The company’s success in the 21st century hasn’t changed the nattering nabobs of negativity much, despite how well Apple has done and how much has been accomplished since the company opened retail stores, launched iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, and various app stores. Yet, there’s danger ahead.
What Goes Up, Must Come Down
As a long time industry watcher and Apple product user, I don’t accept the basic business axiom that ‘what goes up, must come down.’
Stocks and fortunes rise and fall, and the landscape of history is littered with failed companies, but Apple’s future won’t be determined by competitors.
The dangers Apple faces in the future will be much the same as other successful companies. The dangers that lie within.
How many tech companies– or companies from any industry– have failed and fallen by the wayside because they forgot what business they’re in?
Think of the railroads. Instead of recognizing they were in the transportation industry, they viewed themselves as, well, railroads; trains. They were caught off guard by the advent of the automobile and how it would change people’s lives.
In the past few decades we’ve witnessed new industries and companies come and go in the digital age. Newspapers, video stores, camera film and video tape, record stores, book stores, and others. Even retail stores like Sears and Kmart have lost their way. Ditto for Sony, Motorola, Kodak, and others who suffer from self inflicted wounds.
Apple is a purveyor of technology devices; gadgets which help us work, play, communicate, and capture the world around us. Most of the company’s revenue and profits and growth come from the sale of premium hardware devices. As the world moves to become more affluent, Apple’s reign as the most valuable company on planet earth may continue for a few more years, and it may be that ‘what goes up, must not always come down, but it may stop going up‘ if the competition figures out how to implement Apple’s formula, or the company forgets how to delight customers with products that work well.
Years ago I worked on a communications project for Pizza Hut at their world headquarters. The company’s internal motto back then was a simple ‘Under promise. Over deliver.’ Pizza Hut was at the top of its game back then, but has struggled in recent years as the food industry and people’s tastes in restaurants and diet have changed.
Apple’s future will, as it is with all companies, be determined by a mix of outside market forces and changes, and how the company deals with executive succession and selection. Regardless, the dangers Apple will face in the future will come from many directions; internal and external. Future success is dictated by how well it recognizes opportunities and executes a strategy that continues to delight customers.