Acer’s founder, Stan Shih, has made a few statements regarding Apple yesterday. He noted that Apple’s popularity is mainly due to products such as the iPad and iPhone (while perhaps forgetting about the iPod), and that these Apple devices are like mutant viruses. Difficult to find a ‘cure’ for in the short term, but in the long run, the competition will be able to isolate them and their products akin to becoming immune from, well, a mutant virus.
Before you misunderstand what a mutant virus is and jump to silly conclusions, the man has a point. Mutant viruses are hard to find cures for at first exactly because of how different they are from non-mutated strains of the same virus. It’s this difference, created by the mutation process, that usually sends vaccine makers back to the drawing board, so to speak. Because by mutating, said virus becomes immune to the vaccines created for its non-mutant strain.
Before chemists everywhere start shouting at me, I know I’m oversimplifying this. A lot.
It is, however, I’m sure, what Mr. Shih meant. And if you read that again and apply the logic to the industries Apple is a player in, it kind of makes sense.
So, translated, the point is this: no one was ready for the iPhone and iPad. When they appeared, they were so different (here, Apple fanboys will read “superior” while haters will read “inferior”, but whatever your opinion, the difference from what the competition was selling is obvious and, dare I say it, objective) that all their competitors were sent back to the drawing board to try to come up with something even remotely similar. And it took (or will take) a while, several years perhaps, until the competition becomes comparable enough to Apple products’ strengths that Apple starts to slowly decrease its sales growth, and in the long run become relegated to the niche player it’s always been in every industry (with the one big and shiny exception of the digital music player market).
This has been said over, and over, and over again. That Apple won’t “dominate” the smartphone business (in mindshare, presumably, since it has never dominated it in terms of sales, not even in the USA), exactly like it isn’t dominating the computer industry. That the iPhone (and iPad, as an extension) will be to other smartphones what the Macs are to PCs. Stan Shih just wrapped the same old thing into the “mutant virus” packaging, that’s all. Perhaps an analogy just a bit above the powers of understanding of the tech media people.
Who knows. Anyway, Shih also acknowledged that Apple has a different strategy compared to other PC brands. They always strive for revolution (though the use of that term is debatable to say the least), whereas other players evolved naturally and develop products in a more solid way (whatever that’s supposed to mean). A market that evolves naturally will always turn out to be much stronger.
Shih also praised Apple’s creativity and innovation. If only competitors would stop praising Apple’s creativity and innovation, and use that time to, I don’t know, actually be creative and innovative themselves…
Last, but not least, he also said that Taiwan IT industry players, who have primarily focused on hardware up until now, should speed up their software development efforts and create a culture of innovation to grab the market opportunity in China.
All valid points, in my view, but absolutely nothing that hasn’t been said before.
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