When it comes to following Apple, Inc in the 21st century, there are more schools of thought than I can track, and more perspectives than a Rubik’s Cube has, well, cubes.
Narrowing the phenomenon down to the explicable list takes some effort. What I came up with are facts, conjecture, manipulation, and the ever present and growing hallucinogenic episodes.
There’s A Pill For That
What’s happening to Apple today isn’t all that different than what Apple has endured and experienced since the beginning. If ever there was a company that doesn’t get due respect, it’s Apple.
With apologies to Rodney Dangerfield, it’s just that simple. Apple doesn’t get respect and is often the victim of a string of untoward episodes from critics, pundits, and manipulators.
There are plenty of examples that make up today’s tech and financial headlines. Apple is swooning. Apple no longer innovates. Android is winning. Apple products are overpriced. Steve Jobs would not do what CEO Tim Cook is doing.
First, the facts. Other than unit market share, which, historically, is not a business metric that Apple seems to care about, what numbers show that Apple has lost its edge, is flailing, failing, or not innovating?
Numbers please? The facts are Apple sells and makes a hefty profit on every product they make at ever increasing numbers. Failing companies like RIM, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, and to a degree perhaps Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, just don’t measure up to Apple’s financials.
Second, there’s the constant barrage of conjecture regarding what’s wrong with Apple without listing criteria to measure the premise and without listing evidence to support the premise.
Third, there’s manipulation. That falls into two quarters. Stock manipulation, which is becoming more evident, and headline manipulation, whereby critics say every sort of nasty and untrue thing about Apple merely to rile the company’s larger customer base into increased web page activity.
More ad views mean more revenue to such scurrilous publicity hounds.
Finally, there seems to be an increasing number of what I can only describe as hallucinogenic episodes by Apple’s critics, tech pundits, Fandroids, and their ilk.
My case in point is the ever present, Apple doesn’t innovate anymore mantra. Apple is empty. There are no more disruptive products at Apple. Please. What’s the criteria for innovation and disruption these days?
You’ll hear it said that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was the master of innovation and disruption and CEO Tim Cook, as we all know, is not Steve Jobs. Really?
Jobs ushered in the personal computer era back in the 1970s. He pushed the bar forward with the Mac in the mid-1980s. Between then and his return in 1997, Jobs built NeXT and Pixar, the former bought by Apple and the latter by Disney.
Alright, let’s admit that Jobs was an innovator. After his return to Apple the company launched OS X, the iPod, the iTunes Music Store, switched the Mac to Intel, and then what?
The iPhone came along a few years later in 2007, then the App Store. Almost three years later Apple launched the iPad, both considered to be innovative and disruptive. What about the three years since the last big product, the iPad?
In typical Apple style– the company innovates, disrupts, then settles into evolution mode– the iPhone has become the world’s top selling smart phone, and the iPad, with the iPad mini, has become the top selling tablet.
Hallucinogen-inspired critics point out that newly crowned CEO Tim Cook hasn’t introduced a disruptive product. After all, the iPad mini isn’t really disruptive. Unless you’re Google, Amazon, or Samsung.
Life is often about managing expectations. It took Jobs four years from return to Apple to the iPod, which was heavily criticized as too expensive, yet it dominates the market segment for media players.
It took another six years before the iPhone was launched, and it was criticized as too expensive and mostly useless eye candy that would soon fail. Instead, it revolutionized the smart phone industry.
Three years later the iPad burst upon the scene but critics said it wasn’t disruptive or innovative. It was just a big iPod touch. Indeed.
The problem I’m describing isn’t about innovation or disruption. Apple has a good track record for both. The problem is expectations coupled with the aforementioned hallucinogenic episodes mixed with conjecture and manipulation, devoid of facts.
The reality is this. We Apple watchers haven’t seem much about Tim Cook’s reign that is arguably different from Steve Jobs’ reign other than Apple seems even more efficient. Products ship in large numbers after launch. More countries get new products faster than ever. Cook’s leadership let Apple refresh every product in the catalog (save the Mac Pro; look for something special there) in the last year alone.
As with Jobs, a few underperforming and disagreeable executives were escorted out the door. As with Jobs, a few products were not quite ready for primetime (MobileMe vs Antennagate, vs. Mapsgate). As with Jobs’ reign, the critics pile on the company’s every move, while customers pile up the cash in Apple’s coffers.
The next time you read a crazy-assed headline about Apple just remember that hallucinogenic pharmaceuticals have side effects.
Here’s a good example of the kind of pharmaceuticals rich people can buy. Tim Gunn for President.