How Apple can think different again
How Apple can think different again

How Apple can think different again

Apple’s continuous innovation over the last 40 years is breathtaking. They have disrupted industries, delivered record profits and captured our geeky hearts.

The iPad, the company’s latest disruptive innovation, was launched six years ago and has managed to become an invaluable part of our daily lives.

In a sea of enormous profits, we cast our view towards the horizon, and we see an uncertain future for Apple. The company is left exposed by the Apple Watch’s niche appeal. The small-time performance of Apple TV, Apple Pay, and CarPlay all compound the uncertainty.

Apple is missing a new revolutionary product for the mass market. No Apple product is making our lives ten times better than its competitors. Everyone has caught up.

Recent updates such as the iPhone 7, OS Sierra, Apple Watch 2 are all 10% better than the last iteration. 10% better is not innovation.

There’s plenty of things in our lives that Apple could make better. How about TV? Steve Jobs thought he’d cracked the code. How about the automobile? How about Payments? Why has Apple not presented the world with a new reality with VR and AR?

Apparently, the elves are busy in Cupertino. Regarding big bets for the future such as AR, Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company’s “doing a lot of things.” Apparently, we all have to wait.

If we have to wait much longer, it will be one of the biggest product innovation slumps in the company’s history. With the iPhone and iPad reaching full maturity and experiencing lower growth, time is running out.

Mass Marketing Innovation @ Apple

  • 1977 Apple II
  • 1984 Macintosh (7)
  • 1998 iMac (14)
  • 2001 iPod (3)
  • 2007 iPhone (6)
  • 2010 iPad (3)
  • 2016 ?

It’s time to get laser focussed on the product. The halls of the company are brimming with the best and the brightest talent on the planet. The business model and supply chain are fully baked.

Here are four user experiences in desperate need of a radical solution. If Apple tackles these, they will unleash a bright new chapter for the company.

# Automotive Navigation Systems Are Terrible

I recently bought a new car, and I played with a lot of different navigation systems. I have never used a navigation system in a car that comes close to being easy to use or smart. The opportunity for Apple is to make the automobile more integrated into our lifestyle.

Let’s start with the fact that most journeys in a car are defined either at home or the office before you get into the car. The transition from searching Google Maps on the lounge to driving mode should be painless. No slow syncing, no re-entering the address into a separate system.

Navigations systems should come with Artificial Intelligence at heart. They could predict the driver’s intent based on time of day and traffic. We should have the most likely journeys preloaded on our screen.

Let’s talk about the user interface. Firstly, it should all be voice as the interface. Secondly, if I *have* to click, then please make it a three-or-less journey. Most navigation systems require at least a dozen clicks to set a new address destination.  

Navigation systems should help you save gas and drive safer. Integration with third parties is a must, something that CarPlay is sadly lacking.

Perhaps the biggest opportunity for Apple is that people are driving less.

Why not put car sharing at the heart of car operating system and navigation system? Allowing people to integrate their car into a new marketplace for ride sharing and car renting.

# Credit Cards are Evil

Apple Pay has not taken off. According to InfoScout, after two years, 19 out of every 20 people who have Apple Pay don’t use it. It’s simply no better than a plastic credit card.

Why did Apple choose to work with the banks and credit card companies? By taking the low-risk approach, to create software that integrates with the traditional payment systems, Apple hamstrung itself. Apple Pay was dead on arrival.

The traditional payments industry is a centralized clearinghouse for transactions. That’s why the industry can charge the 2-3 percentage fee to retailers. Thus, inflating the retail price.

It’s also an industry that created a nasty credit score system that encourages people to have too much credit. The result is a record amount of household debt. According to NerdWallet, the average American household has over $15,000 in credit card debt.

You don’t work *with* a broken industry. You replace it!

Hello, Apple? Do you remember the phone industry before the iPhone? Rather than make a faster horse, Apple followed Henry Ford and completely reimagined the phone and indeed made it smart. They should do the same for the payments industry.

Today new paradigms like Blockchain and other distributed systems provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to redesign the way we transact and authenticate completely.

Apple’s opportunity in payments is not to create an app. It’s to create a new system of transactions, distribution, and identity.

# VR and AR quality are poor

The opportunity for Virtual Reality is big. Just like the smartphone. However, the mass market VR solutions of today are falling short of the quality needed for mass adoption.

Oculus Rift and the Vive are setting the standard for the high end of the market. That’s for geeks, like me, who are happy to tether the headset to a PC.

A positive start for the untethered mass market is the Samsung VR Gear. But the devil’s in the detail with this. Once you use the device and watch content, you soon realize the shortcomings. Poor battery life, poor screen quality, lack of content. Did I mention the phone gets hot after using it for a while?

Apple has several patents for headset technology. Why not design a VR solution with the signature Apple quality and design that works great with the millions of iPhones, Mac’s and Apple TVs?

# TV is in the dark ages

If you thought the automotive industry could do with some fresh thinking, you should try Hollywood. Despite the renaissance of TV thanks to Netflix and Amazon, the way we watch content is circa 1960.

We just need one box for our TV. Yes, it’s 2016, and we still need two: a box from our cable provider and a web companion such as Chromecast, Roku or Apple TV. The cable box is an industrial age invention and should go there to retire.

Let’s open the content. TV should be searchable like web pages. There’re too many walled garden systems that prevent us from discovering new content.

Content should be free. That means mobile. Not just streaming, but you should be able to download and watch your favorite Netflix shows on a plane.

With their hobby, Apple TV, it’s time for the company to make the transformation of TV their priority.

What’s missing? Apple’s appetite for risk.

There are four significant user experience problems that are screaming out for a radically new approach and some exciting new technology. Apple has all people and business resources to succeed. It just needs approach product design differently.

Apple needs to charter some uncertain territories. Take a gamble. It’s time to forget the status quo. Don’t make things just 10% better.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. Just email [email protected].


About the author

Mike is the Chief Innovation Officer at QUALITANCE. He’s passionate about emerging technologies and experience design. Over his award-winning career, he’s worked on big innovation and marketing projects for Nike, Levi’s, Xbox, GE and many others.