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It does no good to anyone to reiterate at length the achievements of Apple since the second coming of Steve Jobs. It made its computers sexy again, changed music consumption with the iPod, remade the mobile industry in its own image, and finally made tablets something that people wanted to use at all. Aside from that computerized watch, it has made relatively few high-profile missteps in the past fifteen years.
It’s very hard to imagine that after all that, Apple could end up like Nokia and Blackberry: consumer electronics companies that held total dominance in their industries, only to be dominated in turn.
Yet that’s a concern that Marco Ament has begun to worry about, albeit speculatively, in a recent article on avoiding Blackberry’s fate.
There are plenty of examples of this phenomenon throughout history. Massive, valuable operations are reduced to rubble with frightening speed because they weren’t prepared to capitalize on major changes to the market at the hands of an innovative competitor. As the rate of advancement in technology has continued to increase, we see it happening more often and more rapidly.
In its commendable support of privacy rights, Apple has curtailed the extent of what its AI technology can do. There has never been a time when Google Now was the inferior assistant. Even the Apple bloggers, with their endless supply of rose-tinted glasses, have always admitted this. Apple has also tended to stick to its strengths, even when innovating new product categories — it is a producer of high margin computerized screens. Meanwhile, Google and Amazon have taken their big data expertise and used it to fuel artificial intelligence research.
The problem for Apple is that AI is finally starting to come into its own. While the jump from Nokia dumbphones and Blackberries to iPhone-esque smartphones introduced major shifts for not just technology but society itself, the ramifications of good AI will make all of that look as significant as the shift from floppy drives to CDs in comparison. The days when incremental camera improvements could sway a buyer from Android to iPhone or vice versa are gone; from now on, we’ll be most excited about the new ways our devices assist us in intelligent ways, anticipating our needs and performing complex tasks on our behalf that, previously, technology merely facilitated.
As Marco says:
Continue reading %Will Apple Succeed in a Post-Device, AI-Centric Future?%