Apple's Archaic Software and Services Could Be Its Achilles' Heel

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I could write an article speculating about what will happen on Sept. 9, but that's what everybody else is doing. And, quite honestly, beyond the broadly obvious, I'm not sure what Apple (AAPL) will do next week.

With that in mind, I decided to write about something a bit different; something I think is worth riffing on.

I should also add that the naked celebrity hack scandal did not inspire this query in the least. In fact, I conceived this column before that story broke.

It was actually toward the end of last week as, for the first time in a long time, I opened the "Notes" app on my iPhone. A few days earlier I had heard Taylor Swift mention on her Yahoo! live stream that she'll use some "Voice Memos" she recorded on her forthcoming album. It's safe to assume she used the "Voice Memo" app on her iPhone to conduct this business.

Notes and Voice Memo, like similar default Apple applications (Reminders, Calendar, etc.) are about as basic as it gets. At a higher level, the same pretty much applies for iTunes. It's not drastically different today -- in form or function -- from what it was when Steve Jobs introduced it.

Across the board there's a third-party app that works better than the ones Apple offers. From Spotify and Pandora (P) to Evernote to the hundreds of to-do list/organizer/scheduling apps that saturate the App Store, you can find utilitarian and/or leisure time features not made by Apple that works incredibly well on devices made by Apple. That's why -- outside of the best operating system on the market (iOS) -- I have never bought into the myth that Apple's a software company. Doesn't matter to me how many times Tim Cook says it or David Einhorn regurgitates it. Apple, which generates a vast majority of its revenue via hardware and media sales, is and will always be a hardware company complemented (and complimented) by its own, but primarily other people's software creations.

But that's where things get interesting. Headed into Sept. 9 ...

It appears that alongside whatever hardware Apple introduces, fresh homegrown software initiatives will take center stage. From platforms that control the home to ones that monitor your health, Apple, by most accounts, is making its first real push since iTunes to be the go-to company on the software side, not merely on the hardware side. You'll use Apple hardware in conjunction with Apple software whereas in the past you might have utilized somebody else's app (and possibly hardware) in tandem with your iPhone or iPad.

That's where the rudimentary nature of so much of Apple's default software (Notes, Voice Memo, Reminders, Calendar, iTunes and don't forgot the much-maligned iBooks, Podcasts and iCloud) should strike at least some worry in the hearts of Apple fans.

As an unabashed Apple fan, I'm concerned. I have no doubts Apple can produce world class hardware. But history legitimately fuels uncertainty that the company might not be quite as adept at doing likewise on the other side. And if software isn't going to be the money maker Apple's hardware is, why even bother taking the risk?

Follow @mynameisrocco

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola writes for TheStreet. He lives in Santa Monica. Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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