The auto industry: dull, unimaginative, predictable. The car market has remained relatively unchanged for decades, and a gluttony of focus group developed cars has helped keep it that way. The industry slowly innovates, making glacial ice-ages look fast.
The result is, at best, is incremental improvement, with Detroit scrambling to find the next niche segment to gain market share. But cracks in plodding automotive market are starting take place. From startups, to radical new fuel alternatives, the auto industry is on the precipice of the largest transformation in its history, and Apple appears ready to usher in its own sea change of ideas.
In 2007 when we were first introduced to the original iPhone and iOS, many questions arose. Did it mean the end to OS X? Was iOS the “future” for Apple? Why did Apple create iOS instead of a mobile version of OS X?
Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, recently chastised Apple’s latest products, and virtually scoffed at the idea Apple was taking any serious talent from the company. Less than a week later Musk backtracked on those comments. No doubt his PR team got a hold of Musk and demanded he dial back his ego and frustration, but the damage was already done. Telsa’s best years may no longer be ahead of them, as the company is likely to be outflanked by Apple, who has more resources, and as much drive to do something truly great, than anyone in any market.
According to Bloomberg, Amazon will no longer be selling Apple TV or Google Chromecast starting October 29, siting vague references that these products are not easily “compatible” with Amazon’s Prime video service. A big shift in Amazon is taking place within the online retail giant by refusing to sell what look to be popular forthcoming retail products.
Control within Amazon seems to have shifted from its online retail division, to that of the Prime team. This shift is similar to the power Microsoft’s Windows team yielded for decades, and continues to do so, stifling anything in their path for the sake of maintaining power. What is good for Windows is good for Microsoft is the Redmond mantra. In Amazon’s case, subscriptions are now king, running over any physical hardware sales gains. Amazon has taken on a somewhat Orwellian-Marxist viewpoint that all products are equal, but some are more equal than others. In this case, Fire TV is sold along side any other competing product, that is, unless other products threaten the power of Fire TV.
Android smartphones continue to fall behind Apple's iPhone technology at an alarming rate. Here is a quick look at how Apple has coerced Google and their hardware vendors to spend countless billions playing catchup, forced into following Apple’s lead. The Android + 3rd party hardware attempts at deliver powerful, yet simple Apple-like solutions continue to stumble, leaving the duopoly further behind Apple’s superior iPhone hardware + software integration and execution.
Multi-Touch: It was the original 3.5" multi-touch iPhone that sent the entire smartphone market back to the drawing board. Android quickly copied Apple’s home screen, icons, along with look and feel, while Samsung and others dropped physical keyboards, integrating lower quality touch technologies. HTC quickly dropped the idea of pushing the stylus as the best method for smartphone interaction in favor of touch. Fast forward to today and any number of Android smartphones still lack the visceral feel of Apple’s touch technology. A copy is never as good as the original.
A lot has been said of the latest Apple TV, since Eddie Cue performed its unveiling last week. Sporting many new features, a chief complaint has been the devise's lack of support for 4K (UHD) video. In light of the fact that Apple’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus support 4K video recording out of the box, it would seem a logical, if not easy move for Apple to support 4K for its latest Apple TV. What exactly is holding back Apple TV from including 4K? Technically, nothing.
Apple TV’s A8 processor is capable of supporting 4K video playback, but the potential for confusion and lack of overall great experience would create disappointment — or worse frustration. 4K gaming would not be supported, nor would 4K apps. In short, the only advantage of a 4K capable Apple TV would be streaming a few titles from the likes of Netflix. Summer 4K TV shipments — not — just reached 14% of the overall TV market early summer, and is not expected to reach the 50% range of TV sales until well into 2017. Numbers alone indicate 4K is not necessary, but it would act more as a sexy check box for those thinking they need it (even if they don’t have a 4K TV).
On September 9, during Apple's San Francisco special event, Apple’s Sr. Vice President, worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, took to the stage and introduced the iPad Pro. The latest and largest tablet of its kind from Apple delivers an incredible 12.9", 5.6 million pixel display, and weighs only 1.5 lbs. Accompanying the iPad Pro is a versatile accessory called Apple Pencil along with an optional Smart Keyboard. While the iPad Pro left the audience quite pleased, Schiller made one comment that was likely to have left Intel speechless.
People in 80 countries will get their hands on the all-new Apple TV in late October. But those customers will also be able to purchase the existing Apple TV for only $69. Apple’s 3-tier strategy eschewed in a new era of how Apple views and provides solutions for the living room, something that was previously a simplistic one-size-fits-all solution.
Apple is actually late to the game, as Amazon, Google and Roku have been providing multi-tiered solutions for quite some time. Google offers their Chromecast with simple remote, for only $35, while Amazon offers their Fire Stick and remote for $39. Amazon and Roku also offer up higher-end solutions, with voice controlled systems. Roku offers the most solutions, currently selling four different systems, starting at $49.99, with their top-end solution just reduced to $89.99.
Is Apple too geeky to understand sports? It is an audacious claim, I know. How in the world could the coolest, hippest tech company in the world, with Beats and Dr. Dre in-house, possibly be geeky? Take a look at Apple’s Executive Team and Board of Directors. Suddenly it becomes very clear. It just may be that Apple’s corporate culture simply does not understand or value sports the way it should. These guys may be the hipsters of tech, but this is Silicon Valley, not blue collar Boston. To help the cause, Mark Cuban should be enlisted to Apple’s Board of Directors. No one at Apple has the combined tech and sports skill set Cuban does. Cuban would prove an invaluable asset for Apple constructing their own content and streaming services.
When groups like Green Peace started attacking Apple on the environmental front, Apple quickly recruited former Vice President, Al Gore. Almost immediately the hammering on Apple’s manufacturing and business practices became a dull whisper. Within a few years Apple became the clear leader of best practices for the environment. Whether Gore’s position on Apple’s Board was merely symbolic, political or he actually became the hands-on guy pursuing environmental solutions for Apple, it was immaterial. The fact Gore was amongst the leaders in championing environmental concerns, and had a powerful presence within Apple, delivered the end result Apple was seeking. Cuban could effect Apple in a similar fashion, adding significant value and expertise in entertainment, sports and streaming services — all areas where Apple seems to flat.
Millions of mobile users the world over continue to live in silos of the fragmented Android mobile world, kludged together with the legacy of the Windows desktop world. While Microsoft just launched Windows 10, showcasing how they have caught up to some areas Apple’s current OS X Yosemite, Microsoft will further illustrate just how far they have fallen behind during Apple’s OS X El Capitan launch which is only weeks away. While Windows is a large step behind OS X, it is Google and their Android hardware partners that are about to fall off the cliff, failing to keep pace with Apple’s iOS and ever unifying platforms at an alarming rate.
Google’s latest example of failure comes in the form of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5. Due to collapsing sales and Apple’s imminent launch of iPhone 6S, and 6S Plus, the Note 5 looks to compel millions of additional Android users to upgrade to Apple’s latest and greatest, if not settle for a year old, faster, cheaper, better real-life battery life, iPhone 6. Rushing the Note 5 launch, Samsung has now left their high-end cupboards bear for at least the next 6 months, and yet their latest and greatest are not even competing well against Apple’s year old iPhones.