It may sound hard to believe if you were a hardened smartphone user before the iPhone, but the products were broke. Software was expensive, the phones were difficult to set up and run, and they were very much a niche product. Apple changed all of that with the iPhone and Google, Microsoft and the rest followed to make smartphones that normal people want to use. People whose priorities are their children, money, work and life. Phones are just objects that help them manage the necessities of life and they don’t want the hassle of fiddling with them.
This also explains why Ping never took off. We have Twitter, Facebook and Google+ which all work and Ping is too enclosed in the Apple eco-system to fly. iCloud is Apple’s next big development and it works extremely well for those who are entranced in the Apple system, but for everyone else it is just another Cloud system that shares information between mobile and static devices. Google already offers much of the same functionality for free and can be used on ‘any’ computer no matter who makes it.
Social networks and the Cloud are far from broke and success comes from making products that either completely reinvigorate a genre (tablets) or fix a genre that is failing in many ways (smartphones). Apple and the rest need to look closely at what needs fixing and what needs inventing. And this makes the prospect of an Apple TV fascinating. The industry is neither broke or dying and it could be a tough nut to crack, even for Apple.