Are we past “peak Apple”?

Another luck lustre Apple event has come and go and as we reflect on the five years since Steve Jobs died it seems as if we are well past “peak Apple”.

Not in terms of shareholder value, arguably Apple are doing a fab job of leveraging their market position to increase profits – maybe at the cost of innovation. And just as Apple has achieved a level of corporate acceptance that most die-hard Applistas could only have dreamed of.

But the device innovation party at Apple seems to be over. Tablet sales are falling, Microsoft is back (and maybe in the lead with the Surface product lines) and mainstream device usage is converging around a circa 5″ phone.

How the last ten years have played out

Apple made some brave bets in the first few years of this century; it set them on a roller coaster ride of invention and creation. Just take a look at the technological milestones Apple have clocked up in the last ten years.

2006: iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook
2007: iPhone, Apple TV, iPod Touch, Aluminium iMac
2008: MacBook Air, Time Capsule, Unibody MacBook
2009: Glass Trackpad
2010: iPad, iPhone 4

In the first five years, Apple created the usable smartphone, invented the tablet, defined the design of laptops for a generation, built video streaming for the lounge and saw off all of the competition.

2011: iCloud
2012: Retina MacBook, iPhone 5, iPad Mini
2013: Mac Pro
2014: iPhone 6, Retina iMac, Touch ID
2015: Apple Watch, Apple Music, iPad Pro, Pencil

So, since 2011 (Steve Jobs also passed away in 2011) we’ve seen the addition of Retina, bigger mobile screens, Touch ID and the iWatch. Interesting at best, uninspiring is probably more accurate.

And as we close 2016, Apple’s contribution seems to USB-C, killing the headphone socket, and gimmicky touch function keys

So who takes over next?

In reality, there are no traditional competitors going to be winners going forward. Microsoft, Dell, Samsung and LG all have great hardware, but the similarities are now greater than the differences.

Hardcore device innovation is currently in a lull, and will likely stay there as the focus now is on automation and integration as software is eating the world.

It’s time for platform (aka software) companies to rule. Players such as Facebook, Google, Uber, Microsoft and Amazon (think AWS, Prime, Fire, Kindle, and Echo).