Apple's Developer Conference: Apple Moves Solidly To Defense

By Rob Enderle June 02, 2014

Perhaps the most compelling part of the Apple developer event today was the representation that the number of new users coming to Apple was at all-time highs.  Given Apple has been falling behind Samsung and Google’s Android this would also suggest that the rate in which they are losing people to Samsung and Google is also at an all-time rate.  This would suggest a defensive strategy because if they can stop the erosion, the growth numbers then translate more directly to Apple growth and the success Tim Cook needs to hang on to his job.   

Also realize that Apple does things in a two-step process.   First the software and then the hardware so while there was no hardware launched at the show that will be showing up later and the combination, if it is compelling, can be used to more aggressively target Google and Samsung. 

Apple’s One Drive

As Samsung demonstrated against Apple, aggressive copying of features that people want but aren’t getting from your platform can be a compelling way to keep them on board.   Apple’s iDrive announcements mostly mirror Microsoft’s One Drive capability, which is one of my personal favorite parts of the Microsoft platform.   The best part is that pictures you take are near instantly available on your PC and in the cloud for aggressive sharing and until you actually have this capability you have no idea how wonderful it is.  

Moving iOS and MacOS Closer Together

This is strategic and it is clear that the modifications to the MacOS make it increasingly iOS like.    This suggests that eventually there may be one OS for both platforms and that this will be preceded by a common UI.   Making it easier for people to move from Apple PCs to Apple devices tends to lock people more tightly into both because folks don’t like to relearn how to do things.   This should make it far harder for these folks to justify moving to something else and builds on Apple’s defensive strategy.

Health App

Apple is really the first of the platform owners to attempt to fully embrace integrating the data on their mobile devices.   While this will appear more impressive once Apple has its own in market, there are a lot of third party devices in market now that suffer because users can’t do much with the data the devices capture.   Apple appears to be aggressively addressing that problem, and while I think this is the first part of one of their biggest one-two punches it is also a nice interim fix for folks like me that think the apps connected to these devices today are poor, largely because they aren’t well integrated.   While this seemed kind of obvious Apple, of the platform owners, still got it done first.   

Smart Home

Doing Smart Home devices would have been largely a waste of time and money but better integrating with them, which is what Apple announced, should make iPhones and iPads far more valuable to those that are installing this technology.   While this is more of a hedge against what both Google and Microsoft are doing today, Apple devices are generally favored for this task and this should lock them in even more tightly. 

Siri

While I can certainly argue that even with the improvements that Apple is making to Siri, Cortana is the best of the personal assistants in market.  However Apple just needs to have people think Siri is good enough in order to hold them and they may have met that lowered bar.  Eventually, they will have to improve Siri’s intelligence a lot to keep her competitive with both Microsoft and Google, but for now the improvements should be adequate to holding customers given Apple’s advantages in other areas.  

Wrapping Up: 

This was a small subsection of the mostly minor improvements Apple announced but given the numbers they shared, it showcases a realistic approach prioritizing holding customers rather than acquiring them.   Timing is better for this as well because most of the major sales occur during the second half when a more aggressive policy would have more impact anyway. That’s when I expect Apple will launch the second stage of this two stage process the new hardware.   We’ll have to wait until we actually try the improvements to truly see if what they announced will do the job but, on paper, Apple did what was needed in this critical time and set up for the second half nicely.   




Edited by Maurice Nagle

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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