With all the hype surrounding Apple’s latest products and business model it is hard to see beyond the spiel. I’ll try to clear some missed conceptions about the novelty of this approach to technical consumerism.
So what do we have?
- We have a great device and an ok OS taking the most of touch technology. It is ahead of competition in terms of what we may call, UI experience.
- We also have lot's of content taking the most of what the device can offer.
- We have financial conditions imposed by the builder to any business that wants to get into this market
So in sum we have the the Console Business Model transposed to the mobile computing environment.
Apple had the intelligence to understand that the success of the Tablet can only be won trough Content. If there is no content, there is no success and no competition. To have content we need content producers. To have content producers we need not only to convince them that the technology is great, but that it is better for the user while opening new doors for production and sales.
Let's face it, Google attempts don’t do anything about this. It is useful, but is geeky. It is well seen by the public as long as we don’t have to pay much for it. Otherwise is not worth it.
One company that we have been neglecting in this race is Microsoft. When it comes to the Console business model Microsoft can leverage on the experience gathered by XBOX360 business lines and its enterprise presence to build something cool yet accessible. If they can pull of a Tablet OS without Windows but with Windows. Balancing together Media Center experience, XBOX360 experience and the PC experience in a model that is closed yet more open then the competition it just might turn tables all around.
The challenge of bringing the Console model to the Personal Computing environment is IMHO the following.
- Consoles usually don't have a high rate of hardware updates. This allows the system to become cheaper in time as well as increasing profit due to lower production costs. This in turn makes the system more accessible to a wider set of audiences and with that comes market growth and presence. The Apple model is precisely the contrary. Every year a new update, making ones expensive device obsolete in 3 years.
- Content on a Console is usually priced higher then on a PC. By requiring product prices in its platform to be equal or lower then any other platform, Apple forcing the a rise in prices across the board. This is good for Apple, but bad for customers and the competition. I'm not really sure if this is good for content producers either in the long run.
- Consoles usage is quite specific and limited. So they don't have to put up with increased functional diversity and associated costs.
The point that Steve Jobs makes is such that people do not want a Personal Computer anymore. They want a blend between devices and liberal art's and humanities in an enticing way. For this, the customer does not mind to pay premium even if the choice is somewhat limited.
His point is valid, but it is not by all means a tautology. He is quite right in stating that people don’t want hardware anymore, they want something more useful. Yet it is not they don’t want a PC, in fact they still want an relatively open personal computing environment to share, consume and produce content.
For that matter as in Consoles, content and innovation is paramount to succeed. We have examples from Nintendo, XBOX360 and PS3, we just need to bring that experience to the PC balancing the open and close models together into a single platform.