Today’s Apple is the richest and most profitable company on earth but it no longer resembles the free-wheeling, risk-taking, underdog of technology of the Steve Jobs era. CEO Tim Cook has turned Apple into a toothpaste company, a purveyor of shampoo. Apple just ain’t what it used to be.
Apple is so devoid of new ideas and risky propositions that it is unwilling to try anything new– other than accessories for the iPhone. What we are witnessing is not the death of Apple– although we could call it the death of the Apple we once knew and loved– but a massive paradigm shift.
Apple is shape shifting into a soap company, a razor blade company, a toothpaste and shampoo company. Digitally, of course. Apple doesn’t sell soap or toothpaste, but the companies that do have a steady business that gets rewarded by the stock market accordingly.
Apple is shape shifting into Coca-Cola, where the major product isn’t Coke, but the profits come from selling the same products to the same people, and inventing new products for the same people. Apple doesn’t sell sugar water, but Apple’s services business sells accessories for the company’s major product– iPhone.
That integrated system of digital goods has a service business that is more profitable than the Mac, more profitable than the iPad, and growing faster than iPhone. Apple has become like a soap company with stable and predictable sales, predictable profits, and a predictable product line of services and accessories, and a large enough customer base to make everybody happy.
Happy? Customers, Apple employees, shareholders, the stock market.
There is enough turnover among Apple’s core products– Mac, iPhone, and iPad– that the company remains profitable without much customer growth. Apple says the company has about 1-billion loyal, satisfied customers, and that means they buy accessories, and applications, and services to use on those hardware products in such volume and such consistency that Apple can be compared to a toothpaste company.
If that isn’t a shapeshifting even from the Apple we once knew, then my name isn’t Wilbur. Apple just ain’t what it used to be.