Apple did something amazing today. While the company tends to announce at its Apple events some amazing products and cool technology features, this was different. We’re not going to go deep into an Apple Event review in this space, but in the scope of new Apple products, today’s announcements were so important because EVERY company can now understand what it means to truly embrace the power of their business ecosystems.
So, what did Apple announce today? In short, Apple unveiled a bunch of new service offerings, including an enhanced publishing platform called Apple News Plus and Apple TV Channels integrated right into its Apple TV platform. But what’s truly interesting are the Apple credit card and the Apple Arcade gaming subscription services, two offerings that are direct results of the tech company’s understanding of those interacting within its ecosystem.
The Power of the Ecosystem
“If you build it, they will come.”
It might sound like a line from “Field of Dreams,” but it’s essentially how Apple made its most recent service offerings – namely Apple Card – happen.
Apple first built a phone that can secure your information so well that every user has a high comfort level storing not only personal information but financial information like bank accounts, credit card numbers, and more. While Apple cannot see the details of your personal information they can see what you’re doing, where you’re spending, and a ton of other data points about how you use this device.
Then today, Apple introduces a new way of paying for goods and services called Apple Card. Apple Card is a new kind of credit card designed to help users make more informed choices and be their best financial selves. Their goal: Create a fantastic customer experience when it comes to buying and paying.
“I didn’t go into Apple because it was a tech stock in the least. I went into Apple because … of the value of their ecosystem and how permanent that ecosystem could be.”
– Warren Buffett (Fortune magazine, May 2018)
The Highly Enabled Ecosystem
It’s a new space for Apple, but it’s based on existing technology (iPhones), commonplace habits, and well-understood processes. After all, we all know how to use the card reader at the convenience store.
So, we have the pieces of this amazing ecosystem in place, including the devices used for facilitating buying and selling in an ultra-secure, trusted way. The people who use these devices and where they use them are all extremely valuable data points that can be used to augment and reshape the transactional experience. And that’s exactly what Apple’s done.
However, these devices also have a critical component that they’ve never leveraged – the banks and the financial institutions that will ensure the money flows in the right directions. In this case, it’s an Apple Card-Goldman Sachs partnership, and they now have a credit card without the card (though a titanium Apple Card will reportedly be available).
Apple looked at this enabled ecosystem – not just the endpoints and participants but the interactions themselves and the corresponding experiences – and identified a key business opportunity that will enable them to continue their strategy of transformation by disruption.
The Apple Card, then, is the result of a highly enabled ecosystem, and the disruption will be massive. While the services and functionality offered aren’t necessarily differentiated, the experience is. Apple didn’t create its own type of financial mechanism. The company took what was there and shifted it, pulling itself along and injecting itself into the conversation.
“The strength of (Apple’s) ecosystem, which is linked by common software platforms and shared services, allows the company to sell products that mesh together nearly seamlessly.”
– Kirk McElhearn, “It’s the Ecosystem, Stupid” blog
Game of Ecosystems
The same goes with Apple Arcade, a new cross-platform gaming service that’s said to offer access to more than 100 games exclusive to iOS. Apple again took a long look at its ecosystem of developers, customers, and usage and moved to improve gaming experiences across all of its hardware products – mobile, tablet, desktop – and stake a claim to a piece of that pie.
Apple also will build the platform right into the App Store, from which users can download ad-free gaming experiences. Again, Apple didn’t invent gaming services; it just listened to what its customers were “saying,” that is, in how they used their Apple devices.
The origins of the Apple Card and Apple Arcade are directly related to the power of the ecosystem, and these services demonstrate the power that can be had in understanding what’s happening in your ecosystem and leveraging it to do something … better. This model of creating new service offerings should have us pondering an important question before the next Apple release event:
How will my iPhone usage today help Apple launch another new service tomorrow?
The Benefits of Ecosystem Integration
The amazing thing Apple does is leverage its existing ecosystem of customers, processes, and data and turning it into a new, lucrative service offering. It all happened with asking a simple but important question: What are our customers doing with my current products and services, and how can I better support them in those interactions, in a way that only we can?
Time will tell how Apple Card plays out, but it’s time for every company to think about themselves as ecosystem players, or at the very least, consider what ecosystems – and ecosystem integration – can do for the future of their organizations.
So, how can you leverage insights into your ecosystem interactions and empower your organization to create new revenue streams or better customer experiences? It starts with ecosystem integration. Learn how Cleo Integration Cloud can help.