$18 billion of profit in one quarter. More than three times the quarterly profit of Microsoft and Google and according to the World Bank, on a par with the annual GDP of Yemen.
What is it that keeps Apple at the top? Why do we all rush down to the Apple store to bag the latest iPhone? Why in fact does the launch of the latest techno tweak urge people to camp outside the store to be one of the first to own it?
Let’s face it, they’re not the technology leaders they once were. In fact it could be argued that the last real innovation they launched was the iPad in 2010. That was four years ago, a veritable lifetime in techno world.
The features which the iPhone 6 launched with were certainly not ground breaking: big screen, hi-def, NFC, touch payment, wearable tech? All been done before by others.
So what is it?
I could make the case for the laptops, iPads, iTunes or iPods, the iPhone even, but I’m not going to focus on the technology. It’s the brand, the aesthetics and the experience that makes the difference.
Apple launched originally as the antithesis of the establishment, the famous Big Brother advert could not have been clearer. They tore up the rule book. They sold very expensive, highly focused graphic design computers to creative people and that is the genius of it all.
They clearly targeted the creatives, those who are often the culture formers, the taste makers, the people other people aspire to be. By associating themselves with the creative set, Apple set a long and steady course to appeal to the creative in all of us. Who doesn’t want to think of themselves at least a little cool and creative whilst walking along with their white headphones in their ears, even if they are listening to Belinda Carlise’s Greatest Hits.
Since then Apple has permeated this through all touch points, first the colourful jackets for the iMac, the first massive boost to profits. Beyond the iMac, the smooth silver lines of laptops, the multi colours of iPods, the intuitive, iconic user interface.
So, the targeting is good, the product aesthetic is beautiful, the use intuitive and then to top the whole thing off, the retail experience is frankly stunning. Cool, hip people work in the Apple Store. They’re the embodiment of the brand: intelligent, helpful and creative. The store is a church to design, a mecca at which we can pay homage to our religious artifacts, where can listen to the learnings of the masters, or simply buy more.
The whole adds up to a stunningly designed, intuitive, cool and creative ‘movement’. It’s a community which is easy to buy in to and even easier to become utterly addicted to. So, no wonder they’re the biggest, best, most cash rich company in the world. But there’s a but.
The target isn't the creatives any more. They’re baristas and my mum. When the mass adopts, the creatives look elsewhere.
Without the breakthrough technology coming through, without the radical ideas of Steve Jobs, I have an awful feeling that Apple might just be milking the cow.
I sincerely hope not.