Apple [AAPL] smartphone share down to 13 percent; iPad share in decline; Developers can't keep their NDA; senior execs selling Apple shares: Things look a little dreary for the world's biggest fruit company. Or do they?
[ABOVE: It seems inevitable brain to machine interfaces will emerge, given Harvard researchers have developed a brain to brain interface that enables control of a rat's tail.]
Surely there will come a day when the world's discerning consumers will look beyond a headline, follow the money to uncover who paid for a report, or ask themselves if what they happen to be reading tallies with their experiential awareness of reality?
One lives in hope, but at what point does hope transmute and become denial? Is the visceral experience of a consumer, media-battered into some form of post-modern bespoke reality something possessed of its own integrity, or just a vessel of received vision possessed of none?
That's a lot of questions for an Apple-focused column, I agree, but they should be important to those seeking to discern just a little wheat in among all the wasted seed and scattered chaff. By which I mean, let's skip the BS and eat the beat.
Let's eat the beat.
Ignoring the hype
Apple's position in all the rumor, conjecture, hatred and speculation seems relatively clear: it's ignoring you.
Apple is working really, really hard. It's planning an end-to-end connected consumer offering in which the products it sells form a foundation from which to cast a shadow across the next decade. Open up, glance at its track record, Apple works that way.
So what's coming?
The easiest way to define the company's plans is to look at what hasn't happened yet. Look at what we know the company will soon upgrade:
- That's every primary product it sells.
- All of these are due a product upgrade (bar portable Macs, but who knows?).
- Some of these have not seen significant upgrade in nearly a year (or more).
A long year
A year is a pretty long time in consumer electronics. Given this, is it any surprise competitors are beginning to snatch a little space on the sales graphs? It shouldn't be, especially in light of the nature of Apple's flattering foe.
Did I mention the discerning consumer? Please excuse the irrelevance of this thought, this notion that many tech purchasers already have enough to deal with within their daily experience that they don't want to spend time thinking about tech politics, and simply seek brands in which they can place trust.
It's possible I'm dancing on the banks of the river of denial when I say this, but to my mind a failure of trust has already begun. Three headlines, easily found:
- Apple's iPhones retain their value. Samsung's Androids don't (LINK)
- Single Android flaw can be used to target entire enterprise (LINK)
- Google: Keep Android Users' Secure Network Passwords Secure (LINK)
A few critical headlines don’t mean too much, but I suspect we're about to see a new storm, aimed this time at the new smartphone leader as represented by the Android Federation of manufacturers. After all, the world's media follows an age-old habit of building up to knock down. And Apple is already (relatively) down.
There's a sea change too in the fate of some big league cases in the courts. The Presidential nixing of the Samsung Apple ban is now to be followed by an attempted Apple Samsung ban. The appeals court's recent decision to allow Apple to prosecute Motorola will open up a new avenue in which Apple can attempt to prove its claim that competitors tore into the market on the back of concepts it had developed and refined.
It's a big deal in some ways, (from FOSS Patents):
"The Smartphone has defined modern life. Be it in the workplace, the home, airports, or entertainment venues across America, individuals are tethered to their handheld devices. Not long ago, users primarily spoke into these devices. Today, fingers tapping, grazing, pinching, or scrolling the screen is a ubiquitous image that reflects how we conduct business, work, play, and live. The asserted patent in this case is an invention that has propelled not just technology, but also dramatically altered how humans across the globe interact and communicate. It marks true innovation."
All the while Apple has been preparing itself to fight back with new products, planning a major launch of new devices starting this Fall.
As the new iPhones seem likely to be equipped with the most advanced security features ever seen in a smartphone (and a secure payment system that just works), the company will be hoping to take on its foes with innovation, not just litigation, no doubt introducing a series of new user interface paradigms it hopes will be sufficient to both excite consumers while being insanely difficult for competitors to emulate without falling foul of the law.
After the last 12-18 months of increasing pressure on the company, I believe there's some portents that suggest the tide is about to change. Meaning that for the next few months at least there will be different outcomes in what seems set to become an eternal smartphone war.
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