WWDC 2014: Apple Aims For Premium Cloud Services & Experiences

Apple hosted its 25th annual Worldwide Developer Conference unveiling the forward looking developments of the Apple’s proprietary platforms OS X and iOS for its computing devices from Macs to iPads and iPhones respectively. This years update to platforms were OS X Yosemite for the Macs and iOS 8 for touch devices.

The key takeaways of the announcements were:

  • Apple announced number of new as well revamped older apps, software and services developing greater synergies and seamless experiences across OS X and iOS platforms leveraging cloud
  • Apple is tying the point & click Mac experience pretty close to the touch based iOS experience at UI layer, service layer and functionality layer
  • All the Apple devices can now talk to each other more meaningfully at use-case layer with powerful new feature such as “continuity” helps bridge the disconnect between the devices making use-cases seamless and inter-operable
  • Apple developing and opening up key APIs from HomeKit, HealthKit, TouchID, CameraKit plus cross-integration between third-party apps will be an inflection for the ecosystem to create powerful experiences allowing Apple, developers and others to enter newer billion dollar verticals from home automation to health to mobile payments. Doors have crack opened for the walled garden
  • Both platforms are now stitched together by cloud, sharing common apps, services and experiences, strengthening its multiscreen strategy as below:

(Click image to enlarge)

WWDC 2014 Apple Announcements Ecosystem Integration Services

However, some misses during this year’s announcements were:

Maps: While Apple announced improved vector based apps for Apple’s most important region next to USA, China. However, overall improvements to maps, location APIs, linking to iBeacon and entering LBS market in a bigger way remained obscure

CarPlay: Apple announced CarPlay platform a few months ago but the effort still remains in a nascent stages in terms of development. Overall quality of maps needs to improve substantially to auto-grade and at some point Apple will have to reach out to likes of Nokia HERE which remains to be the leader in this space.

Overall, this is by far the best WWDC announcement since iPhone launch considering it makes the overall experience within the Apple ecosystem coherent, seamless when moving from one device to another. It also first time made Apple give more control to developers which will be a catalyst for the overall ecosystem to take it to the next level. What it will also do is put a premium tag now on the services which was earlier a bit fragmented and less coherent within the ecosystem. So now Apple has premium hardware, premium software, premium apps and now premium services to boost or at least maintain its brand equity and competitive advantage for another few years.

For Microsoft & Google both are way ahead of Apple in terms of cloud expertise but the execution of the services by far has been less consistent across the screens whether it is UI consistency  or messaging apps or even media service experience across multiple devices. Microsoft & Google will have to tighten their development efforts taking leaf out of Apple’s book to offer an opportunity not only for themselves but for developers as well.