Apple Study: 8 easy steps to beat Microsoft (and Google)
I would argue that the title of this presentation is a bit misleading; Google and Microsoft do employ some of the key points from this presentation, just maybe not always with the same effectiveness. Also, one could also each company holds a unique view of what constitutes value, progress, and success.
Regardless, they’ve done a nice job distilling the key components of the Apple approach. Many of these have been discussed ad naseum in other places, so the conciseness of this report much easier to digest.
A few of my favorite points were:
Apple re-legitimize vertical integration (slide 10,11): It seems a few years ago “vertical integration” was almost a curse word. Apple has definitely resuscitated this approach. However, I believe its more a result of their strategy to control the user experience that pushes them into this model rather than some innate superiority to this approach. It has failed for them in the past, so time will tell if they can maintain this structure moving forward.
App Store revenues a drop in the bucket (slide 16): I didn’t know this, I was always under the impression this was a huge money-maker for them. Considering the content-providers involved, one could assume they must take a large cut. If this is really a driver for their hardware, as the report indicates, one has to wonder what would happen if they actually started feeling price pressure on their physical products. I guess it will continue to make sense for them not to license out their software assets. Letting lower-cost manufacturers fight price wars with you and others would definitely erode their margins quickly.
Integration reinforced by retail strategy (slide 24): Can we just retire the words “halo effect” sooner than later? I admit it, this phrase is a personal pet peeve.
iPad embodies the transition to post-PC era (slide 34): Gotta love the “truck” versus “car” analogy here. I’m still not on-board with the post-PC era yet, but that may be due to the fact I’m a truck guy. Unless new innovations start pushing the boundaries of existing hardware, I might start migrating to a “car”.
Overview of Apple, Microsoft, and Google (slide 39): I’d love to know what the reasons are for the difference in the number of patent filings between these companies. With Microsoft, they do a bit of everything, so I can understand the number of patents, but Google is also involved in multiple markets. So why are these numbers so drastically different?
In the U.S., I think Apple and Google would be lauded as innovative, while Microsoft as stagnant. So to play devil’s advocate, could the number of patents filed and awarded actually be a symptom for lack of focus? I think some of Microsoft’s moves over the past years could make you wonder. I don’t have a strong opinion either way, just food for thought.
What are Apple’s main short-term risks? (slide 43): As I write this, Apple currently has a press conference scheduled where some are debating whether Apple would announce a recall on the iPhone 4 due to its antenna issues. This report could almost be prophetic.
On the last page I noted, don’t miss the the comment about Steve Jobs insistence that an early desktop Apple product not have any fans. As a “product guy”, it’s nice to know that even the most famous have their little embarrassing mistakes they’d like to take back. It’s a good reminder that Apple is still a speed-bump or two away from losing all they’ve gained, although they have been doing more right than wrong over the past few years.