Apple is failing to learn the lessons of concerning way too many product models

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by the8thark, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. the8thark macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    Why is Tim Cook and Apple not learning from History?

    Steve Jobs talks about reducing the number of products at Apple during his 1997/1998 rebuilding of the company.

    We all know the mess that the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and other Apple product lines are in now. Apple had the same issues in 1997 and Steve Jobs had the solution. That same solution would work today but Apple refuse to do it.
  2. 0007776 Suspended


    Jul 11, 2006
    If they start having issues where it is hurting sales I am sure they will learn the lessons, but for now sales are just fine without a wide variety of products hurting their ability to sell them.
  3. acorntoy macrumors 65816

    May 25, 2010
    I think his point was that Apple was making -everything- from printers to cameras and it just wasn't working. They make a lot of phones ATM but the industry is complex so it's fitting. Apple needs to give options or people will just look to android for their preferences.

    It isn't like Apple is selling the first gen 12.9 as new and the iPad 5th gen but also the iPad Air 2 at the same time.
  4. the8thark thread starter macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    This is about more than just sales. It's about better definitions of each products, less product overlap, the ability to have your A teams on every product, etc etc. The video exerpt I shared above explains it well.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 12, 2017 ---
    That's only part of his point. "15 product platforms and a zillion variants of each one". That's similar to what Apple does today.
  5. acorntoy macrumors 65816

    May 25, 2010
    I'm just trying to point out that the phone market as of now is rather special, and I can see how they'd produce so many. In other areas I think there's room for improvement, like what is the MacBook Air still doing around?
  6. the8thark thread starter macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    No they don't. Apple should not be the fragmented mess of a mountain of choices like Android is. Apple should have a smaller number of very clearly defined options.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 12, 2017 ---
    Apple will not discontinue it like they should. Apple wants a product at every price point and clutters up the product line because of it. Apple should not have a product at every price point. Just pick the best few price poibnts and go for those. That way it's much easier to work out as a customer what the best product is for you.
  7. boast macrumors 65816


    Nov 12, 2007
    Phoenix, USA
    I think it would only be a mess if they released NEW phones in every single price bracket. But keeping old phones around isn’t confusing.
  8. the8thark thread starter macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    It is if you are new to the iPhones. Which iPhone is right for you. Not an easy question considering there are so many for sale now.
  9. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    So I go to Samsung....
  10. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    There are many different models, but they are all really different, so the decision isn't hard. The first decision - how big - removes most choices. The second - how much - takes care of the rest.
  11. I7guy macrumors Core


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    Did you every go to home depot to try and buy a bulb. It used to be simple. Now with the array of led bulbs across multiple form factors, lumens and prices, it's not simple.

    It's the same for many electronic appliances. A Samsung 55" tv comes in multiple price points and functionality. One needs to do research to figure out what one is getting for which price point.

    Apple now has a lineup across multiple prices. One has to do their homework. That's the trade-off against one model, one high price vs multiple models multiple price points.
  12. Arran macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2008
    Atlanta, USA
    You forgot color temperatures and (for spot lamps) beam angle. :p

    But you're absolutely right. A lightbulb mistake is immediately obvious - so you get a speedy refund or you eat $10. No biggie.

    But in choosing the wrong phone, it could be months before you even realize your mistake. That could be $500-1000 down the drain. And you're stuck with it for a while if you're on a contract. Ugh.
  13. I7guy macrumors Core


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    Your point is very well taken, and that is what the 14/15 day try-out period is for. But even if there were one phone model, I wonder how many people after the trial period runs out, could think to themselves: "I should have gotten the xyz phone instead of the iphone".
  14. the8thark thread starter macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    And have an even harder time working out which phone is right for you?
  15. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    This is true... but there must be sort of "where do u draw the line, and how can u make more money"

    If you only have 4 products then each one would be updating more often, or every other year.... Money usually oversees all that... so more products = more money at once in the same period and more products to choose from. That's how is usually is.

    There is no balance anymore.
  16. curmudgeonette macrumors 6502a

    Jan 28, 2016
    And that's when you say "Enough of this!" and grab a rough service incandescent bulb.

    With the current iPhone lineup, there's the risk that indecisive customers will opt for the SE (if they want an iOS device) or for whatever Android phone their carrier provides for free (if they don't care about the OS.) They'll tell themselves that they'll get the premium phone next year.

    There should be four models:
    X for those that want the flagship phone
    SE for those who want a small screen, or a low price
    8 medium screen size
    8 Plus large screen

    If needed, offer a 32GB iPhone 8 in a single color choice at a reduced price for those that want a bigger screen but not the price.
  17. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    When Steve returned to Apple, the company was in deep trouble, and drastic surgery was needed. The company that rose from the ashes is now huge, and rich. The same strategy used for recovery is not necessarily the same one that succeeds when you're on top.

    No publicly-owned business is allowed to rest on its laurels and say, "We're big enough." To continue to grow the company, you can't just sell more of each model (find new customers/steal sales from the competition). You also have to find ways to sell additional products to your existing, loyal customers. Diversification of product lines is almost inevitable, and Apple is far more disciplined about diversification than most. Everything ties into the ecosystem. Relative to other companies of Apple's size (and for that matter, companies far smaller than Apple), its product line is still quite lean and mean.

    Yes, it's fun to reminisce about the good old days, when Apple fans felt like they were part of a small, special community. Well, that village has grown to the size of the world's largest nations. You can't govern a nation as simplistically as you can govern a village.
  18. Technarchy macrumors 604


    May 21, 2012
    I believe it was Steve that said something like "Apple puts all their wood behind very few arrows."

    The product line is very bloated in an attempt to cater to every price point. It's not a problem right now in terms of making money, but it's certainly concerning for those of us old enough to remember Apple in the years without Steve Jobs in the late 80's and 90's.
  19. I7guy macrumors Core


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    A better analogy might be deciding on a mid-size car. I can't help but think apple really thought this through. Unlike other phone manufacturers they don't throw it against the wall and see what sticks.
  20. BigAppleNYC123 macrumors regular


    Jun 6, 2017
    The author of this article is completely wrong.

    Apples iphone syrategy provides apple with maximum profit which is achieved via serving various price points.

    If iPad had the same volume, you'd see more iPad volume.

    iPhone strategy of multiple won't change for a long time if ever
    --- Post Merged, Sep 15, 2017 ---
    Or which iPhones (plural) are right.
  21. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    The question is how much of current sales are just momentum. Did you know that the iPhone X launch was on the front page of the BBC website? Its easy to succeed when you're a media darling.

    Or how much of Apple's profits come from selling to brand-loyal customers at ever-increasing prices - great in the short term, but long-term they need to attract new customers. What if one of Apple's potential major competitors - i.e. Google or Amazon - gets their act together and offers an attractive phone, tightly integrated to their online services, at a reasonable price and markets it well?

    One of the risks to Apple is going to come as a result of the transition from "buy and download" to subscription-based streaming for music and video - younger customers aren't going to have massive iTunes libraries tying them to their iDevices - switching from Apple Music to a Google, Amazon or Spotify isn't such a big deal.

    Apple's saving grace at the moment is that their competitors are copying Apple - both in their designs (e.g. Google Pixel) and pricing strategy (neither Google or Amazon seem to realise that their brands don't yet justify Apple-level markups ). Samsung are already trouncing Apple in getting new technologies to market - but they don't have the integrated services to compete. I think Apple got really, really lucky last year - the Galaxy Note 7 could have knocked the iPhone 7 (most talked about feature: no headphone jack! Epic media relations fail) out of the park if it hadn't been for its regrettable incendiary tendencies. he started making music players as well :)

    Seriously, although Jobs' axe was timely, when Apple started making printers and cameras, it was a smart move: the original laserwriter was revolutionary (not just as a laser printer - but with built in low-cost networking so it could be shared amongst a workgroup) and secured the Mac's place as the preferred platform for DTP. The camera was one of the first viable digital cameras, and tied in nicely to the Mac's role as a multimedia creation tool.

    I think Scully gets a bit of a raw deal: he was trying to flog non-IBM-compatible computers at the height of the Wintel empire, after every other non-Wintel platform was crushed - and Apple probably only survived because Microsoft needed them as a defence against monopoly accusations (so Macs got Office and Internet Explorer). If Apple had made the "obvious" level-headed business move and switched to making PC clones, I doubt they'd still be around.

    Apple-without-Jobs produced great laptops, managed a tricky transition to PPC processors and invested in some weird little British processor chip called the "Acorn RISC Machine" (ARM - I wonder what happened to that?) If the Newton had been a little less reliant on handwriting recognition it could have been huge (I blame that Doonesbury cartoon strip).

    ...or, to put it bluntly, "Regular, Pro" x "Good, Better, Best" is a product line - "2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018" looks like laziness.

    For many successful years, Apple have had 13" Airs in the <=$1000 price range - and they have been hugely popular. They have failed to replace those machines with viable, up-to-date equivalents at the same price point.

    Instead, they have priced the true Air replacement at $1300 and mis-branded it as a "MacBook Pro without-touchbar" (or whatever you want to call it) and another 12" super-ultra-portable also at $1300 which is not really an Air replacement at all (yes, it has a better display than the Air, but is less powerful in every other respect and has particularly woeful connectivity). Then they're like "Oh, Whoops, we still need something to replace our best-selling $1000 laptop" so they just keep the Air on the books with a minor spec bump.

    I don't want to spend £1000 on a phone. I could afford to - but my phone is the bit of electronic kit that I'm most likely to leave behind, lose, drop, drown of have stolen so I just don't want to spend that sort of cash on it. So, what does Apple's latest announcement leave me?

    Ans: pretty much the same old iPhone 6 or iPhone SE that I didn't buy when they were brand new 2 years ago. Sorry, but that isn't going to pry open my wallet.

    I'm not sure how the iPhone X grows the company. Apple will probably sell a heap in the short term to existing Apple enthusiasts and have good figures for as long as their brand continues trending - but unless you're firmly embedded in Apple's reality distortion field and wouldn't touch Android with a bargepole, it isn't that impressive, and isn't going to bring in lots of new customers.

    Both the phone and computer markets are "maturing" and won't be offering the sort of growth they have in the past. Apple desperately needs a new product line. With the Watch, so far, their success seems limited to being the biggest fish in a small pond, but the emerging Killer App for wearables seems to be fitness tracking, which is much better served by a fitbit-like device - unless you want a brick strapped to your wrist while you are running or swimming. The Car would be a notoriously hard market to break in to - plus "the Apple Car" already exists, spiritually, in the form of Tesla. I'm surprised we haven't seen more Apple-branded electronics in luxury cars, though.

    ...but what you don't do is let your bread and butter business of computers and phones stagnate while you're looking for the next big thing.

    Jobs anticipated the market for GUI computers and DTP with the original Mac. He anticipated the market for digital music players (done well) and then he anticipated the demise of the music player market at the hands of phones, and had the iPhone ready to take over. Maybe he was a genius, or maybe he was serially lucky - but Apple is going to need some more of that genius/luck to survive long-term.

    I also suspect that Jobs was his own harshest critic. The current Apple has the whiff of echo chamber about it.
  22. Abazigal macrumors G4


    Jul 18, 2011
    It’s called segmenting the market. I don’t see anything wrong with it.
  23. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Maybe not when it is well planned - but Apple seem to be increasingly putting all of their effort into the high end and relying on old models to fill the lower tiers rather than designing models for each segment.

    One long-term danger is that both the iPhone and the Mac rely on having a thriving third-party ecosystem. If Apple were selling, say, designer shoes or high-end clockwork watches then they might safely pursue a future of lower-volume, higher-margin sales - but those products don't require large customer bases to support accessories and software.
  24. the8thark thread starter macrumors 68040


    Apr 18, 2011
    In the past Apple focused on the high end and just discontinued the older products. Apple didn't enter the low end at all. Jobs got this business model working amazingly well when he returned to Apple. The Apple of today does not realise this.

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25 September 12, 2017