Color me jaded because I’ve heard it all before. The highly revered ‘Apple is Doomed’ meme has gone full circle at least a few dozen times since I began following the company for Mac360 just after the turn of the century.
What has changed? Apple has gained untold riches by introducing new category killers; especially the highly profitable iPhone, the device which single-handedly propelled Apple, Inc. beyond the Mac and into the stratosphere of aspirational brands. If Apple is doomed as a corporate titan, then it is doomed by the one and only true Apple killer.
‘Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.’
Way back in 2005 Apple’s co-founder and then CEO, Steve Jobs, gave the commencement address at Stanford University and told the students to ‘Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’ What did that mean? How can it be applied to Apple circa 2017, more than five years after Jobs death in 2011?
The quote comes from one of the last issues of The Whole Earth Catalog and we can pull many meanings from Jobs’ usage as well as its origin. Put another way, it’s obvious Jobs was telling Stanford graduates to always look forward and to take risks.
That’s been Apple’s way; from its origin in 1976, and from Jobs’ return in 2007. Is Apple 2017 hungry and foolish? Is the company looking forward and willing to take risks in the manner that Jobs’ history displayed?
I don’t think so. Apple shows aversion to risk, introduces change for the sake of change, and unlike the years prior to Jobs’ death– which brought the iMac, Apple Stores, iPad, iTunes, iTunes Music Store, Intel Inside, iPhone, and iPad– Apple’s history since then has been more awash with financial riches than it has category and game changing new products.
In fact, the only new products to come out of Apple, Inc. since Jobs’ death are accessories for the iPhone; AirPods and Watch.
Every few months we read of a Chinese smartphone maker that will unseat Apple’s perch atop the aspirational gadget brands of mankind. Even Microsoft is back into the Apple-bashing game with the Surface line of traditional PCs with a touchscreen. Those are not category or game changing products. Neither is Amazon’s Echo devices. And certainly not knockoffs with low prices. Thanks to Jobs’ guidance in the early part of the century, Apple is and remains the brand that people aspire to own and Tim Cook and Company have at least maintained that portion of what Jobs built.
What can topple Apple? What is the one true Apple killer?
Look at those companies and brands that Apple disrupted with the iPhone. Nokia. Motorola. Microsoft. BlackBerry. Not one of them has any significant presence in the smartphone industry today because their markets were disrupted by Apple’s iPhone; the end the result of a hunger to succeed and the foolishness to try.
Apple has within it the power to return to hungry and foolish, or the power to ignore the past while it paves its way to a lesser future. Only Apple is the true Apple killer.