Apple After Steve Jobs

Is Apple too big now?

As a reference to the MacObserver’s article: Apple in 2012: Its Own Worst Enemy, here is my point of view. 

Yes, Apple is big, really big when considering revenues every quarters it generates but Apple is big in another way: it is influential. Being influential often means that you are willing to change things and sometimes make mistakes. Apple does make mistakes. The problem is that they are doing so well since 1997 that every small missteps are becoming more and more noticed by the technology press or even general news sites. Example of that is the launch of MobileMe. That was less than Apple perfect. The iPhone 4 antenna gate is also another one. There are many more of course. My point is that I don’t think Apple make more mistake today than they did 5 or 10 years ago. There are more noticed because Apple’s devices are everywhere. 

But, comparing the Apple track record to, let say, Microsoft’s products (i.e. Windows) and pictures comes into your mind. Things are really worst there. Same if you look at RIM’s Blackberry. Same with Android from Google. They all do mistakes and they all try to be, act and hope to be compared to Apple. Today, this is still the case. So, Apple’s mistakes isn’t tied to how big they are but how many new things they try to change or create.

The whole Apple catalog of products fit into a conference table. That is it.There is four lines: iPod, iPhone, iPad and Macs. This is it. I don’t see that changing for quite sometime now. Behind these products, you get two operating systems: iOS and OS X. That is all. To me OS X Lion is transitional to something that will look more and more like iOS. They may eventually merge into one operating system. Four product lines, two operating systems. Try to compare that with Microsoft’s offerings.

As we see more and more people using Apple products, we will see more and more people complaining about things thee expect. The reason for this is simple: Apple is for a quite a while now expanding beyond the core of its traditional die hard users (those who will always follow). Apple is entering traditional IT department for example and those are demanding users. I think they may be the new force that could drive Apple to introduce complexities in every products as they ask for new features that are only compelling to them, not the general public. Just look at Windows right now and you’ll are convoluted a product can become over the years. And this kind of trajectory is something that bothers me about Apple becoming bigger, appealing to more and more communities of users. At some degree Apple must resists and keep the core intact of superfluous features.

Apple growth is not the basis of its corporate culture. Apple is not a standard corporation, even at its current size. People saying that Apple will follow the same path that all large corporation follow is a bad assumption. Since the beginning, Apple never was like others. This is their differentiation factor: behind unique, being different in order to create better products, better user experience. Even mathematically, Apple won’t follow the same trail as others. Even when numbers will eventually reach a plateau. When this happens (or many quarters before that), expect Apple’s executive to adjust their speech and set expectations accordingly. Wall Street will always badly react but who cares? Investors are not product consumers. They buy shares. Or they sell. So be it.

Customers will then find themselves selectively ignoring new services being offered because their ability to cope is too highly taxed.

This is something we are starting to see. One example of that is iCloud. I know of many iPod touch or iPhone users who don’t know really how these new services should tackled. Apple must continue to educate their users with their ads. The latest one on iPhone 4S and iCloud is one of them. Also, I don’t think we will see new technologies like iCloud every year. 2012 may be one of the quietest year for iOS-based services. 

So, is Apple too big now?

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