Apple continues to leverage its engineering chops to deliver better experiences. Experiences are faster and more nimble, private, secure, and personal. Apple is:
- Leveraging privacy as a differentiator across devices, software, and services. This includes Apple’s foray into identity. It is doing more processing locally, storing more data locally, and giving consumers not only more visibility into how their data is being used but also control — including the ability to use third-party services without handing over ungodly amounts of personal data. Control applies to location, healthcare data, home security, photos, and more. The “Sign In with Apple ” single sign-on tool is overdue — at least from my perspective as a consumer. Betting consumers have fatigue with their data being monetized.
- Raising the bar on speed. Feels like a first-world “who cares” problem, but consumers notice speed and latency even if they don’t articulate it well. Apple is increasing speed of Face ID, app opens, video/photo editing, Pencil, and more.
- Creating more autonomy for devices and services. Subscriptions are harder-won but more profitable over the long run. Killing off iTunes means no possible short-term pain for one-off purchases. Doing so bets on consumers’ willingness to up-level to subscriptions. Also, by facilitating use of its services across so many hardware devices, Apple continues to create value for existing product owners and encourage them to buy within the ecosystem. (Translation: Switching costs continue to rise, increasing the lifetime value of its most important customers.) Finally, the Watch has more of the functionality of the iPhone. The iPad has more of the functionality of the MacBook. Cannibalization? Or do we buy more devices because everything works on every device?
- Building a portfolio of healthcare services and features. This is a personal favorite for me. Each added feature seems small but requires a phenomenal amount of engineering and buy-in from the broader ecosystem of government and private ecosystem partners. Apple is building toward being “the device” in personal health through a combination of the Watch and Health app. Apple does well both with the sensors, accuracy, and mechanics of engagement, such as competition and gamification.
- Simplifying experiences or lifting the cognitive load from consumers. These updates and improvements are subtle to consumers. Today it is about making it faster and easier to sort, find, and enjoy photos. This convenience will continue to expand into other Apple experiences and eventually third-party services. Apple also continues to invest more in Siri and Siri Shortcuts. Voice is creating some convenience today. The interpretation of intent from voice by Apple’s apps is cool, but few consumers likely use it — yet. Features or services like these will eventually be “I can’t live without it” differentiators. Apple is also starting to act on consumers’ behalf — e.g., elevating reminders when a consumer is texting a friend and more. Expect a lot more in the future here.