After all, there was no breakthrough, singular game-changing product announced, and Apple has set a very high bar in this regard, so anything short of a “holy shit” crap your pants type of moment feels like a disappointment.
But, I see it differently. Apple is a company with mammoth ambitions, who stands alone in their ability to deliver an unparalleled user experience by seamlessly integrating device, software and service/ cloud layers into various form factors (Mac, iPhone, iPods, Apple TV).
The risk, and fear, as evidenced by hiccups on MobileMe and niggling performance issues on iPhone 3G, is that in the almighty pursuit of delivering the next BIG thing, that the company is losing sight of executing on the niggling details that have made their user base so dedicated, translating into enviable operating margins and a growing halo effect that I have previously blogged about (see below).
So what does today’s announcement tell me? Well for one thing, the company’s head is screwed on straight with respect to the importance of tactical execution. Today’s presentation was, in many respects, a clinical delineation to current and would-be customers, as well as media and technology partners, that there is Apple, and there is everyone else.
Consider the fact that Apple has now sold a jaw-dropping 160M cumulative iPod units, in the process securing a commanding 73.4% of the market, with the number two market share holder being “Other” at 15.4% (actually, the real number two is Sandisk with 8.6% of the market; Microsoft has a measly 2.6%).
No less impressive, in just sixty days since Apple launched the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch, 100 million application downloads have been made, and over 3,000 applications have been released by third-party developers. This complements a rich media content library that now includes over 8.5 million songs, 125,000 podcasts, 30,000 television episodes, and 2,600 movies.
So while today was about music, and the noteworthy fact that Apple is now the #1 music distributor in any environment (not Wal-Mart, not Best Buy, not Amazon), the related takeaway is that the company has a rapidly evolving online presence to move digital products of all kinds.
The numbers don’t lie: 65M credit cards on account with iTunes account holders; a rapidly growing subset of these users can be reached anytime, anywhere via the iTunes wireless store (read: the 10M+ iPhone and iPod touch owners expected by year’s end) and a continuously evolving marketplace function that enables content and software creators of all sizes to plug in, and sell their wares, with Apple taking a slice for being the facilitator.
And legions of consumers have been taught that this stuff just works, like magic. Today, that magic was augmented with Genius, a recommendation service that mines your existing library to build dynamic playlists around favorite songs, and no less important, to recommend songs that you don’t own that you might like to buy.
“The Genius function of iTunes 8.0 released today works by uploading -- anonymously and voluntarily -- a user's iTunes data to the iTunes 'cloud,' where it is then combined with knowledge of millions of other users' iTunes libraries. The more people that use Genius, the smarter it will get,” said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs.
Today, the fulcrum is music, but realistically the model can support any media, and over time can logically be extended to products of all types, not just digital ones. Amazon, are you listening? So, too should be the bricks and mortar retailers, as oh by the way, the Apple retail store is just around the corner.
Oh, and as to those rumors about Steve Jobs’ health, he flashed a message on the big screen that said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” and in a later interview with CNBC noted that ‘I am healthy.” He certainly looked and acted healthy too, in contrast to his physical appearance earlier this year.
By contrast, the competition should be feeling a bit sick shortly, if they aren't already.
- Holy Shit! Apple's Halo Effect: how Apple has turned gravity into its friend.
- The Chess Masters - Google versus Apple: why partners Apple and Google are without peers, and (seemingly) destined to become frien-emies.
- iPhone 2.0 - What it Means to be Mobile: a detailed summary of my experience to date with the iPhone 2.0 platform.
- iPhone SDK - Mobile Reasons for Optimism: why the iPhone Universe is a big deal.
- iPhone 2.0 - Swinging for the Fences: an analysis of the WWDC Keynote by Steve Jobs.
- iPod touch: the first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform?