Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nokia: A Less For Apple - Don't Be Arrogant and Be Mindful of Unassuming Threats

Over at Clouding Around, I got into what can undo mobile companies these days. Specifically, what has happened to Nokia and other mobile leaders: arrogance and not keeping an eye on threats from startups or new market opportunities.  And while I don't have any fear that Apple under Tim Cook will allow things to fall apart at Cupertino, one cannot help but feel a bit of anxiety from time to time with new product intros and what Apple's competitors roll out.

The key for me is what Apple has planned for 2013 through the 2015 period.  This will be a pivotal time for Apple.  2012 Will continue to have a large Steve Jobs influence.  And while Jobs' spirit will permeate for decades, the echos of his rants and the efforts of his reality distortion field will diminished with time.

iOS 6 will be just what it is:  new iOS improvements.  Where does this take the OS X for the Mac?  For a while, many assumed that OS X will languish in this post-PC era.  We have an idea about Mountain Lion that will be released this summer and Apple has committed itself to annual releases like iOS.  And we have to assume that some day, the two OS could merge into one, technical barriers aside.

Then there is digital distribution and the home.  Apple TV as it is now remains a hobby for Apple.  Given its uses I've seen, Apple TV as it is now will never be able to attack the living room.  Right now, the Xbox remains my choice to hook up to a HDTV.  Perhaps, Apple has not truly found a way to make something great for the living room.  For Apple, if they cannot make a great product, they won't release it.

And yet, in his biography, Steve Jobs did say he cracked the television problem.  It'll be interesting if Tim Cook and friends agree with Steve.

So, why 2013-2015?  Simple.  There will be further mobile convergence for each of the competing platforms.  Also, Microsoft and Intel will continue to wrestle back the momentum that Apple and Android have made.  The tablet market will continue to march into PC territory and it will remain to be seen if Apple can keep the iPad at the top. At this time, the iPad has about 65% of the market - higher if not for the Amazon Kindle selling for a loss at $200.

Furthermore, Apple's iPhone, which went on sale at Verizon Wireless and Sprint in the Christmas quarter of 2011 and growing Chinese market in the first quarter of 2012, has lit the world on fire.  The domination is clear.  Apple has close to 60% of the US smartphone market-share despite two crippling facts.  One, the iPhones are still running on 3G networks and has outsold LTE devices at Verizon.  Two, it's not even on sale at T-Mobile and a plethora of MVNO players.

For Apple to continue to not only stay at the top but retain the growth as if its a startup, it has to identify what where the proverbial hockey puck is headed.  Where is mobile going for the smartphone and tablet market and when to let go of the "trucks" (in this case, I am referring to the Macs)?  And what new markets can it identify to move into - maybe cars or mobile payments?

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