Love it or loathe it, there’s no denying Apple is a company that knows how to make money. But for all its innovation, it could be argued the company is a bit of a bully. But do consumers care?
Apple has long held a spot at the top of the list of world’s most valuable companies. Although it was recently dethroned by Saudi Aramco, Apple still occupies position number 2 with a market cap of $2.27 trillion. That’s some serious money and it should come as no surprise that the iPhone is the highest-earner for the Californian company, which regularly sees huge spikes in revenue in Q1 of their fiscal year (which starts in October), following the now cyclical launch of the new iPhone in the September prior.
Since the iPhone’s inception in 2007, Apple has been on a warpath of developing new products and in some instances inventing or reinventing product categories. The iPad, for example, is a digital tablet the likes of which never existed until Apple created it.
It’s now become a product that can, in some cases, replace a traditional laptop and one that many consumers will claim they never knew they needed until they had it.
The Apple Watch, as another example, wasn’t the first smartwatch or fitness wearable device, but is now the biggest-selling wearable device by some margin. It could be argued that Apple only produces one effective wearable device, and so sales figures will naturally be high. Other manufacturers will produce a number of wearable devices, so individual sales will be fewer.
Much of Apple’s appeal is in the design of its products and the ecosystem through which they all communicate with each other. Being able to copy some text written in a document on a Mac, and then paste it into a document on your iPhone thanks to cloud-based clipboard associated with your specific Apple ID, really is rather genius.
Lately, however, it appears that Apple has taken a more forceful approach to products and services that it offers.
Apple Pay Later
With the new iOS 16 mobile operating system due for release in September alongside the iPhone 14, Apple will introduce an Apple Pay Later service. This service is essentially the same as any other buy now pay later service currently in circulation, such as Afterpay or Klarna. It lets you purchase products (using built-in Apple Pay functionality) and pay for them in four equal instalments, with 0% interest.
It’s nothing new, then, but the likelihood of it receiving widespread adoption will be high. Why? Because it will be baked into the Apple Pay payment service virtually all iPhone users will currently use. So, if it saves having a separate account with a service such as Afterpay, then it’s going to have great appeal. As for how companies like Afterpay and Klarna will fare once Apple Pay Later is released of course remains to be seen, but it could certainly be argued that Apple is forcing out the competition.
Another product category that Apple didn’t invent but has already made its mark in, Is location tracking devices. Specifically, the AirTag. The AirTag is a Bluetooth tracker that you can attach to, or place in, pretty much anything you don’t want to lose.
The AirTag has recently found favour with international travellers who, amidst the current chaos being experienced by airports and suitcases and bags going missing on a more regular basis, have used an AirTag to find out where their bag is.
Bluetooth trackers already exist in the form of other products such as Tile. Tile can be attached to keys thanks to an integrated cut out hole, or you can get a credit card sized Tile to slip into your wallet. It’s incredibly versatile and I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of them, having misplaced my keys and wallet on numerous occasions, but being able to find them easily thanks to my connected Tiles.
The AirTag by contrast is just a small disc. If you want to attach it to your keys, you need spend extra money on a dedicated case. This tactic of Apple only offering the basics harps back to the old MacBook Pro that needed a ton of additional dongles and adapters to unleash its full potential.
But once again, despite Apple not inventing anything new, the AirTag will appeal because it has the Apple logo on it, and its simple and easy integration with your iPhone. I can admit that Apple has taken a product already proving to be popular, and just made it that little bit better.
What do the experts say?
DMARGE spoke to Geoff Quattromani from the Technology Uncorked podcast, to find out his thoughts on Apple’s tactics and how they’ve worked in the company’s favour.
“It could be argued that Apple looks at the top applications in their store, looks at the best selling accessories they don’t make and works out methods to do it themselves,” he begins.
“They’re also very tuned into which apps and services are trending and in growth. This behind the scenes view of all activity and data allows them to make decisions into whether they start their own eBooks store (when Kindle was becoming a thing), a music streaming service (when Spotify was flying), start a TV/Movie streaming service (Netflix) and even cloud storage.”
“All of this helps Apple drive revenue in their direction but also provides that clean and simplistic Apple experience that they’d prefer you see. These are larger initiatives but we’ve seen it from smaller levels too, the iPhone didn’t have the ability to use the flash as the torch until the app store was full of apps to do so. AirDrop wasn’t created until apps like Bump existed.”
“From a hardware perspective, Apple internal components are continuing to be created inhouse.”
“The latest Mac range with the M1 or M2 chips are a huge hit against Intel, who they worked with for years. Phone case manufacturers, Apple Watch bands, iPad stands etc are all items which Apple didn’t create when their products were initially released, they did them AFTER organisations started selling them.”
“The AirPods, which now drives a significant amount of revenue for Apple, was an entirely new product in their arsenal after other brands were making bluetooth headphones.”
“Apple is a data company. When all transactions for apps, services and hardware goes through you, you can analyse it and make decisions that kill startups or even giant organisations. What’s even better, they’ll take 30% of their revenue through the store until they can completely replace you. It’s like funding your own demise.”
Perhaps, then, Apple deliberately lets other companies and manufacturers take the lead when it comes to technological innovations, to gauge how they’re received by the public. Why spend money on research and development only for the final product to flop?
Instead, let others do the dirty work and then come up with a version of your own.
Make no mistake, I am a fan of Apple. I own a number of the company’s products (and I am thinking about getting an AirTag before I make a trip to the UK…just in case). So, I can’t really complain when Apple releases something new, because I can appreciate that it does work and it does what I’d want it to do.
Unfortunately, you do have to pay a premium for Apple’s products. And you’re not just paying for the technical aspect, but for the fashion and image aspect too. Remember when people would wear Apple’s iconic white wired earphones, just so they could show off to others they owned an iPod?
The same thing happened with the AirPods. Apple’s minimalist all-white design had become so iconic by then, that you could spot them a mile away, and people didn’t care that the headphones they were wearing looked like toothbrush heads. Fortunately, Apple has since updated the design to be more streamlined, in the form of the AirPods Pro.
The other thing that pains me when Apple releases something ‘borrowed’ from someone else is the heads of Apple Fanbois exploding around the world. Apple is a good company, yes. But not quite a God.
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