Cloud Wars: Google Changes the Game from Device Profits to Cloud Profits

 

In early 2014, we employed the Cyclefund Strategic Investment Framework predictively for the first time to identify the core technology and game-changing category cycles likely to drive the equity performance of Apple (AAPL). At the same time, we leveraged the Cyclefund Strategic Innovation Framework predictively to identify product innovation pathways likely to result in sustainable competitive differentiation leading to strong product cycles and unprecedented profit cycles. (source: Apple page of postpcplus.com)

 

Now, in mid-February of 2015 we shall apply these frameworks once again, but this time to a new target company: Google (GOOGL). Using the frameworks, we shall answer seven central questions regarding Google and its competitors:

 

  1. What are the core game-changing product category cycles likely to drive the stock performance of Google?

  2. If we view Google not as a single monolithic company, but instead as a portfolio of individual interconnected businesses, does Google own a comprehensive set of strategic businesses that span the complete set of killer category cycles?

  3. Is it possible for any firm to establish dominant positions across all critical elements of the post-PC device and post-PC service value chains of today and tomorrow?

  4. Does Google possess a set of strategic hardware, software, and cloud service assets that constitute the basis of a potentially dominant wearable mobile post-PC suite?

  5. What are the critical strategic product innovation & evolution pathways likely to result in sustainable differentiation, strong product cycles, and outsized profit cycles for Google?

  6. Will Apple be able to successfully defend its market leading position against simultaneous attacks from above by premium-producer Samsung and below by low-cost producer Xiaomi?

  7. Who will be the ultimate winner in the cloud-service phase of the post-PC era?

 

We shall employ the Cyclefund Strategic Investment Framework to answer questions 1 through 3, both the Strategic Investment Framework and the Strategic Innovation Framework to answer question 4 regarding the potential genesis of a game-changing post-PC wearable mobile suite, and a new unified Strategic Investment, Innovation, and Evolution Framework to answer questions 5 through 7.

 

Killer Product Category Cycles for the Post-PC Cloud Intelligence Era

 

As the modern post-PC market evolves from its current state based largely on device-centric profits to its future state based increasingly on service-centric or cloud-centric profits, we believe that this new post-PC cloud-intelligence era will be defined by fifteen game-changing product category cycles:

 

  1. Wearables
  2. Mobile
  3. Things
  4. Intelligence
  5. Streaming
  6. Commerce
  7. Social
  8. Payments
  9. Wireless
  10. Collaboration
  11. Search
  12. Optical
  13. Virtualization
  14. Platform
  15. Big Data

 

We visually organize these 15 game-changing category cycles by employing an extended version of the well-established Cyclefund Aggressive Technology Portfolio Structure for the Post-PC Era (source: Post-PC Portfolios page of cyclefund.com). The extended visual structure includes three new blue-cloud nodes: a new Intelligence node that extends the core of the diagram, a new Wearables node that is positioned to the left of the existing Mobile node, and finally a new Things node that is positioned to the right of the Mobile node, as shown in the complete diagram below.

We refer to this visual diagram as the Cyclefund Extended Cloud Framework for the Post-PC+ Era, where the plus sign (+) appended to the end of phrase post-PC symbolizes the recent evolution of the post-PC era to include three new killer product categories cycles within the cloud framework, namely the wearables, intelligence, and things category cycles.

This diagram visually and textually represents the answer to our first question. Specifically, the game-changing product cycles expected to drive the stock price of Google over time are textually depicted and visually organized by the extended Cyclefund cloud framework diagram above.

With our first question answered, we are now ready to address our second question regarding how one particular company, Google, strategically positions its business units and core product families to capitalize on these key category cycles. Before we do so, however, we must clearly understand the relationship between game-changing product category cycles within the cloud framework and post-PC device and service value chain systems.

Paradigm Shift in Post-PC Device and Post-PC Service Value Chains

Today, we see large numbers of global businesses competing for leading or dominant positions within specific segments of the information technology market. At the same time we also see that there are a very small number of truly visionary companies competing intensely to define the future of computing. However, this intense competition for the future of computing between a handful of very large players is happening under an entirely new paradigm, one distinctively different from the one that drove competition during the previous PC era.
 
During the PC era, the information technology industry was naturally partitioned into segments that logically spanned distinct portions of the supply chain or value chain, with leaders emerging within each segment without unduly encroaching on adjacent segments. Thus, within a simple PC value chain system consisting of semiconductor suppliers, software suppliers, hardware manufacturers, and retail stores, we saw Intel, Microsoft, Dell, and Best Buy take leading or dominant market positions within their respective PC supply chain segments (source: iPad page of inocles.com).

In today's post-PC world, value chain systems are more complicated. They span both post-PC device value chain systems and post-PC service value chain systems. Device value chains include semiconductor suppliers, system software suppliers, hardware manufacturers, and retail online and offline stores. Service value chains include cloud service providers, software application vendors, media content creators & distributors, and broadband & wireless access providers (source: iPad page of inocles.com). However, the fundamental difference between PC era competition and post-PC era competition is not limited to the complexity difference between the respective value chain systems.

The most important difference, the paradigm-shifting difference, is that unlike industry leaders Intel, Microsoft, and Dell who jointly respected natural value chain boundaries during the PC era, today’s post-PC industry leaders are not following the same model. As a result, we strongly believe that we shall soon see one, two, or three key players emerge who own and exclusively dominate the critical pathways through both the post-PC device and service value chain systems. This is a major turn of events and a true paradigm-shifting break from the past.

Given this new, unprecedented, groundbreaking shift, it is of critical importance for us to identify the one, two, or three firms that are likely to achieve positions of dominance across the post-PC device value chain, the post-PC service value chain, or ultimately both value chains.
To do so, we must first show that there is a bidirectional many-to-many mapping from post-PC device and service value chains to the 15 category cycles of the extended cloud framework.

Mapping Post-PC Value Chains to Post-PC Category Cycles

The elements of the post-PC device value chain system are: semiconductor suppliers, system software vendors, hardware manufacturers, and offline and online retail stores. These device value chain elements map to post-PC product category cycles as follows:

 

  1. Semiconductor Suppliers: Wearables, Mobile, Things, and Platform
  2. System Software Vendors: Wearables, Mobile, Things, Virtualization, and Platform
  3. Hardware Manufactures: Wearables, Mobile, Things, and Platform
  4. Online & Offline Retail Stores: Commerce

 

The elements of the post-PC service value chain system are: cloud service providers, application software and service vendors, media content creators and distributors, and Internet access providers. These service value chain elements map to post-PC product category cycles as follows:

 

  1. Cloud Service Providers: Search, Commerce, Payments, Intelligence, and Social
  2. Application Vendors: Collaboration, Big Data, Wearables, Mobile, and Things
  3. Media Content Creators & Distributors: Streaming
  4. Internet Access Providers: Wireless and Optical

 

In in both maps above, most individual device and service chain elements map to more than one post-PC category cycle.

Reverse Mapping Post-PC Category Cycles to Post-PC Value Chains
 

Given that we have established a one-to-many mapping from post-PC value chain elements to post-PC portfolio category cycles, we can now invert the mapping to establish a reverse one-to-many mapping from post-PC portfolio category cycles to post-PC value chain elements as follows:

 

  1. Wearables: Semiconductor, System Software, Hardware, and Application Vendors
  2. Mobile: Semiconductor, System Software, Hardware, and Application Vendors
  3. Things: Semiconductor, System Software, Hardware, and Application Vendors
  4. Commerce: Online & Offline Retail Stores
  5. Intelligence: Cloud Service Providers
  6. Streaming: Media Content Creators & Distributors
  7. Payments: Cloud Service Providers
  8. Wireless: Access Suppliers
  9. Social: Cloud Service Providers
  10. Collaboration: Application Vendors
  11. Optical: Internet Access Providers
  12. Search: Cloud Service Providers
  13. Virtualization: System Software Vendors
  14. Platform: Semiconductor, System Software, and Hardware Manufacturers
  15. Big Data: Application Vendors

 

With this powerful reverse mapping from game-changing post-PC category cycles to core post-PC value chain elements firmly established, we can now endeavor to identify a single company that is by itself, or with the assistance of a committed set of industry partners, capable of owning and operating a strategic set of business units and product families that not only span the entire set of killer post-PC category cycles within the extended cloud framework but also the critical elements of the post-PC device and post-PC service value chains, in accordance with our reverse mapping.

A Valuable Insight: Google Already Spans All Killer Post-PC Categories!


Upon applying our value-chain dominance theory to post-PC industry leaders Apple, Google, and Microsoft, we were surprised to find that Google already owns and operates a set of strategic businesses and product families that span all fifteen of the game-changing post-PC category cycles within the extended cloud framework, as illustrated in the diagram below:

We refer to this visual diagram as the Cyclefund Extended Cloud Framework Visually Organizing Google's Strategic Post-PC Product Families. It represents a highly compelling and powerful visual depiction of the fundamental essence of Google as a company and the overwhelming strength of its core brands.

Google Core Brands within the Cyclefund Extended Cloud Framework

The
core Google brand names associated with the fifteen game-changing product category cycles of the Cyclefund extended cloud framework are listed textually below as follows:

 

  1. Wearables: Google Glass
  2. Mobile: Android
  3. Things: Nest
  4. Intelligence: Google Now
  5. Streaming: YouTube
  6. Commerce: Google Play
  7. Social: Google+
  8. Payments: Google Wallet
  9. Wireless: Skybox
  10. Collaboration: Google Apps for Work
  11. Search: Google Search and Maps
  12. Optical: Google Fiber
  13. Virtualization: Google App Engine
  14. Platform: Google Cloud
  15. Big Data: Google BigQuery

 

These core Google brands are organized visually in the following cloud framework diagram:

We refer to this visual diagram as the Cyclefund Extended Cloud Framework Visually Organizing Google's Core Post-PC Brand Names.

This diagram visually and textually represents the answer to our second question. Specifically, Google does indeed own a set of strategic interconnected businesses defining, developing, and delivering core product brands that span the complete set of killer product category cycles, as textually depicted and visually organized in the extended Cyclefund cloud framework diagram above.

With our second question answered, we are now ready to address our third question regarding the possibility of a single firm establishing dominant positions across all, or most, of the critical value chain groups within today and tomorrow's post-PC device and service value chains. The one-to-many reverse mapping between post-PC device value chain elements and post-PC category cycles presented previously provides the overarching framework for us to quickly position Google's core brands in the appropriate value chain groups of the post-PC device and service value chain systems, as presented in the following two sections.

Google Core Device Brands within the Post-PC Device Value Chain


The Google brands associated with the four device value chain groups of the Cyclefund global post-PC device value chain system are listed textually below as follows:

 

  1. Semiconductors: Future Google Project(s)
  2. System Software: Android, Google Chrome
  3. Device Hardware: Google Glass, Nexus, Chromebook, Nest
  4. Retail Distribution: Google Play

 

These core Google brands are organized visually in the following device value chain diagram:

We refer to this visual diagram as the Cyclefund Global Post-PC Device Value Chain System Visually Organizing Google's Core Device Brands.

Google Core Service Brands within the Post-PC Service Value Chain

The Google brands associated with the four service value chain groups of the Cyclefund global post-PC service value chain system are listed textually below as follows:

 

  1. Cloud Services: Gmail & Google+, Google Wallet, Google Search & Maps, Google Cloud
  2. Application Software: Google Apps for Work
  3. Streaming Media Content: YouTube
  4. Broadband Access: Google Fiber, Google Skybox

 

These core Google brands are organized visually in the following service value chain diagram:

We refer to this visual diagram as the Cyclefund Global Post-PC Service Value Chain System Visually Organizing Google's Core Service Brands.

The value chain diagrams above visually represent the answer to our third question. Specifically, a single firm, Google, operating in today's global information technology markets does indeed have a set of interconnected strategic businesses units working together synergistically to enable it to establish dominant positions across all, or most, of the critical value chain groups of today and tomorrow's post-PC device and service value chains, as depicted in the Cyclefund post-PC device and service value chain system diagrams above.

With our third question answered, we are now ready to address our forth question regarding the possibility of a single firm possessing a complete set of strategic hardware, software, and cloud service assets that constitute the basis of a potentially dominant wearable mobile post-PC suite. In order to do so we will need to leverage the full power of the five unique forms of the Cyclefund strategic innovation framework. We review these five forms now.

The Five Forms of the Cyclefund Post-PC Strategic Positioning Framework

Given the background above, we are now ready to shift our analytical focus from strategic investment frameworks to strategic innovation frameworks. The framework that helps us make this transition is the Cyclefund strategic positioning framework, a framework that rests at the critical nexus between investment and innovation. This central framework has five forms, the original form plus four variants, listed below in order of introduction and publication:

 

  1. The original Cyclefund Multidimensional Strategic Positioning Framework for the Post-PC Era was first introduced to help private investors and wealth managers visually understand the relationships between wearable and non-wearable smart devices (source: iGlass page of inocles.com).
  2. The first variant of the framework, entitled the Grand Unified Visual Definition of the Apple iFamily Post-PC Suite Concept, was then utilized to visually define the Apple iFamily post-PC suite concept and highlight its constituent strategic hardware, system software, application software, and cloud service assets (source: Post-PC Suite page of cyclefund.com).
  3. The second variant of the framework, entitled the Wearable & Non-Wearable Multiscreen Smart Device Positioning Framework for the PostPC+ World, extended the original framework to include new wearable and non-wearable smart devices and visually define a grand vision for a postPC+ world of tomorrow unifying the PC-plus and post-PC worlds of today (source: Vision page of postpcplus.com).
  4. More recently, the third variant of the framework, entitled the Apple iFamily Post-PC Mobile Suite of Cloud-Connected Smart Devices, has been applied to visually define the Apple iFamily post-PC mobile smart suite concept (source: Apple page of postpcplus.com).
  5. Most recently, the fourth variant of the framework, entitled the Visual Definition of a Wearable Mobile Post-PC Suite of Cloud-Connected Smart Devices, has been applied to visually define the most important new concept in the post-PC world, that of a post-PC mobile suite of smart wearable and non-wearable devices (source: Wearable Mobile Suite page of postpcplus.com).

 

Of the five forms of the post-PC strategic positioning framework referenced above, we now apply the third and fifth forms to analyze Google and its most important competitor in the post-PC space.

Visual Definition of the Google gFamily Post-PC Suite

T
he strategic importance of post-PC solution suites in the context of critical consumer buying decisions was first introduced, presented, and discussed on the iFamily page of cyclefund.com. We strongly believe that consumer, as well as business, government, and education, buying decisions will be increasingly driven by the overall value of post-PC solution suites. As such, we believe that rivalry among post-PC competitors will intensify significantly and be fundamentally centered on the central notion of a post-PC solution suite and its associated hardware device, system software, and app & cloud service assets.

We utilize the third form of the post-PC strategic positioning framework to visually organize the following groups of strategic assets of the gFamily suite:

 

  1. gFamily Suite Hardware Device Assets
  2. gFamily Suite System Software Assets
  3. gFamily Suite App & Cloud Service Assets

 

Once we have positioned Google's strategic assets within a specific asset layer of the multidimensional strategic positioning framework, we conclude by combining all of the asset layers together to present for the first time a grand unified visual definition of the Google gFamily Suite.

Google gFamily Post-PC Suite: Hardware Device Assets

The diagram below strategically positions and visually organizes the core hardware device assets of the Google gFamily solution suite concept.

We refer to this diagram as the Core Hardware Device Assets of the Google gFamily Suite. The upper left-hand quadrant represents wearable mobile post-PC hardware assets, including Google Glass and Android-based smart watches and smart bands (not shown). The lower left-hand quadrant depicts mobile non-wearable hardware assets, including Nexus smartphones and tablets, Chromebook consumer laptops and professional laptops, Boston Dynamics humanoid and non-humanoid robots, and Google self-driving cars.

The lower right-hand quadrant represents non-mobile non-wearable hardware assets, including
Android-based HD televisions and UHD TVs, and Nest smart thermostats and smoke detectors, as well as Dropcam smart video streaming cameras (not shown). The upper right-hand quadrant represents non-mobile wearable hardware assets, including Google Cardboard virtual reality headsets.

The center of the diagram represents cloud hardware assets, including Google App Engine, Google Compute Engine, and Google BigQuery, as well as Google Cloud Storage, Cloud Datastore, and Cloud SQL (not shown), which are directly accessible from all Android and Chrome devices via the cloud.

Google gFamily Post-PC Suite: System Software Assets

The diagram below strategically positions and visually organizes the core system software assets of the Google gFamily solution suite concept.

We refer to this diagram as the System Software Assets of the Google gFamily Suite. The upper left-hand quadrant depicts mobile wearable system software assets, including Android Wear and Android (not shown). The lower left-hand quadrant depicts mobile non-wearable system software assets, including Android, Chrome Operating System, Chrome browser, and Android Auto

The lower right-hand quadrant depicts non-mobile non-wearable system software assets, including Android TV and Nest's Linux-based operating system (not shown). The upper right-hand quadrant depicts non-mobile wearable software assets, including Android and prospective Android VR (not shown).

The center of the diagram depicts cloud system software assets, including Google Voice Search natural language processing artificial intelligence engine, which is directly accessible from all Android and Chrome devices via the cloud.


Google gFamily Post-PC Suite: Killer App & Cloud Service Assets

The diagram below strategically positions and visually organizes the core app & cloud service assets of the Google gFamily solution suite concept.

We refer to this diagram as the Killer App & Cloud Service Assets of the Google gFamily Suite. The diagram is organized into four quadrants, with the upper left-hand, lower left-hand, lower right-hand, and upper right-hand quadrants representing strategic app & cloud service assets for wearable mobile smart devices, non-wearable mobile smart devices, non-wearable non-mobile smart devices, and wearable non-mobile smart devices, respectively.

The center of the diagram represents cloud service assets, such as Google Play (apps and digital media content including books, magazines, newspapers, music, TV shows, short films, movies, and games), which are directly accessible from all Android and Chrome devices via the cloud.

Because we strongly believe in the pivotal role of game-changing apps & cloud services in accelerating the post-PC shift from device-centric profits to service-centric profits, we shall now further analyze each of the four fundamental quadrants of the Google gFamily solution suite concept.


Master List of Google Wearable Mobile App & Cloud Service Assets

The upper left-hand quadrant is organized into three rows, with the first, second, and third rows representing wearable smart bands, smart watches, and smart glasses, respectively. Within each row, the top four killer wearable mobile app & cloud service assets are organized in priority order from left to right.

Aggregating strategic assets across smart wearable bands, watches, and glasses, we arrive at the following master list of game-changing wearable mobile app & cloud services for Google:

 

  1. Google Now (intelligent personal assistant)
  2. Google Fit (health and fitness tracking)
  3. Google Play Music (streaming digital music)
  4. Google Hangouts (unified text, voice, and video communication)
  5. Google Maps (mapping and navigation)
  6. Google Wallet (reward, loyalty, debit, and credit card payments)
  7. Google Nest (intelligent home thermostats and smoke detectors)
  8. Google YouTube (video hosting, sharing, and streaming)
  9. Google Earth (global 3D mapping and navigation)

 

Each strategic asset in the list above is followed by a concise definition in parentheses. One additional strategic asset is not shown in the master list above due to lack of space in the visual diagram: Google Gmail (email, calendar, and contacts).

Master List of Google Non-Wearable Mobile App & Cloud Service Assets

The lower left-hand quadrant is organized into three rows, with the first, second, and third rows representing non-wearable smart phones & tablets, smart laptops, and smart cars, respectively. Within each row, the top four killer non-wearable mobile app & cloud service assets are organized in priority order from left to right.

Aggregating strategic assets across smart non-wearable phones, tablets, laptops, and cars we arrive at the following master list of game-changing non-wearable mobile app & cloud services for Google:

 

  1. Google Search (web, images, and video search)
  2. Google YouTube (see above)
  3. Google Maps (see above)
  4. Google Gmail (see above)
  5. Google Hangouts (see above)
  6. Google Play Music (see above)
  7. Google Photos (photograph organization, animation, and editing)
  8. Google Apps for Work (spreadsheet, word processing, and presentation suite)
  9. Google Waze (intelligent traffic navigation)

 

Five additional strategic assets are not shown in the master list above due to lack of space in the visual diagram: Google Now (see above), Google Fit (see above), Google Wallet (see above), Google Play Games (social gaming network), and Google Drive (cloud storage, sharing, and synchronization).

Master List of Google Non-Wearable Non-Mobile App & Cloud Service Assets

The lower right-hand quadrant
is organized into two rows, with the first and second rows representing non-wearable smart things and smart televisions, respectively. Within each row, the top four killer non-wearable non-mobile app & cloud service assets are organized in priority order from left to right.

Aggregating strategic assets across smart non-wearable things and televisions, we arrive at the following master list of game-changing non-wearable non-mobile app & cloud services for Google:

 

  1. Google YouTube (see above)
  2. Google Play Games (see above)
  3. Google Hangouts (see above)
  4. Google Nest (see above)
  5. Google Dropcam (video monitoring, security, and streaming)
  6. Google Voice (Internet telephony and call management)
  7. Google Drive (see above)

 

Three additional strategic assets are not shown in the master list above due to lack of space in the visual diagram: Google Photos (see above), Google Play Music (see above), and Google Wallet (see above).

Master List of Google Wearable Non-Mobile App & Cloud Service Assets

The upper right-hand quadrant
is organized into two rows, with the first and second rows representing wearable virtual reality headsets and recorded reality headsets, respectively. Within each row, the top four killer wearable non-mobile app & cloud service assets are organized in priority order from left to right.

Aggregating strategic assets across virtual reality and recorded reality headsets, we arrive at the following master list of game-changing wearable non-mobile app & cloud services for Google:

 

  1. Google Play Games (see above)
  2. Google Earth (see above)
  3. Google Photos (see above)
  4. Google Hangouts (see above)
  5. Google Drive (see above)

 

Three additional strategic assets are not shown in the master list above due to lack of space in the visual diagram: Google YouTube (see above), Google Play Music (see above), and Google Wallet (see above).

Google gFamily Post-PC Suite: Grand Unified Visual Definition

By combining the three individual asset layers of the multidimensional strategic positioning framework into a single view for the very first time, we clearly see the extraordinarily massive scale of the prospective Google gFamily post-PC suite.

The diagram above is called the Grand Unified Visual Definition of the Google gFamily Post-PC Suite Concept. It is structured in three dimensions and contains a total of twelve quadrants organized into three slices of four quadrants each, where each slice represents a unique asset layer of the multidimensional strategic positioning framework. As illustrated in the diagram, each asset layer corresponds to one of the following three distinct sub-suites within the overall gFamily post-PC suite:

 

  1. The Google gFamily Hardware Device Suite
  2. The Google gFamily System Software Suite
  3. The Google gFamily App & Cloud Service Suite

 

Each sub-suite is based on the core set of strategic assets hardware, system software, and app & cloud service assets described previously.

The strategic asset diagrams above visually represent the answer to our fourth question. Specifically, while a single company, Google, possess a set of strategic software assets (see the diagram above entitled System Software Assets of the Google gFamily Suite) and strategic cloud service assets (see the diagram above entitled Killer App & Cloud Service Assets of the Google gFamily Suite) that constitute the basis of a potentially dominant wearable mobile post-PC suite, the firm does not currently definitively possess a set of strategic hardware assets (see the diagram above entitled Core Hardware Device Assets of the Google gFamily Suite) that constitute the basis of a dominant wearable mobile post-PC suite.

However, as the post-PC era shifts from its current phase based on device-centric profits (which flow in disproportionate share to Apple) to its next phase based on cloud-service-centric profits, Google's current strategy to focus the bulk of its resources on developing strategic cloud service assets and strategic software assets, rather than hardware assets may be the optimal strategy for the post-PC world of tomorrow.


With our fourth question answered, we are now ready to address our fifth question regarding the critical strategic product innovation & evolution pathways likely to result in sustainable differentiation, strong product cycles, and outsized profit cycles for Google.

In order to answer this central and perhaps most critical question of all six questions posed above, we shall construct a new multidimensional framework that combines the powerful capabilities of the Cyclefund strategic positioning, strategic innovation, and strategic evolution frameworks into a single grand unified visual framework for understanding, analyzing, and predicting strategic moves by leading firms competing in the post-PC wearable mobile suite space. We begin this process by reviewing our formal definition of a post-PC wearable mobile suite.


Wearable Mobile Suite Innovation Framework

By leveraging the concept of a post-PC suite of cloud-connected smart devices, we have been able to identify, list, define, and organize the complete set of strategic post-PC hardware, software, and cloud service assets possessed by Google. With this master list of strategic assets well understood, we are ready to explore and analyze what is expected to be the largest
information technology cycle of our time, the post-PC wearable mobile suite product category cycle (source: Wearable Mobile Suite page of postpcplus.com).

To begin our exploration and analysis of this massive new product category cycle, we begin with a key conceptual definition:

 

A wearable mobile suite is formally defined as a collection of cloud-connected wearable devices (smart watches, glasses, and bands) and mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, and media players) collectively optimized to provide a unified multiscreen experience for consumer, business, government, and education users as they engage in various personal, professional, and social activities throughout their day and into the night (source: Wearable Mobile Suite page of postpcplus.com).
 

With the formal definition of a wearable mobile suite of post-PC smart devices well understood, we are now in very unique position to demonstrate precisely how the Cyclefund strategic positioning framework can be combined with the Cyclefund strategic innovation framework to help private investors and wealth managers understand and analyze the competitive strategies of key players in this new, massive, and globally accelerating space.

Specifically, by combining the Cyclefund Strategic Positioning Framework for the Post-PC Era (sources: iGlass page of inocles.com and
Wearable Mobile Suite page of postpcplus.com) with the Cyclefund Strategic Product Innovation Framework for the Post-PC Era (sources: Steve Jobs page of inocles.com and Question 22 on the Post-PC Q&A page of cyclefund.com), we are able to construct a powerful new visual model for understanding and analyzing competitive product positioning and product innovation strategies in the wearable mobile suite phase of the post-PC era, as illustrated for the first time in the diagram below.

We formally refer to this diagram as the Cyclefund Unified Multidimensional Strategic Positioning & Innovation Framework for the Wearable Mobile Suite Phase of the Post-PC Era. Informally, we simply call this diagram the Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite Innovation Framework.

The multidimensional diagram comprises two distinct nested matrices. The outermost matrix represents dimensions defined by the Cyclefund strategic positioning framework. The nested innermost matrix represents dimensions defined by the Cyclefund strategic innovation framework.


The dimensions of the outermost strategic positioning matrix are the wearable mobile dimension and the post-PC era dimension. T
he dimensions of the nested innermost strategic innovation matrix are the premium suite dimension, the low-cost suite dimension, the luxury market dimension, and the mass market dimension.

Collectively, these core dimensions define three key competitive positioning post-PC spaces:

 

  1. Premium wearable mobile post-PC suites for luxury markets
  2. Premium wearable mobile post-PC suites for mass markets
  3. Low-cost wearable mobile post-PC suites for mass markets

 

Each of these unique and highly valuable competitive positioning spaces is illustrated in the wearable mobile suite innovation framework above, beginning from the lower right-hand quadrant and reading through the remaining quadrants in a counter clockwise direction.

Android Wearable Mobile Suites: Strategic Positioning of Product Innovations

The strategic positioning & innovation framework for wearable mobile post-PC devices presented in the previous section is particularly useful for understanding and analyzing competitive product positioning strategies of leading companies offering innovative mobile suites of cloud-connected smart devices.

For example, Xiaomi offers an innovative low-cost Android-based wearable mobile suite
to customers in global emerging markets, including China, Malaysia, and India. Thus, Xiaomi occupies and actively competes in the post-PC space for low-cost mass-market wearable mobile suites, as illustrated in the innovation positioning diagram below.

Moreover, Samsung offers an innovative high-end Android-based wearable mobile suite to affluent consumer and business customers worldwide. Thus, Samsung occupies and actively competes in the post-PC space for premium luxury-market mobile suites, as illustrated in the innovation positioning diagram above.

Wearable Mobile Suite Evolution Framework

In the previous section we demonstrated how the Cyclefund strategic positioning and strategic innovation frameworks can be combined into a single unified framework to help private investors and wealth managers understand competitive strategies of key players in the nascent, yet massive, and rapidly accelerating post-PC mobile suite space. In this section, we extend the combined framework by incorporating a critical new analytical dimension of infinite depth. That limitless critical dimension is the time dimension.

Specifically, by layering the Cyclefund Strategic Product Evolution Pathways Framework for the Post-PC Era (sources: Steve Jobs page of inocles.com and Question 23 on the Post-PC Q&A page of cyclefund.com) on top of the Cyclefund Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite Innovation Framework presented above, we are able to construct a significantly enhanced visual model for not only understanding and analyzing competitive product positioning and product innovation strategies, but also most importantly product evolution strategies over the critical new dimension of time, as shown for the first time in the diagram below.

We formally refer to this diagram as the Cyclefund Grand Unified Multidimensional Strategic Positioning, Innovation, and Evolution Framework for the Wearable Mobile Suite Phase of the Post-PC Era. Informally, we simply call this diagram the Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite Evolution Framework.

Android Wearable Mobile Suites: Strategic Evolution of Product Innovations

The strategic positioning, innovation, & evolution framework for wearable mobile post-PC devices presented in the previous section is particularly useful for understanding, analyzing, and predicting competitive product evolution strategies of leading companies offering innovative mobile suites of cloud-connected smart devices.

For example, while Xiaomi currently offers an innovative low-cost Android-based wearable mobile suite
to mass market customers in global emerging markets, the company is also currently actively pursuing a scale maximizing orange-path product evolution strategy, as illustrated in the innovation evolution diagram below.

In stark contrast to Xiaomi, Samsung is currently actively pursuing a profit-maximizing blue-path product evolution strategy by offering premium products to both mass market and luxury customers across the globe, as illustrated in the innovation evolution diagram above.

Let us pause for a moment and consider the following key questions: Does the strategic innovation evolution diagram above look
familiar? Do the scale-maximizing orange-path and profit-maximizing blue-path strategies represent a page directly out Steve Jobs' playbook? Are we about to witness for the second time in the history of the post-PC era a collision of orange and blue-path strategies over a narrow window in time that fundamentally reshapes the competitive landscape in the post-PC space?

The answer to all three of these questions is a definitive yes. Specifically, in the recent past we have seen a post-PC collision-path strategy successfully executed by Steve Job and his team at Apple when the firm shattered the aspirations of all competitors in the MP3 digital media player space in 2005 with the introduction and release of the Apple iPod nano (source: iPod page of inocles.com). More importantly, as we shall demonstrate below, we are at the very beginning of a
n entirely new phase of the post-PC era.

Google Challenges Apple by Borrowing a Page from Steve Jobs' Playbook

As discussed above, the Cyclefund Wearable Mobile Suite Evolution Framework postulates two distinct innovation evolution pathway strategies (the scale-maximizing orange-path strategy and the profit-maximizing blue-path strategy) for achieving sustainable competitive advantage within one or more strategic target market segments of the wearable mobile suite post-PC space.

In the past, it was possible for a single company to possess the strategic assets and requisite core competencies to profitably pursue both orange-path and blue-path innovation & evolution strategies simultaneously, resulting in a magical competitor-crushing collision-path event, as we witnessed in 2005 with the Apple iPod nano. Since that time, we have seen leading firms pursue either blue-path strategies, such as Apple and Samsung, or orange-path strategies, such as Xiaomi and Huawei, in the post-PC smartphone space and the post-PC tablet space.

Since Steve Jobs' signature strategic move in 2005 we have not seen a firm uniquely capable of engineering a converged-path or collision-path innovation & evolution strategy in the post-PC space, until now. As of this writing (mid-March 2015), we strongly believe that we are on the verge of the next singular strategic move in the post-PC space. We expect it to be a move so fundamentally powerful that it will shift the balance of profitability from device-centric firms to cloud-centric firms, a move so stunning that it will benefit primarily a single firm and its strategic device and service value chain partners. This prospective dominant game-changing firm and a small handful of its strategic partners stand to reap the lion's share of profits as the post-PC era evolves into its new cloud-centric phase.

Google Defines the Next Phase of the Post-PC Era


In this section we discuss how the current phase of the post-PC era, the device-centric phase, and the next phase of the post-PC era, the cloud-centric phase, are being aggressively reshaped and redefined by a leading post-PC firm working closely with strategic post-PC device and service value chain partners to ensure strong product and profit cycles for Android wearable mobile suites of cloud-connected smart devices. Collectively, these firms possess the strategic assets and requisite core competencies to span the critical pathways through both the post-PC device value chain system and the post-PC service value chain system.

Most importantly, these firms collectively possess the strategic hardware device assets, system software assets, and app & cloud service assets required to offer consumer, business, government, and education users worldwide the very best wearable mobile suite of cloud-connected smart devices across the three most important quadrants of the post-PC innovation & evolution framework, as shown for the first time in the diagram below.

The diagram clearly depicts a rare game-changing collision-path event unfolding in the Post-PC wearable mobile suite space at this very moment in time, with orange-path and blue-path strategies colliding within the post-PC innovation & evolution framework.

The strategic positioning, innovation, and evolution framework diagrams presented above visually represent the answer to our fifth question. The critical strategic product innovation & evolution pathways likely to result in sustainable differentiation, strong product cycles, and outsized profit cycles for Google are the orange-path innovation & evolution strategy championed by Xiaomi converging simultaneously with the blue-path innovation & evolution approach driven by Samsung.

Specifically, the leading post-PC Android device vendor for mass markets, Xiaomi, champions the orange-path innovation & evolution strategy with its game-changing low-cost wearable mobile suite of cloud-connected devices, which consists of the Xiaomi Mi Band wearable wristband, Redmi 2 smartphone, Redme Note 4G phablet, and the Mi Tab smart tablet, as shown visually in the upper left-hand quadrant in the diagram above.

In addition, the leading post-PC Android device vendor for luxury markets, Samsung, champions the blue-path innovation & evolution strategy with its killer premium wearable mobile suite of cloud-connected devices, which comprises the Samsung Gear 2 wearable smart watch, the Galaxy S6 Edge smartphone, Galaxy Note Edge phablet, and the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 smart tablet, as shown visually in the lower right-hand quadrant in the diagram above.

Lastly, the Android system software platform developer, Google, orchestrates and encourages post-PC device value chain partners to aggressively pursue both orange-path and blue-path innovation & evolution strategies by defining, designing, and showcasing its leading-edge premium wearable mobile suite for mass markets, which includes Google Glass wearable smart glasses, the Google Nexus 6 smartphone, and the Google Nexus 9 smart tablet, as shown visually in the upper right-hand quadrant in the diagram above.

In contrast to Xiaomi and Samsung which are mass-scale providers of smart devices, Google is a relatively small-scale provider of smart devices. Google's vision and purpose at this time is to motivate mass-scale providers to execute their individual orange-path or blue-path strategies at an accelerated rate, with the ultimate goal, we believe, to bring forth the second successful game-changing, competitor-crushing collision-path event in the history of the post-PC industry.

The genius of Google's visionary cloud-centric approach is that it effectively enables a single firm, Google, to define, shape, and control of the next phase of the post-PC era as well as the future of the post-PC space itself without having to commit an overabundance of resources to manufacturing rapidly commoditizing hardware device assets. Instead, the firm can singularly focus its scarce resources on higher-value layers of the asset stack, namely system software asset layer and most importantly the highly-lucrative app & cloud service asset layer, the two strategic asset layers perfectly aligned with Google's inherent core competencies in operating systems and cloud services.

With our fifth question answered, we are now ready to address our sixth and final question regarding the ability of Google’s foremost competitor, Apple, to defend its leading position in the post-PC wearable mobile suite market in 2015 against simultaneous competitor-killing collision-path attacks from below by low-cost producer Xiaomi and above by premium-producer Samsung, with each Apple competitor pursuing scale-maximizing orange-path and profit-maximizing blue-path post-PC innovation & evolution strategies for their respective low-cost wearable mobile suite and premium wearable mobile suite of post-PC cloud-connected smart devices.

In order to do so, we will construct a series of competitive analysis tables for the rise of the first post-PC wearable mobile suite, just as we did for the rise of the first post-PC device (source: iPod page of inocles.com) and the rise of the first post-PC touch device (source: iPhone page of inocles.com).

Competitive Analysis Tables for the Rise of the Wearable Mobile Post-PC Suite

In this section, we present the multidimensional structure of the competitive analysis tables to be used to rigorously examine the relative strengths and weaknesses of market-leading wearable mobile post-PC suites from Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi in early 2015.

Competitive analysis tables for each of these top post-PC suite vendors share a unified organizational structure defined by a rectangular matrix consisting of seventeen unique columns and four primary rows. The 17 columns represent the key dimensions for competitive analysis. The 4 primary rows represent the core product categories of post-PC wearable and non-wearable mobile devices that make up a post-PC wearable mobile suite. The four core product categories include the wearable mobile smartwatch category and the non-wearable mobile smartphone, phablet, and tablet categories.

With the fundamental structure of a competitive analysis table well defined, we can now list the key dimensions for analyzing the competitive position of a particular wearable mobile post-PC suite vendor. In this context, the key dimensions for competitive analysis are defined as follows:

 

  1. Name and primary networking technology, such as LTE or WiFi
  2. Size in millimeters (mm) or inches
  3. Thinness in mm
  4. Lightness in grams
  5. Screen resolution in horizontal pixels vs. vertical pixels
  6. Compute Engine clock speed in gigahertz (GHz), register capacity in bits, central processing unit (CPU) cores, and random access memory (RAM) capacity in gigabytes (GB)
  7. Battery Life in milliamp hours (mAh), typical hours of usage, or hours of video playback time
  8. Flash Storage capacity in GB
  9. Front Camera resolution in megapixels (MP)
  10. Rear Camera resolution in MP and optional sensor pixel size in micrometers
  11. Bio-Sensory Tech, such as heart rate monitors, pedometers or step monitors, fingerprint sensors, haptic feedback engines, and proximity security sensors
  12. User Interface technology, such as software operating system, operating system skin or shell, voice-controlled intelligent personal digital assistants, hardware input mechanisms such as digital crowns and pens, and software input paradigms such as tap touch and force touch
  13. Cloud Storage capacity (at no-charge to the user) in GB
  14. Charging technology, including inductive charging, wireless inductive charging, and quick charging, and power pack charging
  15. Curve technology, including single edge screen curve, dual-edge screen curve, and continuous screen curve
  16. Body Design, including frame material and color options, skin material and color options, and wristband types, materials, and color options.
  17. Market Price in U.S. dollars ($)

 

With the key dimensions well defined, we can now develop comprehensive competitive analysis tables for each of the top post-PC vendors offering compelling wearable mobile post-PC suites of cloud-connected smart devices to post-PC consumer, business, government, and education users worldwide in 2015. In the next three sections we present and discuss competitive analysis tables for Apple and its flagship wearable mobile suite for 2015, Samsung and its premium wearable mobile suite for 2015, and Xiaomi and its low-cost wearable mobile suite for 2015.

By rigorously analyzing the wearable mobile suite offerings from these leading vendors, we seek to answer three central questions:

 

  1. Which post-PC suite vendor is likely to come out on top in 2015?
  2. Which post-PC suite vendor may rise?
  3. Which post-PC suite vendor may fall?

 

The answers to these questions may surprise competitors, analysts, and investors. From our previous work on post-PC competitive strategies, we know that for any given class of post-PC device there exists a set of game-changing product features that enables a firm or group of firms to create a new product capable of achieving a dominant market position relative to all existing competitive products for a period of time.

Moreover, the dominant position is typically established very quickly over a very narrow window in time, catching competitors off guard, surprising analysts, and delighting stockholders. Examples include the collision-path innovation & evolution strategy employed by Steve Jobs and team with the game-changing Apple iPod nano, introduced in 2005 (source: Question 25 and Question 26 on the Post-PC Q&A page of cyclefund.com) and the blue-path innovation & evolution strategy employed by Steve Jobs and team with game-changing Apple iPhone 4, introduced in 2010 (source: Question 6 and Question 7 on the Apple page of postpcplus.com).

In short, in 2005 we witnessed the accelerated rise of the first post-PC device, in 2010 we saw the accelerated rise of the first post-PC touch device, and now in 2015 we are beginning to experience the accelerated rise of the first wearable mobile post-PC suite. Steve Jobs passionately championed these game-changing competitor-crushing innovations in 2005 and 2010 with the Apple iPod nano and iPhone 4.

Who will lead the charge in 2015? Will it be Steve Jobs' successor Apple CEO Tim Cook with the Apple Watch and the prospective Apple iFamily Mobile Suite? Or will we see a new global leader emerge who captures the spirit of the people and takes center stage to show the world something different, something unexpected, something truly surprising? Is something new and wonderful about to happen?

Let us consider and explore the competitive analysis tables associated with the rise of the first wearable mobile post-PC suite to find out. Before we proceed, please note that competitive analysis tables have two forms, a standard form and a redline form. The standard form of a competitive analysis table is referred to as a competitive strategy matrix or table, whereas the redline form of the competitive analysis table is called a competitive differentiation matrix or table.


Apple Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite of Cloud-Connected Smart Devices

In early 2015, Apple's flagship wearable mobile post-PC suite comprised four cloud-connected smart devices: Apple Watch smartwatch, iPhone 6 smartphone, iPhone 6 Plus phablet, and iPad Air 2 tablet, as illustrated below in the competitive strategy matrix entitled The Rise of the First Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite of Cloud-Connected Smart Devices.

sources: Cyclefund Research, apple.com, gsmarena.com, wikipedia.com

The first row of the strategy matrix represents the Apple Watch and contains two sub-rows, with the first sub-row representing the 38 millimeter (mm) Apple Watch device and the second the 42 mm device. The second row represents the Apple iPhone 6 smartphone and contains three sub-rows, with the first sub-row representing the 128 gigabyte (GB) iPhone 6 device, the second the 64 GB device, and the third the 32 GB device. The third row represents the Apple iPhone 6 Plus phablet and contains three sub-rows, with the first sub-row representing the 128 GB iPhone 6 Plus device, the second the 64 GB device, and the third the 32 GB device. The fourth and final row represents the Apple iPad Air 2 tablet and contains three sub-rows, with the first sub-row representing the 128 GB iPad Air 2 WiFi device, the second the 64 GB WiFi device, and the third the 32 GB WiFi device.

Please note that all rows of the Apple competitive strategy matrix above are highlighted in blue to denote the blue-path innovation & evolution strategy employed by Apple for the Apple Wearable Mobile Suite.

By highlighting core Apple product features that provide competitive disadvantage (in red) and advantage (in green) relative to key competitors in the wearable mobile suite market in early 2015, we transform the Apple competitive strategy matrix presented above into the powerful and visually insightful competitive differentiation matrix below.

source: Cyclefund Research

We formally refer to the Apple competitive differentiation matrix above as The Rise of the First Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite with Competitive Differentiation Highlights. By examining the highlighted elements of the matrix, we can quickly identify, list, and expand upon the relative competitive strengths and weakness of each of the cloud-connected post-PC devices that constitute the early-2015 Apple wearable mobile post-PC suite, and do so for Apple in the next four sections.

Apple Watch Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Apple post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Apple Watch possesses the following eight relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. Highly scratch resistant display screen made of sapphire crystal
  2. Innovative compute and graphics engine entirely self-contained in a tiny system package
  3. Eight gigabytes of on-board storage for digital media content, such as music and photos, and wearable applications or apps, such as fitness apps, social networking apps, navigation apps, and digital payment apps
  4. Novel haptic feedback engine for alerting, guiding, and touching users; proximity security sensors enabling device awareness of user presence for access to sensitive information or secure transactions
  5. Unique digital crown rotating micro-wheel allowing users to efficiently and intuitively navigate the watch's relatively small screen
  6. Force touch technology for enhancing user interface gestures and precision, especially in distinguishing between screen taps and more forceful screen or button presses for accessing additional options or changing response rates
  7. Inductive charging via a magnetic connector that snaps onto the back of the device
  8. Precision build quality, high-value material selection front and back, and a wide variety of band styles, materials, and colors to enable each user to uniquely customize and personalize his or her wearable device

 

In contrast, the Apple Watch possesses the following nine relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. Thick 10.5 millimeter (mm) enclosure
  2. Heavy 50 gram case without bands
  3. No multiday battery life
  4. No camera of the front or side of the device or its wristband
  5. No fingerprint sensor
  6. No wireless charging 
  7. No curvature of the display to wrap along the natural curve of one's wrist
  8. No compatibility with non-Apple devices
  9. High price at $549 and $599 for the 38 mm and 42 mm models, respectively

 

Weighing the 8 positive competitive strengths against the 9 negative competitive weaknesses of the Apple Watch, we believe that while Apple has introduced a compelling new watch platform that will likely shape the wearable computing industry for the next five to ten years, we strongly believe that the firm has missed a once in a generation opportunity to surprise the world with something truly wonderful. In summary, the Apple Watch is too thick, heavy, and costly to win the hearts and minds of the consumer, especially given its substandard battery life and lack of a natural wrist-hugging curve, which would have boosted the wearable's visual appeal.

While Apple has a well-established track record for making its devices thinner, lighter, and appealing across major design innovations (for example, the Apple iPod was made 65 percent thinner and 77 percent lighter between its original introduction in 2001 and 2005 with the introduction of the Apple iPod nano; sources: Cyclefund Research and everymac.com), we believe the company has inadvertently opened and highlighted a gaping hole in the wearable space for a nimble competitor to enter the market in the near-term with a more svelte, light, and curvaceous wristwatch that offers superior multi-day battery life.

Perhaps Apple will quickly fill this hole itself with the next major design iteration. However, we strongly believe that the firm does not have the luxury of time that it once enjoyed between major post-PC design innovations. Apple enjoyed a design innovation window of four years between the introduction of the original Apple iPod post-PC smart media player in 2001 and the first major evolution of the product in 2005 with the Apple iPod nano. Similarly, the company enjoyed a window of three years between the introduction of the original Apple iPhone post-PC smartphone in 2007 and the first major product evolution in 2010 with the Apple iPhone 4. In stark contrast, we believe that the innovation window for the Apple Watch post-PC smartwatch, the firm's first true wearable product, is significantly less, perhaps as short as one year.

In short, we believe that the innovation window in the post-PC device space is experiencing cyclic compression, or temporally accelerated innovation & evolution cycles, and the industry's current post-PC innovation leader, Apple, needs to move, and move very quickly. Recall that Research In Motion (RIMM) lost the 3G mobile smartphone war to Apple in 2010 because its offering was too thick, heavy, and slow, with substandard battery life and a sparse selection of apps (source: iPhone page of inocles.com). While the new Apple Watch is not expected to be exceedingly slow nor offer fewer apps than competing wearable products, it does currently suffer from the other maladies designed into the competitive offering that initially jeopardized and ultimately destroyed the future of RIMM. The bottom line is clear for Apple: The firm cannot afford to jeopardize its future by assuming that it has several years to introduce the next major evolution of its new wearable.

Apple iPhone 6 Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Apple post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Apple iPhone 6 possesses the following two relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. Simple, intuitive user experience provided by the Apple iOS mobile operating system
  2. Solid build quality integrating glass and metal enclosure materials

 

In contrast, the Apple iPhone 6 possesses the following ten relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. Only 1334 x 750 screen resolution, rather than 2560 x 1440
  2. Only 2 central processing unit (CPU) cores, rather than 4 or 8
  3. Only 1 gigabyte (GB) of random access memory (RAM), rather than 2 or 3
  4. Only 1.2 megapixel (MP) front camera resolution, rather than 3 or more
  5. Only single windowing, rather than dual app or multi-window
  6. Only 5 GB of cloud storage via Apple iCloud, rather 50 GB or more
  7. No inductive charging
  8. No wireless charging
  9. No quick charging
  10. No curvature on the edges or face of the display

 

Weighing 2 positive competitive strengths against the 10 negative competitive weaknesses of the Apple iPhone 6, we believe that while Apple has a strong system software platform and a sleek and comfortable physical enclosure, the firm needs to do a complete and rapid revamp of the device's internal hardware components in order to retain its leading position in the smartphone market throughout 2015, otherwise nimble and agile competitors such as premium-producer Samsung and low-cost-producer Xiaomi will likely recapture and capture significant share at the high-end and low-end of the market, respectively.

The possibility of Samsung retaking and Xiaomi taking smartphone market share from Apple is highly significant. One of the central benefits of the Apple iOS mobile operating system is its heretofore unassailable ecosystem of third-party mobile application software developers who prioritize building apps for Apple iOS as their top or first priority and for competing mobile operating systems, such as Google Android, as their second priority. Should the smartphone unit-share market dynamics shift to favor Android-based firms such as Samsung and Xiaomi over iOS-based Apple, mobile application developers would naturally reassess their priorities, thereby creating the necessary conditions for the occurrence of a tipping-point event.

Should that tipping-point event occur, we would expect to see a rather marked decline in Apple's unit-share, quarterly earnings, and equity performance over a relatively narrow window in
time. Recall that Nokia's mobile and smartphone installed base reached a saturation point globally in the middle of 2010 while Apple's post-PC smartphone installed base reached an acceleration point globally in late 2011 resulting in Nokia's annual profits achieving a local peak in late 2010 and then declining catastrophically into 2012 (source: Post-PC Waves page of cyclefund.com) as application developers fled Nokia’s Symbian mobile operating system platform and flocked to Apple iOS.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Apple post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Apple iPhone 6 Plus possesses the following five relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. Thin form factor for a phablet-class device with a thickness of 7.1 mm
  2. Long battery life with video playback time of 11 hours
  3. Optical image stabilization (OIS) for reducing camera shake and improving video quality
  4. Simple, intuitive user experience provided by the Apple iOS mobile operating system
  5. Solid build quality seamlessly integrating glass and metal enclosure materials

 

In contrast, the Apple iPhone 6 Plus possesses the following nine relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. Only 2 central processing unit (CPU) cores, rather than 4 or 8
  2. Only 1 gigabyte (GB) of random access memory (RAM), rather than 2 or 3
  3. Only 1.2 megapixel (MP) front camera resolution, rather than 3 or more
  4. Only single windowing, rather than dual app or multi-window
  5. Only 5 GB of cloud storage via Apple iCloud, rather 50 GB or more
  6. No inductive charging
  7. No wireless charging
  8. No quick charging
  9. No curvature on the edges or face of the display

 

Weighing the 5 positive competitive strengths against the 9 negative competitive weaknesses of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, we believe that while the iPhone 6 Plus offers a handful of competitive strengths over the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus shares nearly all of the competitive weaknesses of the iPhone 6, and therefore it too needs a rapid and substantial internal overhaul to remain competitive in the global smartphone market in 2015.

Apple iPad Air 2 Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Apple post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Apple iPad Air 2 possesses the following five relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. Very thin form factor with a device thickness of 6.1 mm
  2. 4:3 aspect ratio display optimized for reading and browsing
  3. Simple, intuitive user experience provided by the Apple iOS mobile operating system
  4. Large selection of apps optimized for a tablet form factor, rather than rescaled smartphone apps
  5. Solid build quality integrating glass and metal enclosure materials

 

In contrast, the Apple iPad Air 2 possesses the following seven relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. Only 1.2 megapixel (MP) front camera resolution, rather than 3 or more
  2. Only single windowing, rather than multi-window
  3. Only 5 GB of cloud storage via Apple iCloud, rather 50 GB or more
  4. No inductive charging
  5. No wireless charging
  6. No quick charging
  7. High price at $499, $599, and $699 for the 16 GB, 32 GB, and 128 GB models, respectively

 

Weighing the 5 positive competitive strengths against the 7 negative competitive weaknesses, we believe that Apple iPad Air will maintain its market leading position in cloud-connected post-PC tablets throughout 2015 by addressing its competitive weaknesses and maintaining or extending its competitive strengths via its natural annual upgrade cycle. However, we are particularly concerned about the last competitive weakness listed above, price, and believe that the Apple iPad Air will face considerable pricing pressure later in the year due to the expected introduction of competitive tablet product offerings from Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, and Xiaomi.

Samsung Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite of Cloud-Connected Smart Devices

In early 2015, Samsung's premium wearable mobile post-PC suite comprised four cloud-connected smart devices: Samsung Gear S smartwatch, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge smartphone, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge phablet, and Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 tablet, as illustrated below in the competitive strategy matrix entitled The Rise of the Samsung Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite of Cloud-Connected Smart Devices.

sources: Cyclefund Research, samsung.com, gsmarena.com, wikipedia.com

The first row of the strategy matrix represents Samsung Gear S and contains one sub-row representing the 58 millimeter Gear S 3G device. The second row represents the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge smartphone and contains three sub-rows, with the first sub-row representing the 128 gigabyte (GB) Galaxy S6 Edge device, the second the 64 GB device, and the third the 32 GB device. The third row represents the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge phablet and contains one sub-row representing the 32 GB Galaxy Note Edge device. The fourth and final row represents the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 tablet and contains one sub-row representing the 16 GB Galaxy Tab S 10.5 WiFi device.

Please note that all rows of the Samsung competitive strategy matrix above are highlighted in blue to denote the blue-path innovation & evolution strategy employed by Samsung for the Samsung Wearable Mobile Suite. For a brief discussion of blue-path strategies related to post-PC mobile suites, please refer to the section above entitled Android Wearable Mobile Suites: Strategic Evolution of Product Innovations. For a more detailed explanation of blue-path strategies in general, please refer to the Steve Jobs page of inocles.com.

By highlighting core Samsung product features that provide competitive disadvantage (in red) and advantage (in green) relative to key competitors in the wearable mobile suite market in early 2015, we transform the Samsung competitive strategy matrix presented above into the powerful and visually insightful competitive differentiation matrix below.

source: Cyclefund Research

We formally refer to the Samsung competitive differentiation matrix above as The Rise of the Samsung Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite with Competitive Differentiation Highlights. By examining the highlighted elements of the matrix, we can quickly identify, list, and expand upon the relative competitive strengths and weakness of each of the cloud-connected post-PC devices that constitute the early-2015 Samsung wearable mobile post-PC suite, and do so for Samsung in the next four sections.

Samsung Gear S Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Samsung post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Samsung Gear S possesses the following four relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. Independent 3G wireless network connectivity
  2. 480 x 360 high resolution display for text, email, photos, steps, maps, and apps
  3. Portable mobile power pack integrated directly into the charging unit
  4. Continuously curved display that wraps naturally around one's wrist

 

In contrast, the Samsung Gear S possesses the following eight relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. Tall 58 millimeters (mm) enclosure
  2. Thick 12.5 mm enclosure
  3. Heavy 67 gram device, including standard wristband
  4. No multiday battery life
  5. No camera of the front or side of the device or its wristband
  6. No fingerprint sensor
  7. No wireless charging
  8. No compatibility with non-Samsung devices

 

Weighing the 4 positive competitive strengths against the 8 negative competitive weaknesses of the Samsung Gear S, we believe that while the Samsung Gear S will struggle to gain traction in the wearable smartwatch space, it will represent a pioneering effort to showcase the inherent value of a large naturally curved screen for enabling post-PC users to productively access information and immediately process critical alerts, notifications, and messages directly from their wrist.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Samsung post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge possesses the following fourteen relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. Large screen size for a smartphone-class device with a 5.1 inch display measured diagonally
  2. 2560 x 1440 high resolution display for improving user viewing experience
  3. Eight-core central processing unit (CPU) for improving system performance
  4. 3 gigabytes (GB) of random access memory (RAM) for improving system performance
  5. 5 megapixel (MP) front camera with wide-angle lens for improving selfies with friends
  6. 13 MP rear camera for capturing high definition photographs and videos
  7. Optical image stabilization (OIS) for reducing camera shake and improving video quality
  8. Multi-window multitasking for improving user productivity
  9. 115 GB of OneDrive cloud storage from Microsoft for storing documents and media content
  10. Inductive charging support, eliminating the need to plugin the device
  11. Wireless charging support, eliminating the need to use a power cord
  12. Quick charging support, enabling partial device charging at very rapid rates
  13. Curved edges on both left and right-hand sides of the main display
  14. Solid build quality integrating glass and metal enclosure materials

 

In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge possesses the following single relative competitive weakness:

 

  1. High price at $699, $799, and $899 U.S. dollars unlocked for the 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB models, respectively

 

Weighing 14 positive competitive strengths against the 1 negative competitive weakness of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, we believe that Samsung has a barn-burner on its hands and stands to take back share from competitors in the premium device luxury and mass-market segments of the post-PC smartphone space throughout 2015.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Samsung post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge possesses the following ten relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. 2560 x 1600 high resolution display
  2. 3 gigabytes (GB) of random access memory (RAM)
  3. 3.7 megapixel (MP) front camera
  4. Optical image stabilization (OIS)
  5. S Pen stylus input control device
  6. Multi-window multitasking
  7. 50 GB of cloud storage from Dropbox
  8. Quick charging support
  9. Curved edge on the right-hand side of the main display
  10. Solid build quality

 

In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge possesses the following three relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. Thick 8.3 mm enclosure
  2. Textured synthetic material constituting the back of the device
  3. High price at $799 U.S. dollars unlocked for the 32 GB model

 

Weighing 10 positive competitive strengths against the 3 negative competitive weaknesses of the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, we believe that Samsung will introduce several compelling new features, including several currently found in the Galaxy S6 Edge, to the next version of the Galaxy Note Edge, the company's flagship phablet-class cloud-connected post-PC device, expected to be announced and released in late 2015.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Samsung post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 possesses the following six relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. Eight-core central processing unit (CPU)
  2. 3 gigabytes (GB) of random access memory (RAM)
  3. Long battery life with video playback time of 12 hours
  4. Multi-window multitasking
  5. 50 GB of cloud storage from Dropbox
  6. Solid build quality

 

In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 possesses the following two relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. 16:10 aspect ratio display, sub-optimal for reading and browsing
  2. Soft synthetic material constituting the back of the device

 

Weighing 6 positive competitive strengths against the 2 negative competitive weaknesses of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, we believe that Samsung will introduce several compelling new features, including several currently found in the Galaxy S6 Edge, to the next version of the Galaxy Tab S, the company's flagship tablet-class cloud-connected post-PC device for consumers, expected to be announced and released in mid-2015.

Xiaomi Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite of Cloud-Connected Smart Devices


In early 2015, Xiaomi's low-cost wearable mobile post-PC suite comprised four cloud-connected smart devices: Xiaomi Mi Band smart wristband, Xiaomi Redmi 2 smartphone, Xiaomi Redmi Note LTE phablet, and Xiaomi Mi Pad tablet, as illustrated below in the competitive strategy matrix entitled The Rise of the Xiaomi Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite of Cloud-Connected Smart Devices.

sources: Cyclefund Research, mi.com, gsmarena.com, wikipedia.com

The first row of the strategy matrix represents Xiaomi Mi Band and contains one sub-row representing the 36 millimeter Mi Band Bluetooth device. The second row represents the Xiaomi Redmi 2 smartphone and contains one sub-row representing the Redmi 2 LTE device. The third row represents the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G phablet and contains one sub-row representing the 8 GB Redmi Note 4G LTE device. The fourth and final row represents the Xiaomi Mi Pad tablet and contains one sub-row representing the 16 GB Mi Pad WiFi device.

Please note that all rows of the Xiaomi competitive strategy matrix above are highlighted in orange to denote the orange-path innovation & evolution strategy employed by Xiaomi for the Xiaomi Wearable Mobile Suite. For a brief discussion of orange-path strategies related to post-PC mobile suites, please refer to the section above entitled Android Wearable Mobile Suites: Strategic Evolution of Product Innovations. For a more detailed explanation of orange-path strategies in general, please refer to the Steve Jobs page of inocles.com.

By highlighting core Xiaomi product features that provide competitive disadvantage (in red) and advantage (in green) relative to key competitors in the wearable mobile suite market in early 2015, we transform the Xiaomi competitive strategy matrix presented above into the powerful and visually insightful competitive differentiation matrix below.

source: Cyclefund Research

We formally refer to the Xiaomi competitive differentiation matrix above as The Rise of the Xiaomi Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite with Competitive Differentiation Highlights. By examining the highlighted elements of the matrix, we can quickly identify, list, and expand upon the relative competitive strengths and weakness of each of the cloud-connected post-PC devices that constitute the early-2015 Xiaomi wearable mobile post-PC suite, and do so for Xiaomi in the next four sections.

Xiaomi Mi Band Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Xiaomi post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Xiaomi Mi Band possesses the following seven relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. Thin 9,0 millimeter (mm) enclosure
  2. Light 5 gram casing, without band
  3. Multiday battery life of 30 days
  4. Proximity security for instantly unlocking supported smartphones, tablets, and other devices
  5. Dust proof and water resistant (1 meter for 30 minutes) in accordance with IP67 standard
  6. Precision build quality, metal case, and soft silicone bands in numerous colors
  7. Very affordable price at $13 U.S. dollars

 

In contrast, the Xiaomi Mi Band possesses the following ten relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. No 3G wireless network connectivity
  2. No WiFi wireless network connectivity
  3. No display, other than three multi-color indicator lights
  4. No operating system
  5. No camera
  6. No fingerprint sensor
  7. No inductive charging
  8. No wireless charging
  9. No curved display
  10. No compatibility with non-Xiaomi devices

 

Weighing the 7 positive competitive strengths against the 10 negative competitive weaknesses of the Xiaomi Mi Band, we believe that the Xiaomi Mi Band will be a runaway hit across global markets because of its extraordinarily low price point and its unmistakable focus on health, fitness, and sleep applications that strategically capitalize on the device's light weight, attractive design, and remarkable battery life, essentially allowing users to charge it up once a month and never take it off day or night.

Xiaomi Redmi 2 Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Xiaomi post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Xiaomi Redmi 2 possesses the following six relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. Quad-core central processing unit (CPU)

  2. Intuitive user experience provided by the MIUI mobile operating system skin for Android

  3. Voice-controlled intelligent assistant (must install Google Now via Google Play Store)

  4. Quick charging support

  5. Numerous body color choices

  6. Very affordable price at $110 U.S. dollars unlocked for the 16 GB model

 

In contrast, the Xiaomi Redmi 2 possesses the following ten relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. Thick 9.4 millimeter (mm) enclosure
  2. Only 1280 x 720 screen resolution
  3. Only 1 gigabyte (GB) of random access memory (RAM)
  4. Only 8 GB of onboard flash storage
  5. Only 2 megapixel (MP) front camera resolution
  6. Only 5 GB of cloud storage via Mi Cloud
  7. No inductive charging
  8. No wireless charging
  9. No curvature on the edges or face of the display
  10. Plastic material constituting the back of the device

 

Weighing the 6 positive competitive strengths against the 10 negative competitive weaknesses of the Xiaomi Redmi 2, we believe the Redmi 2 smartphone represents an extraordinary value for consumers in the low-cost, mass-market segment of the international smartphone space. Moreover, we expect both local and global post-PC smartphone competitors will find it extremely difficult to compete with Xiaomi in this particular segment of the market, essentially allowing Xiaomi to capture new post-PC smartphone users in developing markets, such as China, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia, at accelerating rates.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Xiaomi post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G possesses the following six relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. Quad-core central processing unit (CPU)
  2. 2 gigabytes (GB) of random access memory (RAM)
  3. 5 megapixel (MP) front camera
  4. 13 MP rear camera
  5. Intuitive user experience provided by the MIUI mobile operating system skin for Android
  6. Voice-controlled intelligent assistant (must install Google Now via Google Play Store)
  7. Very affordable price at $160 U.S. dollars unlocked for the 16 GB model

 

In contrast, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G possesses the following eleven relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. Thick 9.45 millimeter (mm) enclosure
  2. Only 1280 x 720 screen resolution
  3. Only 6 hours of video playback
  4. Only 8 GB of onboard flash storage
  5. Only 5 GB of cloud storage via Mi Cloud
  6. No inductive charging
  7. No wireless charging
  8. No quick charging
  9. No curvature on the edges or face of the display
  10. No body color choices, only black front with white back (optional multicolor sleeves available)
  11. Plastic material constituting the back of the device

 

Weighing the 6 positive competitive strengths against the 11 negative competitive weaknesses of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G, we believe that while the Redmi Note 4G phablet offers several compelling features at an extremely attractive price point for a phablet-class post-PC device, the device needs significant internal and external enhancements in order to remain competitive in the mass-market segment of the international smartphone space in 2015.

 

Xiaomi Mi Pad Competitive Strengths and Weaknesses

 

As illustrated in the competitive differentiation matrix for the Xiaomi post-PC wearable mobile suite above, the Xiaomi Mi Pad possesses the following seven relative competitive strengths:

 

  1. 4:3 aspect ratio display optimized for reading and browsing
  2. Quad-core central processing unit (CPU)
  3. 5 megapixel (MP) front camera
  4. Intuitive user experience provided by the MIUI mobile operating system skin for Android
  5. Voice-controlled intelligent assistant (must install Google Now via Google Play Store)
  6. Numerous body color choices
  7. Affordable price at $210 U.S. dollars for the 16 GB model

 

In contrast, the Xiaomi Mi Pad possesses the following seven relative competitive weaknesses:

 

  1. Small screen size with a 7.9 inch display measured diagonally
  2. Thick 8.5 millimeter (mm) enclosure
  3. Only 5 GB of cloud storage via Mi Cloud
  4. No inductive charging
  5. No wireless charging
  6. No quick charging
  7. Plastic material constituting the back of the device

 

Weighing the 7 positive competitive strengths against the 7 negative competitive weaknesses of the Xiaomi Mi Pad, we believe that other than its small screen, thick enclosure, and plastic back, the Mi Pad is a solid competitive offering. Moreover, we expect Xiaomi to address these competitive weaknesses in a new tablet offering later in 2015.

 

Which Post-PC Vendor has the Best Wearable Mobile Suite for 2015?

 

In the previous fifteen sections, we presented a detailed competitive analysis of leading wearable mobile post-PC suites for the first time based on well-established competitive strategy and competitive differentiation frameworks from Cyclefund Research. The analysis was conducted in Q1 of 2015, and it included the following post-PC suites from three leading post-PC vendors:

 

  1. The Apple wearable mobile post-PC suite for early 2015, or iFamily Suite for short
  2. The Samsung wearable mobile post-PC suite for early 2015, or sFamily Suite for short
  3. The Xiaomi wearable mobile post-PC suite for early 2015, or miFamily Suite for short

 

Each of the suites above included individual market leading products from Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi spanning four fundamental classes of post-PC devices: smartwatches, smartphones, phablets, and tablets. Based on the detailed competitive analysis of the relative competitive strengths and weaknesses of individual devices from the three leading post-PC wearable mobile suite vendors, we present the following best-in-class awards for early 2015:

 

  • Best Post-PC Smartwatch in early 2015: Apple Watch
  • Best Post-PC Smartphone in early 2015: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
  • Best Post-PC Phablet in early 2015: Samsung Galaxy Note 4
  • Best Post-PC Tablet in early 2015: Apple iPad Air 2

 

More importantly, we present the best-across-class award for early 2015 as follows:

 

  • Best Post-PC Wearable Mobile Suite in Early 2015: Apple iFamily Suite

 

The wearable mobile post-PC suite from Xiaomi wins an honorable mention for delivering a complete suite of cloud-connected post-PC wearable and non-wearable mobile devices at a heretofore unprecedented prices point.

 

Google: The Ultimate Winner of the Cloud-Service Phase of the Post-PC Era

 

In the previous sections, we introduced the grand unified strategic investment, innovation, and evolution framework from Cyclefund Research and employed this unified model and its supporting competitive strategy and differentiation matrices to analyze the relative strengths and weakness of three leading global post-PC firms, Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi, fiercely competing in early-2015 for dominant positions within the nascent market for wearable mobile post-PC suites of cloud-connected smart devices, as illustrated in the innovation evolution diagram below.

We refer to this diagram as The Wearable Mobile Post-PC Suite War of 2015 - 2017. It represents the innovation and evolution pathways to be pursued by the world's leading post-PC suite and cloud-service vendors, Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Google, as they compete in the greatest technology war of our time.

 

Using the unified Cyclefund model and its companion competitive strategy and differentiation matrices, we predict that Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi will pursue the following competitive positioning, innovation, and evolution strategies within the wearable mobile post-PC space:

 

  1. Apple and Samsung will each pursue blue-path innovation & evolution strategies designed to maximize the likelihood of retaining their respective leading positions in the premium-suite, luxury-market segment, as depicted in the lower-right quadrant of the unified model below.
  2. Xiaomi will pursue an orange-path innovation & evolution strategy designed to maximize the likelihood of dominating the low-cost-suite, mass-market segment, as depicted in the upper-left quadrant of the unified model below.
  3. Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi will all collide violently as they each seek to establish leading positions in the coveted premium-suite, mass-market segment, as depicted in the upper-right quadrant of the unified model.

 

Moreover, and most importantly, we predict that Google will pursue a virtual collision-path innovation & evolution strategy designed to uniquely capitalize on the orange-path competitive strategy of Xiaomi and the blue-path competitive strategies of Apple and Samsung.

How will Google accomplish this truly revolutionary competitor-crushing coup (not seen in the post-PC industry since Steve Job's shattered all competitors in the portable media player space with the collision-path introduction of Apple iPod nano in 2005, source: iPod page of inocles.com) and catapult itself into the dominant position across all segments of the wearable mobile post-PC suite space? The answer this critical question is simply: post-PC user engagement 24/7, as illustrated in the multidimensional engagement diagram below.

We refer to this diagram as the Killer App and Cloud Services from Google for Maximizing User Engagement 24/7 in the Post-PC Era across All Post-Post Devices, Platforms, and Vendors. This post-PC user engagement framework represents what we strongly believe to be the single most comprehensive and compelling competitive approach for monopolizing the time of nearly every cloud-connected person, device, and thing around the globe.

No competitor comes close, for to do so would require the competitor, and its strategic partners, to span the Cyclefund post-PC device value chain, the Cyclefund post-PC service value chain, and offer post-PC users a complete set of game-changing post-PC apps and cloud services that span wearable and non-wearable dimensions of the Cyclefund post-PC strategic positioning framework. As of this writing, Google is the only post-PC firm that possesses the core competencies and strategic assets required to span all of these fundamental competitive structures.