Is Apple Losing Its Edge?

Being one of the most valuable brands in the world by creating a culture of innovation and cool, it’s been a while since Apple has given the world something to marvel at. The pressure is on Apple these days, to say the least.

Being one of the most valuable brands in the world by creating a culture of innovation and cool, it’s been a while since Apple has given the world something to marvel at. To say the least, the pressure is on Apple these days under the leadership of CEO Tim Cook. Competing companies continue to release products that expand on Apple’s offerings or ideas while eating away at Apples’ market share.

Just yesterday, Amazon released its Amazon Fire TV, a set top box similar to Apple TV and Roku that uses apps to stream movies, shows and games. Apple TV has never really gotten a firm hold in the market, primarily because it has been more of a simplistic, hobbyist device. Why Apple hasn’t developed their product more is anyone’s guess, but rumors point to Apple possibly creating an actual TV with Apple baked into it. Meanwhile, with Smart TVs readily available from many manufacturers, releasing a TV by Apple could be seen as just a “me too” moment.

This is not that dissimilar from Apple’s iWatch issue. When rumors surfaced years ago that the company was developing an iWatch, other companies rushed to beat them to the punch. Now Sony, Samsung, Pebble and Google’s recently announced Moto360 dominate a category Apple has yet to break into. It will be interesting to see if Apple goes ahead with an iWatch, and if so, how they can stand out in a quickly crowding category, because it may be too late for them already.

Microsoft had its “me too” moment yesterday when they announced their Siri-like virtual assistant named Cortana after an A.I. character from its popular Halo videogame series. Cortana is a core function of Windows Phone 8.1, replacing the existing search function.

Like Siri she can schedule reminders, but Cortana's functionality goes beyond Apple’s assistant by  allowing reminders to be tied to people and locations. For example, Cortana can remind you to discuss a certain topic when calling a contact, with that reminder popping up when a call is placed. Between Cortana and Google Now systems, Siri no longer stands out as a driving reason to buy an iPhone.

Speaking of the iPhone, Apple has been criticized quite heavily for the small bumps in improvements with each generation, while rivals like HTC, Samsung and LG take huge leaps with their product innovations. But interestingly, domestic iPhone sales haven’t been suffering for Apple. According to data released by the NPD Group:

The research firm's latest Mobile Phone Track shows that of 121 million smartphones sold last year in America, the iPhone accounted for 45 percent, making Apple the largest smartphone maker in the U.S.

Easily their bread and butter, iPhone rumors are mounting that Apple is getting ready to start manufacturing the iPhone 6. Apple supplier Pegatron is expected to start production on the iPhone 6 in the second quarter of this year at its new Kunshan, China plant.

The iPhone 6 has been rumored to launch with two different versions of the phone, one with a 4.7-inch display and one with a 5.7-inch display. There’s no telling if this generation will utilize the sapphire screens the company plans to grow in Arizona or if their factory would even be ready for such production this year. Nothing is known beyond display, chip, battery and camera upgrades — well nothing is actually confirmed, because it’s all rumors and speculation — just like Apple likes it.

Public excitement is fading, putting the pressure on Apple to make something big. To put investor fears to rest, Tim Cook has indicated the company has new things planned with products in the pipeline now, some of which are entirely new categories for the company. Should Apple feel pressured right now from competition and investors, or is the brand strong enough to rest on its laurels for a bit until it’s ready to launch the next big thing? 

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