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Apple’s Strategic Mastery: Unpacking the Category of Personal Intelligence

What Apple and Tim Cook just did was absolutely brilliant.
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Dear Friend, Subscriber, and Category Pirate,

Apple just made two category moves that point to the next big wave in innovation. At the 2024 Worldwide Developers Conference, they announced:

  1. Apple Intelligence, a new AI-driven personal intelligence system

  2. A partnership with OpenAI

We’ve broken down Apple’s category moves before, like when it announced its $110 billion stock buyback. And while no Pirate can fully predict the future, we had a sense Tim Cook was waiting for this conference to announce its strategic move into AI. (And we’re glad Siri is finally getting an upgrade!)

Personal Intelligence isn’t just another product—it’s a shift in how we’ll interact with technology.

Here’s why this matters:

  1. AI as the New Standard: Apple is not just adding AI to its lineup. It’s making AI the backbone of how we interact with our devices. This move is about creating a personal intelligence system that’s integrated seamlessly into our lives, so tech is more intuitive and indispensable.

  2. Consumer-First Innovation: Apple is doubling down on what they do best—creating products people love to use. By focusing on “personal intelligence” AI, the company is enhancing user experiences, developing smarter technology, and making it more personal. This is about building tools that make life easier and more enjoyable.

  3. Partnerships Over Competition: Instead of letting Competition Derangement Syndrome push them to outgun OpenAI or Microsoft, Apple is playing the smart game by teaming up. This partnership isn’t only about tech. It’s about setting a new standard for how companies can collaborate to push the boundaries of what’s possible in AI.

Why should you care?

Because Apple’s latest move shows us category designers how to stay ahead in a world where technology is evolving faster than ever.

Here’s what you can take away from this:

  • Evolve, Don’t Just Innovate: Apple’s approach is a masterclass in how to build on your strengths while moving into new territories. They’re not simply adding features—they’re rethinking what tech can do for us.

  • Stay Close to Your Superconsumers: Apple’s focus on making its products more intuitive, user-friendly, and secure is a reminder that understanding and addressing your Superconsumers’ needs is the key to staying relevant.

  • Leverage Smart Alliances: Apple’s decision to partner with OpenAI instead of competing head-to-head shows that sometimes, the best strategy is to join forces. OpenAI won the AI category battle. Apple acknowledged that and is continuing to focus on its “Be the Best” strategy. Sometimes, strategic partnerships can accelerate innovation.

Apple’s announcement is a big deal not just because of what it means for their products, but because it sets a new standard for how to think about AI and innovation. They’re showing us the future isn’t about isolated advancements but integrated, thoughtful growth.

Let’s take this as a cue to review our strategies and consider how we can innovate in smart, consumer-focused, and collaborative ways.

The game is changing, and those who adapt will lead. This is a reminder to think big, act bold, and always look for the next wave to ride.

What are you creating that will set a new (and different) standard in your category?

Arrrrrr,

Category Pirates

Eddie Yoon

Christopher Lochhead

Katrina Kirsch

PS: Help others “think different.”

If reading this opened your mind to new and different thinking, share it with a friend or click the ❤️ button on this post so more people can learn about Category Pirates. Have a question or pirate-y thought? Let us know in a comment.

Category Pirates is supported by legendary entrepreneurs, executives, and creators like you. Hop aboard the Pirate Ship as a paid subscriber to access 77+ mini-books & audiobooks on category design fundamentals.

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Category Pirates
Category Pirates
The authority on category design & category creation. Sharing how legendary entrepreneurs, executives, marketers, and creators design business breakthroughs.
By Christopher Lochhead, Eddie Yoon, & Katrina Kirsch