Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

Summary: A company's mobile phone ecosystem is heavily dependent on social interaction. Facing Google's and Microsoft's integration on their respective mobile platforms, Apple might find it hard to maintain dominance.

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Apple’s staggering Q3 reports might allow them to buy Dell twice and still have a boatload of cash in reserve, but they’ve got a real ecosystem and strategy problem.

The Q3 profits were driven by iPhone and iPad sales; needless to say, the post-PC advocates got statistics to back their assertions. Mobile computing is Apple’s strength. Powerful Macbook Pros, lightweight Macbook Airs, iPhones and iPads are industry-defining products –but let’s focus on iOS devices in particular.

The growth of mobile phones has paralleled the rise in social computing. Updating Facebook and Twitter streams with text messages or pictures has made using smartphones a part of this real-time sharing experience. Some of the most talked about mobile applications are social. Services around photo sharing, status updates and location have seen explosive growth. This has largely to do with the phones we have.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform has native integration with Twitter (in Mango), LinkedIn (in Mango) and Facebook. The phone allows a user to upload images to Facebook in a click and Twitter in two. The Mango update has Facebook Places integration, allowing users to check in where they are. Then there is Bing Maps, Microsoft’s mapping service. In Mango, Bing will introduce a Yelp-like feature allowing you to find events and places to visit near your location. These are native features tied to Bing. When you add Nokia’s Navteq to the equation, Microsoft is now a strong player in location and navigation on the phone.

Google’s Android has quite a few of its own exclusive features (Google Wallet, Google Maps and Google+). Microsoft has a steady relationship with Facebook and Twitter, two popular social networks. Google decided to come up with its own social network. Google+ brings Picasa (photo sharing) and Latitude (location) – two widely used social features – to the phone. These are Google’s own services. Even though Google+ is an app on Android, native integration across the platform is not rocket science.

Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t have its own social network or location service. One could argue iCloud offers photo sharing, but I think it is not similar to Facebook or Picasa. Twitter should not be considered as Apple’s social layer since it is not exclusive and Microsoft has similar integration in WP7 Mango. When it comes to mapping, Apple is relying on their new rival – Google. Apple does not have any advantage when it comes to social computing. This brings me to Apple’s strong quarter driven by their mobile devices. The Google+ app on an iPhone and Android’s strong integration with Google services will at some point make a consumer think about Android or maybe even Windows Phone 7. Both Microsoft and Google have robust services around cloud computing, too; this negates any possible advantage Apple has with iWork.

Robert Scoble keeps bashing Windows Phone 7 for the lack of apps. He’s not talking about proprietary Apple apps, but those built by third-party developers. These developers can change loyalty whenever they want to. (Foursquare’s notification tray update was an Android first.) Apple’s advantage of third-party apps is a weak thread for Apple to rely on since they do not have any social ecosystem of their own. What makes this worse is Apple’s strained relationship with Google. Depending on an enemy makes you vulnerable. If Apple’s mobile sales start dwindling and Jobs retires, that stock price won’t be as awesome.

See also:

Topics: Hardware, Android, Smartphones, Security, Mobility, Mobile OS, Microsoft, Google, Collaboration, Apps, Apple, Social Enterprise

Manan Kakkar

About Manan Kakkar

Telecommunication engineer with a keen interest in end-user technology and a News junkie, I share my thoughts while preparing for my Master's in Information Management.

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76 comments
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  • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

    Certainly makes you say, hmmmm.

    I guess that would explain why Apple is holding on to that mountain of cash. If all else fails, buy everything in sight.
    rwalrond
    • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

      @rwalrond
      That is right. Every one of Apple's products has a convenient alternative. People can walk away from Apple's products quite easily and Apple knows it, so it has to keep innovation ahead of the pack to sustain the growth while it can. Microsoft has the advantage of not being in this position as they have their cash cows for a guaranteed revenue. Contrary to popular myth, Microsoft locks people in, not Apple.
      root12
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @root12 <br>YES but the people won't walk away, Apple just gets it right, I tried Android and I wanted rip my hair out. Also, iTunes is awesome!! there's simply no alternative. MacBook Air with Lion, hello I want 2!
        Hasam1991
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @root12
        I hear the lock in argument all the time and its old and washed up. Just because some people like a certain product over another does not mean their is lock in going on. Office is one of them and people just like Office better than anything else on the market, even the free stuff that you don't pay a dime for. On the topic of Apple, I see them as not being a diversified company with all their revenue coming from 2 products. Same for Google, they are a search advertising company with no revenue stream elsewhere. Yeah Android is big, but they are not making money from it, just the search. Microsoft on the other hand has many avenues of revenue and in my view has a better long term position in the tech industry, especially with the fast pace of change that goes on in it. They are king of the Enterprise and that will be the case for years to come. They are becoming king in video consoles and that whole market, Windows is still a big seller despite the smaller growth rate, and now with skype they have a chance to capitalize on the growing video chate industry. They also have other products that show promise that could become bigger players in the future. Diversified may not bring in the bigger profit, but it does help to ensure a longer lasting success.
        OhTheHumanity
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @Hasam1991<br><i>YES but the people won't walk away, Apple just gets it right, I tried Android and I wanted rip my hair out. Also, iTunes is awesome!! there's simply no alternative.</i><br><br>Wow <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/shocked.gif" alt="shocked"><br>If it wasn't for the idevices my family has, I'd rip that hunk of poorly programmed (for Win) hunk of garbage off of my systems!! <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/plain.gif" alt="plain"><br><br>While it may not be the same, I do use and enjoy the Amazon suite (yeah, it really is a suite of services). Does much more of what I need, and does it across all device although iOS can't use some of them. <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink"><br><br>To each their own
        rhonin
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @Hasam1991

        Wait...did you just say iTunes is awesome?

        oh dear...
        5FingerDiscount
      • I agree. I bought Windows 98 years ago and all of a sudden

        @root12
        I'm locked in! I tried getting a Mac, but MS came over with guns and chains and locked my doors! I then said, well maybe Linux, but then another set of MS goons welded the doors shut and nailed the computers down to the floors!

        When I finally ordered a Mac online, more MS goons physically blocked the UPS driver from getting up my driveway!

        I'm so locked in, I should have never gone with an MS product!
        William Pharaoh
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @root12 Ohh, I don't agree at all. If you look at what iOS users DO they buy LOTS of "stuff" (I know I do). That tends to tie you into a system (you can think of it like "investment").

        Is this deliberate? I don't know, but it doesn't "feel" sinister, the AppStore has lots of cool stuff, I buy some of it, and (in the main) it's good. If I were to move to another phone/tablet I'd leave all that behind - I don't WANT to, I like the stuff (OmniGraffle for iPad, Bento on the iPhone, to name just two). What would I rather, there was nothing worth buying (and I'd lose nothing if I moved)?

        You're right my data doesn't feel "hostage", but still there is plenty of stuff kicking around my home screen that I'd really miss with "some other phone/tablet".

        So I don't think Apple are all that vulnerable at all (at least not in the short/medium term). But users of "other phones" don't invest so deeply, talk to Android developers and you soon see why they aren't doing cartwheels over Android's "success": it just isn't translating into app sales.
        Jeremy-UK
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @OhTheHumanity<br>First, if there is lock-in to Apple products it is willing-lock in. People don't feel trapped, they feel happy. Second, it's not old and tired, it's extremely effective. I see the "gateway drug" effect working daily; an iPhone leads to a Mac leads to an iPad. I've seen it *dozens* of times. Just because you don't want it to be true doesn't mean it's not happening.
        ktappe
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @ktappe
        Thanks for your understanding, I was saying exactly what you were saying. I guess you didn't like my analyses of the situation with Microsoft being a more diverse company with a less "change" business like the enterprise. The enterprise doesn't change as fast as the consumer market and so I think Microsoft has a better foundation. I also know people that switched off of an iphone and won't go back, so it goes both ways and has an affect in the opposite direction you speak of.
        OhTheHumanity
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @root12 but I will not support that company. Microsoft is aiming for dominance those areas too through their power and money, just as they have done with Windows. I don't care what technical capabilities their sof<a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/">t</a>ware or products do, it's not a co<a href="http://vb.maas1.com/">m</a>pany I would support and fund.
        alasiri
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @root12 Fully agree with this, spot on view, I share this. <a href="http://www.uk-djs.net">DJs</a>
        mrswilliamson
    • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

      @rwalrond If you want bing, well there's an App for that. If you want Google+ , well there's an App for that. If you want twitter, Facebook, gmail, Google Maps, Tom Tom, kindle, iBooks, Kobos, etc, etc,etc....well they all have Apps. I think Apple her closer to the Linux ethos than either Windows 7 or Android. That sounds odd since it is not open source so what do I mean. Well, there other two will slowly try and add more and more services and drive out the competition. apple only provide the OS and allow companies to equally compete on their platform. This is what Linux does too, concentrate on getting the core OS layer right. So who is more closed? I think MS and Google is.
      global.philosopher
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @global.philosopher One more thing. Meego is the true open system and I hope this takes off. Android is not open...calling something open and having full control of the platform does not make it open.
        global.philosopher
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @global.philosopher

        except...Microsoft and Android offer all of those apps too. (Ok not all of them, but their marketplaces are growing, android far ahead in this regard). Also...iBooks, that's not an "app" that's built into the core of the OS. Microsoft in particular, but Android too, are working to make thier phones be able to do more initially right of the box, but leveraging their respective products, google uses picasa, microsoft uses skydrive, but apple is doing this too as well, and really they all have similar stratagies, apple recently with iCloud. So in all honesty, they all are just as "open".
        Zeal_Out
    • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

      @rwalrond Yep, buy everything out, corner the market! <a href="http://www.uk-djs.net">Booking agency</a>
      mrswilliamson
  • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

    The iNaives are in for a rude awakening.
    mikroland
    • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

      @mikroland
      Actually looking forward to iCloud and iPhone 5... Apple will be just fine.
      Hasam1991
      • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

        @Hasam1991
        Not the only one, but the terms for iCloud scare the crap out of me :O
        rhonin
    • RE: Why Apple may be alone and vulnerable in mobile

      @mikroland
      Apple's main weakness is the lack of an Linux based OS!
      Only GPL can still save it.
      Linux Geek