10 Things Apple Should Do to Increase Its Web Credibility
10 Things Apple Should Do to Increase Its Web Credibility
by Don Reisinger
When Apple acquired online music-streaming service Lala, some wondered what the company had planned. Unfortunately, it hasn't made any announcements about the service. Worst of all, Apple took the site down on May 31 without explanation. Speculation abounds as to what Apple might have planned for Lala. Some say it will come back as part of iTunes. Others predict that it will be gone forever. If Apple wants to increase its Web credibility (and it should), the company needs to bring Lala back with Apple-like enhancements. It would be a great first step for the company.
Make Mobile Safari a More Useful Browser
Speaking recently at the D8 conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said part of the reason Apple's iPhone has been so successful is its browser. Mobile Safari is undoubtedly a nice browser that effectively highlights the value of the next-generation device. But it needs to get better. It needs real tabbing functionality. It would also be nice if Apple made it easier to browse bookmarks and history. The hardware company can't forget that browsers are the gateways to the Web. Without a solid mobile browser, Apple will have trouble gaining Web credibility.
Play a Role in Social Networking
With Facebook and Twitter growing rapidly, it's clear that social networking services are here to stay. That's precisely why Apple should play a role in the social networking market, which is key to any online strategy. Apple's social gaming network, Game Center, is a good start, but it needs to do more. If the company wants to increase its Web credibility, making its presence known in the social networking market is a necessity.
Use iAd Online
Apple's iAd platform is currently only slated for use in mobile applications. But that doesn't mean that Apple should pigeonhole its new service. If it's successful and adequately delivers an experience that consumers like, Apple could adapt the iAd vision for general Web use. It's not such a bad idea. Online advertisements are sometimes obtrusive and most times annoying. If Apple could find a way to parlay its iAd expertise into something that improves online advertisements, the company could significantly increase its online standing. Even better, it could start competing with Google in the wildly lucrative Web advertising market.
Bring iTunes to the Cloud
iTunes is integral to Apple's success. The music service allows consumers to buy music, movies, television shows and applications from the desktop, as well as from Apple's many devices. But perhaps it would behoove Apple to create a truly cloud-based version. The service would be accessible from the browser, and would allow consumers to download whatever they'd like no matter where they were, without needing to run a proprietary application. It would be similar to Amazon.com's MP3 store. Bringing iTunes to the cloud could change everything.
Work on a Chrome OS Competitor
This might be a stretch, but it's about time that Apple started working on an operating system that can compete on the same level as Google's Chrome OS. Whether Apple wants to admit it or not, the Internet is the next frontier for operating systems. So far, Google is the biggest player in the space, promising a netbook-capable Web operating system later in 2010. But Apple shouldn't waste its time with a netbook version. Instead, the company should get working on an online version of Mac OS X designed to work on its notebooks and desktops. It would put all the pressure on Google and Microsoft to catch up.
Bring iWork to the Web
iWork was improved recently to run on the iPad. Now it's time for Apple's iWork team to get working on a Web-based version. Currently, both Google and Microsoft are offering their office productivity suites online. Google Apps is arguably the better of the two online services, but they both adequately deliver a reliable service for those who want to be productive in the cloud. So far, Apple is nowhere to be found in that space. Although iWork doesn't have the same level of usability as Office, Apple needs to make a play for Web productivity. If it doesn't, iWork might not be around for long.
Acquire More Web Companies
Lala should be just the start of Apple's Web-company-buying binge. The hardware company should start acquiring businesses that it believes could bolster its Web presence and help with its other endeavors. Deciding which companies to buy can be difficult, since there are some that would complement Apple's operations and some that would not. But Lala was certainly a good acquisition for Apple, so the company seems to know what it's doing when looking for targets to acquire. Start acquiring more Web companies, Apple. It's a smart move.
Invest in Facebook
Facebook is always looking for willing investors. That's how Microsoft was able to throw some of its cash behind the social network and own a small portion of the company. With over $40 billion in cash on hand, maybe it's time that Apple followed Microsoft's lead and started investing in Facebook. It's not as crazy as some might think. A key component of Facebook's strategy is monetizing all the different applications that are used on the site. Maybe Apple's iAd platform could help expand the social network's advertising efforts.
Develop a Full Web Strategy
With all of these different components in place, Apple must then get to work on a full Web strategy. Simply hoping for the best when venturing onto the Web is never a good idea—just ask Microsoft. With the right strategy in place, it's entirely possible for Apple to become a major player on the Internet. It just needs to decide what its goals are and set out to achieve them. If Apple truly wants to be a Web powerhouse—and it should—the company needs to get to work on a Web strategy sooner rather than later.