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Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Is Apple Losing War Of Words?

Playing hard to get isn't helping Apple anymore. Here are 4 words it must embrace to fight off hard-talking rivals like Google and Samsung.

Apple needs to learn to speak the language of reality.

2. Social.

Apple's Ping social networking service bombed, an event widely seen a sign that the company doesn't get social software. Well, of course it doesn't. You can't be both silent and social.

Apple's laconic approach to public interaction undoubtedly contributes to the press it receives: The scarcity of Apple commentary increases its value. But the cost appears to be increasing. When Apple really was leading the industry in mobile innovation, the company could afford to let its products speak in its place. Now that the race is neck-and-neck, Apple just seems peevish and arrogant in its silence. I'm convinced there would be far less Apple hatred if the company made more of an effort to engage on a public level. If the engineering team behind Apple Maps, for example, posted on a social network about the challenges they faced and the advances they've been making, people would respond in a positive way.

Apple has fans. What it needs are friends.

3. Open.

"Open" is perhaps the most misused word in the tech industry. Even so, Apple could employ it a bit more. It could change its App Store review guidelines so content is not considered. Apple would still be able to reject apps because of technical shortcomings or security problems. But it would forego rejecting lawful, non-abusive content, a.k.a. arbitrary censorship.

Apple could make its apps more open. It could find a way to allow third-party iOS browsers to access its Nitro Javascript engine. It could make iAds Producer useful for anyone designing an online ad rather than just iAd users. It could make the .ibooks format open rather than proprietary. It could make iCloud a multi-platform cloud service instead of just a service for Apple devices.

Apple has mastered "closed." Now it needs to explore "open." It needs allies and partners rather than contracts that defend its turf.

4. Revolutionary.

The iPhone was genuinely revolutionary. It put a powerful, Internet-connected touchscreen computer in people's pockets, where nothing comparable existed previously. The iPad continued the revolution. The company's rumored Internet-connected watch isn't likely to rise to that level, even if it should deliver healthy margins.

Apple should be using some of its massive cash reserve to research a real revolution: building its own national wireless network, offering paid Web apps that perform better than Google's, making Siri work better, figuring out a way to cut cable companies out of the loop, or something equally bold. Google is gambling on Project Glass, self-driving cars and other "moonshots."

If Apple wants to keep tossing around the term "revolutionary," it will have to aim higher than wrist wear. It needs to challenge the status quo and break some business models.

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Greg MacSweeney
Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/20/2013 | 11:40:01 PM
re: Is Apple Losing War Of Words?
I like Apple products and I own many of them. I don't think Apple's doom is imminent, but Apple does need to do a better job communicating in general. When the last couple of products were less than "revolutionary" (iPhone 5, iPad Mini), people begin to wonder. The iPad Mini and iPhone 5 are still great products (see the sales #s), but they aren't even close to game changing. Competitors are closing the gap.

Also, I don't think market cap is all that an important metric. Apple was overvalued and was due for a correction. Wall Street is extremely short sighted...only caring about the current quarter's earnings. Companies that manage toward the quarterly conference call are rarely revolutionary, or successful long term.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/20/2013 | 7:58:28 PM
re: Is Apple Losing War Of Words?
I'm inclined to agree with Gruber. It has been a while since Apple delivered a "revolutionary" product, but the company set the bar so high in recent years that I feel it's almost irrational for it to continue the pace of innovation it saw under Jobs. To look at the slowed pace of innovation and start predicting Apple will completely fall off is startlingly premature in my mind. It may not be as innovative as it was under Jobs but it still be successful and relevant even if it isn't the most innovative company ever anymore.
User Rank: Author
3/19/2013 | 7:18:44 PM
re: Is Apple Losing War Of Words?
Well, yes, this makes perfect sense. Steve Jobs led Apple to become the most profitable company in the world (or at least the most valuable company in the world) based on breakthrough product innovations -- the "Revolutionary" aspect Tom Claburn and others say is missing at Apple right now. The fact that Apple's market cap has slipped 25% over the past half year is evidence that Apple's owners (and not just Claburn and Gassee) are worried that the company is only incrementally advancing existing products rather than launching brand new, market-changing ones.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
3/19/2013 | 6:17:47 PM
re: Is Apple Losing War Of Words?
Don108, please see:
Personal Attacks ("Argumentum ad Hominem") - the evasion of the actual topic by directing the attack at your opponent
User Rank: Apprentice
3/19/2013 | 2:46:19 PM
re: Is Apple Losing War Of Words?
So let's see. Apple is supposed to take the ideas of Jean Louis Gassee, who failed at Apple, and of Thomas Claburn, who trained in film production but makes his money by giving his opinion, over their own experience which has made them the most profitable company in the world in those areas where they compete. Yeah, like that makes sense...
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