The secret to Apple’s Success

Apple Online Store“With the way Apple not only straddles the burgeoning tablet and smartphone markets but also holds sway across the computer, home-entertainment, and media fields, the moves it makes can have an impact on the future of hundreds of companies,” Eric Bleeker writes for The Motley Fool. “With that in mind, we’re taking a look at the week in Apple news to see how the latest activity affects the Cupertino giant, its suppliers, and even its competitors.”

“Around the Fool there’s been a lot of debate recently about Apple and its supposed need for innovation. Writer Chris Baines argued that Apple needs to constantly innovate to stay relevant, making the likes of Microsoft a comparatively much safer investment,” Bleeker writes. “Rule Breakers analyst and writer Tim Beyers says Apple’s need for innovation is exaggerated; product improvements have largely been incremental tweaks to existing product lines.”

Bleeker writes, “I tend to agree with Tim. For example, the iPad was little more than a larger iPhone upon its launch. Apple’s genius was that it was the first company to understand what customers wanted in the nascent tablet market. The company then delivered with an easy-to-grasp user interface at the right tablet size. Without any real “innovation,” Apple was able to expand its iOS operating system to a whole new growth avenue.”

Full article, in which Bleeker unfortunately equates total R&D expenditure with “innovation” (Microsoft vs. Apple) thereby proving he doesn’t understand innovation at all, here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Joe Architect” for the heads up.]


  1. It only seems like incremental steps because Apple has been doing it so well for so long, each innovation builds on the success of the previous ones. If another company had released the iPad instead, it might not have had the same impact because it would not have the supporting structures around it (OSX, iOS, iTunes, etc…). It’s like a layered cake – sometimes Apple adds another layer of cake, sometimes frosting, sometimes some rum to spice up the cake, sometimes decorations on the side, sometimes it adds a new tier altogether. Folks on the outside just see a cake, and don’t realize that every level is tasty goodness. And like baking – Apple is part science, part art, part amazing… To really understand it, you have to consider Apple in a different way than any other company.

  2. Apple launched iPod. Then it has iPhone. Then it has iPad. Behind the devices it has iTunes, AppStore and iBook. That’s pure innovation. If there’s anybody says otherwise, I reckon he doesn’t know innovation at all. Did Tim innovate anything at all??

  3. “The secret to Apple’s Success”? That question always cracks me up. The answer is so obvious that most everyone misses it: Know your customer and build products for them with no compromise on quality.

  4. One of the things that has really been irritating me with Apple is that the most basic needs are sometimes left out for the sake of simplicity.

    In revision iOS 4x I still can’t copy a contact from my Address Book to the clipboard on my iPhone. WTF?

    Another example, take Macwrite on a Mac Plus. It was 1000 times easier to use for the non-geek than TextEdit in OSX…. Why?

    Why are all the common functions now hurried in submenus when we had them in plain sight before?

    Cupertino… we have a PROBLEM!

  5. The fact that he didn’t even mention OSX as the foundation for all of these products tells me that the folks at the Motley Fool still don’t understand the “Secret to Apples Success” even after all these years. I guess it’s natural in some regards to focus on the hardware you can actually hold in your hands but it still makes me want to pull my hair our and scream…, IT’S THE SOFTWARE STUPID!

  6. I wonder if anyone knows whynRandom House et al.are still missing from the iBooks store. Sales would really pick up and would then allow iBooks tom really compete with and Barnes & Noble selection wise?

    Is SJ so hard up that he feels that they are not needed, because to make an iBook store complete, Random House must be part of the mix.

  7. They never talked about the Mac.  OK is has been some what of a stepchild this year, but the little they did is more innovative than the MS or it’s OEM’s. The new Airs were a achievement.  The solid state memory is not new, but they have found new ways to make it very useful.  They have also spent capital on Lion, yes it won’t be out until next year but they are still keeping ahead of Windows.  Mac is a big money generator and they have not abandoned it.  To not bring it up in a dissicusion about  how Apple stays competitive is redicules.  

    One reason they don’t spend as much on R&D is because they have cut out a lot of unproductive waste.  They don’t spend time in focus groups or pay a million dollars to have someone tell them what color is going to be hot next year.  When you stay ahead you don’t have to spend money trying to reverse enginer others. 

  8. @RLB
    If Random House is not on iBooks, it is more likely because RH doesn’t think it needs Apple, rather than vice versa. There could be a number of pricing and contractual reasons why RH isn’t on iBooks yet, but Apple wouldn’t arbitrarily shun the RH catalog simply to stroke Jobs’ ego.

  9. Surely Jobs and the top gun at RH can come to terms if Amazon and B&N can. Pricing is undoubtedly the issue, but let’s get along with it. Can’t buy a Grisham novel, for example, without RH.

    Thanks for your comment.

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