Apple competitors need to step up to the plate

2 October, 2011 by Ben Camm-Jones
AAA
News

Apple’s competitors need to stop taking a short-term approach to fighting Cupertino and develop a long-term strategy.

That’s according to mobile industry analyst Ian Fogg, who thinks too many of Apple’s competitors try to take a ‘me-too’ approach, mimicking Apple’s new products, without ever focusing on what they could do to get ahead of Cupertino.

“Apple’s metrics should focus rivals’ attention on the importance of multi-year strategies. Competitors are forever seeking to emulate Apple. But too many deploy me-too tactics, rather than following a consistent and sustained long term strategy,” he said.

Fogg, writing on his If Connected blog, points to the example of the Samsung Galaxy S, which “resembles the Apple’s old iPhone 3GS of 2009, not the designed-from-scratch iPhone 4 that the S actually competed against at the time the S arrived in the market”.

He also criticised HP for ousting Leo Apotheker less than a year after appointing him, while Nokia “dithered” over whether it should be concentrating on the MeeGo or Windows Phone 7 operating system.

Meanwhile, Apple has been making hay – though the iPod’s days seem to be numbered, it has successfully introduced the iPhone as its replacement, Fogg argues. Even more significantly, Apple created a new market with the iPad, but wasn’t afraid that this could canibalise Mac sales. “If the iPad cannibalises computer purchases, Apple has more to gain from iPad sales than lost Mac sales. Not many companies would be this shrewd and this prepared to compete against themselves.”

Apple is also credited by Fogg for the creation of the current mobile content market in the shape of the App Store. “Before Apple, mobile content meant ringtones and wallpapers (mainly) with the odd Java-based game. Now, it’s a massive market that’s so attractive the world’s largest media retailer, Amazon, has created an app store and is becoming a mobile device maker too with the Kindle Fire.”

Many companies would have found themselves in the position of an Apple competitor without even really trying as Cupertino branches out into other areas, Fogg argues.

“To compete with Apple is far from easy. Those that wish to play that game must focus on the long term at the same time as making money in the present. The real challenge though, is that I’m becoming less and less sure that this battle is one that any company can avoid. Apple is constructing a grand portfolio that ties together publishing, movies, TV, music, telephony, internet, games, consumer electronics, payments, photography, computing, etc. etc,” said Fogg.

“Some years ago I would have advised some firms not to compete with Apple, and instead to find a different and less congested market. I’m no longer sure that’s an option for most,” Fogg said.

Apple is expected to announce record sales of Macs and iPads for its fiscal fourth quarter 2011 in a few weeks’ time.

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