Apple at 40: The Industry Reacts

40 years ago today, Apple was founded in a garage in Los Altos, California. The company has come a long way since then, from its initial successes to its wilderness years during the 90s, through to its reinvention as the worlds most valuable company. Along the way, it has lost a key figure in Steve Jobs, and helped to redefine multiple industries through its well-designed technology products and software.

But despite its huge revenues and iconic brand, Apple faces a tricky future as the tech world grows ever more complex and fractured, and the company attempts to diversify into fields as far from its original territory as automotive and wearables.

We reached out to a panel of industry experts for their thoughts on Apples legacy in mobile, and what the future holds for the tech giant.

David Barker AmobeeDavid Barker, SVP & managing director for EMEA, Amobee
Looking back at the Jobs Era’ of Apple, a defining characteristic was the companys ability to create innovative products that generated new demand. Apple showed consumers what they wanted before they knew they even wanted it; this contributed heavily to their success but is also an ongoing source of high expectations. The reaction to last weeks Apple event is an example of how a lack of wow factor added to growing scepticism towards Apple, which is arguably unfounded on both the product and advertising level.

Apple will continue to release well-developed products in its core areas and consumers will eventually realise that innovation has progressed beyond a singular product  into products acting as platforms with enabling capabilities, such as the multi-device integration of the latest Apple TV.  For advertising. what Apple did for the proliferation of smartphones and internet usage was significant as it provided a hotbed for mobile advertising and a global app economy.  iPhones and iPads are still the most profitable and therefore most sought-after platforms for app developers and advertisers.

The key to Apples continued success (and the success of its competitors) will be developing markets. Android has already gained significant traction in India and China, and it will be interesting to see how iOS monetisation takes hold in these markets. Google has had a stellar 12 months, repositioning itself as Alphabet and innovating through key growth areas such as video (with Chromecast) and IoT (with Android Auto). In the future, we can expect to see the Apple-Google battle over OS, devices, apps, video and IoT intensify, which will only make this area more interesting for marketers and consumers alike.

Libby Robinson, managing director for EMEA, M&C Saatchi Mobile
For Apple, streamlining seems to be the name of the game for 2016 – the iPhone 7 is rumoured have a thinner body and bezel and no earphone ports. With the new 12MP camera only recently launched with the iPhone 6S, experts aren’t expecting too many changes here. There is also a lot of debate around the screen, but no leak has been concrete or confirmed the rumoured glass-on-glass screen which opens up the very interesting possibility of a QHD or even a 4K display.

However in looking to the future Apple knows that it can’t rely on the annual iPhone hype release cycle forever. They seem more focused than ever on becoming the platform of choice for our everyday, inherently-mobile lives. From the connected smart home, mobile payments and eventually its rumoured electronic self-driving car. Analysts are predicting that the next wave of growth is likely to come from calculated investment in content and services, looking beyond the rush of unboxing the latest iProduct and taking on the digital companies we’re increasingly reliant on for entertainment – namely Spotify and Netflix. It will be a very interesting race to watch.

David Skerrett NimbletankDavid Skerrett, managing partner, Nimbletank
Apple has come a long way in 40 years, becoming the worlds most valuable company pulling in over $18 billion dollars of profit in Q1 of 2016 – an incredible figure. Ever since the Macintosh, Apple has proven fantastic at entering established markets proceeding to then shake them up great design, simple user experiences and valuable ecosystems. This means it would make sense for Apple to end up in almost any industry especially with technology being the main driver for a lot of business now. Apple is in a strong position to take any big company’s lunch money, especially with more cash in the bank than most countries.

The obvious answer to where are Apple going next is electric cars, but that won’t be quick. There is one acquisition Apple made recently which I have yet to see the fruits of, and that is Metaio, an augmented reality company. Speculation is that the next personal computing device that Apple may be developing is a pair of smart glasses. Now that may take a while for us to hear about formally but a pair of smart glasses that utilises Metaio’s technology could be on the cards.

Jon-HookJon Hook, GM advertising, Phunware
In the advertising world, despite of all Apples prowess for design and product, iAd failed. And it was more a genuine feeling of disappointment than rejoicing in its failure. Data rich like Facebook, creative engineering talent flowing out of the doors, iAd should have succeeded. So what now for Apple and mobile advertising?

I hope they ditch the word advertising altogether. Apple should no longer think about mobile advertising in the traditional sense – i.e. a banner on a screen – and focus on one-to-one personal experiences. If anyone can finally deliver on the much promised “context and location” services, its Apple.

As an avid Apple user, I run my life through my iPhone and Apple devices. Apple (worryingly) knows so much about me. How is Siri going to evolve into a personal assistant for my life? When is the Appstore going to lead with the category “Apps that we know you need” vs featured apps/hot this week? Or why not take it a step further, and get Siri to tell me the apps I need. Im excited to see what Apple will deliver post–iAd, so long as its not mobile advertising as we know it today.

Harry Dewhirst BlisHarry Dewhirst, president, Blis
Against many odds Apple has become a giant, world-spanning, immensely rich company. The Apple evolution involved turbulence and near death experience, followed by the biggest turnaround in corporate history, followed by the rise of Apple as a services company.

At the core of Apple is a manufacturer and designer of high-end personal computers –  small, medium and large. Everything else it does — from iTunes to iCloud storage, apps and accessories — has one and only one raison d’être: push up the volumes and margins of the company’s personal computers.

Looking further into the future, the putative Apple Car could inaugurate the Apple 4.0 era. In reality this could take decades. Nearer on the horizon is further integration into the connected home environment. Building on Apple TV and Siri, the company will compete for voice control of home-based apps, with the likes of Amazon, Google and Samsung. Rumours of a possible buyout of struggling Sonos to drive this ambition forward are already gaining attention.

Apple won’t become boring with age. The company is just as exciting — and occasionally as unexpected — as they were 40 years ago.

James Chandler MindshareJames Chandler, global mobile director, Mindshare
Apple has been brilliant at solving things we take for granted: a front facing ‘selfie’ camera flash; photos organised not just chronologically but into selfies, screenshots and by location & most recently; Night Shift, allowing Apple users to extend their device usage into the night without worrying about how this activity affects their sleep.

Platforms likes ResearchKit will never get the limelight and plaudits that the new iPhone will – but it is an incredible means of solving the problem of recruiting people for medical research and contributing to a better understanding of conditions like Parkinsons, asthma and breast cancer.  We can expect more genuinely life-changing’ developments on the software side from Apple.

Perhaps Apple can cure the Frankenstein’s Monster that is the ‘connected home’? At the moment, there is no common software layer to connect my Nest Thermostat to my Samsung Smart  fridge to my LG TV & connected smart front door lock.  HomeKit could genuinely deliver this and make my connected home experience more frictionless.

What’s more, they can could get smart with all of the different data signals they have visibility of through Apple devices: could my Apple Watch detect my rise in body temperature after a run and ‘talk’ to my thermostat to cool my home when via GPS it knows I’m 10min walk away? Apple’s strength is not only in the software and hardware working together, but in the Apple ecosystem as a whole: Mac talks to iPhone talks to Watch connects with car & TV.  It creates one unified view of a customers, with a variety of different data sources.

There is a cultural friction though — Apple’s need for complete control in a world where Millenials and Gen Z are increasingly empowered to pick and mix’.  Also, these new audiences won’t have the Steve Jobs context we’ve grown up with — Apple will look and sound very different to them as it did to us in those incredible years that saw the launch of the iPod, iPhone & iPad.

Adam Croxen future platformsAdam Croxen, managing director, Future Platforms
While owning Apple products has become a lifestyle and status symbol for millions, which in turn drives revenue, iOS market share is still being dwarfed by Android. The release of the cheaper, smaller iPhone SE appears to be an admission from Apple that it needs to lower price points in order to  widen its consumer appeal on mobile.

Apple’s loyal customer base ensure that its revenue is well above that of rivals, but our mobile behaviour is becoming more and more service-based than platform-based. It’s how Apple can move beyond selling just devices to also providing services that will be interesting to observe.

Apple Pay, Music, and News are steps in that direction, but you only have to look at the millions more using Search, YouTube, Gmail, AdWords etc. to see how Android is only a part of Google’s mobile strategy.

Apple’s challenge now is less about getting people to use its devices, but more to cultivate a mobile environment in which it’s providing more of the services people are using.

Thomas-HussonThomas Husson, VP and principal analyst, Forrester Research
Is Apple facing a mid-life crisis? Some argue that it is now too dependent on its successful iPhone product line and that it needs to introduce more disruptive innovation. It is true that the Apple Watch is not the new business line that will generate enough revenue to maintain Apples high valuation.

However, Apples history demonstrates the brand is able to disrupt itself. Nothing is set in stone yet and there is a lot more to come from areas where people spend a lot of time, from TV to cars.

The future of Apple looks bright if it can stick to its DNA: lifestyle; liberty regained; innovation; and power-to-the-people through technology. These days, the focus on privacy and on emotions are key differentiators. Few companies can claim to be focused on how their product experience makes you feel.

Lets face it: the Apple brand has become a part of peoples daily lifestyle.