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Commentary: The Gulf Between Apple Customers and PC Users Just Widened

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SINGAPORE: Apple recently launched the new iMac. Its most striking element? Its availability in a beautiful range of bright colors.

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It comes with Apple’s own M1 processor coupled with a number of cool features that might be of interest to some Apple enthusiasts.

While Apple’s iMac seems timely as more people are working from home and perhaps looking to upgrade their computers, some computer enthusiasts have said that this new personal computer is nothing to do with it. impressive. But that would be missing the forest for the trees.

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Apple certainly isn’t launching a new PC to grab attention or refresh a product line.

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No, Tim Cook shifts a big chess piece as he leads Apple to a big checkmate. And he has a cunning plan.

IMAGE REPAIR

Yes, Apple is working to consolidate a brand image. The new iMac colors have something to do with it where playing on nostalgia is a key marketing strategy.

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In Steve Jobs’ day, many Apple products represented a stylish, bright, exciting and fun brand personality. Children born in the ’80s and’ 90s would know.

We’ve seen it in their iconic iMac G3s and iPods, available in multiple colors. Their advertisements accentuated this as well.

Apple embodied a tech-driven brand with a cult personality. The iMac G3 was the first brave personal computer to drop the floppy disk, replacing it with what has become a universal standard: the USB port.

iMac G3 (screenshot: YouTube)

This strategy works because Apple knows that over the past few years it has drifted. Their products weren’t exactly exceptional.

Their focus has been on fueling the appetite of the global demand for highly profitable iPhones. The products are available in just two to three color shades (if you call the colors white, black, gold and silver).

Of course, their products have remained stylish, but the lack of vivid color has just killed the unique personality once so closely associated with Apple products.

Maybe Apple knows this and so has launched the iPhone XR and Apple Watches in a wide range of hues – with six vibrant colors for the stylish iPhone XR and an endless array of Apple watch band brands.

This desire to bring back a strong aura is manifested – not only in their advertisements, but in their iconic floating Apple stores and much more.

(Listen to two business watchers find out what’s behind Apple’s iPhone 12 design on UKTN’s Heart of the Matter podcast 🙂

ALSO ON WHAT IS UNDER: THE MATERIAL

But Apple also reports something else. The point is, Apple’s cool factor has always gone beyond the looks of its products. It’s just the icing on the cake. It is a superior model-proof user experience and cutting edge technology.

Apple fans love their products for their user-friendliness, speed and efficiency, where the microprocessor is at the heart of everything.

And that’s where talks about the iMac’s new look have obscured the biggest change that’s taking place.

The new iMac is Apple’s first desktop computer to feature Apple’s proprietary M1 processor previously installed on MacBooks and Macbook Airs, showing just how seriously the tech giant is considering moving away from its 15-year partnership with chipmaker Intel.

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Of course, this is not revolutionary. The M1 chip shares the same engineering architecture as the A series chips in Apple smartphones and tablets.

But it dramatically improves the performance of the iMac, with programs running up to five times faster by some estimates. A best-in-class, it easily outperforms all the old Intel chips in use.

All of this change, which requires major investments in R&D into the production of their proprietary microprocessors, is in line with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s belief in the company’s long-term strategy of being in full control. the core technologies behind their products, costs and innovation cycles.

After a brutal US-China trade war and growing uncertainty over a semiconductor shortage, this is incredible news. Apple can be independent and autonomous.

They can focus on widening the performance gap between themselves and the competition. Higher hardware performance is the foundation for a better and more efficient user experience.

An Apple logo is seen outside the upcoming Apple Marina Bay Sands store in Singapore

An Apple logo is seen in the Apple Marina Bay Sands store in Singapore, September 8, 2020 (File Photo: REUTERS / Edgar Su)

But the ubiquitous use of the M1 chip could alienate Windows software from Apple products in the future. Although the ARM version of Windows can be installed on M1-based machines, not all Windows applications (including many games) are supported.

BUILDING THE APPLE ECOSYSTEM

With the incorporation of its M1 chip into all Apple products, Apple is on a stronger footing to build an even bigger ecosystem.

With all Apple products running on a common technology platform, users can expect seamless use of apps on all devices and hassle-free user experience on all Apple devices in the future.

Developers, data scientists and content creators will love the neural engine built into the M1 chip, which makes machine learning in tasks like video editing and speech recognition 15 times faster. Compared to the most powerful Intel chips, M1 has the fastest single-core performance.

And with the introduction of the subscription model, Apple’s ecosystem could expand its empire to more customers and app developers.

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With an integrated ecosystem, users can be even more attached to Apple. For example, iPhone users prioritize an iMac when considering purchasing a personal computer.

More and more existing users are using services like Apple Pay and Apple TV on iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, iMacs and MacBooks, these integrated Apple lifestyle services seeing few alternatives ” , further widening the gap between Apple and non-Apple users. It’s hard to imagine an Apple user making the decision to switch to a range of alternatives after being locked into the Apple experience.

Few companies have tried to replicate Apple’s strategy, none has succeeded. Microsoft, with its massive base, tried to make a phone that ran on Windows Mobile, but they couldn’t get enough vendors to build apps. This resulting lack of apps drew a lukewarm reaction from customers and marked the end of the initiative.

This giant ecosystem of applications is another advantage of Apple. The company knows this and has been aggressive in getting app developers to redevelop and update their apps – to make sure their huge customer base is satisfied.

Suppliers need only do a one-off rewrite and code update; and the revised app will be usable on different Apple products.

A man shows the new model of Apple Watch

A man shows off the new model of Apple Watch during the opening of Apple’s first Mexican flagship store at Antara Mall in Mexico City, Mexico on September 27, 2019 (Photo: REUTERS / Luis Cortes)

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Sellers also know that Apple’s sticky ecosystem is an attractive platform for testing market responses to new apps. This is evident from Clubhouse’s exclusive availability on the Apple Store only when it launches in 2020.

And for many applications to run smoothly at the same time, the hardware has to be solid.

THE FIELD OF DISTORTION IS REAL

While the M1 chip can support the convergence of functions between different product lines, Apple needs to be careful that their products don’t inadvertently cannibalize – which happened to the MacBook and iPad in 2013.

So far, Apple’s bold move to improve hardware and software performance reinforces the distortion field for Apple customers.

Looking ahead, the ongoing debate over whether the premium market is big enough to support Apple, known for its dynamic and distinctive style.

Apple may continue to focus on its niche market of tech-savvy content creators in the media industry and the luxury segment who benefit from Apple’s growing entertainment and personal lifestyle ecosystem.

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For those skeptics concerned about the company’s future growth, a solution likely lies in the final chess piece: Apple could introduce an even more comprehensive subscription-based model where customers can choose to pay a monthly royalty for the products. Apple of their choice plus access to the entire ecosystem. This could make Apple somewhat affordable and not devalue its premium price positioning.

It can also extend the life of older versions of products where prices may be lower, allowing price discrimination without diluting the brand.

A hybrid of these two models will support market growth, drive demand, and attract more customers to their ecosystem.

The new iMac may just be a glimpse of this promised land that Apple has yet to reveal to us.

Dr Vanessa Liu and Dr Lau Kong Cheen are Senior Lecturers, Marketing Program, School of Business, University of Social Sciences Singapore.

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