Apple Drives Vision of Seamless Multi-Device Computing

by Bob O'Donnell   |   June 3rd, 2014

Having attended a large number of Apple events over the years—from new product introductions to WWDC keynotes—I’ve learned to expect impressive demos of new features and new products. In the long run, we often find out that some of those impressive demos turn out to be just as good, if not better, in real-world usage, while others end up, well, not quite so useful. Yesterday’s event at Moscone West in San Francisco was certainly no different.

Apple once again put on a great show, generating oohs and aahs from its developer faithful, as it showed everything from new UI enhancements and even a new system font in MacOS X Yosemite, to an iOS 8 Health app, smarter keyboards and a virtual firehose spray of news on open developer APIs (application programming interfaces), a new programming language, potential links to smart home devices and wearables, graphics engine enhancements, and much more.

In some cases, the company was playing catch-up with the competition, while in others, it was laying out a new vision of where they are driving their ecosystem and devices. For many of the developer-focused capabilities, in particular, it will probably take a while before we can really appreciate and properly evaluate their importance.

One capability that won’t take much time to evaluate, however, was the Continuity features they showed that will enable iOS8 and MacOSX Yosemite-based devices to work together in a completely seamless fashion. In my view, these were the most important capabilities Apple unveiled yesterday by far. Finally, we can start to see a world where the devices play a secondary role to the people and what it is they want to get done.

Finally, we can start to see a world where the devices play a secondary role to the people and what it is they want to get done.”

Apple showed a wide range of device-to-device handoffs (including a feature called “Handoff” that I’ll get to in a second), from taking a phone call from your iPhone on a Mac or iPad, to starting an e-mail on one Apple device and finishing it on the other, to instantly turning your iPhone into a WiFi hotspot when it’s in range of your other devices. By themselves, they may not appear as impressive as, say, opening up the TouchID API for use by 3rd-party apps for things like mobile ecommerce, but they are very useful capabilities for regular users that provide the kind of “magic” touch that Apple does so well.

Speaking of “Handoff,” it allows certain apps, including things like Pages, Numbers, Safari, Messages, Mail, Contacts and more to seamlessly pass a document or web page or information from a MacOS X Yosemite-based device to an iOS8-based device and even continuing editing where you had left off on the previous device. It’s exactly the kind of vision that many people have been waiting for in this multi-device era and I think it’s an important portent of things to come.

Speaking of which, yet another multi-device friendly service Apple unveiled was iCloud Drive, which some have commented is like an Apple version of DropBox or Box. iCloud Drive offers numerous improvements over Apple’s previous cloud storage offering, including a Finder-like file and folder view into cloud storage, but Apple will charge users for more than 5 GB of storage. Importantly, Apple also announced they will be supporting Windows devices with iCloud Drive, but there was no mention of an Android client.

And this leads me to my potential concern around Apple’s new announcements. Essentially, Apple is creating a great reason to stick with Apple devices across all their main categories, from PCs (or Macs, in this case) to tablets and phones. While no one can fault them for this approach—they are in the business of selling devices after all—the fact is that most Apple users don’t have all Apple devices. Most people have a mixture of OS platforms—some Microsoft, some Google and some Apple. Of course, I’m sure that part of Apple’s strategy is to increase the all-Apple households (which their new Family Sharing feature should help with as well), but their vision could be made much more effective if they could somehow bring other non-Apple OS devices into the group.

To do this, Apple would have to take a more comprehensive view around multi-device services and figure out business models that enable them to benefit from people owning other devices. Given that Apple is leveraging iCloud to enable many of these seamless multi-device experiences, I would think they could create iCloud client apps for other platforms and then build a set of for-pay services that enable the kinds of experiences they demoed at WWDC but across platforms. Of course, it would be fine to make the experience better if it was on all Apple devices, but if the company could at least enable multi-device, multi-platform scenarios, I believe they would create an incredibly compelling story that would position them very well for a long time to come.

I have no doubt that the kind of simple, logical, device-to-device interactions that Apple previewed at WWDC will be the computing models of the future. But, I’m still not sure what role Apple will ultimately play.

Bob O'Donnell

Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.
  • FalKirk

    I have to disagree with Bob. Apple should play to their strength, which is vertical integration. They should not dilute their efforts in order to bring more people into their tent.. Apple and Android each have their role to play. Apple’s integration allows them to be on the cutting edge of tech. Google’s modular business model allows for lower prices and rapid adoption by the masses. Let’s celebrate and encourage them to be the best at what they’re best at and not ask them to be something they are not.

    • klahanas

      Many good points, to be sure. I would fully agree if not for the specter of isolationism. You can be really big, but still isolated.

    • Bob O’Donnell

      John, I do get that point and I realize that the vertical integration Apple has, offers them the ability to probably deliver the best possible multi-device solution. But, what I’m trying to point out is that if they could at least stretch their arms out to include other platforms they could give everyone a better experience across devices and that would be a great thing–a good example of Apple using their skills to improving computing overall. Now, I recognize that they aren’t in this for charity’s sake and perhaps my comments are a bit utopian, but I do think it’s possible to do something in a way that does generate revenue for them (and, btw, still allows the experience of using all Apple products to be better for those who want to go that way). The fact is, as I point out in the column, most people have a combination of platforms and I really don’t see that dramatically changing over time. I think the announcements they made yesterday can help their case, but the market is just too big for them to dramatically shift market share and let a wider audience really enjoy all the great advances they’ve made.

      • DrewBear2

        “… if they could at least stretch their arms out to include other platforms they could give everyone a better experience across devices…”

        What you describe is not easy and perhaps not even possible. Consider how difficult it is for Apple to provide the best experience across their own devices. What they announced yesterday was certainly a milestone, but they have a long ways to go before all that is promised becomes reality. I agree with FalKirk. Apple needs to continue to focus on their strengths.

      • Majipoor

        “but the market is just too big for them to dramatically shift market share and let a wider audience really enjoy all the great advances they’ve made.”

        Why do you think Apple absolutely want to dramatically shift market share? Apple is the most profitable company on the planet with less than 10% market share in both mobile and PC markets. Isn’t that not enough?

        Appel could easily and dramatically increase their market share overnight by selling the iPhone with 10% margin instead of 50% (which would still make them more profitable than most companies in the business). Why don’t they do it? It would be so easy, wouldn’t it?

        I do not think you understand Apple. I think many do not understand Apple, but I do not understand why.

        • Bob O’Donnell

          Hey all, look I do understand Apple–I’ve been following the company for over 25 years and used to work at Macweek back in the day when that was a big deal–and I understand that there are certain things that some companies don’t do. But then again, there are some things that some companies (e.g., Microsoft) never used to do, but things have changed and so have they. I’m not talking about profitability here, I’m talking about driving the future of computing. I know it’s hard to do if you don’t own the entire vertical chain, but that doesn’t mean it might not be worth trying.

          • Majipoor

            “but that doesn’t mean it might not be worth trying.”

            Agree, but I don’t know why you expect Apple could be interested in that scenario. Doesn’t sounds like Apple to me.

            “there are some things that some companies (e.g., Microsoft) never used to do, but things have changed and so have they”

            Because their revenue stream is threatened: they have no choice. Apple business is blossoming: they have no reason to change their way.

          • Sammy

            Bob, with respect, I understand what you are saying but this had me scratching my head…

            “I’m not talking about profitability here, I’m talking about driving the future of computing. I know it’s hard to do if you don’t own the entire vertical chain, but that doesn’t mean it might not be worth trying.”

            If Apple wanted to drive the future of computing, I’d think they would want it exclusively on their hardware and ecosystem, where they make their money. Maybe throw a bone to PC users, but Apple will never expand to Android except via Beats.

            Google’s business model on the other hand,

      • Kizedek

        “I do get that point and I realize that the vertical integration Apple has, offers them the ability to probably deliver the best possible multi-device solution. But, what I’m trying to point out is that if they could at least stretch their arms out to include other platforms they could give everyone a better experience across devices”

        Perhaps the point that needs to be gotten is that “a better experience across devices” requires vertical integration within the same platform. But i guess you are asking for Apple to neglect its own customers and somehow prop up others who offer a pretty poor experience across devices?

        It seems that MS and Google and Samsung may have gotten that point; and, therefore, you may get your wish for “a good example of Apple using their skills to improving computing overall.” Afterall, MS and Google have both been forced to consider producing hardware, and Samsung has had to consider producing its own software.

      • http://naofumi.castle104.com/ Naofumi

        I think iTunes/Quicktime for Windows, iWork for Web and iCloud Drive for Windows should easily classify as Apple stretching out their arms towards Windows users.

        No?

  • Majipoor

    Trying to make “almost free” services available on all platforms make no sense from a business point of view I would say.

    “figure out business models that enable them to benefit from people owning other devices”

    Really? What benefit them most? Ten Android users paying $1 a month for a 20GB iCloud Drive subscription or one Android user who decides to switch to a $600 iPhone (and the same iCloud Drive subscription)? Especially considering that iCloud Drive would just be another cloud storage option for an Android user.

    Moreover, Apple solutions are so elegant and seamlessly integrated mostly because Apple control everything: the OS, the hardware, the ecosystem. The implementation on third party OS would be sub-par because Apple has no control over the hardware and the OS.

    Strongly disagree with you here.

    • klahanas

      “The implementation on third party OS would be sub-par because Apple has no control over the hardware and the OS.”
      Or the user…
      Which is a feature for me IMO.

      • Majipoor

        Good for you. But your point doesn’t make a lot of sense in the context.

        “The implementation on third party OS would be sub-par because Apple has no control over the user”?

        Does it make any sense to you?

        • klahanas

          Sadly, that’s how I view Apple.

          • Majipoor

            That is how you should view any company because the goal for all companies is the same, only the way to reach the goal is different.

            Apple cannot control the user the way you think they are: switching from an iOS ecosystem to Android is always possible and not that much complicated. It just take some money and some time, but hopefully users are not so easily locked into an ecosystem. The same is true when switching from Android to iOS BTW.

            Apple only tries to propose the best products and ecosystem and hopes that users will decide to stay within their walled garden. Because it is a garden, not a jail: no locked door.

            And well, it works!

            For me it is the best business model: convince people to buy your products because they are the best choice.

          • klahanas

            I do view all companies that way, and I remain critical of them when they emulate this behavior (WinRT for instance).
            Switching from iOS is not an easy undertaking, and lock-in is a stated goal. I won’t begrudge Apps not transferring, that’s a technical issue. Movies and iBooks don’t transfer to other devices though. The iMessage fiasco, for switchers, is another example.
            A gilded cage IS a jail.
            More importantly, a company’s profits are not my concern. Ownership and control over my property is.

          • Majipoor

            “Movies and iBooks don’t transfer to other devices though.”

            This is also mostly a matter of DRM which are required by content owners. You can transfer free eBooks (ePub is a standard format) or music for example because there is no DRM here (and Steve Jobs did fight for DRM-free music FYI). And you could say exactly the same about Google or Amazon.

            “The iMessage fiasco, for switchers, is another example.”

            Come on, this is mostly a glitch. You cannot seriously think that it is a way for Apple to keep iOS users locked?

          • klahanas

            DRM can be cross platform. Yet it isn’t. With Apple being the sole authority over iOS, they get the benefit, but they also get the blame.

            Amazon is not much better, but they support more, notably excluding Apple. These are not good practices by anybody. You can watch Google movies on any device. Stupid MS made theirs depend on Silverlight, so they introduced a technical barrier. Also contemptible.

            Whether the iMessage problem is malicious or not, the stated goal of lock in is.

          • Majipoor

            DRM could also be non-existent. Blame content owners for that, not Apple (or Google or Microsoft). There is no widespread cross-platform DRM.

            “Whether the iMessage problem is malicious or not, the stated goal of lock in is.”

            How that? You can fix he problem now by calling Apple support and Apple has already announced a fix for the issue.

          • klahanas

            This is what’s malicious:

            http://www.pcworld.com/article/2139020/steve-jobs-called-for-holy-war-against-google.html

            From within:

            “Tie all of our products together, so we further lock customers into our ecosystem” – Steve Jobs

            iMessage may or may not be a glitch, the above is not a glitch.

          • Majipoor

            Yeah, because Google, Microsoft, Amazon or Facebook CEO would never say that?Come on.

            You don’t like Apple, fine: I won’t argue with you as you are free to like or dislike any company. But please, don’t try to justify your choice with such examples because the only point you make here is that Apple is a company like any other company.

          • klahanas

            You see me rooting for them?

            And you bring up some good points too. Apple pioneered a lot of this though, which others have copied. Apple is the most restrictive, by far. They have one singular store on iOS and other stores are not allowed. In so doing, the App Store censorship extends to the entire platform. You could say the same for WinRT, but who cares.

          • Majipoor

            “Apple is the most restrictive, by far.”

            Apple want to control everything because they think it is the best way to make the best products. This is Apple and I understand you prefer more freedom, but please, try to understand that controlling everything is what makes Apple’s products what they are (and what they are not).

            You want Apple to become Google? Why that? Why having two Googles?

            Apple is Apple, Google is Google. Choose the platform you prefer (and hopefully you did try to understand what kind of business model is behind the Android platform and you are OK with that).

            Myself, as hundreds of millions of people, do prefer a curated platform with an extremely good integration between the various devices. Can you understand that some people may prefer the iOS platform? And can you understand that making such a clean and integrated platform DOES REQUIRE full control over (almost) everything?

            With Android, iOS and Windows, we have three very different platforms to choose from. This is the choice you have, but when you has chosen your platform, why would you expect it to be like another platform?

          • klahanas

            People that like the curation can still have it, no one is denying them that freedom. People that would like to have a more open Apple device do not have the option of more openness.

            Meanwhile content censorship is less critical to the “experience” and it still exists and will remain.

            Fortunately, these other alternatives you mentioned did become viable alternatives.

            I seek the best of all worlds. My self-salted gourmet soup.

          • Bill Smith

            I’m a long-time Apple user.

            I know why the caged bird sings.

            (didn’t Maya Angelou pass away recently?)

          • klahanas

            “Swing low, sweet chariot
            Coming for to carry me home..”
            Good thing that the beloved Angelou published “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings” on Random House. If she published with Wiley, there would have been a time her book was BANNED on the App Store, since Wiley angered Jobs. ;-)

      • JKL

        Delusional, how does Apple control the users, magic pill? Mind control ray? Brain implant?

        • klahanas

          See you had to get insulting… That’s okay.
          When you control hardware, software AND content you are also an IT department. That’s how.

    • Bob O’Donnell

      I understand your point, but I’m trying to point out that basically by offering a better mousetrap in terms of how people interact with and move across multiple devices–which I believe is core to how computing evolves over time–they can benefit. Let’s be honest, basic business models of just getting people to buy your device are tough to do in tech these days because of all the complicated relationships among devices, services, platforms, etc. As I mentioned in my other reply, I do think their new announcements can help Apple get some switchers, but the real test will be when the new hardware comes because that’s how most people make their decisions–not on platform capabilities. So, while it may be a bit complicated, I still believe there are opportunities where Apple can leverage their vision and their integration skills to other platforms and benefit from them economically.

      • Majipoor

        “basic business models of just getting people to buy your device are tough to do in tech these days because of all the complicated relationships among devices, services, platforms, etc.”

        Absolutely: it is a very difficult business model. But it appears it is exactly Apple’s business model: selling devices. And they are pretty good at that.

        “when the new hardware comes because that’s how most people make their decisions–not on platform capabilities.”

        While this is probably correct concerning Samsung and most OEMs (because they don’t have anything worthwhile to propose beyond the hardware), I think it is incorrect concerning Apple. While the iPhone is an excellent product, it is not good enough to explain why Apple is so successful, especially considering that their products are quite expensive.

        I am myself an old Apple user (first Mac in 1989). What makes me an Apple loyalist today is the ecosystem and the integration between all my devices. And after the WWDC keynote, I know I will have even more reasons to stay in the Apple’s ecosystem for the time being.

        “I still believe there are opportunities where Apple can leverage their vision and their integration skills to other platforms and benefit from them economically.”

        I don’t understand how you can consider that it would benefit Apple to bring their unique skills to other platforms rather than using them to attract more people on their own platform.

        Moreover, as I said before, if Apple is so good at integration it is MOSTLY possible because they control everything in their ecosystem which would not be the case in your scenario. Integration is something extremely difficult and the more platform or hardware you have to integrate, the more difficult it becomes.

        Apple is Apple because they control everything. You expect that Apple could still be Apple as a third-party provider of various services on other platforms. You are wrong I think and Apple would then be no better than Google or Microsoft and probably even worst.

    • Bill Smith

      @majipoor:disqus I agree. Apple should be going for the jugular. Let Google and Microsoft come up with their own heavily integrated ecosystems. This is competition, and it’s not as though the other Big Two don’t have their own advantages and tie-ins.

      Let’s see how they answer Apple’s push.

  • yayapple

    Bob I don’t agree with you about iCloud. The company has had enough difficulty making iCloud adequate for users of Apple products: I’ve read that the mobile access is limited and that’s a problem because of the primary importance of mobile. As an Apple loyalist I want to see Apple put their energy into improvements for their own customers, and not dissipate it on other peoples.’

    • Bob O’Donnell

      I agree that for Apple loyalists and pure Apple households, the Continuity innovations they discussed yesterday were fantastic. I’m simply trying to acknowledge the reality that most people own multiple platforms and it would be great if Apple could take a leading position in driving how multi-device computing works for everyone. Apple has the vision to create a future where we can all benefit from their innovations and I’d like to see that happen.

      • Space Gorilla

        I don’t see it happening. Apple is building the Apple Network of Things, and it requires security, privacy, curation, and control. Apple will soon be at a billion users (or more), they need to focus on serving their own users first. Even Apple can only do so much. My guess is a couple years from now it will be very difficult for any company to follow where Apple is going, it’s just so vertical. You have to always keep in mind that Apple doesn’t want all the customers, they just want the best customers.

        • Majipoor

          “My guess is a couple years from now it will be very difficult for any company to follow where Apple is going,”

          I think it is already the case: Apple has carefully and cleverly built its vertical model for the last twenty years and I don’t see which competitor could replicate this.

          Existing competitors (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook) are too big and too different to change (even if Microsoft is trying hard). And I don’t see how a new major actor could enter this market for the years to come.

      • http://naofumi.castle104.com/ Naofumi

        I think that Apple has always taken a leading position in how computing evolves. Their visions and innovations have always benefited us, regardless of whether we buy Apple products or not, and regardless of whether Apple tries to extend its compatibility with others.

        What happens is, companies copy Apple.

  • Viking

    Bob, there is a very simple solution to your problem: when you need to replace your current device buy an Apple device. Apple currently has the highest marketshare (of the premium segment) of each of the hardware categories it competes in: phone, tablet, laptop and desktop. In the fall they will likely be launching a watch and an improved TV offering. They will then dominate 6 hardware categories (in their own right). When you factor in ecosystem compatibility they will be even much, much stronger. Given all the obvious benefits of buying Apple (hardware, software, ecosystem, future innovation) my guess is sales will continue to grow nicely. I think more people will buy Apple exclusively.

    • Bob O’Donnell

      That of course, is the $64,000 question. I have no doubt that they will gain share in phones when they introduce a bigger screen iPhone 6 with all these new iOS8 capabilities. However, I still think we are going to see a very mixed platform world into the foreseeable future and it would be great to see if Apple could help even more people as they develop this vision moving forward.

      • klahanas

        Let’s go with that. When we no longer have a mixed platform, and say, iOS wins. Is it then a monopoly?

        • Kizedek

          Perhaps in some sense, but not in the same sense as MS…

          From Wikipaedia:
          “A monopolist is said to control the market for its buyers in a monopoly, in which only one seller faces many buyers.”

          The “buyers” in the market that MS controled were not end users, but OEMs. Apple doesn’t have any OEMs, just end users. Being popular among end users is not what defines a monopolist in any meaningful way that would necessarily be cause for concern.

          • klahanas

            Bad enough when a monopoly controls the people I buy stuff from. Faaar worse when it controls ME directly.

          • Kizedek

            You dont have to buy Apple. The problem with the MS Monopoly was that all that perceived “choice” among OEMs was really no choice — you got Windows no matter what. The choice was Mac or Windows, period; but there was really no choice for years in most work environments.

            So, great, you buy into perceived choice in the horizontal model, whether Windows or Android, because apparently it doesnt “control” you, and you can do what you like…. Only, you really can’t, because your device and software dont work that great together, you dont get upgrades and no-one (the OS creator, the seller, the app developer, the OEM, the store) will give you support worth a tuppence.

            It’s a great sales pitch — no control, unlimited choice and potential, etc. — but it never delivers. Hence the higher satisfaction on the Apple side.

          • klahanas

            You mean like the vast choices of stores I can buy iOS software from? Let’s cross that bridge when (if) we get to it.

          • Kizedek

            Why do i want more than one store account when i have a greater choice of better apps already? That’s exactly the kind of false “choice” I am talking about, but if it makes you feel better, enjoy all your stores.

          • klahanas

            Because a singular point of purchase is censorship. I will grant the seller the right to sell whatever they choose, but the customer should have the right to buy any legal product they choose.

            Case in point, Wiley Publishing was banned from the iTunes bookstore because they angered Jobs by publishing a book about him that he found objectionable. I’ve brought this up several times. What bothers me is not so much for Wiley’s sake, but that it was even remotely possible to do by anyone. What is to stop it from happening with software, music, or movies? (Oh wait, it has). If there were alternate stores, no problem.

            Also multiple stores afford more freedom and better deals to the buyer. If you prefer to shop at Harrod’s, you may continue to do so. There’s no reason for any buyer to shop there exclusively for all items. Competition is good, that’s why we have anti-trust laws.

          • Kizedek

            I have more concern about Amazon — instead of “dropping” a publisher, they conveniently make its titles unavailable. Google does the same with search results. The greater “evil” is proclaiming to be all things to all people in some politically correct way that is palatable to naive people, but secretly exercising control anyway. Apple is far more transparent in comparison.

            At the moment, the Wiley Publishing point is moot: I have some iBooks titles …but I also have content from Kindle, ebooks and PDFs direct from authors, etc. Apple decides what titles they carry in their own format, but they don’t restrict the device to that format alone — in fact, it is less “locked down” than, say, the Kindle. This shows your fears to be completely misplaced.

            In the future, if Apple has “won”, they are likely to loosen up, not tighten up. They have already shown loosening in several areas; and find ways to implement new options while maintaining security at the same time.

          • klahanas

            Amazon being wrong, does not make Apple right. They are both wrong. MS, warts and all, has never forbidden anything. Nor could they if they wanted to. Not one single program was ever forbidden, and there would have been severe outrage if they even tried. Imagine if they “forbade” iTunes in 2001. Where would Apple be today?

          • Kizedek

            They certainly can both be wrong. I told you which type of wrong I have more concern about (the dishonest kind). Obviously, for hundreds of millions of people, the advantages of using an iOS device far outweigh any perceived disadvantages. …and if I want to read that Wiley book, I can.

            Yes, MS wants Windows to be all things to all people; that is part of its problem.

          • jfutral

            No, MS just put hidden hooks in the OS to give their software competitors problems. They forbade the hardware OEMs from selling any PC they made without paying MS a fee whether it had Windows on it or not.

            Neither here nor there anymore. Personally all this stuff you imagine is self correcting, for both Amazon and Apple.

            I do find it hypocritical that when Apple does this it is arrogance and hubris. When Amazon does this it is… well, it doesn’t seem to be much of anything, does it?

            Joe

          • klahanas

            Oh, I agree. One of the most egregious things MS did was use undocumented function calls in Windows, in order to give Office an advantage. The bundling of IE was far inferior to that. They should have busted them up.

            Apple also uses undocumented calls, requires you to get their approval to sell your wares, and enforces a singular store. IMO that’s far worse.

            As far as Amazon goes, I can honestly say that I know exactly zero Amazon fans. But to imply that Apple has no hubris? Really? Mac vs. PC? Anything Jobs ever said? How about Schiller last week?

            Warmest regards from your “Green Balloned” friend. :-)

          • jfutral

            “But to imply that Apple has no hubris?”

            Never implied that. I’m just calling out the hypocrisy WRT Amazon’s recent moves and how the tech press is mostly giving them a pass vs how they have treated Apple.

            Joe

          • klahanas

            Apple is the leader, not Amazon. Apple also got an astronomical amount of free advertising and publicity.

          • jfutral

            Leader in what? Amazon pretty much trounces Apple in ebook sales.

            Joe

          • klahanas

            Computing overall.

        • aardman

          You can have only one seller but not have a monopoly if the threat of new entry forces the single seller to act competitively. Technically a monopoly means a single seller AND barriers to entry. If a company is a single seller ( or a dominant seller ) and they got that way because customers overwhelmingly prefer their product without the company engaging in below-cost pricing (talking about you, Amazon), chances are that company is not a monopolist.

          • klahanas

            App approval is a barrier to entry, from a potential competitor no less. Apple sells the only devices in the ecosystem, controls the OS and the content. There are exactly zero iOS devices other than Apple. Of course, I’m not counting accessories. I would say it would fit in within the parameters of your argument.

          • Kizedek

            Oh my goodness! You are splitting up parts of one company’s own products. That doesn’t constitute a “market”. It isn’t a monopoly when you exert control over your own product/services. That is no “market”. It is a monopoly when the “market” is wider than your own product/services.

            Consider MS: the “market” is not Windows. It is not about what apps they permit or not. The market of concern is “PC OS’s”. OEMs all need one for their products. They have a need to license one for each and every PC they produce. Could have been IBM’s OS/2, could have been Linux, Unix, BeOS, NeXT, whatever. But MS screwed all of the alternatives into oblivion, and threatened (to withhold Windows or leveraged other products or whatever) if OEMs put out PCs using something else.

            Your idea that Apple has a “monopoly” on the App Store is ludicrous. (Maybe a monopsony, I don’t know.). The App Store is a marketplace, sure; but, it is not a “market” in the sense you want it to be. The market is mobile devices and Apple barely has 10% and doesn’t affect entry to the market in any way whatsoever (except by creating a high bar and raising user-expectations). Apple encourages you to buy their mobile device by “adding value”, such as their particular App Store. Good grief. It’s called differentiation.

            Here’s an idea: why don’t we force McDonald’s to put Pepsi vending machines in all their locations, even though they have a contract with Coca-Cola. Pepsi can manage it from outside, with free access to their machines and positioning within the restaurants. After all, it’s not fair that Coca-Cola has a “monopoly” over restaurants with whom they have exclusive deals. What if I like both McDonalds and Pepsi? I mean, isn’t McDonald’s a “market” — never mind that there are millions of other fast-food places and hamburger joints. Never mind that I can drink coffee, milk or water.

            It’s absurd. (Note, I have used an example of a contract; but with a company that represents both sides of the equation, it is even more absurd). No, a monopoly can’t really be exerted by the vertical company anyway — McDonald’s or Apple. Coca-Cola, like MS, could exert one by leveraging other products or services (as MS did): say, Coca-Cola says, “if you don’t take our drinks exclusively, we will remove all our dispensing equipment around which your whole premises were custom-built.”

          • klahanas

            You seem to forget that this entire thread is under the hypothetical scenario that Apple “won”.

  • Defendor

    If the Media business really matters to Apple they have to open up
    playback to all relevant devices, not just their captive audience.

    On the media side not having playback on other relevant devices is a competitive disadvantage and restricting others, is not the advantage it once was. It just encourages them to seek media from other (now available) channels.

    If I were looking to buy Books/Movies/TV shows in a multi-brand device household, I would not buy those media from Apple since they will only work on Apple devices. I would buy from Amazon/Google because they will work on all devices.

    I don’t expect the same on the application side, but media should play on any device and I would never buy media that didn’t.

  • http://naofumi.castle104.com/ Naofumi

    I agree with the points in the article but I think that at least for Windows, Apple is already providing device-to-device interactions. Apple already takes a comprehensive view around multi-device services as evidenced by iTunes and Quicktime for Windows, iWork on the web and the new iCloud Drive. I recall that at one time, Steve Jobs even boasted that iTunes for Windows was the most popular application on that platform outside of Microsoft’s own products.

    Apple already supports Windows quite well. The issue is Android. Apple probably sees Android very differently.

    Part of this may be hostility towards Android. However, it is also possible that Android simply isn’t worth the effort. Comparing Windows and Android, Android is not nearly as dominant as Windows in the ways that count.

    I expect Apple to continue cross-platform support for Windows, at least to the extent that it is possible without owning the OS. Apple knows that it helps them to sell iPhones/iPads, much in the same way that iTunes for Windows was essential for selling iPods.

    On the other hand, I don’t expect Apple to extend their Android support. Apple views Android owners as customers who bought them “by mistake”. Better to correct their mistake than to support it.

  • Mark Jones

    The number of people who have a Mac and an Android phone/tablet is likely at most 20 to 30 million. (Mac install base is 80m; most probably already have an iPhone or iPad.)

    But the number of people who have an iOS device and a Windows PC is an order of magnitude larger, given that there are probably 300-350m iPhone users plus almost 200m iPad users (with much overlap), and over 1.4 billion Windows PCs in the world. Enterprises and schools are likely in this category.

    Most people/enterprises entering the Apple world are arriving via iPhone/iPad, not Mac. Cook said there were over 130m new iOS users (out of ~240m iOS devices sold) in the last year. Apple sold 17m Macs total over the last 12 months.

    If a person has an Android phone and an Apple iPad/Mac, it’s cheap and easy to buy an iPhone as a replacement. Most Macs are bought in countries with subsidized plans, so iPhones start at free, just like Android phones.

    It’s truly obvious where Apple should allocate its cross-platform efforts and resources.

  • jfutral

    “Finally, we can start to see a world where the devices play a secondary role to the people and what it is they want to get done.”

    Maybe be. Certainly within how Apple does software and maybe typical office style applications. Without really knowing (and probably not understanding) the details of what Apple wants, the trick won’t be Apple doing this well. They’ve always handled their own systems well. The trick will be other developers getting on board. I’ve mentioned in the past how CAD could really benefit from this continuity concept, but for whatever reason they’ve chosen not to extend device capabilities. Vectorworks already has a “cloud” service. What they need is software that helps their users across devices. And so far cloud services are pretty much just file sharing services. Integrating Dropbox into your service may seem like it makes things simpler for the user, but it doesn’t really add functionality.

    Now both Google and MS want me to download separate apps in addition to their “Drive” app to actually do anything with the files I have there. All anyone is doing here is extending the old, tired PC desktop metaphor to the “cloud”. This is not “continuity”. This is a PTA.

    Now, I know this is not what Apple doesn’t seem to be talking about, but unless the rest of the software world gets on board, it might as well stay an Apple ecosystem system. Even if Apple extended their service to other devices, I don’t see how this will substantially improve the user experience if they are the only ones doing anything with this.

    Joe

  • aardman

    Apple should extend cross-platform functions only to the extent that it gives non-Apple device owners a taste of what it’s like in the Apple ecosystem and thus entice them to switch either right away or when the time to upgrade comes around.

    But they’re already doing that with iTunes on Windows and iCloud.com. So maybe they’ve thought about this thing long, long ago. Boy, these Apple people are smart!

    • http://naofumi.castle104.com/ Naofumi

      Agree. Question is, why do they provide cross-platform support for Windows, but not Android. Why is Android given lower priority?

      I think it’s because Android users bought their devices “by mistake”.

      • Mark Jones

        You probably wrote that with /s, but if not, you’ve seen my earlier reply. There is an order of magnitude more iOS users with Windows PCs than Android users with Macs.

        Plus, because of Google’s business model, Apple can expect Google to provide all its services equally to Macs and Windows, so it’s not likely those Mac users will leave for Windows, Linux, or even Chromebook PCs.

        • http://naofumi.castle104.com/ Naofumi

          Yes, I wrote it with /s.

          I am in complete agreement with you.

          I’m actually waiting for a reply from somebody who thinks that Apple should provide cross-platform support for Android.

      • Space Gorilla

        I would guess because user engagement on Android is very low. When viewed through the lens of active Android users engaged in computing tasks, that market is actually small.

  • Mark Jones

    I should also add Apple’s vision of seamless multi-device computing includes many other devices beyond smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Thus, much of what it’s showing right now for multi-device computing is just preparation for making its forthcoming wearable, car, and home products/platforms even more compelling to consumers.