It can no longer be defined by the iPhone. Not even the Apple Mac. A new Apple is coming and the expensive, premium iPhone might not even be invited to the party.
Apple is already a very different company to how it was 10 years ago, but the next decade is likely to see greater change as the company continues to adapt to the world around us.
It is already diversifying in many product categories and that will be more significant in the years to come. Recent sales figures have proved that the iPhone can no longer be the company's primary source of income. It will widen its reach and pricing strategy.
Beyond the iPhone
The reintroduction of the entry-level iPhone SE, the rumoured launch of a new affordable iPad mini, even the suggestion the iPod may be making a comeback each suggest Apple is shifting from a reliance on selling you the latest, biggest and undeniably expensive iPhones.
These go to show that Apple wants to make products that are more widely accessible. But even without them, its expanding product line up shows ambitions beyond iPhones.
In recent years, it has added Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod and Apple Music to its portfolio. Other subscription services are rumoured to be on the immediate horizon too, with games and a Netflix rival heavily rumoured.
- Apple's news and magazine subscription service spotted in iOS 12.2 beta
- Apple might be working on a subscription service for games
It's a sensible move and one that a pragmatic Apple should be able to master. It’s also a trick we’ve seen the company has performed over and over again across the last decade and a half.
The iPod killer was the iPhone, the MacBook killer is the iPad (potentially, anyway) and Apple Music serves as an iTunes killer.
Apple is great at reinventing itself while, at the same time, creating products that replace their last great Apple equivalents without you realising.
Take the Apple Watch, for example. For some, it’s already starting to replace their iPhone.
It might just be on a run or maybe an evening out but, combined with wireless AirPod headphones, you can also make calls, listen to music, call an Uber and a host of other things that you'd usually use your phone for.
It might seem far fetched to some but, combined with an iPad, the three (Watch, AirPods, iPad) can completely replace the need for a phone altogether. Now there’s a thought.
It's going to be all about "Services"
Apple Music might not be as big as Spotify yet - figures in 2018 suggested Spotify was twice the size - but it had more customers in the US. With 50 million users at last count (Jan 2019), Apple’s service is certainly a viable contender.
Add subscription services for news (no competition), games (no real competition) and TV, Apple could easily carve out a very profitable business. One that doesn't need a constant hardware upgrade cycle and receives revenue on a month-by-month basis.
It could make a lot of money regardless of the device used, be it iPhone, iPad, TV or, shock horror, an Android phone.
Lessons from the past
In contrast, looking at companies that haven’t fared the test of time so well, it’s easy to see where they went wrong.
Kodak believed in and protected it's 35mm film sales rather than using its dominant position to control the switch to digital. The company actually had one of the first digital cameras, but didn’t want to "rock the boat" for fear of impacting its film camera sales.
What it should have done was managed the transition from film to digital better and more swiftly. It should have pushed its 35mm film killer with its own digital camera rather than waiting for others to do it.
BlackBerry, likewise, refused to look beyond the keyboard and own operating software before it was too late. More recently, companies like GoPro and Sonos have started to show signs of stress because of an inability to look beyond their core businesses.
Ultimately, it seems that, to stay in business, you need not only to come up with a killer product, but the product that replaces it. And it doesn't necessarily need to be in the same product category.
As history tells us, Apple is more than capable of doing just that and its next decade should be as interesting to follow as the last.