Apple's reported earnings revealed a strong product mix contrast: iPhone sales increased 17% in units and 14% in revenues, while iPad sales decreased 16% in units and 13% in revenues. What accounts for this contrast? Is the iPad's growth trajectory broken?
Simply put, the iPhone's addressable market has only continued to increase with Apple's continued international expansion. Only recently, for example, has Apple broken out in Japan (still the world's third-largest economy); only a few months after releasing the 5S and 5C across all three of Japan's largest carriers, iPhone models made up 9 of the top 10 phones sold. And for iPhone, unlike iPad, the route to sales comes through carrier relationships -- of which Apple has landed more recently.
By contrast, the iPad's year-over-year results lagged because:
Price competition in tablets has been fierce. With Android tablets under $200 now commonplace -- including Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX -- Apple's premium pricing is catching up to it.
Replacement rates are lower than expected. Why are prices catching up to iPad now? Because replacement rates haven't been as quick as with iPhone. The pace at which people purchase smartphones is quicker than that of iPads, even among the Apple faithful. This means that Apple is seeking an ever expanding market -- people without tablets. For later adopters, who didn't see the big deal early on, price matters more than for earlier adopters.
Google acquired Nest for billions, and then Facebook spent several more billion on Oculus VR. We’re only a few months into 2014, and already billions have been spent by some of the world’s largest digital players, with each of these companies eager to own the next big thing. Mobile is right here, right now, but everyone knows that very soon, there will be something else. But what else?
In the battle to find and claim the next device that everyone will want, these companies will soon realize that next big thing is not a thing at all: It’s your voice.
Voice control suffers from the same things plaguing augmented reality or virtual reality: It has been around for so long that we think we know what it is. Any fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation knows that voice control involves invoking an invisible computer with a command, “Computer,” followed by a query, “How many Klingons does it take to screw in a light bulb?” Maybe that’s a question you don’t want the answer to, but the computer — as voiced by Majel Barrett in the TV series — would know it.
It’s possibly a long history of popular depictions of voice control that made us collectively show so much enthusiasm for Siri when Apple first debuted it in 2011. It’s also partly to blame for why we quickly turned on Siri, declaring her soothing semi-robotic tones to be merely amusing at best or irrelevant at worst.
When Microsoft recently announced its long-rumored Cortana voice service for Windows Phone 8.1 as a catch-up to both Siri and Google Now’s own voice interface, the interest was modest, perhaps because if Siri hasn’t changed the way millions of Apple users use millions of Apple devices, how can Microsoft initiate a wave of behavior change when it has so few Windows Phone users?
When Clippy, Microsoft’s paper-clip assistant, disappeared in 1998, it was hardly missed; it was both annoying and offered little value to users. Zip forward 16 years: Microsoft has just introduced Cortana, a new personal digital assistant that the firm will launch on Windows Phone in the coming months. Powered by Bing, and about two years in the making, Cortana will be important if Microsoft gets it right. Here’s why it’s an exciting development:
Mobile-first is a growing enterprise strategy. The whole idea of creating a mobile-first enterprise strategy has taken root in many enterprises, as they recognize that users now expect any information or service they desire to be available to them, in context and at their moment of need. Users are cognitively and behaviorally ready to embrace wearable technology as an extension of mobility — and to weave it into their business processes. My colleague JP Gownder shares his views on wearables here.