You know about the term ‘perfect storm,’ right? Basically, it’s an event or series of events which a combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically; a confluence of events of unusual magnitude.
So it seems to be with members of the lunatic fringe who continue to say Apple’s best days are behind it but who offer little more than adjectives as proof. Let’s see if I can make a case that Apple’s best days are over.
Apple Is Doomed Meme
What set my hair on fire this week is Adam Lashinsky’s article in Fortune. How can one determine if Apple’s best days have already passed?
The only way I can figure is by going into the future and looking backwards. After all, Apple nearly died in the mid-1990s before being resurrected by co-founder Steve Jobs. One could easily argue that Apple’s worst days are behind it, right? Lashinsky determines that the task of projecting Apple’s future so as to see the past (where the best days would have been) is not doable.
Say what? Yes. Not doable because Apple might do better in the future than the past and it might not. Yes, that’s what constitutes an argument these days. After weighing the two scenarios– Apple does better, Apple does worse– Lashinsky comes down on the side of Apple-has-peaked because it’s the stronger argument.
How so, Adam? iTunes Radio. Apple Maps. That and other items reveal Apple has become a follower, not a leader. If Apple goes to wearable computing, it’s a follower. If Apple makes a cheap phone, it’s a follower.
In Lashinsky’s words, “Apple isn’t supposed to follow anyone on anything.” Seriously. He wrote that. The problem with these pundits is two fold. No memory. No analysis.
If ‘Apple isn’t supposed to follow anyone on anything‘ as Lashinsky asserts, how does one explain the Mac which borrowed heavily from projects at Xerox PARC? How does he explain the iPod’s success by not being the first portable media player? How does he explain the success of the iPhone, which wasn’t the first smartphone with a touch screen? How does he explain the iPad which wasn’t the first tablet?
Lashinsky then argues that Apple is stumbling along, something akin to a beaten prizefighter wobbling around the ring. How so? The iPad was the last breakthrough product. iOS 7 looks like Android or Microsoft’s Windows phone.
Does it? A co-worker to my left has a Samsung Galaxy S3. It looks like an iPhone, not the other way around, since the iPhone’s iconic icon design came first. A co-worker two cubicles away has a new HTC something or other with Windows Phone. It looks nothing like the videos of iOS 7 on the Apple site.
What is Lashinsky looking at?
Apple’s management is defensive, its people are less committed, and its competitors are resurgent. Apple’s ferocious profit growth has stalled, and investors have lost faith in its ability to restart that engine. Apple’s stock price is deflated, sure, but that’s merely a symptom, not the disease.
That’s the proof? That competitors are resurgent should be displayed in their growing marketshare or profits results, right? How does Lashinsky measure Apple’s ‘defensiveness’ or ‘commitment?’ He doesn’t say.
Now, as to the stock price, how does one measure a company’s health? Price to earnings ratio? Cash on hand? Dividends? If so, how do you explain Google’s stock price vs. Apple’s? What we really have here is a perfect storm of negativity, headline baiting, and yellow journalism, not insightful analysis. The ‘Apple is doomed’ meme just doesn’t have numbers to back up the emotion or sensation of the storm.
Any long time Apple watcher knows the history. The company isn’t so much an innovator as aggregator; shaping and molding technology components into a disruptive force. Apple first disrupts an industry, then iterates improvements on the products. Apple’s initial disruptions are usually met with technology pundit critics howling over the obvious failure while customers stand in line to buy. Any tech pundit or critic who says, ‘Apple isn’t supposed to follow anyone on anything‘ just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It’s lunacy for the sake of argument, headline baiting, argumentation without substance.
Apple has already shown that one can never truly state that a company’s best days are behind it until the company folds up and closes the doors. Are there any signs that Apple is doing that?