Is Apple in trouble?

Apple in trouble, basically no.  This is supported by the New Zealand herald article “today Apple revealed that both revenue and net income posted increases of just over 20 per cent – cause for celebration at most companies, but meagre by Apple standards…The growth was the slowest in more than two years, and failed to meet analyst expectations.” In my opinion Apple is doing fine, they have a great line of products that deliver value to customers.

Perhaps if anything they are suffering because of too much innovation (too many awesome products that define the  categories that they exist in – iPad and iPhone mainly). One thing that maybe slowing purchases right now is that consumers usually a hold off before the release of a new product. The iPhone 5 is likely to be released within the next few months (late October), so consumers who would be buying a new phone are waiting for the next iteration. Furthermore Apple  have had stellar sales results in the last couple of years with sales and of iPhones and iPads something that’s hard to sustain in the long term, however from blog of LukeW we find that “Apple sold 15.5 million iPads last quarter alone (2011). That’s more iPads sold in the last quarter alone than any PC manufacturer sold in their entire line. The iPad is just 2 years old”. In terms of iOS devices 62 million were sold the last quarter of 2011 alone.

Apple is doing fine.

We must also remember that Apple is a single company that researches, develops, manufactures, markets, sells, and distributes its own products. Android is an operating system that was acquired in 2005 by Google (which Google continues to develop and inprove). Google under and open source agreement allows smartphone development companies to use Android to run their mobile phones these brands include Acer, HTC, LG, Samsung, Motorola (acquired by Google last year), Sony, and a range of other handsets.

So is Android in a stronger position, in my opinion not really, particularly the above mentioned companies who use the Android operating system. In my mind there are two issues 1) A future strategy that includes being totally reliant on another companies technology to drive your products is in my opinion short sighted 2) If Google really want to innovate in the mobile space (via Motorola who they recently acquired) in order to gain a competitive advantage they will have to share that with all those who currently use Android.

My the dreams an visions of Steve Jobs continute to live on “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.

Below is are a few links that might may also help to shed some more light on the issue –

Stealing Milk

A friend once shared with me the following short anecdote in relation to marriage, said he “Why should I buy the cow when I can steal the milk for free?”. This anecdote also seems to make a lot of sense when you place it in the context of the recent discussions around the Stop Online Piracy Act. This is a topic that I have spent a lot of time thinking about of the last few months.

This is not a new issue. As I reflect back, piracy or copyright infringement has been an issue that has faced the entertainment industry all my life. For me I remember dubbed movies on video cassettes (which were rubbish quality). Even music on cassette tapes, place a piece of cellotape over the holes and record all the music that you wanted from tape to tape. Push a few buttons and boom music to share with friends. Everyone could have the latest music, either from brought tape or off the radio.

Technology and the Internet now present more challenges to the entertainment industry. It’s no longer groups of friends who share music it’s the world via peer-to-peer and torrent type file sharing sites and technologies. It’s a massive challenge to the entertainment industry because millions of dollars of profits are being lost every time a song or movie is distributed through these networks.

Case in point is the Kim Dotcom and Megaupload case being put to the test here in New Zealand. Should the mainly US based entertainment companies be able to shape, exercise, and enforce the law on their terms as it seems that the new SOPA laws will give them power to do? See the link at the bottom of the page to hear the best explaination that I have heard thus far about the SOPA law, it’s given by Joe Rogan UFC presenter and former Fear Factor guy.

One view that has been expressed is that the entertainment industry has been happy to take money from paying customers for years without really innovating much in this space. Sometimes innovation is forced onto an industry. The Internet has already disrupted almost every other industry why not this one? If an incumbent is too lazy or slow to innovate where does the burden of responsibility lie? In almost every other industry the fact is that you must innovate or risk the possibility of dying slow death.

Is this an opportunity.

Absolutely. In my mind it is an opportunity to change your business model, change distribution, change pricing. Change something. Do it strategically, don’t be brash. For example offer digital downloads of a movie two weeks after it’s theatrical release in that country. Sell the digital copy for $7-$15 and allow the digital file to be viewed 3 times within the following week before it expires from the downloaders’ device(s). Dropping the price point and adding some rules around usage (that are enforced by technology) would be appealing to most downloaders who would rather watch a high quality version of the movie. I believe that this would increase profits (i.e. more people paying for downloads) and allow for innovation.

This really falls inline with other articles on this blog, I firmly believe that products and services need to align with user needs and expectations’. Businesses, organisations and industries need to factor in the experiences and expectations of their customers when developing and designing products and services. Perceived value engenders loyalty. If you show your customers that you care about them, they will show you love, and rave about you.

So getting back on track, don’t make people (your potential customers) want to steal your milk, innovate so they won’t want to.

Word. (At around 16m 30s into the interview)

Focus on the user experience

Although I post the video some time ago, the message is still relevant. Focus on the end user experience. Let me give that some context.

Innovation is a key to growth and to the development of a competitive advantage that can help your organisation rise above other competitors and those offering similar products or experiences. This is especially true in these ‘tight times’ when many organisations are competing for your hard earned cash, those extra dollars, discretionary fund (big or small) that you have available for (in this case) entertainment and other things.

There are many ways that an organisation can innovate, or in other words develop strategies that will allow for innovation. An organisation can choose to innovate around their product or service, innovate with their marketing approach, and also innovate in the distribution process. One area that I think can provide some easy wins is innovation around the user experience.

What is user experience; well to me user experience is about designing the product or services around the needs and requirements of a user. This will require an organisation to really consider how their product or service will be experienced by your user and making it awesome. To do this an organisation must commit to a process of meaningful customer research to gain an intimate understanding of what makes their users or customer’s tick. HINT –  never assume, ask some questions, spend some time, uncover the real trends and motivators. By understanding the real user or customer experience you will develop products and services that are really meaningful to them, and they will sing your praises to their friends and family, hopefully in a viral social way.

Recently my wife and I went to the new Hoyts Cinema in Te Awa at the Base on the out skirts of Hamilton, New Zealand. The experience was awesome. Mind blowing. The whole experience was seamless and exciting, to me it was close to perfect. From the serve your self food bar, to the wall of screens showing previews on the way in, the huge comfortable seats, the massive screen (really…its huge), and finally the booming sound system. It was an experience, a customer / end user focused experience. Well done.

It’s a Social, Social World

Video. Social media guru’s from big business get together to discuss where things are heading and the impact of social media and mobile.

  • 1.6 Billion Mobile phones sold will be sold this year.
  • We are now hyper-connected, mobile makes this easier.
  • A guy who has and uses 12 mobile devices at one time (to understand the user experience).
  • Social media the most influential tool in journalism than the printing press.
  • Social media can help amplify the voices of those who are not being heard.
  • How to harness the power and value of social networks to help solve social issues.
  • User created content

See the link below. Word.