Apple’s Fading Glory, Boring Products and Enterprise Indifference

by Ian Campbell July 30, 2019
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Looking at its past few quarters, it’s clear Apple’s stratospheric trajectory has flattened.

Admittedly, most companies would kill to have results like these, but clearly, Apple isn’t most companies.

Is Apple still the “it” company? No, and it hasn’t been for some time. The company is transitioning from hardware-first to leading with the services and content for those products. It remains to be seen if this pivot will work to help Apple overcome what I see as two real problems:

1. The magic is gone — Apple hasn’t released a “must have” product in a long, long time.

It’s been a few launches since the fanatics have lined up overnight for a new Apple product. Why? Because they’re too expensive, and they’re not as good as the competition. That’s why the iPhone exodus is a real thing that’s picking up steam. Users resent paying more for less and the iPhone X pricing didn’t help matters. At least in the U.S., the iPhone is a fading status symbol while it looks like The Samsung Galaxy X10 is better by every metric.

Sure, the company’s been bolstered by solid iPad sales — but nothing like it had been and it’s unlikely the next batch of iPads will offer a compelling reason to upgrade. There’s only so much you can do with an iPad.

Only the most fervent Apple fans will continue to pay premium prices for mediocre products. But six grand for a new Mac Pro? Yeah … no thanks.

2. The enterprise market just doesn’t care about Apple.

Steve Jobs was at best ambivalent about selling into the enterprise market. Under Tim Cook, this has changed — Apple has tried to position itself to take a serious chunk of the enterprise hardware and software market, going so far as to sign an agreement with IBM, a once unthinkable prospect. Cook has referred to the enterprise as “the mother of all markets.” And sure, the company was a beneficiary of the BYOD/Consumerization of IT trend — although this signals consumer support more than enterprise endorsement.

Apple doesn’t break down its revenues by audience — but despite its best efforts and some lip service to selling into the enterprise, it’s just not seen as a business company. Microsoft Windows is the overwhelming choice for the office set, while the MacBook is the dominant player among Starbucks-dwellers.

Will the increased attention on services and content work? It remains to be seen — but don’t bet on it. But the playbook that propelled Apple for the past two decades is worn and tired, just like its phones.