[THOUGHTS] What now for Apple?

This is a post from a former Apple user. Sorry for the length. (Sorry I'm not sorry)

Unless you have been living under a rock recently, you would have known that the tech world had been extremely busy during the last two weeks. There were Apple's announcement of the refreshed iMac, a retina MacBook Pro, and the iPad Mini, followed by the release of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Surface, and Xbox Music, as well as the announcements of the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10. I have been following these events with great interest, and they have got me thinking about Apple's future prospects.

Let me explain myself by first having a look at Microsoft's product releases.

With Window 8 and Windows Phone 8, Microsoft and their OEMs are promising a consistent user experience across every device, including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. These platforms will also support Microsoft's programs such as Microsoft Office and what not. While this can be viewed as a positive thing for consumers, this will be an massive incentive for developers, as apps can be created to work on all these devices with minimal tweaks.

So in short, Windows 8 and its phone OS will surely amass a lot of apps in the near future. This, coupled with the availability of productivity apps such as MS Office, will, IMHO, attract a sizable number of customers, who will be locked into the ecosystem, as MS intended (similar to what Apple is doing with its products). Sure, Windows 8 has received criticism for the steep learning required for users to familiarise themselves with the new OS. However, I don't think the issue is that major, and has somewhat been exaggerated by the media.

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via res1.windows.microsoft.com

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Now let's have a look at Google's announcement.

With the announcement of the Nexus 4 and 10, and a revamped version of the Nexus 7, Google is now fielding devices that cover the whole mobile segment, which has been the bread and butter of Apple with its iPhone, and iPad, and now the iPad Mini. These Nexus devices are also priced extremely competitively. With the debut of the Nexus 10, Apple can no longer market its iPad as having the highest resolution display. What's more, HTC last month unveiled the Butterfly J, which has a super retina display that outclasses even the iPhone. Never mind the iPad Mini.

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What I'm trying to say is, Apple is losing some of its competitive edges during the last year, with the flooding of quality products from MS and Google and their OEMs. I expect developers to flock to Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT, and the tablet category of Android, posing some competition to the App Store. Apple would also no longer have the highest resolution displays of the industry, the most comprehensive music store (with Xbox Music taking the crown), and the most integrated mobile and computing system (well, my opinion is that the integration of Xbox Music, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Xbox 360, MS Office, etc, is more compelling).

If Windows 8 and MS's related products and services are successful (there is every reason for it to be so, with an unprecedented ad blitz and a huge Windows user base) what must Apple do to maintain an edge? The company's number one salesman is no more, and there seemed to be some in-house fighting among the executives. Apple cannot afford to lower their product prices (like Google), drastically redesign these devices (so as to maintain compatibility with their accessories and to not fragment the system), nor can it make products to satisfy different customers (like Samsung). What can it do? What should it do? Should it diversify into the TV or gaming markets? Should it stop litigating and instead focus those greenbacks into R&D? Should it donate some of its cash reserves to lesson its hostile (and I dare say, arrogant) public image?

Or am I worrying to our much, and that Apple will beat Microsoft and Google this time around?

Congratz! You've made it through this essay!

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