Every company CEO likes to think they’re driving a well oiled machine. And it’s difficult to get an executive who is so well compensated, who runs a company worth $700-billion to realize what is really going on in the basement.
Apple and CEO Tim Cook are no different. As a company grows it becomes like a large sailing ship that once navigated the sea winds with ease, but now finds itself slowed down by an unseen force living just below the surface of the water. Thanks to barnacles and the laws of organizational dynamics, Apple has become too big and too slow.
Where’s The Whip?
Most of Apple’s growth in revenue, profits, and stock price have come under Tim Cook’s reign, with a touch of Steve Jobs’ heritage thrown in for balance. Growing revenue, profits, and stock price is no mean feat, and Cook deserves kudos because he has accomplished more than Jobs, much as the Apostle Paul helped spread the Gospel far more than Jesus. But as a reading of the New Testament proves, even early Christianity was not a well oiled machine.
Here’s the problem. Numbers. There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. So, by some numbers, Apple could not be doing better. AAPL is at a record level. Revenue and profits and iPhone sales are at record numbers. What is not to like?
What’s not to like is the Mac line. Yes, Macs sold at record levels, too. Where’s the Mac Pro? Where are the upgrades for iMac and Mac mini? Why is the MacBook Air still in the product line? Why isn’t there a professional level Mac notebook?
What’s not to like are the Mac and iOS App Stores. Try searching for the best apps in any category. Finding apps is a royal pain. Is it any wonder app developers don’t bother to upgrade their apps and why abandonware is such a problem? It’s difficult to find good apps because search sucks.
What’s not to like is the iPad line which hasn’t seen much of an upgrade in forever. Yes, the iPad Pro models are welcome relief but a MacBook is a better bang for the buck. Why can’t these devices be upgraded with new features like the iPhone Is. Every. Year?
What’s not to like is Apple TV. Apple says, “The future of television is here.” No it’s not. The future of television is 4K video. The future of television is easy navigation. The future of television is not a clumsy remote control or a Siri-infested speech interface that doesn’t seem to understand accents.
What’s not to like is why Apple chooses to abuse customers by selling as new technology, technology that is years old. Can you say iPhone SE? iPhone 6s and 6s Plus? Those are sold because Apple’s gross margins are, well, so gross the company gets away with selling whats old as if it was new.
Let’s face it. Apple has become too big and moves too slowly to manage annual product upgrades– other than the iPhone, and even that is incomplete as the company specializes in selling older iPhone tech as if it were new. The Mac Pro hasn’t been upgraded since it was launched almost four years ago. Apple spent a few billion dollars on Apple Car and figured out that’s not going to be the next iPhone, so the company seems content to focus on selling car software. What’s Apple’s record on selling operating system software?
Too big and too slow is exactly what happens when someone drives a car that gets larger and larger each passing quarter. After awhile, the car can only drive on multi-lane highways. What Apple could use right now is what helped to make Tim Cook’s Apple the success that it is. A man with a whip. The last executive at Apple who wasn’t afraid to use a whip to drive the company forward was Steve Jobs. Since then, Apple has made more money than most developed nations, but has only launched Apple Watch and Apple AirPods, both accessories to the iPhone that Steve Jobs launched.
Apple is just too big and too slow and needs someone with a whip to move and motivate the company to produce the next great thing.