Lessons from Apple: Fostering vibrant content ecosystems
What can be learned from Apple's success, and what strategies should telcos, digital entertainment market players, and others in the digital economy use for successful collaboration and healthy competition with Apple? This article outlines our key agenda for the H1 'New Digital Economics' Executive Brainstorms (Americas, 5-7 April, EMEA, 11-13 May, and APAC 22-23 June 2011.)
Apple, the US's most highly valued company, is a master of reinvention, changing from a distant No.2 standard in the home computer market to reinvent the mobile music market, the laptop, the mobile phone in the form of the smartphone, and enliven the previously moribund tablet category with the iPad (see our analysis on iPad2 and previous work on the iPad business model). In the process it has created the 'App' phenomenon, and captured a strong position in the digital entertainment business, capturing up to 80% of online music sales for example.
While Apple has in the past been regarded as a hardware player, its core business is growing the 'Apple Platform' of devoted users and services (see also our Best Practice Live! presentation on Apple's business model - you'll need to register and log-in). This means that it is no longer just Microsoft's rival, but is now in co-opetition with a complex range of players in the digital ecosystem: smartphone makers; PC and tablet makers; entertainment companies; 'OTT' players like Google; and Telcos.
• The iPad has kick-started the new tablet category which will provide opportunities for others in the ecosystem.
• Devices and services that facilitate multi-screen experiences (e.g. using an app on a tablet or phone) while watching TV represent a particularly interesting emerging opportunity.
• Apple's strategic approach will be to continue to invest to add elements to this ecosystem, with TV as a key new focus.
• The strength of the Apple platform is its control over key points in the digital entertainment ecosystem. This is also a potential weakness as Apple increasingly comes into competition with more 'open' ecosystems, e.g. Android, which are potentially beneficial to, and likely to be supported by, a range of its new competitors.
• As well as forming effective relationships with Apple in its own ecosystem, fostering alternative ecosystems is a key strategy for most digital players.
Key questions to debate
• What are the key lessons from Apple's business model, strategy, and marketing approach?
• Where are Apple's key strengths/weaknesses?
• How can CSP's and entertainment companies best compete/co-operate with Apple?
• How can the wider industry foster alternative ecosystems that stimulate greater innovation for the digital economy?