Is Apple beginning to lose its grip?

Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported worrying news that Apple had cut orders for iPhone parts due to weaker-than-expected demand. This, in combination with lower-than-expected iPhone sales, led to a 10 percent drop in the company’s share price following the tech giant’s most recent earnings call, which was the company’s largest drop in share price in four years.

For the company which transformed the smartphone market with the first iPhone, and who for so long in the Jobs-era could do no wrong, this comes as just the latest in a growing chorus of underwhelming headlines.  And earlier today it was reported that Apple will likely lose its app store dominance by 2016.

Apple’s challenge comes in the face of increased pressure from Samsung and other Android device manufacturers that crucially offer many more handsets at a wide range of price points.

Samsung’s success has led many to speculate that Apple needs more than one iPhone to compete – something Cupertino seems to be resisting. Apple’s products have always been ‘high-end’ and even in the critical Chinese market – which it has still not cracked – Apple would rather allow Chinese consumers to buy its products on credit than entertain the idea of building a ‘cheap’ iPhone.

Still, as The Atlantic recently commented, Apple’s high margins leave a giant target on its back from competitors who want a slice of the rapidly-growing smartphone and consumer tech market… and let’s not forget about Microsoft and BlackBerry trying to fight their way back into the party…

While we could entertain ourselves for days with all this speculation, one thing is certain: the days we were all seduced by the first BlackBerry and corporations quickly dove in; or the days when the first iPhone launched and we all simply HAD to have one – are over.

In 2013, and seemingly for the foreseeable future, we find ourselves in a world where a company cannot tie itself to just one OS or device manufacturer.

We are in increasingly heterogeneous times – what devices are your customers using? What devices are your employees using? What do they both need? There isn’t just one answer.

While we can enjoy watching the smartphone wars unfold, CIOs and mobile strategists need to head into 2013 and beyond fully prepared to give customers and employees what they want – the best experience on whatever device they are using. The days of going all-in on red or black are long gone.

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