In less than a decade, Apple reinvented itself, removing the ‘Computer’ from its name to be simply Apple Inc., and this move speaks volumes about where the company is headed, says Jason D. O’Grady in ‘How Apple Inc. Changed the World’ (www.jaicobooks.com).

He recounts how, in 2001, Steve Jobs positioned the Mac as the digital hub to which you could connect your camera, music player, phone etc, but now Apple doesn’t just want to be the hub – it wants to be the spokes and wheel too.

“Products like iPod and the iTunes Store allowed Apple to branch out into the uncharted waters of the music business, and it quickly became the captain of the high seas. Now Apple’s doing the same thing with television and movies…”

In the author’s view, Apple’s new modus operandi is to let other, well-funded companies take the first shot at a product, spend a lot of money, and make many mistakes. “Then once they’ve taken their licks, Apple enters the market with a product that works and looks better and reaps the rewards.”

He observes that the music business got a lesson in digital technology at the hands of Apple and probably realises in retrospect that it should have built it sooner, but it didn’t and now it’s forced to deal with the market leader – Apple. “The movie studios and television networks won’t go down as easy. They’ve been watching the iTunes era unfold with the intensity of someone whose livelihood depends on it, because it does.”

What is Apple’s advantage? Its commanding leadership with iTunes and iPod, says O’Grady. It can therefore be expected to carefully observe the other players in the market, and then slowly move in with an improved version, and its iPod army in tow, he foresees.

However, in the generally price-sensitive computer market, while Apple cedes the share to low-cost Windows PCs, the author finds it focusing on its strengths and selling ‘higher-end (and higher-margin) Macs to college students, creative, and professionals.’

Considering Apple’s legendary secrecy, while it is difficult to predict anything from Cupertino with accuracy, O’Grady expects the company to continue to grow and extend its products, as it keeps enhancing digital content to its repertoire.

“Apple’s patent applications provide a veritable treasure trove of potential ideas that Apple is considering, including enhanced online shopping, Mac tablets, speech-recognition, handwriting-recognition, gaming consoles, digital video recorders, remote controls, docking stations, solar panels, and just about every kind of software that you can imagine.”

The book concludes with the statement that Apple will go on expanding its number of spokes attached to the digital hub. “It’ll probably continue to build the rest of the wheel and eventually the whole ‘bicycle’ – now there’s an idea!”

Suggested week-end study.

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