In case you missed it, Tim Cook's Apple is a completely new company

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
In case you missed it, Tim Cook's Apple is a completely new company
For all intents and purposes, Tim Cook has been in charge of Apple since January 2011, although he didn't officially take over as CEO until August of 2011. In March of 2012, Cook put his brand on Apple by changing the iconic logo to the one seen above that both separated the company from the Steve Jobs era, while still paying homage to its roots. Later in 2012, Cook stepped away from Jobs' comments that "7-Inch tablets are dead on arrival" by releasing the iPad mini. 2013 brought a completely new UI with iOS 7, and a range of colors for both the iPhone 5c and 5s. At WWDC this year, Cook announced iOS 8, which is going to open up the platform far more than anything we've seen before. And, Tim Cook's Apple has been far more likely to settle lawsuits than to file them (aside from the Samsung debacle, and even that seems to be coming to an end. Word has it that Apple was even the one to instigate the settlement talks with Samsung.)

All of that, and the changes expected to come relatively soon have yet to be mentioned, like a few new pieces of hardware, and significant changes to existing hardware. Back in early 2012, I wrote a long piece about the changes that Tim Cook was bringing to Apple, and the danger of carrying over your preconceptions of Apple that were based on Steve Jobs' reign; and, it feels like time to reiterate one simple fact that many like to ignore: Apple is not the same company that it was under Steve Jobs, and there is a lot to like, even if you have been a life-long Apple hater. 

The same brand...

Sure, there are still reasons to dislike Apple, but you'll have to ignore quite a bit to hold that view. Apple products may seem overpriced to many, but the problem with that idea is still the same as always: why would Apple price devices lower than what customers are willing to pay? Much of Apple's brand still relies on the idea that it is a premium company. Regardless of if you believe that, Apple's customers believe it, and Apple wants to put forward that ideal. Part of that image comes from hardware design; and, Apple design is still top notch. 

Apple is one of the few mobile manufacturers that doesn't use plastic for its high-end devices, but rather uses premium materials like metal and glass exclusively. Another piece of maintaining a premium brand is marketing (Apple obviously has that on lock), and last is in the pricing. Lowering the price diminishes that brand, and no company on Earth would do that when there are still millions of people buying the product at the current price. It's the same idea that was behind the Moto X pricing last year. Many called it overpriced based on specs alone, but the price pushed forward the idea that the Moto X was not a mid-range device, but a true flagship with the performance, feel, and design to match.

Even HTC attempted to take the Apple route, but almost went under because of it. HTC swore off low and mid-range devices, and focused solely on the high-end in an effort to differentiate and regain profits. But, the company didn't have the marketing clout to truly change its brand image, and so the efforts failed. Now, HTC has had to go back to making low and mid-range devices in order to bolster profits. The point being that it is very hard to cultivate the brand that Apple has, and no company that has achieved that kind of brand image is going to give it up. No company with a high-end brand image is going release low-end devices that cannibalize its own sales and devalue its image.

...with more products

If you want, you can dislike Apple for a lack of choice when it comes to hardware and software, but even that is changing. Apple started slowly by adding the iPad mini to its lineup, color choices for the iPhone 5s, and it is essentially a given that there will be a 5.5-inch iPhone and an iWatch added to the lineup sometime soon, with the possibility of a larger iPad on the way as well. Apple won't be adding a low-cost model, because of the same brand image reasons stated earlier, but by next year there will be quite a bit of choice for Apple customers, especially if Apple keeps a variant of the iPhone 5s in the lineup for the next few years. 

The average flagship smartphone is somewhere around 4.7-inches these days, and there is still a large customer base that would like to have the option for a smaller device that doesn't skimp on the specs. For the most part, there really is no option for that aside from the iPhone and the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. Apple could keep a hold of that market by keeping an updated iPhone 5s on the roster, but there has been no indication of that happening. Even so, Apple customers will have the choice between the 4-inch iPhone 5s, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, the 5.5-inch iPhone Air (rumored name), the 7.9-inch iPad mini, the 9.7-inch iPad, and maybe even a 12.2-inch iPad Pro. That's a solid roster of mobile devices that rivals most manufacturers in terms of choice, including Samsung, even if it may not seem so at first. 

On the software side of things, iOS 8 is set to be a huge shift for the platform by making it far more extensible. This one change adds a ton of functionality that has been available in other platforms for a long time, but will still add a lot of value for iOS users. Extensibility factors into three major features: cross-app sharing, widgets, and alternative keyboards. The latter two are fairly self-explanatory, but cross-app sharing has the most impact on the overall use of the platform. Not only does it allow for a more universal sharing menu similar to Android, but it also allows for sharing certain features like Instagram filters in the stock iOS Camera app, much like Windows Phone Lenses. 

Second place isn't a losing position

As you'll notice, none of this is anything new in terms of the whole mobile ecosystem. Hardware choice has been a hallmark of the Android ecosystem, and universal sharing and alternative keyboards have been part of Android as well. But, Apple doesn't seem to be making these changes to win over Android users. There have been plenty of comparisons between Android vs iOS and Windows vs Mac, and because of the lessons learned throughout the years competing with Microsoft, Apple understands how to exist as the number two in the market and still be extremely successful. Remember, while the PC market has been in decline in recent years, Macbook sales have continued to be strong. 

Apple doesn't need iOS to do everything, it never has. The platform has been very successful over the years while trailing behind Android on the feature set. What iOS needs is simply to hold second place by being better than all of the upstart mobile platforms on the way; and, right now, it has that covered. Windows Phone's Cortana may already be better than Siri, if Microsoft's own ads are to be believed, but Windows Phone is still lagging behind iOS on both features and, more importantly, in the app ecosystem. iOS easily beats BlackBerry; and, none of the other options are anywhere near ready to compete with iOS, given that Firefox is focused on the low-end, and Sailfish, Ubuntu Touch, and Tizen don't yet exist in the consumer market. 

Apple can't compete with the entire Android ecosystem by itself. The idea that it could is patently absurd because the two platforms aren't even on the same field. Android devices cover every conceivable price point, spec loadout, and form factor that you might want, but Apple doesn't make low-end devices or even mid-range devices, really. Apple makes its high-end devices and then trots out year-old or two year-old devices to fill in the mid and low-end markets, although the price of those devices never really fits into those markets if you are buying them unsubsidized. However, Apple can compete with the high-end selection of Android devices (which, despite great hardware from companies like HTC, Motorola, Sony, and LG, tends to be boiled down to simply Apple vs Samsung), in developed regions (North America, Europe, etc). 

Apple vs Samsung still favors Apple

As I've mentioned plenty of times over the past few years, Apple and Google are playing two different games. Google wants Android everywhere on every feasible device. It has certainly accomplished that goal with mobile devices, and is now looking to other devices - wearables, TVs, cars, smart home, etc. - to expand the reach of Android. On the other hand, Apple wants to maximize profits, and it has done that very effectively by focusing on the high-end market. Recently, Apple's share of the mobile profits has dropped, but it is still essentially just Apple and Samsung as the only mobile manufacturers posting profits. If there is a chance at continuing to dominate profits, Apple needs to compete directly with Samsung, meaning a 4.7-inch iPhone and a 5.5-inch iPhone, as well as possibly a 12-inch iPad, because Samsung's high-end selection includes the 5-inch Galaxy S5, the (likely) 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, the Galaxy Tab S 10.5, and the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2. 

Apple's new lineup matches that pretty well, especially when you consider a couple of things: 1) iPads outsell Samsung tablets by a wide margin, and 2) sales of the Galaxy S5 have been lagging behind the iPhone 5s as well. According to a new report from IDC, Apple still holds about 27% of the global tablet market on 13.3 million units sold in Q2 2014. This is a year-on-year decline, but Samsung's tablet sales stayed almost the same at 8.4 million units sold, which was good enough for just 17.2% of the market. Overall, the Android tablet market gained even more ground on Apple, but the vast majority of those sales were in the mid to low-end market where Apple has no presence at all. 

All this to say that the only segments in which Samsung wins are those where Apple doesn't have a product in the race - low/mid-range smartphones and tablets, phablets, and smartwatches. As noted, Apple won't be entering the low or mid-range markets, but it is planning to take on phablets and smartwatches, likely within the next 6 months or so. If the rumored iPad Pro becomes a reality, Apple would be directly competing against Samsung in every high-end segment, and the only advantage that Samsung may hold is the home court advantage, because Koreans love phablets, and Apple may not be able to crack that market with its own phablet. 

Is focus spreading too thin?

Tim Cook has slowly changed quite a lot in the way Apple does business. He has done his best to keep the brand image the same while still adding new products, and new features to iOS in order to compete in the far more diverse ecosystem of mobile. When it came to the PC market, Apple could get away with having limited choices, because there is more of a limit on the different form factors that can exist with laptops and desktops. For the first few years of the mobile boom, the same was true, and Apple could get away with one iPhone and one iPad. But, that is no longer true. Apple wants to remain competitive, and so it must offer users more choice than it ever has before. The question though, is whether Apple can keep this up while still holding on to its claims of focusing on "getting a few things right". 

Apple loves to use this phrase for a number of reasons, including that it gives the impression (accurate or not) that other companies rush out unfinished products, and because it allows Apple leeway in holding back features that users truly want. The trouble is that with an ever-growing roster of hardware, it can be harder and harder to actually follow through on those promises of focus. Of course, Apple is the most valuable company in the world (in terms of market capitalization) and has plenty of money to be able to scale production, depending on how badly Tim Cook wants to keep those profit margins intact. 

The software side of things tends to be more resource intensive than hardware, so it is good that iOS will run on all of these devices, but the time may be coming when Apple will have to work harder to optimize the iOS UI more specifically for different size displays. As is, Android optimizes its UI into three general classes: smartphones, small tablets, and large tablets, while leaving responsive design to handle making apps work on the different sizes and resolutions. Apple has put down a couple building blocks for responsive design, but the overall UI for iOS is the same regardless of the screen size, because there is really no optimization needed when everything is a grid of icons. 

But, in order to keep ahead of the competition (aka all mobile platforms except for Android), Apple may be forced to make the iOS UI more elaborate. Doing so would require more work by engineers and designers, and would require shifting resources. And, as the iOS hardware roster grows, Apple will need to move fully into responsive design for apps, because as is developers need to build for the specific resolutions and screen sizes of Apple hardware. iOS 8 is moving part way towards responsive design, but developers may find building apps for so many Apple devices to be more difficult than iOS development traditionally has been. 


Apple is huge and successful, and makes products that many people love. It can also be said of those same products that there are many people out there that hate the devices. I haven't owned or used an Apple product as a primary device in about five years, and I don't expect that will change any time soon (because I'm too deep into the Google and Play ecosystems), but I do find it hard to see how so many can still be harboring so much hatred towards Apple. I would absolutely love to have the option to buy an Android tablet with the hardware design of the iPad Air, but that won't happen in the near future.

I know that I count myself in the number of those who disliked Apple at one point in my life, and Steve Jobs was certainly a very polarizing (if fascinating) man. But, the Steve Jobs Apple is gone, and has been for quite some time, actually. Tim Cook has made this company his own, and righted many of the wrongs that existed in the past. A whole new Apple has been created over the past three years, and many of us have failed to recognize or accept that. 



1. OldNorseBruin

Posts: 235; Member since: Mar 12, 2013

Really? So they no longer utilize indentured servitude/prison labor in their Apple Gulags; and then charge a 10,000% markup for their items?

3. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

If I remember right, some organization analyzed working conditions of tech companies and Apple had quite good results.Edit:found the article

10. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Indentured servitude is one of the collateral consequences of the production model that Apple uses. Sammy has its own problems with child labor. There are unscrupulous operators anywhere there is money to be made making stuff for companies. Non-tech companies have similar labor exploitation issues. The best you can do as a global brand is try to stay on top of your supplier 'partners' and insist on a zero tolerance for breaking the rules. Apple under Tim has been significantly better at keeping its supplier partners on the straight-and-narrow than when Steve was calling the shots. With Steve, partner labor problems were treated as more of an issue that was not Steve's problem, when in reality, it was his problem. Once Steve departed for the hereafter, the problems bubbled to the top. Props are due to Tim for working to clean up the mess. One more way in which Tim changed Apple.

13. Blaze.Infernus

Posts: 16; Member since: May 01, 2014

Uhhhh, everybody does that, including the ones that lie to you and say they don't.


Posts: 456; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

For me, the size comparison image above sums up apple. The so called 'tech giant' worth billions basically puts out a single useful, successful product in varying sizes, and by most non iFans, a tired and average product BUT new sizes, incremental upgrades cause the iClan to line up yearly and upgrade for basically no reason. Apples seriously has the same 100 million iFollowers buying 3-4 upgrades a year of the same ol S hit, different year, that is how an empire was built, 1 product to rule them all, now in 73 sizes and colors lol

33. Chaseism

Posts: 82; Member since: May 08, 2013

I think you overestimate that amount of Apple Fans vs. The General Public. Apple does have a great deal of fans, but no major tech company can survive on their fans alone. The smartphone market is extremely competitive. Apple not only has to deal with other hardware markers (Samsung, LG, HTC), but other OS as well (Android, BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone). Apple has the luxury and the disability of being both. Remember, for non-nerds, Apple isn't synonymous with smartphones anymore and the general public don't blindly go with an iPhone like they used to. They weigh the iPhone against other brands. Sometimes it comes down to something as simple as screen size. Apple continues to do well because for certain demographics, the iPhone is the best for them. No fan boyism about it. For others, Android is better. Sometimes it's because of the features. Sometimes it's simply because the phones are a bit cheaper, but still do the things those folks want. For the general public...there is no Apple vs. Samsung war. They couldn't care less...

2. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Under the leadership of Tim Cook, Apple has become more like Dell, i.e. a company run by accountants. Still Apple does do some interesting things now and then and does work harder than any PC company on industrial design. Not to mention provide excellent tech support that is better than any PC company. Hopefully Apple will continue to play a role in shaping the future of computing, if only to keep the industrial design teams making Android devices a bit more honest about the quality of the work they are doing.

15. HansGoneInsane unregistered

it does not take much to explain apple's market position. How could a company claim the slogan Think Different for its products, if it owned 85% of the market. If apple wants to stay special, they cannot strive for huge market shares.

25. designerfx

Posts: 76; Member since: Mar 26, 2013

"Still Apple does do some interesting things now and then and does work harder than any PC company on industrial design. Not to mention provide excellent tech support that is better than any PC company." None of this can be substantiated from claims you manifest from thin air and is laughably false at minimum. There isn't dishonesty in android development teams any more or less than apple, but I'm not the one seeing the world from apple colored classes. The only dishonest one here is you. Apple being in 2nd place is absolutely a loss because nobody cares about supporting the "2nd place market competitor" if their marketshare is basically nonexistent. This is just a confirmation that apple is out, something most people knew for years.

27. 0xFFFF

Posts: 3806; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

Unless you believe the annual surveys of tech customers done every year are completely false, Apple has indeed won many of these awards -- for best customer service. There is a lot of dishonesty in the Android market, a lot of cheap crappy devices that could have been designed a lot better. There have been literally thousands of web articles about this topic. Maybe you have some insane hatred of Apple. They are a greedy deceitful company. But they also do some things well. And to be fair-minded, it is important to talk about both sides of Apple.

32. Jommick

Posts: 221; Member since: Sep 10, 2013

Still not sure why so many people hate on Dell, they make excellent computer displays. Hell, I have a 1600x1200 60Hz display that still functions great that's over a decade old. link:

6. CaptainDroid

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 14, 2014

very well done pa, nice article......

11. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Yes, great article, Michael.

7. Kishin

Posts: 706; Member since: May 30, 2013

Change will always be nessasary!

8. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

This is a top notch article, Michael. Really, probably one of my favorites here. Congratulations. Well... regardless of that, brace yourselves. The trolls are coming.

9. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

But still evil..... Sticking to the roots I see. Also the new logo is meh, the black apple logo was the best IMO.

12. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

The new logo is an effort at updating the original logo. Kind of like keeping the faith, while moving to the future.

14. marcski07

Posts: 600; Member since: Apr 25, 2014

when i looked at it, my first thought was, "it's not that good than previous" but when I've read the explanation, I find it symbolical, and I like it. :) now they have to change the price also. but that will be a blow to the moon. :D

18. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Tim is keeping Steve jobs promises, that Steve wants Android "dead", Lmao. Android is dominating even more. God bless Android.

31. mayur007

Posts: 593; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

yes bcoz after no android, then they dont have to spend millions in r&d :P

16. TruthSpeaker unregistered

"A whole new Apple has been created" But it's still the same one that's market share is falling in an expanding market place. Good job keep it up, please remember to switch the lights off on your way out.

21. iampayne

Posts: 322; Member since: Aug 12, 2013

Seriously? Apple makes more money than the richest Oil Company in the world, there will be no lights turning off anytime soon. And what makes that amazing is the fact that oil is a necessity while Apple sells only commodities (which means things you don't need to survive like you need oil)

23. quakan

Posts: 1418; Member since: Mar 02, 2011

Clearly you didn't read the article. Apple doesn't need the largest market share as Samsung and Apple are essentially taking home all the profits. Also, Apple does this without competing in the mid-low end device segment. When HTC attempted to emulate this business model, they nearly went under and were forced to compete in the mid-low range segment again to stay afloat. The market share you claim they are losing is due to the overall smartphone market expanding in the mid-low end segment. I think their lights will be on for quite some time, don't you think?

24. remtothemax

Posts: 260; Member since: May 02, 2012

I think you do not understand how market share and number of sales are related. Because your business can quintuple, but your market share fall by half if everyone else's business grows even more. And this is good for everyone. Could you please explain how overall sales can increase significantly, but still a company fails because it's market share decreases? I mean, I know this is rhetorical, because you are not serious, you are just trying to stoke fires, but, you know, might as well pursue the logic. I am curious if you know something about markets that I do not.

20. LikeMyself

Posts: 631; Member since: Sep 23, 2013

No optimizations required when everything is a set of icons and Bluetooth works only with iDevices! But I do appreciate iOS/Apple as a strong competitor! Imagine if Android was battling newer versions of symbian belle/Nokia which support high resolution and heavy .sis apps instead of Apple!! Apple, being different in its core is a much better rival, if not dream rival for Android! Happy catch up, iOS!!

22. iampayne

Posts: 322; Member since: Aug 12, 2013

"Bluetooth works only with iDevices" ??????? Its comments like this that make me scratch my head and helps me see why we haven't been able to put someone back on the moon. Because the human race is just getting dumber.

29. LikeMyself

Posts: 631; Member since: Sep 23, 2013

Tell me what you do to send files from/to an iPhone to any other devices not using iOS via Bluetooth! iOS Bluetooth is restricted only to other iOS devices for sharing unlike Android's and Symbian's which are universal! iOS use restricted Bluetooth to avoid paying patents!!

26. 1113douglas

Posts: 200; Member since: Jul 04, 2013

Just remember samsung has over souble the total smartphone sales as apple alone, although most of it js beacuse samsung has phones of all different ranges to fit peoples needs whereas apple only releases 2 phones a year.

30. yemaat2000

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 09, 2012

Only Michael writes wonderfully like this. Enjoyed every bit.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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