Opinion: Can Apple continue its meteoric rise?

Posted by Minnaar Pieters 01 Jun 2009
Apple Logo PNG
I recently came across this post by fellow South African blogger/podcaster Saul Kropman. He makes some very good points regarding Apple in current times. The fact of the matter is that Apple is one of those companies who will always have a following, but in recent recession times they have lost some of the appeal that differentiates them from others.

"Despite the phenomenal growth of Apple in the past ten years, due in part to the iPhone, OSX and Steve Jobs, the reality is that Windows still has over 82 percent of the market. What this means is that Mac and Linux users take up around 18 percent of the OS market and despite sales in the millions this means Mac isn’t a particularly popular choice. Despite this the Mac fraternity is growing but this worries me based on two issues, quality and innovation.

Let’s look at quality first. The fact of the matter is that since Apple hit mainstream and swapped over to Intel processors that’s left them with some major quality defects. The logistics are simple: when you grow larger it is more than likely that you’ll lower quality control. Personally my Macbook has a massive gap between the battery and the case and when you close the screen the top casing gets damaged, something that apparently has allowed for a recall. It seems that all first gen Apple products have a “wait and see” air about them. Recently the first gen Unibody Macbook Pro 17-inch had major display issues with it’s Displayport video out. Now the Unibody design goes a long way to removing any chance of the Macbook series breaking but it’ll be interesting to see how they manage to stick with their image of consummate quality. The simple fact of the matter is that when Apple were smaller there were less defects and this is something to work on.

The second issue that Apple prides itself on and has to upkeep is that of innovation. Apple have always used non Intel hardware in their PC’s and meant that there was no way to compare Apple’s with Apple’s and instead you had an Apple and you were comparing to Orange’s. These day’s Apple runs Intel hardware but charges more than a Dell or HP meaning they need to innovate on why you pay that extra amount of money. While Apple cannot be beaten in design the simple reality in terms of specifications and extra’s you can certainly get better than Apple. Realistically you can get a PC with more than two USB ports, a card reader, built in 3G and other useful ports like Firewire on a Windows PC. Since Apple leads on innovation this is a hugely limiting factor as they constantly need to innovate. Here’s the thing, Apple cannot continue on their current course as people are expecting bigger and better at every turn. This is unlikely.

Another area where Apple needs to improve so as to continue growth is to get a decent piece of Office software. The reason Windows still has 82 percent of the market is due to it’s domination of the Office space. Quite simply Office 2008 is a really weak excuse in comparison to Office 2007 on the PC. Once they make an exact port of 2007 there will be a huge jump forward for Apple.

Were it not for glossy screen’s, sexy design and great advertising I wonder if Apple would be as successful as it is. I think it’s time that Apple took a long and hard look at their product offerings, pricing and software so as to continue their meteoric rise."

Now these issues become even worse when you take South Africa's Apple scenario into account. We currently have one ditributor (Core) who can set whatever prices they want. Their prices can in some cases reach up to double the price in the US and UK. It makes it very tough for South African consumers to actually use Apple products. For more info on the current situation with Apple in SA, go here.

The sad fact of the matter is that Core can continue charging these prices, seeing as Apple users will in most cases keep on paying these prices, regardless of the recession. There are things you can do, but in my opinion we have to make Apple in the US aware of the current situation in SA, be it via email or forums.. You cannot resell an already overpriced product at a massive markup in SA. It just reeks of the old regulated economy we had.

It is just not right.

I for one, know that my next Apple purchase I will be done in the US, thank you very much.



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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.