I would do a whole bunch of things, some of which I'll write now, some of which I might add later. Important notice: Since I am not aware of the internal strategies at Apple, I cannot say if some of my suggestions are already being pursued. So, for starters:
– Apple' massive pile of cash allows for major transitions and horizontal extensions of its expertise. I would shift large budgets into the fields of Apple's – in my opition – two big shortcomings: search and social. Why, you might say, would I do that? I mean, since there's already two other giants who are obviously the best at these two topics, it doesn't really make sense to expand into these areas, right?
Well, I think it does. Not to conquer them, but to understand them. Until recently, people were mainly looking for stuff on Google and mainly connecting to other people on Facebook. And I am expecting that these two sites will stay the major hubs of their fields for the next years. But social and search will be integrated into everything, and because the two Goliaths I mentioned are going to spearhead innovation in these fields, they will raise consumer aspirations higher and higher. Apple has already learnt a lot through its desktop and iTunes search, but there's still a long way to go until they reach a satisfactory point where they understand search well enough to provide their customers with a competitive user experience when it comes to search.
And speaking of social, Apple – as we all know – has learnt the basics and made the basic mistakes with its first forays into the area. They have, however, not yet succeeded in setting up a social platform that is buzzing with life. Achieving this goal, in my opinion, is crucial for Apple's fate as a brand beyond being a hardware and software manufacturer and also spans wide potential in higher capitalization, customer attachment, consumer lifecycle margins and so on. Apple has clearly realized this, though. there was some controversy about it not succeeding because of Steve Jobs aversion against open systems. It's most well-known attempts at setting foot in the field – Ping and Game Center – can easily be declared as failed. Apple has, however, started two very promising new attempts, though: iMessage and FriendFinder. iMessage really isn't a social network, but it sure is a social product. A bit too simple and a bit too late (read: WhatsApp already ate their cake), one might think, to grab a significant share of the market. But Apple has already learnt from its mistakes. It is now taking baby steps instead of trying to set up a giant empty new platform. The second attempt, in my eyes, is the most promising. FriendFinder has the potential of disrupting the social media market. FriendFinder, you might think, is not really anything close to a social network. Read the patent script, I say (I did this because at the time it was issued I had written a 90% similar product for one of my customer companies). The product that is now out there has nothing to do, yet, with what Steve had planned for it to be. This is just the first baby step. FriendFinder is a social product, designed to connect people via their interests, place and personal data (read: make friends). This is a crucial differentiation over Facebooks product model, which aims to connect you to the people you know and those that they know. And it fills a giant niche. I think that Apple can be very successful with FriendFinder if it pumps large amounts of money into socialogical research and communication software development. iMessage can then find its place inside of the social product FriendFinder. But this will only happen, if Apple becomes open to creating open products (there's a good chance of that happening now that Tim Cook is at the steering wheel) and invests significant amounts of money in the area.
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