Has the iPhones success come about because of the content for the device, or the technology within it? The truth is that the latter has allowed the iPhone to become a content provider, offering millions of Apps to consumers covering every conceivable angle of their lives. But, what can Apple do next to continually provide content for its armies of users?
One answer that could be on the cards is for Apple to acquire a television studio of its own - recent talks between Apple and Time Warner admittedly broke down (they were only exploratory talks apparently), but a move like this on Apple's behalf would make sense. Firstly, iPhone sales have slowed for the first time in many years, and competition in key markets is now proving more intense. Secondly, the iPhone is Apple's core offering in consumable electronics - Macs obviously play a part in this make up, but in 2016 approximately 60% of Apple's revenue was generated from iPhones. Therefore, it makes sense to diversify (and with the Apple car in development, they are doing just that). It also makes sense to add value through one of the twin pillars of the iPhones success - by unlocking more creative content to be delivered to its users aside from Apps.
I think what we could be seeing in the making is the ability to unlock new ways of telling stories. Interactive stories could easily be produced by a studio with the scope and power of Time Warner, (unless it's a DC superhero film!), and distributed into a market of iPhone wielding viewers who, via its interactivity, could actually participate in the story's adventure and direct which way it developed. Viewers could vote on the next instalment, for example, or they could upload their own videos that would put them in the movie as additional content, or perhaps they could take on a select number of off screen roles limited to their circle of friends, so it would be private serial, bespoke to a dozen people much like a murder-mystery evening but on a wider canvas. It would be a gloriously messy experiment that could push participation to new levels, and create a whole new art form, whilst the second generation of these productions would see more defined parameters to form a coherent, but ultimately viewer driven narrative.
Whilst a more conventional, subscription based TV offering via I-tunes would be far more likely, due to the success of these models being proved by Netflix and Amazon, it does raise the spectre of being a acquisition too far that takes Apple out of its comfort zone - being combined technology and innovation.
But as well as content, the other pillar of Apple's success was the technology that acted as a platform for others to populate with their Apps. This is what Apple are very good at doing, rather than creating the content itself. Take Project McQueen, where Apple are looking to build their own data storage systems. This would allow them to sell the benefits of this infrastructure to other tech companies and consumers, albeit not so glamorously as a sexy new iPhone. But nonetheless, such infrastructure development will be key to the tech industry's evolution over the coming years. Once more, Apple will take on the role of an enabler, providing a platform for others to use. That is how they have made their success to date.