As an Apple fanboy since the ’70s and having been one of the first people in the world to have purchased an iPad in March 2010 (owing to my location here on the US East Coast), I have been feeling quite vindicated over the past several years as consumers and businesses have adopted Apple products and iPad and tablets in particular to replace PCs. The ease of use and user friendliness in addition to the range of applications available have made it a favorite computing platform both from a content consumption and content creation standpoint. I’ve even recommended it to my 85 year old mother-in-law to replace her Dell computer; she happily uses it for web, email and beating me at Words with Friends.
With the recent release of the iPad Mini, soon to be at an Apple store near you, more and more people and businesses will be incorporating tablets into their every day lives. The issue for Apple as it is for most technology companies is “What’s Next?” The current product transitions are more evolutionary than revolutionary despite the introduction of higher density displays, faster low power processors and full featured operating software and applications and Apple has demonstrated its ability to provide highly engineered products and ramp its global supply chain to produce these jewels at an outstanding rate.
- Where Apple seems to have its headaches now is in the creation of services that enhance the benefits of these devices to the benefit of its installed base. Missteps in the iCloud/Me.com, PING and Apple Maps illustrates the difficulty and challenge Apple faces in this area (Passbook looks promising but still very early to decide its real value). It is an area not even Steve Jobs understood well, being more hardware oriented (aside from iTunes where he played white knight to an industry having difficulty distributing its content). Even he was having difficulty getting access to the book publishers for iBooks and perhaps iTV (?); content is not an area that Tim Cook seems to be focused as he matures in his position as Apple’s CEO. The creation, acceptance and monetization of the services that people want and need to manage their lives will be Apple’s (and the industry’s) next big thing. In the afterglow of the product announcements this week, we’ll see what Apple management comes up with; it’s future depends on it.