Why Apple Hasn’t Gone Web 2.0
Andy Beal wonders why Apple isn’t embracing social networking and considers them the worse off for it. Apple doesn’t have a corporate blog, and hasn’t come forth with a grand, social “Web 2.0″ strategy – say “iFacebook.”
I think it’s worth digging a little deeper into what Apple is really doing in regards to Web 2.0 and why I believe they’ve been smart to stay out of the Web 2.0 space for now.
Andy believes companies should have a social networking strategy in order to communicate with users. Despite their lack of a corporate blog – I don’t get the sense Apple doesn’t listen.
Each time Apple messes up, time and time again I’ve seen Apple respond quickly:
- iPhone price break – many complained, and within days Steve Jobs wrote his letter refunding some of the money.
- MacBook cases had stains – many complained, and eventually Apple recognized it as a hardware flaw and offered to replace it.
- MacBook wasn’t repaired so blogger filmed a video and Apple gave him a new Mac.
Several instances of people mailing Steve Jobs directly and Apple fixes stuff.
- People complain about Leopard’s file copying bug and Apple fixes it in the 10.5.1 update.
The biggest example of Apple listening to users are the iPhone and iPod Touch products themselves. For nearly two years before each product, fan boys kept speculating about how cool it would be if there were a “full screen iPod” or “if only Apple made a cell phone.” Apple actually went ahead and did it.
The second point I want to make is that Apple has been looking into Web 2.0 technologies, which isn’t apparent unless you dig a little deeper.
- OS X has scads of Web 2.0 developer tools like Ruby On Rails, MySQL, Apache, pHp. It’s UNIX after all.
- OS X Server supports Wikis, podcasts, and even speaks specifically about hosting “Web 2.0″.
- Open source for OS X.
- Both the Apple Store and iTunes Store have user reviews and ratings.
- The Apple website is designed using web standards.
- iWeb allows you to make a blog.
- iMovie exports to YouTube.
- RSS feed support in Mail and Safari.
- YouTube movies on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPod Touch.
However, despite all these moves on the back end, as far as a social networking strategy – say “iFaceBook,” Apple hasn’t gone there.
A bit of Apple history is in order. Since the return of Steve Jobs, they’ve focused on:
- Eliminating all the non-essential products. Right out of the gae, Jobs killed the clones and the Newton, and all the confusing product models.
- Beefing up existing product lines and making them the best they could be. The “product matrix” with four quadrants (consumer desktop, consumer portable, professional desktop, professional portable) was brilliant.
- Only entering established markets that really make sense for Apple. They let other companies build up a market with less than insanely-great products and then come in with their vastly superior version and dominate. Many other companies had MP3 players which weren’tvery good, Apple saw that they could add the “Apple touch,” and the result was the iPod. Apple is now doing the same thing with the iPhone.
You can see Apple’s caution by examining what businesses Apple has not entered into (flat screen televisions, PDAs, Tablet PCs, eBooks). I can imagine some Apple product managers looking at these technology ideas and concluding “these products are interesting – but don’t make sense for us at this time.”
I believe Apple is doing the same thing with Web 2.0. Most of the current Web 2.0 money has been made through advertising and huge buyouts, neither of which are games Apple plays. Web 2.0 doesn’t demonstrate a clear road to profitability that works for Apple’s current strategy of hardware, software, and digital content.
Web 2.0 (whatever that really means) has hit the level of hype that people are starting to think all technology companies must have a Web 2.0 strategy. I politely disagree. I see nothing wrong with a hugely proftiable company waiting to see if this social media stuff can demonstrate business viability before calling it a necessity. As long as Apple continues to sell scads of iPods and Macs, they can afford to wait.