Milking the iPhone doesn't much matter when it comes to what's next

iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods
iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Neil Cybart provides excellent analysis of Apple and its business. Here's his recent take from Above Avalon:

For Apple to remain relevant in the future, the company will need to attack itself. Management will need to risk its own ecosystem.When it comes to catching the next big wave, an Apple Watch with cellular connectivity may end up representing the single biggest game-changing device Apple has shipped since the original iPhone. It would be that big of a deal. The reason such a product contains so much risk for Apple is that it threatens the iPhone. Why buy a brand new iPhone every year when your Apple Watch (with AirPods) are handling tasks that you used to give your iPhone? In addition, a cellular Apple Watch will more than double the device's addressable market to include all Android users.There is a possibility that Android users may embrace Apple Watch without buying an iPhone, iPad, or other Apple product. Apple would seemingly be giving away the keys to its iPhone sandcastle. However, instead of causing panic within Apple HQ, this would be done by design. Apple would be willing to risk its ecosystem in order to build a new ecosystem around wearables.Apple shouldn't get rid of its functional organizational structure. In addition, there is no evidence of Apple needing a management reshuffle. While there is clearly room for improvement in many parts of Apple's business, management's actions are very rational. Apple is taking lessons learned from the 1990s and using them to not repeat the same mistakes with the iPhone. Milk the iPhone today, and then figure out what comes next.

Mac pivoted to iPod. iPod pivoted to iPhone and iPad and Watch. Let's call them "macOS devices". They're all still doing well. "iOS devices" are also doing well. The point is not to think of them as a collection of single products but as a platform and ecosystem.

On one hand, you have some people thinking Apple is tapped out on products. iPhone was it, much as Mac was it in the early to mid-90s. See what happens without Steve? First Scully, Spindler, and Amelio, and now Tim Cook.

That's the bet some seem intent on making — that Apple was Steve Jobs and without him there's no vision and no direction. Apple is adrift. Apple is lost.

On the other hand you have people who know that when Steve recommended to the board that Tim Cook take over as CEO, he knew exactly what he was doing. And now Tim, surrounded by much of the same leadership team, also knows what he's doing. Maybe that's something we aren't considering?

No one expected iPod. When it was introduced, it was mocked for being overly simple and laughed at for being overpriced. Just wait until Sony gets into MP3 players!

That's what happens when all you look at is the numbers and the charts. I should know, I make some pretty great numbers and charts. But the problem with them is that they only show you what's known.

And with Apple, which continuously rejects the known, all that matters is what's next.

Michael Gartenberg

I’ve covered the personal technology beat for more than two decades at places like Gartner, Jupiter Research and Altimeter Group. I’ve also had the fun of contributing my $.02 on the topic at Computerworld, Engadget, Macworld, SlashGear and now iMore. Most recently I spent a few years at Apple as Sr. Director of Worldwide Product Marketing. On Twitter I’m an unverified @gartenberg. I still own some Apple stock.