We’ve talked frequently about the need for companies to continue to reinvent themselves – and to engage the entrepreneurial spirit that helped make the company successful to start with.
Apple is another of those companies that, realizing that sales were softening in its core iPhone business, determined to reinvent itself with new ideas and new directions to follow for the future. New products unveiled last week included those involved with entertainment, financial services, news, and video games. One of the centerpieces of their new efforts will be a video subscription service that will carry original programming. Apple plans to make its TV app, which will carry that content, available on its competitors’ smartphones and other devices, as well as its own. Another addition to the Apple “tree” is the Apple Card, available, primarily, as a debit card, in partnership with Goldman Sachs Group. The card is poised to challenge other card providers by offering low interest rates and eliminating late fees as well as annual fees. Also present on the “tree” is the Apple News+ that we discussed in previous posts, which is a $9.99/month monthly service that provides access to 300-plus magazines and newspapers. And, the final branch of the Apple “tree” is the Apple Arcade, a gaming subscription service offering availability of 100-plus exclusive games for monthly fee (unspecified, to date). The new directions are the result of defining new opportunities that result in the company’s placing a bet that the combination of its loyal users and its treasure trove of data will lead to additional revenue opportunities. These decisions, as well as those of a similar nature being made at other large tech companies, are fueling competition in new arenas that set up companies like Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet at odds against one another. Also in this new competition arena are the traditional cable operators as well as pay-tv generators like Netflix. So, who knows – perhaps this will all work well for Apple – the growing disenchantment of the public with cable companies has led many to switch to services offered by Netflix, Sony and Hulu. Apple’s new TV service is designed to grab a share of that disintegrating TV market and its software update will allow customers to use a single password to subscribe to content from AT&T, HBO, CBS Showtime and other providers. The Apple Card is an extension of ApplePay that was launched in 2014. The card uses machine learning on Apple devices to organize people’s spending behavior into summaries; customers can receive a physical card for use in locations where ApplePay isn’t yet accepted. Throughout the launch of the services last week, Apple representatives emphasized Apple’s “zealous protection of the customer’s privacy.” If Apple continues to excel on that one facet, alone, they should definitely make inroads with those customers who are so troubled by FaceBook and other large companies’ complete lack of interest in securing the data privacy of their users – Last week, FaceBook was dinged once again for data security, having been found to store users’ passwords improperly, for years, so that they were easily accessed by all FaceBook employees. So, for now, it seems that we should all be rooting for Apple’s success in the arenas where they are headed – perhaps with success there, they will eventually take on social media and turn out those who are poor handlers of customers’ personal information.