Apple still has a "critical mass of loyal users" but the company is "kind of losing" the cool factor it has enjoyed for years in consumer markets, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said.
Speaking with Bloomberg in Berlin, Wozniak expounded upon the short-term prospects of Apple and competitors like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and BlackBerry.
"We used to have these ads, I'm a Mac and I'm a PC, and the Mac was always the cool guy. And ouch, it's painful, because we kind of are losing that," he told the news service.
On the other hand, Apple is still "really good at setting a standard with a new device" and "still has its halo in that regard," Wozniak told Bloomberg.
But these days the company is leaning more on its world-class brand appeal to get consumers to line up for a new release rather than clear technology advantages in its actual products — which no longer handily beat those of the competition, he added.
Woz also intimated that he didn't believe that Google and Amazon, two of Apple's biggest rivals in the mobile device market, had built up the "critical mass of loyal users" the iPhone maker can still count on. That still gives Apple an edge, though many of its competitors "have great ideas," he said.
Apple's next game-changer
Apple has not come out with a groundbreaking, category defining new product since introducing the first-generation iPad in 2010.
CEO Tim Cook, who has led Apple since the death of Steve Jobs in 2011, has been dinged at times for pushing out incremental upgrades to products with no plans for another game-changer like the iPad in sight.
Starting in 2001, Jobs introduced three such consumer electronics masterpieces in succession — the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
Possible future products that could fit the bill as Apple's next game-changer, according to industry watchers, include an Apple TV and an iWatch. Rumours about Apple's plans to release the latter have picked up steam in recent weeks. Wozniak told Bloomberg that he'd gladly replace the iPod nano he currently wears on his wrist with an Apple smartwatch that included the Siri voice-recognition software used in the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.
The Apple co-founder also suggested that Apple "open up its ecosystem" and make products like its iTunes media management platform available to Android and Windows/Windows Phone developers.
Microsoft, which has struggled to penetrate the smartphone and tablet markets with Windows Phone, has "enough critical mass" to eventually break through, Wozniak said. As for BlackBerry, he figured the struggling smartphone maker will eventually have to switch from its own mobile operating system to Android and fall back on its "good reputation as a hardware builder."
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