12 warning signs that Apple is expanding

The company has limitless potential

New industries, new staff, new roles and a huge investment in clean energy for its European cloud services – put it all together and it seems clear that Apple is expanding.

In a big way

Think about it – while the usual suspects spent time since the passing of Steve Jobs berating Apple and its new leader, Tim Cook, the company stayed cool and assembled a plan for massive expansion.

Here are a dozen signs suggesting this:

  1. Apple Watch
  2. Apple Pay
  3. The Beats acquisition
  4. The Apple/IBM alliance in the enterprise
  5. The Apple digital health story
  6. iBeacons and the retail revolution
  7. Massive investments in clean energy
  8. Renewed public commitments to human and environmental rights
  9. Recruitment of experts in battery technologies from Samsung, Tesla…
  10. Recruitment of experts in in-car telematics
  11. International recruitment of journalists to help add a human touch to iTunes
  12. The decision to make both OS X and iOS free, to align the two operating systems in a logical fashion and to offer public betas of each iteration

Need I go on?

Apple’s balance sheet is healthier than ever. Combine iPad and Mac sales and Apple is the biggest PC maker in the industry. Soon its smartphones will deliver desktop class experiences.

None of these manifestations are miraculous. Each of these steps is planned as the company works to ensure its solutions are at the cutting edge of digital transformation.

In each case the company builds new solutions on the back of solutions that preceded them – think iTunes and iPad, or iPod and iPhone as examples of this approach.

Where next?

There’s talk Apple may become a car manufacturer. It has recruited lots of people from the car industry and lots of people seem convinced – some even claim Apple wants to drive its car by 2020. I think these hires are focused on engine/vehicle transmission and control systems and telematics, rather than vehicle design, so I rather suspect vehicle intelligence is the core focus.

Apple can do lots more.

Every year, Gartner publishes its Hype Cycle for emerging businesses. If you look at 2014’s report, you’ll see Apple is already involved in at least some of these emerging solutions, for example:

  • Speech recognition
  • Smart Advisors
  • Bio Chips
  • Natural language questioning
  • Big Data
  • Connected home
  • Cloud computing
  • Mobile health

Ride the hype cycle

There are more, but some of the Hype Cycle sectors Apple doesn’t seem too heavily involved in at this time include: 3D printing, augmented reality, robotics, human augmentation. Yet, equipped with Siri, IBM’s Watson and its own technology platforms it makes sense to imagine Apple entering any of these sectors, particularly 3D printing, which appears to be a technology on the edge of prime time.

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