经济学人官方译文 | 苹果与iPhone旧瓶新酒 The new old thing

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Apple and the iPhone
苹果与iPhone
The new old thing
旧瓶新酒
Apple is struggling to find another blockbuster product. The old one might do
苹果难创重磅新品,谜底可能还是旧王牌

APPLE has a new hit device, so popular that it has sold out across most of America and Britain. If you order it online it takes six weeks to arrive. “Best Apple product in a long time,” sings one online review. Useful and (of course) slickly designed, it enjoys the highest consumer satisfaction of any Apple product in history, according to a study by two firms, Creative Strategies and Experian.
苹果有一款热销新品,在英美大部分地区已卖到断货。网上订购需要六星期才能到手。“多年来最好的一款苹果产品。”一条网上点评写道。该产品不仅实用,设计也精巧(那是自然),据市场研究公司创意策略(Creative Strategies)和益博睿(Experian)的调查称,它是至今为止消费者满意度最高的苹果产品。

Such enthusiasm must be bittersweet for Apple’s bosses. The gadget in question is AirPods, a set of wireless headphones that look a lot like Apple’s traditional ear buds, just without a wire. Priced at $159, AirPods could become a business worth billions of dollars, like the Apple Watch, a wearable device that Apple started selling in 2015. But headphones are hardly the transformative, vastly profitable innovation that many have been waiting for.
这样的热情追捧,肯定让苹果高层苦乐参半。我们说的这款新品是无线耳机AirPods,与苹果的传统耳机很像,只是去掉了连接线。这款耳机售价159美元,销售额可达数十亿美元,就像苹果在2015年推出的可穿戴设备Apple Watch那样。但耳机这类产品不是许多人拭目以待的那种充满变革性、能创造高额利润的创新产品。

That wait started only a few years after its biggest blockbuster launched. On June 29th 2007 the iPhone first went on sale. Since then Apple has sold some 1.2bn phones and notched up more than $740bn in sales from the bestselling tech gadget in history (see chart). Two-thirds of Apple’s $216bn in sales in 2016 came from the iPhone.
苹果最畅销的王牌产品推出后没几年,这种期待就已开始。2007年6月29日,苹果公司首款iPhone发售。至今苹果已售出约12亿台手机,销售额超过7400亿美元,是史上最畅销的科技设备(见图表)。苹果在2016年的销售额为2160亿美元,其中三分之二来自iPhone。

经济学人官方译文(节选) | Apple and the iPhone 苹果与iPhone The new old thing 旧瓶新酒

Atop a hill there is usually nowhere to go but down. Questions about the future of the iPhone and whether Apple will ever design another product to match it pursue the company. The relentless rise of smartphone ownership is slowing, with around two-fifths of the global population now owning one. Apple is also facing more competition, especially in China (its second most important market after North America) where sales have been declining, lending weight to fears that Apple is experiencing “peak iPhone”.
通常来说,登顶过后只有下坡路可走。iPhone前景如何?苹果是否还能设计出可与之媲美的另一种产品?这些问题困扰着苹果公司。目前全球约五分之二的人口已经拥有智能手机,这种设备拥有率的迅猛增长正在放缓。苹果还面临更多的竞争,尤其是在中国这一仅次于北美的第二大市场,其销量一直下滑,令人愈发有理由担心苹果公司正面临“iPhone见顶”。

Even though Apple has been spending $10bn a year on research and development, “people aren’t banking on innovation”, says Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital Markets, a bank. That helps to explain why the firm’s shares are valued on a price-to-earnings ratio of around ten times its forecast 2018 earnings (stripping out cash), lower than the 12-14 times that the information-technology industry trades on.
加拿大皇家银行资本市场(RBC Capital Markets)的阿米特·达里亚纳尼(Amit Daryanani)表示,尽管苹果每年的研发经费高达100亿美元,但“人们没指望能有什么创新”。这可以解释为什么苹果的市盈率是其2018年预期收益(剔除现金)的10倍左右,低于信息技术行业普遍的12至14倍。

Certainly, Apple’s attempts to diversify away from its hit product have been flawed. One disappointment has been television, worth some $260bn globally. ItsTV offering is a cable box that is little more than a portal to content from other firms, such as Netflix, not the disruptive offering that Apple executives promised.
当然,苹果从拳头产品转移向多元化发展的尝试并不完美。败绩之一出现在全球价值约2600亿美元的电视市场。它的电视产品是一个有线机顶盒,无非就是能接入其他公司(如Netflix)提供的节目内容,并非苹果高管们所承诺的颠覆性产品。

There is also justified scepticism about another possible avenue for growth: personal transportation, an industry that is worth some $10trn. In June, for the first time, Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, publicly discussed the firm’s ambition to develop an autonomous-car system. Apple could surely design a sleek car, but the big shift is away from ownership toward transportation as a service. Routing cars to specific places, as Uber does, is a leap.
对另一潜在增长路径的怀疑也有其道理:价值约10万亿美元的“个人交通”行业。今年6月,苹果的首席执行官库克首次公开谈论了公司开发无人驾驶汽车系统的雄心。苹果当然能设计出时尚亮眼的汽车,但市场的大潮流已经从买车自用转向提供交通服务了。像优步那样,将汽车调度至特定地点的做法才是一大飞跃。

Many people believe that Apple could expand in health care, on which people spend an estimated $8trn each year globally. Today Apple allows people to store their fitness information on their devices and offers a platform for developers to create health and fitness apps. But it is as yet unclear what Apple’s edge will be. Its stance on consumers’ privacy, which it protects more assiduously than other technology giants, may be an advantage. But dealing with a complex web of companies and reams of red tape, as any foray into health care would require, would again be a big departure from what it is used to.
许多人认为苹果可在医疗保健行业拓展,在这领域全球年开支估计达到八万亿美元。今天,苹果让人们可在自己的设备上存储个人健康信息,并提供平台让开发人员创建医疗和健身类应用。但目前仍不清楚苹果公司能建立何种优势。在保护消费者隐私上,苹果比其他科技巨头更为执着,这种姿态也许是一项优势。然而,要进军医疗保健业则必然涉及错综复杂的企业关系网和繁冗的层层审批,这再一次与苹果熟悉的模式大相径庭。

Part of Apple’s difficulty in finding the next big thing may be that it is still steered by a small, insular group of executives who have mostly been at the firm since the 1990s. They include Mr Cook, who took over shortly before the death of Steve Jobs, the firm’s adored founder, in 2011. Apple is not good at hiring people from outside who could help bring new skills and ideas. Other companies have a far better record of bringing outsiders into the fold. Amazon’s Prime video offering and the work that formed the basis for Echo, its home speaker, drew on newcomers’ expertise.
苹果难以找到下一个重磅产品,部分原因可能是它仍为一小群封闭保守的高管所控制,他们大部分人在上世纪90年代就已进入公司,库克便是其中之一。2011年,库克在备受尊崇的公司创始人乔布斯去世前不久接手了公司。苹果不善于从外部招聘人才来获得新鲜的技能和创意。其他公司在这方面的表现要好得多。亚马逊的Prime视频服务以及家用智能音箱Echo项目的基础工作均利用了新人的才智。

Yet Apple will have every chance to adapt because of the enduring strength of its hit product. The iPhone business will not grow as rapidly as in the past but it will remain more important for far longer than people think, says Ben Thompson of Stratechery, a research firm. The iPhone 8, due to be unveiled in September, is likely to be innovative enough to encourage around 250m-300m iPhone users to upgrade, driving a new “supercycle” of sales.
然而苹果公司仍有充分的机会去适应,毕竟其拳头产品经久不衰。研究公司Stratechery的本·汤普逊(Ben Thompson)表示,iPhone业务增速将不比过去,但仍会超越人们的预期,在很长时间内都将保持重要的地位。定于今年9月推出的iPhone8可能会有足够的创新,可吸引约2.5至3亿iPhone用户升级换机,从而推动新一轮的销售“超级周期”。

Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley, a bank, goes as far as to say that “for Apple the next iPhone will be the iPhone.” The inclusion of augmented reality (AR), which superimposes digital information onto real-world images, for example, is likely to drive strong future iPhone sales. Apple is likely to include a 3D camera in the iPhone, and it recently said it would begin operating ARKit, a platform for software developers to design new apps that integrate AR. This step is akin to when Apple launched its app store in 2008. That set off a wave of innovation in mobile apps, which in turn gave consumers more reasons to buy iPhones. One early experiment is by the retailer IKEA, which is working on an iPhone and iPad app that lets users point their phone and see what furniture looks like superimposed in a particular space.
摩根士丹利银行的凯蒂·休伯蒂(Katy Huberty)甚至说:“对苹果来说,下一个iPhone还会是iPhone。”比如说,加入增强现实技术(AR,即把数字信息叠加到现实影像上)很可能在未来强力推动iPhone的销售。苹果公司可能会在iPhone中加入一枚3D镜头,它最近还表示将启动ARKit平台,供软件开发人员设计具有AR功能的新应用。这一步很像苹果在2008年推出应用商店的做法。当时,此举引发了一股手机应用的创新浪潮,进而令消费者更有理由去购买iPhone。零售商宜家参与了ARKit的一个前期实验,打造一款iPhone及iPad的应用,让用户举起手机就可以看到把家具放入某个空间里会是什么样子。

By encouraging app developers to start work on AR now, Apple will have a two- or three-year head start on Google’s Android operating system, says Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies. Google has launched an AR platform, called Tango, but it is only available on two devices, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and the Asus Zenfone AR, which have few users. If Apple can keep a lead on integrating AR into its software, that would also give users a reason to keep on preferring the iPhone over cheaper smartphones. This will be particularly helpful in China, where local brands such as Vivo and OPPO have taken share—last summer OPPO’s R9 phone, which costs just $400, overtook the iPhone in the country.
从现在起鼓励应用开发人员开始AR方面的开发,苹果将比谷歌的安卓系统领先两三年,创意策略公司的蒂姆·巴加林(Tim Bajarin)说。谷歌已推出一个名为“探戈”(Tango)的AR平台,但只能在两款智能手机上使用——联想的Phab 2 Pro和华硕的ZenfoneAR,而这两款手机的用户很少。假如苹果可以保持领先,在自家软件中集成AR,用户就又有理由继续选择iPhone而舍弃其他便宜一些的手机。这在中国尤其有用,毕竟Vivo和OPPO等本地品牌已经抢走了不少份额。去年夏天,售价仅400美元的OPPO R9手机在中国的销量已超越iPhone。

Other revenue streams are tied in part to the iPhone’s success. One area of strong growth—if the base of iPhone users continues to expand—will be Apple’s services business, which includes revenue from app sales, cloud storage, insurance of Apple devices and more. Services are already Apple’s second-largest business, having overtaken personal computers in 2016.
其他收入来源也在一定程度上依靠iPhone的成功。假如iPhone用户群继续扩大,苹果一大强势增长领域将是其服务业务,包括应用销售、云存储、苹果设备保险等方面的收入。服务已在2016年超越个人电脑,成为苹果的第二大业务。

Spec for smart specs
着智能眼镜

Another promising new business is smart glasses, which Apple has begun referencing in its patent applications. These will overlay digital information onto the real world without the need to look down at a screen. Work that Apple has done in developing AirPods, the Apple Watch and ARKit, such as waterproofing and elongating battery life, are the building blocks for smart glasses, says Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz, a venture-capital firm. Many reckon that glasses may render phones useless, but for a long while, glasses will only work with the help of the computing power of a nearby smartphone.
前景看涨的另一新业务是智能眼镜,苹果已在其专利申请中提到了这一产品。智能眼镜将把数字信息叠加在现实世界上,不需要人们再低头看屏幕。风投公司安德森-霍罗维茨(Andreessen Horowitz)的本尼迪克·埃文斯(Benedict Evans)表示,苹果为研发AirPods、Apple Watch及ARKit所做的努力,比如防水及延长电池续航时间的技术,都是智能眼镜的构成要素。许多人认为智能眼镜可能会使手机变得无用,但在很长一段时间内,智能眼镜还是需要借助匹配的智能手机的计算能力才能发挥作用。

Yet it may be another question entirely—its use of data—that matters most to Apple’s next decade. Apple has made a point of distinguishing itself from firms like Alphabet, Google’s parent company, which mine user data to target ads online. It has made a great effort to make ad blockers easy for users to install, for example. But data are increasingly central to designing the smartest software; Apple already risks lagging behind in areas such as voice recognition and predictive software if it remains inflexible about hoovering up consumers’ information. Whether to prioritise privacy ahead of innovation may turn out to be Mr Cook’s most important decision yet.
然而,在未来十年,对苹果至关重要的可能完全是另一件事——对数据的使用。谷歌母公司Alphabet通过挖掘用户数据来精准投放网络广告,苹果重视将自己与这样的企业区别开来。例如,苹果费了很大的劲让自己的用户更便于安装广告拦截器。但要设计出最智能的软件,数据越来越具有核心的重要性;假如苹果公司在收集消费者信息方面坚持不做变通,它就要冒在语音识别和预测软件等领域落后对手的风险。保护隐私与锐意创新,哪个在先?这也许是库克要做的最重要的决定。

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