Apple, that smart follower
Yesterday, for being a bit original, I decided to put together a few words about the Note 4. Hours before the Apple presentation where we saw what we all know and which, to a large extent, was the expected movement: give the jump to the big mobile.
My impression is that, in recent years, Apple has adopted a different role from the initial one in mobile telephony. From being the great innovator, he has moved to a more conservative position (they leave him when they create a new category, tablets and now the watch), what Americans call a "smart follower". His position allows him in many cases - some keys - to dedicate himself to waiting for others to propose, to observe what works and what the market demands and then to come up with his proposal that also starts with the advantage of recording learning and thinking about improvements compared to what others have taken out.
"Apple no longer innovates"
This is exemplified in the screen size, giving up four inches and going to the terrain that Samsung colonized: both in the growth of the Galaxy (this together with the Sony, HTC, LG, Huawei, Nokia ...) but especially with the Note range in which it has connected with a very open public to large screens (including me). Another point is how it has been incorporating elements that Android has put on the table and managed to popularize such as the leading role of notifications and being able to exchange information between applications in an easy way.
Something that also fits into this frame? To a certain extent, Apple Pay, which brings together elements already present in a multitude of proposals (NFC, contactless payment) but to which they add three fundamental values: the integrated fingerprint sensor, user confidence and the expectations of the ecosystem that it will work ... which has a lot of self-fulfilling prophecy, as we think is the one that will work, we integrate it in our stores and that precisely makes it work. It is true that none of the current proposals has had a long journey (if at all the solutions of the cards themselves), so here the risk is greater than when it adopts notifications or more than five inches.
These kinds of strategies can and do work in the scenario that Apple is in: an excellent position in the market, a very satisfied customer and a brand that is much more recognized than the rest. On the other hand, there is a type of public that perceives, on the one hand, that some of those aspects were in which it felt that Apple had been left behind and that they were the ones that distanced it the most from iPhone (in my case, sharing and screen size). ... and at the same time identifies that Apple puts on the table a value proposition that they have already enjoyed for years. And there comes the avalanche of comments of "this is not innovating" or "welcome to 2012".
Bridging the gap, it reminds me somewhat of the role Microsoft had just taken a decade ago. Waiting for others to open markets or launch new things and then come up with their ability to integrate. Of course, Microsoft leveraged much more in the network effect and in the "lock in" of the user (such as being trapped in Office formats when they were not open or taking advantage of the hegemony of integrating with Windows as with Explorer) while Apple - which It also has something of both - it does it mostly with design and user experience. And from there comes the speech that responds to the previous one, "you have not understood anything, it is not about functionalities or specifications, it is about the experience and exclusivity of iOs".
I have no interest in making a value judgment. In fact, what Apple does I think should be considered innovation, although de facto it is further from "invention". A few years ago the positions were reversed and nobody is free from "blame" (in fact the race for the clock presumably begins with the knowledge that Apple was working on it), but I think it is a mistake to expect a position from them It is not the "smart follower" in most of the elements in which the competition in mobile telephony is concentrated. If we want them in a different role and assess whether they maintain that ability to create a category in consumer electronics, we must look at their journey to the Apple Watch.