Ronnie05's Blog

Will Apple Slip back now?

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on May 6, 2009

reproduced from

“Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”… That was Steve Jobs at the launch of iPhone in 2007.

The ever-expanding array of touchscreen handsets is just the physical evidence of the monumental change the iPhone has wrought. It has sent some of the largest technology companies in the world back to the drawing board and proved that, given the opportunity, people will do far more with a phone than make calls and send texts. For Apple, the iPhone may also be one of the most important products it has produced since its first personal computers in the late 1970s.

Before the iPhone there were already touchscreen devices; there were mobile phones that could play music and videos; there were mobile phones that could access the internet and send emails; and it was already possible to download applications on to some devices in order to personalise them. But hardly anyone took advantage of these features. Finding them was hard enough; getting them to work was a nightmare and most consumers gave up.

 “It is not as though Apple invented a totally new technology,” says Adam Leach, principal analyst at consultancy Ovum. “What they did was re-think the whole mobile experience and produce a very polished experience compared with what people were used to.”

The iPhone was also aimed at a segment of the market that the giants of the handset industry had been ignoring – the “high end”. Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson were chasing the middle of the market where the high volumes and high subsidies from the mobile phone operators were. Their launch strategies involved upgrading their phones bit by bit – a better camera, a brighter screen or larger memory – so as to make the “new” device just a little more attractive. Making a phone a different colour boosted sales, but did nothing to persuade anyone to do more than make calls, send texts or download the occasional ringtone.

The iPhone, in stark contrast, is sexy and very, very easy to use. Since its arrival there has been a stampede back into making top-tier phones, not least because the recession has decimated the mid-market. Cash-strapped consumers are demanding a much better phone in return for signing an expensive monthly contract; if they don’t get one, they are opting for cheaper Sim-only deals and holding on to their old handset. BlackBerry rushed out its first touchscreen device – the BlackBerry Storm – to be followed by the first from Nokia, the 5800; Samsung and LG have been churning out touchscreen devices from the Tocco and the Omnia to the Renoir and the Arena. Waiting in the wings are new touchscreen devices from Palm (the Pre) and Sony Ericsson (the Idou).

The iPhone’s ease of use, meanwhile, has turned the spotlight back on an often neglected aspect of mobile phones: the software. A month after the iPhone appeared in the UK, Google brought together some of the biggest names in mobile to develop a new operating system. Called Android, it has already appeared on two touchscreen devices, made by HTC, and many more are planned. A year after the iPhone appeared, Nokia bought out its partners in Symbian, which produces operating systems for smartphones. Then Microsoft rewrote Windows Mobile and its new guise – unimaginatively called Windows Mobile 6.5 – has borrowed a lot from the iPhone’s look and feel.

Already more than 1bn iPhone applications have been downloaded from the iTunes store. The Android marketplace is operating, while RIM – maker of the BlackBerry – is also pushing applications at its users. Nokia’s Ovi Market and Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace are both set to go live this month. In the 12 months before the handset launched, Apple raked in $22bn in revenues. That has rocketed to almost $34bn in the past year, largely boosted by the iPhone and iPod Touch. The success of the iPod made Apple’s Cupertino headquarters one of the coolest places to work in Silicon Valley and the iPhone has made it one of the most powerful.

With so much now at stake, some experts suggest the iPhone will soon become the most important technology Apple’s empire has produced, even, potentially, eclipsing the computer business that revolutionised our lives in the 1980s. There are an estimated 1bn personal computers in use worldwide, but that many mobile phones are sold every year and for many people their first experience of computing will be through a mobile phone.

But while Apple caused a revolution, it is unlikely to become dominant in the market. It has sold just over 20m iPhones since the first device appeared in 2007; in that time more than 1.5bn phones have been shipped by everyone else. Later this month, the first wave of British users are freed from the contracts they had to sign to grab one of the early iPhones and start contemplating a replacement, they will be faced with a range of remarkably similar devices.A similar thing happened with the personal computer market. The concept was championed by Apple when it launched Apple II, the world’s first personal computer, in 1977, and the first Macintosh in 1984, but other players now lead the market.

While iPhone is the Touch Pioneer, it faces tough competition from other wannabe’s in the market today. So far, the other part of the twin strategy, applications has been successful in creating a stickiness around this product. However, competitors are working hard at that as well. It will be interesting to see, whether Apple slides down despite retain its Technology leadership crown or do the folks at Apple have another ground breaking innovation around the corner.

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2 Responses

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  1. Will Apple Slip back now? said, on May 6, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    […] Original post by ronnie05 […]

  2. Here comes the iPad « Ronnie05's Blog said, on January 28, 2010 at 11:37 am

    […] of speculation and 6 posts later (References below), the iPad finally arrives. Apple seeks to supplement the falling iPod sales with the iPad. Heres the first look at the […]

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