Macworld, the world’s premiere showcase of all things Apple, has peculiar branding. Its formal title, you see, is Macworld | iWorld, a name that implies costars of equal importance, or, alternatively, that iWorld is somehow secondary to the headlining Macworld. But neither is true, and as I walked the floors of the San Francisco, California, convention space, I was struck by iOS’s overwhelming presence — and its castmate’s stark absence. The shared signage, I thought, is no more accurate than a movie named for its principal actor and one its extras.
But that sells Mac short. It’s what put people in the seats all those years ago, after all. Its steady decline, then, is more like a one-time star whose looks have faded, her roles increasingly given to her younger, more relevant successor. And that’s an apt metaphor for not only the conference, but for Apple and the shifting industry, too.
Take Apple’s latest earnings tally, for instance. Sales of the company’s iOS devices, a whopping 62 million of them, accounted for the bulk of their quarterly haul. The iPhone alone raked in 52 percent of the company’s record revenue, and they moved more iPads in that period (15.4 million) than HP (14.7 million), Lenovo (12.9 million), and Dell (11.6 million) did computers.
If that’s not evidence enough of a changing of the guard, Tim Cook, captain of the world’s most valuable company, had this to say of the trend:
In fact it’s interesting to note that in the U.S., it’s clear from IDC’s recent data on desktop PCs that tablets exceeded desktop PC sales last quarter. You can already see different indicators that there is significant momentum in this space.
Cook, unlike many of his fellow movers and shakers, recognizes that mobile computing has taken center stage, and that’s why Apple has succeeded where rivals RIM, HP, Dell, and even Microsoft, which have failed to capitalize on the shift, have largely fallen flat.
Macworld | iWorld, inappropriately named as it might be, sums up perfectly an industry obsessed with fallen stars. And that rigidity, that stubborn refusal to recognize or react to an evolving landscape, may have sealed the fates of some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names as the competition takes the scene by storm.