Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple alongside Steve Jobs back in 1976, believes the Cupertino company still has the ability to determine the future of consumer electronics, despite increasing competition from its rivals. He admits, however, that the company may be losing its edge, and that it increasingly needs to rely on its premium brand.
“Sometimes you need a critical mass of loyal users that will instantly buy and go this direction,” Woz said. “Apple is really good at setting a standard with a new device. Apple still has its halo in that regard.”
And of course, Woz is right. Apple is one of very few companies that has such a loyal fan base; its next-generation devices could sell before they’ve even been announced. But there’s only so long that loyalty can last.
One of Apple’s biggest criticisms of late is that the company no longer takes risks when it comes to innovation; aside from high-resolution displays and the latest components, the company hasn’t really brought anything groundbreaking to its Macs and iOS devices in some time.
And Woz acknowledges that without features to outclass competing devices, Apple is having to rely more on its appeal as a premium brand. “We used to have these ads, I’m a Mac and I’m a PC, and the Mac was always the cool guy,” he said. “And ouch, it’s painful, because we kind of are losing that.”
Woz suggests that Apple should consider opening up its ecosystem to other devices, such as allowing devices from Google or Microsoft to work with its iTunes software. In the past, the company has been known to block iTunes access to the few third-party devices that were able to sync with it.
Woz is excited by the rumors surrounding Apple’s “iWatch,” which is currently being worked on by a team of around 100 engineers and designers, according to recent reports. He has been wearing an iPod nano on his wrist for the past few years, but he’d be happy to swap it for a true Apple watch — especially if Apple can improve the functionality of Siri.
“Apple can keep engineers working so intently toward the right product, you don’t have to rush something out ahead of time,” Woz said.
As for Apple’s competitors, Woz believes Microsoft’s platform can gain “enough critical mass to keep going with their tablets and phones,” while BlackBerry will need to switch to Android to survive.