Editorial Notebook

Theorizing about Apple’s business strategies

Apple is a company which seemingly draws controversy like no other. Some use their products religiously, often swearing off alternatives, while others wonder how people can justify spending obscene amounts of money on products which often stray so far from the norm. I will come right out and say that I am one of those who fall into the former category. However, I will admit that Apple has made some questionable decisions in the last years which, upon first glance, might seem confusing to fans. From the transition to Lightning connectors, to the removal of the headphone jack, to the exclusive use of USB-C on the new MacBook Pro, Apple has historically been a very secretive company, leaving the public grasping at straws in an attempt to understand the rationale for such unpopular design decisions. While it’s entirely possible that Apple is just out of touch, I think it has to be something else. A company which has historically changed the way we use computers through such profound ways as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad must have some reason for these changes, right?

It is my opinion that Apple aims to innovate in ways that Google, Samsung, and Windows don’t. Rather than focus on being a computing company which can put its brand on any device with fancy new parts and call it innovative, Apple has a different objective. While they may deal with computers, they attempt to abstract the technology away from the user. Technology for technology’s sake is bad; anyone with a elderly family member knows that more advanced tech can be more distracting and confusing than useful. Once you begin to understand this guiding principle of abstracting the tech away from the experience, you start to understand the direction which Apple has taken.

From the convenience of the Apple Watch; to the removal of buttons, bezels, and the headphone jack from the iPhone; to the ease of use of the Apple Pencil, they have removed all that isn’t absolutely necessary in order to make a more accessible and intuitive experience. Why would you have to pull out your phone whenever you get a notification when you can have a small device on your wrist discretely notify you? Why pull out a tablet when all you want to do is FaceTime a friend? And why pull out a laptop when all you want to do is take notes in class? This pursuit of minimalism is done on two fronts: by simplifying their products, and by creating a seamless environment which utilizes increasingly more convenient products for the user.

Apple is also special in that they don’t care about the market. Why try to challenge the ubiquitous presence of the symbolic white headphones by removing the headphone jack and as a result, taking a lot of flak? Whether you like it or not, Apple probably doesn’t care that you don’t like that they removed the headphone jack. They have their vision and they will stick to it. They aim not to please their fan base to compete with other tech companies, but to compete with themselves by making the future. Rather than create a better iPod when everyone wanted a brand new iPod, Apple killed the iPod by coming out with the iPhone. They don’t care what you want because they’re too busy making what you’ll want in a few years time.