Nobunaga’s Ambition — Apple Revision

Just got my COVID-19 vaccine this week & the journey was spuriously smooth. Strongly recommend getting yours as early as possible & keep wearing a mask. So the “spring loaded actual” will be sooner 🙏.

Now, as we are staying healthily in the best way we can, let’s take a look the Apple event this week. Why it’s almost the “M1 inside” event 🧐. How Apple’s secret sources could work🤫, and what could an inspiration be for smarter cars🤔.

Apple’s Tanegashima (gun) — M1

New iMac & iPad Pro are joining the M1 club. Is this an M1 inside event or what 😉? Why I’m not surprised? Because it’s easy to connect the dots if you look backward. You may start to see a line back to the last Nov. M1 will be a foundation for Apple to unify a new app empire. And why M1 is a phase change rather than just another faster new chip.

In 1549, Oda Nobunaga ordered 500 Tanegashima guns for his army. At the time, guns were considered an inferior weapon to bows. But soon, it changed the way war was fought in Japan forever. In 2020, Apple starts to use M1 in Macs. Till now, SoC is still perceived as “less powerful” than discrete CPU & GPU. But soon M1 & its kind will change the consumer computing landscape forever.

Secret Sources — New Flavors

To be fair, such a switch is not a new idea. Just super hard because of the path dependency, and the Matthew effect works against dinosaurs on such occasions. For example, as resourceful as MS, QCom & other big PC players with an 8-year head start on Windows RT & the huge leverage from the Windows ecosystem, it’s still very a niche & many for them to catch up. So why is Apple flipping the game better? Timing is the easy answer. And 3 more “secret sources” are also critical.

  1. Apple’s highly vertical integration strategy significantly reduces the lead-time for the phase change to propagate through the supply chain. A rule of thumb of the level of complexity in the real world is technology < supply chain < business < ecosystem. Where Apple has good controls of the first 3.
  2. Apple’s premium product position & execution solidify its brand to retain “Apple Fans”. Most of them tend to embrace changes & have no problem paying a premium for that as innovators or early adaptors.
  3. With a critical mass of paying & premium customers, it becomes an attractive target market for new app development projects because money talks 🤑.

Making Sense Of Apple Car

Apple Car news is still trending. Even it’s not mentioned in the event, Cook did shed some light when he answered an autonomous car question in the “Sway” interview on Apr. 5. If you apply simple logical reasoning, you can check which Apple Car rumor is likely or not. tl;dr

  1. Autonomy is a core technology & you can do lots of things with it. Another way Cooks put it: “Mother of all AI project” in 2017.
  2. Apple loves to integrate HW, SW & service to create magic.
  3. Apple loves to own the primary technology around it.

So one question became obvious: how long will it take for Apple to put Mx as a new brain in a smarter car? I don’t know when, but how is pretty easy to guess.

  1. Apple will fully own the end-to-end customer experience & relationship to maintain its premium brand position.
  2. Apple will fully own & vertically integrated the key HW, SW & service technologies for the autonomous car system.
  3. Apple most likely uses “Electronics Manufacturing Services” for the rest. Just like how it makes iPhone.

Even I think Tesla is in a different business, Tesla takes almost identical 1 & 2 strategies as Apple might do. Arguably Tesla’s 1st car, Roadster in 2006 may have a similar beginning as Apple’s 1st computer in 1976. Only the time is very different now. And both companies are very different since. So let’s keep eye on how things unfold next.

Full Disclosure

The opinions stated here are my own, not those of my company. They are mostly extrapolations from public information. I don’t have insider knowledge of those companies, nor a whatever expert.

A Taiwanese lives in Silicon Valley since 2014 & has random opinions on some stuff. The opinions shared here are my own, not those of companies I work for.

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