Why Apple Needs A Next Big Thing Sometime Soon

Why Apple Needs A Next Big Thing Sometime Soon

Apple (AAPL) is by far the premier technology company in the marketplace today.  They have a great line of products, fiercely loyal customers, and a stock valuation that is one of the highest in the market.  At nearly half a trillion dollars, it’s huge, though there was a time about a year ago where they were valued about 1/3 higher, and the chatter of them being the first trillion dollar valued company was pretty loud.  The price settled and, for now, that talk has quieted down.

I don’t currently own any Apple products.  My wife has an iPhone 5 and an iPad mini, so I am fully aware of Apple’s awesomeness, and reminded so on a daily basis 🙂

However, I keep pretty close watch, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that they haven’t had a ‘big thing’ in a few years.  Since Apple has been on my radar, they’ve released four ‘big things’.  Here’s a brief Apple ‘big thing’ history.


When I was in high school and college, Apple existed but was pretty much a joke. I was one of the student workers in the computer labs during college, and they had several PC labs, and one Mac lab.  Getting a shift in the Mac lab was pretty much dreaded because you were forced to work on a Mac, though on the upside it was generally an easy shift because, well, barely anybody used it.  This was in the middle of the period that Wikipedia lists simply as ‘Decline‘ as they were on the downswing from their previous ‘big thing’, the Macintosh computer.

1998: iMac

All that changed in 1998 when Apple came out with the iMac.  This was an all-in-one PC that was contrary to the PC.  Most PCs were component based.  There was a case with parts and pieces inside, and even though they often came as one case, the iMac built everything you needed right into the box.  There was not the option to ‘pop out’ the CD drive because it was there.  It was built in.  And, on top of that, the monitor was part of it.  People could literally open the box, pull it out, plug it in, and get going.  People loved it and it put Apple back on the map and made them the ‘cool kid’, a title they would not relinquish.

2001: iPod

mb-201311ipodIn 2001, Apple killed the Walkman, which was first a tape player, then a CD player, that was portable and could be used to listen to music on the go.  With a device that you copied music to, it pretty much killed it overnight.  They also made earbuds cool in place of bulky headphones.  Between this and the iMac, they now were the leading innovators of technology.

2007: iPhone

It took six years, but Apple hit the jackpot with the iPhone.  It took everything cool that they’d built on the iMac and the iPod and added a phone.  It was the first user friendly smartphone that people used for fun as much as productivity (and killed the Blackberry).  They sold millions and millions of them as soon as they came out, and continue to do so.

2010: iPad

Targeting the PC and the laptop, Apple released the iPad, a tablet that nobody had ever really figured they needed but suddenly had to have.  Since then, everybody makes a tablet, though Apple still gets the most hype with theirs.

20??: What’s next?

If you look at the list above, Apple released the ‘next’ big things 3-6 years apart.  We’re about to hit year four since the last one, and with Steve Jobs no longer around to lead the charge, the whispers are out there that the innovation may not be to the level it had been in the past to lead to these creations.

So what will it be?

I can’t speculate on what the next device will be, assuming that there is one.  In each of the cases above, they are easy to explain because once they came out, it immediately filled a ‘need’ that people had no idea they needed until it became available.

That’s what they have to come out with, thus I can’t speculate on what it might be, because if history holds true, it has to be something new and fresh. Simply coming out with a better or more feature-laden version of a current product won’t do.  Not to those who have set a half-billion dollar valuation on their stock, anyways.

What if they don’t?

The risk if they don’t is that they’ll eventually hit another period of decline.  I hate to say it, but each release of the iPhone and iPad seems to have a few less impressive features than the last, a little less buzz than the last, and offers themselves to immediate comparison of current products with each iteration.

To put it another way, do you really think Apple will still be the leader in cool, in innovation, and the best tech company in the world if their big annoucement someday centers on the iPhone 15?

Probably not.  And, if that ever happens, I can guarantee that the company will be worth a fraction of the current stock price.

So, what’s it going to be, Apple?  When’s the next big thing going to come out?

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19 thoughts on “Why Apple Needs A Next Big Thing Sometime Soon

  1. Another challenge for Apple is that now they are in full-blown competition with Google who has a DNA of innovation & communicate about it.
    Google Glass, self-driving car and recently robots.
    I’m afraid for Apple that whatever the Next-Big-Thing they create, Google will easily copy & improve it.
    jp @cashsnail recently posted..Immigration or fountain of cash ?My Profile

  2. I agree with you! I’ve purchased many Apple products too, even though I hate to admit it because they’re so expensive! I don’t think I’ll buy the next one since I’m trying to pay off my mortage but it’s true, Apple neeeds a new idea instead of aniPhone 6.
    MonicaOnMoney recently posted..How My PT Cruiser Saved Me $27,600My Profile

  3. Too true.

    IMHO what Apple needs is a new Steve Jobs…something that’s not likely to come along in our lifetime.

    Maybe they need consumers to come up with ideas for the Next Big Thing (preferably not another jungle cat…). What would you propose?

    How’s about a whole-house (or whole-office) system in which all components would come already linked and ready for plug-&-play (as opposed to the interesting hassles one encounters now)? Say…two computers, two scanner/FAX/printers, a thermostat/fire alarm/CO2 detector, a burglar alarm system with motion-activated cameras, a music system with Bluetooth speakers in every room capable of running CDs and streaming music off the Cloud, VoIP phones in every room, centrally operated locks on every door that can operate remotely thru the iPhone or iPad: all operating from one computer system and sold in one big box. Oh: and an iron-clad guarantee to fix iTunes and never break it again, plus a five-year prepaid subscription to Netflix.
    Funny about Money recently posted..Good Ole BoysMy Profile

  4. Great points! Apple does need to make a big splash again sometime soon. Some of my friends (long time Apple users) are finally considering cell phone upgrades to non Apple products. There is so much competition in the cell phone industry and other tech companies have made great strides in offering high quality products.
    Richie @ Practical Cents recently posted..Pride of Home OwnershipMy Profile

  5. I live with a huge Apple fan and she reminds me almost daily of their superiority. 😉 My Stepdad is a huge Apple fan as well, but when I see both of them bemoaning that nothing “new and big” has come out in a while I know they’re generally on to something. I think the next thing we’re likely going to see is some sort of Smart TV. I know there is Apple TV and others have come out with them, but I think the battle is for the living room so to speak. I think Apple is going to try and come out with some sort of smart TV that has “everything”. I don’t know if it’ll be a game changer, but is the way I think they’re going. Of course, that is completely speculation…but if they don’t do something their share price will be a fraction of its former self.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..How to Hustle to Pay Off Credit Card DebtMy Profile

  6. I’ve actually bought Android phones, and don’t own an iPad. I bought my daughter an iPod touch last year (err, I mean Santa brought it) and I have an old iPod, but that’s the extent of Apple in our household. Really, I think that you’re on to something about them needing another next big thing, because even today there are clearly people (as I know firsthand) that can completely live without their products.
    Tie the Money Knot recently posted..100 Ways to Make Extra Money on the SideMy Profile

  7. I like Apple’s products. We’ve got several iPods around the house and I’ve owned Macintosh computers in the past. The problem with Apple products is that they are expensive and fairly easy to undercut on price. As you pointed out, that has allowed companies like Microsoft and Google to step into Apple’s markets and take away market share. I agree with you that without a next big thing, Apple is in trouble.
    Bryce @ Save and Conquer recently posted..Shop ManualMy Profile

  8. It is amazing how much we as consumers have a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. I remember getting my first MP3 player during the time when people were still carrying Walkman’s to school (I was in high school at the time) it was awesome. I felt so cool. Apple has marketed cool to us, and thus we expect them to be on the cutting edge of the technology sector. I thought their next innovation might be a Iwatch, but it looks like Samsung has beat them to the punch. I’m sure they will find a way to surprise us.
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  9. I’m not a lover of Apple products. I like my windows Os, my Android phone and I loath how proprietary apple is with their music so though I have an iPod, I never use it because, I hate iTunes. I don’t disagree that the product is good, especially for high functioning stuff like photography, I would never use it to it’s full advantage so why would I waste my money?
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