Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple's Biggest Challenge to Innovation in Recent Years Has Been Software


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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple's "biggest challenge in innovation in recent years has been in software, not hardware," according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

"In several cases we have seen Apple lagging in software versus hardware development, which bodes badly for its innovation strategy of software and hardware integration," wrote Kuo, in a research note obtained by MacRumors.

Kuo's sole example is that Apple's first-mover advantage in augmented reality has been "significantly narrowed" by Chinese smartphone maker OPPO.

He believes that OPPO has caught up with Apple's ARKit platform in only six to nine months, largely based on the fact that the augmented reality version of Honour of Kings will be compatible with not only iPhones but also OPPO's lower-priced smartphones when it launches next month, despite high-tech requirements.

"The key is that OPPO is in charge of developing API, integrating hardware and software, and cooperating with SenseTime's algorithm and Tencent's game software development team," said Kuo, referring to the two Chinese companies that developed Honour of Kings, estimated to have over 200 million players, mainly in China.

Kuo adds that, since the debut of ARKit at WWDC 2017, there has been no "heavyweight" augmented reality app for iPhones and iPads.
We think Apple's endeavors in the AR field should have enabled it to offer AR applications popular with the market before the Android camp, including: (1) the announcement of ARKit, an AR development tool, ahead of Google; (2) customization of the SoC (including CPU and GPU); and (3) customization of the rear camera.

However, since the debut of the ARKit nearly a year ago, there has been no heavyweight AR application on iOS. Given that the AR version of Honour of Kings runs not only on the iPhone but also on OPPO's smartphone, Apple's first-mover advantage gap in AR has been significantly narrowed by OPPO.
In terms of software in general, it can be argued that the past year wasn't Apple's greatest. iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra have suffered from several bugs, ranging in severity, including a major root password vulnerability on Macs to iMessages appearing in the wrong order across devices.

Fortunately, in January, multiple reports claimed that Apple plans to increase its focus on the quality of its software platforms, presumably resulting in a greater emphasis on bug fixes, performance improvements, and stability.

Article Link: Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple's Biggest Challenge to Innovation in Recent Years Has Been Software


macrumors 6502
Aug 23, 2011
Cylde Hill, WA
Although for me Apple wins my business right now because of the integration of the platform with mobile/desktop/homekit... I do believe they need to really innovate or they will lose the next generation to Windows and Android.

Apple is using the model of Siemens PLM Teamcenter. Once locked into their ecosystem it is very hard to leave even if there is better tech out there.


macrumors 6502a
Aug 24, 2009
As an interesting note - OPPO also was - until about two weeks ago - maker of the nearly undisputed best CD, DVD, Blueray playback units.

People with six-figure speakers. and amps costing as much as a sports car, would happily use Oppo's several hundred dollars units as their source for playing physical media.

I'd bet on OPPO - they really know their stuff - at least in that area...


macrumors 6502
Apr 6, 2010
Give me back Aperture, Apple. That's all I want.
There was always the promise that photos would become more of a platform than it has. The underlying program was supposed to be open to developers shoehorning in plugins and tools on top of a basic DAM (photos) software.
It never came to be, likely because Apple still believe that cross platform photo libraries in iCloud would be threatened by the compatibility of such bolt-ons from MacOS to iOS. Basically, Photos is an iOS software that runs on MACOS too. Visa-Versa is too complicated.

As it happens iCloud (and the lack of proper sharing/collaboration) screwed up the potential for Photos anyway. This is apparent when you look at the better cloud services from microsoft (For Storage) and particularly Google Photos for sharing.

Photos is a joke. And Apple know it.


macrumors 6502a
Jun 11, 2009
Software (and hardware) delays are down to one thing and one thing only: the transition to ARM.
This is not to far off the mark. They in a process of unifying even more libraries to cross platform so when they recompile to arm it is simple. The thing is people forget apple moves in waves then slow then a wave.


macrumors 68020
Jan 21, 2016
SF Bay Area, California
I'll be honest: I don't care a whit about AR.

But it does sometimes seem that Apple plays catch-up with software. Maybe in 70 years when they come out with macOS 11 we'll see something truly innovative.


macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2010
On Mars, Praising the Omnissiah
I think Kuo is conflating the popularity of one game with the future potential of AR. How good this Honour of Kings game is may or may not have anything to do with the trajectory of AR in general. I just don’t see AR catching on the way Apple and other tech companies hoped it would.

There needs to be compelling use cases for developers to fully implement AR Kit. I can definitely see use cases for industry and business (which most of the public will never see) but the average App Store shopper will see it as a gimmick or fad, mostly for games.
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macrumors 6502a
Jan 8, 2007
New York City
That's not true at all. In fact they are grossly underrated.

I agree that apple should fix their software bugs. the problem for apple has been that they aren't as focused on fixing bugs. There is only so much hardware you can sell. They need to hire more folks tbqh.
Underrated how? There's too many egos and confirmation bias going on at Apple. Apple is poaching top talent and buying out companies but it hasn't helped them one bit in terms of software.
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macrumors 6502a
Feb 2, 2010
Apple's QA has been a joke lately...I couldn't agree more: iOS11 has been the worst software release from Apple so far, ranging from trivial and very stupid bugs to very questionable UI solutions. Especially, on the X. It's decent with 11.3, but it took them half a year to fix whatever should've worked from the very beginning.


macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2009
Sounds like Kuo is trying to hype up OPPO as the new Apple rival and iPhone killer. Good luck with that...
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macrumors 6502
Aug 23, 2011
Cylde Hill, WA
One other issue with software innovation is all their software is tied only to Apple hardware. They no longer sell software since it is free. It only supports the hardware sales. Unlike Google/Microsoft which license their software to other hardware companies which need new innovation to move sales.

Software now plays a supporting role to hardware. Just look at HomePod. Great breakthtough hardware but the Siri and content (Apple Music) are the supporting cast, and suck.
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macrumors 603
Jun 24, 2013
Might want to replace Johnny Ive on the iOS side of things.

iOS 11 was the worst update in terms of bugs in quite some time. iOS is also lacking consistency because you have productivity features on iPads and do not include them on phones. PIP mode, split-screen multi-tasking are two aspects that can bolster iPhones. You do not have a dark mode to improve battery life on the OLED iPhone X either.

At this junction, you're just paying for the brand, customer service, long-term support, the OS, and the ecosystem.

You're not really paying for innovation throughout the smartphone market either because it's a mature market. Sure, Samsung has DeX, but that isn't really innovative when Motorola tried the Atrix years ago. Samsung is a display pioneer right now because their phones and TVs offer the best displays. At least they have that going for them.