This is a post from Above Avalon, a new site from Neil Cybart, an analyst who previously commented on our site under the name Sammy The Walrus IV. You can sign up for his Apple newsletter here.
Apple spent 2014 marching to a different beat than the rest of the tech industry. While others spent the year publicising research and development efforts and M&A quests to find future business models, Apple spent the year doing what it knows best: thinking differently. Several Apple highlights in 2014 included:
- Rethinking the wristwatch, a product that has been around for over 100 years.
- Rethinking how mobile payments can be made easier using the existing banking/payments infrastructure.
- Investing in brick and mortar retail with a high profile (and expensive) retail hire despite everyone moving to E-commerce.
- Funelling development efforts into Mac despite everything moving to mobile.
- Investing in music by acquiring Beats in an attempt to regain mindshare and rethink music.
- Listening to Wall Street and shareholders, while other tech companies have become more anti-shareholder in terms of voting structure and capital management.
The expectations game was set quite high for Apple in 2014, with Tim Cook predicting in 2013 that Apple would have new products across 2014. Most of the year was also filled with anticipation of Apple’s entry into a new product category, which turned out to actually be two categories: watches and mobile payments. Eddy Cue added to the buzz by going on stage at Re/code in May to say that Apple’s upcoming product pipeline was the strongest in 25 years. While time will tell if Cue was right, it’s not up for debate that the Apple machine was fully operational in 2014. Yes, Apple still faces shortcomings in certain areas, and 2014 saw little in the way of improvement in those initiatives (I have my own theory on why this may be, but that is for another time), but Apple spent 2014 building a solid foundation for 2015 with updates across nearly the entire product line and new initiatives and products meant to skate where the puck will be, positioning Apple for the next phase of mobile. Apple spent 2014 thinking differently.