Yes you read that alright! Mass and Apple? Sounds paradoxical to what the company stood for not so long ago. “Man is the creator of change in this world. As such he should be above systems and structures, and not subordinate to them.” The anti-PC motto that drove their minimalistic simplicity clearly focused on the act of creation. A brand for creators has now became a brand for consumers. Their mantra from the 80s doesn’t quite hold true to what they are doing now. The edgiest, coolest brand in the world now reigns supreme as a mass market behemoth. Now they are making a different kind of history. Apple just recorded an $18 billion net profit for Q1 of 2015 – the largest ever recorded profit for a quarter in the history of ANY publicly listed company! What do you have to say about that!
Looking at how the company is doing as a business and how it is doing as an innovator are two completely different things. In the Steve Jobs era, Apple was on the bleeding edge of technology! Now it is so lack lustre in the arena of innovation. Here we have Microsoft introducing holographic technologies that are going to blur the lines between the virtual and the real. And Google venturing into such bold transformative endeavours like self driving cars and their famous Loon project to provide internet connectivity to the world. Both are taking innovation to a whole new level. Google toyed with wearables far ahead of anyone else, perhaps too far ahead of it’s time. Now Google Glass has been put back in the kitchen for some more cooking. Rightly so! Finally Apple too would be getting into wearables! Although industry experts like Tomi Ahonen think this is a sure shot iFlop. Personally I am don’t think so. I read somewhere that everything Apple does is to sell more iPhones. And this is one of those mega moves to really bump up the value of an iPhone. I tend to agree.
Looking at things from a brand perspective. You can only mean something to someone. You can’t mean everything to everyone. As Apple goes mainstream with every new product it introduces it has started to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to hardcore performance the Mac Pro is second to none but as a brand there was a time Apple appealed to just the crazy ones! The round pegs in a square hole. The creators. It sort of went beyond them. The value of what they did was not appealing for the masses back then, neither were their products aimed for them. Now even your grandmother or toddler can operate an iDevice. They have perfected mainstream. In doing so they no longer appeal to the early adopters who are looking for the next big thing. Cutting edge for the masses is not the same as cutting edge for the opinion leaders! Regardless their business performance clearly proves that whatever they are doing is clearly working…at least for now.
But complacency can only take you that far! Can Apple keep doing what it does? If I were to draw one lesson from Google and from the fact that Apple has about $178 billion in cash I would siphon it off to an iLab somewhere and get all the right minds together to envision a better future for the company and the world. Perhaps Apple is already doing that, knowing their culture of secrecy, we can never really know for sure. But looking at their market leadership they truly are in a position to do more than just drive consumption. “With great power comes great responsibility” remember! Apple can clearly lead with its design led thinking to solve major problems of the world. They could create next generation products that could really push our world further and take things to another place. If there is a company that is so well placed to make this happen it is Apple. Although Google is not as big as Apple they clearly get the larger purpose and have really mobilized themselves to reshape our world through some super-cool, super-ambitious projects. Seriously! For a search engine who is dependent on ad revenue for it’s profitability they have come a long long way. And in that regard I feel Google is unmatched! Apple maybe the king of the stock market but when it comes to innovation Google is the true leader! Hope that changes soon if Apple is to maintain it’s leadership and it’s market dominance.Feature image by lookcatalog used under Creative Commons 2.0 License