Sunday, September 08, 2013

Why Apple Can Never Be No. 1?


Android has 1 bn activations!

1 bn! That's roughly about one-seventh of world's entire population! Almost the entire population of either India or China. Android is the biggest, no doubts. 

Interestingly, history seems to have repeated itself. The architecture of PCs first was closed with each player having their own design, and then IBM standardized it. This environment was and is dominated by Operating System (OS) and Chip combination of Wintel who actually grew the market. The brands productized and marketed.

Mobiles were also segmented with each brand defining its architecture till iOS and Android started scripting the road map. 

In many ways, Android ecosystem is similar to IBM PC whereas Apple has retained its philosophy of being closed. The benefit of an open architecture is that the market is grown by many of its constituents. Whereas Apple is solely responsible for growth of its devices. Imagine a cart driven by many horses versus the one with just one horse. Which one do you think will run faster? 

I wonder if the Late Steve Jobs underestimated the power of the multi-horse chariot steered by Google. Even if he had seen, which I assume he did, I am sure nothing could have changed the way Apple approached the market. Being the sole owner of its ecosystem is at the core of its strategy.  

But I think Apple should do two things, differently. 
  1. Products at multiple price point: The problem with Apple is that we see only one product at a time. iPhone 3 has to be killed before iPhone 4 is launched. And iPhone 5 has to be over iPhone 4, itself. So at any point of time, a consumer has only one option from Apple, limiting the market size. Apple could do better by planning products at different price points. Why can’t 3 co-exist with 4, 4S and 5?
  2. Look East: America without a doubt will remain a strong market for Apple. But then there is a mighty chunk of willing fans in this part of the world. Though little late, Apple has finally started to focus on East, especially the big emerging markets. If you noticed, India got a special mention during the last results for being a high growth market. I personally know many acquaintances who jumped at the opportunity to own iPhone 4 and 4S.
Apple already has a great brand equity and its technology leadership is unquestioned. But it always loses out due to its close architecture. What Apple needs in my opinion is smart product planning. Products at different price points. 

It may still not be enough to beat Android base, but it would certainly shore up its numbers.  


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