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When Did Apple Become a Market Laggard?

by Saeed Khan

apple logoIn case you were sleeping yesterday, let me fill you in on the big technology announcement from Apple. Live from Cupertino California, and streamed (rather problematically) on the web, Apple had a number of big splashy product announcements. These included:

  • Upgrades to the 7 year old IPhone
  • A new (expensive) Apple Watch that can tell the time (amongst other things)
  • A mobile payment service call Apple Pay
  • Some updates to iOS
  • A free U2 album on  iTunes

With the exception of Apple Pay, it was for the most part an unimpressive show, though I have to give Apple credit for generated buzz for what were essentially a number of “me-too” product announcements.

The star of the show?

Most of the focus was on the new iPhones. The iPhone improvements were mostly related to faster processors, better cameras and most obviously bigger screens. But all that did was invite the inevitable comparisons with phones from Samsung and HTC which already had faster processors, better cameras and bigger screens.


Yet another smart watch?

The long awaited Apple Watch was also announced.

apple watch mosaic

Yes, it does look good, has a number of wrist-band styles, and measures your heartbeat with built-in sensors etc., but in the end, it’s a watch with a STARTING price of $349! Oh, yeah, and even though it is a new product, the inevitable comparisons are being made with existing watches from Samsung, Motorola and others that have similar capabilities and are less expensive.



Apple Pay has potential

Apple Pay seems like a differentiator to me….Even though there are other mobile payment systems like Square and Paypal, Google Wallet etc. the fact is that the client UI looks great, and on the back end Apple has partnered with Visa and Amex, so they are not a direct competitor in the way Square would be.

I’m not a mobile payment expert, but if I have an iPhone and it’s DEAD EASY to use Apple Pay, then as a consumer, that may be the way I start paying. Alas, I don’t have an iPhone, but lots of other people do and Apple’s cut of the payments made on all those iPhones could add up to a LOT of recurring revenue.

U2 on stage again? WTF?

I was (and still am) a U2 fan. I remember going to see them during the Joshua Tree tour with Los Lobos and Little Steven as warm up acts. Bono, arm in a sling because he had injured it in a fall during a concert a week or so earlier, belted out songs with a then, still vibrant voice. It was a cold October evening and my friends and I all shivered endlessly in our nose-bleed seats in the open air Exhibition stadium by Lake Ontario, regretting not wearing warmer clothing, but still enjoying the music and the show on the stage.

There were lots of “kids” — 14 years old or thereabouts– with their parents, probably attending their first concert. Apparently my wife – a big U2 fan herself – was also at the concert with her friends, though in much better seats than me. We didn’t know each other then, and wouldn’t meet each other for another 6 years. It was October 3, 1987, I was in my early 20s and U2 was the biggest band in the world.apple-u2

But U2 today is NOT the U2 of the 80s or 90s. So when U2 came on stage at the Apple launch and announced that their latest album would be free for download from iTunes, it seemed a decade or two too late. It’s almost like announcing a new version of Angry Birds is now available free for  download on the Apple App Store. Yeah…so what. It seemed a bit like Apple grasping for some old glory.  Apple did release a U2 branded iPod back in 2004 with Steve Jobs on stage with U2.

I’ll definitely check out the album (hey it’s free)…maybe there’s some good music there. Maybe U2 has a whole lot of fans that still see them the way I did back in ’87.

I may be completely wrong — Apple’s stock is up today over yesterday — and if so, it wouldn’t be the first time I was mistaken. 🙂

What do you think? Is Apple losing it’s shine and becoming a follower vs. a leader?


Tweet this: When did #Apple become a laggard? http://wp.me/pXBON-4cO #prodmgmt #prodmktg #iphone #u2

About the Author

Saeed Khan is a founder and Managing Editor of On Product Management, and has worked for the last 20 years in high-technology companies building and managing market leading products. He also speaks regularly at events on the topic of product management and product leadership. You can contact him via Twitter @saeedwkhan or via the Contact Us page on this blog.