Apple and the Innovator’s Dilemma

This article looks at Apple and the Innovator’s Dilemma in particular with the iPhone as the main success trap potentially holding Apple back. “When you get a product that is wildly successful you get comfortable”, this stops trying something new and new ideas have to compete for resources with the core product.

Clayton Christensen wrote his first book about the Innovators Dilemma in 1997, demonstrating how very successful companies could do everything right and still lose market leadership or even fail as new unexpected competitors rise and take over the market. In this article by Molly Wood she makes the point that if you go back and read that book and replace every time that Christensen mentions “a company” with “Apple” it looks that Apple is a company on the verge of being disrupted and that it is unlikely that the next great idea in technology will come from Cupertino.

While Apple continues to have strong sales with other categories such as its laptops, AirPods headphones and wearables the majority of its revenues continue to come from the iPhone. The author makes the point that this dependence is concerning as the main product could potentially be stopping innovation coming in new directions which is the classic theme from Christensen.

“You see what I’m saying here: brilliant team with a long record of execution and unparalleled success. Possibly not a lot of fresh ideas.”

Molly Wood, Apple, the iPhone, and the Innovator’s Dilemma, Wired 2019

Apple had a long head start into the virtual assistant market with Siri but it let competitors Google and Amazon catch up and pass them and now they are racing to catch up. As a company they are always looking to acquire companies that can help them grow and diversify but Apple have to be aware risks associated with the Innovator’s Dilemma.

Synopsis of an article from Wired by Molly Wood
Published 4th February 2019
Full article available here:

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