By Sambhav Ratnakar:
When Apple first came into the market, the products that it unveiled weren’t exactly determined by consumer trends. The demands of the consumer did not significantly impact what the company built and what it did. Instead, the rise and innovations in technology led to new, impressive products. The company pushed great products into the market, products that the consumer didn’t know they wanted (well, at least not then). And so, Apple’s future was determined by a technology push.
In the last few years, however, we’re witnessing a change in the tech giant’s mysterious methods.
They’re finally beginning to listen to customers.
We saw it at the launch of the iPhone SE when Apple claimed that the 4-inch size for a smartphone was the most popular. They’d taken a step back, travelled back to the iPhone 5’s size to satisfy customer needs. A few years ago, perhaps when Jobs was alive, the occurrence of such an event would have been highly unlikely.
When Apple first started, it didn’t have much to lose, it had tonnes to gain. This could be the reason why they chose to let technology determine which path they took. Fast forward to 2016, the tides have turned; they have a lot to lose, and a lot less to gain. From a high growth rate, low market share start-up, Apple is now a low growth rate, high market share enterprise. Apple has finally identified that their age-old strategy of doing what they can is proving to be ineffective; they’re witnessing a revenue decline for the first time in thirteen years. They’ve finally understood that if they don’t satisfy the needs of their consumers, sales will go downhill.
The way the company has been managing its product portfolio, on the other hand, is quite impressive. Apple has effectually tailored the branding of their products to lead to a successful launch every year. In fact, if you think about it, Apple has been launching the same product every year since 2007. Upgrade the spec, make it a few millimetres thinner, tweak the name a bit by adding a number or two (sometimes an alphabet) and voila! You’ve successfully extended the product life-cycle and can continue to exploit your customer loyalty. Yes, it works. It has been working for a decade. But things are starting to change, customers are considering other options, revenue has decreased by 13% compared to last year (same quarter) and Apple has realised that most of its customers can no longer keep track of all the iPads they’ve launched.
I acquired my first iMac six years ago. I’ve been an Apple user since I was 10. As a kid, I’d never missed a single launch event. Year after year, I went through enormous amounts of bullshit to wait for Tim Cook to finally come up on stage and reveal the next big thing, the product we’d all been waiting for, but there was none.
Maybe, just maybe, Apple will launch something new this year. Regardless, I won’t be watching Apple’s soon-to-come launch event. I’d utilise the time; focus on Mint Flint instead.