“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” Tim Cook (Apple CEO) said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.”
“If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”
Apple’s Mac desktops and laptops may still count for a fraction of the global market for PCs, but when you tally up all the different devices (iPhones, iPads, etc.), the number of devices sold by Apple now exceeds the number of Windows-based PCs and mobiles shipped worldwide.
Regardless of whether you like Apple (or Microsoft), it’s an interesting observation, and in my view a very insightful one. The boundary between the different types of devices (desktops, laptops, tablets, mobiles) is really quite artificial as people do the same things on the different devices and that’s what matters. Reading and responding to email, as well as different social media interaction, simple lookups of information online, and even other work such as working on text or spreadsheet documents, it isn’t confined to a limited subset of these devices. So in my opinion, the analysis is valid.
From the Upstarta perspective this is also interesting as it shows how Apple’s long-term strategy appears to finally be paying off. For a long time they were essentially going head-to-head with Windows on the desktop and laptops, and even with the success of the MacBooks they weren’t gaining much ground.
Microsoft’s mobile strategy has been beyond dismal and I predict that even the acquisition of Noka won’t make a difference there, but Apple has brilliantly captured as distinct chunk of the mobile devices market – and while people do tend to hop back and forth to for instance Android, the overall market is huge and Apple offers something very specific that others can’t easily touch.
It’s not about the specific features of the phones at all. Sure, the overall quality of the hardware is good. But what Apple sells is not mobiles and tablets, it’s fashion and other social statements. It’s not competing directly with other mobiles, and thus other mobiles are not directly competing with it. Sure there’s overlap, but companies who don’t understand that they’re not exactly in the same space will never truly capture their market potential.
Just like Apple stores don’t sell hardware and software, they sell an experience. You can buy an iPhone online and often even have a new model quicker – yet people are happy to stand in a queue outside an Apple store, and mill around for hours once inside… the reasons behind that are important to understand.