Less than 30 days before Macworld in January and the rumor mills are working overtime night and day.
What’s Apple’s next trick? What new rabbit will come out of the Steve Jobs hat? The latest? Nothing.
Apple has a serious problem being Apple. A $20-billion company, sooner or later, runs into the law of big numbers.
How can Apple continue to grow? The potential for revenue and profit growth keep the fires lit under the stock price. 25-percent annual growth is tougher for a $20-billion company than a $10-billion company.
Look at Dell, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Oracle, and other technology giants. Not only do they have to grow core product and service streams, they’re required to develop new sources of each—or watch the stock price wither.
Apple’s situation may have developed into a more difficult position than major competitors as the level of expection may be much higher.
The Mac is on a roll and sales are growing higher than the industry standard. The iPod continues to dominate the portable music player field, yet sales may have reached a plateau of much slower growth (that pesky law of big numbers again).
As we near Macworld 2007, the list of product expectations has become even more substantial than in recent years, and the stakes may be higher (high flying stock price may cause the worry).
What’s on the rumor or expected list of new products to help fuel the new markets for Apple? The iPhone, the video iPod, a wireless tablet Mac (Tera’s oft requested “iPad”…), iTV, an ultra-small MacBook Pro, revamped .Mac, new iWork ‘07 application, updated iLife ‘07, home iServer, OS X Leopard with Illuminous, and so on.
The problem with being Apple is that expectations run so high among customers and analysts. The latest? The iPhone rumors are an Apple inspired diversion for something really, really big.
See the problem? The game of expectations is a dangerous play for a company with Apple’s visibility. One false step, even minor, and the stock price will take a big hit. What other company in the technology and consumer products area has that problem?
Sony? Beleaguered these days, but not hammered. Microsoft? Hammered these days, but not beleaguered.
Apple? The hand writing is on the wall. Apple cannot afford a slip-up, a mistake, a gaffe (the stock options backdating problem was a bullet dodged), or disappointments. But it will happen. It must happen. What goes up, must come down.
How can Apple manage the momentum and the expectations? What does Apple need to launch in early 2007 to maintain their lofty position?