Apple’s Tradeoff between Focus and Stagnation related to Business Innovation

On my Tech blog in June 2013 I wrote about new Apple product announcements and the need for updates for previously released Apple products. Colin Donnell just wrote a blog post on this same topic with the title “The products Apple doesn’t have time to improve.” Colin’s point was to highlight the dilemma that much of the appeal of Apple’s well designed products is their focus but that it is also disappointing when it results in lack of follow-through as their focus changes. His first example is Safari extensions and the web sites promoting them. A better example of a product justifying more focus and priority, which he mentions in passing at the end, is iPhoto especially on the Mac. The recent development of offering iLife and iWork for free could be cause for continued concern if this becomes a rationale for even less focus on these more important personal and business products. It seems to me like Apple is neglecting ongoing evolution of software products as a critical success factor.

A point I made in my June post is that this dilemma is also associated with Apple’s culture with regards to secrecy and partnerships. One possible solution is to subcontract work to third party developers on products that have recently been determined to be noncore (i.e. not of a high enough priority to receive consistent attention and updates). Rather than let the products stagnate they could continue to evolve and be supported under Apple’s guidance or independently. This could involve business model innovation with regards to information sharing and providing a rewarding incentive for partners to support the platform.

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