Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I think Apple got arrogant just a tad too early.

Update: I posted a follow-up.

You know things are heating up for Apple when even Fake Steve Jobs himself announces that he’s ditching his iPhone and getting an Android phone.

A few select pieces:

Which is why today, just to be mean, Google showed an Android phone tethered to an Apple iPad. Big laughs all around.

Indeed. Don’t bother with the iPad 3G, just get the cheap iPad, an Android phone running FroYo, turn on wifi tethering and you are automatically online for no extra costs.

I’m assuming that Apple could have done this already, but chose not to. Who knows why? Maybe they want to keep people locked into their old way of doing things. Or maybe because they were a market leader with no real competition and just got lazy.

I think the latter. It’s not specific to Apple, it’s a well-known law that any market leader with no competition starts taking their users for granted and always gets lazy.

Yes, Apple still has a larger installed base. I was a little shocked recently when an Apple spokesbot responded to the news of Android’s outselling iPhone OS by reciting the old chestnut about Apple’s having more phones out there.

I was shocked because it’s a familiar line, one that I’ve heard countless times in my 20-plus years covering technology. But I’ve only ever heard it from companies that are doomed and in total denial about it.

Very true. Amusingly, this is actually the exact line used by Nokia and Symbian representatives when asked that very same question. I’m sure Steve Jobs is not enjoying the company in that basket.

My take on the overall situation: I think Apple got arrogant just a tad too early. They were doing great, selling iPhones by the millions despite AT&T and they decided that they had already won, so they could become complacent. They kicked out Adobe, started locking down their product even more strongly than before, stopped innovating on the music front (where is http://itunes.com? Why do I still need an ugly client for the slightest synchronization task?), fell behind both in hardware and software, and Android eagerly filled the void.

One of my tennis coaches once told me “I guess it’s okay to be arrogant if you’re the best in the world”.

Apple became arrogant before they were the best in the world, and they are now going to have to fight hard if they want to stay third or maybe even fourth.

Update: Tim O’Reilly is agreeing.

Posted via web from markjeee.com

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