After the hype dissipates, the banners come down, the haters hate and the lovers glow, the real question we should be asking after the slew of announcements from Apple at this year’s version of the WWDC is: How do you find a way to use what has been announced to generate revenue. Forget about the “flat” versus skeuomorphism debate, the “similarities” to BlackBerry, Windows 8 and Android – the real question on your mind should be how do these changes open up opportunity for additional revenue.
My first thought is this ongoing battle between essential apps and those that will eventually become part of the operating system. We’ve seen it with every major release on every single platform. The spellcheck apps have a limited lifespan and will eventually be brought right into the OS and, according to a number of opinions, quite a few heavily used apps just met their demise. I’ll wait and see about that – if you have a great product and a great installed based of active users, you become hard to kill. The apps that will die are the ones that Apple and others tip the “barrier to use excuse” in their favour. These are typically straight up simple apps with little to no value anyway and not something that could become a business. Letting them go actually helps our industry. Kudos should go out to a company like Shazam – who originally started as a music identification app (a business Apple just entered with the combination of the new SIRI and iTunes Radio). Had they stayed content in that business, they would have been in jeopardy but they innovated, moved beyond the music and will still thrive as they build out the next generation ad network.
Two announcements really grabbed my attention and for good reason:
1. Apple’s partnership with the automobile makers. Starting in 2014, iOS will be closely integrated into the dashboard of a dozen automakers allowing users to interact with their iPhone without lifting a finger. This means SIRI, maps, iTunes Radio (in the US only for now) and all the location based and contextual marketing that can be had. I’ve talked about the battle for the key dashboards of our lives for a few years now and the automobile is at the top of the list. These partnerships with the automakers will push Apple into an enviable position in this war against the likes of BlackBerry, Microsoft and OnStar. The opportunity lies in app-enablement inside the vehicle – a nascent but very important industry going forward.
2. True operating system multitasking. I’ve raved about apps like Flock and Moves because of their “launch once, always on” state. There is no friction or thought required to use these apps – in fact, you don’t even remember they are running most of the time until, that is, you need to share photos (Flock) or see how many steps you’ve taken (Moves). The significance of this move by Apple is great. It paves the way for more “always on” apps that reside in memory, do their jobs and interact with the user when (and ONLY when) they need to. This move will augment the native Passbook experience but, provided the app makers focus on the important aspects of making this work (few but very relevant interruptions, managing battery drain and data consumption), this is a step forward as the “device as utility” concept catches hold.
It is very easy to focus on the flash when any OS gets a refresh but the real emphasis for you should be to distill the hype from the substance and nothing makes it easier to do just that than to focus on revenue. Take a look at what Apple announced and ask yourself how you will either (a) extend your relationship with your customers or (b) turn it into a source of revenue. If you don’t have an answer for one of these you can safely move on.