One can argue that Apple is the 21st century’s golden boy of technology; the company that rose from the ashes to conquer business after business on the way to amassing a corporate fortune that is unequaled in business folklore. Or, Apple is a house of cards ready to fall at the feet and feats of the newly reborn Alphabet. Which is it?
What Hath Cook Wrought?
If there is anything that a few classes in argumentation and debate taught me, it’s that both sides (or, any side, really) of a topic can be argued pro and con, and mostly with impunity. What has happened to the house that Jobs built?
Apple has become insanely rich by nursing on the teats of technology sales unlike any company before; growth, revenue, profits, mindshare. Apple had it all in measures that are not likely to be repeated in the near future, thanks to a growing string of technology gadgets which have helped the company defy the gravitational pull of planet earth.
Mac, iPod, Apple Stores, iTunes Music Store, iPhone, iPad, App Store, the Mac again, Watch, have combined to make Apple so insanely rich that its executives must think everything they do only yields more gold; that string of hits and heady growth and revenue and profits that made AAPL the world’s most valuable stock, the public front to the company with more value than most countries in the world.
Apple and AAPL may already have lost the Throne of Value to competitor Alphabet and GOOGL, a one-trick pony company that deals only aces with every hand, makes money and profits only on a single product line, yet has caught the fancy of myopic investors– while Apple is being viewed as a house of cards, no longer deserving of favor, a has been that just cannot manage to deliver new products or manage money when counted in the tens of billions.
The stock market rewards risk combined with hubris is a serving of attitude, none of which mark Apple under Tim Cook. His predecessor and Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, was all about risk, lathered with hubris, a CEO with attitude, hence Apple’s rewards in the market which continued for years beyond Jobs’ death, thanks to the high and mighty reign of iPhone.
Those days are gone, folks. Jobs is a footnote; a once-in-a-lifetime leader of a once great company which became impoverished, rose from the ashes to great wealth and fame, but which has fallen again under the mighty hand of complacency.
The stock market rewards risk, which explains why Jeff Bezos’ Amazon, despite an ongoing inability to turn risk into profit, continues to be rewarded. The emotional market rewards those willing to gamble in public, hence GOOGL’s climb to the top of the stock market despite having a single line of revenue growth and profits because the company is willing to show what its working on to captivate the future; self-driving cars, virtual reality, augmented reality, home technology management, technology in medicine– all business opportunities which have yet to yield any fruit except in the imagination of investors– all business technologies which Apple is likely involved in, too, but fears to show the world what is being grown in the dark at One Infinite Loop. Even once might Microsoft, the technology hare which lost the race to the turtles of mobile devices has gained market favor by taking public risks to open new markets and reinvent itself with a heady mixture of hubris and attitude.
Instead of divulging a peek into a potential future, Apple has remained content to milk the most from a staid old product line that has grown fat and sluggish and dependent upon the iPhone’s miraculous climb to the top, only to be topped by its own inability to grow the smartphone market, or any market; even Mac and iPad sales have fallen in recent times adding to the stock market’s fear that Apple’s greatest enemy is itself and the house that Jobs built has become Tim Cook’s house of cards.