Now that Apple appears to be losing its innovation mojo, it’s time to ask: Is there any company that can ever become the ‘next Apple’?
In order to become the ‘next Apple’, the company would have to be the undisputed market leader in the technology sector with an unchallenged reputation for innovation, a rabid user base that looks forward to the launch of every new product with anticipation, and a rock star CEO along the lines of a Steve Jobs. There are some obvious suspects out there – Amazon, Google, Facebook or Twitter – but like Apple, these companies may have reached their pinnacle with the most recent Internet boom in Silicon Valley. In order to ever reach the massive stock market capitalization of Apple (on the magnitude of $400 billion to $500 billion), the ‘next Apple’ will need to be driving a completely new trend within the tech world capable of radically changing consumer behaviors in ways we could never imagine.
That’s why the 3D printing revolution – commonly described as the “Next Industrial Revolution” – shows so much promise to produce the next Apple. Over the past twelve months, 3D printing has taken the technological world by storm as innovators figure out how to use the latest additive manufacturing technology to print out everything from small toys to large buildings. There’s now a real sense that 3D printing – once the exclusive preserve of die-hard tech enthusiasts and the DIY Maker crowd – is finally crossing over to the consumer mainstream. It’s now possible to pick up a desktop 3D printer for less than $1,000 – a psychologically important price level that starts to attract all the early innovators who splurged for the first iPhone and the first iPad.