have to compete head-to-head with Google, otherwise in 5 years time, Google will surpass Apple in market capitalization, talent, usage share, and trust will dissipate.
iWork in the cloud is a good start in this direction, however it is pretty complicated or unclear how people can setup an Apple ID that don't already own Apple Products. You need to make this a wide open platform, if you expect it to succeed. Make it so that any platform can access it freely. iWork works as an web based solution, but Apple should open up a development API for anyone who wants to develop a native app for Android, Windows and even Macintosh. Apple should continue to develop a native app for iOS and Mac, but open it up, so that you bring over you most harden adversaries into the mix. Not only will they scratch their heads with bewilderment, but their argument against Apple is muted down tremendously.
iWork, Apple Maps, iTunes, iMessage, iBooks, Safari, iPhoto, iCloud are key solutions that should be made available everywhere and easily with open APIs to further development, but this isn't enough. Apple needs to spend some of their cash and make BIG acquisitions. Apple doesn't have to match Google on everything, but Apple does need to compete effectively. What was one of the most alarming events, especially to Steve Jobs when the iPhone was released? Android. Bottom line this hurt Steve personally, because he trusted Google as a partner to fill the gaps where Apple focused on hardware, iOS. Apple trusted Google and really gave them a platform to showcase their services as a company that augmented to Apple's solutions in concert, but Google betrayed that trust to compete directly with Apple. There is no question Google took a page from Apple. They ran with it, and now have become the market leaders of that platform. Apple Insider did a great in depth article on Microsoft vs Apple and Apple vs Google. Must Read: http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/08/10/xerox-parc-the-apple-inc-macintosh-innovator-duplicator-litigator
This again is BAD for Apple and why Apple needs to focus more heavily on services to compete for the future landscape on how it will be defined.
The following are key essentials to be on the same playing field:
This is where you take it back. BUY YAHOO! as soon as you can! Get into Search. Compete directly against Google's services. Go after Google's core. Hit them HARD! This is Global Thermonuclear War! This is how you WIN.
Bonus with Yahoo! you get FLICKR! Make this the better Instagram service. Buy Hipstamatic and blend in iPhoto for management and editing.
Other services that Apple will need: Dropbox. iCloud document sync isn't cutting it and it is extremely confusing to use. Dropbox however is a beloved, trusted cross-platform solution that just works. You need it, before Google Drive becomes the de facto standard.
Twitter. Buy it. Apple needs a foot into social. This helps with search and building up a collection of data that only empowers an understanding of how your use the solutions you provide them with.
Vimeo, MixBit, Vine. Apple needs video social networks, that ties back to Apple search, Social strengthening and iAd revenue.
Flipboard. Buy it and incorporate this into iBooks open API of development. A nice news, friends feed for iOS.
Glympse. Mapping technology that gives real time feedback to people you share location with.
Yelp. You need this solution to combat Google's Zagat recommendations.
Wolfram Alpha. Buy it and keep continuing to integrate this with Siri and search results
Four Square. You need a location base social checkin service. This is to help iOS users get to know surrounding area, ties back to iCloud calendar and mapping services when estimating how long a person invests their time there and maybe suggests things to help the user get the most out of their visit. More or less a Google Now approach, but better.
You need to keep those services open to compete. Heterogeneous and open is the new ecosystem. This is vital. Simply put if you buy Apple you are devoid of Ads, if not you get them. It can't get any more simple on choice. If Apple can pull this off well, you'll win and your future is secure for at least the next decade.
I'm the guy on the street who has Apple's back. I don't earn money from Apple, nor do I own stock. Money isn't my driver in life, good ideas and solutions are. And I hope you take what I see outside the Apple bubble and embrace them at least for some serious thought, because like you, the team and Steve before, love this company and I want the absolute best from it. So consider me one of your own.
How the heck did you let the Chromecast happen? This should have been an Apple innovation. The engineering of the Chromecast is genius when compared to AirPlay which drastically sucks up resources on iOS.
Getting AppleTV back into the game. First, AppleTV needs to become a business not a hobby. Get serious about this platform or again lose it to Google. Second, PLEASE put an AppStore on the AppleTV. Thirdly ,rework AirPlay to be less impacted on resources. Forth, you need a lite version of the AppleTV to compete with Chromecast. If you think you can't afford to make a Chromecast, than reread above on why you need to make the changes so that you can. Your iAd division just became extremely important.
I hope this serves you well and I hope Apple comes out fighting hard.
Let's shake up the world again!