How Can Apple Inc. Avoid BlackBerry Ltd’s Fate?

Apple could succumb to the same fate as BlackBerry, according to Marco Arment, the former lead developer for Tumblr and the creator of Instapaper. In a blog post on May 21, he expressed this concern, saying Apple’s iPhone changed the game, which led BlackBerry’s business to an end, and now Apple could be facing the same risk.

How Can Apple Inc. Avoid BlackBerry Ltd's Fate?

AI: the next big thing

Many Internet giants are developing artificial intelligence (AI), and in the future, consumers may start favoring services rooted in AI. Arment believes Apple is not prepared to make this shift.

“Today, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are placing large bets on advanced AI, ubiquitous assistants, and voice interfaces, hoping that these will become the next thing that our devices are for,” the developer noted. “If they’re right—and that’s a big ‘if’—I’m worried for Apple.”

Arment notes that Apple is doing very well overall, but if the landscape shifts to prioritize big data AI services, then Apple will be in a similar state as BlackBerry was a decade ago. In such a case, it won’t be sufficient for the company to continue doing what it is able to do and is good at, and, “They won’t be able to catch up,” he wrote.

Expanding on Arment’s critique, former Facebook executive and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya tweeted: “10/ and when that happens, current victors will become our goats…happened to Nokia, happened to Blackberry and it can happen again… 11/ For example, buy an Echo and see your behavior change. The future is happening, and $AAPL seems, to me, asleep.”

Rivals ahead of Apple in AI

AlphaGo, an artificial intelligence technology created by Google researchers, beat a human champion at the notoriously complex game of Go this year. At its I/O developer conference, last week, the company unveiled a new chat-based intelligent assistant and related chat app, with the help of which Google Assistant can assist users in their messaging conversations with friends.

Facebook has been funding high-level AI research and is applying those techniques to the information published on its site to help its more than 1 billion daily users. Also Amazon’s Echo intelligent speaker has an advanced voice interface that has made it a hit.

For its part, Apple is building out the ranks of AI experts on its staff and is deploying voice and assistant services such as Siri and Proactive Suggestions. The iPhone maker rarely markets itself first in a field, but when it does show up, it is often the best. Chances are that the same thing will happen in AI as well. However, Apple has self-imposed limitations on how much user data it collects, and this could one of the factors limiting its sophistication relative to competitors.