Apple's rot set in around 2012. This was when negative perception received everything the company did. A baying media attacked its then track record in labor rights while ignoring that of everyone else in the industry while the Android juggernaut scooped up marketshare on the back of low cost devices no rational person could ever compare to an iPhone. Calls for the resignation of Apple CEO, Tim Cook, served to add insult to these many injuries.
Apple played it cool, massively increasing its R&D investments and scouting for new executive talent to help push things forward. (In the last 12-months Apple has managed to poach at least three CEOs; numerous CTO's and an army of experts in wearable, medical and sensor technologies.)
The rejuvenated company is about to respond to the negativity with new products we can only speculate about and iPhone 6, which anyone in the know in the mobile biz already calls the only phone to be of "any importance" this year.
Arch-enemy Samsung meanwhile defends itself in court by admitting its business is based on manufacturing products that "benchmark" market leaders at lower cost. Samsung, then, doesn't originate great product designs, it simply "benchmarks" already great designs. That's a charitable analysis of its defence.
In other words, while Apple is focused on the product, Samsung is focused on Apple. Smart consumers who buck the current fashion for misplaced Apple hate are beginning to recognize which one puts the customer first. Just look at the buying intention surveys.
Another follower, Google, is also focused on Apple. That's why it is at last beginning to tackle the fragmentation that limits its OS. It needs to. Right now a person leaving a shop with a new Android device has no sense that the purchase they just made will still be relatively functional with new software updates in three years time. You only get a relatively clear road map for future product improvements with Apple.
Apple's security is often vilified, but remains the best story in consumer technology. This is why Apple seldom reads stories telling us millions of its devices are vulnerable to a dangerous online security flaw while it is unable to ensure security patches are made available for the flaw (and eventually managed to fix the GoToFail bug). The GoToFail and Apple story went global, but news millions of Android devices could be vulnerable to the Heartbleed threat has not. Why?
Planned by design
Apple's commitment to deliver products customers can rely on long term means it invests in the future, incrementally planning its product road map years in advance so systems shipped in 2012 can at least use most of the key software features it hopes to introduce later.
That’s why the majority of its products are already on iOS 7, and why we'll see the same again with iOS 8.
We're going to see some of these plans revealed across the latter part of this year, plans like:
- Using the iPhone for mobile payments
- Extending TouchID to other systems and devices and the cloud
- Demolish the high-end watch market with a new wearable device
Plans. Prepared. Plotted. Primed.
You don't get plans like these by "benchmarking" competitors. You get them by ignoring them. If you're one of those who've bet against the firm, be warned: payback time is coming. Like everything else you'd expect from Apple, this payback will be well-designed. And richly deserved.