I used to argue the merits of why I believe Apple would change the face of the IT world. Most of my PC-loyal friends didn’t want to hear of it. Granted, back then I was simply psyched because, as a seasoned IT professional, I recognized a very good OS when I saw one, and before Windows 7, Microsoft hadn’t had one since Windows XP. Many of my hardcore PC friends still don’t like to hear me talk about how good OS X is, but I’m guessing the news about HP sounding like their getting out of the PC business has forced them to reconsider what I’ve been on about for the last several years. Of course, some die-hards will go down swinging (but still go down).
I wasn’t always so convinced that Apple would be all that it has become. I believe it takes more than a great OS to change an entire industry. Of course, Mr. Jobs knew that as well, and, as is no surprise at all, he was way ahead of me. But, even I sort of recognized something was up when the iPhone came on the scene.
Now, I must confess, I most certainly wasn’t sold with iPhone 1.0, or 2.0 for that matter.
They simply weren’t enough for me. I saw them as old tech repackaged as new (and shiny!), and not worth all the money they were being sold for. Upon reflection, I stand by that. They were nice to look at, but certainly weren’t where I wanted Smart phones to be for such prices back then, and there were cheaper phones that offered more at the time.
Then it happened. The iPhone 3GS with iOS 4.+ was all it took for me to take the plunge. It was jam packed full of all that made the iPhone the dominant force it is in the Smart Phone world today. Developers (thankfully!) were way ahead of me and made it easier for me to realize with the many apps I downloaded.
Not long after that came the iPad.
Like the iPhone 1.0, I wasn’t sold. And, personally, I’m still not. I prefer my MacBook Air. I’m a diehard, old-fashioned keyboard lover with anything larger than an iPhone. Nevertheless, despite the lack of USB ports, (and many other things), I quickly saw the merits of the iPad. The sales of the device quickly confirmed my thinking. The iPad 2 made things all the more appealing. (Who knows whether or not I’ll be able to resist 3.0. ;))
Not long after that, I read up on how the iPad was moved to market. It became clear that Apple had done something way more brilliant than Mr. Slow (uh, that would be me) had noticed. They had a established a mechanism for handling their products from conception to the point of sales. Their position was now primo, and I mean primo on a level that other computer manufacturers could on dream of. I’m guessing HP It appears we are now starting to see the casualties of what they’ve built. I’m willing to bet HP CEO Leo Apotheker saw what I saw.
As I mentioned earlier, last week HP shocked the PC industry by announcing they were pretty much taking themselves out of the PC business and focusing elsewhere.
I sent an e-mail response to a fellow Apple admirer who keeps an eye on Apple as much as I do. He admitted he was a bit surprised at HP all but saying they give up. Here’s my response:
Specifically, they [Apple] have a mechanism in place no one has tried to match yet (for some very odd reason). They are responsible for and have total control of the product from conception to delivery. That’s an awful lot of money saved on overhead from Jobs’ (& co.) thinking of it, Ives designing it, patenting that product (Apple lawyers), sending it to Foxconn, and selling it at Apple stores. Then you add the other moments of genius like fine detailing even down to the packaging, and making opening their products part of the experience. But, of course, the genius doesn’t end there.
The hardware and software are designed to function excellently together from the beginning. When updates are needed there’s no figuring out what version for what hardware needs to be rolled out. “It just works” because it was designed that way initially, hardware, software, marketing, and shipping. And when they make a security update they know exactly what machines need updating, and how all of their hardware functions. That saves time (which is money).
None of this is to sell short how great the product(s) are. They look great, are fun and intuitive to use, and are marketed very, very well. Some realized these things when they focused on the iPad and how it came to be what it is, but I understood this applies to all Apple devices. They are set up very nicely for some time to come. I’m pretty sure their business model is very envied at the moment.
When I wondered aloud, “I wonder when Microsoft is going to start selling hardware”, it was because I don’t see them as having any other choice now. I see them as being in the best position to compete with Apple because they also have experience creating and delivering an OS to market. If I was Microsoft, I’d be sizing up the possibilities of purchasing that portion of HP (assuming they can afford it). Of course, they’ll also have to try and market and deliver it… They have quite a bit to try and establish. Nevertheless, I hope they or someone does it. Apple needs competition just like everyone else. We the consumers benefit from it in the end.
Now, OS X Lion on the prowl, and with iOS 5 soon out of Beta and the great things being said about it, and Apple TV now allowing users to stream purchased shows without the need of downloading (something I really enjoy, not to mention the space it frees up on my Mac hard drives!), I simply don’t see anyone competing with or slowing Apple down.
As I see it Apple is the force in the IT industry. Companies can buy up other companies to try and compete, but where does one buy a Steve Jobs or Jonathan Ives, not to mention the marketing geniuses at Apple? No. The planets currently seem to be aligned for the folks in Cupertino. Stay tuned.