Has Apple lost its soul? The AirPods make a sound case against that.
We’ve all heard it before. “Apple has lost its soul”, “Apple isn’t innovative anymore”, “Apple just isn’t the same without Steve Jobs.” Here’s Elon Musk saying something like that. The popular conception is that Apple is without a clear visionary to drive novel products/features; Steve Jobs is no longer driving Apple’s direction. It’s very clear to see the distinction between a company like Apple, and Tesla.
Tesla has a clear and eccentric thought leader who will not accept anything less than perfect from his products. He has taken over Steve Jobs place (who rose above Bill Gates before him) as the pop tech nerd celebrity. Musk is kind of crazy (but mostly in a good way), and he embodies the 2018 culture by using Twitter as a feedback platform for his products.
What boundaries have Apple pushed recently? What new frontiers have they single-handedly found and built in 2018? The first and second gen iPhone ruthlessly demolished Blackberry from the smartphone market. Blackberry is no longer a relevant factor after Steve Jobs got done with them. Nothing like that has come recently for the iPhone, and if anything, the Android platform has gained ground on Apple. Steve Jobs would be furious to find out what has become of the Android platform, as he felt the Android founders stole his design:
…I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this. -Steve Jobs
It’s no wonder that it’s become popular opinion among the techies that Apple is a shell of their former selves. They haven’t put on a good show in a while that showcases something revolutionary.
Yet despite Apple’s lack of worldwide market-share and lack of charisma, Tim Cook and Apple still have found a way to churn out iPhone revenue in 2018. They utilize their Luxury brand presence as a source of motivation for consumers to buy Apple goods; Apple is in and popular right now, which is showcased by their brand that’s worth 182 billion dollars.
The iPhone drive’s Apple’s total revenue tremendously, but that’s all starting to change. Where 70% of Apple’s revenue comprised of the iPhone earlier on, in 2018 it could drop to almost under half. Apple services, like Apple music, as well as other products, have helped make that happen. Apple is actively trying to diversify their revenue stream and has nearly 300 billion dollars in the bank to play aggressively. One of their more aggressive moves in the last few years has been the energetic thrust into the headphone market. While they don’t quite compare to Bose noise canceling headphones, their recent acquisition of Beats, who was founded by hip-hop legend Dr. Dre, melds well with their luxury brand presence and social popularity.
Pair the new Beats with their would be rivals, the AirPods. The Beats are more oriented around sports and working out, while the AirPods revolve around good features, sleek aesthetic, and a luxury presence. Both would’ve competed against each other, but now they are owned by Apple, taking care of that problem.
The Beats are a proven brand, but what has the AirPods done recently to earn the respect of consumers and business analysts? For business analysts, there’s no denying the AirPods are growing in popularity. While starting off with a little friction, the AirPods have now been predicted to reach over 4 billion dollars in sales, which is double what the AirPods made in 2017. The AirPods have the potential to grow into something much larger.
For consumers, a wide variety of great features manifest itself into every aspect of the AirPods.
The AirPods can detect when they are in your ear. When they detect that you have removed your headphones, the media that you are listening to will pause automatically. You can double tap the Pods when they are in your ear to activate Siri (although Siri kind of sucks), which looks pretty futuristic.
It also comes with Apple’s signature W1 chip, which is customly designed to provide a high-quality wireless audio experience that uses 5 hours of battery charge. The case the Pods come with also allows you to pop your earbuds into the case and so it can charge. The case itself has 24 hours of battery life. The Pods can also detect when you are talking on the phone and modify the audio/background noise to deliver a non-intrusive talking experience.
The AirPods also boast seamless switching between your iPhone and watch, which adds to the Apple ecosystem:
AirPods connect automatically with all your Apple devices. They’re simultaneously connected to your iPhone and Apple Watch, and sound switches instantly between the devices. Want to listen to your Mac or iPad? Just choose AirPods on those devices
Are the AirPods perfect? Far from it, there are some things that were overlooked, like making it easy to adjust the volume on the pods without having to check your linked device. The seamless switching between devices only works on Apple’s watch and iPhone, and not other products. Despite these shortcomings, the AirPods have been growing in popularity.
While Apple might not have Steve Jobs, they do have Johnny Ive a CDO (Chief Design Officer) that can make sleek and user-friendly products. He is known for the kind of style that Apple’s flat design delivers. They also have smart business leaders that can make intelligent acquisitions that fit in well with Apple’s products. They did so with the Beats. And now with the recent entry of the AirPods, you could say that Apple is making smart business decisions and leveraging their popularity/brand to deliver a user-friendly consumer good. While Apple lacks the flashy product demonstrations of old, with the eloquence of their favorite turtleneck wearing perfectionist, they make up for it with high-end luxury products that can be priced well to deliver a staggering profit. Instead of relying on one product, Apple has diversified into a company that doesn’t just have the iPhone anymore. Apple has a wide variety of products and services that make a case for their soul being reformed into something much different. Apple’s CEO position has transformed from a bombastic and temperamentally volatile Steve Jobs to a calm, cool and collected Tim Cook.
You could say that what Apple lacks in heart, they make up for it with services and products that include a pair of earbuds. The culmination of these things makes a sound case for Apple still being a relevant company. Don’t count Apple out of the game yet, they still might have some smart moves ahead of them.