Apple's real challenge?

Apple’s stock hasn’t slid because it’s been putting out uninspired hardware — it’s slid because the company hasn’t been able to enter any major new product categories in years... major software efforts like Siri and iCloud have faltered in extremely public ways... Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services... UNTIL APPLE CAN MASTER DATA AND SERVICES ALL THAT’S LEFT IS HOW THINGS LOOK AND FEEL
— Nilay Patel, The Verge

Now I don't know where to start. There are a few points in the above piece that I want address. Before going into that, I agree with Nilay that Phil Schiller is among the smoothest and I think he is the best showman right now who comes close to Steve Jobs himself. Now the first comment on why the share prices have slid because of no major new categories in years, really in years? iPad was released in 2010, 2-3 years before? Or isn't the iPad a major new category? I disagree. Just like how it took companies 'years' before catching up to the iPhone, companies are still not catching up to the iPad.

Just like how it took companies ‘years’ before catching up to the iPhone, companies are still not catching up to the iPad.

Analysts are people who are not as innovative as Apple. They analyze Apple just like they analyze any other technology company (its like how everything that we know in physics fails when we travel faster than light). They think once you are big enough company you need to go behind market share and hence either new low cost iPhones or new ground breaking products year after year. If Apple releases products year after year, they won't be groundbreaking after all, will they? And if Apple goes behind market share (which they've never done since 1976), 'now that they are too big to grow', that means Apple forgot its roots, where it came from and no one expects Apple to to do that, certainly not the Steve Jobs' Apple 2.0.

While I agree iCloud has been flaky to many developers, it has not caused any major issues to the consumers themselves (MobileMe did). Again iCloud has a long way to go but it certainly has not 'faltered in extremely public ways' (next time, please include a link as a reference to such strong statements). Siri is still in beta, so it can suck. Again Siri is nowhere close to to Google Now and Apple has a lot of work to do in this. 

Siri is nowhere close to to Google Now and Apple has a lot of work to do in this

Google was started in 1998 and went IPO in 2004. It was a pioneer in its Internet Search and announced Google Maps in 2005. It took Google almost a decade to get to where it is right now, i.e. great at web services. Apple is a relative new comer in this field and has no experience or data needed to be great in services (eg: Maps). "Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services" and you are surprised, because? Design is faster (not easier) to master than services because Design does not need data that can only be collected over years and this is very laborious. This is the advantage Google will enjoy for a long time as a result of being true innovators of a technology that is ubiquitous now, just like how Apple enjoyed the benefits for inventing the iPhone much before anyone else. So while Apple needs to get better at services, it is not going to do so in the near future, it's going to take a while. For a timeline, I think Apple will get better at services when Google will  get better at designing hardware (Google is still looking up to Samsung or HTC) that can commend a lion's share for the first few years and still the be the No.1 in satisfaction ratings after six years of introduction. 

Apple will get better at services when Google will get better at designing hardware... that can commend a lion’s share for the first few years and still be the No.1 in satisfaction ratings after six years of introduction.

Oh btw "all that is left is look and feel"? Anyone who knows and admires Steve Jobs knows that look and feel (Design) is what matters first and I agree than design includes how it works and if Apple's products (and services) don't just work, how do we explain this 3 to 1 web share? If Android and Google are getting better at design and are already great at web services, why are people not using them to utilize their web services?

In conclusion, Apple's biggest challenge that is also its biggest strength is and will be the ability to be extremely thorough and sometimes being thorough means being late!

Apple’s biggest challenge that is also its biggest strength is and will be the ability to be extremely thorough and sometimes being thorough means being late