Apple y los estándares

Imagen Por no poner atención a la creación y difusión de estándares y mantener el suyo como “demasiado propietario”, Apple perdió, hace muchos años, la batalla del ordenador personal. Llegó alguien con más vista, a quien no le importaba (o incluso buscaba) ser copiado, y “le levantó” un mercado que podría haber sido suyo, en el que había sido pionero. Pero no, un Apple es un Apple y no voy a dejar que nadie me lo copie…

Hoy, la historia puede repetirse. El frustrado acuerdo enter Apple y Real (ver reseña en IBLNews) por el cual Real podría empezar a utilizar el formato ACC del iPod, lanza a Real en brazos del formato WMA de Microsoft, y produce como efecto indirecto que Apple, hasta ahora la tienda de música online de más éxito, pueda acabar relegada a un formato minoritario. En pocos años, un cacharrito tan interesante y pionero como el iPod será algo marginal, típico de snobs y geeks, mientras el común de los mortales llevará en su bolsillo un aparatejo taiwanés que reproduce música en formato WMA. Está claro que Steve Jobs es un genio de la creatividad… pero alguien debería regalarle un libro de Everett Rogers y conseguir que entendiese eso de la curva de difusión de innovaciones…

4 comentarios

  • #001
    kiani - 21 Abril 2004 - 11:20

    Completamente de acuerdo con tu último comentario. Si Apple sigue así al iPod le pasará lo mismo que a los ordenadores Apple, muy cools y con grandes prestaciones, pero reducidos a un grupo de seguidores acérrimos, mientras que el resto del mundo utilizará hardware “clónico” con estándares libres (MP3, OGG, etc) o de Microsoft (WMA)

  • #002
    daniel - 21 Abril 2004 - 12:05

    Por hacer de abogado del diablo ¿quíén acabó con OS/2? … pues OS2Warp. Warp era tan compatible con Windows (y no Windows con Warp) que los desarrolladores se preguntaron ¿para que desarrollar para OS2 cuando haciéndolo para Windows ya corren mis programaas en ambas plataformas?. Si echas una gota de aceite en un vaso de agua, la gota sigue teniendo su propia entidad, pero si en lugar de aceite la gota es de agua también ¿qúien la reconoce al segundo siguiente?. Puede que Apple tenga muy clara su estrategia de diferencia y de cierta incompatibilidad.

    Otra reflexión ¿porque Micrsosoft tiene Office para Mac (y acciones, y …) y en cambio Apple no se esfuerza más de lo estrictamente necesario para ser compatible con Windows. Puede que Steve lo tenga más claro de lo que parece..

    Un saludo

    daniel p.

  • #003
    atach - 21 Abril 2004 - 13:35

    Debería mirar también los libros de Clayton Christensen:

    The Innovator√?Ňús Dilemma y The Innovator√?Ňús Solution, para comprender que siempre habrá alguien que se dirijirá a tus no clientes (nonconsumers) dándoles aquello que necesitan (como dice Kiani). Es más, el autor en sus artículos le pone como ejemplo.

    Enrique, estos dos libros mejoran las ideas de Everett Rogers, dándole una vuelta más de tuerca a sus ideas sobre innovación.

  • #004
    atach - 21 Abril 2004 - 13:56

    Este es un comentario que hizo Clayton Christensen al respecto del itunes de Apple (de hace tres meses). Al final hace hincapié en que no deberían dormirse. Según lo que comenta aquí Enrique, no le van a hacer mucho caso.

    Apple’s Sweet Tune

    Looking for an example of disruption in action? Just use your ears. The digital delivery of music is a disruptive force that√?¬?s currently tearing through the music industry. By stitching together the right pieces of the

    industry√?¬?s value chain–the software, the hardware, and the delivery of content–Apple has positioned itself to be the primary beneficiary of this disruption.

    In the 1990s, the Fraunhofer Institut Integrierte Schaltungen in Germany perfected compression technology called MPEG-1 Layer III, commonly known as MP3. This innovation–coupled with faster CD recording technology and peer-to-peer filesharing offerings such as Napster and Kazaa–made it simple for anyone to “rip” songs from compact disks, store them on their computer, and share them electronically.

    To capitalize on these innovations, consumer electronics companies created MP3 players, which let users listen to music files on the go. The first MP3 players weren√?¬?t very good, holding only about 32 megabytes of music, about half of a standard CD, and offering relatively low sound quality. But the technology kept improving. Apple’s latest iPod now can store 40 gigabytes’ worth of music files. That√?¬?s roughly equivalent to

    10,000 songs or close to 700 hours of music.

    Audiophiles might still laugh at the sound quality, but MP3 technology has made it easy for people to listen to precisely what they want, when they want. This disruptive development has led to a rapid reconfiguration of the music industry value chain. The losers have been well documented: labels that historically controlled a chokepoint in the music distribution chain have felt significant pain, as have stores that sell CDs exclusively.

    The biggest winner is clear–the consumer. We√?¬?ll leave legal arguments about music swapping and sharing to the lawyers. The fact remains, however, that disruption in music means more people can listen to more

    music than ever before. And as always, disruption has led to an increase in overall consumption.

    The other winners are less clear. Companies such as Dell, Apple, RealPlayer, and Sony have jumped into the fray, offering either devices (Dell and Sony)

    or online services that allow users to purchase individual songs for less than $1 (RealPlayer).

    So who is going to come out on top? Our money is on Apple. Although our opinion is not unique, the way we arrived at it shows how the theories of

    innovation can help bring clarity to confused situations.

    Digital music competes on the basis of simplicity and convenience. By knitting together the device (the iPod), the software (iTunes), and the online service, Apple has made it incredibly easy to consume music. What’s

    especially striking is that Apple has broken from its history by creating an integrated, Windows-compatible solution as well.

    How does it work? Say you heard a song on the radio that you want to listen to at the gym. You boot up your iTunes software, which neatly displays all the music files on your hard drive. You click on an icon that directs you to Apple’s music store. You search for the song you want and download it to your computer. Your credit card gets billed $0.99 per song. A few clicks later, you have the latest file on your device.

    Other companies may produce cheaper devices or have better music stores. But Apple has integrated the right pieces of the value chain to drive improvements along the dimension that matters most to customers.

    Marketplace signs point to Apple√?¬?s early lead. It sold more than 700,000 iPods in the fourth quarter of 2003, taking about 30% of the market, and

    its music store has sold more than 30 million songs.

    Apple recently announced its next-generation product–the iPod mini–which continues its disruptive march. The mini is cheaper than the iPod (about $249, compared with $499 for the larger unit) and smaller than it (weighing about 3.6 ounces, compared with 5.6 ounces), which should extend the mini’s reach

    to wider customer groups. Although it has lower capacity (about 4 gigabytes), it still can hold about 1,000 songs. The company has recently announced a deal with Hewlett-Packard where HP will resell Apple√?¬?s products and put iTunes on HP computers, further confirming (and no doubt bolstering) Apple√?¬?s strong

    market position.

    Apple’s success illustrates how integrated, proprietary architectures allow companies to improve along dimensions that are not yet good enough to meet

    customers’ needs. Of course, when those dimensions become more than good enough, the game will change and dis-integrated, modular architectures will

    thrive.

    But there is at least one reason why Apple’s early dominance does not guarantee long-term success. The company has several challenges to overcome. Although Apple’s digital music business is growing quickly, iPod sales still make up only about 10% of Apple’s overall revenue. To maintain its heady growth trajectory in the music arena, Apple needs to constantly innovate to stay ahead of competition. Count us among the

    analysts who wish Apple had gone even smaller and cheaper with its iPod mini. It has left the door open for one of its competitors to offer a

    radically lower-priced MP3 player with high capacity.

    Finally, the margins on the delivery of music are miniscule. Apple sells the low margins to Wall Street by saying music sales support the sale of higher-priced, higher-margin iPods. Wall Street’s opinion may turn. Analysts

    might start talking about how music delivery is an unprofitable distraction from Apple√?¬?s core operations. Apple might feel strong pressure to deemphasize

    or even sell off the music store. But if Apple loses the ability to knit together the store, software, and hardware, it will find it hard to

    differentiate itself from the hordes of constantly emerging competitors. Apple has done everything right so far. It needs to continue to make sure it keeps sight of what makes MP3 players so disruptive–simplicity, convenience, and low prices.

    Further reading:

    “Getting the Scope of the Business Right” and “How to Avoid Commoditization,”

    Chapters 5 and 6 of The Innovator√?¬?s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful

    Growth, by Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor. Harvard Business School

    Press, 2003.

    “Apple, H-P Deal to Resell iPod Rocks Microsoft,” by Robert A. Guth and Nick

    Wingfield. The Wall Street Journal, 12 January 2004.

    “Are You the Weakest Link?” by Michael E. Raynor and Dwight L. Allen. Strategy

    & Innovation, January-February, 2004.

    “Power Players: Big Names Are Jumping into the Crowded Online Music Field,”

    by John Schwartz and John Markoff. The New York Times, 12 January 2004.

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