Apple has gone from being the darling of the tech world to quickly being labeled as a sitting duck. It is a sign of how quickly technology evolves as well as recent moves that Apple and its competitors have made.
There is a widespread consensus now that IoT, AI, and self-driving cars are the next big opportunity in technology. Apple, in the meantime, has not released any new product for the last few years. It’s much hyped Apple Watch was supposed to reinvent the category as it had done so many times before but that clearly did not pan out.
Wall Street has lost faith in Apple and its stock is now facing downward pressure after an unparalleled period of growth. The problem that analysts see is that Apple is too highly dependent on the iPhone for its revenue. Almost 2/3rd of Apple’s revenue comes from the iPhone, an area which is expected to see sales fall worldwide as the smartphone market matures.
Alphabet, on the other hand, has taken the position that Apple once had in the analysts heart. Google is at the forefront of all emerging technologies and continues its unstoppable march to basically take over the entire mobile web.
Despite being the most valuable company on earth, Alphabet has shown nimbleness and foresight in reading where the market might pivot to next. It’s AI is highly advanced and is being readied to serve as the hub from which the IoT can be commanded.
Currently, Amazon with its Alexa AI has the market for a smart assistant almost entirely to itself with both Google and Apple expected to challenge that position. The problem here is that Apple has shackled how much Siri can learn or programs it can work with because of security and privacy concerns.
In a scenario where collecting data will determine how useful the AI becomes, Apple is putting itself at a disadvantage even before it seriously enters the market. Can Apple actually compete against companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook on the software front while coming under increasing pressure from Samsung, LG and a host of Chinese companies on the hardware front?
It is almost the last remnant of its kind of companies which build both the hardware and software. This has made the company large and slow to be able to judge what the next disruption will be.
Of course, it is not all doom and gloom for Apple right now. Yes, it is seen as lagging in real innovation and is currently not producing devices that are at the cutting edge of technology, however, its phones, in particular, have not been competing in specs for a long time now.
Apple also recently made a strategic innovation in China’s biggest ride-hailing company signaling that it might be ready to reveal more about the secret ‘Apple Car’ in the near future. The company has a war chest that is unrivaled by any company in technology and can thus buy its way into any category that it may have missed out on.
Then there is the strength of the Apple brand. Apple products have been more than the sum of their parts because of the strength of this brand. Apple’s products remain aspirational and at the top of the food chain when it comes to desirability. Emerging markets like China and India both seem to have an insatiable appetite for Apple products.
Apple has only just started to address these markets seriously and can be expected to come up with products that are designed to suit the unique demands of these markets.
Apple is not quite a tech dinosaur right now, however, the company needs to come up with something special quick to regain the faith of industry watchers.