So is it a foregone conclusion Apple’s value will hit one trillion dollars? It certainly looks likely. What is far from a foregone conclusion, however, is that the journey to it will be smooth.
The Case Against
Most immediate will be the outcome of Apple’s $2.5bn copyright lawsuit against Samsung. Should the ruling go against Apple it will not only lose the company billions in claims against the Korean company, but place its existing copyright agreements with other companies in doubt. It will also render a great deal of iOS – clearly the blueprint for Mac OS X long term – up for grabs.
Not that this is necessarily needed for Apple’s rivals to start clawing back its market share. With Jelly Bean Google has shown it can be both open and match iOS’s famed polish, while the Google Nexus 7 demonstrates – perhaps for the first time – that Google has the nous to produce a potentially game changing tablet. At the same time Apple’s Mac business is virtually stagnant (the iPad isn’t only killing Windows PCs) and iPods are a dwindling business.
Then what about the revival at Microsoft? After playing catch up for years, the arrival of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and SmartGlass will see Microsoft actually leap ahead of Apple in terms of phone, tablet and PC convergence. 95 per cent of apps will be cross compatible (surely spurring on developers with the huge new customer base), its Cloud Platform is potentially class leading with Office 365 tied into SkyDrive and the company also has key technology differentiators with Skype, Xbox and Kinect integration now being built into everything Microsoft does. What’s more with Surface tablet it appears Microsoft has nailed the Windows 8 tablet form factor at the first time of asking.
Lastly we have to point out the elephant in the room: there is no Steve Jobs. Less creative genius than the greater refiner, Job exerted an unparalleled level of quality control on ideas and products and lived in both technology and media worlds with his involvement in Pixar. Whether anyone can match the influence he commanded in establishing iTunes when it comes to negotiations that will underpin the success of a future Apple television remains to be seen.
The impregnable veil of secrecy kept around new products has also been blown wide open in the last year impacting some of their mystique and – as capable as Tim Cook is – much of Jobs’ showmanship at launches has gone. Meanwhile it was widely reported the iPhone 5 was the last product in which Jobs was directly involved. As his roadmap runs out will Apple’s winning streak?
Yet in reality mainstream attitudes towards technology change far more slowly than aficionados would like to believe. As of August 2012 Apple can sell products on the strength of having an Apple logo and in an age of online living it still had almost 300 million visitors to its stores in the last fiscal year – that’s roughly five times the population of the United Kingdom.
Few would argue the reality distortion field is complete and it will take a great deal of time and a significant number of high profile errors to crack it. ‘RDF’ combined with common sense product development and expansion should be enough to see Apple hit a value of one trillion dollars. The real challenge will be what happens next…