Being a big business is all about making choices. Even the most successful, most profitable company can’t pursue all possible avenues. Decisions have to be made, even if they mean ignoring a segment of the market that might address some consumers.
Such is the reality with Apple. It can’t possibly make all of the products that its customers want—it just does’t have the time, money, or people. But some of the choices that Apple has made about products to not pursue have been surprising. Especially when it seems as though the market in question is desperately in need of a solution that would be right up Apple’s alley.
Earlier this month, during the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, I noticed a few places where it seemed as though Apple was missing out on an opportunity. Some of these might be cases where the company has decided it doesn’t want to be in a specific business, and some might merely be a case of a future product not being ready yet—from the outside, there’s really no way to tell. But here are three cases in which it seems like an Apple product or service might be a welcome alternative to what exists, if not something that fills a gap no one else seems to be addressing.
A display for the rest of us
We can all agree that Apple’s $5,000 ($6,000, if you want to actually have it on your desk) Pro Display XDR is a heck of a piece of hardware. The display technology itself is light years beyond anything else that a consumer electronics company is creating. As Apple pointed out, it’s a product intended to give you the performance of a $40,000 reference monitor at a fraction of the price.
However, most people outside of the film and television industries don’t need a display that amazing. Many would be happy with a good option, like a standalone equivalent of the 5K display found in modern iMacs, to hook up to their Mac minis, MacBooks, or even iPads. The Pro Display XDR may be amazing, but many folks need displays that are just good enough.
There’s certainly a market for these types of displays. In fact, Apple even used to sell them. The Apple Cinema Display line and its successor, the Thunderbolt display, provided the high quality and convenience of an Apple-made display, even if it wasn’t cheap. (Though thinking that their $999 price tag was high now seems quaint.)
But once Apple’s displays were discontinued, users were left to look elsewhere, and many have found slim pickings. Apple did partner with LG to sell high-end displays, but they hit a few bumps in the road. Perhaps the right answer is that if you want something done right, do it yourself.
Actual private network
Another market that Apple previously abandoned, to the dismay of many consumers, was home routers. And yet, during the WWDC keynote, Apple announced a new initiative to improve smart home device security by building HomeKit support into routers, forging partnerships with vendors like Linksys, eero, and Spectrum.
Apple officially discontinued its AirPort router line last year, but some—including yours truly—still regret the decision. As Apple itself points out, a trustworthy router has become even more important with all of the smart devices we use in our homes these days. Just as Apple has tried to prevent websites from tracking you and developed a more private system for logging into accounts, the company could extend into hardware, offer a secure and trustworthy router, rather than leaving people to third-party partners.
Companies such as eero have proved that there’s a space for easy, friendly, and expandable network hardware. And now that eero has been bought by Amazon, many consumers want an alternative that doesn’t belong to a company with a vested interested in knowing exactly what you’re doing online. The router business isn’t sexy, but it is critical.
Back that Mac up
Over the past several years, Apple has slowly improved its iCloud online service, adding features to compete with the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox. But one area has always fallen a little short: backup.
Yes, Apple has provided ways to back up iOS devices to iCloud, but it’s never extended that same courtesy to Macs. And though we may store many of our important documents in the cloud these days, it’s still important to have reliable and trustworthy backups on top of that.
In the past, this may have been an issue of capacities: Macs, after all, had huge hard drives, and iPhones and iPads relatively little storage by comparison. But these days, you can buy an iPhone with 512GB of storage or an iPad Pro with a terabyte, about the same capacities offered on most Macs. If I can back up my 512GB iPad to iCloud, then why not my 512GB iMac? Surely, Mac users deserve the same peace of mind of an offsite backup of their critical files as iOS users do.
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Dan has been writing about all things Apple since 2006, when he first started contributing to the MacUser blog. He's a prolific podcaster and the author of the Galactic Cold War series, including his latest, The Nova Incident, coming in July 2022.