iOS14: It’s the Ecosystem, Stupid — The Value Engineers

This fall, Apple will release its iOS14 operating system. Or more accurately, it will release its iOS14 ecosystem. Previews of the update given by Apple, MacRumors, Techradar, and The Telegraph Technology reveal that nearly all of its new functions consist of improvements in the way it creates value from ecosystems. Altogether, three ecosystems are involved: The ecosystem of businesses needed by Apple to offer new iOS 14 features, the ecosystem of users when they are using iOS 14, and the ecosystem of the experience that these users have. Let’s review the improvements to each of these ecosystems.

Business ecosystem

The business ecosystem of Apple consists of the businesses that, together with Apple, depend on each other to survive and thrive. Apple could not survive and thrive without these companies. Conversely, many of these companies depend for their well-being and survival on their relationship with Apple.

iOS 14 allows you to stack up to 10 widgets on your home screen and offers a context-sensitive smart stack feature that shows you the most relevant widget on top, depending on your location and the time of day. This requires interfaces with time servers and location providers such as GPS and Wifi routers. And to learn which one to put on top, it needs a crowd -possibly containing you- to label apps as relevant.

Apple maps contains a Guides feature that lets users find interesting places, based on recommendations from journalists and exploring companies. It also lets you plan vehicle routes with electric vehicle charging stations. All of this requires interfaces with mapmakers, journalists, exploring companies and the owners of charging stations.

Siri has been extended to send audio messages as well as dictated texts, which requires the services, once again, of a crowd to assist it in machine learning.

Apple clips are small parts of an app that can be executed without downloading the entire app. Downloading the clip takes a few seconds and after execution, it disappears. This is useful for ordering a restaurant through Yelp, renting a shared scooter etc. This requires interfaces and agreements with third party providers of apps of which a clip is downloaded.

iOS 14 offers digital car keys by which you can unlock your car through your iPhone or Apple Watch. The service will be available for BMW 5, and more models are expected soon. This requires agreements with car manufacturers and secure interfaces to car models. Further integration with car user interfaces is expected.

Apple had planned to ask the user permission for tracking the user by any app. This would be a great feature for preserving privacy, but after pressure from advertisers and app developers, the feature is delayed. Clearly, the feature would make Apple thrive even more, but it would make the Apple ecosystem less attractive for the many businesses whose survival and well-being depend on it.

Safari will contain a password monitoring feature that warns you if one of your passwords has been involved in a known data breach. If it finds a breach, it lets you know and it generates a new password for you.

Third parties will be able to use Apples Find My feature. This will allow users to track devices on their Apple devices using the Find My app.

All these improvements to iOS services extend Apple’s already huge value network by integrating these services with those of other business actors.

User ecosystem

A user ecosystem consists of the people and devices on which the user depends for their survival and well-being. This includes the user’s friends and family and, in Apple’s world, a smart home system.

Apple maps allows you to share your estimated arrival time (ETA) with your friends and family. Digital car keys can be shared with friends and family, and Apple One lets users buy feature bundles that can be shared through Apple’s Family Sharing system with as many as five others. Family Sharing also allows you to share in-app subscriptions and purchases with your family members. HomeKit and the home app has some new features for Apple’s smart home platform.

Apple Arcade has an in-game dashboard that allows you to see you and your friends’ game progress

All in all, Apple will support you when you drive home, play with friends, and switch off the lights before you go to bed.

Experience ecosystem

Another look at the user is to consider his or her experience ecosystem: The system of actors that jointly provide Apple users with experiences. This includes Apple, of course, but the user also has experiences with non-Apple actors. Apple does not have a relationship with those actors, but the user has. The user survives and thrives in a larger experience ecosystem provided by the Apple business ecosystem and the ecosystem of non-Apple businesses. I show here the experience ecosystem of actor s to which Apple is not directly related.

Apple has capitulated to demands from its users to set rival company software, such as Google’s Gmail or Mozilla’s Firefox, as default apps. iMessage has been extended with functions that users know from Facebook’s WhatsApp, such as discussion threads, and it will finally introduce a translation app, as users are familiar with from Google. The library of Memoji’s has been extended to agree with cultural values shared by many users and it includes extensions with face masks.

Create value through your ecosystem

In short, iOS 14 updates Apple’s experience ecosystem to agree a bit more with the world outside the Apple ecosphere.

Developing an update of iOS amounts to

  • adding features to extract more value from the Apple ecosystem and to
  • extend the ecosystem to offer more value to the user.

This requires coordination and agreements among a host of actor s. Writing the software to create new user experiences is the last step in this process.

This story illustrates that to create business value from software, you must enhance your ecosystem. And when you enhance your business ecosystem to offer more value to users, don’t forget to also improve the personal ecosystem of your users, and of the experiences of your users.

Originally published at https://www.thevalueengineers.nl on September 17, 2020.

Professor emeritus Information Systems, University of Twente, The Netherlands. Co-founder and Director, The Value Engineers (www.thevalueengineers.nl).

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store