Apple is a hardware company. The issue of whether Apple was a software company or a hardware company died a few years ago; back when the company stopped charging for iOS and macOS and made free a number of productivity apps. What about the fast growing Services division; itself a Fortune 100 company and Apple’s fastest growing revenue stream, topped only by the iPhone itself?
Services wouldn’t be much to consider if it were not for the more than 1-billion iPhones, iPads, and Macs in the wild.
So, Apple is a hardware company which manufacturers devices which run custom software. Think platforms. Apple has plenty of rapidly growing platforms.
This defines a basic platform in the tech industry.
A platform is a group of technologies that are used as a base upon which other applications, processes or technologies are developed. In personal computing, a platform is the basic hardware (computer) and software (operating system) on which software applications can be run.
Apple’s platforms are many, varied, yet connected within a proprietary ecosystem. That includes iOS for iPhone and iPad, macOS Sierra for the Mac, plus watchOS and tvOS for Watch and Apple TV respectively.
Messages. Yes, text messaging on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac with Messages is a platform because hundreds of millions of people use it every day, and third party applications integrate within Messages to provide more functionality– proprietary to Messages users.
Messages is a platform.
Siri. Yes, Siri sits on nearly a billion iPhones, iPads, and Macs, but doesn’t do much more than a few parlor trick actions and answers queries, but Apple’s personal intelligent assistant is growing up, learning, and now integrating with third party applications; those on each device, as well as those that use Apple’s proprietary HomeKit to deliver functionality.
See? Another platform.
Ross Rubin explains the expanding platform known as Siri.
Siri continues to expand its purview, encroaching on what iPhone users have traditionally had to gaze at their screen to accomplish. The latest class of apps that Apple is teaching Siri about is banking, a natural extension to the work that the company is doing with Apple Pay. PayPal has already added integration with Siri, but the roadmap will likely expand banking relationships to include checking balances, bill payments, and transfers, perhaps to Apple Pay Cash.
Translation: Siri will buy stuff for you.
What about moving Siri out of our handheld or desktop devices and have it integrate into other components and control third party products?
[Apple’s] HomePod represents Siri’s first starring role completely off-screen, and there will be some commands to which, down the line, we can expect to see more screen-free voice interactions via AirPods, Apple Watch, or whatever ARKit-related eyewear Apple will likely introduce at some point.
Apple has been the target for many criticisms due to Siri’s lack of advancement relative to competitors; Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s Assistant, and others, but Siri being managed by Apple’s software chief, Craig Federighi, who oversees iOS and macOS, means more integration with third party apps is on the way.
One thing to note about Apple’s various platforms, they all integrate well together, they all make money for third party developers (and Apple), and both Siri and Messages work on more than a billion devices.
Up next? ARKit with iOS 11. Another platform.