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Apple has always played the game of being pricey, that if you don’t want to pay up, they don’t need you as a customer, etc.
That works very well in the early stages of a product cycle, when there is lot of scope for differentiation using innovation, lot of scope for new must have features, etc.
However, when the market starts approaching maturity, when older products and competitor products start hitting “good enough” levels, Apple is late to see the writing on the wall. They resort to hubris, and customer unfriendly techniques to increase Average Selling Price, and to increase margins.
At some point, even the most loyalist fans of Apple start noticing that there is little justification for buying the latest Apple product, paying a ridiculous price, and then having to deal with the compromises Apple forces on you.
These compromises could be in many ways. A Buggy Bluetooth Audio implementation, combined with removing the Headphone jack and replacing with Lightning. Pathetic battery life. Poor quality cables and rip off replacement cables. Soldered hardware that isn’t user replaceable. All of this is ignored when the going is good - but suddenly all these customer unfriendly ways hit them from all angles, the moment Apple starts skidding.
And the result is visible for all to see.
Karma catching up? For a long time, Apple has been tempting karma - selling overpriced lightning cables to customers whose cables frayed out within months, soldering RAM into the motherboards, so that customers have no choice but to accept Apple's rip off pricing, etc. When a company goes out of its way to screw its own loyal customers, you can be assured that its day of reckoning is coming. It is ridiculous that a company that makes such humongous profits and that charges such a stiff price for admission into their walled garden finds the need to rip off even its own loyal customers this way. And not just the company, even Apple shareholders and Apple fan boys rubbed their hands in glee when Samsung had a huge loss from the Note 7 recall. There's lot of bad karma in there too. Apple's greed will only get worse. They will keep pushing the envelope, trying to make the phones thinner - even if the wimpy batteries struggle to last the whole day! They only care for making these devices as thin and as light as possible. Obviously, all that thinness and lightness is making the devices vulnerable to such problems. It is indeed unbelievable how many people hate Apple. And how even a lot of Apple's customers hate the company.
Apple will crib if Qualcomm wants 4% royalties that are tied to the cost of the phone - and not to the much lower cost of the chipset.
But Apple wants a 15% cut of ONGOING subscription costs of NetFlix, even though the only service provided by Apple is hosting the app and delivering it. Which is a one time service. That too, with a policy that prevents customers from downloading from elsewhere.
One day whatever Apple wins from Qualcomm will be lost multiple times over because of this policy.
Apple’s policies were OK and acceptable when it was a small struggling company - not when it is the largest company in the planet. Maybe the DoJ or someone else should step in, and make it a smaller company once again.
Apple doesn’t need to do much to shift, because of work that was done over 10 years back. LLVM and CLANG are the foundations of pretty much every single piece of software running on the Mac for over 10 years now. So all anyone has to do, is to simply recompile their apps from Xcode - and it should work perfectly fine on literally any processor platform you want.
that being said, I believe there is a reason Apple introduced the MacBook once again into the lineup. This will likely be a trail balloon that will be switched to ARM first.
also, for the typical user, almost all the software running on a Mac already comes from the AppStore, and probably is all built by Apple. Which means the shift can be enforced with some AppStore guidelines - all apps submitted after X date must include ARM targets.
The environment today is quite different from when Apple made the last switch, to Intel. And it’s going to be a lot easier to switch this time around.
also, the primary reason for the switch is going to be cost and power savings - which means lower battery capacity and hence lower cost. Apple will either jack up its margins or use the lower prices to increase market share. Either way, this is a strategy that makes a lot of sense for Apple, and only an idiot wouldn’t see it coming.
at the real high end also, I think Intel’s days are numbered. ARM is pretty much there already, and can already be run way faster than on battery powered devices, if wired power is available.
Create the iPad Pro, but don't include the Apple Pencil - and even better, sell it for a ridiculous $99. Consumer friendly, indeed. Remove the 3.5mm Audio port, and convert it to lightning. Excellent way to force customers to buy MFI third party audio products. Apple wins in many ways, customer loses every possible way. For long time, phablets were too unwieldy, didn't make sense - but today, if you want the latest technology, nothing smaller than 5.8". Very customer friendly. And if those large phones bend, you are handling them wrong. Compromise on the battery to an extent where battery capacity and quality truly suck - but best response by the company is to throttle its OS, to make devices slower. Very customer friendly. By mistake Apple launched a model of the Mac Mini that was below $500 - but soon ensured that all components were soldered, not user replaceable - so if you want to upgrade, you pay Apple's ridiculous prices. Very customer friendly. And now, the cheapest Mac Mini is $700 - and still soldered parts! Apple would be the best example of a company that nickel-and-dime's its customers - except that its not nickels and dimes - its $20 minimum for anything and everything.
Its not like Microsoft isn't still in with a chance. They made a great hedge bet by buying Xamarin in 2016. And Xamarin is today the largest cross platform development tool out there.
If Microsoft launches Windows Mobile again, most Xamarin adopters will have an edge, because their app will be ready for Windows with a simple recompile. And that also means, many more developers would be jumping ship to Xamarin, to avoid the heart ache and complexity of working on 3 platforms.
But for that to happen, Microsoft has to change its DNA. The way they price Xamarin, has hindered its growth. Commerical usage of any decent scale, requires a paid professional Visual Studio license. And that doesn't give you things like the Profiler, and other critical tools - which need Enterprise. At a time when all other competing platforms are free.
Microsoft will wait till Google'e Flutter gains critical mass and momentum, and then realize what they need to do - by which time it will be too late! Exactly what happened with Office 365 and Google Docs!
There was a time when Microsoft knew the "Developer Developer Deverloper" mantra best - but clearly they are still living in the previous century!
Is Apple really consumer focussed? This is a company that takes out features that are valuable to the consumer, just because it can. This is a company that has crappy quality accessories (lightning cables) that get frayed in months, but cost a bomb to replace. And this is a company that ensures that third party accessories are also pricey, because of its desire to extract its pound of flesh from every source possible (MFI program). This is a company that takes out all reasonably priced options on a regular basis, and forces its loyal customers to pay top dollar for its latest products. Apple is a company that operates from a stance of, if you want to use Apple products, pay top dollar, else we don't want you around. And at least once you pay that fancy price for entry, one would expect to be treated well - but no - even there Apple short changes you on a regular basis. Hardware flaws that necessitate product recalls and company paid fixes have clauses that ensure that any device with even slightest deviation from perfect will not qualify. And the customer is forced to pay a ridiculous price for getting the device fixed, for no real fault of his. I can live perfectly fine with a small crack on my screen - but Apple will refuse to change the battery unless I pay to get the screen fixed as well. So, a small crack, means you pay 60% of the exchange price of your phone, if you want to fix an Apple caused battery flaw. Consumer focussed, my foot!? Apple has been earning so much bad karma, that I understand fully well why there are many people who hate Apple so passionately. Earlier, there were many that used to love Apple too - but slowly many of the people who once loved Apple are disgruntled customers. I have used iPhone from the very first day since it launched - but now the thought of buying ridiculously priced products from Apple makes me cringe. Every time I hear news of Apple having troubles against Qualcomm, I rejoice. Everytime I hear news about hardware flaws forcing recalls and fixes, I rejoice. Apple is a company that deserves its day of reckoning, and hopefully it will come soon.
For a moment, forget Spotify here. This is not a spotify issue. When you bring Spotify into the picture, it only confuses things - about Apple Music, anti-competitive, etc.
Instead look at the substance of the complaint. The substance is very simple - Company X says we don't want to pay a 30% (or 15%) cut to Apple. Because, Apple isnt offering anything of value to us, except listing our App. Charging a 30%/15% cut of all sales is simply blatant theft.
Just take the Amazon shopping app - You can download the app for free, pay Amazon directly, and Apple is not involved in the picture at all. Why should it not be the same for Spotify? Spotify is using the App Store exactly in the same way that the Amazon shopping app is using it. They arent hosting their music on Apple Servers, nor are they streaming from Apple.
If Apple believes that it owns the ecosystem, and that people should pay it 30% for the privilege of using that ecosystem, why cant it charge Amazon as well?
The point here is, Apple is being greedy.
This is textbook case of anti-competitive and restrictive behaviour - its like the bully in the park who says this is my bat, my ball, we play by my rules. Apple is being that bully here. It has got away with this for a long time, now this matter is going to stink up Apple.
And one of these days, they will lose a massive lawsuit and be forced to payback all the money they have made using this approach back to the people they stole it from.
I am happy that the market is "punishing" Apple. Apple got too successful, and didn't have any competition. They need this rap on the knuckles, and probably need a lot more pain before they are forced to change their ways.
- Doing customer unfriendly measures like Soldering RAM into Mac Mini, and intentionally crippling that product are a sign of arrogance. They had a good design that worked well in the previous version - but they couldnt rip off the customer on upgrades - so they decide to solder the RAM in!!
- Not launching TouchID on Mac OS even 2 years after it was launched on iPhone, sign of complacence.
- Pricing strategies that charge $100 more for additional flash, etc., that too when Apple gets the cheapest prices on the market, are a sign of greed.
- Policies where they operate as "Apple knows best, Apple will decide what you can or cannot do", are not the sign of a long term sustainable company.
- ridiculous pricing for accessories like cables, coupled with poor quality of iPhone Lightning cables, and insistence on Certified Accessories will only result in people hating the company more!
- Things like "you are holding it wrong" don't work forever. Things like compromising battery life for thin-ness and lower weight beyond a point don't work. The damn device has to last through an entire day!
In general, I wonder if people have wondered why Apple generates so much hatred in the general population. Even people who buy Apple products feel hatred to a large extent - especially when you feel ripped off about things like $19 Lightning cables, etc. In fact, I have heard many a time, people wishing that Apple has a massive product recall or some such disaster, so that they get into serious losses.
This is a company that *intentionally* operates on a model saying f**k you to its customers. Or to put it differently, if you don't want to hand over huge chunks of money to us, then f**k you. The polar opposite of a company like Amazon, where Customer Satisfaction is the beginning and end of the story. Apple has even higher customer satisfaction ratings than Amazon - but paradoxically generates even more hatred.
And mind you - I am not even referring to the hatred of people who dont buy Apple products. I am referring only to the hatred and ill will that Apple supporters and customers feel to the company.
Unless Apple dramatically alters its ways to be a more customer centric company, it will continue to face this issue. Irrespective of product successes and sales, people will always bet that Apple wont be able to sustain its game, and it is just one failure away from doom. This is the biggest issue with the Steve Jobs' legacy, and the sooner Apple can get over this, the better for it.
Don't kid yourself that this is about Services, or about China. The market is not stupid. The market knows Apple Pay, Apple Music, iTunes, etc, are massive Content and Services plays, with potential to create huge businesses around them in the future. Maybe the Apple Ecosystem was limited 5 years back, and just getting into shape 2 years back. But Apple is definitely on the upswing in terms of Ecosystem now. For all the hiccups in China, Apple is still going strong there, and is such a small part of the market that they can grow. This is about something else altogether.
This is about the DNA of the company.