However your money is taken from you, one thing is a universal axiom of capitalism. Everyone wants your money, and they’ll do crazy things to extract it from you. Let’s take a quick look at how money has corrupted Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, and how Apple might succumb to the dark side of the profit motive.
Diversify Or Die!
My home is in Brooklyn, NY, but I work near Wall Street in Manhattan. Our company has customers from some of the most well healed and well oiled money making machines on planet earth.
While I don’t hob nob with the rich and famous, I can tell you that money is a serious motivator, that to make money you have to be willing to spend money, and, well, as everyone knows, money corrupts.
Let’s take Microsoft first. That the company engaged in illegal activities to rise above the competition is well known.
Today, as it has been since the end of the last century, Microsoft is a money making machine with cash cow products from Windows and Office. What else? Uh, not so much. In a blind lust to make more money, Microsoft has failed to diversify its profit portfolio despite spending many tens of billions of dollars in one failed venture after another, and has almost no presence in the rapidly growing mobile device industry.
Let’s look at Google next. The company owns the lion’s share of search engine results and the advertising sales that make it happen.
Today, as it has been since the turn of the century, Google is a money making machine with a big, fat, cash cow named search engine advertising. What else? Uh, not so much. In a blind lust to make more money, Google has failed to diversify its profit portfolio despite spending many tens of billions of dollars in one failed venture after another, and, though it boasts many high profile product innovations (driverless cars, Google Glass computer-in-glasses, Android OS), the company has garnered almost no profits in the rapidly growing mobile device industry it dominates.
What’s up with that?
Alright, Amazon is a bit different. While Google and Microsoft have their cash cow laurels to rest upon, Amazon makes minuscule-to-the-point-of-meager profits, yet tech pundits and Wall Streeters brag as if CEO Jeff Bezos is the third coming of Steve Jobs.
Instead of dominating the online retail scene, Amazon has hundreds of competitors which have managed to carve out growing profits online while Amazon struggles to do the same, yet busies itself behaving like the online monopoly it has failed to become (ask Hatchette how good a vendor Amazon is to customers and publishers), all in a vain attempt to make more money through product and profit diversification.
The Product Profit Machine
While Microsoft, Google, and Amazon stumble to raise themselves beyond the cesspool of greed in which they live, Apple has managed to do exactly what customers wants a company to be. Profits are acceptable to customers as long as the company is a good citizen, and makes products they want, use, and love.
Is Apple a good citizen? Or, is Apple about to fall prey to the same disease which inflicts executives at Microsoft, Google, and Amazon– blatant and desperate greed? Time will tell, of course, but Apple has managed to delight hundreds of millions of customers with well designed products that work well together, still charge a premium price for the privilege of ownership, store away more tens of billions of dollars in profits, and– unlike the aforementioned Three Musketeers of Deceit, has diversified again and again, in product after product.
The others might have their cash cows, but Apple is a product profit making machine. Mac, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, App Stores, Apple Stores– it’s all working, all profitable, all growing; a veritable beacon of diversification standing as a giant in the land of one-trick pony companies.
Back to the original question. Will the lust for money spoil Apple the way it has infected Microsoft, Google, Amazon and many others? The signs will be easy to spot. When the products fail to delight the customer beyond what competitors offer, then the beginning of the end begins.