Is Apple losing its focus?

rmoliv

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Dec 20, 2017
1,338
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It used to be a hardware/software company, but that's not the case anymore. It is:
- A medical device company (ECG app);
- A health and fitness company (Health app, Apple Watch);
- A music distributor (iTunes, Apple Music);
- A TV, film and videogame distributor and producer (iTunes movies, TV app, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade);
- A magazine/newspaper distributor and editor (Apple News, Apple News+);
- A bank (Apple Pay, Apple Cash, Apple Card);
- An insurance company (Apple Care);
- A retailer (Apple Store);
- A car maker (if Apple Car rumors prove to be true).
Is it just me or they're kind of losing their focus? I'm afraid that by trying to penetrate too many different sectors at the same time, they're going to end up not being the best in any of them and eventually collapse.
 
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Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
33,993
34,993
Are they losing focus as you’re interpreting it? Or are they continually expanding into new avenues to broaden the company’s perspective? I think people think Apple should be the same company they were 20 years ago and not change, that’s not logical. I think Apple is changing with the times by offering new services to go beyond just being a ‘tech’ company. Apple is so much more today than what they were 20 years ago, not necessarily because they have to be, but they see prospects in new avenues with media, banking services, etc. I think Apple should be dynamic and not be what everybody expects them to be.
 
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parseckadet

macrumors 65816
Dec 13, 2010
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Denver, CO
Is IBM losing focus? HP? Microsoft?

Let's not forget that when Apple was "just" a hardware/software company they almost went bankrupt. It wasn't until they brought services into the mix with the iTunes Music Store that they really started to turn things around. Everyone focuses on the iPod as the thing that saved Apple, but it wouldn't have been nearly as appealing of a device if it weren't for the ability to easily buy songs with a single click and then load them onto it in just a few minutes.

It was the COMBINATION of easy to use services with compelling hardware and software that saved the company. Is it really any wonder that we see them continuing to expand on that strategy today?

If you want an example of a company that remained focused on hardware, I'll direct your attention toward Dell. How are they doing these days?
 

StellarVixen

macrumors 68020
Mar 1, 2018
2,322
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Earth
They are trying to diversify their portfolio to ensure the survival in the future. I do not like it has to be this way, but I understand them.
 

macbookhair

macrumors regular
Sep 2, 2015
146
370
They ARE losing focus. This was a company that came to success through razor-sharp focus, with very well conceived and executed products launched into a small number of very specific markets.

Their offering now is too extensive, confusing and undisciplined. So in light of how they achieved success and what they are known for as a brand, a loss of focus is a problem.
 

C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
49,727
18,248
They ARE losing focus. This was a company that came to success through razor-sharp focus, with very well conceived and executed products launched into a small number of very specific markets.

Their offering now is too extensive, confusing and undisciplined. So in light of how they achieved success and what they are known for as a brand, a loss of focus is a problem.
Putting that in the context of a fairly different industry landscape, a somewhat different picture can emerge.
 
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parseckadet

macrumors 65816
Dec 13, 2010
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Dell is doing rather well.
They might be getting along just fine, but they're not worth nearly as much as other tech companies. Today their market cap is $43.88B. Meanwhile Apple is constantly just below $1T. My point was that Apple's value would be more like that of Dell's if they had stuck to hardware alone and not ventured into services.
Indeed. If I were to dump my MacBook Pro for a Windows-based device, Dell will be first on my list.
Dell's quality has really suffered the last several years. And their customer service is terrible. I wouldn't go near their systems these days.
 
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turbineseaplane

macrumors 603
Mar 19, 2008
6,157
9,151
The short is answer is "yes".

The company was always at its best and most cherished when it was led by the product guy (Steve).

We have an operations guy now and Wall Street/stock price/revenue growth is seemingly behind every single move they make now.

It's a business - always has been - but Steve would be balancing this differently I believe, as he himself always articulated that if you lead with amazing product, fit, finish - the whole package - the revenue and success will be there.

Right now, conversely, they seem to start every decision with working backwards from the margin, ASP and revenue growth angle -- and then design the offerings according to what those constraints dictate.

(Please pause while I barf)

They are slow roll, half baking, nearly everything they pull out of the oven right now and it's eroding years, if not decades, of long term goodwill. It's nearly heartbreaking to watch. I used to love this company and I am now really mixed on them.

Also confusing the whole situation is the role Jony plays (or doesn't)
 
Last edited:

macbookhair

macrumors regular
Sep 2, 2015
146
370
The short is answer is "yes".

The company was always at its best and most cherished when it was led by the product guy (Steve).

We have an operations guy now and Wall Street/stock price/revenue growth is seemingly behind every single move they make now.

It's a business - always has been - but Steve would be balancing this differently I believe, as he himself always articulated that if you lead with amazing product, fit, finish - the whole package - the revenue and success will be there.

Right now, conversely, they seem to start every decision with working backwards from the margin, ASP and revenue growth angle -- and then design the offerings according to what those constraints dictate.

(Please pause while I barf)

They are slow roll, half baking, nearly everything the pull out of the oven right now and it's eroding years, if not decades, of long term goodwill. It's nearly heartbreaking to watch. I used to love this company and I am now really mixed on them.

Also confusing the whole situation is the role Jony plays (or doesn't)
Agree with all of that.

People forget about the importance of perception and goodwill and only look at the bald financial figures, which is like driving by looking in the rear view mirror instead of what's coming in the distance.
 

an-other

macrumors 6502
Aug 12, 2011
333
123
Steve Jobs once commented that the rate of change in computer industry is about ten years. I'm paraphrasing from memory. He said this at the time Microsoft owned everything in the personal computer market, and I was sceptical of the comment. (How could Microsoft be beaten?)

I agree the Product line is too confused at the moment. Too many ipads, laptops, and phones. I could see a paring down of things as it's unclear what is being built for what market. The 4 sector grid presented upon Jobs return to apple resonates.

I think it's reasonable to say every new business is based on expanding from the iPhone/AppleWatch. You can argue this point, but is there really a need for a new iPhone? What's out there's pretty darn good at the moment. (Ok, camera buffs and VR people can make a case. I'm just surprised at how many old iphones I see where people are completely happy with them. I see at least one iPhone 4 a day.) The competitors have also had time to catch-up. Convincing someone to pay a premium for an iPhone is a greater challenge unless you have services to compel you to buy it.

Apple seems to be very measured and deliberate in their choices. Compare what they do to everything Google has thrown at the wall to see what sticks. Not saying one approach is better than the other.
 

turbineseaplane

macrumors 603
Mar 19, 2008
6,157
9,151
Apple seems to be very measured and deliberate in their choices.
I wish they'd been a bit more measured when designing the butterfly keyboards (and really so many of the choices & changes in the 2016+ MBP's).

That keyboard switch will likely turn out to be the biggest blunder they've made in the last 20 years, especially in the context of the reputation Mac notebooks had around 2014-2015 going into the change.

Every day that goes by with those out there failing over time is chipping away at very hard earned customer satisfaction and trust.
 
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Tech198

macrumors Pentium
Mar 21, 2011
15,080
1,963
Australia, Perth
It used to be a hardware/software company, but that's not the case anymore. It is:
- A medical device company (ECG app);
- A health and fitness company (Health app, Apple Watch);
- A music distributor (iTunes, Apple Music);
- A TV, film and videogame distributor and producer (iTunes movies, TV app, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade);
- A magazine/newspaper distributor and editor (Apple News, Apple News+);
- A bank (Apple Pay, Apple Cash, Apple Card);
- An insurance company (Apple Care);
- A retailer (Apple Store);
- A car maker (if Apple Car rumors prove to be true).
Is it just me or they're kind of losing their focus? I'm afraid that by trying to penetrate too many different sectors at the same time, they're going to end up not being the best in any of them and eventually collapse.
Apple is trying different avenues...

You don't expect companies that start out making computers to only just to that for the rest of their lives either..

Even Commodore (Amiga) transited from typewriters back in the 1950's
 

Cobalt50

macrumors regular
Sep 27, 2015
126
60
First Apple was a computer company. Then the iPhone came along and Apple is really a cell phone company. With the transition, Apple has let the computers languish. They are not putting the energy into the computers and it shows. With the iPhone business somewhat plateauing Apple is trying to get into services. I worry that the computers will get even less attention now.
 

C DM

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Oct 17, 2011
49,727
18,248
First Apple was a computer company. Then the iPhone came along and Apple is really a cell phone company. With the transition, Apple has let the computers languish. They are not putting the energy into the computers and it shows. With the iPhone business somewhat plateauing Apple is trying to get into services. I worry that the computers will get even less attention now.
Seems like there was an iPod there before the iPhone that nudged things.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
66,947
33,945
Boston
Is it just me or they're kind of losing their focus?
I think you're trying to hard to prove your point. You mention music as an example, but itunes and the iPod was what helped turned Apple into the juggernaut it is today. Without the iTunes/iPod, there would be no iPhone.

An insurance company - AppleCare, that's been part of apple from the earliest days, every computer maker has an extended warranty.

Retailer - Apple did this out of desperation and if they had not, they may not have survived. They're the poster child of doing retail correctly.

If Apple chose to focus on its core product in the early 2000s and not take chances then we'd never see anything other then Macs, and most likely they would have folded long ago. Companies have to continue to change, grow and diversify to survive.
 

MacDevil7334

macrumors 65816
Oct 15, 2011
1,463
2,324
Austin TX
Retailer - Apple did this out of desperation and if they had not, they may not have survived. They're the poster child of doing retail correctly.
Retail used to be an area where Apple shined. But this is another area where I think they have lost focus in recent years. Some of this is not entirely Apple’s fault. As their products have become more popular, their stores have become much more crowded, which degrades the retail experience. But there are a number of changes made by Angela Ahrendts that have made their retail experience worse.

Example: yesterday, I decided to pull the trigger and give AirPods a try. I placed my order online and selected my local store for pickup since they had just gotten new stock in. I walk into the store and tell the door greeter/filter person why I’m there. She scans my QR code and asks me to wait by a table of iPads while someone brings them out from the back. So far so good. The store is actually not crowded for once and I figure this will only take a minute. I see at least 3 Apple employees loitering around in the general vicinity of the table I’m standing at, not doing anything because the store isn’t busy. And there is one Apple employee checking out a customer buying an iPhone at the table I’m standing at.

Here’s where things go off the rails: they bring out my AirPods and put them next to the guy checking out the iPhone customer. Apparently he’s the designated “check out guy” right now and he tells me there’s also a walk-in AirPods customer ahead of me and I’ll have to wait to be checked out. The iPhone customer wants a screen protector applied, so his transaction is going to take a few mins. The part that annoys me is the other 3 Apple employees, all within earshot, make no move to step in and help. They’re assigned to sales, not check out. It’s not that I mind waiting a few mins. But in their original incarnation, Apple store employees had the freedom and were encouraged to step in and help a customer, even if it wasn’t their assigned duty at that moment. Now it feels like there is very much a “stay in your lane” mentality that has caused experiences like this to become more common for me over the past few years. Also, it feels like a higher percentage of staff are now assigned to sales, which really makes buying and checking out for small items like this a bit of a nightmare.

The Genius Bar experience has also degraded. It used to be you could walk in same day and get your device looked at and fixed or swapped out. Now you generally have to wait days to get an appointment and there seem to be more and more repairs that require your device to be shipped off site. It’s a minor irritant. But the knowledge that I could get fast, friendly service just by going to a store used to be one of my main justifications for paying the high price of Apple’s hardware.

Some of the recent changes, like the Today at Apple Series, are not necessarily bad. But they’ve come at the expense of the core retail experience. Examples like the one I mentioned above are a small annoyance by themselves. But over time they can really sap the goodwill of a brand. I think Apple is dancing dangerously close to that point, and they seem to be doing it to try and drive more sales. That’s a pretty shortsighted strategy.
 

SomeMacGuy

macrumors member
Oct 27, 2007
61
44
Nova Scotia
It seems like they are making really questionable choices in their product naming and marketing. PRODUCT naming scheme just isn't that strong. They bought Beats, why not use that established brand for their music service? Even iTunes+ would have been a heck of a lot better than "Apple Music", (even though I don't like the "Plus" element of their naming scheme either). The next thing is just my opinion, but the Watch name just doesn't seem that strong, and they totally should have pursued the rights to call it an iWatch. I know many feel that naming scheme is outdated but it is also iconic and I think it would have given the product more cult status. Plus, a design refresh should have been a no-brainer by now.

The reality is that in 2019, they are making good hardware products and we can't really expect them to innovate new product categories all the time. Aside from how stale most of the product designs are, they are not making nearly enough of an effort to highlight the value proposition of the devices they sell or services they provide and that seems like their biggest problem. Ignoring the creative market for so long has been painful also and has cost them a ton of good will from their pro customers.

Their services look great on paper, but so far have been poorly-executed and marketed. Their services are too confusing right now and I wish they would market them similar to what Amazon has done with Prime. Then if they add new services to the branded service family it would seem more coherent and would let them try new things without having to market each individual service as a separate product. It should be simple enough to bake easy-to-use apps into their Macs and iOS devices that don't work if you don't pay for the service. It does seem that this is going to be their strategy but it is still early days.

I think Steve trusted Cook to keep the ship afloat, but the reality is he is Gil Amelio 2.0. I really hope Apple is able to attract new talent that can bring some fresh perspective to the company.
 

racerhomie

macrumors 6502
Aug 14, 2015
342
618
A thousand No's for every Yes.  has 100,000 employees. They have dropped routers, and did not ship AirPower. I would say they are still laser focused.
 
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Not-Sure

Suspended
Mar 6, 2019
46
154
In Venezuela in the slums, the small-minded people pay tribute to the criminals when they die to give them protection.

You are saying something that is a reality in the middle of people who will not listen. Apple has no direction, they have been very good at managing the money they have but you can run a brand like that for so long, run by an inept.

How can you explain they still selling the Mac Pro who is 6 years old? And everything overpriced? You do not need to be too smart to tell the company is being vandalized from the insight. But they are plenty who will believe they are Gods. Do not go to a Venezuelan slums saying the truth about the criminals, they are deities for the small minded.

Corte-malandra1-800x598.jpg

 

torana355

macrumors 68040
Dec 8, 2009
3,511
2,521
Sydney, Australia
You have to diversify and change as a company to survive, the issue with Apple is they are dropping the ball in regards to quality control and reliability. It's becoming harder to recommend thier products to friends and family due to this.
 

decafjava

macrumors 68040
Feb 7, 2011
3,499
3,228
Geneva
In Venezuela in the slums, the small-minded people pay tribute to the criminals when they die to give them protection.

You are saying something that is a reality in the middle of people who will not listen. Apple has no direction, they have been very good at managing the money they have but you can run a brand like that for so long, run by an inept.

How can you explain they still selling the Mac Pro who is 6 years old? And everything overpriced? You do not need to be too smart to tell the company is being vandalized from the insight. But they are plenty who will believe they are Gods. Do not go to a Venezuelan slums saying the truth about the criminals, they are deities for the small minded.

View attachment 836537

I'm not seeing the connection between Apple allegedly losing focus and Venezuela here. Help me out?
 
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