Apple and Innovation – Where to Next?
Many of you will have read in previous articles on our position on Apple: did Steve Jobs build an innovation engine in Apple, or was Steve the Innovation engine, and Apple was his distribution engine? It's fabulous for the consumer - as companies such as Samsung try to snap at the heels of Apple, the drive for innovation from each of these companies, and new entrants, becomes strong and more of an imperative, and hence the delivery of new and exciting products for all of us to use. The recent article in the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/30/pressure-tim-cook-innovation-apple) is really interesting. It raises these issues, and more. Here is a rase from that article: Critics say Cook's team still has big questions to answer. Where, for example, are mobile payments to compete with Google Wallet, so its 800 million iTunes account holders – the largest number of credit card accounts outside a bank – can pay for things with their iPhones? Where is a smartwatch, when Samsung has released two versions since September, while Google is pushing its "Android Wear" software? Instead, critics argue, Apple has its $3bn (£2.2bn) purchase of Beats – a company that makes headphones and offers music streaming, both of which Apple does already. "It just makes no sense," wrote analyst Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry. "This deal stinks, but more importantly it reveals that Apple as we've known and loved it is gone – for ever." Apple's previous biggest purchase was of NeXT Computer for $400m in 1996 – a deal that brought Jobs back to lead the company. The suggestion that Apple is wallowing in its success clearly irks the team. "Can't innovate any more, my ass," growled Phil Schiller, Apple's head of marketing as he unveiled a Star Wars-style version of the Mac Pro desktop computer. But that was a year ago. And the pace of progress in the technology industry is relentless. In the past week alone Google and Microsoft have shown off a self-driving car and a system that translates between spoken languages in a Skype conversation. Time will tell. As the article concludes: With iPad sales and the smartphone market slowing, Cook's biggest challenge is to demonstrate he can upset that pattern. The problem is that – as Steve Ballmer at Microsoft found before him – there's only one place you can go from being the world's largest company.
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