Apple’s profit related approach surely makes sense


Anyone else feel that Apple’s approach today appears to be all profit related? From shoving R&D into alternatives to stop needing innovation tech’s stuff, to the shoddier state of macOS and iOS.

I wonder if they’ve looked at MacOS, and decided it just doesn’t make the margins, and they’ll evolve iOS instead (of course, that may be an approach to merge the O/S’s and expand the features of iOS to compensate).

This isn’t a criticism of any of this btw, just a feeling that it’s all about the bottom line now. My experience with this is it rarely produces new product lines… Peter

The feelings expressed above are very common and I have meandered around this subject many times. The Apple of today is not the Apple of yesterday, but then again today is not yesterday either. Times change, technology evolves and the corporate approach has to as well.

If Apple could launch a product that changed the world the way the iPhone did tomorrow, it surely would. Apple isn’t sitting on its hands just tinkering for the sake of it and expecting the money to keep flowing in. Tim Cook is by his nature a money man, we all know that, but the vast majority of the people who made the products that excited everyone so much in the last decade are still there, apart from Steve Jobs of course.

And if Apple could launch a product of the stature of the iPhone, the company would struggle to maintain the momentum that it could just about keep up with before. When you have a huge success which brings with it gargantuan expectation that is relentless, you have to devote resources to the product, and I suspect that Apple is devoting more people to it than it ever expected to. Apple created a monster and it continually needs feeding to do what the masses want.

If there are areas that Apple seems to be mis-managing it is the iPads and Macs. Do we really need so many iPad variants? Look at the iPhone, admittedly a very different product, you have 2 models on sale and they make up the vast majority of the profit. They are completely recognisable, easy to make accessories for and they serve the vast majority because as human beings we are happy to adjust, even if we do not think we will when we first see the products. A range of different sized and specified iPhones would just cause confusion in the market and headaches for everyone including Apple.

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I could currently buy an iPad mini 4, an iPad Pro 9.7”, an iPad Pro 12.9”, and the new iPad. This is not too bad and represents a shift downwards in terms of numbers, but over the past few years Apple has been haphazard when it comes to naming and it feels as though there has been a strategy of throwing things at the dwindling market and seeing what causes the graph to break the trend and point upwards. I wonder if it would make sense to sell one iPad mini, one iPad Pro which is substantially more flexible and powerful than the current offering (macOS-like?), and a mid-range iPad for the rest of us. Then again, and this is where the difficulty shines through, a macos-like tablet would merely consume Mac sales, but that is not something Apple has shied away from in the past.

On the Mac front, I have no idea what is happening. The $2,999 Mac Pro is a bit of a running joke at this time. The specs are simply not good enough for the price and high-end power users are either having to jump to Windows or are at the very least looking over the fence at what else is available. And then we have the fairly long in the tooth iMac range, the very long in the tooth Mac minis, the MacBook, MacBook Air and various incarnations of the MacBook Pro. Surely this needs streamlining somewhat and surely now is the time to look at a cheaper laptop option. That said, everything points to Apple not having the resources to put so much money and effort into a range of products that are generating less than 10% of overall revenue. (note: after writing this article, The Mac Pro Lives appeared on Daring Fireball of which the quote below comes from)

These next-gen Mac Pros and pro displays “will not ship this year”. (I hope that means “next year”, but all Apple said was “not this year”.) In the meantime, Apple is today releasing meager speed-bump updates to the existing Mac Pros. The $2999 model goes from 4 Xeon CPU cores to 6, and from dual AMD G300 GPUs to dual G500 GPUs. The $3999 model goes from 6 CPU cores to 8, and from dual D500 GPUs to dual D800 GPUs. Nothing else is changing, including the ports. No USB-C, no Thunderbolt 3 (and so no support for the LG UltraFine 5K display).

The AirPods show that Apple still has design and originality chops. The Apple Watch appears to be a slow burner in a fledgling industry that is not setting the world alight. While I have always believed that the watch will not make huge profits, is it just me or is the Apple Watch being seen more and more on people’s wrists? In a team of twenty people at work, four of them wear Apple Watches- just a small example, but it may point to something.

And then we come to the main issue that leads people like Peter to presume that Apple is merely looking at profits above all else. The tech industry has changed markedly since 2007 and blockbuster inventions simply do not appear every year. Apple is building on what is already there and innovating in incremental ways, and as such the reality check is that the company has to adjust its outlook as well. In the early 2000’s Apple could look at a multitude of products that did not works very well; tablets were terrible, phones and PDAs were basic and at times hampered by faults out of the box and Windows was in a hell of a state. If the company only made computers today and looked at what markets to break into, phones and tablets would be extremely difficult. And they are ironically difficult because Apple made the industries move on in such dramatic ways.

So, it is easy to knock Apple and the seeming slowdown in innovation and this is something I have done many times, but perhaps the reality is something completely different. The company is working within the environment we have in 2017 and merely trying to increase profits which is what every company is designed to do. And perhaps the days of the blockbuster new inventions in the mobile and computing markets are over, and we just need to accept that.

And then Bob popped up with the following-

Don’t know if it’s all profit related, but there’s definitely been a change over the past few years. Whether true or not, I got the feeling that the product came first. No longer.

If Apple makes macOS too much like iOS and dumbs it down and protects everything, it might as well be dead. I do not want a giant iPad, I want a general purpose computing device.

Part of the problem is that we do not know what Apple intends to do long term, and I am not convinced Apple knows either. The iOSification of macOS has annoyed many, but that focus appears to have been dropped already. Who uses Launchpad on their Mac? I mean seriously, who uses it?

The macOSification of the iPad could happen next, but it remains to be seen who that will actually appeal to.

And this is where I come back to the dilemma Apple is having to deal with. There are limited ways in which the company can surprise the masses in today’s technical environment and it could be time to give them a break for the time being and to have some patience. Difficult I know, but all of the products are working at the moment and if it ain’t broke…

Categories: Apple, Articles

1 reply

  1. The naming thing is a bit weird – I get the sense they thought “Air” was getting old, or something, but then what they replace it with is kind of messy.

    I’m trying to wonder how close the situation is to the one jobs famously walked into, with tons of macs of various names and pedigrees, where the then said, nope, doing 4 quadrants, Pro/Home, Desktop/Laptop

    I think it’s not as bad because devices get split on physical size (so I guess it’s good they’re not trying to come up with a clever name for each size/bezel formulation), and then somewhat on functionality (Pencil support, and- I dunno, speakers or whatever the hell else iPad Pros are ‘special’) … so maybe not as much confusion/vagueness from when there were all these macs at different price points and chip speeds and other non-interactive factors.

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