On March 11, Apple will launch the iPad 2, the anticipated follow-up to its original hit tablet. The iPad 2 will be Apple’s newest device in the mobile market until this summer when it’s expected to release the iPhone 5.
Although opinions differ on whether the iPad 2 is a worthwhile purchase for most customers, there’s no debating that Apple’s latest release is just another example of what the company is doing to maintain its dominant position in the mobile market.
Admittedly, some say that Google is the prevailing force in the mobile space, since its platform is outselling iOS each quarter. But those folks fail to realize that Google requires the help of multiple vendors to do what Apple can with two smartphones, the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4, and one tablet. On a company-by-company basis, Apple reigns supreme.
But that can change. Apple leads the way now, but it’s facing increased pressure in the mobile space from a host of vendors that want to achieve the same level of success it enjoys. But if Apple makes a bad move, it could be overtaken by some of its top competitors.
To ensure it doesn’t lose the dominant position in the mobile space, Apple must do the following:
1. Get the white iPhone out the door.
When Apple CEO Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPhone 4 last year, he said that his company would be selling a white version of the device. So far, the white iPhone 4 is nowhere to be found. Many industry analysts expect it won’t hit store shelves until next month. Hopefully it will. But if Apple is forced to delay it once again, the company must get it out the door as soon as possible. The white iPhone 4 might not matter to the millions who own the black model, but to everyone else, it’s a neat-looking product for which they have been waiting months. It might just boost Apple’s sales.
2. Prepare the iPhone 5 for summer.
Rumors are swirling that Apple will be announcing and launching the iPhone 5 over the summer. For its part, Apple hasn’t confirmed those rumors, but given recent history, it makes perfect sense for the company to unveil its iPhone follow-up in the coming months. Offering the iPhone 5 this year is an absolute necessity. Apple’s top competitors, including Motorola and HTC, will be offering improved versions of their top smartphones this year, as well. Apple must respond with a device that can trump (or at least match) those products. The iPhone 4 just won’t cut it.
3. Make iOS 5 a major improvement.
With the launch of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Google has made something abundantly clear in the mobile market: It wants to offer the best operating system in the space. Honeycomb goes a long way in achieving that goal. It comes with a fully functional browser, complete with Incognito mode and tabbed browsing, along with improved multitasking and an action bar for more efficiency. It’s a solid step up over iOS 4. The onus is now on Apple to respond with a winner in iOS 5.
4. Get to work on an antenna fix.
After the iPhone 4 was made available, customers started realizing that when they held the device in a certain way, they would lose signal quality. It was an issue that Apple addressed by offering free cases to customers. With the launch of the Verizon iPhone, it seems that those problems are still present. If Apple wants to maintain its position of dominance, it must offer an antenna fix in the iPhone 5. Not only would it make previous customers happy, but if Apple’s claim that all smartphones suffer from the problem is true, the iPhone 5 will have yet another feature that will help the device trump the competition.
Security, Apps Availability Key Apple Advantages
5. Think seriously about 4G.
When Apple unveiled the Verizon iPhone, some had hoped that the device would connect to the carrier’s 4G network. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. But considering 4G is growing at a rapid rate, AT&T is expected to extensively roll out its own 4G service this year. Since customers are intrigued by the possibility of the ultra-high-speed service, Apple should think seriously about supporting it in upcoming products. It would make the company’s next-generation devices all the more appealing.
6. Talk about Android’s security problems.
Recently, Google was forced to remove more than 50 applications from the Android Market after it was revealed that they contained malware. The issue caused Android to once again take center stage in the ongoing battle between cyber-criminals and mobile-device users. If Apple wants to maintain dominance in the mobile market, it needs to make the mainstream more aware of Android’s potential security problems. Along the way, it can try and claim that its platform is more secure. Is iOS really more secure than Android? That’s up for debate. But Apple thinks it is. And it needs to say why.
7. Make the disparity in apps clear.
At the March 2 event showcasing the new iPad 2, Apple CEO Steve Jobs pointed out some staggering statistics. He told those in attendance that the iPad currently has over 65,000 applications available to owners. Android-based tablets, on the other hand, have only 100 applications that can be run. Going forward, Apple must use that huge discrepancy to show why it believes the iPad 2 offers more value than the competition. Such a plan could help it cement the tablet’s position as the dominant force in its market.
8. Make FaceTime a key component in advertising.
Although several devices on the market allow for video conferencing, Apple’s option could be one of the most compelling services in that space. After all, it lets users communicate over WiFi between iPhones, iPads and Macs. With any luck at all, the functionality will be available over 3G (or 4G) in the iPhone 5. Considering Apple has been able to extend the usability of FaceTime to so many places, and video conferencing is something that many people in the mainstream would likely get behind, the hardware company needs to make it a key component in its advertising going forward. It might just be more important to its future success than some believe.
9. Keep the same release schedule.
Part of Apple’s success in the mobile market has been its predictability. For years now, the company has offered a new iPhone once every year around the same time. It’s now doing the same with the iPad. If Apple can keep that schedule going while continuing to offer meaningful updates each time, the company will go a long way in securing its position as the top force in the mobile market.
10. Maintain the lead on design.
Let’s face it: Apple is the best company in the business when it comes to product design. Its iPad 2 is gorgeous. The same can be said for the iPhone. When those products are compared to others, it’s hard to find any other device that can compete with them. But if Apple gives up the design lead, its position of dominance will be lost. It will look like every other company in the market. If Apple maintains the lead on design, it will also maintain the lead in the mobile market.