This Fall season, Apple is busier than ever before. Back in 2010, Apple had their product launches spaced out. Spring saw the original iPad. Summer had the iPhone 4 in its traditional spot. Fall saw new iPods. This year, however, they just finished rolling out the iPhone 5 and iOS 6, and they’ve given us impressive new updates to the iPod lineup as well, mirroring many of the updates in the iPhone 5. Soon enough it looks like we’ll be seeing the iPad mini announced.
This prompts the question: Is Apple weighting product too much towards the Fall? Does it leave them vulnerable to competitors who can now counter-program them by launching products in the Spring and Summer of 2013, when Apple is in mid-cycle, without having to worry about any major new Apple launches?
I look at this in simple terms. The market for smartphones and tablets is growing very rapidly. Tablets are well on their way to becoming everyday mobile computing devices in the home, school, workplace, and all sorts of industries. They are a complete paradigm shift from yesterday’s notebook and netbook trend.
The multitouch market has only been around for a few years. I think when this market is 10 years old, we’ll look back and realize we underestimated how important it would become. And Apple ... well they pretty much popularized it. So they better capitalize on it.
This brings us back to the question of whether or not Apple is doing too much this Fall. I think we’re looking at a rare land grab in the market right now. Apple is in a dog fight with Google (Android) and to a lesser extent with Microsoft (Windows) and RIM (BlackBerry).
In my mind, there is absolutely no point waiting to bring firepower to the fight. If you have a new weapon, unleash it on the market. Win customers and grab land. Why wait?
The holiday season is massively important in this market. By launching a new iPhone, iPod family and an iPad mini all in time for the holidays, Apple is setting themselves up to grab a lot of new land in the most important time of the year.
Since customers tend to be fairly sticky when it comes to mobile computing platforms, this plays into Apple’s favour. This is good. As a shareholder, I love seeing this.
So, will Apple potentially face a slower Spring or Summer season? Yes, of course that’s a possibility. But we don’t know what Tim Cook and Team Cupertino have planned for next year. Even if they aren’t ready to disrupt the next market (whether it be the TV or something else), I’d rather see Apple win at the mobile computing land grab by pushing out incredible products quickly.
I also think that an iPad mini shows Apple’s willingness, under the leadership of Tim Cook, to grow their markets. Sure, Steve Jobs said that a 7” tablet would be too small. He also said no one wanted to watch video on an iPod, that no one was reading anymore, and that Apple wasn't making a phone.
Amazon and others proved people will buy them and enjoy them, just not in iPad numbers. I see no reason why Apple should sit out on this game. It’s like Samsung making a 50” and 70” TV but deciding not to make a 42” model. It’s just a form factor. We don’t need 10 different sizes, but the market will certainly appreciate more than one.
I like seeing Apple push, and I like seeing Apple get stuff into consumers’ hands quickly. Instead of thinking of this as a potential hole for competitors to attack in the Spring and Summer, I think of it in terms of how much further ahead Apple will be.