With a market capitalization of $751 billion (and possibly a trillion in a few years), Apple attracts attention every time it launches something… anything, really.
The past year was very positive for the Cupertino behemoth. With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus dominating the news before and after launch, it was a year of strong financial performance and increasing market momentum.
When I look at Apple overall, I see a company that has been able to grow its brand and market share by marrying software, ease of use, and elegant design – but ultimately by selling hardware. The nice shiny objects are what get consumers' attention. This can be seen by looking at the level of replacement sales that Apple's iPhone upgrades have generated. In years where improved software and services were introduced alongside changes in design, replacement sales have been greater. With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple played the "larger screen" card that many have been waiting for, and the mix of replacement cycles from previous iPhone models, as well as conversion from Android, have been amazing. This upgrade cycle technique has worked well for them, but it's a strategy with a finite horizon, since all hardware – even Apple hardware – is subject to eventual commoditization. It's an unavoidable truth for any manufacturer.