Jobs kept his humility, says analyst Horace Dediu

King of all Apple analysts. That’s how Fortune magazine called Romanian-American analyst Horace Dediu. Visionary, who, at the same time, belongs to the most respected business analysts in the world, has answered couple of our questions. When you google the name of this very significant visionary, you’ll find out, that he has more than 350 thousand citations. The quickly changing world of technology requires constant adaptation from us all – in business and in life. Possibilities, in which Horace Dediu believes, are endless.

You’ve been always known as that guy from Nokia, who early early recognized shift in industry towards iPhone, but also car enthusiast with great observations of car industry. But then you completely changed a direction and suddenly started mapping a micro-mobility trend, few years ahead of anyone else. How a car guy starts to love bicycles?

I loved computers but quickly saw that they would become very small and fit in our pockets. That was in 1995. It took about 15 years for the version of a pocket computer that caught the imagination of the market. The miniaturization of computers was never in doubt, the question was only when the forces of development and markets would meet. I also like cars and many other things and I have been asking myself for about 5 years why they are the way they are and so slow to change. In other words I asked was why is it that the fastest machines are the slowest (to change). It became clear that the same forces acting on phones (batteries, computers) would act on vehicles. My unconventional observation was that this would happen on microvehicles much, much faster than on cars. Small things accept change much more quickly than big things. I call this the micromobility revolution.

Also you are quite vocal critic of Elon Musk and Tesla. For many people Musk is the new visionary, new Steve Jobs. What is that thing, that Jobs had and Musk does not?

Success can come from many places but once successful, failure can only come from one place: the loss of humility. Tragically, if you are successful humility becomes almost impossible to hold on to. I have known many successful people who mourn its loss. Jobs managed to keep his.

In the recent report from The Information, just about 2 % of Amazon Alexa users bought something with voice. Do you feel that Amazon should be disappointed with this?

Alexa is a way for Amazon to increase “foot traffic” which is the fundamental determinant of store sales. I assume the logic was that Alexa becomes a virtual store front placed in a person’s house. The low conversion rate may or may not be disappointing. I am more concerned with the trojan horse of a microphone system operated by a shopkeeper in my house. Privacy is a difficult thing to measure.

Other foreign interviews:

John Voorhees: The Way Apple Succeeded May No Longer Be Possible at Its Current Size

Guilherme Rambo: People criticize me for being a spoiler

Do we have any hint how HomePod is performing?

I do not but I think a speaker is a more desirable object in a private house than a microphone. In other words, the job to be done most people have is to listen not to speak (to a machine.) The long term is for HomePod to replace speakers and deliver more music. It is not to become a shop.

When we talk about voice assistance, what’s more important product for Apple in this field: HomePod or AirPods?

AirPods and Watch are hugely disruptive. The idea of massive computing and communications products so close to us that they are almost *inside* us is astonishing. I am not typical but I have a watch with me 16 hours a day. I am near my HomePod 16 hours a month.

Is there any, even ridiculous product that you would love to buy from Apple?

Glasses. If they can deliver a great experience on a head-mounted system it would a revolutionary product.

How did you ever get to Apple? Your Favorite Apple Device?

I bought an iPod in 2002. I had had Macs before but the iPod changed everything. My favorite Apple device is the iPhone. It defined an epoch.

How do you rate Time Cook in hindsight?

He is doing a good job but I don’t think a company depends entirely on its chief. The CEO is important but who he surrounds himself with is even more important.

Technology trends tend to be cyclical, in your opinion, whats the timeframe for the next big shift in Apples business model and where do you see the iPhone dependency going over the next 5-10 years? EyePhone viable option, or do you see AR rising through Apple Glass?

It’s already happening with Services. The business model of Apple in the future will be as “technology subscriptions“. We already subscribe to products today but we don’t sign a contract. This confuses casual observers who say without a contract there is no subscription. But loyalty is much more powerful than a signed document. The strongest bonds we hold in life are in our hearts not in our pockets.

Your plans for the future?

Stay tuned. I’d like to get involved in more content creation perhaps in new media.

Horace Dediu

Horace H. Dediu is a Romanian-American industry analyst with a focus on mobile phones and especially Apple Inc.

He hosts the podcasts The Critical Path and Asymcar on 5by5 Studios, the podcast Significant Digits with Ben Bajarin, and blogs at Asymco.

Translation: Joy Citiconti

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