The three blunders by Tim Cook at Apple

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My sister thinks that I am
almost primitive for not having switched to an Iphone and my reluctance to make
this switch surprised her even more when she recently brought an IPhone 7 for
all family members while visiting us from the US of A.
Till about a year back I was
terribly happy with a Blackberry (BB) till most of the apps that provide daily
convenience decided to stop providing BB support and life started becoming
difficult. And I switched to android. As
I mentioned in one of my posts that went viral
, BB lost the plot when it
failed to take a few significant decisions in its product lifecycle. Even while
Apple is likely to be the first company ever to achieve a
US$ 1Tr market cap
, its fate might be similar to BB if it doesn’t change
course.
It’s a given that till recently
Apple used to make the most beautiful phones and laptops on the planet and yet a
statistic that I came across pleasantly surprised me. Give or take, Apple has less
than 20% market share
 of the
smartphone industry and pockets
90% of the entire profits
 of
the smartphones sold across the planet.
And that’s why the smartness
and iconic status of Apple in every aspect makes it the most talked about brand
in the world.

Product efficiency must be far
better than the rest of the competition.

The only people that I have
ever seen struggling with a repertoire of a battery packs and wires looking
like nooses around the necks are users of Iphones. Its hard to imagine that
Apple hasn’t been able to get its battery right. And on top of that they aren’t
even apologetic about it. If someone was to have a long working day starting at
0500 and going thru midnight, there is no way in hell that Apple would last
beyond noon. It’s a shame to see Apple Iphone users nervously struggling with
chords and chargers. Apple must do something about its batteries or its in
trouble.
Further to substantiate my
belief I used a US$200 Chinese phone along-with an Iphone 7 for a fortnight and
was pleasantly surprised with the Chinese brand for its interface, battery and
response. 1/6th the
cost and a far superior efficiency. Apple phones at approx. US$1000 a piece do
not provide anything that a plethora of phones at 1/5th the cost provide smilingly and
efficiently.

Position of supremacy can
neither be taken for granted nor can it last forever.

A brand like Apple must
consolidate its present position and try and capture a much larger market
share. Customer is conscious and no brand in this ever connected and efficient
world can charge a 4X premium for a small incremental beauty / efficiency of a
product.
The saga of success that
started in early 2000’s when the ipods took over the world must continue into a
new product or invention. For how long can apple continue to modulate the same
iphones in their shape and size and – isn’t this akin to old wine in new well
packaged bottle every few quarters.

Product evolution in line with
customer’s demand / desire.

Every other phone comes with a
2 sim slot that is really the most practical functionality to have for people
who travel and are sometimes in need of alternate numbers. Apple has
conveniently chosen to avoid providing this most desired functionality. If
India and China with multiple GSM service providers at multiple radio
frequencies, are to be Apple’s next serious countries of growth, Apple must
start providing 2 sim phones sooner rather than later.
People generally prefer to keep
work and personal numbers separate and a 2 sim fone at a starting point costs
as little as US$40, its terribly surprising that Apple hasn’t thought of it as
its top priority while brouhaha’ing’ about the India and China potential.

Greed is good but put a stop
somewhere.

As
Gordon Gekko says – Greed is good
 and
Apple has brilliantly realised its greed to an extent that its cash
reserves
 of US$250B are more
than the GDP of many countries in the world, but all of it can quickly
disappear if the most powerful engine of this growth feels short changed – and
that engine is The Customer.
Microsoft strategically and
conveniently allowed piracy of Windows in all second and third world countries
for the longest period of time but captured a significant market share. The
only sustainable ecosystem of programs and softwares across the planet is
aligned to Windows. The world today is reluctant to switch off from Windows
even if there are better and cheaper alternatives available. Apple seems to be
losing this plot somehow.
Forget the profits and the
success and the iconic status of Apple as a company – but with just 20%market
share at 5-6 times the price of similar products, all it would take is a few
quarters for this castle to come crashing down if the customer – who is king –
realizes, what a ‘Charlie’ – Apple is making out of them.
Whatsapp wouldn’t have existed
today if Blackberry had opened its BBMessenger as an open source free app just
a few quarters before it actually did. This happened to Blackberry for its
sluggishness in evolution – this could well happen to Apple.



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Manu Rishi Guptha
Manu is an Investor, Blogger, and a Professor of Fearlessness & Minimalism.
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