Saturday, January 22, 2011

Where is Apple future?

Steve Jobs has his third leave in three years and this one could be long, maybe forever.
We all know that he is famous for being very active in product development. He did multiple times delay product releases because he did want to have in the last second a change or did not like something on the product like the color. His most famous detail for perfection was during Next. When he was looking for a perfect black color of the Next computer. It took many rounds and months till he was satisfied with the color.
He has the same sense for detail with the white iPhone 4 which comes supposedly in March on the market with almost a year delay.
Steve Jobs is not by nature a software developer or a designer, but he has a gift for esthetic. Apple created beautiful consumer devices since he came back. No other mainstream computer company has build so many good looking and easy to use devices.
Steve is a great negotiator, who knows how far he can go, he is so arrogant that he rather prefers to lose a deal then giving up from his position. This is a big gamble which paid off many times.
It will be no harm for Apple if his leave is less than a year, but the longer he will be not anymore active in the day by day business, the bigger is the chance that Apple will lose the sexiness.
A company like Apple has already in their drawer new products for the next 12 to 18 months but after this the absence from Steve could change a lot.
A good friend of mine and I are always discussing how great and simple Apple products are. But he always says Apple needs to be more business friendly to be really successful. I don't agree. I believe one reason why Apple is so successful is, that they did not too much care about businesses but consumers.
Apple would need to make compromises on their hard and software which would have as an effect that the computers are not so beautiful anymore and not so easy to use.
Take as an example the iPad. Simple to use, long battery life and a wonderful piece of design.
Apple says that 80% of the top 500 businesses are evaluating to have iPads in their company.
But i think it will be never a notebook replacement or a total business unit. It is build on a platform where not many enterprise developers are around and not many of these top companies would have such developers in their teams. Most of them are using enterprise applications which are either not working on the iPad (because of safari browser and missing components) or only available with reduced functions. It might be a great tablet for sales people for their CRM if is available for the iPad. There is a salesforce mobile app version (right now only for iPhone) but this app does not work well if the company has a modified and customized salesforce site.
Using salesforce with the browser on the iPad does not make fun neither. The screen is too small and using just touch is annoying when you need to do a lot tasks or if you have to fill out opportunities. Dynamics has the same issue with mobile app (MS has no mobile version but 3rd parties are offering mobile clients) and the web app is not working on other browser than IE (at least the CRM 4.0 version).
Finance would not be able to use the iPad neither because apps like numbers are too simple to do the work finance departments would need?

I believe Apple went so big, because Steve did not want to make compromises to be a real business solution. He knows for designers the hardware is great, but for the average office person he would need to build a computer which could support enterprise software market leaders.

With Steve leave we will see very soon small signs that he is not active anymore. We will see more products released which are only 98% or less perfect.

But the longterm effect (if he is not coming back within a year) are more drastic.
Apple will try to push more into business direction which will let the consumer suffer. As an example if Apple get a breakthrough in the business world, more and more hacker will try to hack into Apple systems and more viruses will occur for Mac OS. At the end the companies are prepared for it but the consumer will be not. As a result Apple might be almost as vulnerable as Windows.
Companies will push Apple to produce computers less good looking but more resistance against dirt and heat than home computers.

New products will be released rather earlier than late with more bugs as we like. If a company has a strong CEO, then finance or the CFO can't push the teams to develop faster to stay in budget. Without Steve the CFO will have more power to get products faster out of the door to get earlier revenue in.

Apple will be not anymore so good in negotiating and will take too many compromises which will take Apple's uniqueness away. Apple won't build products how they believe should be, but how the partners influence them.

But the biggest effect will be in product releases. Nobody can replace Steve and his feelings when which product should be developed. Apple will again (like when
Steve left Apple to start Next) develop too many products and bring to much confusion and diversity to the consumer. Some would like to have more choices when buying Apple computers but honestly these people are geeks and not Joe average.

Apple is too big not to be a big player anymore but without Steve, the chances are high that Apple will not keep the number one position. Over a decade Apple could fall back four of five spots.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad.
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