Ten years ago this year, Apple wowed the world with the first smartphone, the iPhone. The leap in technology that the iPhone represented was truly enormous, and early adopters were the envy of all their friends who couldn’t believe that so much functionality could be contained within a device so small.
True to form, Apple made sure that their iPhone was beautiful, just like their Macs and iPods at the time, cementing the brand in the minds of consumers for the next decade. Even today, Apple is the go-to premium brand in the mobile space, and people are willing to spend over the odds to get their hands on the latest model.
With great achievements, however, comes high expectations. After the death of Steve Jobs, it would be fair to say that the company hasn’t made any monumental breakthroughs or created any new, incredible product categories. The last time Apple came out with something that was revolutionary was nearly seven years ago now with the introduction of the original iPad. But now analysts from Credit Suisse, are telling everybody, including tech enthusiasts and Apple customers, to expect “incremental” technologies from the company from now on.
For the average Apple retailer, this might sound like good news. But for a company whose customers want to see fantastic innovation, this is bad news. Back in 2014, we reached peak smartphone, with the growth in global shipments hitting its peak. Since then, we’ve been descending down the other side of the curve, meaning that the smartphone market may be about to die the same way that the old mobile market died.
The next evolution of mobile technology appears to be in the form of voice-controlled wearables. Both Apple and Google have made attempts to build products for the space, including the Apple Watch and Google Glass, but these haven’t been met with the success that either company was expecting.
What is needed really is a combination of the two. Customers want the augmented reality provided by Google Glass coupled with the style and sophistication of the Apple Watch. The original Glass was just too geeky for the average customer, and the Apple Watch, although stylish, doesn’t provide the killer functionality that many people want. It’s kind of like Google made a bum-bag, and Apple made a Gucci bag, but neither managed to come up with something that would appeal to mainstream customers in between.
Then, of course, there has been all the chatter about Apple possibly building its own car. Tesla’s Elon Musk has described the fact that Tim Cook is making a car as “an open secret” although Apple themselves have neither confirmed nor denied the rumours. It had been hoped that Apple would show off a prototype of a new car at this year’s CES, but no showcase was forthcoming.
So what does the future for Apple look like? Given the success of the company in the past, it is hard to imagine that it will continue to trundle along, incrementally providing updates, until it is disrupted by another company that offers something much better. But without Steve Jobs, it just might.