If you wonder what’s going on at Apple, Inc. you’re not alone. Many of us in the Applesphere wonder the same thing because Apple seems to have become somewhat disjointed, too circumspect, and notably wayward, but not in a Think Different™ kind of way.
They say money does things to people, and if corporations are people, too, then all those riches Apple has acquired since co-founder Steve Jobs died in 2011 have changed the company and not in a good way. $200-billion in cash and a high flying stock price would cause any executive to become inebriated with success.
Record revenue, record profits, record stock price. What could go wrong? Well, first of all, Apple, as a hardware company, has hit a wall. iPhone gets all the resources it needs to succeed while iPad and Mac get leftover crumbs from the company’s table of plenty. Apple’s major products are on a plateau of sorts. Unit sales are mostly stalled. Undeserving shareholders get more in dividends than the Mac or iPad.
What’s really growing? Services. Think of it as kind of a catchall of non-hardware items, now worth more to Apple than iPad and Mac combined, but remember the math– as a hardware company, Services only works if Apple sells more hardware, otherwise, Apple is just selling accessories and services to an existing customer base.
Now, as to other points of a seemingly crazy strategy, Apple continues to dole out money to shareholders in dividends, and continues to buy back stock. How much? So far, a few hundred billion dollars. That, combined with no next great thing product, and a current product line that has stagnated and plateaued, tells me Apple’s executives don’t have the same creativity as Steve Jobs and has become risk averse.
Not only that, Apple is not doing a good job protecting the current customer base. The Mac? Many models have not been upgraded in years and have fallen behind offerings from Dell and HP. Mac mini, MacBook Air, Mac Pro, and even the attractive MacBook Pro line has durability issues and still rides on Intel Inside from a few years ago.
What’s going on at Apple?
Apple is the richest company on planet earth, now closing in on a market value of $1-trillion; the company made more money last quarter in profits than Amazon has made in its entire history. Apple has more cash than most countries. Would it hurt Apple to use some of those profits to enrich the world instead of making undeserving shareholders richer than dividends and a rising stock price?
If I thought an email to CEO Tim Cook would get read, I would tell him to take some of those hard earned profits and push them back to customers. Get new keyboards for the ones that died in MacBook Pro models. Upgrade a few more Macs other than the $4,999 iMac Pro. Iron out more of the bugs in iOS 11. Make iCloud more affordable. Get risky and sink a few billion into an Apple ecosystem VPN (virtual private network) to give customers more privacy and security. Add multi-user functionality to iPad.
When Apple executives tool around Cupertino in their expensive Teslas do they think about the poor people in third world countries who are part of the company’s supply chain?
Whatever strategy Apple has going these days is just crazy. Except for Apple’s executives and shareholders.