The iPhone is arguably the most valuable product in the world, representing the backbone of Apple Inc.'s half-trillion-dollar hardware business and undergirding its software-peddling App store. It remains the envy of consumer-product companies world-wide.
If history is any indication, though, America's favorite handheld device will someday take up residence with the digital camera, the calculator, the pager, Sony's Walkman and the Palm Pilot in a museum. Although it's hard to imagine the iPhone dying, change can sneak up rapidly on contraptions that are deeply entrenched in American culture.
Mid-1990s - Hour - Day - Year - School
Consider it was as recently as the mid-1990s when I spent an hour a day during my senior year in high school in a room full of electric typewriters learning to type. Today, I spend most of my working hours using that skill to bang away on a keyboard, but I have rarely touched an actual typewriter in 25 years.
"Over time, every franchise dies," said Nick Santhanam, McKinsey's Americas practice leader in Silicon Valley. "You can innovate on an amazing mousetrap, but if people eventually don't want a mousetrap, you're screwed."
Kodak - Polaroid - Texas - Instruments - Examples
Kodak, Polaroid and Texas Instruments are all examples from the recent past of companies that held too tightly to an old idea. Today's tech giants, ranging from Netflix (having already reinvented itself to be dependent on advertising-free streaming video) to Google parent Alphabet Inc. (counting advertising as 86% of revenue), should take note of those painful demises to avoid the same fate.
Apple's mousetrap is anything but broken. Representing 60% of Apple's revenue, the iPhone outsells 96% of the companies on the Fortune 500. The phone carries the bulk of the $545 billion valuation that Morgan Stanley assigns to Apple's wider hardware business.
Apple - Part - Master - Thing - IPod
Apple, for the better part of the 2000s, was the master of the next big thing: the iPod, the MacBook Air, the iPad,...
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