Will Apple's three legs become four?

in General Discussion edited January 2014
WWDC was very interesting for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, it showed how Apple's three-legged strategy is highly effective.

Each business unit - Macs, Music and Phones - is supported by proprietary software. This is what makes the difference. Sure Apple products look great. They're stlylish and cool, but what really gives them consumer pull is ease of use. The functionality of all Apple products is what most differentiates the brand. Apple design is important, but its real benefit is functionality: the way in which it supports the core benefit of software that's easy to use.

We all complain that Apple's notebook line-up is overdue for refreshment. Indeed, no other manufacturer has a product line-up that has gone unchanged for as long. The design wasn't broke, so Apple didn't need to fix it. The only reason they would redesign the current range was because new technology had allowed a significant new benefit to be incorporated, such as weight, size and power consumption reductions. And maybe that time has come. Whether it has or hasn't the upward curve of mac sales is being driven by OSX. This is what makes a Mac a Mac.

The iPhone is an obvious extension of the Mac strategy. Again, it looks cool, but it is all about the user experience. This is functionality delivered by an amazing new technology: the touch screen. It made perfect sense to use OSX as the kernel for the iPhone. What's interesting about iPhone 3G is the software enhancements that come with it in version 2.0 of its operating system. When the basics are so right, the hardware design, apart from incorporating a larger battery, 3G chipset and better speakers, did not need to be fundamentally changed. I for one am glad about that. iPhone 1.0's form factor was almost spot on. Together, the new software and hardware improvements have turned a good phone into a great one.

Moreover, Apple isn't done yet. It can only be a matter of time before video calling becomes a mainstream feature. I feel sure this is going to happen. What we're seeing is an inspirational vision of the future supported by an incredibly well thought-out strategy yielding fruit through flawless implementation. we can be pretty confident that iPhone is going to succeed.

When you look at Nokia's early success, similarly you can put it down to the user experience provided by the software in its phones as well as the quality and reliability of its hardware. (For me the problem with Nokia is that they seem to have forgotten how important software is to their designs, but that's another story.)

As Apple's iPhone continues to build market presence globally, it will be interesting to see whether Nokia, Sony, Motorola, RIM or Samsung can invent a technology that trumps the user experience you get with an iPhone.

Meanwhile, the third leg, music, is also developing well. Apple iPods are still the class of the field and have truly revolutionized how we listen and store the tunes we love. Almost more important than the hardware is the software. it is easy to forget how clever the iTunes software is. Furthermore, the iTunes store really does make shopping for music fun. You know this already, so excuse me for telling you again. The point is, Apple is a business that is truly going beyond its computing origins.

Though it has dropped the word 'computer' from its name, there can be no doubt that microprocessors and software will continue to be a major driving force behind everything it does. The question has to be; will Apple develop a fourth leg and, if so, what will it be?

My money is on video. We have already shifted our entire music library to a digital format. If Apple any thing to do with it, they will ensure we do the same with our DVD movie collections. What I love about APPLEINSIDER is the more informed contributors response on here to Sony winning the hi-def DVD format battle. Sony may have won the battle, but it lost the war. Hi-def is going digital. The only thing that will delay this is the download speeds for large movie files.

This makes me believe that Apple's next move will be video screens that display the films it rents or sells. Apple's cinema screen displays are ripe for reinvention. My money is on Apple's large screen displays becoming hi-definition televisions. Of course, producing something that is more or less the same as what is already out there isn't enough. Apple will need to offer a new take on the TV as we know it.

What we're seeing quite independently of Apple's own strategy is the internet becoming a broadcast medium. The BBC's iPlayer is arguably a blueprint for the TV content distribution model of the future. In other words, we're witnessing the convergence of broadcast TV and the web. It raises a whole bunch of unanswered questions. Forget hiring software engineers, Apple needs very smart people to help it figure out where TV and Video-on-demand are are going.

When Apple has won this battle too, maybe we'll start to see a further revolution, such as how books are sold. May be best sellers will distributed as electronic files and read via electronic media (like Amazon's Kindle).

At the heart of all this, what we're really seeing with Apple is that it is company which is not preoccupied with technology itself (as most other computer companies are) but how that technology is harnessed to enable us to do different things with it. That is what makes Steve Jobs a genius. i just wonder how many other people within Apple get this. (Quite a lot I imagine, starting with Phil Schiller).


  • Reply 1 of 6
    icfireballicfireball Posts: 2,594member
    Haha. Apple's third leg* is the iPhone.

    *An incredibly large penis. (Urban Dictionary)
  • Reply 2 of 6
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,860member
    Maybe it's just a tripod with a long tail*.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,227member
    Video will become an eventual 4th leg but a few things have to happen first.

    1. Larger touchscreens. A 4.5" Widescreen touch screen would be ideal for video.

    2. Quicktime improvements (please let QTX be a "substantial" improvement)

    3. Nextgen codec. h.264 is nice but we really need to reduce datarate/bitrate by a factor of 2 whilst keeping the same quality. This would enable faster downloads and more portability.

    4. The MPAA getting onboard with the proper DRM for movie files that gives users freedom to space shift.

    Apple's doing the right things. They've purchased PA Semi and Jobs has already explicitly stated they will be working on portable class processors. Cocoa Touch is going to be yet another input modality feature for developers to utilize.

    "if you could see what I see"

    Computing a decade from now is going resemble Star Trek more than people realize today. Sadly there "will" be a digital divide between the haves and have nots but that's a topic for future discussion.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,860member
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

    Computing a decade from now is going resemble Star Trek more than people realize today. Sadly there "will" be a digital divide between the haves and have nots but that's a topic for future discussion.

    Deuteronomy 15:11

    There will never cease to be some poor people in the land; therefore, I am commanding you to make sure you open your hand to your fellow Israelites who are needy and poor in your land.

    I'm not sure if lack of high-speed Internet access, or not having the latest iPhone qualifies, but you'll find some who might think so...

    Ray Kurzweil believes in a coming Technological Singularity (around the year 2045 A.D.) that may have a far greater effect on all humanity than mere computing.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    brussellbrussell Posts: 9,812member
    I believe Jobs once described the AppleTV as a potential 4th leg. I think it was after the release of the iPhone in a pep talk to Apple employees.
  • Reply 6 of 6
    irelandireland Posts: 17,549member
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