Apple must set standards to stay ahead: Steve Wozniak

BERLIN: Apple has kept its power to determine the course of consumer electronics even as it faces tougher competition in mobile phones and tablets, said Steve Wozniak, who co-founded the company with Steve Jobs in 1976.

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Companies such as Amazon.com and Google “all have great ideas, but sometimes you need a critical mass of loyal users that will instantly buy and go this direction ,” Wozniak said. “Apple is really good at setting a standard with a new device. Apple still has its halo in that regard.” Apple should consider opening up its ecosystem, for instance by allowing buyers of mobile devices running Microsoft or Google Android to use the iTunes media-management software, Wozniak said.

Without features to outclass competing devices, Cupertino, California-based Apple is having to rely more on its appeal as a premium brand, he said. “We used to have these ads, I’m a Mac and I’m a PC, and the Mac was always the cool guy,” he said. “And ouch, it’s painful, because we kind of are losing that.”

Wrist device

As Apple shares have slumped 34% since a September peak, chief executive officer Tim Cook faces calls for revolutionary new machines that will prop up profitability. Apple has a team of about 100 product designers working on a wrist watch-like device that may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad, sources said, persons familiar with the plans said last week.

Wozniak, who said he’s been wearing an iPod Nano player on his wrist for the past few years, said he would welcome such an innovation, especially if Apple improves the voice-recognition function of its Siri software . “Apple can keep engineers working so intently toward the right product, you don’t have to rush something out ahead of time,” he said.

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