Apple’s been having a tough time in the press these days. It saw its revenue decline for the first time in 13 years, iPhone sales are likewise declining, the Apple Watch hasn’t made much of a splash, and rumor has it that the iPhone 7 will be fairly ho-hum. The most interesting tech to come out of Apple might be the fabled iCar, but that seems years away at the very least.
So, what’s next for Apple? Specifically, what’s next for Apple’s mobile strategy?
Has mobile hardware peaked for now?
Any popular device will eventually saturate the market. Apple’s been here before with the iMac and the iPod. At this point, the iPhone is such a capable device that consumers aren’t finding a hugely compelling reason to upgrade to the next device, and with lower-cost iPhones available, nearly everyone who wants one has one. More and more, people are looking at their current iPhones and thinking “eh, this is good enough.”
PCs, which peaked in sales a while ago, suffered the same fate. As the technology matured, the PCs became more than capable at running nearly any program and lasting for years. Back in the 2000s, we saw commercials on TV for the newest Pentium chip from Intel because PCs were struggling to keep up with software demands. We had to upgrade constantly to run the latest Adobe, the latest games, even the latest Windows.
But eventually, software got more efficient and the hardware got beefy enough that the PC itself was no longer the tech bottleneck. Today, many people have a Chromebook that costs less than $200 that can do just about everything they need. The beauty and curse of technology is that things always get more efficient, so once it’s “good enough,” we stop buying the next best thing.
It’s time to focus on software.
The iPhone’s “good enough” for most people. The speed, the camera, the form; the iPhone is no longer a technology bottleneck, and it hasn’t been for a while. Your iPhone 5 is still pretty darn amazing even in light of the 6. Yes, there’s no doubt that in a few years, the hardware will be the bottleneck again, be it because of more intense software demands or because a brand new technology arrives that everyone wants (as VR is trying to make a case for). But right now, the focus should be on the software.
Pro-level iPads and the Apple Watch aren’t big wins, but that’s fine! We’re betting that mobile software is where Apple’s next big win will be. Remember, the Apple Store is still far more profitable than Google Play, and it will stay that way for a while.
And Apple is quietly but decisively making it’s software push into the healthcare industry with Apple Health, CareKit, and healthcare might be the driving force behind the Apple Watch in the first place. Since this is a booming market, due to the Boomers, it’s smart for Apple to build mobile software and mobile apps in this industry. There will only be more and more need for healthcare support and Apple’s positioning itself to be the #1 developer. We think it’s a solid, smart bet; and the potential windfall could be huge if Apple corners the market in mobile healthcare.
So fine, ding Apple for its hardware woes. Mobile software seems to be where they’ll win next. Who’s taking bets?
What do you think is next for Apple’s mobile strategy?