What Apple’s Pace of Innovation Means for Custom Integration

5/1/2013 8:50:00 PM

“Apple’s ability to continue innovating at the breakneck pace it maintained over the past few years remains a top concern on Wall Street.”

Goldman Sachs is concerned.

Most will agree that Apple has changed the way we live, work, and interact with each other. Yet, before we look forward, let’s take a quick glance back.

2001: Apple iPod was announced just a smidge after iTunes. It was not the first MP3 player out there. Some might say that it wasn’t even the best. However, Apple and their innovators blew up the market with the release of this tiny device that offered, “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

2004: By July, more than a million songs had been downloaded via iTunes, and by December that same year, that number had grown to more than 2 million.

2007: Apple releases the iPhone and changes the game.

2010: In April, the first iPad was released. Guess whose tablet was the top-seller last year with more than 100 million sold? Yep, the big Apple.

Can we all agree that Apple is an innovator?

According to the dictionary, innovate is, “to introduce as or as if new; to make changes: do something in a new way” This is exactly what Apple has done.

As for their breakneck pace, if I’m looking at the math correctly, (and this is pretty easy math, even for me) it was six years between the release of the iPod and the iPhone. Then it only took three years after that for the release of the iPad. When I started looking into the timeline, I was surprised. The year 2001 does not seem like that long ago to me. We have been attached to our iPhones only since 2007? I feel like we’ve known each other for longer. In one decade’s time Apple changed the way the world listened to music, dealt with photos, communicated, and interacted. This is why people purchase Apple products.

Apple is a community (maybe a snooty one at times). Other products and operating systems are products. When you buy into Apple, you’re buying into the usability across all of their products. This is what makes them great. (Also, this is why you should be selling and integrating AppleTV in an “Apple-friendly” home. It is a bridge between other Apple products and the TV).

Can Apple keep up the pace? Can it change the world twice or should the company continue to build on what they already have? The iPod led us to the iPhone, which led to the iPad (or as my children call it, “The really big iPhone”). The iPhone made smartphones ubiquitous, like they are today. Our offices are no longer “in” our offices. We can longer say, “I’m away from my desk with limited access to email.” Our offices now go where we go.

Does Apple need to try to change the world again? And could they even do it without Steve Jobs pushing their limits? Many companies survive after the “soul” is gone. Disney lives on without Walt. Ford continues to reinvent itself generations after Henry.

Why should we care? Why should we pay attention? And most importantly what does all this have to do with us, the custom integrator? Everything.

Smartphones have become the epicenter of our lives. These devices need to work seamlessly within and around the home. It is important to pay attention to this billion-dollar company and what it's doing and what is next, because it is our future.

When I go to a client’s house to do an estimate, I ask where their phone is at that moment. Eight out of 10 times it is “on their person.” That means that they are carrying around the potential for a keypad, remote, lighting control interface, door lock, and alarm keypad. It is up to us to integrate it, unleashing the power they already have in their hand.

I’m hearing the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz, “"You've always had the power, my dear. You've had it all along."

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