Steve Jobs is the anointed King of Apple, Inc, and Apple’s influence on many industries stretches far and wide.
Is Apple’s influence undue? Certainly. Is Apple’s influence on so many industries good or bad for Apple’s future?
That Steve Jobs guides and directs Apple’s every move of substance cannot be denied. Together, Jobs and Apple’s influence on the computer industry is legendary.
True, both get their due and appropriate recognition for influencing the computer industry, though Apple’s market share size and computer revenue relative to competitors would seem to indicate that some of the influence is undue.
Look at a few recent headlines. In InfoWorld, Steve Jobs was the second most influential person in IT, behind Microsoft’s Bill Gates. In July, Steve Jobs showed up on the cover of USA Today as the third Most Influential Business Leader, again behind Bill Gates.
Jobs and Apple certainly are not in Microsoft’s shadow, as testified by the most recent headline, “Steve Jobs Anointed Fortune’s Most Influential Executive.”
It is Steve Jobs and Apple that exercise heavy influence in the computer industry, the music industry, and now the cell phone industry. What other company exercises such influence, relative to size and market share?
Perhaps the “influence” being exercised is merely public relations campaigns and marketing efforts run amok. Or not. Apple’s Mac market share is growing like a weed. Not so with any other PC maker. Apple’s iPod dominates the portable music player space, and the iTunes Store dominates music sales online.
That’s old news. The new news is that Apple’s iPhone has set the cell phone industry on their collective ears just months after launch, scrambling to catch up with what could arguably be described as the darling product of the century. Again, Apple’s market share is small, but the overall influence, mind share, and media consideration is remarkably high.
What does all the influence by King Jobs and the Apple Empire mean? For customers, it means classy, sexy, attractive products that work well and that makes them different from competitor’s wares, whether computers, music players, music/TV shows/movies, or cell phones.
For the rest of the collective industries in which Apple competes, it means change, disruption, new directions, loss of control, because Apple tends to drive the markets in which it competes.
But what of Apple? Is there a potential backlash to all this influence, whether described accurately as “undue”or otherwise? Will Apple fall victim to its own success?
We’ve seen a backlash effect in other companies, though for different reasons. Microsoft has a growing base of unhappy customers, legions of critics in media and government, a bevy of mediocre and uninspired products, yet remains wildly profitable and influential.
Sony’s crumbling empires faces a similar backlash, though not so personal as that directed against Microsoft. For Sony, also the maker of uninspired and pedestrian products, the effects of customers leaving for greener pastures has been more subtle but unmistakable.
There’s no question that Apple, via Steve Job’s guiding hand, influences heavily the computer industry, the music industry, and now the cell phone industry. What’s next? Another success story? Or, a trip down Backlash Lane? Or, just a trip up?
Empires come and go, sometimes quickly into the night (goodbye, Sony, we hardly knew ye). The Apple Empire and the Emperor have reached new heights in influence, prestige, profitability, wealth, love, and adulation. Despite some speed bumps, such as the AppleTV, the Cube, and lack of success selling movies online, Apple is on a roll not easily compared in the business world.
Apple’s influence is wide and deep. Will it last, or crumble, or fade away? Who can replace Apple as the influential King in so many industries? Good questions. Any answers?