经济学人:苹果的未来 不得不进行的改革
日期:2014-09-17 16:52



Apple's future
Reluctant reformation
Apple is becoming a very different company, and not just because of its newly unveiled products
APPLE prides itself on constantly re-imagining the future, but even the world's leading gadget-maker likes to dwell on the past too. Thirty years ago Steve Jobs commanded the stage at the Flint Centre for the Performing Arts near Apple's headquarters in Cupertino to show off the new Macintosh computer. On September 9th Mr Jobs's successor, Tim Cook, held a similar performance in the same location to thunderous applause. Those invited were given a chance to play with the gadgets presented on stage: two new iPhones and a wearable device, called the Apple Watch. “This is the next chapter in Apple's story,” he said, sounding much like the young Mr Jobs in 1984.
苹果公司以能够不断勾画未来蓝图而自豪,但即使作为世界上最顶尖的小型设备制造商,苹果也难免沉溺于过去。三十年前,史蒂芬·乔布斯在弗林特演艺中心(位于库比蒂诺的苹果公司总部附近)展示Macintosh电脑;今年9月,乔布斯的继任者,蒂姆·库克,在同一个舞台面对千万热情观众举行了一个类似的产品展示活动。被邀请到的人有机会试用展台上的设备:两台新款iPhone和一款叫做Apple Watch可佩戴手表。像当年的乔布斯一样,库克说:“这是苹果的下一篇章!”
It may well be true—but not for the reasons most people might think. Consumers, analysts and investors have been howling for proof that Apple can still do the magic tricks of the Jobs era; iPad sales have weakened in recent quarters and the iPhone, launched a tech aeon ago in 2007, still generates more than half of the firm's revenues. Yet lost in the maelstrom of snazzy new gadgets, applause and photos was an important shift: this week's announcements showed that Apple's future will be less about hardware and more about its “ecosystem”—a combination of software, services, data and a plethora of partners.
If Apple were simply a hardware-maker, there would be reason to worry. It is losing market share to rivals such as Samsung of South Korea and Xiaomi of China, which make cheaper devices, and to Google's Android operating system, which runs on 71% of the world's smartphones. Apple's average selling price is $609, compared with $249 for smartphones worldwide, according to IDC, a market-research firm. That is good for profits, but it makes Apple increasingly a niche player, somewhat like a luxury-goods firm, says Colin Gillis of BGC, a stockbroker.

As with Apple's existing products, much effort went into the watch's design. Its backplate contains sensors that measure the user's vital signs; and people can send their heartbeat to other watch-wearers—as a new sort of expressive message. But starting at $349, and only usable in conjunction with an iPhone, it looks unlikely to be a serious competitor to other expensive watches (see article).
Still, many are likely to stick with their iPhones and even plunk down the money for an Apple Watch, because of the firm's ecosystem. Apple is considered a laggard in online offerings, especially since it bungled the launch of its map service. Its services and apps can be maddening. But iTunes, Apple's media store, now boasts more than 800m active users, three times as many as Amazon's. Apple's software and services category, which includes iTunes, its Apps Store, revenue from warranties and other businesses, brought in sales of more than $16 billion in 2013 and is growing steadily.
但是许多人仍然愿意坚守苹果阵营,继续使用iPhone,甚至是为了苹果的“生态系统”而大手笔地花钱购买Apple Watch。在线服务方面,苹果被认为是落后者,尤其是它粗制滥造的地图服务。它的服务和应用有时候让人抓狂。但是,苹果的媒体商店iTunes,它的活跃用户现在已经飙升超过了8亿,是亚马逊的三倍之多。苹果的软件和服务,包括iTunes、应用Store,来自授权和其他业务的收入等,2013年超过160亿美元,并依然在稳定增长。
Apple's watch is supposed to help the firm expand into new areas. One example is a mobile wallet. It aims to replace swiping credit cards with the tap of an Apple watch (or an iPhone) on a device connected to a retailer's cash register. Apple's new health and fitness applications help people monitor their workouts. The firm's new operating systems, due out soon, will allow its devices to work together seamlessly: an e-mail started on an iPhone can be finished on an iMac.
For Ben Wood of CCS Insight, another market-research firm, Apple's plan is to be even more like the Hotel California (as in the Eagles' song), “where you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”. The more Apple-gadget owners store their data in them, from photos to health information, the more they are locked in, and must stick with Apple.
另一家市场调研公司CCS Insight 的本.伍德认为,苹果的计划更像是“加州旅馆”(老鹰乐队的歌):“你可以随时退房,但却永远不会离开。”苹果用户在系统中储存的数据越多,从照片到健康信息,他们就越依赖苹果。
At the same time, Apple is trying to become more open to partners—a big change for the firm. “There has always been a huge tension between keeping control and opening up” at Apple, explains Michael Cusumano of MIT's Sloan School of Management. Mr Jobs saw Apple products as complete works of art and never wanted them unbundled. Only after the executive team rebelled, for instance, did he relent and in 2003 let iTunes become available on Windows—a move that dramatically increased sales of the iPod.
Three years after Mr Jobs's death, Apple seems to be ready to go further, hoping to entice other firms to contribute to its ecosystem and make it more attractive. Earlier this year Apple announced a partnership with IBM, as well as changes that make it easier for outside developers to design apps for the iPhone. And Apple's watch will have third-party apps from the start. The iPhone launched without the app store; it opened only a year later, after many outside developers had hacked the device, allowing them to write apps for it.
The new openness does not only apply to technology. Mr Cook has let outsiders join his inner circle, hiring executives from retail and other industries to expand Apple's expertise. He has also overseen the largest acquisition in Apple's history, the $3 billion purchase in May of Beats, a headphones and music-streaming company. For its new payment system it teamed up with big retailers, such as Whole Foods and Walgreens, and credit-card firms, including MasterCard and Visa.
这种新的开放制度不仅适用于技术层面,库克已经允许外界人士参与它的内部圈子,并且聘请零售和其他行业的管理者来扩展苹果公司的业务面。库克见证了苹果史上最大的一起并购案:苹果于今年5月斥资30亿美元收购了Beats(一家生产耳机和音乐流媒体公司)。至于其新开发的支付体系,苹果将与各大零售商进行合作,如有机食品连锁店Whole Foods 和沃尔格林,以及信用卡公司,包括万事达卡和Visa卡。
This opening-up may need to go further, to keep up with Google's ecosystem. The internet giant's services still beat Apple's. And it not only lets device-makers modify Android, but also gives it away (albeit with conditions, such as the requirement to carry Google's services). “Apple v Android” could still end up a repeat of “Apple v Windows”: in personal computers Apple lost the battle against Microsoft because it refused to license its operating system to other hardware-makers.
为了赶上谷歌的生态系统,苹果的对外开放制度需要更进一步。目前苹果的服务仍逊于这家互联网巨头。谷歌不仅允许制造商们改造安卓系统,而且可以完全撒手不管(虽然这是有条件的,比如必须安装谷歌的某些服务)。“苹果VS安卓”的结局可能会和“苹果VS Windows”一样:在个人电脑市场,苹果因为拒绝向其他硬件制造商认证其操作系统,所以不敌微软。
Umberto Eco, an Italian novelist, once compared Apple's platform to Catholicism and Microsoft's to Protestantism. The Macintosh, he wrote, “tells the faithful how they must proceed, step by step”. By contrast, Windows “allows free interpretation of scripture...and takes for granted the idea that not all can achieve salvation.” This still rings true today, but Apple is clearly going through a Reformation.


1.because of 因为;由于

It is mainly because of my fault.

His business went under because of competition from the large corporations.

2.dwell on 详述;细想

A great number of water fowls dwell on the island.

The majority of people do not live in the present. They either dwell on their past or daydream about the future.

3.play with 同…一起玩;玩弄

Please play with me at playtime.

Go play with your friends.

  • acquisitionn. 获得,所获之物
  • proceedvi. 继续进行,开始,着手
  • contrastn. 差别,对比,对照物 v. 对比,成对照 [计算机]
  • executiveadj. 行政的,决策的,经营的,[计算机]执行指令 n
  • performancen. 表演,表现; 履行,实行 n. 性能,本事
  • platformn. 平台,站台,月台,讲台,(政党的)政纲
  • measuren. 措施,办法,量度,尺寸 v. 测量,量
  • insightn. 洞察力
  • paymentn. 支付,付款,报偿,报应
  • faithfuladj. 如实的,忠诚的,忠实的