Apple Subverted Expectations in 2020

Anupam Chugh

Through technological advancements and brilliant business decisions, Apple showed why they are most valued

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Source: Apple

At the turn of this decade, very few people would have predicted that 2020 is going to be the year of Apple.

Fast forward three months and the chances looked even slimmer. The pandemic threatened to eclipse Apple’s limelight and delay their product release cycles — especially the 5G testing on iPhone 12.

Regardless, here we are at the start of 2021, and Apple, now a $2 trillion-dollar company despite all hiccups has stunned one and all.

They didn’t deliver a 120Hz display iPhone. Nor were they able to conduct a single live event for their product launches. Yet, through breakthrough technological advancements, clever business strategies, and smart marketing moves Apple has defied all expectations and emerged as the clear winner.

Apple won consumer hearts through its expansive product lineup

Typically, when we talk about the next iPhone release, we usually know it's coming in the fall and would be pricey like gold. A thousand-dollar iPhone had become the norm over the past few years.

But then, Apple startled everyone by quietly launching the iPhone SE 2020, a budget phone that boasted of the latest and most powerful Apple’s A13 Bionic processor, albeit half that price.

At a time when the likes of Oneplus and Samsung were shifting their focus to the premium segment, Apple released a mid-budget phone that threatened to change the entire pricing paradigm of the smartphone industry.

One could sense that they’ve got some bigger plans this time around. Unlike previous years, Apple was extremely active in its social media campaigns this year. And it was understandable. With people sheltered at home, there was some doubt if Apple’s digital keynotes could match the gravitas of their live events. But boy, they exceeded our expectations and surprised us through well-crafted virtual events.

The Cupertino tech giant launched their most expansive lineup of iPhone 12 with as many as five models of different prices to choose from. This was very un-Apple-like since they’ve always focused on singular products over generic ones. It also showcased that the company is now seriously focused on capturing the mass consumer market.

Wait it’s not over! The tech giant also released Apple One, an affordable bundle of all its subscription-based services, and boosted the Apple Watch through the new handwash detection and blood oxygen level features — which in the current times was truly a remarkable feat.

They unexpectedly joined hands with small businesses

While Apple is loved by the world for its consumer-centric vision, they do draw criticism from a segment for their anti-competitive strategies. Specifically, small businesses have had their concerns with Apple’s App Store’s monopoly with some calling the 30% tax cut unfair.

2020 actually caught Apple a little off-guard(or so we’d thought) with Epic Games baiting Apple to pull off a marketing coup. Long story short, the Fortnite maker surprised the whole gaming community by announcing a price drop for all V-Bucks, through Fortnite’s real-money currency. They publically bypassed Apple’s in-app purchase system and even created a parody of Apple’s Iconic 1984 Ad.

No surprise, the iPhone maker quickly withdrew Fortnite from their App Store which led to a legal tussle between the two firms.

Epic Games was clear. They wanted a leeway in the App Store tax for themselves and other small businesses. And to do so, they portrayed themselves as the Robinhood of small businesses while calling Apple the nemesis.

From Spotify to Match Group to Facebook, everyone rebuked Apple for their monopoly.

Soon, the lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple became popcorn entertainment for the world. A group of people believed that Apple would cave into the demands while others were adamant that the iPhone maker is too big to throw in the towel yet.

Just when the world thought Apple won’t back down, they brought a bazooka in the form of small businesses. Effective 1st Jan 2021, the new App Store for Small Businesses Program slashes Apple’s commission from 30 to 15 percent for app makers earning less than $1 million per year.

This was a classic case of subverting the context(a filmmaking plot used to surprise the audience). Apple gave Epic Games what they wanted — relaxing the fee for small businesses. Laughably, Fortnite is still out of App Store and other rival apps like Spotify will continue to pay the regular 30 percent fee to Apple.

They donned the innovator’s hat after years and astonished everyone

At its core, Apple has always been an innovator. Be it through breakthrough hardware changes or their revolutionary iOS that changed the smartphone landscape.

But lately, the company had been trying to play it too safe. It’s pretty visible that Apple is letting Google’s Android do all the heavy lifting in the research space and they’d just make it better.

Then 2020 arrived and Apple showed its reputation as a technology innovator. And disruptor.

After three back-to-back events — WWDC 2020, Apple Watch + iPad, and the new iPhone 12, Apple quietly revealed its plans to dump Intel for the good.

For those who don’t know, Intel and Apple’s partnership started way back in 2005. At that time, PCs were rapidly gaining steam, and the PowerPC RISC architecture-based Mac was falling behind in terms of performance.

Understandably, when Apple joined hands with Intel, the world thought its a match made in heaven and a partnership that’ll last for decades. But once again, in the most intensional fashion, Apple revealed a new M1 Mac lineup that uses their in-house ARM-based Silicon processor.

From a distance, M1 might have seemed like a huge risk, but it paid off. Apple Silicon managed to integrate the system memory, CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, and DRAM all together in a small chip. This meant decreased latency when accessing memory and much longer-lasting battery life — which truly is a defining moment.

Just when the people thought Apple was done for the year, they gave us the perfect icing on the cake — by bringing back hopes of the Apple Car. The power of LiDAR(which is already there in the latest iPhone 12) coupled with Apple’s research budget(which is in billions) and reputation as a technology disruptor one expects them to be a serious challenger to Tesla in the self-driving vehicle’s space.

Conclusion

We already know that Apple’s market cap based $2 trillion in 2020. They are the most valuable tech giant in the world today. After such achievements, one would have expected them to take the foot off the pedal and just play along.

But through bold business moves, sly marketing strategies, and technological revolutions, Apple showed that they don’t shy away from taking risks.

They worked as a startup in 2020 and despite some odd decisions(such as their aversion to third-party cloud gaming platforms) were head and shoulders above the other tech giants.

Plainly, through smart twists, Apple subverted and eventually superseded the expectations we had from them. If Steve Jobs were alive, he would have surely been proud of what his firm has done in 2020.

This story was originally published on The Big Tech.

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