A new business model for a new age of computing.
“Apple’s strategy for eventually moving beyond the iPhone is coming into focus,” writes Neil Cybert in his recap of last week’s WWDC.
In a piece posted Wednesday on his Above Avalon website, Cybert offers a view of Apple’s evolving business strategy as a series of simple diagrams: The Mac as media hub. The three- or four-legged stool (iPhone, iPad, Mac and maybe iPod). Tim Cook’s four platforms (iOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS).
Conventional wisdom—at least on Wall Street—is that when the world moves to cloud services, Google wins and Apple is doomed. When devices are just nodes on a net, commodification inevitably sets in and profit margins evaporate.
Cybert begs to differ.
“Google and other services-oriented companies don’t have it completely right,” he writes. “When services become more valuable, one consequence is the altering of how we use different form factors. Hardware does not lose relevancy. Rather, a world in which services are much more useful and valuable ends up elevating new hardware form factors that have access to these services.” [Note Cybert’s addition of a couple of new, unannounced form factors.]
Steve Jobs, a child of the 1960s, might have recognized Cybert’s diagram as a tensegrity structure—akin to one of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes.
In this model, services like Siri, iMessage and Maps are the connectors that hold Apple’s devices together, allowing the company to keep delivering superior experiences for a premium price, even in the age of SnapChat and Facebook.
The great thing about Apple’s tensegrity structure as Cybert has drawn is that it’s both redundant and flexible. Not every product has to be a hit, and no two users’ experience will be the same.
Cybart has done a neat piece of conceptual analysis. Contrast it with the “one-trick pony” model that passes for analysis on, for example, MarketWatch, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg and even the Wall Street Journal. See today’s The reason everyone says Apple is a one-trick pony is because it is.