Just read Walt Mossberg’s piece on “Apple is Like a Movie Studio” where he (as he typically does) makes excellent points on consumer electronics and Apple’s role in them for the past decade. But then the piece moves into the following statement:
But there have been no new game-changing products, the kind that establish whole new categories, or which finally get product categories right after others had attempted for years to do so. The last of these, the original iPad, was released four years ago this month.
This is true. But really – how off the charts are these expectations? In the last decade Apple “pioneered” (I use the term somewhat loosely since there were actually other players in the space, just none of them building anything on par with what Apple did), and today lead the categories for:
- ultrathin laptops – MacBook Air
- smartphones – iPhone
- tablets – iPad
- internet STBS – Apple TV
So if we’re doing the “movie studio” analogy let’s call them Pixar (or Universal or whatever). If the comparison is “invented entire categories” can we name *ANY* other movie studio on a relative basis? I cannot. Sure, Samsung, LG, Microsoft, others “make devices” but what have they actually done on par with Apple? Nothing. I’m not bashing the Galaxy phone or LG TVs or HP laptops in any way disparaging those companies – but they have NOT created new markets out of thin air the way Apple has this past decade.
So perhaps they might not have any more category killers that the world’s never seen. So what? “sequel time is over”? This is the problem with setting such expectations – if they “just” act like their competitors, and make (and sell) lots of devices – is that really such a failure? Mind you I don’t believe this to be their fate, but so what?
If you really, REALLY must compare to movies, then let’s call them James Bond. some years you get The Living Daylights or The World is Not Enough (excuse me while I vomit into my popcorn watching Denise Richards be a “Nucular” Engineer or whatever)… But sometimes you get Dr. No, or Goldfinger, and those are the ones everyone remembers. And along the way a Bourne or Mission Impossible show up, and they’re pretty great too – for a while. And it could even be another decade, but somehow, out of nowhere, you get a Casino Royale, and all is right in the world again.
I don’t disagree with your argument, because I can’t think of any company that has invented as many categories, but…
Samsung “invented” phablets. Lots of other companies tried/failed before the Note created the category.
Amazon “invented” eBook readers.
Microsoft “invented” connected game consoles.
Sonos “invented” multi-room wireless audio.
Finally, Apple didn’t invent OTT STBs, Roku did. Apple TV apparently outsells Roku today, but Roku was a success and remains one.
(I’d say that TiVo “invented” DVRs, along with ReplayTV, but while TiVo is still in business, the DVR was most successfully taken to market in generic form by MSOs, not by TiVo.)