Where are the best opportunities for Apple to reclaim its cutting edge reputation?
Report Available: February 16, 2017
Blueshift’s initial research reveals AAPL fighting and possibly falling behind rivals like MSFT and AMZN in areas such as laptops, tablets and digital assistants. Perhaps the victim of sky-high expectations, AAPL is being criticized for failing to deliver revolutionary new hardware. But the company has several key opportunities to climb back to the top, including next-generation technologies like augmented reality, self-driving cars, and artificial intelligence.
- MSFT executives claimed in December that more people than ever are switching from Macs to Surface tablets. AAPL has long had a stranglehold over creative professionals such as graphic designers and video editors, but MSFT’s latest Surface Studio – a 28-inch all-in-one PC that can recline to act like a drafting table – has generated some excitement, while many reviews of AAPL’s newest MacBook Pro have been tepid.
- As the technology industry moves towards artificial intelligence and voice controls as the next wave of computer interaction, AAPL appears to have fallen behind AMZN and possibly GOOG as well. AAPL was first to market in 2011 with its voice-enabled digital assistant, Siri, but AMZN seems to have taken the next step with its Alexa assistant, the AI at the heart of its Echo speaker system. Numerous reviews suggest Alexa is faster, more natural and more accurate than Siri. Sales of the Echo have reached 5 million units since its introduction in late 2014. GOOG introduced its Google Home smart hub in November and there are now reports that AAPL is playing catch-up to both, testing a Siri-based Echo rival.
- AAPL has been such an innovator for so long that it may be having trouble living up to consumers’ lofty expectations. The company has been criticized for churning out evolutionary rather than game-changing upgrades to its iPhone, with sales volumes for the iPhone 7 estimated to be only slightly above the previous iteration. While AAPL largely created the tablet category with the introduction of its first iPad in 2010, sales of the tablet hit a five-year low in the most recent quarter. The company’s Apple Watch has struggled to capture consumer attention since its 2014 unveiling. IDC reported that shipments of the Apple Watch dropped 71% in the third quarter, though CEO Tim Cook claimed in December that AAPL is on track for the best quarter ever for the device.
- AAPL has several opportunities to thrust itself back to the top of the technology heap in the next couple of years. A more significant upgrade to the iPhone is rumored for 2017. But what can really help AAPL regain its innovative edge are entries in many of the next generation of technologies like augmented reality, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence, areas where it will square off with MSFT, GOOG, FB and others.
- AAPL’s foray into augmented reality is likely to begin with a product centered on glasses that connect wirelessly to an iPhone. The company has been hiring AR and VR experts this year, while also acquiring startups specializing in AR software, though a new product may not be announced until 2018.
- AAPL’s work in machine learning and automation could manifest into a driverless car. The company confirmed this month it is working on a self-driving car, recently hiring software engineers from BlackBerry’s QNX to help develop a car operating system. AAPL has also hired a Carnegie Mellon professor to lead its AI team and will begin publishing some its findings and engage with the research community, in a significant break from AAPL’s traditional level of corporate secrecy.
What is Apple doing to get its innovative edge back? In what areas? Which products have the most potential? In what time frame? What will be Apple’s next commercial must-have? How is Apple going to fend off Amazon and Microsoft? To answer these and other questions, Blueshift will gather data and issue a market research report from independent sources in the following areas: AI technology executives, AR/VR companies, Auto industry executives, Creative professionals, and Industry specialists.
Companies: Amazon Inc. (AMZN), Apple Inc. (AAPL), Alphabet Inc. (GOOG/GOOGL), Facebook, (FB), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)
Research Begins: Jan. 30, 2017