Apple should be more service-oriented, less hardware oriented
A week after hype surrounding Apple's delivery of it's latest iteration of iPhones, the iPhone 5S and it's cheaper cousin, the iPhone 5C, it's time to reflect on the state of Apple's innovations.
No one could argue that there weren't really any surprises in this year's announcements, the internet has been so accurate in guessing what this year's features will include that the dead-accuracy is probably the only real surprise in 2013. But what can we expect? Innovation isn't a yearly cycle, and investors are putting too much pressure on companies like Apple to create something radical each iteration.
We all know what shambles MobileMe was, and even though Apple promised iCloud would be a massive improvement, it did iron out some of the annoyances of MobileMe, but still rather primitive and buggy, compared to Google Drive and other services. Apple is also focusing on it's OSX hardware and software, so with so many fingers in so many pies, how can it make everyone happy all of the time?
But Android manages innovation
Yes, Google's ecosystem, whilst started way behind Apple when the iPhone first came out, it was working at a much faster velocity and acceleration, because of smart delegation or concentration of research. It left the hardware R&D to companies like HTC and Samsung, and others, it focused on improving it's services and operating system over time. Granted, it was only until last year that we began to saw the project come to fruition, with Android 4.2 and 4.3 basically on par with Apple's iOS, in terms of smoothness. Even if people disagree with me here, if not this year, then next year.
OK so the hardware out there from Samsung and HTC weren't that great a few years ago but this year it has gotten really amazing, with HTC showcasing the One and it's premium built, with the S4 sporting a large screen, amazing specs and so forth.
Google can afford to concentrate on software by letting other vendors deal with hardware. The pace of operating system innovation will level off for both companies, but Google is still pressing ahead with it's cloud strategy which is far more mature than Apple's. Take a look at how much better GMail is, Google Maps, Google Calendar and Google+/Hangouts, and with each iteration bringing tighter integration between the services. Apple is spreading itself too thin, and knowing the structure Steve Jobs had in place, each unit or team is quite small.
So Apple, it's time to start looking at the cloud
I personally thing it's about time Apple looks into a massive overhaul and drive on the services side. Perhaps it won't ever beat Google in building a search engine or email system, which is why I think Apple needs swallow it's pride and collaborate with Google, or Facebook (pick an already existing ecosystem), integrate it's services better, and release more APIs for developers to work with. It's about time FaceTime is given public access, and many similar things, like Reminders needs to be more open.
Allow Developers to implement third party keyboards in iOS, there is so much that can be opened up, without being as vulnerable as Android. Look at building an Apple equivalent to Google Apps. In fact, get rid of iTunes and go browser based, like Google has. We don't need a physical desktop app to act as conduit anymore.
We don't need an iPhone every year, but at least put out a variety of sizes, and everyone is happy. Just look at the iPads, we have two sizes and so that more than satisfies the market, do that with the iPhone and we are set. I firmly believe that hardware is becoming more and more irrelevant, with services and software taking a more prominent role. Look at YouTube, where you can now edit your videos on the cloud. I wouldn't go as far as to get a Chromebook just yet, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise what the trend is.