How can anyone who claims to love All Things Apple™ and the Mac come up with a dirty laundry list of Apple’s bigger problems?
Actually, it was easy. This isn’t a rant or a hit piece. You know me better than that, right? Life is good in Cupertino these days, but Apple has plenty to worry about.
It’s hard to argue with the major success points Apple has generated in the past two years alone. Seriously. Look at the past 24 months. Remember that switch from PPC chips to Intel chips. Done. Everyone loves it, right?
How about a complete revamping of the iPod line, plus the addition of the iPod touch? Buyers are snapping those items up so fast that Apple may have a shortage during the busiest shopping season of the year. Uh oh. See an issue there?
How about Apple’s highly anticipated and hugely successful launch of the iPhone in the US, and soon in parts of Europe and elsewhere? Apple is raking in the dough on the iPhone. It’s premium priced, and AT&T pays a chunk of their monthly revenue to Apple for the privilege of selling the iPhone.
Uh oh. Guess what? Apple has limited purchases to two per person and no cash sales. Why? Limited supply and too many iPhones are being sold as unlocked devices, hence AT&T doesn’t get as much revenue, hence Apple doesn’t get as much revenue per phone.
Some would argue that those are problems that are nice to have. After all, Microsoft doesn’t have such a problem with the Zune.
We’ve all ready of the quality control problems Apple has run into here and there. Some of that publicity is to be expected because Apple is a high profile company with a reputation for doing no wrong. Or, doing little wrong. Consumer Reports says Apple’s Mac is still the darling of customers, easily topping other manufacturers in satisfaction—either PC or music player or cell phone.
Therein is a problem. With such high flying satisfaction ratings, the only place to go is down. As Apple becomes much more of a mass-marketing company, glitches take on a higher profile, and negative words spread quickly to tarnish an otherwise stellar reputation.
What’s the balance on your checking account? How about the cash reserves in your company? Chances are good that neither have as much money in the bank as Apple, now sitting on over $15-billion in cash. That’s “b” as in billion, which comes right in front of gazillion. Microsoft has plenty of cash, too, somewhere around $30-billion or so, twice what Apple has. Microsoft has only been able to spend it to lose money, not to make money. What will Apple do with all that money?
Apple may need those cash reserves to defend itself against unscrupulous lawyers and their clients. Lawsuits against our favorite Mac maker, music player maker, cell phone maker, and software maker, have increased as the cash stockpile has increased. $15-billion is a big target for intellectual property companies looking for a way to be offended by accusing Apple of stealing their wares.
Did I mention manufacturing? Remember the Apple of old? They would announce a hot new product and then we would wait for four months as supply caught up with demand.
For the Mac, life is better these days. Intel can crank out a lot of chips—far more than all other chipmakers combined, so shortages on Macs are rare. PC components are Mac components and there’s little shortage of PC components anywhere.
But what of the iPod touch and iPhone? Hmmmm. Reports are already circulating that supply is not keeping up with demand for either. Whether chips or the flashy multi-touch screen on the princely pods, Apple has multiple hits and a huge backlog of customers all over the world who want their fair share of Apple’s lovely handhelds.
Customer service issues, quality control issues, lawsuit problems, manufacturing and component supply problems all add up to a little laundry list of Apple’s bigger problems. I’m a chick, but not a Chicken Little. The sky is not falling. Apple has everything they need to overcome all of the laundry list of problems, and others too numerous to mention. Cash. Experienced senior management. Large and growing customer base. Loyal Mac users.
Make sure you remember Microsoft, and Dell, and IBM, and others. They all had plenty of cash, experienced senior management, large customer base, talented and dedicated employees. In each case, something happened to get each off course. IBM exited the PC business. Dell is doing everything it can to exit the PC business. Microsoft is nearly moribund. They all had some of what Apple has now, including a laundry list of bigger problems that they could not, or did not, overcome.
Are there any other problems Apple faces that you would put on the laundry list?