Apple has gone from rags to riches time and again. If you’re to believe headlines about Apple these days, you’d think rags were up next in the company’s roller coaster history. Is it possible that there’s some kind of paranormal beast that feeds on Apple’s trials, tribulations, and successes?
The Beast Within? Or, Without?
Few American companies have a storied history to compare with Apple. The company started life in a garage. No technology company epitomizes the Think Different™ ad campaign more than Apple.
Why is it then, that in the best of times, and the worst of times, technology critics and pundits fear Apple is doomed? The company has more money in the bank than most countries. How does one extrapolate doom from that?
Apple has a few hundred million customers (and even more times that number of credit card numbers on hand) who appear to be very loyal, stand in line to buy the latest and greatest, and many have stuck through the company through thick and thin. How does one pundit after another extrapolate a doomsday scenario from that?
It’s the beast that has always haunted Apple. The company is a poster child for creativity and innovation, yet seems to attract paranormal forces which criticize, belittle, and ignore all that Apple has accomplished.
Can Apple tame this crazy beast which spews the poisonous venom of unfounded criticism?
Take a look at James Daly’s compilation of the list of 101 Ways To Save Apple from Wired magazine, circa June 1997.
Some of the 101 ways are ridiculous and we should be glad Apple didn’t follow them. Others were absolutely spot on.
For example, #1: Admit It. You’re Out Of The Hardware Game. It’s a good thing Apple didn’t follow that advice.
How about this one? #34: Port The OS To The Intel Platform. That was a good idea. So was #50: Give Steve Jobs As Much Authority As He Wants In New Product Development.
Others were completely ridiculous on their face. Rename The Company Papaya? Really? Worse was the suggestion to design a desktop Mac with a built-in cappuccino maker. Make Java work on the Mac hasn’t worked out so well. Organize a telethon should never have made the list.
The point here is that everyone who is anyone and plenty of nobodies seem to have an opinion on what Apple should be doing to survive. That beast has railed and raged against the company from the early days and today, despite $150-billion in the bank, and no debt, and hundreds of millions of customers, seems as hungry and fierce as ever.
The Beast Lives
Today, Apple faces anew the combined wrath of critics and pundits. The latest is Brian Marshall of ISI group who epitomizes the craft.
When we were at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a couple of months ago, every major high-end smartphone was a five-inch phone. I think people feel that four inches is now too small, and most people are migrating to five inches.
Forget the fact that most smartphone users prefer smaller screens. If product differentiation is key to success, and if everyone else has a 5-inch screen, why is it that Apple must have one, too, or they’re doomed? Jessica Lessin in The Wall Street Journal says Apple has to act more like Samsung if it wants to thrive.
Say what? Shouldn’t that be the other way around? No. Wait. It’s exactly the other way around. Samsung is acting more like Apple, and that’s one reason Samsung is thriving while other smartphone and tablet makers are bleeding money and heading for bankruptcy.
Apple is thriving three or four times as much as Samsung, so where’s the logic in Lessin’s beastly remark? There is none. It’s crazy.
This beast of non-sensical criticism has haunted Apple probably from the very beginning of the company’s history, abated somewhat by Steve Jobs’ presence in the 21st century, but it seems hungrier, angrier, and more intense than ever. The beast may never die. Apple has untold riches and glory and still the beast feeds.