The Wall Street Journal has an article on Apple reaching a revenue plateau. It isn’t surprising that revenue is heading down, but the quote from management is disturbing:
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said he remains optimistic, noting that he sees future gains for iPad and continued growth from services such as Apple Music and other projects.
“We don’t live in 90-day quarters, and we don’t invest in 90-day quarters,” said Mr. Cook. “I’m so convinced that the things we are doing are right and the assets we have are enormous.”
Apple Music? Even if the company got a 100-percent market share in recorded music how could that move the needle for a company with roughly $233 billion in annual sales? If this is what the company’s management is relying on, investors should be terrified. (And Apple music is a crummy me-too product.)
What are Apple’s competitive edges going forward that could lead to substantial revenue and/or profit growth? The iPhone per se doesn’t seem like one of them. My iPhone 6 Plus became unstable in its 6th month of life, with hangs and crashes roughly comparable to what one might experience with Samsung’s version of Android on an older Note device. The Apple Health app is comically sloppily programmed and its user interface is inferior to what Samsung was offering with the Note 3 two years ago. People whom I know in professional video say that Adobe Premiere is at least as good as Final Cut Pro and that Apple lost a lot of loyalty with a major user interface change to Final Cut.
What about Apple’s supposed leadership in user experience? Plainly the Apple Health programmers didn’t get the memo, but surely the core iOS has a better/cleaner user interface than any Android or (gasp!) Windows phone? I might have thought so until I visited a neighbor. She is intelligent and well-educated, but not passionate about technology. She said that she had hardly gotten any phone calls for weeks. I discovered that her phone was in “Do Not Disturb” mode. She had entered this inadvertently by mistakenly swiping up from the bottom of the screen then touching the moon symbol (a nice icon but there is no explanation of what it means). No programmer at Apple had thought to have the phone display a confirmation dialog box after a few days in DnD mode. I decided to be a hero and reconfigure her phone so that this mode couldn’t be entered inadvertently. I would remove the moon icon from the quick swipe-up menu. Then I discovered that Apple was so confident in its broken user interface that, unlike with Android devices, there was no way to customize the choices.
Readers: What does Apple have that is way better than the competition? What should they be working on going forward? (they’ve got plenty of cash to do all of the R&D that they want, at least as long as they hire all of the programmers offshore so that they don’t have to bring the money into the U.S. and pay corporate taxes on it)
(My personal vote: Camera software. Sony and Samsung have slightly higher scoring cameras on DxOMark, but my experience with a Samsung Note 3 was that its practical capabilities were far behind the test scores. Maybe Sony is better. DxOMark says “Impressive autofocus in all conditions, the best tested to date” and “Very good white balance and color rendering in most situations” regarding the Sony Xperia Z5. Perhaps the Sony is actually the photographer’s best phone choice? (And the device is actually waterproof; rated IP68!))