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Op-Ed: Apple Under Tim Cook Is On The Defensive And That Isn't Good

Op-Ed: Apple Under Tim Cook Is On The Defensive And That Isn't Good

May 27, 2014
As I was preparing “The AppAdvice Week In Review” this weekend, it hit me. Covering Apple has been a lot like stepping knee deep in quicksand lately. Just when it appears certain that Cupertino is about to do something (anything), events on the ground have forced them into retreat. This could prove to be a major problem, and the following are the reasons why.

Apple TV update

Consider the case of the fourth-generation Apple TV as a starting point. Despite racking in more than $1 billion in sales in 2013, the hardware for the Apple TV hasn’t been updated since March 2012. To put this into perspective, Apple has released eight new iOS devices since then, including five new iPads and three new iPhones. Roku, which competes with Apple’s “hobby” device, also released its new generation streaming video device, the Roku 3, during the same time period. There are many reasons there has been no new Apple TV for nearly 27 months. It’s no secret that Apple once attempted to secure content deals for the Apple TV that would bypass cable companies. This was the basis behind, not just the fourth generation device, but also for the so-called “iTV.” When content providers refused to embrace Apple's plans, the company was said to be working with cable providers “to acquire programming rights from media companies.” At the top of that list was Time Warner Cable, which apparently had agreed to a deal with Apple’s Eddy Cue to stream content through the next-generation Apple TV. What happened? Comcast announced plans to acquire Time Warner Cable, thereby killing whatever plans Cue and company had been working on. In April, things got even more messy for Apple when Amazon unveiled the new Fire TV. The new $99 device continues to lack much of the content found on the Apple TV. Nonetheless, the device’s hardware and features are more advanced. The Fire TV is snappier than Apple's product, for example, and includes gaming, voice search, and child safety controls.

Beats Audio

Weeks ago, The Financial Times reported that Apple would acquire Beats Audio for $3.2 billion. If completed, the deal would be the largest acquisition in Apple’s long history. What happened? The suits in Cupertino are apparently unhappy that Beats co-founder Dr. Dre leaked the news of the acquisition ahead of time. As a result, the deal may be off. Many have argued that Apple buying Beats would be a crazy idea. That isn’t the point here. Apple doesn’t buy companies on a whim. If they wanted Beats, internally they probably had a hundred reasons to do so. Saying no because of a YouTube video makes little sense, correct?

The 5.5-inch iPhone

 Finally, consider Apple’s possible about face on the 5.5-inch “iPhone Air.” For months, most have expected that Apple would increase the size of its flagship product to 4.7-inches in 2014. Until recently, any talk of Apple releasing an even larger model was just that, talk. At the minimum, a larger model wasn’t expected until 2015 or later. In recent weeks, reports from multiple sources say that the 5.5-inch model is coming this year. What happened? Perhaps it's because one-third of all handset sold now have screens which measure (diagonally) 5 inches or more. In other words, the market has forced Apple to join the phablet market, perhaps quicker than they had wanted.


Admittedly, the very basis of this opinion piece relies on the assumption that past Apple rumors are correct. I cannot prove this, of course. It’s worth noting, however, that the rumors mentioned above have been cited by numerous sources at various times in recent months. In other words, if I’m wrong, so are most in the tech community of writers. With that being said, Apple appears to be on the defensive on multi-fronts, which looks to have caused product delays and revamps. Not exactly the way to run the second most valuable brand in the world.

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