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Moving target: Apple's next move is more important than its last

John Moltz | Jan. 24, 2013
Apple future doesn't hinge on iPhone 5 sales, says John Moltz. What's more important is what the company does next.

Six years ago I remember hearing the same thing we hear today: All of the value has been sucked out of the markets that Apple currently competes in; competitors are going to take over; and Apple will once again be relegated to its destiny as an a niche player. It had a nice run, but that was a fluke, and order will soon be restored to the universe.

In reality, Apple still controls the market for dedicated digital music players, and it ended up replacing its own hit product line (the iPod) with another (the iPhone). You can summarily decide that Apple will never ship another innovative product, but you should know that in doing so you are making the same mistake that people have been making about the company for years.

Innovate, rinse, repeat

Some observers are now suggesting that Apple needs to reinvent the iPhone in order to retain its innovation title. While I would never put it past Cupertino to blow up any of its existing product lines, I don't think that's where the real action is. We'll know better after this quarter's financial conference call, but unsourced rumors aside, the iPhone certainly seems to be selling just fine. Heck, Apple only caught up with demand for the iPhone 5 a month ago.

Meanwhile, there are many other product categories that the company hasn't even attempted yet. The current speculation revolves around televisions, smart watches, or other wearable computing devices, and home automation. Knowing Apple, maybe it'll be television watches that control your home.

Or it'll be something else entirely. I will not be so bold as to suggest what Apple should or should not get into next, from the above list or from any other product category. Other than one notable exception, I'm terrible at predicting things. (Yes, six years later, I'm still riding my correct prediction that "the iPhone will have just one button," thank you very much. Even though, unlike Apple's successes, mine really was a fluke.)

Before the iPhone came out, skeptics were telling us all the reasons why an iPhone was doomed to failure. Now they're telling us why an Apple television or an Apple watch is doomed to failure. I have learned over the years that you disregard Apple's ability to think around a problem at your peril; you believe rumors about the company at your own risk, as well.

Regardless, don't worry too much about iPhone 5 sales. Apple's destiny hinges not on what happened last quarter, but on what it has planned for the future.


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