Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Analysis: iPhone a 'wake-up call' for the industry

I'm glad they put that in quotes.

According to figures quoted by Steve Jobs during his keynote, 957 million mobile phones were sold in the U.S. last year. (That compares to 209 million PCs.) Just a 1 percent market share would mean selling around 10 million units, the Apple CEO figures—and that happens to be Apple’s goal for 2008.

But get this:
While it will be some time before the full effects of the iPhone will be felt, Apple has strong feelings on what its impact will be. “It will do for the phone market what the Mac did for personal computers,” Joswiak said.

Uh... and what exactly is that? This is one of the few times when I think the acronym "ROFL" might be appropriate.

I'm just about the only person I know who uses an Apple computer and I'm sick and tired of the fact that it is easier to use, more reliable (etc. etc. etc) getting absolutely no traction from my Windows using friends. If a Microsoft representative came to their homes to personally tread on their private parts they'd have no problem paying for the experience.

Apple "addicts" or "Mac Addicts", as they call themselves have true brand loyalty. But most Windows users are oblivious to what brand of anything they are using. It's "just a PC" and for most people it will be "just a cell phone", "just a music player", and so on.

One Slashdotter today referred to the US as the "third world of electronic gadgets". Do most Americans even know this?

What would be great for Apple at this point would be some new wave of American isolationism (not out of the question that this could happen, but I wouldn't place a large wager just yet): "Samsung, Nokia, LG, Sony and on and on, you guys all go experiment on the Asian and European market. Once you get something that works, bring it over here and we'll slap an Apple logo on it."

That must be the fantasyland (pun intended) that Apple is moving into. And once 2008 comes along and they've captured ONE PERCENT of the cell phone market... what next? Refrigerators? Window unit air conditioners? HEY! Office furniture! No wait, that's too limiting, HOME furniture! Your imagination is the limit.

Never mind the fact that there most certainly is going to be a tech retrenchment soon, and based on the "wonders" from CES, VERY soon, I think it's time for some mergers. Didn't someone let slip a joke about an Apple/Google merger? I think it needs to become non-joking material.

The most versatile company in America right now is (drum-roll, and in spite of my, um, non-fan status) Microsoft. Maybe this is Apple's attempt to diversify better too, but frankly, I don't think they are that well positioned. As dominators of only one market (online music) which has hardly gotten off the ground yet (really, when you look at the numbers it's peanuts) they are not in the same league with Microsoft. Microsoft is diversifying from controlling both the Home and Office software market to getting into portable devices (poorly at the moment) entertainment equipment (XBox is at least viable as a profit center), they compete in the online service and advertising business with Google, Yahoo, etc., and they claim to be moving into business consulting and a few other things (although I have my doubts still that they have the stomach for it). No American company is going to make hardware PERIOD. Intel and IBM have nice businesses designing chips, and AMD isn't going anywhere for a while, but in terms of end user products, we just slap the label on the box, uh, I mean we ask the nice people in Singapore to do that for us before they ship it to the customer.

So Apple, is a BRAND, and name recognition is a good thing. The Apple brand is a rising star as is Google, while a lot of older brands are sinking or stagnating. Marrying off one of these rising stars with a company that is otherwise in decent health could have some great synergistic effects.

Matchmakers matchmakers make me a match: Let the speculation begin. Who's it going to be? Apple-Yahoo, Google-Apple? Sony could use some diversification too at this point, and IBM... it's been a while since they tried to get into the consumer business, are they over embarrassment about the PC Jr? They could have course OWNED the PC business if they had taken it more seriously, was that failure so colossal that they can never think of the possibility again? A tech retrenchment might make strange bedfellows.

After all, the most fun part of the roller coaster ride is that big drop. Everyone hold your hands up and start screaming!

Update: I forgot to mention... some say that the BIG news today from Apple was their name change, from Apple Computer Inc. to just Apple Inc. I tend to agree. Maybe I should have just titled this post that way, but I got such a jolt from the two quotes in the Yahoo article that I couldn't stop myself from just linking it.

I even went over to one of the Apple forums to throw cold water on the iPhone thing and found them already shivering over the name change. Oh yea, more on names:


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