Apple Needs More Than iPhone 5 To Beat Google

Apple needs to do much more than the widely expected hardware revamp of the iPhone to lead in the smartphone market. This is according to Ovum’s new measure of success in the consumer technology industry – the Smart-Vendor Scorecard – which accompanies a 360-degree assessment of the major technology vendors’ capabilities and their influence over consumers and developers.

We expect that the new iPhone will be Apple’s most successful smartphone to-date. However, without a redesign of the iOS user experience and underlying software platform in the next two years, Apple will find itself in a position similar to Nokia and RIM, which found themselves with outdated smartphone platforms that needed replacing.

The analysis behind Ovum’s Smart-Vendor Scorecard suggests that if Apple miss-times this transition it could lose large numbers of consumers along the way. The question for Apple is: will Tim Cook be brave enough to call time on the iPhone cash-cow in-time for a successful transition?

Apple has successfully built the iPhone from a radical new entrant to the must-have smartphone. Whilst the company is still reaping the rewards of the brand equity of the iPhone, consumers are notoriously fickle when it comes to buying handsets.

Without the continued innovation which we are accustomed to with Apple, the company risks losing consumer appeal. The iPhone re-defined the smartphone category in 2007 but it can’t rely on past success to guarantee its future or rely on litigation to keep its competitors at bay.

The Smart-Vendor Scorecard replaces outdated measures of success – shipments and revenues – which no longer provide a meaningful yardstick, as they fail to cater for the complex and multi-faceted nature of the consumer tech market. Increasingly technology companies are going beyond their core businesses in an attempt to control all aspects of consumers’ digital lives – from devices to software, services, applications, and content.

Parameters such as device portfolios, software platform assets, developer enablers, and applications, as well as the company’s influence over both developers and end users, provide a much more accurate view of the current winners and what to expect next from them.

It has become clear that technology companies need to do more than just announce new versions and updates to existing offerings if they are set on owning every aspect of the consumer’s digital existence. It is therefore imperative for these companies to move outside their traditional areas of expertise; hardware companies have to build up their software and service expertise and vice-versa, or risk leaving the door open to their competitors.

Adam Leach leads Ovum’s Devices & Platforms Practice. Adam has more than 15 years’ experience in the wireless industry. His work has focused on software platforms for next-generation devices and he has worked with handset manufacturers, platform vendors and operators, advising on software strategy and device software projects. His research at Ovum covers mobile phones, smartphones and adjacent consumer electronics, with a focus on software platforms, applications, developer ecosystems, and web convergence. Prior to joining Ovum, Adam worked for Vodafone defining global technology strategy within Group Terminals. While at Vodafone he was responsible for the establishment and technical leadership of the Linux Mobile (LiMo) Foundation. Adam also drove industry standards on mobile application security within the GSMA and OMTP. Adam previously worked for Symbian, leading the release of versions of Symbian OS and device software projects for Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Panasonic.

  • This says more about Ovum’s scorecard than it does about Apple. Ovum is an unproven measure. Apple’s bottom line, by contrast, is highly measurable, and fully measured.

    I agree entirely that shipments and sales are dubious measures — not just in the multi-faceted modern marketplace, but in traditional industries. Profit, on the other hand, is as relevant today as it ever was.

    On this basis, it’s rather strange to be asking the question ‘what does Apple have to do to beat Google’, since Apple is already beating Google and almost every other company in the world.

    Actually, the notion of Apple or Google ‘beating’ each other suggests a rather naive view of how technology works. Although fans of Android and Apple may eagerly watch every new figure that comes out, Apple, Google, Samsung, LG, HTC, Microsoft and all the others have a symbiotic relationship. Nobody needs to ‘beat’ anyone: a win-win for device creators allows them to bring better devices quicker to market at a lower price — which is a win for customers as well.