When it comes to the commitment of encompassing the full range of services that comprise a product, it’s tough to think of a company that can match the Apple effort.
When Apple launched the iPhone, Steve Jobs was particularly restrictive in what AT&T was allowed to be involved with. In fact, unless it was a network specific issue or paying the bill, AT&T was invisible to the iPhone experience.
- No logo or branding of the handset.
- No answering customer questions about the device or its functions.
- Carrier profile updates delivered by Apple CDN
Even the default email signature was off limits. The Only AT&T-ized components were the bookmark in Safari and the service link in Phone Settings. Apple wanted to make sure that they didn’t have to rely on anything or anyone when it came to to the iPhone experience.
That was only the beginning.
Apple has procured entire manufacturing facilities stocked with the robotic enabled equipment and Laser-based cutting machines required to stand-up an iPhone, iMac and iPad assembly operation to be run by Foxconn, with engineering equipment that has need developed by Apple or has been procured with exclusivity rights by Apple.
Apple requires Material providers in the Supply-Chain to relocate as close as possible to the rest of the infrastructure to reduce transit time. They also book space on freight aircraft up to a year in advance, pre-gaming the holiday season demand for consumer devices just in case transit over ocean freighter won’t get the job done in time.
To make sure that iTunes media distribution, over-the-air updates, and iOS application installation weren’t encumbered with competing Internet traffic, they began augmenting Akamai Infrastructure with their own content development network.
When memory shortages impacted the tech industry because of natural disasters, Apple adopted a posture to purchase so much RAM logic that they became the worlds largest distributor of NAND flash . They acquired Anobit,, an Israeli fab-less semiconductor company for half-a-billion USD. Not many people are cognizant of the fact that Apple designs its own NAND flash, and farms out the production. Just like they design their own ARM based processors, just like they design everything else they sell. It might have ‘Samsung’ stamped on the package, but the interconnect design is Cupertino’s.
When Apple decided to use sapphire display covers, the purchased the equipment, buildings, the resources and the leading manufacturer of synthetic sapphire crystal to become the largest supplier of sapphire in the world. While that endeavor turned out to be a failure, it didn’t prevent them the continuing the onslaught of disrupting every industry that has vertical alignment with the iPhone.
The iPhone is a platform for delivering entertainment, productivity and creativity tools from the AppStore. Because of the customer response, it only made sense for Apple to service the customer by broadening the scope of what it already wanted. Their latest service, ApplePay was focused on bringing a safe and dependable Purchasing experience to the iPhone user. As online purchasing on mobile devices explodes, so does fraud. While Apple doesn’t have any legal responsibility to someone who was defrauded while using an iPhone to make the purchase, some Apple customers don’t view a separation between the iPhone and the ‘internets’ in buying. Now they don’t have to. Because rather than field customer service calls about issues they had no control over, their remedy is to take control.
Which brings us to to the latest component of the iPhone vertical services that Apple is investigating. Wireless carrier services. Let’s face it. All Wireless carriers suck. Some of them have better networks than others, and that’s where they compete and market for your dollars. No carrier has ever produced an ad or a commercial that said they were the nations best Customer Service network. They market speed, size and believe it or not…strength. Other than T-Mobile’s latest effort to distinguish itself from the impersonal Infrastructure giants, carriers are a required service for smart-phones and they know it.
The over-bill you. They could care less about your privacy or what you think of their customer service effort. They use deception in marketing, violate their own contract stipulations, install garbage you can’t remove (on non-Apple handsets). And since no one stands in line for days just to sign up for their services or puts their stickers in the rear-window of their car, they just put their logo on your phone before you get it (again on non-Apple handsets).
Apple is poised to change all of this. While they wouldn’t make it a requirement to use (I’ll just go ahead and make the prediction that it will be called) AppleTalk or AppleNet in the early stages, like Googles Project Fi they would simply make it lucrative to do so. Either by subsidizing their own iPhones, or by taking a loss over the cost of leasing cellular Infrastructure from Verizon, and AT&T, branding it as their own and reducing the price point.
The benefit is, an entire industry could evolve into something that doesn’t suck. Just as Apple has redefined what a ‘phone’ is, does, looks and feels like, they can reset the bar for what a wireless carrier is supposed to be. MVNO’s (mobile virtual network operator) can grow to be major players in the wireless industry. Virgin Mobile UK Licensed Virgin MobileUSA, who leased infrastructure from Sprint, and was eventually acquired for 480 million USD.
Perhaps Apple would have some influence on making IPv6 a priority.
Of course, Apple has different reasons for doing all of this. The Supply chain lock-up, the memory procurement, the CDN and the financial network infrastructure. It isn’t just about money. They have plenty of that. If it was about the profit they would let other devices join the party to maximize the investment. So is it about money?
It is all about their commitment to the experience of their flagship product, by which all of their other products and services are strategicly employed to support and augment. What they have created is nothing less than a biome for the iPhone user, and only the iPhone user.
If you don’t have an iPhone: