Apple has been quietly making moves to hide it’s not-so-surprising slumping sales. The iconic retailer has declined to releases it’s sales data for 2018 in hopes to hide it’s ailing hardware sales. Apple blinked this year when it slashed the prices of the new XR & XS and rolled out Apple Music across the Amazon echo eco system and a cavalcade of television brands including Samsung.
Slashing prices on products and rolling out it’s technology on 3rd party devices is a first for a post iPhone Apple but not for the company itself. During the 1990’s, Apple was struggling with similar growth issues with it’s hardware and software platform.
In an effort to save the MacOS platform, then CEO Gil Amelio opened the MacOS to non-apple 3rd party hardware to blindly follow the path that Microsoft Windows had dominated the computer industry with several years earlier.
This decision proved to undermine the unique value of Apple’s innovative hardware and software platform.
Innovative hardware was Apple’s breadwinner, not software sales. Furthermore, MacOS’s market share was so fractionally small compared to Windows, allowing 3rd parties to use MacOS for it’s hardware was eroding the company’s hardware sales faster than the OS could be adopted to a larger audience.
Steve Jobs was brought back in to the Apple fold in 1997, axed the 3rd party Apple clones and set the company on a path of innovation that lead to the iPhone. Apple needed to rekindle what made it unique to rise to the top, innovative products that are starkly obvious for people to pick up and use.
Removing the headphone jack on the iPhone and increasing it’s size flew in the face of this form of innovation. This not only alienated consumers from feeling comfortable holding the device and knowing what it was capable of at a glance, it pushed Apple loyalists to replace the batteries in older iPhone 6’s to keep these accessible features rather than upgrade to a new iPhone.
Apple may be looking to recoup it’s losses in hardware sales by rolling out it’s propriety software to 3rd party hardware vendors. However I see a company concerned about keeping it’s current base tied to the Apple “Walled Garden” as it’s lack of innovation has waned user interest to devices such as smart speakers and TV’s made by competitors.
The company should take heed the mistakes of Apple past, refuse to chase current technology trends and create new products in it own innovative tradition: Devices and software so obvious that most people can pick up and use.