When Apple first unveiled iOS 9 they made some claims about expanding Siri’s assistance level which I later found to be underwhelming. So even after WWDC 2016’s amazing claims about deep learning and intelligently learning user habits locally, I was still a little skeptical.
Software developers and authors have a lot in common. Both have chosen a way of life that involves pouring countless hours of toil into a project that may or may not pay off in the end. If you’re one of the best, or best known, your hard work will result in a windfall of cash. But that windfall will leave just as fast as it came, because only so many people will buy your book or program, and after they have you need to move on to your next project.
The draw of earning a living from doing what you love, whether it’s writing a book or writing a code is similar. It comes from seeing other people achieve spectacular success, from knowing that the opportunity out there is very real and attainable by anyone. But not everyone.
Third-Party Services Make the iPhone More Valuable, Not Less So
Writing for Recode, Jan Dawson again brings up his idea that Apple Inc. could be vulnerable to its iPhone customers one day seeing past Apple. His basic premise is that potential iPhone buyers would one day see software service providers as so integral to the experience that the device manufacturer starts to fade from relevance.
I couldn’t disagree with him more.
I never understood the crowd that didn’t like the Apple Watch home screen. With one push of the crown you have access to at least seventeen apps without having to swipe or search. I’m not buying the argument that the bubbles are too small to select because I use the home screen all the time and it's about as easy as typing on a 4” iPhone. That means your touch targets appear impossibly small but the software makes it amazingly accurate.
Cult of Mac is reporting that Apple Inc. was a formal objector to the Uniform Consortium’s inclusion of the rifle emoji. This brings up an interesting debate over just how much respect do emoji deserve. I think the battle between voice calling and text messaging was settled long ago and the masses overwhelmingly chose little bubbles. But are emoji an essential part of that package?
Apple’s WWDC keynote yesterday reaffirmed their commitment to privacy while at the same time expanding their iOS intelligent assistance capabilities. I couldn’t be happier about how it went. Expanding the iPhone’s capabilities via local intelligence and differential privacy was music to my ears. Why settle for one or the other when Apple can do both?
At today’s WWDC Apple gave everyone their first look at upcoming versions of their four main software platforms. There was no shortage of intelligent assistance on iOS and macOS to satisfy the tech nerds or messaging bling for seventeen-year-old girls with bionic thumbs. It was an impressive show that alleviated any fears that Apple is giving up in the great software arms race.
Apple’s recent announcement that it was opening up the Mac App Store to subscription pricing for developers raises a lot of interesting new possibilities. Phil Schiller’s news has kicked of a huge deal of buzz on what this might mean for pulling in new sales and customers for software developers.
But coming from my corporate background, I’m still trying to get my arms around why developers have such a romantic view of selling via the subscription method vs the old fashioned upfront pricing model. In theory, it doesn’t matter.
Prior to the 2015 WWDC there was a flurry of speculation that perhaps Apple was moving too fast with software development. The tech press opined that maybe Apple should dial down their torrid pace of software advancement and just focus on stability and bug fixes. Apple should give the people what they want. And the people don’t want new features, they want it to just work. Who needs new features? Just make 2015 a Snow Leopard year and kill bugs.
Now prior to the 2016 WWDC there is a flurry of speculation that perhaps Apple is moving too slow and getting left behind by Google. The tech punditry is wondering aloud if lumbering Apple can ever catch up with Google’s advances in machine learning. Give the people what they want, and this year they don’t want stability, they want new features and software bling. They want their phone to proactively assist them wherever they are. iOS needs new features.
Am I the only one who sees the humor in this? Was the 2015 crisis a false alarm and the current hysteria is accurate or vice versa? They can’t both be right. Or maybe a totally new meme will emerge after next week's WWDC. I suppose if Apple is getting criticized for both moving too fast and too slow, they are probably advancing at about the right pace.
I’m pretty bullish on the future of the Apple Watch. If I was working at Apple in an advisory role I’d be making the case that the Apple Watch should be Apple’s number one or close second priority and deserves an unlimited budget for research. As the vocal interface becomes more and more robust, the wearable will take on an increasing share of the workload from the smartphone. I was thinking about how to articulate why the watch is so important and what it brings that the iPhone can’t when it hit me. Advocates of the Amazon Echo have already made the case for me.
I’m sure making strategic decisions for Apple’s iPhone team has been pretty easy the last few years. The basic playbook would be something along the lines of, invest in as much capital assets as you can, and keep the margins at 40% or more. They didn’t need to worry about covering their fixed costs or unloading any unsold inventory because the customers just kept coming as fast as they could build those iPhones.
But eventually, whether it’s 2016 or 2020, those iPhone sales will plateau or even go down. The rules of the game will change for Apple and they will need to make some hard strategic decisions on the future. The new customers who were shopping for their first smart phone will start to dwindle at some point and Apple will need to focus their big guns on poaching Android customers.
Manufacturing and distribution analysis since 1993.
Perezonomics is available in Apple News