The Apple Ecosystem Just Got Stronger

by Ben Bajarin   |   June 11th, 2012

Apple today at their World Wide Developers Conference released a number of things that have made their ecosystem even stronger. I am of the opinion that one of the best ways to analyze computing platforms is to look at them as ecosystems. When consumers purchase a personal computer like a desktop, notebook, tablet or smartphone, whether they know it or not they are investing into an ecosystem.

Related Column: It’s All About Ecosystems

Not too long ago computing platforms were islands unto themselves. Each product stood on its own and wasn’t connected to other devices in a meaningful way. But now that consumers are purchasing more and more computing products they began to demand that their devices begin to work seamlessly together for a more fulfilling experience. This demand has led to the birth of more holistic computing ecosystems. And interestingly software companies who offer platform software for desktops / notebooks, tablets, and smartphones are the companies building the most robust ecosystems on the market and right now only Apple and Microsoft fit that bill. Today Apple with the release of new and updated Mac hardware and software and the release of their newest mobile operating system iOS 6 just strengthened their ecosystem all together.

It all revolves around iCloud

Tim Cook said something that made perfect sense to an Apple observer like me. He said that iCloud isn’t just a product, it’s a strategy for the next decade. With that fundamental point in mind it becomes easy to see why Apple is integrating so iCloud into the core of their OSX and iOS software. iCloud is the glue that holds all of Apple’s hardware and software together. Take for example some simple features they have added with the newest Safari.

It may seem small but this little thing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value of Apple’s ecosystem. Imagine you use a notebook, tablet, and smartphone regularly. In the usage of all three of those products it would seem logical that you would browse the web frequently on each of them. Now what if you where on the couch looking for a recipe and you wanted to view that very same recipe on your tablet or smartphone. Most people would either have to re-search for that recipe on the other device or you could email yourself the link. With the latest version of Safari for OSX Mountain Lion every single web page you have open as a tab is available to you on any of your OSX or iOS devices. So if I want to look at a web page I have open on my Mac from my iPad, I simply click the new iCloud tabs button on the top of Safari and all the same tabs open on my Mac are available for me on my iPad or iPhone.

This seems like something small but it is extremely useful and demonstrates the value of iCloud integration across hardware and software to create a consistent and useful experience. This is just one of many new features and advancements Apple is making through software to better delight their customers by solving current and future problems.

The Vertical Advantage

The tight integration of software innovations with specific hardware innovations all around a service like iCloud is easier when you control all the moving parts. I have emphasized this time and time again but it is this fundamental point that gives Apple such an advantage. The Apple ecosystem has no external variables. Apple doesn’t need the support of hardware or software partners in order to advance their ecosystem. This point can not be stressed enough.

It is because of this vertical advantage that Apple can annually release a unified launch of new hardware and new software all designed to work better together. And it is this better together that creates the fundamentals of the Apple ecosystem, which just got stronger.

Making The Devices We Know and Love Better

The last key point about the strength of the Apple ecosystem is that with this latest software for Mac, iPhone, and iPad, Apple has made the experience even better. I would contend that many of the devices we know and love have become even more useful. Now many may argue that some of the new features released are available on other devices or platforms. That is all fine and good for customers of other platforms but the bottom line is I and hundreds of millions of other people have invested in Apple’s ecosystem when it comes to my personal computing needs. So for me the fact that Apple has developed new features to make my experience with their hardware even better is most welcomed.

At the end of the day it is those features that add to our experience, make these products easier to use, and more importantly make using these products in our daily lives that much better. It is the small things like being able to ignore an incoming call with a text message or reminder to call the person back is extremely useful. The improved maps and elegant navigation is also a welcomed additional improvement. Perhaps the biggest improvement of all is the major upgrade to Siri.

All of these things and more are focused on one singular thing, making the devices we know and love better and more useful. Apple is continuing to make their hardware more functional every year. I am not sure it is possible to say that any other company is delivering their customer base new and improved features and functionality to all their hardware on an annual basis.

This is just one more thing adding to the already strong Apple ecosystem and it will be very interesting to see how the competition responds.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio
  • Laragh4

    All very well but Apple don’t have a great track record in cloud services, over the years it has got users to use their services then changed the free dot mac to a paid system went to me.com paid and then closing the service leaving iweb users to do their own devices. What happens when your equipment is a generation or two old and Apple tells you it no longer supports it. Too many question marks over the service to ever rely on it. Pity

    • FalKirk

      Laragh4, your comments all rang true before the introduction of iCloud but they seem woefully out of touch today. As Ben said, “iCloud isn’t just a product, its a strategy for the next decade. … iCloud is the glue that holds all of Apple’s hardware and software together.”

      You can buy a Mac, iPad, iPhone or an iPad Touch and they are all seamlessly and automatically bound together by iCloud. All your content, all your Apps and all your documents are available to you no matter what device you are using. And Apple has made it clear that they intend to extend the reach and power of iCloud even further in the future.

      iCloud is far from perfect and it’s still suffering from growing pains but Apple’s commitment to iCloud is clear and strong and deep. iCloud is the lynchpin of Apple’s computing strategy. Apple will not let iCloud fail because they know that if iCloud fails, Apple fails.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sean-Bauer/100000889062343 Sean Bauer

      I agree Apple has had a tough time with its previous cloud services. Lots of false starts, that’s for sure. However, I have been using iCloud for awhile now and it seems to work just fine for me. I am continually surprised by it’s speed, accuracy, and seamless integration. Im eagerly waiting for Mountain Lion so I will have full integration with my laptop.

  • Dan kamp

    All true. Great article.

  • BMoreGoHard

    I agree and it was a great read.

  • SFRoadsterGuy

    Oce again, Ben is on point and offered some great insights!

  • shockme

    Mountain Lion might actually get me to start using my MacBook Pro more. I still have shedloads of DVDs to rip so if I upgrade to the new Retina model I’ll have to shell out additional funds for my very last Thunderbolt Optical drive to share amongst all my future Macs.

    Laragh4,

    Looks like they will have to work harder to earn your business back. I recall being very put out when they started demanding money for a formerly free service. I also enjoyed iWeb although I didn’t have much time to devote to maintaining a personal blog or webpage.

    I am looking forward to Documents in the Cloud however, something that will prompt me to finally buy the next version of Pages for Mac that supports it.

  • Steve Kellman

    “what if you where on the couch”? “Apple is integrating so iCloud into the core”? “its a strategy”? “gives Apple such and advantage”? “No many may argue”? “Small things … is”??? For the love of God and grammar, please get an editor, or drop your story into Word before publishing and look for the squiggly blue and green lines.

    • benbajarin

      Sorry, fixed them. Wrote four columns yesterday. Unfortunately we can’t afford an editor you may notice there is no advertising on our site.

      • Steve Kellman

        Gotcha. Sorry for the snark but despite the intelligent commentary, the typos grate on this former copy editor’s nerves. Feel free to delete my previous comment and this followup — I would if I could.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/66RC24WIV7WATGUHK7OSX3YGOQ NA

          “I have emphasized this time and time again but it is this fundamental point that gives Apple such and advantage.”
          You missed one Mr. Copy Editor. :D :D :D

          BB: Thanks for a good read. As far as ‘competitors’ does Apple really have any?
          Who has iTunes? Who has Siri? Who has the MBP? Who has the iPad?
          Yes others have similar products, none are really competing with Apple.

  • http://www.iendure.com/ iEndure

    Deleted my comment.

    • benbajarin

      How come?

      • http://www.iendure.com/ iEndure

        Hi Ben,

        I wrote that you should edit your posts more carefully, but noticed afterwards that someone commented on that issue already. Your reply to them made sense and I didn’t think my comment was fair, so I deleted it. :)

        I have a blog and struggle with edits. Reminds me of some advice I read somewhere… One good article can accomplish a lot more for you than several okay articles. Errors can damage your message and your credibility.

        I like what you wrote: “iCloud is the glue that holds all of Apple’s hardware and software together.” That helps me better understand what Apple is trying to accomplish.

        Kindly,

        Bruce

        • benbajarin

          Ah, thanks. Yes usually we are pretty good. Yesterday was insane, I don’t think I have written that many columns in one day ever. I wish we could get an editor, some day but we all have day jobs as analysts.

          Thanks for your comment and for reading.