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Apple counters Microsoft's convergence strategy with Continuity

Gregg Keizer | June 4, 2014
Apple has countered Microsoft's vision of the future, where multiple devices collapse into one, with a recognition that compromises and multiple devices are not only the reality, but could be lucrative.

Then, analysts wondered how Apple would respond to Microsoft's explicit claim that multiple devices generated friction.

"Apple could reduce friction through the cloud," maintained Ross Rubin in an interview a week ago. "You could watch a movie on one device and pick it up in progress on another. Documents in the cloud, you could pick up a document edited right where you left off."

Rubin was prescient, nailing Continuity's Handoff days before Apple unveiled it.

Others argued after the Surface Pro 3 debut that, no matter how many times Microsoft denies it, compromise is a fact.

"Every device has compromises, in cost, power, size and portability," said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. "We've always used different devices for different things. Before, those different devices were very separate, now they're variations of the same thing. Tablets have essentially the same components as smartphones, dedicated desktop PCs have the same components as tablets. It's really about the form factor, the size of the screen, the power of the microprocessor, memory and storage. But you're always making trade-offs, not least of which is the price."

Computerworld's Ken Mingis and IDG Enterprise's Keith Shaw discuss what they liked (and didn't) at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference keynote.

Yesterday, Dawson pointed to Continuity as the difference between Apple's and Microsoft's approaches.

"The theme of Continuity (not sameness) runs through the new elements of cross-device integration in iOS and OS X," Dawson wrote on his "Beyond Devices" blog. "At the same time, there's really meaningful integration at a device level, too, with the ability to share phone calls and text messages between Macs and iPhones in close proximity."

Carolina Milanesi, chief of research for Kantar WorldPanel Comtech, has long applauded Apple's multi-device strategy, seeing it — and by extension, Continuity — as its answer to threats on both the smartphone and tablet fronts. "Apple is more about selling more devices to the same people, rather than more devices to more people," Milanesi maintained last week. "That's not going to be a bad business [strategy]."

After Apple's WWDC keynote, Milanesi brought up that line of thinking again. "Really, if you have an iPhone and iPad, how long will it take you to get a Mac after today?" she asked Monday in an interview, referring to Continuity and its implications.

According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), a Chicago-based firm, Apple has plenty of opportunities to, as Milanesi put it, sell "more devices to the same people."

Of those who owned an iPhone, 58% also owned an iPad, and 59% also owned a Mac, said CIRP, citing nearly two years of survey data. iPad owners were less likely to own other Apple gear — 48% owned an iPhone, 45% owned a Mac — but Mac owners looked like the most lucrative, albeit smallest, market. Just 28% of Mac owners also had an iPhone and only 25% owned an iPad.

 

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