Is Apple Lost? by A. Michael Noll

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Is Apple Lost?

A. Michael Noll

December 29, 2016

© 2016 AMN

Has Apple been too successful – and overly arrogant in believing only it knows what is best for its customers? Will Apple become the next Yahoo, slowly sinking into oblivion?

Has innovation for Apple become abandoning things, such as leaving out the audio mini-jack in its iPhones? The original iPod was a great music player with its fabulous click-wheel interface – ingenious. But Apple abandoned the iPod click-wheel, rather than updating this product with solid-state storage. Will Apple soon abandon all its iPods? If so, it would be a great opportunity for Sony to acquire the iPod product line and continue to innovate with new features and storage.

The iTunes program tries to do everything: music player, iPhone synchronizer, and iTunes store access. It is challenging to do all these well in one huge program. The different purposes should be different programs, but with sharing across them.

The iWatch promised much – but what did it deliver? I have yet to see someone using one. And the need to recharge it every day is a big chore. The iWatch seems to be just an extension of the iPhone.

Apple has become a one-product business: the iPhone. It is challenging to survive today as a one-product company. Apple’s complete product line (other than the iMac) would easily fit in a backpack. Apple is not a diverse product company – it has become a niche company.

Amazon, meanwhile, is innovating and expanding, such as its new voice-activated Echo product. This clearly is the kind of innovative product I would have expected from Apple. Meanwhile Apple’s iTV remains a challenge to discover what it actually does and how to use it.

Has the Apple that was the past innovator become today a copycat, such as the rumors that it too is working on a driverless car? More significantly, is Apple itself driverless and has it lost its way? Apple possibly needs new directions – a return to innovation – or a re-invigoration of the current paths.

Apple should renew a commitment to legacy products, such as the click-wheel iPod, updating them with newer technology and enthusing their original excitement. Give consumers more control over how things are displayed and used; and change the attitude that Apple knows best.

A. Michael Noll

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Access Is Not Content by A. Michael Noll

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Access Is Not Content

A. Michael Noll

October 7, 2016

© 2016 AMN

Twenty years ago in 1994, Bell Atlantic almost purchased John Malone’s company TCI—but sane minds ultimately prevailed. However, in 2000, Time Warner merged with AOL, and nine years later broke up. And then there were the ill-advised attempts of the telephone companies to enter Hollywood new media. There are lessons here: these kinds of mergers do not work.

Today’s mantra of new media seems to be “repeat the mistakes of the past.” And thus Verizon last year acquired AOL and this year seems about to acquire Yahoo. These acquisitions make no sense–they appear to be nonsense.

Decades ago, America On-Line (AOL) started the email craze, joined years later by Yahoo. These two were significant brands, but both companies failed to reposition themselves as the world of new media and the Internet changed and morphed. They both were left behind. It does not help Yahoo that its servers seem to crash frequently and recently it suffered a massive hacking invasion.

It seems that Verizon is stuck in the past, acquiring decades old brands that no longer matter. Perhaps Verizon wants to potion itself as not only an access provider but also as a content provider. But the prime services offered by AOL and Yahoo are email—a service that Verizon already offers its access customers.

Somehow by now I would have hoped tat the media and communications worlds had learned that access is not content—and that both are “king.” Without access, there is no content—without content, access is useless. They go hand in hand—and are very different industries. Bell Atlantic and the other Baby Bells learned many decades ago that they knew little of Hollywood and content. It seems today that Bell Atlantic’s successor Verizon has forgotten these lessons and is intent on returning to the past of AOL and Yahoo.

Wow, what nonsense!

A. Michael Noll

A. Michael Noll

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