One could argue that everything is coming up roses for Apple these days. Android competitors are swooning under non-existent profits. iPhone sets new sales records. PC sales are down while Mac sales are at record levels.
Apple’s stock price is down with the market but has rebounded higher. The new Watch seems to have put some gloom into the luxury watch industry, while Apple TV and new iPhones have become the talk of the Applesphere. Everything is coming up roses for Apple in 2015, right? Or is it?
Doom, Gloom, Despair, Or Roses?
For years Apple has been criticized by the industry’s technorati elite and market prognosticators as a company on the brink of oblivion, an overpriced gadget maker, propped up by overzealous members of a technology cult, a company who’s balloon of prosperity would pop any day now.
A funny thing happened along the way to Apple’s mammoth prosperity. Like Candide, the company’s executives regularly ignored the critics who would decide Apple’s best course of action in any endeavor, and quietly tended the massive rose garden that became a much admired ecosystem.
Apple’s growing list of disruptions started with the PC industry back in the late 1970s and continues unabated today. Apple II, Mac, Apple Stores, iPod, iTunes, iTunes Music Store, iPhone, iPad, Apple Pay, Watch, and now Apple TV, HomeKit, HealthKit and more (I’m dreaming of new devices with both muscle and capability). It’s been an amazing run, and despite the naysayers and nattering nabobs of negativity, Apple does not seem to be slowing down as it amasses the largest fortune ever by a technology company (and many developed nations).
What About The Roses?
By nature, roses look beautiful, smell wonderful, but have a downside. Thorns. When not cared for correctly, the beauty of the flower can be lost to the lasting pain of a thorn mishandled. Apple has created what I call the Rose Garden Effect, a dynamic ecosystem that on the surface looks great with a variety of well designed products and services at the core, an attractive product line and distribution system (Apple Stores, Apple Store online) that is the envy of the industry.
Apple’s customer base grows rapidly, steadily, and seems eager to adopt whatever the company brings to the fore, despite the media’s noise that the company’s products are overpriced baubles. They predicted Apple’s demise at the hands of Microsoft, yet it’s Apple that leads the way in 21st century mobile devices. What’s coming from Apple and what could bring the pain of a few thorns.
The technology graveyards are littered with companies that attempted and failed to exceed their reach. IBM, Microsoft, and even Google struggle to bring successful new products to the market. Companies seem to want to control every aspect of the market in a vain attempt to achieve a destiny that often is denied.
What of Apple?
We read rumors of Apple’s impending entry into content development, TV network streaming subscriptions, even an Apple car. Toyota builds cars. They don’t build smartphones because that’s not within their sphere of influence or capability. Technology companies do not feel the same constraints or genetic restrictions as traditional industries, yet often have their own trail of failures. Diversification might be an inherent aspect of humanity, but there are limits, especially at the corporate level. Microsoft, Google, and even Samsung have proven time and again that merely throwing money at an idea, project, or opportunity does not guarantee success (witness Apple’s failed attempt to grow advanced sapphire for iPhone screens).
Apple’s carefully cultured, cultivated, and curated rose garden is the envy of the industry and admired by hundreds of millions of customers but it’s still a garden of roses and roses have thorns.