In tech circles, Apple is seen as more than a tech brand. It is an institution on its own that perfectly balances mass appeal and original thinking. Although things have changed under the leadership of Tim Cook, the basic philosophy defined by the late Steve Jobs remains the same. A company closely watched by Wall Street and consumers, Apple has had a successful year despite challenges from external forces, including the pandemic and increased pressure from regulators. While the world has already started to speculate on what products to expect from the Cupertino giant next year and beyond, we’ve seen some things this year that not only tell us about Apple’s product strategies, but also look good. an overview of the company’s vision for the future.
The world of mini devices
Someone within Apple cares deeply about “mini” products and wants the company to target a niche segment that still wants to use devices with small factors. The message that is often misunderstood is that these products are made simply because a cash-rich company like Apple can take risks and doesn’t care much about business prospects. This is not how Apple works. Designing a product like the iPhone 13 mini is more complicated because you know that tight space makes it difficult to fit a larger battery and yet the priority is to provide battery life that lasts all day.
For example, the new iPad mini may look like a miniature version of the iPad Air, but the way the mini was designed gives a precursor to a product that could end up being a foldable device in the near future. In their current form, the iPhone 13 mini and the iPad mini are usable devices but also very experimental in nature. In addition to laying the groundwork for new form factors, devices like the iPhone 13 mini and iPad mini give Apple an edge over the competition as its competitors do not currently sell such devices.
While Apple has also offered ‘mini’ branded devices in the past, this time around the push is to have a product family including the HomePod mini and the Mac mini that serves as a use case and specific users. The idea is not to associate them with “affordable” devices even if in some cases the product is an entry into the Apple ecosystem.
A post-Jony Ive era
Leaving Apple was a big loss for the company, and it would be difficult to replace the famous industrial designer who is behind several successful products, including the iPhone and iPad that made Cupertino a well-known name. But Apple’s Ive exit means the company is now more independent in its thinking and can design products that are more practical in their approach. The new design philosophy is already visible in the latest MacBook Pro which addresses the issues plagued by the previous model.
For example, the new MacBook Pro includes an HDMI port which is exactly what photographers wanted on a pro-level laptop, but I’ve been focusing on form rather than function made it impossible for that feature on the. latest generation laptop. The new MacBook Pro is thicker and heavier, but has gained popular features. Several new products Apple launched throughout the year, including the redesigned Siri Remote for Apple TV and iPhone 13, show that form has taken a step back and that priority is being given to functionality.
This is not a sign that Apple will now design a product based on what consumers want to see. Apple is always focused on a product that people will buy. The difference is that the product designed in the post-ive era will be more practical and functional but less flashy.
The rise of Beats by Dre
Until last year, there was speculation that Apple might end the Beats line and focus entirely on the Apple-branded audio line-up. Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, Beats as a brand has received a real boost lately and Apple has spared no expense to create all the necessary hype around new products from Beats. If you look at Beats by Dre, the brand has gone down the path of collaborations with hip-hop artists and designers who have truly fused the worlds of streetwear, fashion and tech.
At the start of the decade, headphones were considered basically uncool. Beats, long before Apple acquired the brand, tried to make headphones part of pop culture. Distinct in the crowd, popular with celebrities – aggressive, street-inspired designs have helped Beats products stand out from the competition, especially Apple’s AirPods. The collaboration between Hiroshi Fujiwara and Beats for the design of Fragment brought back the missing mojo the brand needed to thrive in the new world where luxury and streetwear are one.
Throughout the year, Beats introduced several new headphones that are priced below Apple’s AirPods, but offer a solid alternative. For example, the new Beats Fit Pro has a lot of special features including Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and even Android support for less than the price of AirPods Pro. The renewed focus on Beats makes it seem like the beginning of things is yet to come.
No price increase
Apple has, since its inception, built a reputation for charging extra for its products. Brand loyalty translates into higher product prices, backed by exceptionally well-designed devices and the appeal of the Apple ecosystem. But during the pandemic, Apple did something that was least expected: no price increase. The iPhone 13 costs the same as last year’s model, while the iPhone 13 Pro Max also costs the same as last year’s offering. Cupertino has raised the prices of its popular products over the years, with the iPhone taking the lead.
Experts say the pandemic has caused Apple not to raise the price of its iPhone, but a company of Apple’s stature can raise the price whenever it wants. Its competitors, meanwhile, launched premium smartphones at higher prices this year. That leaves us with the question of why Apple hasn’t raised iPhone prices despite the chip shortage and supply chain issues. Is it because iPhone sales have peaked and Apple may take a hit to keep new users coming, or is Apple waiting for the next generation iPhone and only then it will increase? the prices ? Whatever the reason, prices for the iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad (except for the new iPad mini) are mostly unchanged this year.
Opening of the enclosed garden
While it’s hard to say that cracks are appearing in Apple’s famous walled garden, Cupertino is still in control of how it wishes to operate its tightly controlled ecosystem on its own terms. Earlier this year, Apple announced its decision to open FaceTime to non-Apple users for the first time. Now, Apple allows Android and Windows users to receive FaceTime call invitations. On the surface, this appears to be a generous movement signaling a gear change, but there’s a big caveat attached to the functionality. These users, for example, still won’t be able to start FaceTime calls or enjoy FaceTime’s SharePlay feature. It’s a well-thought-out move that will only encourage non-Apple users to switch to an iPhone in the future.
Apple has also said it will soon allow users to repair their iPhones and Macs by providing parts, tools and manuals. This decision has been rightly hailed as a major victory for the “right to reparation” movement. Apple did the U-turn for a number of reasons, but in doing so, it became the child star of the war on products that have withstood repair, a clever PR move.