Cliff Edwards in Businessweek (May 2001):
“Sorry, Steve: Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work”
“[E]ven if they attain a measure of success, few outsiders think new stores, no matter how well-conceived, will get Apple back on the hot-growth path.”
“‘Apple’s problem is it still believes the way to grow is serving caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers,’ gripes former [CFO] Joseph Graziano.”
“‘I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake,’ says [Channel Marketing’s David] Goldstein.”
“‘When you choose to compete with your retailers, clearly that’s not a comfortable situation,’ says CompUSA [COO] Lawrence N. Mondry.”
Not so comfortable for CompUSA, apparently.
Rob Enderle (November 2003):
“My favorite PC overall was one built by Acer and cobranded with Ferrari. It was a very clean design — in red of course — and I could picture myself walking into a meeting and, for once, wipe the superior look from the faces of the folks using Apple laptops.”
“I asked the panel to list the companies that would certainly be around in the future — and those that wouldn’t be. ... There was some disagreement about Oracle. Microsoft and Oracle said that Oracle would survive; Apache said it wouldn’t. I also asked which companies would be dead. The panel agreed that it would be Apple, Sun and Novell.”
Two out of three — not bad, Rob.
Rob Enderle (March 2005):
“I know a large number of folks who expect Apple will ... get out of the PC business altogether in order to better focus on the new and highly profitable classes of multimedia products. Most of the people who think this way are developers, suggesting that if Apple doesn’t make a clear choice, the choice may be taken away from them. ... That will not be a fun choice, but at least Steve Jobs will be able to play really cool Xbox games to take his mind off of it.”
We should all have dilemmas like Apple’s.
Rob Enderle (September 2005):
“Windows Vista is the biggest release for Microsoft since Windows 95. With that release, Apple was tested — and they failed miserably.”
“The MS platform has changed dramatically as well, however, and it is much greater than just the operating system these days. Apple, on the other hand, hasn’t advanced nearly as much but they are predominantly consumer-based today and less vulnerable to this comparative weakness as a result. Apple will be positioning its Intel-compatible OS version against Vista and they have about 12 months to prepare for the threat. Just like the last time, they will largely leverage hardware this time, and, as before, they will be up against companies with resources that eclipse their own.”
“Apple’s one prevailing weakness has been their inability to partner and unless that changes we should be able to call the outcome of this competition relatively easily — and it isn’t positive for Apple.”
“This suggests that 2006, at least after August, will be great time for buyers and sellers of PC hardware and that has to be a good thing for everyone — except Apple.”
Actual outcome: Vista was a good thing only for Apple.
Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing (April 2009):
“Digital Distribution and the Whip Hand: Don’t Get iTunesed with your eBooks”
“Any time someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes and doesn’t give you the key, they’re not doing it for your benefit.”
Glad to hear that you own every eBook ever written, or to be written, Cory. But guess what — most of us non-entitled mortals own only the eBooks we pay for.
John Sullivan of the Free Software Foundation (January 2010):
“If Jobs and Apple are actually committed to creativity, freedom, and individuality, they should prove it by eliminating the restrictions that make creativity and freedom illegal.”
Where by “freedom” Sullivan means the freedom of computer owners to rip off whatever apps a small minority of creative software authors are desperate enough to write for a pirate’s-field-day system, and the freedom of the great majority of creative software authors to spend all day in a cubicle processing insurance transactions, so at least they can get a piracy-proof paycheck every two weeks.
Anders Bylund on The Motley Fool (January 2010):
“The Worst Stocks For 2010: Apple”
“[T]he fact that Apple’s stock appreciated by nearly 150% last year and is cruising at all-time record altitudes could be a classic setup for a fall back to Earth, Icarus-style.”
“[W]e could be looking at a meltdown that would make Massachusetts Democrats blush. Apple is a fine company at heart, and I wouldn’t mind picking up a few shares after the wreck, but at today’s prices, there’s no way I’d buy a ticket to ride this crazy train. ... There’s much that must go right for Apple to keep growing, and I’m not buying into a company that’s reaching terminal velocity.”
Sorry you didn’t go all-in with Apple in January of 2010, Anders. By now you probably could’ve kissed your crummy stock-predicting gig goodbye.
Paul Thurrott of Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite For Windows (February 2010):
“Jobs isn’t interested in Flash, and not because it’s buggy or performance challenge. Instead, Jobs is interested in control. And Flash isn’t going to make it on his devices.”
“[T]he vast majority of users only have a small handful of apps (5 to 10) on their phone and regularly use even less. So this app ecosystem does benefit a small number of developers greatly, but most of them, of course, make nothing.”
“If sales are down, just invent a ‘new product category.’ The lemmings will wait in line.”
“Apple, as it turns out, isn’t really so benevolent. I’m curious that we’ve got another Google/Microsoft in the making here and that no one seems to have an issue with this. Price fixing in collusion with the publishing industry? Creating a closed, central clearing house for selling other company’s products? Orchestrating products to shut out competition? Doesn’t all this sound kind of familiar?”
It’s probably not the same 5-10 apps on everyone’s iPhone. Anyway, yeah, the majority of iPhone apps won’t make much. But still, 200,000+ apps selling to 85+ million iPhones means a lot of authors are making money. Any successful industry has a long tail of not-very-successful products. Is that a reason to develop for a different phone? Would an unsuccessful iPhone app be a killer app on some other phone? If so, that doesn’t say much for that other phone’s ecosystem...
And: the reason most people don’t have an issue with what Apple’s doing is because (a) it’s working really well, and (b) Apple made it clear from the get-go what they were doing. They didn’t create a wide-open, install-anything system, like Mac OS or Windows or Linux, then later start screwing with third-party products they decided they wanted to take over.
Peter-Paul Koch of QuirksMode.org (February 2010):
“The iPhone obsession”
“Suppose I proposed the following:
1. IE6 is today’s most advanced browser. (Note: this was actually true back in 2000. Please bear with me.)
2. IE6’s market share is about 80%.
3. The other browsers are way worse than IE6, and developing for them is a pain; something we’re not interested in and are a bit afraid of. Therefore we will develop websites exclusively for IE6.
Would you agree with those sentiments, even if we’re back in 2000 and IE6 is really the best browser we have?”
“Warning! iCandy will damage your brain!”
“Nowadays we live in a fantasy world that focuses exclusively on one platform, and does so exclusively for reasons of eye candy.
We laughingly disown every single principle the web standards movement has ever stood for in the past ten years in order to swoon and drool over Apple’s iCandy and happily accept the reality distortion field that emanates from it.
The iPhone has become an obsession.”
We’re doing exactly the same as ten years ago. We now say ‘iPhone’ instead of ‘IE6,’ but otherwise nothing’s changed.”
Nothing? So in 2000, IE6 was the one browser on which you could publish content and realistically expect that most everybody who had a computer would have to pay your asking price if they wanted to use your content? They couldn’t get a no-charges copy of your web app from their buddy down the street — but they could if you developed for any other browser? Funny — I don’t remember that.
Holman Jenkins in The Wall Street Journal (February 2010):
“The Microsofting of Apple?”
“[T]his may be the year when Apple’s market cap does the unthinkable and surpasses Microsoft’s. Congratulations will be in order but so will condolences.”
“[I]t’s a fallen world we live in.”
“The iPad may not be the best Web-browsing machine simply because Apple refuses to support Flash, which delivers 75% of the video on the Web.”
“Flash would also allow iPhone and iPad users to consume video and other entertainment without going through iTunes. Flash would let users freely obtain the kinds of features they can only get now at the Apple App Store.
We hasten to add, before the net-neut crazies and antitrusters seek to perp-walk Steve Jobs, that Apple is perfectly within its rights to do so.”
But “we” don’t hasten at all to inform our readers that anyone can sell video, music, e-books, and other entertainment without using either iTunes or Flash. Do iTunes and Flash hold the secret technique by which entertainment can be delivered over the internet? Somebody forgot to tell Amazon — contact them quick, Holman, and tell them they need to shut down their entire internet media business and join your Apple-is-as-bad-as-Microsoft cause instead. I’m sure they’ll do that right away.
Joe Wilcox on BetaNews (February 2010):
“Apple should ban freebees from the iPad App Store”
“The iPad App Store should be stocked full of premium content, meaning no freebees. It’s the right way to help establish iPad as a premium product ... Unfortunately, Apple has little incentive to take this right approach benefiting its developers ... Apple’s business is about selling hardware, using software and services as differentiators.”
“If three-quarters of the apps are paid ones already, why not 100 percent on iPad?”
“If Apple is going to try and breakthrough with tablets, why not freshen the approach: Make the product even more chic by making it more exclusive ... Paid apps, and only paid apps, is one way to do it.”
“People inherently value something more they paid for than what they get for free. ... Free apps are throwaways.”
Somehow, Joe, I don’t think you have Apple’s — or its third-party developers’ — best interests at heart.
Jon Stokes on Ars Technica (March 2010):
“Why has Apple been so secretive about the A4?”
“Steve Jobs just loves secrets. The A4 no doubt gives him that special, ‘I have my very own custom SoC that you don’t know anything about’ feeling ...”
“[The] most likely reason behind Apple’s silence, is that the A4 just isn’t anything to write home about ...”
Apple doesn’t publish a lot of their OS/app sourcecode, either. Next time you’re bored, why don’t you throw a fit about that? Just an idea.
Scott Moritz on TheStreet.com (March 2010):
“Apple: Sell Before the Fall”
“While hard to picture now, Jobs and company will one day, maybe soon, fall out of step with fashion. Growth will stall. Fair-weather investors will flee to sunnier stocks. Loyal fans will become embittered. Smelling blood, critics will get even nastier. It’s inevitable. The life cycle of tech giants is brilliant and brutally short. Today’s consumer electronics leaders are tomorrow’s fossils.”
“[E]ven the sweetest empires fall.”
“Apple has a history of making bold attacks on humble devices ...”
“The third year is a charm. The fourth year will wear thin. Apple’s 4th version of the iPhone — not to be confused with a 4G iPhone — is due this summer, and it’s not likely to be any different than the past three. Meanwhile, thinner phones have arrived like Google’s Nexus One, and bigger, brighter screens from the Motorola Droid have beaten Apple at its own game.”
“The revolutionary iPhone is getting stale. No fresh market, no fresh phone. Androids are looking like an Apple antidote.”
“The iPad is a not so ‘magical’ e-reader. Expect to hear a lot of: ‘I spent a cold night in line for this?’”
“Investors like to call [Apple’s] stock’s premium valuation ‘the Apple tax.’ It might be time for your refund.”
This article, of course, isn’t meant to be taken seriously by the general public — Scott’s just appealing to the judging board of the Enderle Awards with this one.
Jack Shafer in Slate (April 2010):
“Apple Wants To Own You
Welcome to our velvet prison, say the boys and girls from Cupertino.”
“Steve Jobs has gone from producing a computer — the original Macintosh — that he called ‘insanely great’ to producing a computer — the iPad — that is totally insane.”
“What’s insane is the perimeter mines, tank traps, revetments, and glacis he’s deployed around these shiny devices to slow software developers to a crawl ...”
“Apple wants to play gatekeeper so it can establish itself as toll-taker. Seeing through this ruse are Frédéric Filloux, Jim Stogdill, and Cory Doctorow, whose dispatches have broadened my understanding of what sort of game Apple is playing.”
Yeah, those guys represent a broad perspective of Apple. Not a narrow one. Not a very, very narrow one.
Paul Thurrott of Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite For Windows (April 2010):
“[I]f you’re looking to copy Apple’s success — and you are [Microsoft] — then at least do it right. It’s not about the products at all. What Apple does right is marketing. It’s form over function, plain and simple.”
You’re preaching to the choir, Paul. Microsoft completely agrees with you, and has been trying to beat Apple with that exact strategy for several years now. Make some junk, then try to market the hell out of it.
Brian X. Chen on Gadget Lab (May 2010):
“5 Things Apple Must Do to Look Less Evil”
“It’s appropriate that the Apple logo on the iPad is black. The Cupertino, California, company’s image is taking on some awfully sinister tones lately.”
Getting kinda hard to criticize Apple on the quality and success of its products, huh?
Update: It’s been a year since you burped this up, Brian — do you still think Apple looks evil? Wait, let me rephrase that: Do you have any evidence that a sizable percentage of the computer-buying public thinks Apple is evil? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
“At Adobe, we believe that the open flow of creativity, ideas, and information should be limited only by the imagination.”
At Adobe, we believe that what we are permitted to do with another company’s products should be limited only by our imagination.
Paul Graham of Y Combinator (May 2010):
“I’m very afraid of a world in which we are all Steve Jobs’s slaves. If anything can save us, it might be Chrome.”
If you want an iPhone-esque explosion of apps to choose from (or make good money from, if you’re the author of a few of them), then you’re going to have to be somebody’s “slave.” A world of total freedom is a world where only deluded chumps spend serious time and effort writing cool apps.
Vic Gundotra of Google (May 2010):
“If we did not act [to create Android], we faced a draconian future where one man, one phone, one carrier was the future. That’s a future we don’t want.”
Translation: We bought Android a couple years before anyone ever heard of iPhone. And we had it ready to deploy on phones before anyone heard of iPhone. But when Microsoft’s plans to lock us out of mobile search were ruined by iPhone (which was very Google-friendly) then we found ourselves sitting on a big project that we didn’t need. And rather than mothballing it and moving on with our profitable relationship with Apple, we felt we had to use it because we’d put so much money into it — kind-of the same way Adobe feels it has to turn Flash into a modern development system because they payed so much for Macromedia. So we used Android to attack Apple. Because that’s all it was good for. Oh yeah — don’t be evil.
Update: It’s been nine months, Vic, and I’ve got some great news — Apple just signed up Verizon to sell the iPhone! Breathe easy; your “one carrier” nightmare is over. You should be really happy about that — right? Vic?
David Gewirtz On ZDNet (June 2010):
“[D]espite their old marketing campaign, Apple is not the company ‘for the rest of us.’ Apple’s primary goal is meeting Apple’s goals, often without regard to who is hurt along the way.”
“Weirdly, Apple seems to be almost purposely searching out segments of the tech industry to destroy. Whether it’s Apple’s war against Flash, its completely capricious application review and denial process, the way its terms of service intend to lock out third-party ad companies like AdMob, its option to remove of all Web-based advertising from Safari, its lock-out of any language besides Objective-C, or even the company’s complete lack of acknowledgment of Mac developers at its recent World-Wide Developer’s Conference, Apple seems determined to undermine developers and their ability to make a living.”
“The pain Apple is causing developers”
“By blasting Flash and Adobe, the collateral damage is to all those little development companies and all those developers, many of whom may find themselves without an income stream.”
“I’ve documented six ways in which Apple seems to be trying to kill off developers and their means of income.”
“We’re in the middle of a deep recession and this is a bad time to put people out of work.”
“What’s disturbing is the apparent gusto Apple as a company, and Steve Jobs as its leader, seem to have for disrupting the lives of its partners.
There’s just something deeply disturbing about a guy with a personal net worth of $5.5 billion dollars seeming to take such joy in throwing developers out onto the street.”
So developers who switch from Flash to Xcode, so they can sell to the already-huge-and-growing-fast iPhone and iPad markets, are...out of work? Huh?
Steve Ballmer of Microsoft (July 2010):
“This year one of the most important things that we will do in the smart device category is really push forward with Windows 7-based slates and Windows 7 phones. We want to give you a great consumer-oriented device, but a device that fits and is manageable with today’s enterprise IT solutions. ... [T]hey will all run Windows 7 ... They will run Windows 7 applications. They will run Office.”
Translation: In the 1990s, leveraging current dominance into new dominance worked really well for us. So even though it stopped working about ten years ago, we’re going to keep trying it. Actually, it’s the only strategy we know.
Rob Enderle (August 2010):
“Steve Jobs was fired once and likely came close to being fired again for infractions that seemed far less damaging than what took out [HP’s] Mark Hurd ...”
“If Hurd can be fired in this new world could Larry and Steve be next?”
“CEOs are likely the closest thing we have to royalty in this age and, as a result, their temptations are also unprecedented.”
“[B]oth Apple and Oracle were founded with the idea that the Steve and Larry were special. While that didn’t initially protect Steve initially, once Apple was reborn under him that special nature was both strengthened and enhanced. In short, their respective companies accept that rules are different for their top executives who are not expected to adhere to them.”
“Given Steve Jobs, for instance, is critical to Apple’s success is there anything short of eating live babies on national TV that he should be fired for? Where would you draw that line or should he be held to the same rules and laws that the rest of us are held to?
Most CEOs are not but is a little corruption OK or should they be satisfied with simply getting paid a massive amount of money and being surrounded by luxuries and perks the rest of us can’t even imagine?”
Perks...hmm. What’s a perk? Is that anything like, say, “consulting fees” from Microsoft? That you got but the rest of us didn’t? That aren’t gonna happen so much any more as Microsoft slips into irrelevance? That will never be paid to you by Apple because — though they may eat babies on TV — they don’t pay guys like you to promote them with your “analysis,” and never will?
Preston Gralla on Computerworld.com (August 2010):
“Where are Apple fanbois now? Apple becomes most reviled brand on the Net”
“Brandwatch recently released research that found that Apple is the brand most commonly associated with the term #fail.”
“It’s easy to dismiss a report like this as much ado about nothing. But, in fact, it’s a danger sign for Apple. Apple sells an aura as much as it sells products, and if that aura fades, so will Apple sales.”
Apple sales = “#fail?” Check again, Preston. Hey — didn’t Shakespeare write a play called “Much Ado About Bullshit?” I think he did.
Fabrice Grinda on Business Insider (August 2010):
“Apple: Short Term Winner, Long Term Loser
There is no denying Apple has had an incredible run.”
“Apple is currently on top of the world. ... However, Apple and Steve Jobs seem to be repeating a number of strategic mistakes that seem destined to relegate it to a niche player.”
“In 1984, when Apple introduced the Mac in 1984, it was revolutionary. ... However, Steve Jobs’ vertical integration driven by his desire to only have beautiful machines and software limited both innovation and the availability of software.”
“Steve Jobs seems to be repeating the same mistake all over again. ... Apple’s insistence on having a single form factor, on being a premium player at a premium price point (to carriers at least), and its arbitrary decisions with regards to what apps make it in the App Store will eventually make Apple a niche player. Even if Apple keeps innovating and has the best phone on the market, it won’t matter.”
“[W]ith the iPhone Apple has taken vertical integration one step further. It acquired PA Semi for $278 million in April 2008 and Intrinsity in 2010 and now designs its own chips. Both the iPad and the iPhone 4 run on the A4 chip it designed. This means that in addition to competing with Google, all the handset manufacturers in the world and many app makers, it now has to compete with the likes of ARM! It’s extremely hard to be world class in so many product categories and arguably Apple has just made its job of having the best smartphone on the market that much harder.”
“Fast forward 5 to 10 years and it’s not hard to imagine seeing Apple with a small (but probably very profitable) share of the smartphone market. It will be a niche player in the market it revolutionized and could have dominated. History seems bound to repeat itself!”
At first I thought this was just another entry into the tired litany of “Windows-vs-Mac will repeat itself” that first gained popularity around 2004 and has yet to be correct. But when I got to the part about how Apple will be done in by its newfound control over its own chips, I knew I’d found gold.
One-year update: No sign that Grinda was even slightly right about any of this, but he did say “5 to 10 years out,” so I guess I should cut him some slack. Maybe he can see trends developing a year or more before there’s any sign of them in the market. Smart guy!
JR Raphael on Computerworld (August 2010):
“Why the Apple crowd’s completely wrong about Flash”
“Having spent some time using [mobile Flash] and seeing how it performs, I have to say: Stevie J. and his legions of followers couldn’t be more wrong.”
“The arguments against providing [mobile Flash] are getting increasingly silly.”
“Flash on a smartphone may not be ‘magical,’ but it is practical. For those of us living in reality, practicality and the freedom to use our phones the way we want is worth everything.”
The stunning success of iOS isn’t reality. It’s a fantasy in the mind of Steve Jobs.
Stan Shih of Acer as reported by Yen-Shyang Hwang and Joseph Tsai in DigiTimes (September 2010):
“Acer founder Stan Shih, in a talks with reporters on September 8, commented that Apple’s strong popularity is mainly due to its products such as iPad and iPhone, and these products are like mutant viruses, which are difficult to find a cure for in the short-term, but he believes that PC vendors will eventually find a way to isolate Apple and become immune.”
“Apple CEO Steve Jobs has always been looking for revolution, while other PC brands evolved naturally and are developing products in a more solid way, Shih commented. But based on the historical experience, a market that evolves naturally will always turn out to be much stronger, according to Shih.”
“Shih used the example of the competition between Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Macintosh OS and noted the Apple has always looked down on Windows and believes it lacks creativity. But Windows’ open platform has attracted the adoption of most PC brands, Shih said adding that, Apple’s PC market has turned out to be limited, with a market share far less than the open Windows platform group. Shih also brought up the example of the competition between video tape formats, pointing out that the open VHS standard won against the closed Betamax format.”
Translation: I founded Acer. Acer sells bargain-basement computers running a kludgy, virus-prone, licensed-from-Microsoft OS. So I sure hope that chanting “licensed systems always win” works some magic against Apple. I hope it works better than it did for PlaysForSure against the Apple iPod. I hope it works better than it did for Windows Mobile against the Apple iPhone. ’Cause we need some wicked-bad magic against that Apple iPad. And we need it, like, yesterday.
Update: It’s January 2011 and Gartner reports that Acer’s unit sales dropped 30% from the year-ago quarter.
Update: Acer’s President and CEO, Gianfranco Lanci, abruptly resigns.
Update: Acer’s profits fall 64%.
Gregg Keizer in ComputerWorld (September 2010):
“Devs bet big on Android over Apple’s iOS”
“A majority of mobile application developers see Google’s Android as the smart bet over the long run even as they vote for Apple’s iOS in the short term, according to a survey published Monday.
Shocking! Say...here’s an idea for a poll: What percentage of mobile app income is earned by apps created by developers who made their apps with “Appcelerator’s Titanium cross-platform compiler?” Or created by developers who have ever used “Appcelerator’s Titanium cross-platform compiler?” Or who have even heard of it?
Karl Denninger (September 2010):
“If you haven’t used one of the modern Android phones, well, once you do you’ll see how limited the iPhone really is. It’s stunning, really, by comparison.”
“The [BlackBerry Playbook’s] slightly-smaller screen is likely a good thing. 7" looks to be just about the perfect size from my perspective.”
“[The PlayBook’s] QNX [OS] has been around for a long time. It’s a very Unix-like RTOS — or real-time operating system — that is known for it’s prowess in handling embedded systems. It is very light-weight — much more so than a Linux kernel or its derivatives, such as what’s in the Apple and Android devices. And it’s capable of hard real-time performance.”
“Apple has attracted some trouble, in my opinion, and between RIMM and the upcoming Android-powered tablets Steve Jobs has himself some trouble brewing over what he thought was a pretty-safe panoply of devices. Suddenly it doesn’t look so safe at all, and neither do the predictions that Apple was going to ‘steamroller’ the market on a forward basis with their tablet and phones. With RIMM selling at a P/E of 9 and Apple at nearly 22, you may have a wee problem down the road if you’re an Apple Stock Fanboy.”
As an Apple fanboy, let me wish that all of Apple’s problems be this wee.
John Martellaro in The Mac Observer (October 2010):
“[Jobs’s philosophy] has some inherent weaknesses that prevent products from becoming populist, and so, to a certain extent, trying to win back the gains that Android has made and will make will be in vain.
There was a time when the Apple community thought: wow, Apple has done it. They’ve finally figured out how to win convincingly and totally instead of lose. Windows was a fluke. Surely, now, it’s been established that under great leadership and a level smartphone playing field, Apple will show its true winning colors in every aspect.
It’s not happening.”
“[I]n the long run, Apple can’t win the smartphone market share battle.”
“[W]e’re back to the same old arguments we used in the Mac world. Market share doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter to BMW. ... Our hopes and rationalizations are all over the Mac Web.”
“Apple is great at creating great products that we love. To keep doing that, Apple has to maintain control. That’s in conflict with the business forces that always apply. Products, like Android, that allow companies to jump in, rather than toil over their own innovation, will always be in demand. There will always be individuals who retain a bad taste in their mouths for Apple. There will always be industry forces that want Apple to fail, lest they look bad and get squeezed out of the game. There will always be Microsoft, wiling to pay a half billion dollars to bend people’s minds around Windows Phone 7. Will it work enough to boost WP7 market share? It probably will.”
“Android lets companies look cool, make products that look like the Apple iPhone, and lets everyone take a shot at a cut of the smartphone pie. It’s exactly what the industry craved, and it’s everything Apple isn’t. That’s the fundamental contradiction of our time.
The bad news is that, in time, it will become clear that millions of customers are willing to settle for something less than the iPhone and don’t care about what the iPhone has to offer in terms of security and compatibility.”
“In the long run, Apple’s belief (or maybe our own belief that we presume on Apple’s part) that its superb products and customer approach can outright win the market share war against Android remains irrational. Once that sinks in with investors, in 2011, there could be problems.
There are emerging signs that the rest of the industry is going to try the same strategy against the iPad.”
Let’s see: None of that hurt the iPod throughout the last decade. It hasn’t hurt the iPhone except in the USA where the iPhone is locked to a single carrier. And Apple’s about to end that situation with the CDMA iPhone. And WP7 isn’t out yet. And the various iPad wannabes aren’t out yet. So, uh, what are you talking about, John?
Jim Balsillie of RIM (October 2010):
“We think many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple.”
“As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story.”
People are getting really tired of being told that Apple’s products rock. Oh, wait. They do rock.
Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures (October 2010):
“iPhone and iPad have been amazing products that have opened new markets. But I do not think they will own either market in a few years. Android will.”
Is that really what you think, Fred? But please — don’t stop saying it.
Michael Obuchowski of First Empire Asset Management (October 2010):
“Everyone is closing in and it’s a huge question of how they [Apple] are going to respond. I’m really worried about Apple; I’m not convinced that I’m going to hold Apple two years from now.”
You think Apple’s in a bind — so you’re going to sell your stock two years from now?? Why not sell it today, Michael?
Kevin Lynch of Adobe (November 2010):
“I just think there’s this negative campaigning going on, and, for whatever reason, Apple is really choosing to incite it, and condone it. I think that’s unfortunate. We don’t think it’s good for the web to have aspects closed off — a blockade of certain types of expression. There’s a decade of content out there that you just can’t view on Apple’s device, and I think that’s not only hurtful to Adobe, but hurtful to everyone that created that content. That’s what upsets me the most. That people put energy into making this stuff, and now some percentage of viewers can’t see it anymore because one company chooses so. That’s just totally counter to our values.”
Especially after we bought Macromedia.
Tim Wu of Columbia Law School (November 2010):
“Steve Jobs has the charisma, vision and instincts of every great information emperor.”
“His vision has an undeniable appeal, but he wants too much control.”
“The man who starts as the great reformer often ends his career by becoming increasingly paranoid and abusive.”
If I publicly likened one of most successful and admired CEOs of our time to a sadistic Roman emperor just because I couldn’t stand his company’s meteoric rise from near-death to supreme fitness, would I be abusive? Or paranoid? Maybe both?
Rob Enderle (December 2010):
“[Steve Jobs] is not somebody [who] any one of us would want watching our kids, but, in terms of running the company, he’s excellent.”
Translation: I don’t know why so many people are buying Apple’s products. It can’t be because they’re really good. It’s just some sort of marketing mystique, combined with a cult of personality. If I can get some vague impression going that Jobs is really, truly evil, then maybe, just maybe — the Apple mystique will fade, and Microsoft will once again emerge victorious.
Patrick Lo, CEO of Netgear (January 2011):
“Once Steve Jobs goes away, which is probably not far away, then Apple will have to make a strategic decision on whether to open up the platform.”
“Ultimately a closed system just can’t go that far ... If they continue to close it and let Android continue to creep up then it’s pretty difficult as I see it.”
“[The tech industry has] seen this movie play several times.”
“Right now the closed platform has been successful for Apple because they’ve been so far ahead as thought leaders because of Steve Jobs.”
“Eventually they’ve got to find a way to open up iTunes without giving too much away on their revenue generation model.”
“Steve Jobs wants to suffocate the distribution so even though he doesn’t own the content he could basically demand a ransom.”
“What’s the reason for him to trash Flash? There’s no reason other than ego.”
“[I would relay these concerns to Apple but] Steve Jobs doesn’t give me a minute!”
Gee, I wonder why. Could it be because you’re the fiftieth techie to cover a song that first released in 2004 and hasn’t been a hit yet? Nah, that can’t be it. Must be his crazy ego.
Jason Kincaid on TechCrunch (February 2011):
“Why Are You People Defending Apple?”
“Apple takes a 30% cut of all subscriptions. ... I’m still having a hard time swallowing it.”
“I think that many who consider themselves technophiles are completely dropping the ball by rationalizing what Apple has done.”
“I really don’t think it’s worth considering whether Apple has the right to impose a 30% fee on applications ...”
“I don’t take issue with Apple demanding a small processing fee to handle credit card transactions, but 30% is too much ...”
That’s all Apple does: process credit card transactions. Apple’s just a credit card transaction processing company. Didn’t you know that?
Matt Buchanan on Gizmodo (February 2011):
“Apple’s New Subscription Model Is Evil”
“Apple takes a 30 percent cut of every transaction. In other words, Apple is eating the people that provide the things that make the iPad special.”
“Publishers can’t use the allure of a lower price to entice people to put up with the extra step of registering with their computer, because Apple explicitly restricts it. Unless a user was very determined that the New York Times get 100-percent of their money, these subscriptions are going to go through Apple. Very few people care that much though, and fewer still will understand the difference.”
Could that be because, uh, very few people are disgruntled, anti-Apple pundits?
Cade Metz in The Register (February 2011):
“Is Steve Jobs the best thing that ever happened to Adobe Flash?
Nine months after Jobs unloaded his infamous open letter on Flash, defending Apple’s decision to completely ban the technology from the iPhone and the iPad, Adobe has announced that in 2010, more than 20 million smartphones shipped with or were upgraded to Flash Player 10.1, the first full version of Flash built specifically for mobiles. That means a mobile-optimized Flash was on about 12 per cent of smartphones shipped last year — though it was available for only six months.”
Where by “mobile-optimized” Cade means that it runs well enough to show in a carefully controlled demo, but nobody really wants to use it and it sucks down your battery like there’s no tomorrow.
Pete Mortensen on Cult of Mac (February 2011):
“App Store Subscription Plan Demolishes the Appeal of iOS”
“Apple’s new App Store subscription guidelines ... could end up being the single-worst business decision the Cupertino Colossus has made in the last decade ...”
“Think about it. If you’re an average consumer and you’re trying to decide between an iPad and one of the many Android Honeycomb tablets scheduled to ship in the next few months, the ability to put your existing content on that tablet would likely be a key decision in that process.”
“Since Apple won’t be footing the bandwidth to deliver the content for [non-iOS-only] subscriptions, there is no possible justification for taking a cut of the revenue from them other than greed.”
“The entire purpose of the App Store and iTunes is to make Apple’s hardware more attractive to users. ... Apps are there to increase [iPad sales], not try to turn app sales into a meaningful business.”
“I continue to watch in horror as ever-more respected apps announce that they have run afoul of the new guidelines. This is a dumb decision on Apple’s part, and there are no excuses that make it sensible ... Some charges just make you into a jerk.”
Hey, Pete. Check out this Apple shareholder meeting. The App Store barely breaks even. Just like you said: not a meaningful business. So, uh, what’s that about “greed?” What do they have to do — take massive, Microsoft-Xbox-esque losses? If it’s that or be called greedy, I’d choose being called greedy every time.
Christopher Dawson on ZDNet (February 2011):
“[W]hen will Apple finally jump on the [Adobe Flash] train?”
“I give Apple a year until they cave.”
In case you hadn’t noticed, Christopher, this issue has already been hot and heavy for well over a year. Shouldn’t they be caving, like, any second now?
Update: It’s been just nine months, and somebody caved, alright. Only it wasn’t Apple.
Satoru Iwata of Nintendo (March 2011):
“The value of games does not matter to [developers of cheap mobile games]. The fact is, what we produce is value, and we should protect it.”
The value? Or the price?
John Naughton in The Guardian (March 2011):
“[I]t’s Apple that is turning into the evil empire”
“You may think you own your lovely, shiny new iPhone or iPad, but in reality an invisible virtual string links it back to Apple HQ at One Infinite Loop, Cupertino. You can’t install anything on it that hasn’t had the prior approval of Mr Jobs and his subordinates.”
“Apple now controls the commanding heights of the online content business and it looks like doing the same to the mobile phone business. At the moment, it looks as though nobody has a good idea of how to stop it.”
Because Apple should be stopped.
Reggie Fils-Aime of Nintendo (March 2011):
“[W]e are not looking to do business today with the garage developer. In our view, that’s not a business we want to pursue.”
Translation: We couldn’t make our system attractive to the indie game developer if we tried.
Stephen DeWitt of HP (March 2011):
“Apple’s relationship with partners is transactional, completely. Apple doesn’t have an inclusive philosophy of partner capabilities, and that’s just absurd.”
Apple also doesn’t instantiate proactive synergies. Even more absurd.
Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures (April 2011):
“I believe the mobile OS market will play out very similarly to Windows and Macintosh, with Android in the role of Windows. And so if you want to be in front of the largest number of users, you need to be on Android.”
Who cares if you make any money, right? Oh yeah: developers. That’s who.
Update: Oh, and sorry to hear you sold your Apple stock just before it climbed steadily over the past couple years to 3.7 times your selling price. Bummer.
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry on Business Insider (April 2011):
“Apple is suing Samsung for allegedly ripping off the look and feel of its iPhone and iPad. Here’s the problem: it’s not clear that anyone has ever won a ‘look and feel’ lawsuit. ... Nor should they. Fast-following and imitating is a big part of what makes free markets work. It helps competition and helps bring innovations to consumers faster.”
Letting Samsung flagrantly rip off Apple’s designs helps Samsung get innovations to consumers faster. Got it.
Jason Perlow on ZDNet (May 2011):
“Flash runs sucky on mobile hardware and on the Mac only because Apple refuses to spend the time and due diligence with Adobe to fully optimize it correctly.”
Let me get this straight, Jason. Not only is it “only” Apple’s fault that Flash has sucked on the Mac for over a decade — but it’s also Apple’s fault that Flash “runs sucky on mobile hardware?” Uhh...what Flash-sucky mobile hardware are you talking about? Samsung’s Galaxy Tab? Apple’s fault. Motorola’s XOOM? Apple’s fault. RIM’s PlayBook? Apple’s fault!
OK, here’s the straight dope, Jason, but promise you won’t tell anybody: It really is Apple’s fault that Flash doesn’t run at all on the iPhone and iPad. Shhh — try to keep it under your hat.
“I think [Apple] can [screw up]. I think it’s an inevitability. And I don’t know that they can screw it up as much as just, you know, popular taste will no longer demand Apple products, eventually. I think inevitably they’re gonna get knocked off the pedestal.”
“Eventually there’s gonna be a flashpoint where people are just burnt-out on Apple products. ... I was in an elevator recently with a couple guys that I didn’t know, and one of them was talking about getting a new smartphone, ’cause his contract was up, and he’s, like, ‘Yeah, I don’t want an iPhone, because they’re just so mainstream.’”
Okey-dokey, Peter. If you say so.
Bill Gates of Microsoft (May 2011):
“I wouldn’t say that [Microsoft has been left behind in the handheld computing revolution]. I’d say there’s companies doing very good work in that area. I think that the phone has become very software-centric. So whereas about three or four years ago, if you look what Microsoft was saying, they were saying the phone would become software-centric, that’s really taken place. And so it’s software approaches that are succeeding there. The idea that reading and media are moving down onto the digital device, that’s good news. And Microsoft has to create the best device for those scenarios.”
Translation: Apple is really, really kicking our ass.
Ty Fujimura in The Huffington Post (May 2011):
“Why Apple is Doomed”
“When that edge [Steve Jobs’s presence] is gone, Apple will no longer be able to operate as they have become accustomed. Without vastly superior products, their arrogant marketing will fall on deaf ears. Consumers will consider alternatives more readily. Their prickly policies towards developers will take a toll.”
Everyone hates Apple’s arrogance and prickliness, but they’ve been buying Apple’s products anyway because they like Steve Jobs so much. Got it.
Aaron Holesgrove on Business Insider (June 2011):
“Apple gets too much credit for how it affected its competitors ...”
“Microsoft might definitely have some Apple envy but at the end of the day, they would have still designed the same kind of interface for Windows 8 no matter what happened outside of their own walls.”
“It is common knowledge that [iOS] is a modified version of OS X with a touch centric shell on top.”
“[T]he iPad succeeds because it enables you to read websites whilst sitting on the toilet and play casual games in bed. It’s a toy. You can’t eliminate complexity when there was never any complexity in the first place — Apple went and threw a 10" screen on the iPod Touch and iPhone and called them the iPad and iPad 3G, respectively.”
“iOS IS a touch-based shell covering up Mac OS X — it’s one tenth of the OS and one tenth of the battery consumption.”
“[N]o one could care less about [Apple products] up until about five years ago.”
“Microsoft wants your tablet to be your total solution and just because Apple can’t do it, doesn’t mean that someone else can’t either ... Apple are obsessed with pushing this agenda of crippled iPads being acceptable devices ...”
“Sure some apps in Windows 8 tablets will look ugly but at the end of the day, backwards compatibility with legacy Windows apps isn’t a drawback — it’s a feature, because that’s what the market will demand.”
That’s what the market will demand — just as soon as it gets done demanding Apple’s products, that is. Which is gonna happen, like, any day now. I’m sure.
One-year update: Market not done demanding Apple’s products. Not yet.
Seth Sternberg of Meebo (June 2011):
“I think apps are dead in three to five years.”
Funny coincidence: I think Seth Sternberg’s credibility as a tech prognosticator will be dead in three to five years.
Nikolay Grebennikov of Kaspersky (June 2011):
“Apple simply can’t continue with its current closed approach, and in my opinion, to remain competitive it should be looking to open up its platform within a year.”
“The Android platform, which is growing its market share, is much more open than the Apple iOS and it’s easier to create new applications for Android, including security software.”
“Apple is the only protector of its iPhone and iPad users but they don’t know the real situation with threats. It’s not possible to create the products they create, and be a world leader in security too; that expertise is elsewhere.”
Like, um, at Kaspersky, perhaps? Wow, you don’t say.
One-year update: Apple didn’t “open up” its platform. Kaspersky still flipping out about it.
Hedgephone in Seeking Alpha (June 2011):
“Research in Motion’s QNX buy will give the company a huge advantage in the auto-connectivity market ... [T]he Playbook is selling well at Best Buy and is likely doing better than the herd of know-it-all RIM bears would like to believe.”
“I would rather own RIM than Apple here because the company is small and nimble and can expand share once their sleek 4G phones hit the market this August. ... RIM is still a growth company ...”
“I am typing this article on a fantastic HP laptop computer. I have owned Dell laptops in the past, but after paying significantly less money for a significantly better laptop in the HP Pavilion series, I am a converted HP fan for life. The company produces a superior product at a better price point, and that’s the bottom line for me.”
“Microsoft: Yes, the stock is boring, but the company’s innovation and product development is more exciting than any other tech company around. ... [I]n the end, buying undervalued growth works better over the longer term. Avoid the bubble and stay out of trouble. Buy Microsoft ...”
Sorry you didn’t buy Apple, dude. My condolences.
Dan Lyons in The Daily Beast (June 2011):
“Apple’s Brain Drain”
“Analysts say the loss of of [retail chief Ron] Johnson is not a disaster, but make no mistake — this is not good news for Apple.”
Nine months since you wrote this, Dan: After having their most phenomenal quarter yet, and reaching a cash hoard of about $100 billion, Apple just announced dividend and stock-buyback programs. You were right — “not a disaster.”
Katherine Noyes of PCWorld (June 2011):
“Until recently, it was a commonly held belief in the mainstream computing world that Macs are more secure than Windows PCs are. Then MacDefender happened, and a whole new era began.”
“Rather than jumping to attention with assistance in a timely manner, [Apple] dragged its feet, denied the problem and stonewalled in every manner possible before finally taking action. For a company that prides itself on the safety and protection of its tightly closed ‘walled garden,’ the arrogance of Apple’s reaction was beyond belief.”
“Mac users can no longer rest easy in the ‘security,’ real or perceived, of their walled garden — at least no more than Windows users can on their own platform. If anyone needed further proof that ‘security by obscurity’ doesn’t work, this is it.”
“Even if Apple did care about customer service, the fact remains that no one company can protect you as well as the worldwide community of users can.”
“Regardless of your opinion of Apple and its approach, the fact is that the computing landscape is irrevocably changed in the wake of MacDefender ...”
Believing (hoping?) that one lame phishing scam is the leading tip of a huge Apple-focused malware outbreak = “fact.” Noticing that the typical Apple user doesn’t waste any time or expense on malware protection and no harm comes of it = “opinion.” Got it.
Michael A. Cusumano of MIT as reported by Steve Lohr in The New York Times (June 2011):
“Apple’s product designs, however impressive, will eventually be mimicked and come under price pressure, just as the mainframe did, predicts Michael A. Cusumano, professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In time, he says, Apple may want to borrow a page from I.B.M. and rely increasingly on software and services for its livelihood.”
Good advice, Mike. And I’m sure that just as soon as Apple wants to become a publicly obscured, esoteric research company and component manufacturer, with no mass-market products of their own, they’ll be taking your advice. But not before.
“Apple’s in big trouble. They’re sitting on piles of cash, but they are sitting on a closed system. In biology, in history, a closed system never survives.”
You know how Apple got all that cash, Paul? They snuck into Microsoft in the middle of the night and swiped it. Yes, really.
Daniel Bailey on The Motley Fool (July 2011):
“Is It Time for Apple to Shut Safari Down?”
“When you’re caught in a 5% market share trap, what are your options? Keep surviving or abandon the business?”
“Safari is disconnected from Apple’s iOS platform approach, and it may be a good idea for Apple to simply spin off Reader and shut down Safari ... this would surely be the common-sense approach ...”
“It is somewhat obvious that Safari is an increasingly painful problem for Apple and its users ...”
“Apple may have to make a choice soon: Either accelerate the development of its browser to bring it up to par with the feature set of its other platform products, or turn it into an app and open the App Store to other browsers — or simply shut down Safari, as Chrome is based on the same core engine and is the far better browser today. Doing nothing may be the worst choice.”
Nothing worse than selling several million iOS products each month. Eh, Daniel?
Steve Ballmer of Microsoft (July 2011):
“350 million, 350 million new PCs sold. That might compare with numbers from other guys that are in the 20 million range ... now, 20 is too much, but 350 the last time I checked is a lot more than 20.”
You’re doing great, Ballmer. Keep up the good work. Stay the course.
Grace Lei of HTC (July 2011):
“HTC is disappointed at Apple’s constant attempts at litigations instead of competing fairly in the market.”
Compete fairly = just keep developing more great products for HTC to flagrantly copy. Got it.
Demetrius Mandzych on InformationWeek.com (July 2011):
“A Sobering Look At Apple”
“In all honesty, I don’t know why people buy products from Apple.”
“The genius of Apple is that it has fooled its customers ... Customers then justify their purchases of average to below-average products.”
“Customers — and the tech press at large — needs to stop accepting failure as a matter of course from Apple. Stop acting like you’re lucky to be a part of the failure.”
“Make Apple earn your loyalty, respect, and hard-earned cash with excellent products and service. Otherwise, what is average to sub-average performance will only get worse. Like a spoiled child, Apple will do exactly what you let it get away with. Vote with your dollars.”
Buy, then put up with, frustrating, second-rate rip-offs of Apple products, so as to teach Apple that its products should be better than they currently are? Okay. You do that, Demetrius. And as Apple’s products improve over the coming years, I’ll remember I have you to thank.
Maxwell Wessel in Harvard Business Review (July 2011):
“Why Spotify Will Kill iTunes”
“iTunes as we know it is over. It is walking, talking, and continuing to pretend it’s alive, but Spotify, Europe’s outrageously successful streaming music product, has just shown us the future.”
“[The] iTunes business model is about to be blown up completely and swiftly.”
“To appreciate the truth of this claim, it’s vital to understand one of Clayton Christensen’s theories on marketing and product development: Jobs-to-be-done.”
“[W]e know it’s disruption because it is a business model, fundamentally advantaged in one of the characteristics we value in completing the job-to-be-done. Over time this model will displace iTunes. We’ve seen the future, because that’s what disruptive theory lets us do.”
Hey, as long as that fat, old university keeps paying you to write this stuff, why not keep doing it?
“Apple gives you permission to use the computers you buy in only the ways Apple considers appropriate. The writing has been on Apple’s wall for some time. It’s aiming for absolute authority over the ecosystem in which all its devices operate. Given the well-chronicled consequences of the company’s control-freakery in the iOS ecosystem, which is being merged with the Mac, that’s unacceptable ...”
“By rejecting its past so thoroughly — a proud history of creating devices that we users could modify for our own purposes with no one’s permission but our own — Apple is forcing me to move on.”
To run all those hundreds of thousands of third-party apps, representing tens of millions of hours of programming effort, I should need no one’s permission but my own.
Cory Doctorow in The Guardian (July 2011):
“[A more open ecosystem is] important to me. After all, a tablet without software is just an inconveniently fragile and poorly reflective mirror, so the thing I want to be sure of when I buy a device is that I don’t have to implicitly trust one corporation’s judgment about what software I should and shouldn’t be using.”
Especially if there’s any chance I might not have paid for it.
Trip Hawkins of Digital Chocolate (August 2011):
“If you look at any institution in history — look at the Roman Empire — anything in history, and what it looks like when it’s peaking. Look at Apple, and how can you say it’s not peaking?”
“The thing is, it may take another year or two before it starts to decline, but it has to — everything does.”
Apple has been growing non-stop for ten or fifteen years, but in the next “year or two” (or less), it will start to decline. Because “everything does.” And because the Roman Empire did. Got it.
David Drummond of Google (August 2011):
“Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.”
“Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.”
Innovation = just keep making more cool products for us to imitate. Got it.
Frank X. Shaw of Microsoft (August 2011):
“The IBM PC is 30 Years Old — And We’re (All) Just Getting Started”
“[T]he introduction of the IBM PC was a defining moment for our industry. ... Thirty years ago, Microsoft believed that making technology less expensive and more widely available would open up amazing opportunities for people and organizations to achieve their dreams.”
“People sometimes ask me about what Microsoft thinks about the post-PC era (I prefer to think of it as the PC-plus era, since there will be 400 million PCs sold worldwide this coming year, but that’s semantics :) ).”
“[T]he past doesn’t always predict the future, but let’s just say it offers some strong clues. As we look ahead to the next 30 years, we’ll continue to lead the industry forward in bringing technology to the next billion (or 2 billion or 6 billion) people on our planet.”
Hey, here’s a strong clue: For the last ten years, just about every new product from Microsoft has tanked miserably, while Apple released smash hit after smash hit. And Apple left Microsoft’s market cap and profits in the dust months ago. And Apple just passed Exxon Mobil’s market cap, making Apple the #1 company in the world, period. FYI.
Joe Wilcox on betanews (August 2011):
“Apple intimidation drives developer innovation”
“Mark this day — Aug. 10, 2011 — on a calendar, for it may be remembered as a turning point for Apple, when it finally claimed and maintained largest market capitalization and the beginnings of a developer revolt broke iOS mobile apps dominance. What’s that axiom about Rome declining at the height of power and rotting from corruption within?”
“So what is the world’s most valuable company — with $75 billion cash horde — doing with all that power? Bullying competitors with patent and intellectual lawsuits — HTC and Samsung, notably — and development partners with restrictive — and I would say anticompetitive — policies. The restrictions have led to surprising response, all on the same day. Amazon, Financial Times and Vudu released Web apps that sidestep Apple App Store policies and can be consumed in a browser. The significance cannot be understated.”
But it can be overstated, apparently.
Katherine Noyes in PCWorld (August 2011):
“Post-Jobs, Apple Needs to Open Up
There’s no denying that the departure of Steve Jobs as Apple CEO is the end of an era. ... Now that Jobs has stepped down, however, Apple has a great opportunity. Rather than maintain its completely closed and locked-down approach to the technologies it makes, the time is right for Apple to open up. Besides creating a more sustainable strategy for Apple, such a move would perform a great service for consumers, businesses and the world.”
Or at least for the world of feverishly anti-Apple pundits like you, Katherine.
Matt Marshall on VentureBeat (August 2011):
“Markets will punish Apple for the loss of its master magician
With Steve Jobs stepping down as chief executive of Apple, and his leadership of the company apparently at an end, big clouds are gathering over the company’s future...”
“It’s far from certain that the resignation of Jobs is fatal, or even a major blow to the company.”
Translation: I don’t care if Apple is the most successful company that ever was, I’m going to find a way to say “Apple” and “fatal” in the same sentence. Because I want to. And I’ll swear with my dying breath that I really thought “far from certain” could mean “extremely unlikely.”
Julian Lee of the Sydney Morning Herald (August 2011):
“Steve Jobs’s Apple legacy may not be so sweet at the core”
“[Jobs] is guilty, among other things, of bequeathing to us a worldwide cult of technological onanism from which we are unlikely to recover any time soon.”
“An entire generation will only be able to walk into its future so long as Apple holds its hand.”
“[W]e have fallen for it. We have become slaves to Apple’s brand ...”
“[T]here is nothing very cool about the culture of the company Jobs has presided over since he returned as CEO in 1997, after being ousted some years earlier in a boardroom coup. Its ‘my way or the highway’ approach to business has earned it few friends. Apple is one of the few technology companies in the world that has succeeded despite having a closed ecosystem that does not work with any other technology.”
Translation: If Apple was a good company in the mid-’90s, it would have died then, and if it’s a good company today, it will lay down and let its opponents slay it.
Paul Thurrott of Paul Thurrott’s Supersite For Windows (August 2011):
“Apple is a hugely successful company and its Mac business, even though it trails the wider PC market by a wide margin, is a great business, a very, very successful and desirable business. For Apple. Why anyone would care about that, other than employees of Apple, is unclear to me.”
So Apple has a “great business, a very, very successful and desirable business” selling Macs to, uh, Apple employees? Come again?
Hugo Rufkind, The London Times (August 2011):
“Join the cult if you like — Apple makes me cringe”
“[Apple is] an enormous, all-pervasive company that does its utmost to screw you six times before breakfast ...”
“[Why people think highly of Jobs is] a good question, and the answer isn’t just ‘because people are morons.’”
I’m going to try to explain why [people like Jobs] without sneering, although it’s not going to be easy. I don’t hate Apple. I actually quite like Apple. But I hate people who love Apple.”
I don’t hate Apple. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t!
Eric S. Raymond, “Armed and Dangerous” (August 2011):
“[Steve Jobs’s resignation] could hardly happen at a more difficult juncture — for though Apple’s cash reserves and quarterly profits are eye-popping, the company faces serious challenges in the near future. Its strategic position rests on premises that are now in serious doubt, and it is on the wrong end of a serious example of what Clayton Christensen has called ‘disruption from below’.”
“Android is now putting actual downward pressure on Apple’s market share.”
“The launch of the Nexus Prime could easily leave Apple as far behind on the technology curve as it is now, and with no realistic prospect of recovering for many months more.
Apple’s position in tablets is also weakening.”
“This is a failure mode that, as Clayton Christensen has documented, routinely crashes large and well-run companies at the apparent peak of their success.”
Apple = fail. Got it.
Joe Wilcox on betanews (September 2011):
“I lost my passion for Apple
Earlier this month I sold my 11.6-inch MacBook Air (using Samsung Series 5 Chromebook now) and iPhone 4 (switched back to Google Nexus S). I don’t miss either Apple product. Not the least bit. In reflecting, I realize that the spell is broken. Without Apple Chairman Steve Jobs driving innovation or inspiring passion — the oft-called “reality distortion field” — my Apple enthusiasm is gone. Perhaps it’s return to sanity.”
Joe, this is your eighth entry into my iPhone/iPad poopers lists. Something tells me you lost your “passion for Apple” a long time ago — if you ever had it.
Kyle Smith on Forbes (September 2011):
“Is Steve Jobs A Creative Genius, Or A Tyrant?”
“[I]t turns out that the famous Apple ‘1984’ ad was more prescient than anyone suspected at the time. Except Steve Jobs wasn’t the woman throwing the hammer. He was Big Brother — a high-tech giant revered by slackjawed multitudes from his domineering position on every video screen. And like Big Brother he was a spooky, weird control freak who cultivated not so much fans as thought-slaves.”
Quit beating around the bush, Kyle. Do you like him or not?
Zach Epstein on BGR (September 2011):
“Sorry Apple, Windows 8 ushers in the post-post-PC era”
“Apple bloggers were apparently so flustered by [Windows 8] that they resorted to bombarding Twitter with jokes about cooling fans and Silverlight instead of stopping for a moment to realize that Microsoft is showing us the future of computing.”
“[Windows 8:] One platform to rule them all.”
“Apple paved the way but Microsoft will get there first with Windows 8.”
“Debate all you want. Android and iOS apps are dumbed down and infinitely less capable ... and the experience as a whole is severely limited.”
“We are not living in a ‘post-PC’ era today any more than we were on January 26th, 2010, the day before Apple unveiled the magical iPad. Apple would love a post-PC era, of course, since personal computers no longer represent the bulk of the company’s revenue, but Microsoft is showing us that there is a better way. And that better way, as it turns out, is a PC.”
Hasn’t Microsoft been showing us the “future” of computing for, like, the past ten or fifteen years now? Glad to hear it’s finally about to arrive.
Karl Denninger (September 2011):
“The Upcoming Crash Of Apple And Amazon
I’ll get flamed for this I’m sure, but I don’t care. Apple’s stock price is going to collapse, and Amazon may in fact go bankrupt.”
Now, why would anyone “flame” you for predicting the collapse of Apple’s stock price? How ’bout we check that price a year from now, and then maybe we’ll all have a clue.
C.K. Lu of Gartner as reported by Clare Jim and Miyoung Kim on Reuters (October 2011):
“Apple no longer has a leading edge, its cloud service is even behind (Google’s mobile operating system) Android; it can only sell on brand loyalty now.”
If Apple’s incredible sales figures are a function of brand loyalty, then aren’t all its competitors completely screwed?
Richard M. Stallman of the Free Software Foundation (October 2011):
“Nobody deserves to have to die — not Jobs, not Mr. Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs’ malign influence on people’s computing.”
If I spend hundreds of hours of my time writing an app, it automatically becomes part of the “people’s computing.” And it should be free. Got it.
Bad news, Richard. Steve Jobs, the person, did die. But what you call his “malign influence” on computing? It’s just getting started. Time to crawl back into your cave.
Robert J. Samuelson in The Washington Post (October 2011):
“In death, [Jobs] has been lionized as the era’s greatest business leader.”
“By history’s measure, Jobs’s achievements are tiny. ... Their ultimate social impact may be less than Facebook’s.”
“A century from now, historians and ordinary Americans will still remember Edison and Ford. Jobs will be a footnote, if that.”
Robert Samuelson, on the other hand, will be well-remembered as a grade-A asshole.
Kyle Smith in Forbes (October 2011):
“Steve Jobs Was A Lousy Role Model”
“Jobs’ Stanford advice is not just trite, misleading and foolish, it’s also a symptom of a deeper problem with Generation Apple. They venerate great individuals without understanding that not everyone is great.”
Quite right, Kyle. Not everyone is great.
David Coursey in Forbes (October 2011):
“Steve Jobs was a major, world-class jerk. A friend who knows about these things — but not Steve — wonders if he wasn’t at least a borderline sociopath. If you define that as someone who does evil things and doesn’t feel remorse, the picture of a smirking Steve Jobs does begin to emerge.”
I didn’t have to ask “a friend who knows about these things” to get a really clear picture of what kind of person you are, Dave. I simply read what you wrote.
Steve Ballmer of Microsoft (November 2011):
“We are in the Windows era — we were, we are, and we always will be.”
Hey, as long as I don’t have to see hide nor hair of it, I couldn’t care less if, technically, we’re still in the COBOL era.
David Wilson in Bloomberg (November 2011):
“Apple Stock Slump Shows ‘Hyper-Growth’ Over”
“Anyone who expects Apple Inc.’s growth to rebound after sales and earnings shortfalls last quarter is ‘living in denial,’ according to David Nelson, chief strategist at Belpointe Asset Management LLC.”
“‘This is no longer a hyper-growth company,’ Nelson said yesterday in a telephone interview. Apple’s products are now reaching customers who are less likely to upgrade as newer models are released, he added.”
“‘What Apple’s going through now is really a change in ownership,’ according to Nelson ...”
Steve Jobs died because his company wasn’t doing well. Got it.
Leonid Kanopka on Seeking Alpha (November 2011):
“The Apple Bubble Is Ready To Burst”
“Apple has spiraled out of control for the past several years. ... there has been no ‘cooling’ to the excessive upward trend, and it appears the mighty AAPL is overheating.
The stock is currently trading in the upper $300s and appears to be highly overvalued, but its innovation has blinded the investor. If you left the symbol out and just told an investor that a stock had increased 420% + in the past five years, you would get a general consensus: Sell. This trend cannot continue, no matter how innovative the company — it’s just the laws of finance and simple economics. I believe a fair price for AAPL is $85, slightly higher than its book value. With a huge selloff, this stock could even go lower — we have seen this panic before: Companies dropped to $0.40 in March 2009, and rebounded to $20.”
“I feel with [Jobs’s] death, Apple’s will only follow. Without leaders, empires crumble. Just like with Iraq, once Saddam Hussein was captured, Iraq was no longer united. With the tragic death of Steve Jobs, the Apple Empire will also falter, and I believe sooner than later.”
“The market is saturated with Apple products.”
“Apple is the largest US corporation by market capitalization, and the law of large numbers means it cannot continue to grow at this blistering growth rate in the future (hence, the stock is overheated).”
“It seems like every day Apple has a new competitor ...”
“From the Dutch tulip bubble of 1637 to the dot-com bubble of 2000, we tend to cling on to momentum.”
“Apple is a great company with wonderful products, but its run is up.”
Did you forget to throw in the Roman Empire, Leonid? What about Icarus? There’s still time; just stick an update on the end of your article!
To any readers who don’t know what “book value” means, let me explain: If you shut down Apple tomorrow, stopped production of all its products, cancelled all its plans, fired all its employees, then sold off its physical assets in the open market, converting everything to cash, payed off its debts (if any), and gave all the cash to the Apple shareholders on a per-share basis — then each share might receive something slightly under $85. Therefore $85 is a “fair price” for AAPL.
Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard Law School (November 2011):
“For decades we’ve enjoyed a simple way for people to create software and share or sell it to others. People bought general-purpose computers — PCs, including those that say Mac. Those computers came with operating systems that took care of the basics. Anyone could write and run software for an operating system, and up popped an endless assortment of spreadsheets, word processors, instant messengers, Web browsers, e-mail, and games.”
“Then, in 2008, Apple announced a software development kit for the iPhone. Third-party developers would be welcome to write software for the phone, in just the way they’d done for years with Windows and Mac OS. With one epic exception: users could install software on a phone only if it was offered through Apple’s iPhone App Store. Developers were to be accredited by Apple, and then each individual app was to be vetted ...”
“The original sin behind the Microsoft case was made much worse.”
“Both software developers and users should demand more. Developers should look for ways to reach their users unimpeded, through still-open platforms, or through pressure on the terms imposed by the closed ones. And users should be ready to try ‘off-roading’ with the platforms that still allow it — hewing to the original spirit of the PC ... We need some angry nerds.”
Angry about what — that they can’t pirate all the apps for free, and share them with their grateful friends? What — no mention of piracy in your entire article, Jonathan? Um, why not?
Dave Winer on Scripting News (December 2011):
“Right now [Android is] the only open source mobile OS that has a chance against IOS. If there is no alternative to IOS then Apple will have exclusive control over what makes it to market. That is a future none of us should want to live in.”
None of us? Not even app developers who don’t want to be ravaged by casual piracy? Or typical users who love the enormous selection of iOS apps and don’t mind paying a few bucks for some of them?
And how about a future where the great majority of mobile app development is for iOS, but there’s still a relatively small amount of development for an alternative, open-source platform? Is that a future that would be OK for people to want to live in?
John C. Dvorak on MarketWatch (December 2011):
“Apple at the retail crossroads”
“So how much more can Apple grow the retail business?”
“Apple seems so adept at retail that there is no reason to doubt that it could go out and buy a company like Staples to expand in the sector. Why not?
Apple does have more than $75 billion in the bank, and Staples is worth about $10 billion. Do the math on any retail chain. Opportunity lurks.”
It’s been a while since you said something outrageous and moronic about Apple, John. Glad to see you haven’t lost your touch.
Tom Kaneshige in CIO (December 2011):
“Apple in 2012: 5 Reasons It Will Be a Tough Year”
“[E]xpect an exodus of talent in Cupertino in 2012 and perhaps some internal drama at the top of the Apple organizational chart, say tech analysts.”
“Apple’s extraordinary run over the last few years may begin to show signs of slowing next year — its first year without visionary leader Steve Jobs.”
“But not all is doom and gloom for Apple ...”
Really? You don’t say.
Sue Halpern on The New York Review of Books (December 2011):
“A former girlfriend, who went on to work in the mental health field, thought he had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. John Sculley, who orchestrated Jobs’s expulsion from Apple, wondered if he was bipolar. Jobs himself dismissed his excesses with a single word: artist.”
“[S]omewhere in the third world, poor people are picking through heaps of electronic waste in an effort to recover bits of gold and other metals and maybe make a dollar or two. Piled high and toxic, it is leaking poisons and carcinogens like lead, cadmium, and mercury that leach into their skin, the ground, the air, the water. Such may be the longest-lasting legacy of Steve Jobs’s art.”
The New York Review of Books sure knows how to find an impartial reviewer, don’t they?
Dr. Roy Schestowitz on TechRights (December 2011):
“Should We Organise an Apple Boycott?”
“The cult of Mr. Jobs loves to pretend that it invented the smartphones, CrunchPad-like tablets, and all things shiny.”
“Apple has been working hard to embargo — not just sue — the competition.”
Just because most patent-holders license out their patents for a fee, doesn’t mean everyone has to. If Apple wants to make money off its patents the old-fashioned way — by selling products directly to consumers — what’re they supposed to do if other companies trample all over those patents — whine about it to the press?
Darrell Etherington in Bloomberg Businessweek (December 2011):
“Is It Time for Apple’s Patent War to End? Apple would be smarter, says Kevin Rivette of 3LP Advisors, to cut tech deals that give it inside looks at rivals’ innovative directions”
“The answer [Bloomberg pundits] come up with is that Apple might be better off taking a less extreme approach, and I’m inclined to agree.”
“A SMARTER PATH
The better strategy, Rivette says, is to negotiate deals that would allow Apple an inside look at competitor direction in exchange for the use of current tech. That way, Apple would be able to spot and benefit from any innovation made by others. As it is, Apple is basically forcing innovation on the part of others while doing nothing to ensure any net IP gains for itself.”
Uh.. what if Apple’s competitors don’t have anything very valuable to share? What if nobody can “force” Apple’s competitors to innovate, because innovation just isn’t in their repertoire? And what if the strategy Apple has been on for the past fifteen years has been working really, really well?
Peter Bright in ars technica (December 2011):
“A look ahead: 2012 is Microsoft’s turning point”
“2011 for Microsoft was all about telling us what to look forward to. 2012 will be when that talk becomes real. 2012 will be when lots of Microsoft’s talk becomes real.”
“[I]f the gamble pays off, the rewards will be considerable too. Microsoft could take a big chunk out of the tablet and phone markets, a chunk that will only expand as the value offered by its unified platform grows larger. A good 2012 will cement Microsoft’s dominance for another decade.”
You mean, recreate it?
David H. Freedman in Discover Magazine (December 2011):
“The Man Who Gave Us Less for More”
“I was front row center when Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple Macintosh to the world in 1984 in Boston. While the crowd cheered and clapped and squealed, I was scratching my head. What did this pretty beige box offer that a hundred other computers didn’t already offer, besides a higher price, much less choice in software, and no compatibility with the rest of the world’s devices?”
“[W]hile Jobs has left most of the world with the impression that he was just so brilliantly right about what the world needed, I can’t help pointing out that Jobs actually got a lot of things wrong.”
“[T]here will always be a part of me that resents the fact that he empowered the world to force me to endure prettier, more-expensive technology for what will most likely be the rest of my 150 years.”
There will always be a part of you that resents the fact that everyone doesn’t want exactly the same crap you want, David. But don’t fret — you won’t have to endure such a David-intolerant world for 150 years. Probably not much more than half that.
Ed Oswald in betanews (December 2011):
“[Apple needs to d]ecentralize power and delegate. Steve Jobs was all but a megalomaniac. When it came to running Apple, it was his way or the highway. While he may have thought this was the best way to run a company, we all know it’s not. Tim Cook and company must change the way Apple operates and distribute power out to the rest of its officers.”
We all know Apple didn’t do very well under Jobs’s management style for the past fifteen years. Right, Ed?
Rick Aristotle Munarriz in The Motley Fool (December 2011):
“6 Reasons Apple Won’t Rally in 2012”
“Apple didn’t have Amazon.com selling millions of Kindle Fires at $199 when earlier iPads hit the market.”
“Ouch! Did Apple’s iOS actually lose global market share?”
“Were folks disappointed with the iPhone 4S, or simply disillusioned that Steve Jobs wasn’t there to tell them that they wanted it?”
“Android’s already working on a rival to Siri’s digital assistant. Microsoft is paying handset leader Nokia billions to back the software giant’s fledgling mobile operating system. Apple’s iconic smartphone will get better, but clearly so will everyone else.”
“There’s too much cash snoozing on Apple’s balance sheet, but what else is new. Even if Apple comes through with a dividend announcement, will this really help the stock? If anything, it may signal to the market that the Cupertino giant needs to appeal to income investors because the past few years of heady growth are over.”
Q1 results: Heady growth and then some.
Panos Mourdoukoutas in Forbes (January 2012):
“Why Siri is all hype”
“Recently, Apple came out with this new voice recognition ‘toy’ called Siri, and many consumers are suffering from new toy symptoms. But, once all the hype and excitement surrounding Siri has worn off, people will realize the impractically of such a system ...”
“Siri doesn’t add any extra functionality to the iPhone ... Siri doesn’t add much value to the iPhone 4S. Combined with the fact that the 4S’s tech specs haven’t made significant improvements over the iPhone 4, it may be an indication that Apple’s innovation machine may be running out of steam. This won’t bode well for the Apple’s stock momentum — innovation has been the cornerstone of the company’s sustainable competitive advantage.”
“Siri is all hype. Just like every child gets excited over a new toy and soon forgets about it, Siri will soon be forgotten.”
Apple is running out of steam. In fact, it’s been running out of steam for fifteen years. All the way to highest market valuation in the world.
Brian Deagon in Investors.com (January 2012):
“[In 2012] Apple will lose its cool factor. With the iPod, iPhone and iPad, Apple redefined markets and defined cool. But what’s left? The iPhone is boxy, flat and feeling stale. The Samsung Galaxy smartphone seems cooler. With Google’s Android platform now the fastest-growing mobile OS, Apple’s software advantage will diminish. Smartphones and tablets will become commodity items and Apple will be eaten by the collective Android gang.”
“Number of companies” is always in season for New Year’s.
Robert X. Cringely on I, Cringely (January 2012):
“Prediction #1: A new CEO for Apple”
“If you are wondering when Apple will peak, well we’re about there folks. Yes, there will be more iPhones and cool computers but it is my belief that Apple’s best days have come and gone.”
“Steve Jobs is dead and Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs. He knows that, we know that, and anyone who works directly for him at Apple (those A-players) knows it, too. Following a period of shock, mourning, and pretending to get along, those rocks will start rubbing on each other again only this time there won’t be a founder willing (eager even) to make the hard choices. Chaos will ensue.”
“Insurrection at Apple. I wrote a column last summer when Steve Jobs retired from Apple saying that Tim Cook would not be CEO for long. Though Steve wrote to me (our last-ever communication) to say I was wrong, I think more than ever that I was correct. Apple will get a new CEO in 2012 and while I have a guess who that person might be I think I’ll wait before making that particular prediction.”
Good advice for any fantasy-based prediction.
Robert X. Cringely on I, Cringely (January 2012):
“Prediction #2: Amazon and Bezos supplant Apple and Jobs”
“If Apple gives up its position of industry leadership in 2012 the only company capable of assuming that role is Amazon.com.”
“Amazon is led by its founder, Jeff Bezos, who really wants to assume the Steve Jobs role. ... With another decade or more available to him as CEO, absent some horrible accident, Bezos is unstoppable.”
“Steve Jobs had extraordinary success at Apple, growing the company more than 300X in market cap, but how much more can Apple grow?”
Let’s sit back and find out. Grab some popcorn and Junior Mints!
“[O]ne day a competitor will come along and cut our [Apple’s] core product line out from underneath us. We will need all the cash we can muster to fend them off. When that cash is done, we will mortgage the company. The first several times we may be successful. However, as is always the case, eventually time will get the best of us and we will be unable to meet our creditors demands. We will go bankrupt. Our creditors will seize the equity and the shareholders will be left with nothing and having made zero return on their investment.”
Those UNC students are really getting their money’s worth, aren’t they?
Thomas Claburn in InformationWeek (January 2012):
“Android hasn’t won by knockout: Apple most likely will continue to report strong quarterly results for years to come, but its iOS empire will cease to be the focus of the mobile world. It will shift from being an expansive, imperialist power to a prosperous hermit kingdom, with too few allies and not enough openness to be a vehicle for rapid innovation.”
From Claburn’s Dictionary of Tech Terms:
ally — noun — someone who licenses your OS for use on their products; not someone who manufactures your product or its components, or who writes third-party apps for your platform
openness — adjective — licensing your OS to other companies for use on their products; not just providing a platform for third-party app creators
Thomas H. Kee Jr. in MarketWatch (January 2012):
“Time to sell Apple”
“If a business fails to take care of its customers, its customers will go elsewhere. Every businessman knows this to be true, and for those who are prudently observing the trend in one of our giants, forward risks become a reality.
In the case of Apple, this is happening in front of our eyes, and the risks are therefore very high. Apple has stopped serving their customers well, and unless they start to serve their customers better the company will begin to lose more market share and revenue and earnings projections will come down aggressively.”
“We all know that Apple’s products were revolutionary, but they are not nearly as elite as they were.”
“To any doubters, look at the past growth rates versus current market multiples; Wall Street already sees this coming.”
“The company’s high-growth phase is behind it, and the struggles of the retail market are starting to impair this once seemingly unbreakable retail giant; unbreakable has been the corporate attitude as we know. However, apple’s overly confident and commanding approach may be exactly what is getting it into trouble, because it is asking too much from enterprise-level clients.”
“The iPhones may bring customers in the door, so the carriers won’t ever stop selling them, but once those end users are attentive, the retailers will push other, sometimes even more innovative products ...”
“[R]esellers will look for alternatives [to Apple’s products] and eventually they will find them. Nothing could be clearer.”
Quick, sell your Apple stock! Nothing could be clearer!
Bill Ray in The Register (January 2012):
“Use iBooks Author, only Apple can ever publish the result”
“[T]he point made by Venomous Porridge blogger Dan Wineman (an e-book author who first spotted the restriction) is that he never agreed to make Apple his sole distribution agent, except that he apparently did just by running the software.”
Except that you can make the same book with the same content but using other tools — like, uh, iBook Author literally didn’t exist until yesterday, so where were all these e-books coming from? — and sell it anywhere you’d like without paying Apple a dime.
Say, isn’t this the same Bill Ray who said, just before the iPhone announcement, “[T]he Apple phone will fail, and fail badly ... The only question remaining is if, when the iPod phone fails, it will take the iPod with it.”
Ed Bott in ZDNet (January 2012):
“Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement”
“I have never, ever seen a legal document like the one Apple has attached to its new iBooks Author program.”
“I have never seen a EULA as mind-bogglingly greedy and evil as Apple’s EULA for its new ebook authoring program.”
“Imagine if Microsoft said you had to pay them 30% of your speaking fees if you used a PowerPoint deck in a speech.”
Imagine if you could copy/paste the text and images of your PowerPoint presentation into some other presentation app and not pay Microsoft a single cent. Mind-boggling!
Don Reisinger in eWEEK (January 2012):
“Enterprise Mobility: Apple 2012: 10 Major Challenges to the Company[’]s Product Strategy”
“[W]ith the passing of Jobs, Apple will no longer have its greatest strategist and advocate to lead it through turbulent times.”
“Android is a huge threat to the iPhone.”
“The iPhone 5 Must Be a Major Update — or Else”
“[I]n 2012, as more companies deliver ultrabooks, [the MacBook Air] might be viewed as the overpriced alternative that fewer customers will choose.”
“As Apple continues to sell an ever increasing number of mobile devices, it only presents a more inviting target to cyber-criminals.”
“How Will It Hold Off the Kindle Fire?”
“The iPad 2 was a bit of a disappointment for consumers looking for major improvements over the original iPad. Apple can’t make that mistake again this year.”
“In 2011 Android tablets weren’t much of a concern for Apple. But in 2012, they will be.”
They were going to be in 2011, weren’t they?
Michael French in The Motley Fool (January 2012):
“How Apple Could Fall From Grace”
“With the recent passing of CEO Steve Jobs recently, however, there is a lot of speculation about Apple’s future and whether the company can continue without the tech mogul guiding the ship’s sails.”
“If Cook were to lose any of his key players, it could cause investors to panic. This catalyst could present itself in the form of Jonathan Ive’s departure, which has been speculated in the past.”
“Yet another doomsday scenario for Apple rests in the current incursion between Apple and Google over the smart phone market.”
“If you have a position in Apple, don’t panic.”
Thanks, I was about to.
Ed Bott in ZDNet (January 2012):
“How Apple is sabotaging an open standard for digital books”
“For nearly two years, Apple has wooed digital book publishers and authors with its unconditional support of the open EPUB standard. With last week’s introduction of iBooks 2.0, Apple has deliberately locked out that standard. ... If you read, write, or publish digital books, you should be concerned.”
Here’s why you shouldn’t be: Amazon Kindle, the only other reasonably successful e-books reader, doesn’t use ePub at all.
James Kendrick in ZDNet (January 2012):
“Why the Apple textbook program will never work”
“The Apple textbook initiative announced recently is dead in the water ...”
“[Apple’s plan] will not fly on any level, as it means that purchased textbooks cannot be reused from year to year. They ‘belong’ to the individual student, forever.”
Maybe that’s why they’re all $15 or less. Duh.
Ed Oswald in BetaNews (January 2012):
“Android, not iOS, will win over developers”
“Android will replace iOS as the most important platform to developers within the next 12 months, British analyst firm Ovum says. It also notes an increased interest in Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS, and sees a move towards web standards in development over proprietary technologies.”
Translation: We don’t really know what will win, but somehow, we know for sure that it won’t be iOS.
Brent Rose in Gizmodo (January 2012):
“It’s Time for Apple to Stop Patent Trolling”
“[T]here’s a line between protecting yourself and just trying to kill everybody around you. It’s one Apple has already crossed, and it’s not doing anybody any good. Time to knock it off.”
“[T]he kind of R&D that $100 million [that Apple has spent suing HTC] can buy anybody is mind-boggling. Would that money not be better spent on truly pushing the limits of innovation? Isn’t that a better way to compete?”
Um, not if anything you develop with that money is just going to be ripped off by your competitors.
Jon Talton in The Seattle Times (January 2012):
“‘The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,’ the (Apple) executive said. ‘There’s no American plant that can match that.’ Yes, slave labor does have that advantage. Apple brings in some $400,000 per employee but little of that goes to those working in the suicide-ridden Foxconn factories, whose CEO compares workers to animals. Another choice quote from an Apple exec: ‘We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.’ This is the very definition of the sociopath corporation.”
Good thing all those Windows PCs are made in America, right? In America, where everyone loves their job and nobody suicides. Right?
Neil Trevett of Nvidia (January 2012):
“Apple is fabulously successful and I’m sure will continue to be so, but I do think Android will, over time, really dominate the mobile market. It’s nothing to do with who’s better, it’s just you have thousands of companies producing these devices... I think it’s going to be a repeat of the PC/Mac market, with 80% Android and 20% iOS.”
Number of companies!! Again! Yayyyy! Back by popular demand!
Rick Aristotle Munarriz in The Motley Fool (January 2012):
“What Were 15.4 Million Apple Fans Thinking?”
“[W]ould it have hurt these 15.4 million new iPad 2 owners to wait a couple of months for either a better price on their own gadget or at the very least a chance to spend the same amount on something better? I’m not asking iPad buyers to ‘think different’ as much as ‘think,’ period.”
15.4 million people are thoughtless Apple fans? What chance do Apple’s competitors have?
Thomas H. Kee Jr. in MarketWatch (January 2012):
“Sell Apple; growth rate will not last”
“[I]f you are holding AAPL and believe they will be able to repeat the past quarter’s results, be warned by this article.”
Consider me warned.
David Carnoy on CNET (January 2012):
“A kinder, gentler Apple? Don’t bet on it.”
“[T]he problem for Apple this time is timing. You can’t sit on $98 billion in cash and $16 billion in profits for a quarter and not expect people to think that you’re heartless and have no soul when a negative article comes out about the human capital that goes into making your products.
Yes, Apple holds grudges, and I’m sure I’m not winning any fans in Cupertino, Calif., with this. I haven’t been invited to an Apple event in years, and I don’t really care if I get invited in the future. They’re getting boring anyway — it’s as if they’ve lost their creative spirit. You can guess why.”
You don’t have any grudges, huh, Dave?
Paul Farhi in The Washington Post (January 2012):
“How Siri is ruining your cellphone service”
“Siri’s dirty little secret is that she’s a bandwidth guzzler, the digital equivalent of a 10-miles-per-gallon Hummer H1.”
Remember how much Verizon benefited from AT&T’s failure to boost its capacity after the iPhone came out? I’m gonna wager that no carrier will be repeating AT&T’s mistake.
Eric Sisler in ksl.com (February 2012):
“Why Apple will fail”
“My theory is based on the ‘past behavior is the best predictor of future performance’ principle. Apple’s history is fraught with evidence that the company’s success is very closely tied, maybe even inextricably tied, to the actions, ideas, and presence of Steve Jobs. There’s no reason to believe that its future isn’t bound to the same fate.”
“Apple enthusiasts, it’s time to face facts. Apple, the company, was the fortunate recipient of the genius of Steve Jobs. Put simply, Apple was Steve Jobs. It doesn’t matter that he hand-picked his replacement because his replacement isn’t Steve Jobs ...”
So Apple was kicking ass times fifty just before Jobs was forced out in the mid-’80s? Uhh, might wanna hit those history books a little harder, Eric.
Bill Snyder in InfoWorld (February 2012):
“Boycott Apple until it fixes its China labor problem”
“Does Apple have more blood on its hands than Dell or HP? No, but it has the best chance of changing China’s abusive practices”
To send the right message, be sure to boycott the company that’s doing the most to fix the problem. Yeah.
I’m sure this can’t be the same Bill Snyder who said that iOS app development was “fool’s gold” for developers? Or who said that the “Apple Tablet Won’t Mean Business”? Nah, probably not the same guy.
James B. Stewart in The New York Times (February 2012):
“Confronting a Law of Limits”
“Apple is so big, it’s running up against the law of large numbers.”
“Robert Cihra, an analyst who covers Apple at Evercore Partners, told me this week that the law of large numbers as it applied to Apple had ‘been a concern for years now.’ But, he said, ‘over the past couple of years, they have actually accelerated revenue growth. I don’t know that can continue indefinitely. If you extrapolate far enough out into the future, to sustain that growth Apple would have to sell an iPhone to every man, woman, child, animal and rock on the planet.’”
Apple doesn’t have infinite growth potential on a finite planet? Please, tell me more.
Rebecca Greenfield in The Atlantic Wire (March 2012):
“The Post-Steve Jobs Decline of Apple’s Genius Design Theory”
“For, now, Apple doesn’t have to worry. But, in the longer-run, this shift in overall thinking could be dangerous for Apple.”
“As far as revolutionizing technology goes, there is no post-Steve Jobs Apple.”
More high-quality journalism from The Atlantic.
Rob Enderle (March 2012):
“Momentum will only carry Apple so far. If people don’t get a premium experience, the lines to buy their products will get ever shorter.”
“Apple announced what appears to be a penis iron in the new iPad, and folks are burning through their monthly 4G data plans in a few hours. Tim’s having his first Antennagate moment, and Steve Jobs he isn’t.”
“[T]he stock market continues to reward Apple and punish HP, which suggests the market remains consistently out of step with reality.”
“The way Cook is going, that fierce [Apple customer] loyalty could soon become history.”
“[Tim Cook’s] position at Apple was to do the things Steve didn’t want to do and to never be a threat to Steve, which means he likely is everything Steve isn’t — yet he is trying to fit into a spot custom designed for Steve. Talk about your round peg in a square hole.”
“Tim may have been set up to fail even though the company was operating at a very high level of competence ...”
“Cook has been increasingly compared to Jobs and found wanting. His last two product launches weren’t very exciting, and the new iPad appears to have serious problems. People have been writing to tell me they are returning theirs.”
“Maybe [the new iPad’s problems] are features intended to make us use the device less and get a life, but I doubt that was the intent.”
Speaking of needing to get a life... I think Apple’s success is slowly driving Enderle insane.
Farhad Manjoo in Slate (March 2012):
“Apple Doesn’t Need To Make the TV of the Future
The revolution is already here — and it’s called the Xbox.”
“What [Apple CEO Tim] Cook probably won’t mention is that it already exists. Indeed, much of what Apple is likely to build into its TV is available today on a gadget whose interface is just as easy to use as anything Apple will cook up. The device is called the Xbox 360.”
“Given its price advantage and a head start in the market, Microsoft’s TV strategy will be difficult for Apple to beat. ... I doubt Tim Cook can deliver something that magical.”
“[T]he future of entertainment is bound to be fragmented. And in a fragmented world, the Xbox’s magical powers to cut through the clutter may be the best thing to happen to your TV.”
I’m sure this can’t be the same Farhad Manjoo who said that Apple was doing the industry a great disservice by suing over copycat designs? Nah, probably some other guy with the same name.
Rebecca Greenfield in The Atlantic Wire (March 2012):
“Suddenly Microsoft is the Hippest Tech Company Around”
“[A]s Apple and Google have grown up, they’ve lost their hip sheen. And, Microsoft’s taking advantage.”
“The once-hipper than Microsoft foes, Google and Apple haven’t looked so good these days.”
“Appl[e] still produces insane-popular gadgets, but no longer wows reviewers like it once did. The new iPad is still the best tablet out there, but it’s not a must-have.”
“Part of this has to do with maturity, we suppose. An early bloomer, Microsoft’s already went through its tech company growing pains. It used to be the evil one, remember? ... But it’s no longer the bully. ... Microsoft looks to be cleaning up its image. And, we have to say, it looks good.”
Even more high-quality journalism from The Atlantic.
Clem Chambers in Forbes (April 2012):
“Five Signs That Apple Is A Bubble”
“If it looks like a bubble and acts like a bubble, it’s a bubble.”
“It’s a toy company. A toy company can’t be the U.S.’ most valuable company for long — that only happens in humorous SF and ‘Willy Wonka’ style stories.”
“The craze of the moment is great for a stock price, but it is fragile. The next novelty is hard to find.”
Apple’s successful products are fragile crazes. Got it, Clem.
John Leyden in The Register (April 2012):
“Apple trails behind world+Microsoft in ‘Flashback’ malware debacle”
“The Flashback Trojan created a zombie army now numbering more than 650,000 Mac machines by exploiting a Java hole that Apple only patched last Tuesday, six weeks after a patch for Windows machines became available. Russian anti-virus firm Dr Web came up with the chilling statistics ...”
Chilling! Debacle! But yes, I have to admit: Microsoft and its world of users, pundits, and technical gurus probably are a lot more experienced in dealing with malware.
“Some of the publishers have already settled with the Department Of Justice, and said, OK, fine, you know, OK, we’ll stop. But others, like Macmillan, has said, forget it, you know, we’re gonna do what we wanna do. And Apple is also in that boat.”
“The Macmillan CEO has said the same thing, he’s basically said, look, I don’t know about those other guys, but, you know, I was sittin’ — he actually had some comment like exactly the time and place he was, like, lyin’ in bed awake ’cause he couldn’t sleep or somethin’, and he came up with the idea, he said, you know what, we’re not gonna let people sell for less than this. And so he’s claiming he had nothing to do with any of the other publishers.”
Translation: I know that Apple doesn’t care how low a price you set for your book, as long as you sell it for that same low price on the iBookstore too. (Or just don’t sell it on the iBookstore.) And I also know that Macmillan doesn’t think they broke the law by agreeing to those terms so they could sell their books on the iBookstore, and that’s why they prefer a jury trial to a “settlement.” But hey — it sure is fun to make them all sound like Enron-esque crooks, isn’t it! And who cares if I’m Senior Editor of Macworld Magazine — magazines are tanking anyway.
David Goldman in CNNMoney (April 2012):
“Microsoft’s master plan to beat Apple and Google
Microsoft is staging a comeback — and, unlikely as this sounds, it’s one Apple and Google should be worried about.”
“[Apple’s and Google’s success] puts Microsoft in an unusual position. It’s the underdog.”
“Microsoft’s long game
Windows 8 probably won’t be an instant hit. ... That’s OK with Microsoft. It’s prepared to play the long game, devoting years — and, often, billions of dollars — to cracking the markets it considers critical.”
“‘We’re a company that has extraordinary patience,’ says Microsoft’s [Craig] Beilinson.”
Translation: Microsoft patiently devoted years of effort and billions of dollars to PlaysForSure, Zune, Bing, Soapbox, Silverlight, Surface, Windows CE/Mobile, KIN, Windows Phone, Tablet PCs, Windows Slates, and Microsoft retail stores. And now — Microsoft will continue to do more of that. All it takes is extraordinary patience. Plus billions and billions and billions of dollars of Windows and Office profits.
Joe Weisenthal in Business Insider (April 2012):
“APPLE GETS DOWNGRADED: BTIG Forecasts A Big Revenue Miss Later This Year
Hats off to BTIG’s Walter Piecyk for making a call that’s almost never worked out for anyone ever: He has downgraded Apple from BUY to Neutral.”
Translation: Hats off to anyone who predicts bad news for Apple, regardless of how often it actually comes true.
Karl Denninger (April 2012):
“Apple: Here It Comes”
“What’s their P/E if [their operating margin] gets cut in half? You think it won’t? Oh yes it will. This sort of operating margin always attracts competition. ... There is no way to prevent this from happening folks, especially as you grow larger ...”
“Apple is now piling on its own demise (as a stock), as the rumors of a ‘mini Ipad’ are circulating. It’s likely that if the device exists it will be soaked through and through with the blood of those too foolish to sell the stock — even here, down 10% from recent highs. Why? Because this is a desperation move.”
“Apple formed its business case on single-source iron-fisted control over operating margin by having ‘the one’ that it stirred up an iFanboi brigade to support, using that to drive bargains that were good for Apple but terrible for everyone else.
This works right up until someone else analyzes your business model and costs, then figures out how to build something at least as good as what you have but 30% cheaper and gets that into the marketplace. Then the bubble-style valuation model you have built, claiming ‘it’s not a bubble!’ through distortions in the ordinary course of business (e.g. hardware margins three times that of historically-normal levels) is exposed and suddenly your stock doesn’t look so cheap any more.”
“Apple has no way out of this trap ...”
Look out, Apple! It’s a trap! It looks like you’re kicking ass, but it’s really a trap!
Say, Karl — didn’t you predict some sort of Apple decline back in September? And the September before that? But this time, I’m sure, you’ll be right. Can’t stay on a losing streak forever, they say.
Dan Frommer in ReadWriteWeb (April 2012):
“The Long Haul
The good news is that Microsoft has two things — money and patience — that could help it eventually succeed in mobile. (And mobile is too important to the future of technology for Microsoft to sit it out.)”
Microsoft can’t lose in mobile because mobile is so important. And throwing huge amounts of money at it for years is bound to eventually work, even though it didn’t work for PlaysForSure, Zune, and many other Microsoft projects. Got it.
Eugene Kaspersky of Kaspersky Lab (April 2012):
“I think [Apple is] ten years behind Microsoft in terms of security.”
Sure they’re not ten years ahead?
George F. Colony in Forbes (April 2012):
“Apple=Sony: Brace For The Coming Post-Steve Jobs Decline”
“Apple will decline in the post Steve Jobs era. Here’s why. Sociologist Max Weber created a typology of organizations in his 1947 book The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. ...”
“Weber: ‘Charisma can only be awakened and tested, it cannot be learned or taught.’”
“Apple’s momentum will carry it for 24-48 months. ... Apple will coast, and then decelerate.”
I think your article, George, will seem possibly sensible and knowledgeable for about 24-48 months.
Rocco Pendola in The Street (April 2012):
“Apple’s Downfall Coming”
“He’s seems like a nice guy so I hate to say it, but Apple’s downfall will come courtesy of Tim Cook. With Jobs gone, Cook has already made a mockery of his legacy. ... In many ways, he is the anti-Steve Jobs. And, while it might look like that’s good for business, it’s not. It’s very bad for business.”
“Just like the path to success, the road to failure or, at the very least, mediocrity, will not present as a swift and straight path. Without doubt, gaggles of cynics will label me master of the obvious. That’s fine, but when you consider the price targets analysts throw out and, even more so, relatively absurd claims that AAPL could reach $1,000 or — deep breath — Berkshire Hathaway status, my contention does not seem so elementary.
AAPL bulls have made a profound error: After rightly heaping praise on Steve Jobs for Apple’s enormous success, many of them now discount his contribution, claiming that mere mortals can run the show without missing a beat. That’s wishful thinking at best, a good way to crush your retirement fund at worst.”
“As each piece of writing gets spray-painted on the wall, it becomes all the more clear that Tim Cook will run this company, maybe not into the ground, but into the sort of average status that will render Apple no longer distinct from pack. I fully recognize how unfair this is to Cook.”
But I don’t realize fully, or even slightly, how unfair it is to any readers who take me seriously, and perhaps invest accordingly.
Farhad Manjoo in Slate (April 2012):
“Welcome to the Microsoft Store”
“What Microsoft needed was a retail shrine, and what better way to build one than to look to the master? That’s exactly what Microsoft has done. And the results are beautiful.”
“If you live in an upscale area with a high-traffic, upper-middle-class mall, there’s a good chance you’ll find a Microsoft store nearby, and I encourage you to visit one.”
“It’s easy to rib Microsoft for copying Apple ... But in business, losing face isn’t as important as making money. And after visiting a couple Microsoft stores, I’m convinced they’ll help Microsoft bring in more cash.”
“Microsoft hasn’t disclosed any financial information about its retail operation, so it’s impossible to know if the stores are making money. ... you could consider the stores successful as showrooms even if nobody walks out with a box tucked beneath their arm.”
Thomas H. Kee Jr. in MarketWatch (April 2012):
“Not more than a couple short months ago I recommended to investors that they sell Apple. That call was early, I did not anticipate the euphoria that overwhelmed the stock for the past couple of months, but the premise for my recommendation has not changed and the subtle hints embedded in AT&T’s earnings report help to reveal the pressures I see at Apple going forward.”
Translation: I’m a sophisticated market analyst; I use phrases like “going forward,” so you know my recommendations are sound. Sometimes they’re “early,” which might cause you to lose a lot of money by following them — but hey, tough cookies. That’s the way the wind blows. I’m still right.
Rob Enderle (April 2012):
“The real truth about technology and IT”
“Michael Dell Interview: How Dell Is Being Reborn”
“A founder tends to put his or her company first, particularly if the firm bears his or her name. ... it tends to assure company success in the long term.”
“[Dell] is currently on track to leapfrog its competitors.”
“Michael Dell was very clear that the tablet market, until Windows 8 ships, is an iPad market and that the smartphone segment just isn’t very interesting financially.”
“[O]n smartphones [Dell]’ll look to add services, mostly business services, which can fill holes that the phone builders, including Apple, aren’t good at. ... Apple isn’t that interested in business services ...”
“Building a True Legacy
I firmly believe that companies should be designed to be immortal. ... Dell’s future is bright largely due to the power of a founder who can think strategically and doesn’t milk his company for personal gain. In the current environment that is a unique and powerful advantage.”
Translation: Dell desperately needs to be reborn. Because selling a dizzying array of cheap Windows PCs from a website hasn’t been a good idea since the mid-1990s. And it’s the only successful idea their founder ever had.
John Cilley in The Connected Monster (April 2012):
“Why Apple Could Be Worthless in 5 Years”
“[B]igger surprises and downfalls have happened in the past.”
“[A]lmost everything else is moving off your device and onto a server/cloud. Who owns the cloud? Not Apple.”
“Apple’s success is dictated on how much of their system they can keep closed.”
“Apple doesn’t understand the cloud.”
“[T]raditional operating systems are not the future. The browser is.”
“[Apple is] still obsessed with getting you to download bloated stand-alone software products on your system. Their browser Safari is a joke compared to other available options ...”
“[I]n five years the traditional operating system will be dead, the browser will be king, and Apple could be the next RIM or IBM.”
Translation: In 2017 I won’t give a crap about what I said in 2012. Instead, I’ll be making new anti-Apple predictions concerning the year 2022.
Karl Denninger (May 2012):
“Microsoft Could Disrupt Apple’s Digital Bookstore Dreams”
“Microsoft Corp. will invest $300 million in a new subsidiary that combines the [Barnes & Noble]’s Nook digital reader and college businesses.”
“The real problems with this are going to come for Apple and Amazon, specifically Apple’s (and Amazon’s) digital bookstore dreams.”
Apple “dreams” of having a successful e-reader device and e-book store. Right?
Clay Christensen of Harvard (May 2012):
“The transition from proprietary architecture to open modular architecture just happens over and over again. It happened in the personal computer. ... I worry that modularity will do its work on Apple.”
“The salvation for Apple may be that they can find a sequence of exciting new products whose proprietary architecture is demanded by the marketplace, and they can keep going from one product to another so that they will not have to confront this dilemma.”
Every successful product Apple makes is doomed to be snatched away from them. Apple’s only hope is to keep making all-new ones. Got it, Clay. You’re a genius.
Stacy Wolff of HP (May 2012):
“I think if you look at the new Spectre XT, there are similarities in a way, not due to Apple but due to the way technologies developed. Apple may like to think that they own silver, but they don’t. In no way did HP try to mimic Apple. In life there are a lot of similarities.”
Wow — there sure are.
Eugene Kaspersky of Kaspersky Lab as reported by Simon Sharwood in The Register (May 2012):
“Eugene Kaspersky is ‘a little bit disappointed ... Apple won’t let us’ develop antivirus software for iOS devices, as he feels it is only a matter of time before criminals target the operating system.”
“‘We as a security company are not able to develop true endpoint security for iOS,’ Kaspersky told The Register in Sydney today. ‘That will mean disaster for Apple,’ he opined, as malware will inevitably strike iOS in the future.”
“‘... [W]hen it happens it will be the worst-case scenario because there will be no protection. The Apple SDK won’t let us do it.’”
“The result of an attack on iOS, he feels, will be declining market share for Apple and a concomitant boost for Android, a platform he admits is less secure but which at least offers developers the chance to develop security software. A severe attack, Kaspersky argues, therefore has the potential to highlight the problems of a closed ecosystem and damage Apple permanently.”
Apple’s iOS is malware-free. But to keep it that way, Apple really, really needs to let Kaspersky screw with it. Got it.
Three-year update: Still no malware calamity for iOS, nor vacillation in Apple’s position — but here’s Kaspersky interviewing for The Daily Dot:
DD: Some cybersecurity firms have been accused of exaggerating threats to increase their bottom lines. What pressures are there in the industry to accurately portray the cyberthreats?
EK: There have been instances when security companies tried to frighten consumers in order to boost their profits, but generally speaking threats and risks in IT are very significant as they are and don’t need exaggerating. I think that in the vast majority of cases security companies are just reporting what they see happening.
Rocco Pendola in The Street (May 2012):
“Why Apple’s iTV (or Whatever It Will Be) Will Fail
A Forrester Research analyst made news on Thursday for saying something I have been writing about for months regarding Apple’s forthcoming iTV or whatever the heck it’s going to be. Frankly, without the ability to access Steve Jobs, I am not sure Tim Cook even knows what it’s going to be.”
Apple’s iTV (or whatever it will be) will fail — or whatever it will do.
“Apple’s Crystal Prison and the Future of Open Platforms
Two weeks ago, Steve Wozniak made a public call for Apple to open its platforms for those who wish to tinker, tweak and innovate with their internals.”
“[W]hile Apple’s products have many virtues, they are marred by an ugly set of restrictions on what users and programmers can do with them. This is most especially true of iOS, though other Apple products sometimes suffer in the same way.”
Translation: Tactfully, we won’t mention piracy in this lengthy article. And we’ll cite the opinion of a famous Apple co-founder without mentioning that the last major computing platform he had a big hand in was from the 1970s, and was discontinued in the 1980s. Wouldn’t want to create the wrong impression. You know.
Jim Balsillie of RIM (June 2012):
“Apple has just one product, we have a portfolio. One size doesn’t fit all.”
Goodbye, Jim. And say bye to Mike for me.
Matthew Miller in ZDNet (June 2012):
“Android ICS already offers more than what is coming in iOS 6”
“It looks like Apple’s days of blowing people away with new features and functions has cooled now that solid platforms like Ice Cream Sandwich and Windows Phone exist.”
“[M]ost everything Apple revealed can already be done today on Ice Cream Sandwich Android devices.”
“ICS took Android a long ways and the experience on the HTC One X is fantastic.”
“Don’t forget that Google revealed ICS last year and is likely to show off Jelly Bean this month at Google I/O.”
“I find it hilarious that Apple compares the percentage of iPhone owners using the latest OS with Android when there is just a single device released from Apple each year and many released with Android. If there was just one Android phone, then of course everyone would be on ICS. It’s a dumb comparison made to slam Android.”
“Microsoft may also hit it out of the park with Windows Phone 8 ...”
“iOS 6 isn’t compelling enough itself to sway me from Android or Windows Phone.”
Is ICS compelling enough itself to sway more than 7% of Android users from some older version of Android? Or do most of them even have the option? Oh, whoops, I forgot: that’s a “dumb” question. Sorry.
John C. Dvorak in PC Magazine (June 2012):
“Wake Me Up When Apple’s WWDC is Over
It should be called the Worldwide Dull-velopers Conference (WWDC) because Apple is boring me to sleep with its petty upgrades and announcements. There are no breakthrough announcements and Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs. In fact, he’s about as thrilling as dental floss.”
“Absolutely no exciting news is coming out of Apple’s WWDC.”
“There was no punch, no pizzazz, just droning on and on.”
“Apple has added a higher resolution display to the MacBook Air and Pro. Stunner. Who would have thought? And Apple Maps? We’ll see.”
Yes, we will. Hey, dude, BYTE’s early-’80s gossip column called. They want you bac— oh, wait. They don’t.
Eric C. Mack in CNET (June 2012):
“Why we would’ve been better off without the iPod”
“I’ve been thinking about what the world would look like without Apple as we’ve come to know it in the past 15 years.”
“I’ll try to answer the question in installments this week during WWDC, and today I’ll begin our tour of this quantum no-Apple universe by considering the life of our doubles in an alternate dimension without the iPod. The more I’ve dug into the question and the archives, the more I’ve begun to think they might be better off.”
I’ve been thinking about what the world would look like without bitter, anti-Apple pundits. More cheerful, probably.
Adrian Covert in Gizmodo (June 2012):
“Microsoft Is the Most Exciting Company in Tech, Hands Down”
“I’m a believer that Microsoft is the most innovative consumer tech company right now. No, seriously.”
No. Not seriously.
John Koetsier in VentureBeat (June 2012):
“Microsoft. Kicks. Ass.”
“I’m a Mac user. Have been for 25 years. I have an iPhone, Macbook Air, a couple of iMacs, three or four old iPods, and a massive rat’s nest of old Mac cables and connectors. Love Mac OS X, and iOS. Might not switch to save my life.
So yeah, a bit of an Apple fanboy.
But Microsoft knocked one out of the park yesterday. Completely. Hit. A. Home. Run.
I’m impressed — and I’m happy.”
25-year, devoted Apple users are knocked-it-out-of-the-park impressed by a Microsoft announcement of products that even reporters haven’t yet had their hands on? Do I sense disingenuity? Maybe just a little?
Eric S. Raymond in Armed and Dangerous (July 2012):
“[P]eople who make excuses for or actively advocate closed-source OSs and network software (and yes, Apple/iOS fanboys, I’m looking at you) are not merely harmlessly misguided cultists. They are enemies of liberty — enablers and accomplices before the fact in vendor schemes to spy on you, control you, and imprison you. Treat them, and the vendors they worship, accordingly.”
You mean, spew dogmatic invective at them from your blog?
Tim Conneally in Beta News (July 2012):
“Google TV will not fail again”
“It’s hard to feel that gen one Google TV is anything but a dead end. But things promise to be quite different moving forward.”
“Google can take over by brute force by providing a cheap, powerful platform for manufacturers to adopt without the upfront development costs associated with building their own platform. Right now, the second generation of Google TV appears to have done that perfectly.”
How’s that workin’ out for ya, Tim?
Joe Wilcox on Beta News (July 2012):
“I declare independence from Apple”
“Since December 1998, when on impulse I bought the original iMac from CompUSA, I’ve used Apple gear. No longer. Late yesterday, I replaced the last fruit-logo with another, fulfilling my pledge nearly a month ago to boycott Apple.”
Didn’t you quit Apple nine months ago, right after Steve Jobs stepped down? Maybe you need to declare your independence from repeatedly quitting Apple.
Steve Ballmer of Microsoft (July 2012):
“Not the consumer cloud. Not hardware-software innovation. We are not leaving any of that to Apple by itself. Not going to happen. Not on our watch.”
So — you’re, uh, getting ready to leave or something?
Antone Gonsalves in ReadWriteWeb (July 2012):
“Apple’s Brilliant Boondoggle: MacBook Pro Retina Display
Only Apple could get away with charging a $400 premium for a feature that no one needs, few people will notice, doesn’t work with most apps, and was not on anyone’s wish list until the company announced it last month.”
Word: If only Apple can get away with charging a premium for their top-of-the-line laptop, then all those other computer companies are really, truly screwed.
Charlie Kindel in GeekWire (July 2012):
“Apps must be cross platform
Maybe there are a few Robert Scobles out there who still believe that a significant number of successful apps in the future will be unique to any one client platform.”
“[I]t would be insane for anyone, from a major brand to an early-stage startup to believe they don’t have to build for at least iPhone, iPad, Android phones, Android tablets, and Windows 8 tablets.”
Translation: The success of iOS is driving me insane.
Matt Burns in TechCrunch (August 2012):
“Android Is Winning
The latest numbers are in: Android is on top, followed by iOS in a distant second.”
“There is no denying Android’s dominance anymore. There is no way even the most rabid Apple fanboy can deny that iOS is in second place now. Android is winning.”
“Developers cannot ignore Android. The old mantra of releasing on iOS and then eventually hitting Android needs to be rethought.”
Dan Rowinski in ReadWriteWeb (August 2012):
“Has Apple Gone Too Far?”
“[W]ill the litany of lawsuits coming out of Cupertino, finally sour public opinion?”
“To many, Apple can do no wrong. They think that every decision is right, every mistake is someone else’s fault.
Others have come before. ... Poor decisions and bad timing led to [RIM’s and Nokia’s] downfalls.
The same fate is not coming to Apple soon. ... The true mobile-computing revolution, however, has not been the technology, but the market Apple created. To protect its market and thought leadership, Apple has turned to the legal system.”
“But the courtroom battles are straining the affections of buyers and the trade media.”
“[M]ore people are questioning Apple’s motives and whether it is still a mobile innovator.”
People like — you?
James Allworth in Harvard Business Review (August 2012):
“Who Cares If Samsung Copied Apple?”
“[W]ould we all be better off if we allowed — even encouraged — companies to copy one another?”
“[I]f copying stops innovation, why didn’t Apple stop innovating last time they were copied? Being copied didn’t stop or slow their ability to innovate at all.”
“As they say: ‘Great innovations often build on existing ones — and that requires the freedom to copy.’”
“Some might say copying. But to me, it sounds like a perfectly functioning competitive market.”
“Too often, it seems that companies fall back on the broken patent system when they can’t compete in the marketplace.”
“All these lawsuits flying around suggest that everyone is already copying each other, anyway.”
“[T]he best defense against copying isn’t lawsuits, but rather, to innovate at such a rate that your competition can’t copy you fast enough.”
So Apple’s legitimate defense against other companies selling exact replicas of its products is: to come out with something as revolutionary as the iPhone every few months? Thanks, James. Whatever would we do without Harvard geniuses like you.
Say — you’re not the same James Allworth who said, like nineteen months ago, that Wintel was being replaced by “Armdroid?” Are you?
Andy Ihnatko in The Chicago Sun-Times (August 2012):
“Near-total [court] victory for Apple stifles phone, tablet design”
Um, it doesn’t stifle Apple’s designs: You can go to an Apple store and buy them today. And it sure doesn’t prevent Samsung (or any other company) from making its own, different-from-Apple’s designs. So what designs are being stifled exactly, Andy?
Samsung memo to its employees, as reported by Don Reisinger in CNET (August 2012):
“History has shown there has yet to be a company that has won the hearts and minds of consumers and achieved continuous growth, when its primary means to competition has been the outright abuse of patent law, not the pursuit of innovation.”
So...you’re saying Apple isn’t abusing patent law?
Michael Wolff in The Guardian (August 2012):
“Apple’s rot starts with its Samsung lawsuit win
Just like Microsoft, Apple’s evolution from smart tech company to global uber-brand contains the seeds of its own destruction”
“Apple doesn’t change much: its business model remains aggressive self-righteousness.”
“Its unassailability, its right to be preternaturally aggressive, is built into its share price.”
“Apple is one of the most aggressive intellectual property litigators of all time. ... It sues for brand rather than engineering. ... This fierce defensiveness might be rightly understood in a psychological sense: Apple itself is based on stolen iconography.”
“This is the story between the lines of its great victory and its further share price surge. On the one hand, there is this seemingly golden company. On the other hand, there is anybody with any sense of history knowing this is going to end badly.”
The more successful Apple becomes, the more certain is its impending failure. Got it.
John C. Dvorak in PC Magazine (August 2012):
“Why Apple Actually Lost to Samsung
In Apple’s Pyrrhic victory, Samsung really comes out ahead.”
“Several times throughout the case, the same point was driven home: the Android phone is identical to, and perhaps better than, the iPhone.”
“This is a disaster for Apple no matter what Samsung does to its interface and its rounded corners.”
“Will the public stick with the iPhone just to be loyal to the creator of the modern smartphone concepts? In a down economy where every penny counts, it’s doubtful. Samsung is not only a cheaper alternative but has many more models. Combine this with the scandals at Foxconn, Apple’s manufacturer, and Apple is in trouble.”
“I consider this situation to be dire for Apple. When the iPhone 5 arrives shortly, it will be crunch time for the company. If this is the end of the line for the iPhone, you can point to this lawsuit as the tipping point. It may be the last important iPhone.”
Translation: I’m going to out-Thurrott Thurrott if it’s the last thing I do.
Patrick Seitz in Investor’s Business Daily (August 2012):
“[Apple’s] once-cool image has turned dorky.”
“Apple is showing worrying signs of losing its way.”
Apple just released the iPhone 5.
Rob Enderle (August 2012):
“Apple is still surviving to a large extent on the mammoth momentum that Steve Jobs put in there.”
Translation: I like to describe Apple as “surviving.” It makes me feel better.
Andrew Couts in Digital Trends (September 2012):
“What I want to see from Apple on September 12: Absolutely nothing”
“Apple needs some time off because we need some time off from Apple.”
“Alas, Apple will keep releasing iPhones, and people will keep buying them. It will keep suing companies to maintain its competitive edge. And its stock price will just keep going up and up and up. It shouldn’t — but it will.
One of these days, however — maybe as soon as next week — Apple is going to release a flop just as a rival comes out with something that genuinely deserves our adoration and hard-earned dollars.”
Perhaps an Ultrabook? Or maybe one of those new HP iMacs? (I mean, Spectres?) There’s lots out there to choose from, Andrew — have fun with that.
Brian Proffitt on ReadWrite (September 2012):
“Apple seems to be following the letter of the law of a 2009 European Union agreement designed to reduce environmental waste ... But does the iPhone 5’s new Lightning connector comply with the spirit of the agreement?”
“[G]iven the net positive waste this solution will create ... Apple’s commitment to environmental issues appears to be getting weaker with each new product release.”
Watch out Brian, all those fingernail-size, micro-USB adaptors are going to wreck the planet! Better get to building your bunker.
Paul Thurrott in Paul Thurrott’s Supersite For Windows (September 2012):
“Windows 8 is Apple’s fault. We can tie the creation of Microsoft’s unique, hybrid platform to Apple’s decision a decade ago to branch out beyond its PC products to find a market — any market — in which the company could be more successful.”
“Apple’s PC business — the Mac — is successful, yes, but still an also-ran in that market.”
“Mac computers never seriously threatened Microsoft.”
“Apple, not Microsoft, is writing the future of computing, thanks to the staggering success of the iPhone and iPad product lines. This, folks, is what’s called a crisis.”
“What’s amazing is that Microsoft has reacted to it so quickly.”
“Microsoft, amazingly, is confronting this issue head-on.”
“Windows 8 is no less than a major new mobile platform that accomplishes two things. First, it provides the software giant with a platform that’s vastly superior, out of the gate, to the two platforms that currently dominate this market: Apple iOS (running on the iPad) and Google Android OS. Second, it brings with it the previous Windows desktop platform and (for the most part) all the compatibility that platform provides: desktop applications, utilities, hardware drivers, and so on.”
“[T]his is the genius of Windows 8, really.”
“And make no mistake, this transition is happening. ... The world we’re heading toward belongs to Windows RT.”
“Old-timers will recall that the thought of typical consumers running NT back in 1993 to 1995 or so was ludicrous. ... But that changed over the years ... So it will be with Windows RT ...”
“Speculation aside, Windows 8 represents a transition: a bridge between what was and what will be ...”
“As the world transitions to simpler, more mobile devices, Windows 8 and (to a greater extent) Windows RT give Microsoft an instant solution that in many ways is superior to what’s offered by its rivals.”
“When you consider the amount of time, money, and effort that iPad users expend trying to make their expensive toys act more like PCs, you realize that Microsoft’s strategy makes sense. It’s a winner.”
Translation: Please, somebody tell me my articles have a significant effect on the course of the computing industry. They do, don’t they? Hello?
Dina Wang and Maxwell Wessel in Harvard Business Review (October 2012):
“The outlook for Apple Maps is grim. Given its outstanding investment in mapping technology and the significant stake in advertising revenue, Google is unlikely to cede its turf in mapping easily.”
Google isn’t going to cede control of Apple’s Maps app on iOS. Oh, wait.
John C. Dvorak in PC Magazine (October 2012):
“Microsoft Retail Stores Will Rival Apple Stores”
“Within the decade, Microsoft should have a minimum of 300 stores. They should do as well as the Apple Stores, which are 17 times more profitable than a typical retailer. ... Microsoft’s early entry into the same game has shown similar results, so we can expect Microsoft, once again, to follow Apple’s lead.”
“Apple had to show Microsoft the way. With the $6,000 per square foot factor in place, all Microsoft has to do is precisely copy the Apple model with its own Microsoft products.”
“Despite seeming behind, Microsoft has an edge on Apple ...”
“The company is going to experiment with holiday pop-up shops this year in various cities. I predict they will be hugely successful.”
“[I]t would not be a surprise if [Microsoft stores] eventually topped the Apple Stores in sales per square foot annually.”
Microsoft forever! Yayyy!
Liau Yun Qing in ZDNet (October 2012):
“Apple showing vulnerability year after Jobs’ death”
“[O]bservers noted that [Apple’s] launch events have been duller since [Jobs’s death] and it needs to work on ‘dramatic improvements’ in its future products to keep it brand loyalty.”
“Content producer Jeanne Wong said Apple seems to be ‘very vulnerable’ without Jobs. ‘It’s like all the other companies become bolder to attack Apple,’ she said ... Wong added that the quality of Apple products seem to have dropped since iPhone 4S and ‘iPhone 5 just sounded terrible’.”
“Singapore-based designer Max Yam believes with Jobs’ passing, the beauty of combining art and technology has been lost.”
“‘... I hope to see the return of the human touch and the artistic feel of products in the technology world, be it Nokia, Microsoft, Google, or even Dell,’ he said.”
Jobs did it all himself, right? He didn’t hire a whole team of people to do it. And if he did, those people aren’t still there — are they?
James B. Stewart in The New York Times (October 2012):
“Bundling its maps with the iPhone 5 may yet prove to be a strategic blunder for Apple, but it may nonetheless skirt the boundaries of the antitrust laws that tripped up Microsoft.”
Apple might get in big trouble for threatening OEMs with revocation of their iOS license if they ship their hardware with any mapping app besides Apple’s — right, James? Oh. Wait. Apple doesn’t license iOS to any OEMs. Never has.
Rob Enderle (October 2012):
“Frankly, it has frustrated me for years to watch Apple’s success — while traditional bumbling PC companies continue to ignore the obvious point that yes, design and presentation actually do matter.”
“Closing In On Apple”
“[HP’s new lineup] is the farthest that any PC vendor has gone to duplicate an Apple like design process across a large number of highly consistent products. More beautiful, better designed products serve us all well ...”
Unless they’re from Apple. Then they’re “frustrating.”
Doug Kass in TheStreet.com (October 2012):
“Apple’s Cycle of Abuse”
“Arrogance has been the subject of some of my criticism recently on Apple. (It is also often the downfall of many companies.) It seems this is also a concern to Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak.”
You know what else might concern Wozniak? Apple’s become a stupefying success story without him.
Eric Schmidt of Google (October 2012):
“The Android-Apple platform fight is the defining contest. Here’s why: Apple has thousands of developers building for it. Google’s platform, Android, is even larger. Four times more Android phones than Apple phones. 500 million phones already in use. Doing 1.3 million activations a day. We’ll be at 1 billion mobile devices in a year.”
Wait...did you say the number of Android developers is greater than the number of iOS developers? I think you might have lost your train of thought there, Eric.
Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research, as reported by Benzinga on NASDAQ.com (October 2012):
“[The] departure of Scott Forstall is a major blow to Apple and may indicate a lack of executive leadership and vision at Apple.”
“[Apple is] not as customer centric as it used to be, and the rate of innovation is declining when the rate of innovation of competitors has dramatically risen.”
“Apple’s innovation is sputtering.”
“[Microsoft has] almost dislodged Apple by being the most innovative computing company that handsomely marries touch with stencil on high-resolution screens.”
“Microsoft and Sony retail stores are much better looking than Apple Stores, which at many locations look dated and small.”
“Microsoft retail staff are extremely well-trained, highly-motivated and are almost at par, if not better, than Apple’s staff.”
Better sell your Apple stock. Really, really fast.
Harry McCracken in Time.com (October 2012):
“How to Tell If Windows 8 Is Succeeding”
“You can find pundits who are predicting that Windows 8 will succeed. You can find pundits — lots of them — who are predicting that it’ll fail. Starting today, their opinions don’t matter much.”
“I do have a few tips for anyone who wants to judge how it’s doing:
Don’t obsess over Windows sales figures.”
“Do pay attention to PC sales figures.”
“Talk to friends and family. The ones who aren’t tech enthusiasts, I mean.”
“Look for killer apps.”
“Watch PC design.”
“Surface is likely to represent a tiny fraction of overall Windows 8 sales ...”
“Be patient. It’s possible that Windows 8 will start to look like a hit almost immediately. But even if it ends up being one, it’s more likely that it’s going to take a while until consumers and developers get their heads around all of its fundamental changes to an operating system which hadn’t seen much fundamental change in years.”
The way to tell if Windows 8 is succeeding is: Pay no attention to whether it’s succeeding — instead, closely follow new PC designs and apps, talk about them with people you know, and patiently wait for Windows 8 to take off. Got it.
Charles Sizemore in Forbes (October 2012):
“In a War of Attrition, Microsoft Will Beat Apple”
“With the long-awaited release of Windows 8, Microsoft is making a real push into the world of touchscreens and tablets. Apple launched the first offensive in the smartphone and tablet wars, but in a long-term war of attrition it is doomed to lose for the same reasons that it lost the original PC war. ... Steve Jobs’[s] pigheadedness is the reason why it was the Wintel platform and not the Mac that came to dominate ... It’s all happening again. Apple again jumped out to a huge lead, but it will lose the war in the end.”
The Mac had a “huge lead” in the ’80s when it peaked at 9% market share. Got it, Charles.
Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg (October 2012):
“As we have stated before on many occasions, Apple’s time to turn from a tech titan into a dinosaur will come, but we still think that we are at least a year away ...”
Ed Conway in Business Insider (November 2012):
“DEAR APPLE: I’m Leaving You”
“[iOS 6] is truly, truly awful.”
“You’re not cool anymore”
“You’re screwing us”
“[T]he final straw was when you decided to replace the dock on the bottom of all your iPhones and iPads with the new ‘lightening [sic] dock’.”
Have fun with those Android and Microsoft products, Ed. You’re really gonna love ’em.
Hayley Prendergast in AMP Agency (November 2012):
“[Blatantly copying Apple’s retail stores] just may be Microsoft’s smartest move yet.”
“The Apple retail blueprint has paved the way for Microsoft to find similar success by incorporating the same key elements that consumers are used to and have made the Apple retail business a huge success.”
“On the behalf of Microsoft, I would like to thank Apple for doing the dirty work.”
Every Apple success “paves the way” for Microsoft to swoop in and take over. Got it.
Harry McCracken in Time.com (November 2012):
“It’s Too Early to Judge Early Windows 8 Sales”
“[A]ny current conclusions about how it’s doing are hopelessly premature.”
Tim Worstall in Forbes (November 2012):
“Apple Won’t Last Forever You Know, It Will Die”
“[T]his isn’t Apple bashing it’s just a simple truth about the universe that we live in.”
“[W]hile Apple has a lot of smart people in it they’re never going to manage to get all the smart people corralled within the company. Meaning that there will always be some smart people outside it and at some point one of those is going to get lucky and eat Apple’s lunch.”
“Apple will go at some point: the great game though is trying to work out when.”
“[W]hat does a high margin company do when its major products like phones and tablets have become straight commodities with thin margins?”
What, oh what, can Apple do? It’s sad, really.
Michael Wolff in USA Today (November 2012):
“How long do you get to stay on top? General Motors had three generations; IBM two; Microsoft one. Apple?”
“Apple’s customers are starting to rise up against its famous closed-system policies.”
“Everybody believes in Apple. And yet, befitting a company whose real genius is design (i.e. illusion), there is something ephemeral about its position.”
“[A] great number of consumers buy Apple while resenting it, too. Apple is a peer-pressure buy, often at the expense of functionality and, even, common sense.”
“The age of Apple should, reasonably, be a fleeting one. And this, in its way, is good news. Innovation happens in the technology business and new markets open when the mighty fall — often not until the mighty fall. A short run on top is long enough.”
Uh, didn’t you write this same article three months ago for The Guardian?
Karl Denninger (November 2012):
“Oh Apple, About That ‘Win’ You Thought You Got...
There’s dumb, there’s really dumb, and then there’s Tim Cook ...”
“Suing someone who is a single-source supplier is usually one of the dumber things you can do, as they’re quite capable of making sure that any judgment you ‘receive’ comes right back to them and out of your hide.”
What makes you think Cook plans to keep them as a supplier, Karl?
Strategy Analytics, as reported in Electronista (November 2012):
“A new study by Strategy Analytics shows that Apple’s iPad will continue to lead downloads for tablet apps through 2017. The iPad will continue to lead the market in downloads with a share of 56 percent ...”
“Conversely, by 2017, Google Android-powered smartphones will lead the market in app downloads with a 45 percent share, while Apple’s iPhone app downloads will comprise half that at 22 percent.
Can’t get enough of that Strategy Analytics.
David Meyer in ZDNet (November 2012):
“Android really is the new Windows”
“The figures don’t lie: Android ... has almost three-quarters of global mobile device sales ...”
The figures don’t lie: In the quarter just before the iPhone 5 came out, a lot of people held off on buying an iPhone.
John C. Dvorak in PC Magazine (November 2012):
“It’s Too Early to Compare Microsoft and Apple Stores
Many pundits assessed Black Friday sales of Microsoft and Apple stores, but it’s premature to compare them.”
“Apple paved the way for what I’ve always thought of as a car dealership model for selling computers and accessories.”
“A Forbes post cited hard data gathered by some Piper Jaffray analysts that staked out by the two stores in the Mall of America. The procedure seemed shady ...”
“I’ve talked to various people about their experiences at both stores and most have no real beef with the Microsoft Stores. The Apple Stores, however, have been developing a mere mediocre reputation ...”
“[J]udging the potential for the Microsoft Stores is premature. I’d like to see Forbes and Piper Jaffray revisit the same exercise this time next year. By then, things will have changed.”
Translation: I will report negatively on Apple. I will, I will, I will. Now and forever.
Rob Enderle (December 2012):
“Michael Dell on Dell World: A Magical Touch of Amazing”
“I had my annual chat with Michael Dell on his Dell world conference next week and this will be one for the record books.”
“Michael Dell is one of the better speakers and the technology market doesn’t have many that are very good. ... I doubt Dell will disappoint, because he never has.”
“Dell plans to announce a product that has been so secret only a small number of people know what it is. It is a Windows 8 based product that has been designed specifically to amaze and there is little more known of it.”
Translation: Dell has been in a terrible tailspin for years now. They better have a fantastic, magical, new product up their sleeve because, Lord knows, they need it.
Chris Taylor in Reuters (December 2012):
“The ‘Apple Tax’ — America’s costly obsession
With the ‘fiscal cliff’ looming, taxpayers are wringing their hands about all sorts of things. ... But when it comes to immediate impact on their wallets, maybe they should be thinking about something else entirely: The Apple tax. Americans are shelling out big bucks annually to outfit the entire household with Apple products. ... For a family with multiple children, each with their own technological needs, the total annual bill can get downright ugly — like going over a familial ‘fiscal cliff.’”
“Remember, this is not something that consumers are being forced to pay. They are dipping willingly into their own pockets, because they’re essentially slaves to the devices.”
We should spend less on Apple’s products. If we don’t, we’re “slaves.” Got it.
Robert Farzad in Bloomberg Businessweek (December 2012):
“The Case Against Apple”
“Samsung is the smartphone leader, now threatening Apple’s dominance of the high end. ... The G-Note’s multiwindow home screen may be Samsung’s best user interface to date.”
“In mobile, Microsoft’s WP8 licensees are getting some handset market share. These strategies disrupt the more closed world of Apple.”
“Apple’s grip on the consumer — and its ability to extract high profit margins — is tenuous.”
Translation: 2012 was yet another year of spectacular growth for Apple.
Rob Enderle (December 2012):
“2013 to See HP or RIM Most Improved, Apple Falling and Facebook Toast”
“The fact is that HP is actually positioned to lead the industry in improvement next year.”
“Currently, HP’s low position is largely because of bad acquisition, which was undertaken by the prior executive team and should be put behind them next year, and Apple is already trending down even though its current fourth quarter sales are reportedly rather good.”
“[T]he issues driving HP’s decline are largely transitory and disconnected from HP’s potential business success.”
“RIM is slated to drop its new platform early next year and because it has a unique focus on a market segment, currently underserved, it has the most opportunity for great success and RIM’s shares have been trading up in anticipation.”
“[Apple] carries a valuation of an image that is over-inflated due largely to the powerful efforts of Steve Jobs who made the company appear magical. As we end the year, the valuation of the company appears to have massive downward pressure and this is largely because the architect of that massively powerful image has passed — and along with that passing Apple’s apparent leadership.”
“Motorola discovered how far and fast you can fall, as did Palm, when their subsequent executive moves caused both companies to fall from their heady heights. Simply the loss of the belief that Apple is unbeatable will drive Apple down.”
As went Motorola and Palm, so goes Apple. Got it.
Don Reisinger in eWEEK (January 2013):
“Apple Might Have a Bad 2013: 10 Signs of Trouble Ahead
Apple could be in for trouble this year, as there are signs that iPhone demand is waning and its mobile market share slide is starting to slide.”
“Apple’s streak of good fortune might come to a close in 2013.”
“iPhone 5 demand is reportedly waning”
“Apple’s iOS platform is on the decline. ... By the end of 2013, Apple might find itself competing in the mobile space with a relatively small market share.”
“Power users are becoming increasingly disenchanted by Apple.”
“The iPod is a multibillion dollar Apple business that’s slowly dying.”
“Where’s that Apple TV?”
“Will [new] executives be able to do [Scott] Forstall’s job? Will iOS get better or worse? Until these questions are answered, it’s impossible to know for sure how Apple will fare this year.”
So — they might do great? Fantastic, even? Thanks, Don, for that insightful analysis.
Adam Clark Estes in The Atlantic Wire (January 2013):
“Samsung Says It’s Making More Money Than Apple Now”
“Samsung released a pretty impressive set of fourth quarter earnings estimates, including a record high profit. The South Korean electronics manufacturer says that it will make $8.3 billion in profits on $52.7 billion in revenue. That’s a shade better than Apple’s own record high profit of $8.2 billion on just $32 billion. Now, we could all day [sic] about the devilish details in the earnings reports and differences between the two companies revenue streams, but one things [sic] is brutally clear: Samsung is making more money than Apple, now.”
Translation: Apple’s fourth-calendar-quarter results won’t be out for another two weeks, so I can say whatever I want. And The Atlantic will publish it.
Adam Clark Estes in The Atlantic Wire (January 2013):
“iPhone Fever Is Fading”
“News of the iPhone’s decline comes as Samsung continues its bull run on the industry.”
“Faced with a daunting reality of sinking sales, Apple is also coming to the realization that its very expensive patent litigation escapades against Samsung might be for nought.”
More super-high-quality journalism from The Atlantic.
Karl Denninger (January 2013):
“Apple’s Slipping Grasp”
“The underlying problem for Apple is that the company has stopped innovating. Love him or hate him (I’m in the latter camp for those who don’t know better) Steve Jobs was one of those guys who could make teens scream and then buy all the crap he produced, irrespective of how good it really was ...”
“But Jobs is dead, iOS is dated and Cook doesn’t have that ‘zing’ that Jobs did ... There are many who claim that Apple is not a ‘one-man’ company. Baloney. Apple was always a one-man company. Most firms that pull off the sort of ‘flash and jizz’ game that Apple has are — it’s just reality. But now that’s gone and (literally) eaten by worms ...”
Wow. When you said you hated Jobs, you weren’t exaggerating.
John C. Dvorak in PC Magazine (January 2013):
“Apple’s Swan Song
What’s in store for Apple as it makes its descent into irrelevance?”
“Apple is still the leader in mobile phone technology from a number of perspectives, not the least of which is the prestige of owning an iPhone. This, of course, amounts to fashion and fashion is fickle.”
“[W]hat can Apple really do with a TV set that the others cannot copy within one product cycle?”
“If Apple has a flaw, it’s the inability of the company to crush competition using the kind of aggressive tactics that companies like Microsoft and Intel have always applied.”
“[B]y remaining overpriced the Apple stock has skyrocketed, but it will never fly like that again ...”
“Now we hear that Apple is thinking of making a low-cost iPhone. It may be too late for that, though, the way things are going. I fear that during this slide Apple will release its TV. Things will stabilize for a bit but then continue to slip. And what happens? Everyone wrongly blames the TV for the decline. Maybe a huge upgrade of the Macintosh will help things.”
Maybe Apple can be helped. Maybe.
Jay Yarow in Business Insider (January 2013):
“Apple Is Kinda Hosed
Apple has gone from being a sure-thing rocketship to a train wreck ... It’s hard to totally fool the market. Something is amiss with the company.”
“Apple’s stock has been crashing as investors lose faith in Apple.”
“Apple has kinda screwed itself.”
“The bottom line: If you think that Apple is going to report earnings and set the record straight on all of the rumors that have been swirling for the last month, you’re going to be let down.”
If you think anything Apple does will stop guys like Yarow from continuing to barf up gloomy forecasts for the company, you’re going to be let down.
Scott Martin in USA Today (January 2013):
“Has Apple’s innovation engine stalled?
The iPhone and iPad can’t keep pumping out huge profits forever. What’s next?”
“Apple needs to dazzle consumers once again with the next big must-have thing ... This month marks three years since Apple launched an industry-changing invention.”
“Apple has failed so far to deliver an encore to its iPod, iPhone and iPad. This is critical for new growth ...”
“The company is under siege by rivals ...”
“APPLE LOSING ITS LUSTER”
“The run, at this rate, had to end.”
“Apple declined to comment.”
You asked Apple to comment on this story?
Sarah Cohen in Forbes (January 2013):
“Apple’s M&A Skills As Murky As iPhone 5 Prospects”
“[T]he iPhone 5 ... disappointed customers ... said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. Early this month, Consumer Reports ranked the iPhone 5 the worst of the top five smartphones on the market ...”
“Without Jobs, Apple might need to adopt a more aggressive M&A strategy to remain on top. But success won’t be easy.”
Apple’s future is murky. For Apple, success won’t be easy. Got it, Sarah.
Cyrus Sanati in CNNMoney (January 2013):
“Apple risks repeating the 1980s
Rigid adherence to its rules and a secretive and closed culture is beginning to threaten Apple’s dominance.”
“A radical departure [from App Store controls and premium pricing] by chief executive Tim Cook is needed fast if Apple is going to stay on top.”
“There are a number of things Apple could do today to ensure it doesn’t relive its 1980s meltdown. It could for one open up its iOS so that other manufacturers could integrate it with their phone. ... If Apple continues on its current path, it could lose — a lot.”
“Apple would be wise to look back two decades when it was locked in a war to control the personal computer market with IBM.”
“If it weren’t for the iPhone, Apple today would be a niche computer maker.”
It it weren’t for Apple’s successful products, Apple wouldn’t be successful! Sharp analysis from CNN.
Larry Seltzer in BYTE (January 2013):
“Apple Not Dictating Terms Anymore”
“The news yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that disappointing iPhone 5 sales have let [sic] Apple to cut orders from suppliers is the latest in a series of news events that herald the waning of Apple’s dominance in the smartphone market. Similar effects in the tablet market may come slower, but they will come.”
“Apple is a big, important player, but it’s not the leader.”
“If anyone’s the leader in the smartphone market now, it has to be Samsung ... Samsung is so big and successful in this business it’s scary, especially if you’re Apple. And Samsung is just one of Apple’s problems. Nokia reported strong, and growing sales of Lumia Windows Phones in the 4td [sic] quarter.”
“This spring we need to have an iPhone 6 (or 5S or whatever) with exciting new features, or Apple’s market share and mind share will almost certainly take a beating all year. It won’t be a RIM-like death watch, but by next fall the iPhone 5 will be well-behind the times.”
Apple has problems. Apple is scared. But not on a death watch. Got it.
ABI Research, as reported by Shane McGlaun in SlashGear (January 2013):
“Research firm ABI Research announced this week that it predicts Apple’s market share will peak at 22% in 2013 and will remain flat through 2018.”
I’m sure this can’t be the same ABI that said a couple years ago that mobile app downloads would be turning down right about now. Can it?
Peter Cohan in Forbes (January 2013):
“With Apple Profit Falling, Board Should Replace Tim Cook with Jony Ive”
“Apple’s core market of people willing to pay up for its products is fairly saturated.”
“Apple is locked into a nasty legal battle with Samsung which happens to be a formidable competitor — offering 80 different smart phone models.”
“And the biggest untapped opportunity — emerging markets like China — are largely unwilling to pay a price premium.”
Apple’s business in China is almost as big as its business in the USA. Fire that guy, now.
Brett Arends in MarketWatch (January 2013):
“Sorry, [Apple] fanboys, but almost everybody in America who wants an iPhone has an iPhone. Many of them seem to have several.”
“Your correspondent does not have an iPhone. I probably wouldn’t own one anyway, but I am precluded from even considering one because they do not come with a real, physical keyboard, and I absolutely must have one. Millions of others are in my shoes. Steve Jobs had an obsessive dislike of keyboards, but it was foolish.”
“So far, sales of [Apple TV] have been disappointing.”
“The flaw of the iPad Mini is that, despite the famous Apple ease of use, it has a lower-resolution screen compared with some competitors, and yet a higher price. If Apple is serious about 7-inch tablets, it needs to get best-in-class, as usual. When will this happen?”
“The [Apple stock dividend] figure should be much higher.”
I’m sure this can’t be the same Brett Arends who said the iPad 2 costs $2,000. Can it?
Danny Turnbull in Forbes (January 2013):
“[H]as Apple set the bar too high for itself? Where can it go next? Is Apple losing its ‘cool’ edge the more it develops and launches? I can’t help thinking that if Steve Jobs were still alive, he’d pick up on this and slow things down a little. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but it does feel like Apple is starting to capitalise massively on the success of what it has created, which isn’t a very Apple-like trait.
In recent weeks, the share price of the suppliers for iPhone parts has fallen due to Apple reducing orders. It appears, after six revolutionary years, the ‘Mac-lash’ is coming.”
Jobs never wanted Apple to be successful or mainstream. He wanted it to be a starving artist forever. Got it.
Jeff Macke in Yahoo! Finance (January 2013):
“How Apple Can Fix Itself in 3 Steps”
“[Apple] had been clinging to the notion that its best days were in front of it for years. Alas, the circle of life applies to all things on earth be they human or machine.”
“It’s not worth a rehash of what went wrong. What matters now is fixing the company. ... I’m going to take one for the team and tell Apple how to fix itself, free of charge.”
You’re not on the team, Jeff. But please — don’t stop running back-and-forth in the stadium parking lot in that homemade uniform. Sharp!
Paul Kedrosky, Ph.D. as reported by Henry Blodget in Business Insider (February 2013):
“Kedrosky Has A Fascinating Theory About What Has Gone Wrong At Apple”
“[I]n the opinion of one respected industry observer, Paul Kedrosky, some of Apple’s recent missteps can tell us a lot ...”
“Kedrosky said ... that one of Apple’s key competitive advantages may be disappearing.”
“Kedrosky thinks that, in the power-vacuum following Steve Jobs’ death, the design team, led by Jony Ive, have been given too much latitude ...”
“Ive’s design team has been given too much power — without a critical check and balance on whether Ive’s products can actually be produced in the quantity and timeframe that Apple needs to produce them to meet demand.”
Things are going wrong at Apple. Because when someone wants an iMac, and you tell them, “I’m sorry, you’ll be on a waiting list for a few weeks before you can get one,” they’ll probably run over to the Microsoft store and buy a Surface. Got it.
Lloyd Chambers, co-author of DiskDoubler (February 2013):
“Core Rot at Apple”
“What I see happening with OS X is not pretty.”
“OS X is degrading into a base for an entertainment platform. As it stands, the trend is entirely downhill for serious work ...”
“OS updates are fast and furious — a lot of hype but little of real value and a lot that degrades value ...”
“Apple, a leader in pro graphics, still has no 10-bit video card drivers. This was an issue 3-4 years ago, but the joke has now worn thin . PC users are laughing at Mac users.”
“Useful functionality is prohibited in the name of security. No choice — comply or you’re not in the Apple Store and it doesn’t matter if your users demand the features or not.”
“Apple’s iron hand over what constitutes a ‘right and proper’ application leaves no room for disagreement — Apple is lord and master and final judge on what is ‘acceptable’, both in design and content.”
Translation: My speciality was tuning stuff in the file system. But Apple doesn’t allow that any more, unless you work at Apple, which I don’t. So I’m going to criticize them from afar, while writing no apps for their platform. And by the way, iOS rhymes with floss, no matter how many times Apple doesn’t pronounce it that way.
Jun Yang, Anand Krishnamoorthy, and Jungah Lee in Bloomberg (February 2013):
“With Samsung now preparing to shed Apple Inc. as a customer as their rivalry intensifies, the Korean company’s smartphones are already outselling the iPhone and its share of the market for tablet computers has doubled in a year.”
“Goodbye, Old Fruit
Samsung has zoomed past Apple in the smartphone market that the U.S. company pioneered.”
“In tablet computers, the market Apple created with the iPad, Samsung doubled its market share in the fourth quarter, to 15 percent from 7.3 percent a year earlier, according to IDC. Apple’s lead dipped to 44 percent from 52 percent.”
“[KTB Asset Management’s Lee Jin Woo said], ‘Samsung will make another big push into tablets, its multiple products driving sales of components and making up for any losses from Apple.’”
“Where Apple is defined by a handful of products, Samsung sprawls across industries; where Apple outsources its manufacturing, Samsung’s mastery of industrial processes is its biggest strength; where Apple seeks markets for its designs, Samsung designs for the market.”
“‘Samsung makes the best-quality parts, and if Apple rules out Samsung, they have to make a compromise,’ said Baik Jae Yer, a fund manager at Korea Investment Trust ...”
“‘We love Samsung,’ said Olaf Rogge, London-based chief executive officer at Rogge Global Partners ... They’re ‘very well diversified. It’s not Apple. Remember, one day, a company like Apple will go ex-growth. One day, everybody has this iPhone 4 or 5.’ That day may be arriving. As Samsung’s fortunes waxed, Apple’s have waned.”
“Unlike Apple, Samsung isn’t locked into any system — including its own.”
Unlike Apple, Samsung has gi-normous chip manufacturing facilities that are about to lose their biggest customer.
Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (February 2013):
“[T]here were a lot of amazing things that Steve[ Ballmer]’s leadership got done with the company [Microsoft] in the last year. Windows 8 is key to the future; the Surface computer; Bing, people are seeing as a better search product; Xbox.”
One hit after another. Guy’s a regular Pete Rose.
Steve Kovach in CNN Tech, Copyright Business Insider (February 2013):
“How Samsung is out-innovating Apple”
“The evidence is everywhere, but it’s most apparent in products made by Apple’s biggest mobile rival, Samsung.”
“Samsung isn’t alone, of course. Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system is built for touchscreen devices like tablets, too, and it offers a lot of advantages over iOS.”
“Based on all this evidence, Apple feels behind. ... The home screen is still just a grid of static icons that launch apps.”
“[I]t feels like Apple’s software goes out of its way to limit what you can do on the machine. Meanwhile there are others, especially Samsung, that appear to be innovating at a pace faster than Apple can.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Steve Kovach.”
Not those of CNN Tech. Or Business Insider.
Tim Worstall in Forbes (February 2013):
“Yes, Apple Really Does Have A Serious Problem With Computer Viruses And Malware”
“If it is [security-through-obscurity that’s kept Apple’s machines from getting attacked] then with the growth in popularity of the two Apple architectures the bad guys are going to see that it’s worth trying to create viruses for those architectures: thus we’ll see an increase in them.”
“I’m ... certain that the criminals aren’t going to give up given the size of the population they can aim at now. ... And the seriousness of Apple’s problem is that they’re not, as yet at least, used to dealing with this particular problem. ... there isn’t the ecosystem of anti-virus software writers as there is for Windows.”
“I’m sorry but I do find that amusing, that it was internal Apple computers that got infected. Perhaps I shouldn’t but I do.”
Oh, you should, Tim. Because Apple’s customers’ computers weren’t affected. And only a few computers at Apple were hacked (not “infected”). We should all be amused that this is the big malware attack on Apple, of which guys like you have to make hay.
Rob Enderle (February 2013):
“Why Nvidia’s new headquarters may beat Apple’s”
“[W]hile the Apple building is certainly spectacular, I think I’d personally rather work in Nvidia’s shop.”
Tim Wu in The New Yorker (February 2013):
“[O]ver the last six months, in ways little and large, Apple has begun to stumble.”
“Apple is very selective: it would never license iOS to run on a Samsung phone, or sell the Kindle in an Apple store.”
“The triumph of open systems revealed a major defect in closed designs. ... In a closed system, with one decision-maker, errors are very costly.”
“Which brings us to the aughts, and Apple’s great run. ... for a while, Apple bested its rivals.”
“[I]f mere mortals run your firm, or if you’re facing an extremely unpredictable future, the economics of error suggest an open system is safer.”
I’m sure The New Yorker will be glad they published this when they look back at it five or ten years from now.
Brad Chase in Forbes (February 2013):
“Apple: Most Admired No More?”
“[T]here’s a moment in history when the trajectory of an icon reaches its apogee and the descent begins. Apple’s time comes later this week, when it is likely to drop from the number one spot on Fortune’s list of ‘World’s Most Admired Companies.’
The company isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. But the value of the once-invincible brand is teetering on the edge of a long, steady drop. ... The phenomenon of near-universal adulation and success is fleeting.”
“[T]here’s a chance Fortune will defy logic and give Apple the crown once more for posterity. If Amazon somehow fails to leapfrog the bumbling Apple and the pugnacious Google this year, it’s clear the algorithm is flawed. One way or another, the drop has begun.”
Oh, look. Sixth year in a row. Good thing you hedged your bet with that “flawed algorithm” and “posterity” stuff.
James Surowiecki in The New Yorker (March 2013):
“Not long ago, Apple was almost universally venerated. ... What a difference a few months make. Now there’s a deluge of forecasts stating that Apple is ‘in big trouble,’ ‘losing its cool,’ and just plain ‘doomed.’”
“So why the sudden fall from grace? ... Apple’s competitors are finally doing a better job of making the kinds of phones that customers want. ... [U]nfortunately for Apple, there is no iPhablet. ... [P]hablets are eating away at both iPhone and iPad sales.”
“These are serious problems, and shareholders are undoubtedly in for a bumpier ride than they’re used to.”
“Of course, to keep thriving, Apple has to keep innovating, and much of the anxiety about the company stems from a concern that it may finally be ‘hitting a wall’ in that department. ... [E]ven when Jobs was running things there were recurrent complaints that Apple was ‘getting lazy.’ Past performance is no guarantee of future results: just ask Motorola and BlackBerry.”
More high-quality journalism from The New Yorker.
Nate Swanner in Android Authority (March 2013):
“The iWatch could destroy Apple”
“It’s Apple, so we know it will be good hardware, but it could be a disaster in every other sense.”
“If it doesn’t have holograms or spew candy, we’re going to hate it. That’s a problem with our perception, but one Apple has created.”
“Tim Cook isn’t like Steve Jobs, and never will be. ... If Tim Cook can’t muster some good ‘ol [sic] fashioned charisma, the iWatch may be doomed.”
“The Apple niche theory
There is a trend Apple tends to follow. It happened with the PC market, and it’s happening with smartphones. The portable music player is becoming less necessary or important, but they followed a similar arc there, as well. Apple may, in many respects, be a one trick pony.”
“Apple has a propensity to just blow up a sector of the market, then retreat to a niche within it.”
That’s Apple: puttering around in a tiny niche. Yup, everyone knows that.
Brian S. Hall in ReadWriteWeb (March 2013):
“[T]here are plenty of reasons to believe that Apple may never again be the world’s most valuable company.”
“Apple’s glory days may not be fully behind it, but that doesn’t mean it’s ready to solidify a position as the world’s most valuable company.”
Remember those glory days when Apple had the highest annual profits of any company ever? Way back in 2012? I’m sure that won’t happen again in 2013.
Frank X. Shaw of Microsoft (March 2013):
“[W]e launched a wave of incredible devices and services to our business and consumer customers around the globe [...] While we’re still in early days, the numbers are encouraging. [...] Windows Phone has reached 10 percent market share in a number of countries, and according to IDC’s latest report, has shipped more than Blackberry in 26 markets and more than iPhone in seven.”
“Now, the look ahead. [...] Our customers have already experienced the ongoing rhythm of updates and innovations over the past six months including new devices, new apps and services, better performance and new capabilities. This continuous development cycle is the new normal across Microsoft — we’ll tune everyday experiences as well as introduce bold, connected and exciting new scenarios.”
Consider me ready.
John Boudreau in the San Jose Mercury News (March 2013):
“Are Apple’s Macs becoming more vulnerable to malware?”
“The biggest vulnerability to Macintosh computers is the belief among their devoted users that Apple’s superior operating system makes them immune to malware, experts say. ‘Some Mac users have this perception that the Mac is free from hacks and that is completely wrong,’ said Zheng Bu, senior director of research for Milpitas-based FireEye, which develops anti-malware products.”
“[T]he growing market share of MacBooks and iMacs is making Apple computers a bigger target.”
The more people use a computing platform, the more vulnerable it is to malware. Got it.
Erika Morphy in Forbes (March 2013):
“Apple’s mobile world is surprisingly open to hackers. iOS was found to be the most vulnerable in a report by SourceFire ...”
“[Apple vulnerability] should matter especially to companies that are adopting Apple instead of RIM or Samsung — two devices with strong reps for security ...”
“These two worlds — smugly complacent Apple users and an iOS apparently riddled with vulnerabilities — will surely collide sooner or later, probably sooner.”
The Apple-will-soon-be-a-malware-mess people, on the other hand, will never collide with reality. Not sooner; not later.
Henry Blodget in Business Insider (March 2013):
“Anyone Who Thinks Apple Will Rule The World Forever Should Look At This Picture [photo of 1965 DEC PDP-8 minicomputer]”
“For two decades, the company’s stock soared. Nothing would ever stop Digital Equipment Corporation.”
“A couple of decades later, in the late 1990s, Compaq bought what was left of DEC. Then Compaq itself collapsed and was acquired by HP. Some remnants of DEC still exist within HP, which is itself now collapsing. Microsoft, the company that rode the wave that supplanted mini-computers, is now, if not collapsing, struggling.”
“The moral of the story? Technology changes fast. Today’s world-beater is often tomorrow’s Digital Equipment Corporation.”
Since the late ’90s, Compaq, HP, and Microsoft — three of Apple’s biggest competitors — are “collapsing” and/or “struggling.” Therefore.. Apple must collapse! Thanks for sharing, Henry.
Jim Cramer of CNBC (April 2013):
“Whatever [Apple] product that is coming out in September is a clear loser. We haven’t seen it yet, but it is a loser.”
“Let’s just call it as it is. There has not been a single piece of good news about Apple for 300 points, and today is just another day when the news is just horrendous.”
“Apple is becoming the JC Penney of tech. I think that there is a sense that the company is in a tailspin, and it doesn’t seem to matter what they do right now.”
“These are all downgrades on growth and missed quarters. When you see someone so certain that not only that this quarter is bad but the next quarter is bad, I think tomorrow we get a downgrade and they’ll say that 2014 going to be bad. This is the classic ‘when do you get a bottom?’ when there is no one left who likes it.”
Enjoy the party while it lasts, Jim.
Andre Mouton in USA Today (April 2013):
“[T]oday a much-diminished [Dell] is in talks to go private. It’s a cautionary tale for Apple, whose position today is uncomfortably similar to Dell’s eight years ago.”
Caution, Apple: Don’t replace your existing product line with dull, low-margin, Windows PCs! (Whew — that was a close one.)
Adrian Covert in CNN Money (April 2013):
“At long last, Microsoft has an Apple-beating vision”
“Microsoft’s [‘Blue’] plan may be even better than anything Apple or Google currently have to offer.”
“As the rest of the tech world tries to merge desktop and mobile computing, Microsoft is in a favorable position to get there first. A single, unified Windows experience across PCs, tablets and smartphones could make Blue a world beater — even if Microsoft isn’t remotely controlling the mobile market at the moment.”
Just a moment or two from now, and Microsoft probably will be controlling the mobile market handily. So hold your breath, Adrian, and watch it happen.
Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz as reported by Michael V. Copeland in Wired (April 2013):
“Marc Andreessen has a thought exercise for you. Let’s say we all grew up in tech world where we only used tablets and smartphones. Then one day, someone comes up to you with a 27-inch display hooked up to a notebook. You could have everything you have on your tablets and smartphones, and then some. Except you don’t have to download anything or update it. Everything is the latest and greatest, and just one click away. If you are a software developer, there are no gatekeepers telling you if your latest creation is approved, or when you can add the latest flourish.
‘We would be like, wow, that’s great,’ Andreessen says ... ‘It’s why in the long run the mobile web is going to dominate native apps ...’”
Wow, that would be great! Except that a 27-inch display won’t fit in your backpack, not to mention your pocket. Except that you have to have a persistent, fast internet connection all the time. Except that the apps are sluggish and awkward compared to good native apps. Except that the app pickings are slim because nobody wants to write apps when they’re just going to be ripped off by rampant piracy. Except that malware writers are having a field day screwing with everybody. But still — great!
Rob Enderle (April 2013):
“The impossible task of fixing Apple
It is rather interesting to watch Apple’s slide and read the speculation about what Cupertino needs to do to turn itself around.”
“[A]s an investor, you’d probably be far happier having invested in HP over the last 6 months than in Apple. Hell, you’d be happier had you hid your money in a hole in your yard. Bernie Madoff, who was put in jail for losing $64B actually looks damn good against the Cook’s near 5X bigger loss.”
“Given JCPenny just ousted Apple alum Ron Johnson as CEO for losing a tiny fraction of what Cook has lost, why is Cook still CEO? This goes to the core of the problem and unless it’s fixed Apple isn’t coming back.”
“Steve Jobs ... was deathly afraid of someone being hired to replace him. ... Thus, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Jobs didn’t really share much of his secret sauce for success with anyone, including Cook. But even if he had I’m not sure Cook would have understood ...”
“Cook never had the skills needed to run Apple ...”
“If you don’t fix Apple’s board before Cook is replaced, and unless Apple starts to recover soon he is toast, the next CEO will likely be worse. ... we’ll have a death spiral with successively worse CEOs and less qualified boards.”
Translation: I am the undisputed king of anti-Apple nonsense. Not Dvorak. Not Thurrott. Not Lyons. Me. Enderle.
Derrick Wlodarz in BetaNews (April 2013):
“The enterprise will never embrace Apple”
“If there is one company that clearly doesn’t care about the corporate world, it is Apple.”
“Microsoft ... represent[s] everything that corporate IT loves: stability, long term product support, flexibility, and standards.”
“Apple’s long had a middle finger raised pointedly at big business. ... I’m not alone in my grim outlook for Apple in the enterprise ...”
“Apple’s ... attitude towards enterprise hasn’t changed one bit. For lack of a better description, top Apple executives just ‘don’t care’.”
Um.. who were you quoting there, Derrick? Or is just better with quotes around it?
Rob Enderle (April 2013):
“HOW APPLE LOST ITS COOL”
“If you have to tell someone you’re cool, or your product is cool, you aren’t, and it isn’t. Right now, Apple has to tell people it and its products are cool.”
“Samsung did to Apple what Apple did to Microsoft, skewering its devoted users and reputation, only better.”
“There is a way for Apple to fight back, but the company no longer has that skill, and apparently doesn’t know where to get it, either.”
“Apple’s mistake was running the old ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC’ campaign against Microsoft.”
“Apple’s ads often make their users look really stupid.”
“Moves like selling iPhones in Walmart have to stop, because no one is going to connect a Walmart product to cool no matter what the ads and PR say.”
“Jobs would know what to do, and I don’t think Cook even sees the problem.”
Nothing says “cool” like hating a company so hard we can all hear your teeth grinding with rage through the text of your article.
Jeff Macke in Yahoo! Finance (April 2013):
“Apple: The Good, the Bad, and the Really Rotten
The long awaited, much hyped Apple earnings report came out last night and offered a little something for everyone, particularly investors who’ve been arguing that the company has much bigger problems than a slumping stock price.”
“Apple stubbornly refuses to discuss timing on new product roll-outs.”
“‘It was very disappointing, I think it’s time for Tim Cook to pass the baton,’ says Jeff Kilburg, founder & CEO of KKM Financial and a CNBC contributor ...”
“[U]sing ... cash for a buyback and token bump to the dividend yield is asinine.”
“Cook dismissed [David] Einhorn’s proposal [I-want-preferred-stock lawsuit] as a ‘silly sideshow’ then failed to even slightly deviate from the ancient and demonstrably futile Dividend/ Buyback combination so long favored by companies running low on ideas and creativity.”
“[Y]esterday’s performance left little doubt that Cook is not only a pale imitation of Steve Jobs but a low-rent version of John Sculley. Apple is now just a depressing reminder that the circle of life applies to all living things, even Apple.”
If we can just get Cook kicked out of the CEO post, then maybe, maybe — their next CEO will be some clueless boob like Ballmer! Come on guys, we can do it!
Peter Cohan in Forbes (April 2013):
“Apple is More Doomed Than You Think”
“Apple has nothing new in the pipeline”
“Without Jobs, Apple’s management has lost the ability to innovate”
“A cheaper iPhone marks the end of Apple’s leadership”
“Apple is not well-positioned strategically”
Tell us what you really think, Peter. Don’t hold back.
Tero Kuittinen in BGR (April 2013):
“Chilling deja vu as Apple starts to echo Nokia circa 2007”
“It may sound absurd to compare Apple to Nokia in any way, but back in 2007, Nokia was hot as a pistol.”
If once-hot companies have fallen, then the now-ultra-hot Apple must be about to fall! Got it.
Peter Cohan in Forbes (April 2013):
“Is Apple the Next Dell?”
“[Apple’s new spaceship campus] brings to mind the idea of a corporate edifice complex. That’s where a successful company builds a monument to its greatness just as it is losing touch with the realities of its market.”
“[T]he construction of a $5 billion palatial headquarters when the company is — at best — between hit products does reflect a certain corporate arrogance.”
Translation: Apple was supposed to die, or be a weak also-ran forever. That it didn’t do either of those things strikes me as arrogant. And I really like the way “between hit products” smells like “no hit products,” but I didn’t actually say that.
Karl Denninger (April 2013):
“Apple: How To Admit You’re Out Of Ideas”
“Borrowing to buy back shares is outrageously stupid.”
“[S]tock buybacks are what companies do when they have nothing productive to do with the funds they generate from operation. Companies that buy back their own shares are making a declaration that they are out of innovative ideas to grow their business and thus instead choose to machine their stock price.”
That guy loves all-italic sentences, doesn’t he? They helpfully scream, “This is true no matter what!!”
“[T]he [Samsung] Galaxy caught up with all that Apple had to offer and added several innovations ... It didn’t help that, in addition to complacence, Apple was also arrogant and failed to listen to customer needs.”
That’s Apple: arrogant and complacent. More sterling analysis from Harvard — an institution decidedly lacking in arrogance and complacence.
Mike Elgan in Cult of Mac (April 2013):
“How Facebook Home Screws Apple”
Apple is screwed. Got it, Mike.
Chamath Palihapitiya in Bloomberg (May 2013):
“This sad display [Apple’s bond issue] is a telling sign for what was, less than six months ago, the greatest comeback story and greatest technology company of all time: There was now more excitement from a bunch of pension funds and hedge funds about debt than the sum total of consumer interest and support for Apple’s latest products. ... [I]t portends poorly when investors are your biggest supporters and consumers couldn’t give a damn. It is rumored now that Apple, to stem the tide of skepticism, is going to build a TV and a watch.”
Consumers don’t give a damn about Apple’s products. And Apple’s whipping up some last-minute product plans to stem six-month-old skepticism. Got it, Chamath.
Rob Enderle (May 2013):
“Why Apple Won’t Be Around as Long as IBM”
“IBM is 102 years old. ... Today’s tech companies aren’t built to last, as Apple’s recent earnings report shows all too well.”
Translation: My track record on predicting Apple’s fortunes just a year or two out has been terrible, so why not go for several decades this time?
Mike Elgan in Cult of Mac (May 2013):
“Why The iPhone Is Falling Behind”
“[I]n the past month, Apple’s lack of openness has become a serious problem.”
“A huge movement to unlock [hack/jailbreak] iPhones has emerged in order to get around Apple’s controls.”
“iPhone users who don’t [jailbreak] are left behind as the industry innovates in ways that require access to Apple’s locked-down areas of the platform.”
“[F]or you Apple fanboys who say that Google Now, Facebook Home and Google Glass are lame technologies ... your argument is invalid. It’s not about you. It’s about what real people really want to do in real life.”
The iOS jailbreak community is huge, and is composed of the real people who live in real life. Got it.
Rob Enderle (May 2013):
“Apple went from being in far worse shape than HP’s in now to become more valuable at its peak than even oil companies, so this isn’t an impossible goal.”
If Apple can go from beleaguered to super-successful, then surely HP can. Got it.
David Carnoy in CNET (May 2013):
“Why Apple should develop Android apps
Apple’s app ecosystem remains a closed-loop, Apple-only affair. But it’s in the company’s interest to change that.”
“Google, Microsoft, and others — have brought their apps to the iOS platform while Apple didn’t reciprocate the gesture.”
“[I]n the long run, it might be a bad idea for Apple to keep some of its key apps isolated on its own platform ...”
“Apple-only becoming less appealing”
Apple needs to port its apps to its rivals’ platforms. So they won’t be “isolated” on iOS. Where, oh where, does CNET find these geniuses?
Steve Colquhoun in The Sydney Morning Herald (May 2013):
“Is shiny Apple rotting at its core?”
“[Apple] could be teetering on brink of irrelevance, expert warns.”
“Michael McQueen ... believes the inventor of genre-defining devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod could be largely irrelevant to people under 30 within five years.”
“‘The next 12 months will be absolutely critical for them, whether they can release another game-changing product like they did with the iPhone and the iPad. It’s been a long time between drinks for them,’ McQueen says.”
Translation: I just love the way “between drinks” implies “not currently drinking,” but I didn’t actually say that.
Joe Nocera in The New York Times (May 2013):
“Apple’s fabulous success over the past decade or so — its creation of the iPads and iPhones that the world lusts over — is a large part of the reason it always gets the benefit of the doubt, whether deserved or not. ... Nobody really wants to hear anything bad about Apple.”
“Jobs was so persuasive that he could claim the sun was setting when it was actually rising, and everyone would nod in agreement. On Tuesday, despite the overwhelming evidence presented by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that Apple engaged in dubious tax avoidance gimmicks, Cook claimed that Apple never resorted to tax gimmickry.”
“Cook spent Tuesday claiming that the sun was setting when it was actually rising, and, predictably, by the time the hearing had ended, most of the senators were agreeing with him.”
Glad to hear Cook’s a worthy replacement for Jobs, after all.
Michael Wolff in USA Today (May 2013):
“The Apple culture, or cult ... has a dark side, long hiding in plain sight, that helps explain its special difference: lawyers.”
“Apple has long been a lawyer’s company. Put another way, most successful technology companies are products of skillful and especially vile legal departments — the more skillful and vile, the more successful.”
“It’s very hard to find anyone in the technology business who, at one time or another, hasn’t been menaced by Apple’s lawyers.”
“Jobs was a man of sui generis arrogance and entitlement, as well as pitiless lawyers, who managed to convince seemly [sic] virtually everybody that he and his company were an exception to a great many rules ... It one day may be that exceptionalism rather than its technology that Apple will be remembered for.”
Maybe. But there’s no doubt what Michael Wolff will be remembered for: naked contempt and shameless spite.
“Once a top innovator, Apple might be on the decline”
“How quickly things have changed. ... the iPhone 5 has fallen from its lofty position, and the Galaxy S4, Samsung’s new flagship smartphone, seems poised to conquer the mobile market. Other Apple products are also threatened. Apple’s perennial best seller, the iPad, a tablet that was once so popular that the word ‘iPad’ itself almost became synonymous with the word ‘tablet’, has as of late lost its edge.”
“[W]hen Q2 numbers are released, Apple, for the first time ever, might be looking at a year-over-year decline in iPad shipments.”
“[I]nstead of replying to Samsung’s challenge by introducing a new and more innovative product to the marketplace, Apple has asked a federal judge to add Samsung’s new flagship smartphone to the list of devices targeted in an existing patent lawsuit ... That Apple, in lieu of innovation, has turned to litigation, should come as no surprise.”
“Although many might think it improbable for a company like Apple to fail, it has had many predecessors. Montgomery Ward, Eastman Kodak, and arguably, Dell Computer, are all examples of companies that once were dominant in their fields and are now no more than shells of what they once were.”
Goodbye, Apple! It was fun while it lasted.
Clem Chambers in Forbes (May 2013):
“Apple Needs A Miracle”
“[T]he parallels between Apple and Microsoft are now even clearer.”
“Apple investors need to look at the Microsoft chart carefully because this is a highly likely future for their stock.”
“The Apple magic is draining away fast ...”
“Even the firmest Apple fan now knows Apple needs a new miracle product if it is to escape the gravity of business normality.”
Hey — didn’t you say a year ago that Apple’s products were “fragile crazes?” Clem?
Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz (June 2013):
“App stores ... take 30% of revenue, which scares away most big companies (e.g. Microsoft) and also startups/venture capitalists. Not many businesses can survive an immediate 30% haircut.”
“[W]hat really matters is when and if developers switch over to developing for Android first ... The switch to Android first hasn’t happened yet, but at least based on conversations I’ve had with entrepreneurs, it seems likely to happen in the next year or two.”
Them entrepreneurs are smart cookies.
Josh Constine in TechCrunch (June 2013):
“Apple Stays Closed As iOS Shuts The Door On Developers”
“Apple demonstrated that it will keep its iron grip on iOS 7 ... Rather than debut new opportunities for developers, Apple squelched them at WWDC ...”
“Long ago, Apple declared war on inconsistency. ... Hardcore users and third-party developers are the casualties of this war. ... it may have left a sinking feeling in the stomachs of those hopeful to build helpful experiences for users ...”
“[I]f Apple wants to satisfy us all and compete with the ever-evolving Android, it needs to let iOS mature.”
The worst part? Consumers have paid a paltry $14 billion for iOS apps so far, of which the developers have received just $10 billion.
Tero Kuittinen in BGR (June 2013):
“Critics are getting under Apple’s skin”
“A king who must remind people he is a king is no true king at all.”
“[iOS 7] can be viewed as a welcome revamp — or a desperate lunge for relevance via cosmetic changes.”
Desperate! Apple is desperate. FYI.
Vlad Savov in The Verge (June 2013):
“iOS 7 redesign: the beginning of the end for Apple exceptionalism”
“Apple was the company of unconventional wisdom. Was.”
“Apple is now playing it safe.”
“[iOS 7] gets worse the deeper you dig in. ... [iOS 7] amounts to little more than a fresh skin on an old machine. ... The once-leader is now playing catchup ...”
iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad are “old machines.” Got it.
Tim Beyers in The Motley Fool (June 2013):
“A New Chromebook Could Kill the New MacBook Air”
“Apple had a disruptive opportunity to turn the Air into a cloud-optimized machine, and then whiffed.”
“Today’s MacBook Air may be lacking as an onramp to the cloud, but there’s still time to remedy the problem.”
Jeremy Bowman in The Motley Fool (June 2013):
“Apple’s Out of Ideas”
“[In Apple’s latest ads] the subtext is leaking out behind the facade: ‘We’re out of ideas. The pipeline has run dry. We don’t have any new products so we’re going to try to make you fall in love with the old ones again.’”
“[Apple’s] been in full-on harvest mode since Tim Cook took over.”
“[R]esting on its laurels is not a viable strategy for future growth. We need to see something new out of the Cupertino kids soon, or like Kodak before it, Apple may be nothing more than a beautiful memory.”
Goodbye, Apple. Uh, again.
Rocco Pendola in The Street (June 2013):
“There’s No Question Now: Apple is Dead
It’s official: Apple’s Board of Directors and executive team, led by Tim Cook, clearly never had or have completely lost any real respect for Steve Jobs.”
“This is just another example of Apple losing its way, operating like every other company.”
“Apple has stooped to the point where it has to ‘reward’ shareholders with stuff right out of the MBA textbook. Dividends. Buybacks. Zero imagination.”
Translation: A little over a year ago, I said that Cook would be the “downfall” of Apple. Since this is about as close to correct as my prediction is going to come, I better declare victory now, while I semi-credibly can.
Zach Epstein in BGR (June 2013):
“Apple again seen losing steam, new products needed desperately”
Desperate! Desperate, desperate, desperate.
Scott Davis in Forbes (June 2013):
“Apple’s Fall From Leading To Lagging Brand”
“[I]t is with sadness and a bit of disbelief that I now have to admit something that I never thought I would: Apple is no longer a leader.”
“I’m left wondering what Apple’s done for me lately ...”
“Apple needs to come up with several silver bullets to build back lost relevance ...”
“[I]n the war for perceptions, the war for coolness, the war for technological ingenuity, the war for who is most clever or who garners the highest levels of anticipation, Apple is falling way short. And if Samsung, Windows, Google Android, Amazon and others have anything to say about it, Apple will never ascend to the leader’s perch again.”
They don’t have anything to say about it, Scott. Watch and learn.
Rik Myslewski in The Register (July 2013):
“Apple ‘iWatch’ trademark filing hints Cook’s make-or-break moment looms”
“Should Apple release an iWatch ... it had better be a runaway hit. Apple is increasingly having to battle the perception that it has lost its creative mojo (that sanctimonious ‘California’ advert didn’t help), and the long knives of the haters are gleefully being honed to a razor’s edge.”
None of that gleeful knife sharpening would be at The Register, would it?
Mike Elgan (July 2013):
“How Microsoft could rule consumer electronics
Microsoft has everything it needs to beat Apple and Google and rule consumer electronics”
“What if Microsoft shipped that future years ahead of everyone else?”
What if they didn’t?
Dave Logan in CBS Money Watch (July 2013):
“Why Apple is a dead company walking”
“[Apple] is producing theme-and-variation innovation, and its existing supply of themes is running out. Apple appears to have a few years of its magic left.”
“There is no greater fan of Apple than I. ... And yet, sadly, I have to report that a new form of analysis reveals that the best brand in the world is lost ...”
“This analysis is based on a technique called ‘word mapping,’ in which a leader’s words, in connection to other words, reveal their worldview and their bias for action.”
Word mapping 101: “Apple” + “dead” = dumb-ass
Adam Lashinsky in CNN Money (July 2013):
“Watching Apple stumble is a little like witnessing a just-over-the-hill prizefighter wobbling on his feet or a once-eloquent orator stammering for the right word. But there’s no question: Apple has lost a step since the death of Steve Jobs. That this observation is as inevitable as the effects of gravity doesn’t make it any less shocking or lamentable.”
Nice lamentation, Adam. Convincingly realistic.
Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research (July 2013):
“Apple has not innovated since the passing away of Steve Jobs”
“The likelihood of Apple being able to come up with innovative product ... is very slim ...”
“[Apple’s] stock price is prompting some of the smarter Apple employees to leave Apple for other companies ...”
“Apple has changed from being an innovative company to a company returning cash to the shareholders; and that has completely backfired ...”
“Both, MJN, a baby food company and CLX, a Toilet cleaning company, trade at more than 2x the multiple that of AAPL. Hence most people are quite alarmed that Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer are systematically destroying Apple’s shareholder value.”
So, the thing going on at Apple that has you alarmed, Trip, is their depressed stock price? Really? Are you sure that’s what’s bothering you about Apple?
Ed Bott of ZDNet (July 2013):
“Steve [Ballmer]’s done a pretty good job. There aren’t too many CEOs in the tech industry today that are capable of continuing to make a profit. I mean, by that same logic Tim Cook should have been fired three months ago.”
Because Apple isn’t capable of continuing to make a profit.
Andrew Mayer on CNN (July 2013):
“Apple becoming a follower, not a leader”
“Apple seems to be in danger of becoming a wallflower.”
“[iOS 7] seems more evolutionary than revolutionary.”
“What Apple needs most are bold new ideas, not bigger iPhones or iPads.”
Apple needs bold, new ideas. Needs.
Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research, as reported by Jake L’Ecuyer in Benzinga (July 2013):
“Chowdhry stated that if Apple is to resolve the problems that plague the company, it will need new leadership. Specifically, a new CEO and CFO.”
Apple is plagued with problems. Got it.
Larry Ellison of Oracle (August 2013):
“We saw [what happens to Apple without Jobs]; we conducted the experiment. I mean, it’s been done. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs. We saw Apple without Steve Jobs. We saw Apple with Steve Jobs. Now, we’re gonna see Apple without Steve Jobs.”
Much respect, Larry — but don’t you think 2013 Apple is in a slightly different position than 1986 Apple?
Kevin Drum in Mother Jones (August 2013):
“Until now, one of Apple’s big advantages in the market has been the depth and quality of its app ecosystem. But as its market share keeps decreasing, that will go away. Developers will write apps for Android first, and then port their code over to iOS later. All the newest and coolest stuff will be available on Android phones first, and as that happens the all-important teen demo will slip away. Apple’s obsessively tight control over what you’re allowed to do with your phone will start to seem creepy, not smart, and their single-minded dedication to a single form factor will become an albatross.
Not right away, of course. It will take a while.”
Long enough for people to forget you wrote this — right, Kevin?
Rob Enderle (August 2013):
“I was recently at a meeting of analysts and vendors, and got into a conversation about Apple with one of the ex-Apple executives at the meeting. I got the sense that Tim Cook was hired because he was good at everything Jobs didn’t like to do, and Phil Schiller was basically Jobs’ internal fan club chairman. In other words, you really don’t have a viable company without someone doing what Jobs did.”
Apple’s not a viable company. Got it, Rob. For the hundredth time.
Paul Krugman in The New York Times (August 2013):
“Microsoft missed the boat on mobile devices, while Apple got temporarily ahead of the curve. I say ‘temporarily’, because as far as I can tell Apple products no longer have a dramatic quality edge.”
“[Apple]’s selling products that are little if any better than competitors, at premium prices.”
Apple’s success is temporary. Got it.
Paul Thurrott in Windows IT Pro (August 2013):
“Ballmer was one of the good guys. Though he was relentlessly mocked for his over-the-top public appearances in years past, Ballmer was also relentlessly pro-Microsoft ... While many called for his ouster for many years, I never saw a single leader emerge at Microsoft who could fill his shoes or the needs of this lofty position. Looking at the available options today, I still don’t.”
Mindlessly pro-Microsoft, tech-clueless goofs are hard to come by, eh?
James Kendrick in ZDNet (September 2013):
“Microsoft: How to best leverage the Nokia deal
Microsoft will be a full-fledged hardware company when the ink dries on the Nokia device purchase. Here’s how it can make the best of the acquisition.
Microsoft is learning how to surprise the tech world like that fruity company.”
“I want to see Windows Phone take off and be the major player in the smartphone space it should be.”
Don’t hold back, James. Let your feelings flow.
Fraser P. Seitel in CNN Money (September 2013):
“[A]s CEO of the world’s most respected high-tech franchise, [Tim Cook] has been an unmitigated disaster.”
I can feel the respect for Apple wafting off of you, Fraser.
Barry Randall in MarketWatch (September 2013):
“Sorry Apple, the carriers hold the power now”
“We’re now three-and-a-half years down the road from Apple’s last ‘real’ new product release — the original iPad. Everything since then has been an iYawn.”
“[W]ith Samsung even scaling back expectations for its leading Galaxy S 4 phone, it doesn’t seem like the handset business is where to be.”
“[I]f you think that the built-in fingerprint reader on the new iPhone 5S means something, well, it doesn’t.”
“Like the PC business before it, I think the handset hardware business is moving toward a zero-margin, loss-leader existence, where the customer experience is defined by software and systems often controlled by others. Tim Cook should ask Michael Dell how that transition has turned out.”
He’ll be doing that really soon, I’m sure.
Henry Blodget in Business Insider (September 2013):
“Apple Is Being Shortsighted — And This Could Clobber The Company”
“I have a lot of respect for the folks who are running Apple, but I think they are making a big mistake.”
“And I think that Apple’s emphasis on short term greed instead of long-term investment will end up hurting the company and its shareholders and customers over the long haul.”
“What Apple does not seem to understand, however, is the fate that almost all niche platform providers eventually succumb to — gradual loss of influence, power, and profitability, followed by irrelevance. If you don’t understand what happens to platform providers that lose momentum and become niche players, just look at BlackBerry. ... What Apple zealots who crow about the company’s current profitability should recognize is that BlackBerry was highly profitable only a few years ago.”
“[E]ven if Apple does not get completely marginalized, this strategy will likely hurt the company and its shareholders (and its customers!) over the long haul. And it could be disastrous.”
I’m sure this can’t be the same Henry Blodget who said, um — Gee, where do I start?
Hartmut Esslinger formerly of Sony and Apple (September 2013):
“As soon as you can copy something [like the iPhone,] it’s not smart enough anymore. I think Apple has reached in a certain way a saturation — the curve [of innovation] was really steep seven to eight years ago [...] but now my iPhone is so full I am deleting apps because I want to keep it simple.”
And all those apps are available on other companies’ copies of the iPhone?
Steve Ballmer of Microsoft (September 2013):
“We have unbelievable potential in front of us, we have an unbelievable destiny. Only our company and a handful of others are poised to write the future. We’re going to think big, we’re going to bet big.”
Adam Hartung in Forbes (September 2013):
“Why Apple Investors Should Worry
Apple announced the new iPhones recently. And mostly, nobody cared.”
“[T]he new iPhones, and the underlying new iPhone software called iOS7 [sic], has almost nobody excited.”
“Is Apple on the verge of a growth stall?”
“We became addicted to a company that brought us things which were great, even when we didn’t know we wanted them ... Now we hear about upgrades. A better operating system (sort of sounds like Microsoft talking, to be honest.)”
“Apple’s new CEO seems to be great at the Sustaining Innovation game. And that pretty much assures Apple of at least a few more years of nicely profitable sales.”
A few more years. Then bye-bye, Apple. A nice run while it lasted.
Frank Nuovo of Nokia, as reported by Paul Smith in Financial Review (October 2013):
“Nokia design guru urges Apple to end cable chaos”
“[Frank Nuovo] has called on Apple to work with the broader technology industry and end its policy of having proprietary connectors for its device chargers and accessories. ... He warned that failure to reach a compromise could see Apple marginalised in a world of greater device interconnection.”
Because the USB cable that comes with every iPhone and iPad is so difficult to understand.
Roger Cheng in CNET (October 2013):
“Nike’s no-Android stance on FuelBand is a huge mistake”
“It’s a glaring omission that Nike still doesn’t offer support for Android, which is the undisputed mobile platform champ with 80 percent of the global market.”
“Nike’s strategy only works if you operate in a void.”
“[T]he market is moving to a point where companies and developers can no longer ignore Google’s blockbuster platform. For Nike to keep doing so is tantamount to burying its head in the sand.”
“Nike is only shooting itself in the foot with its stubborn reluctance to work with Android.”
Get it? In the foot! Haha! Love it, Roger.
Troy Wolverton in San Jose Mercury News (October 2013):
“[Apple] seems to have forgotten nearly everything it ever learned about pricing [its] products for mainstream consumers.”
“[T]he pricing of the company’s iPad line as a whole is absurdly high ...”
“[L]ately the company seems to be going back to its pricey ways.”
“[The Mac Pro’s] base price is an absurd $3,000 ...”
“What was more shocking was the prices it announced on the iPads.”
“[T]he prices on the other iPad models are simply baffling. ... That’s a crazy price ... it also seems obscene when you consider that the iPad2 debuted in February 2011 ... The prices Apple slapped on its iPad Mini models are just as bewildering.”
“Apple’s prices would make sense if the company were still dominating the tablet market.”
“[Apple] seems to have lost its way on pricing.”
Translation: I find Apple’s success in recent years to be absurd, shocking, baffling, crazy, obscene, and bewildering.
Paul Sagawa of Sector & Sovereign Research as reported by Zach Epstein in BGR (October 2013):
“By January, many of the Apple fanboys will already have their iPhone 5Ss and iPad Airs, and demand will hinge on new customers with less invested in the Apple brand and minds open to the raft of new Android powered products likely to hit the shelves. In the last few years, Apple has grown increasingly seasonal ... History says the cyclicality should be getting worse, not better.”
“Given Apple’s massive sales and industry defying profitability, it is difficult to see where that growth will come from. ... [H]istory has given us a clear example of a wildly profitable and cash rich company that struggled with growth — see Microsoft, circa 2003.”
Whither went Microsoft, thither goes Apple. Expert analysis from Sector & Sovereign.
Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg (October 2013):
“Well, [Apple], the law of large numbers is against you and in fact the history of consumer electronics is against you as well. There is no precedent of a consumer technology company sustaining 50%+ gross margins in its handset business.”
“Apple’s strength is its brand, cult-like following and product design differentiation.”
“[T]he problem I see with your stock is that in the absence of any ‘out of the box’ move to a sizable new vertical market, the key debate will always be about your ability to sustain these ‘abnormal’ margins in your iPhone business — and let’s not forget, the consumer technology industry has been the graveyard for many historically great brands (Sony and Nokia spring to mind).”
The Law of Large Numbers is against you, Apple! You’re screwed!
Ashraf Eassa in Seeking Alpha (November 2013):
“Samsung Is Apple’s Worst Nightmare”
“Apple, over the long haul, stands very little chance against the Samsung behemoth.”
“[I]t’s clear that Samsung will brute-force its way into taking more and more marketshare from Apple ...”
“What Can Apple Do?”
“Apple needs to stop wasting money on buybacks ... Buying back stock when there’s another leg of growth to be had is simply foolish. ... Apple needs to drive the next leg of its growth, and it needs to do so by becoming much more like Samsung ...”
“Will Apple do this? Probably not ...”
Apple should be doing what Samsung is doing. Got it, Ashraf.
John Koetsier in VentureBeat (November 2013):
“Apple and BlackBerry, together at last (in the loser’s column)”
“Android has won ...”
“The problem is that the focus of the smartphone market has shifted east, to China, where a third of all smartphones bought globally are now sold. And to Africa and other parts of Asia. In those regions, Apple has languished in seventh place as local competitors such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Yulong, and of course Samsung win on price ... Apple’s not a low-cost competitor and never has been.”
“I asked Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston ... and he said 10 percent is the critical mass number: ‘We estimate a marketshare level below 10 percent globally is when developers and operators start to get a little twitchy about supporting smartphone or tablet platforms. At less than 10 percent share, mobile platforms can start to lose the network effect. Consumers tend to follow the herd and they will generally be drawn toward the largest pools of users and away from the smaller pools over time. ...’”
“If Apple does care enough to do something about this, its strategy needs to change. As of yet, there are no signs that it will.”
“This story is getting old.”
We’ve noticed, John.
Henry Blodget in Business Insider (November 2013):
“Come On, Apple Fans, It’s Time To Admit That The Company Is Blowing It”
“Apple is getting its clock cleaned by Samsung, which is now by far the dominant smartphone maker in the world.”
“Apple’s sales badly lagged both Samsung and, importantly, the broader smartphone market.”
“[T]he more market share Apple surrenders in China, Brazil, India, et al, the less chance it will have to become the leading platform in these countries. (In fact, in many of them, it’s probably already too late.)”
“Apple is being shortsighted and choosing to maintain its already fantastically high profit margins at the expense of market share.”
“Apple’s tablet sales, meanwhile, have hit a wall.”
“Apple and its fans may come to regret this short-term thinking in the end.”
Apple, Apple, Apple. When will you ever learn? Let Blodget guide the way.
Russ Fischer in Seeking Alpha (November 2013):
“Apple Is Its Own Worst Enemy”
“[The iPod] finally became an iPhone that couldn’t make a phone call.”
“This is the point in semiconductor based consumer products where price cutting will set in, as it has in every consumer electronic product known from the calculator to the PC.”
“When was the last time that anyone made a Facetime call? The fingerprint sensor? Does anyone use that?”
“Apple has parlayed a few smart moves into a large and very profitable business. They have also made some company-killing blunders along the way.”
“What will certainly happen is that the very high profit of the iPhone will be removed ... Apple and Apple shares will slowly (or rapidly) simply become worth less than today.”
“It appears that much of the ‘must have’ innovation of Apple is over. All major smartphones have the same features, give or take.”
Such as, the entire iOS app ecosystem. Give or take.
Vaclav Smil, as reported by Clive Thompson in Wired (November 2013):
“This Is the Man Bill Gates Thinks You Absolutely Should Be Reading”
“‘There is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil,’ Bill Gates wrote this summer. That’s quite an endorsement ...”
“[Smil:] ‘Apple! Boy, what a story. No taxes paid, everything made abroad — yet everyone worships them. This new iPhone, there’s nothing new in it. Just a golden color. What the hell, right? When people start playing with color, you know they’re played out.’”
Now, why, I wonder, would Bill Gates strongly recommend this guy? I’m sure if I think hard enough, it will come to me.
Mike Elgan in Cult of Mac (November 2013):
“Apple maintains a press ‘blacklist,’ a list of people in the media who are shunned and ignored ... I’ve been on it for more than a decade.”
“[T]he ultimate goal of any blacklist — McCarthy’s, Chinas [sic] or Apple’s: to make honest people lie.”
But, Mike, what if it backfired and turned formerly honest people into nasty, anti-Apple vitrioholics?
Benjamin Pimentel in MarketWatch (December 2013):
“Why Apple could lose some tablet market share to Microsoft”
“[I]n four years ... one player will have a significantly bigger share of the pie: Microsoft. And Microsoft’s gains will come at Apple’s expense.”
“‘I think it’s a case of nowhere else to go,’ Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates told MarketWatch. ‘Microsoft can only go up from zero and Apple can only go down from 100%.’”
Or, um, Microsoft could stay near 0% and Apple could stay near 100%. For four years. Or more. Maybe much more. That’s another way it could go.
Steve Ballmer of Microsoft (December 2013):
“In the last five years, probably Apple has made more money than we have. But in the last thirteen years, I bet we’ve made more money than almost anybody on the planet. And that, frankly, is a great source of pride to me.”
Goodbye, Ballmer. Uh, again.
Keith Fitz-Gerald of Money Map Press (December 2013):
“I think that Apple and Microsoft may not only have to work together for the next few years but may even see a merger in the next five to ten years from now because they’re going to have to take on the Google/Android/Facebooks of the world.”
Merging with Microsoft might be just the shot-in-the-arm Apple’s iProducts need, in order to become really successful! You tell ’em, Keith.
Paul Thurrott (December 2013):
“With Lumia and Surface, Microsoft is nicely poised for the future”
“Some of the key hardware devices that shipped this year came from Microsoft and Nokia, which is soon to be part of Microsoft. And this bodes well for the devices part of the Microsoft’s devices and services future.”
“Microsoft — and Nokia, which again will soon be part of Microsoft — got so much right, hardware-wise, in 2013.”
“Microsoft has established itself, and quickly, as a firm that can make high-quality hardware.”
“If current trends continue — and no, it’s not April Fools — Windows Phone could actually catch up to iPhone in just a few years.”
It’s not April Fools — it’s the December fool.
Tracy Stokes of Forrester Research (January 2014):
“Forrester’s latest TRUE brand compass research shows that innovation is a key to successfully building a sustainable consumer technology brand, but that innovation alone is not sufficient. ... This research is ... designed to identify which brands are winning the battle for consumer mindshare ...”
“In a surprise upset, Microsoft trumped Apple and Samsung in the TRUE brand rankings.”
Surprise: Forrester reportedly has been known to take money from Microsoft.
Update: Forrester now says that IT workers want Windows tablets more than iPads.
Todd Wasserman in Mashable (January 2014):
“Google Is Eating Apple’s Lunch”
“This cautious, arrogant approach has prompted Apple to cede an early lead in wearable computing to Google with Glass. ... This comes as Google is thoroughly dominating Apple in smartphones, has effectively countered Apple TV with Chromecast and is even outselling Apple in desktop hardware.”
“Apple’s response to Google’s ambition has been to perfect its existing products ... That’s fine if Apple wants to once again become a high-end niche brand but Apple rather incredibly became a mass market provider of smartphones and tablets in the last few years. Perhaps that was a quirk of history. ... Apple’s cautious perfectionism may be sidelining the company.”
Apple is arrogant. Apple’s success is an incredible quirk. Apple should be doing what Google is doing. Got it, Todd.
Paul R. La Monica in CNN Money (January 2014):
“Apple must fight back against Google”
“Google has stolen all of Apple’s thunder and Apple needs to try and reclaim some of it.
During the past few years, Google has become the most innovative company in the tech industry.”
“[Buying Waze] could have been a smart deal for Apple, given how maligned its map apps are.”
“Since Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, the spirit of innovation [at Apple] seems to be gone. Apple has mainly been getting by on product updates that are not all that exciting. Ooh. A smaller iPad! A bigger iPhone! iYawn!”
“This may not be the 12th round ... but Apple is behind on the judges’ scorecards.”
“The iPhone 6 (or is it iPhone Air?) probably won’t cut it. A long-rumored iTV may not even be enough ...”
“Apple has to show that there are other new product lines that it is working on. ... The tech industry is littered with examples of companies that once were on top and did not do enough to stay there. ... Apple needs something else new. Now.”
“The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica.”
They want your page views, Paul. But that’s all.
Jason D. O’Grady in ZDNet (January 2014):
“Apple: Same dog food, reheated”
“Cupertino is resting on its iLaurels while fierce competition from the valley is eating its lunch.”
“Where are the moonshots? Where is the innovation? Where is the leadership? Apple, I’m afraid, has lost its way and is on a collision course with mediocrity while hungry, eager and cunning competitors lap it in the race to win the hearts and minds of increasingly savvy consumers.”
“Cupertino’s lethargic pace of development and innovation is starting to worry me ...”
“[Google-bought] Nest ... is stocked with over 100 Apple refugees ...”
“Say what you will about Google, but one thing you can’t say that it’s ‘stagnant’ or ‘stuck in a rut’ like Apple is.”
“The rumored iWatch is nothing but vapor at this point, AppleTV is a laughing stock and Apple hasn’t innovated since the iPad came out in 2010.”
“[T]he Kindle Fire HDX shames the iPad ...”
“[Apple] let [iTunes] rot to the point of becoming a joke.”
“Microsoft has made a credible attempt to merge the mobile and desktop markets ... Maybe Windows 8 isn’t a complete home run, but in the long term the approach could be a threat.”
“[Tim] Cook ... released the iPad mini with a putrid (non-Retina) display, based on three year old technology, virtually ceding the market to Android.”
“All is not lost however.”
You don’t say?
Jeff Macke in Yahoo Finance (January 2014):
“New Apple looks like the old Microsoft”
“Apple is getting old. Saying so isn’t an attack or a form of downgrading the stock here.”
“iPods are a nice cash-cow business with no hopes for exciting innovation on the horizon; a chilling glimpse into the future of the company.”
“[I]n the big picture Apple is in an old familiar places [sic] and the story is getting stale.”
Nothing stale about Apple gloom-talk, apparently. That stuff keeps forever.
Satya Nadella of Microsoft (February 2014):
“We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization. We are the only company with history and continued focus in building platforms and ecosystems that create broad opportunity.”
Goodbye Ballmer, Hello Nadella.
Anthony Wing Kosner in Forbes (February 2014):
“[W]hat Apple’s ‘sandboxed’ approach doesn’t do for users is give them the freedom, one level up, to download an app that lets them control the representation of those icons on their screen or any other more sophisticated way of managing applications. This is why so many users jailbreak their iPhones.”
“So many users” jailbreak their iPhones? What percentage is that?
Paul Ausick in 24/7 Wall St. (February 2014):
“Apple’s Share Buybacks: An Admission That Nothing Is New”
“Share buybacks are generally an announcement that a company has run out of ideas ...”
“It is possible to argue ... Apple has no idea what it is doing nor any idea what to do next. ... the company doesn’t. And that is why Tim Cook has to sound like he cares about shareholders ...”
It’s also possible to argue that Paul Ausick has no idea what to write about. You know. It’s possible.
Stilgherrian in ZDNet (February 2014):
“Apple’s goto fail needs a massive culture change to fix”
“Apple may be shiny on the surface, but the recently revealed SSL security flaw means that something’s rotten inside — or perhaps even poisoned.”
“Nothing must tarnish the image of Apple’s pretty, pretty garden, even if beneath the surface it’s rotten. Or poisoned.”
“Apple seems to have a serious cultural problem.”
“Apple’s goto fail is a clear sign that the magic garden needs weeding — or even a good dose of Agent Orange, rather than endless Kool-Aid. But the first step in fixing a problem is admitting that it exists, and Apple has yet to do that.”
“It is of course hilarious that the actual error consisted of the repeated words ‘goto fail;’.”
Almost as hilarious as saying that the most successful company in the world is rotten and needs massive change.
“I think the answer is obvious to me. The answer has got to be yes [Apple has lost its touch]. This is a company who had revolved around Steve Jobs for so long, I mean that was something that Jobs himself went out of his way to make sure of.”
Steve Jobs knew for years that he was probably dying, so he went out of his way to make sure the company wouldn’t work without him. Got it.
Tony Tripeny of Corning Glass (March 2014):
“When we look at it, we see a lot of disadvantages of sapphire versus Gorilla Glass. It’s about 10 times more expensive. It’s about 1.6 times heavier. It’s environmentally unfriendly. It takes about 100 times more energy to generate a Sapphire crystal than it does glass. It transmits less light which ... means either dimmer devices or shorter battery life. It continues to break.”
Translation: We make Gorilla Glass.
Anup Singh in Seeking Alpha (March 2014):
“Although BlackBerry’s shares have taken a pounding over the last few years, it looks ripe for a turnaround.”
“[I]nvestors can expect BlackBerry to gain enterprise market share from Apple in the future, making it a better investment.”
“Organizations will soon realize that BlackBerry’s security is better than Apple, and will start switching back.”
“The enterprise sphere was probably Apple’s golden chance, however, numerous security failures indicate that the company is destined to lose market share to BlackBerry in the future.”
Destined! Dude — your BlackBerry-or-bust mentor, Karl I-Spit-On-Steve-Jobs’s-Grave Denninger, left for another website. You’re on your own!
Rob Enderle (March 2014):
“Haunted Empire — Biased Author or Biased Readers?”
“What really surprises me about the book Haunted Empire, which predicts the decline of Apple, isn’t that Apple fans don’t like it. That’s a given — Apple fans only want positive books and stories. ... What also amazes me is how worked up some folks are getting about this book and how many unfounded attacks the author is taking. I’ve been where she is. Companies really don’t like negative reports, and it is always more lucrative — particularly for a company like Apple, with its huge fan base — to write a positive report or book about it than a negative one. So, if the author were money-focused, she would have written a glowing book rather than one that forecasts a bad outcome.”
Because Apple pays “consulting fees” to “analysts” who write positive things about the company. No, wait, they don’t. That’s some other company. I think it starts with “M.” Or is it “D?” Wanna help me out, here, Rob?
Anthony Wood, founder and CEO of Roku (March 2014):
“Apple TV is essentially an accessory for the iPad. They lose money, which is unusual for Apple. If you’re losing money, why would you want to sell more?”
So they should just shut it down and stop selling it? Keep dreaming, Anthony.
Yukari I. Kane, author of “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs” (March 2014):
“[Apple is] a cult built around a dead man.”
“[Apple] teeters at the edge of a reckoning. ... [Apple executives] cannot find their own way forward. They are tired. They are uncertain. The well of ingenuity has run dry.”
“[T]he victory [over Flash] cost Apple.”
“[Apple should] open up its operating system and license the technology.”
“The [2013 D11 Mossberg/Swisher interview] was a disaster. Cook came across as delusional and painfully out of touch. If he was truly unfazed by the host of problems facing Apple, if he actually believed that everything was going well, then the company was really in trouble.”
“[Cook is] a man laboring at an impossible task ...”
“Outside the echo chamber of Apple’s headquarters, the notion of the company’s exceptionalism has been shattered.”
Nice hatchet job. Think it’ll make a difference?
Yukari I. Kane, author of “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs” (March 2014):
“For Tim Cook to have such strong feelings about the book, it must have touched a nerve. ... Even I was surprised by my conclusions, so I understand the sentiment. I’m happy to speak with him or anyone at Apple in public or private. My hope in writing this book was to be thought-provoking and to start a conversation which I’m glad it has.”
Cook will be calling you really soon, Yukari. How about holding your breath while you sit by the phone?
Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research (March 2014):
“They [Apple] only have 60 days left to either come up with something or they will disappear. It will take years for Apple’s $130 billion in cash to vanish, but it will become an irrelevant company ...”
You, on the other hand, have an infinite number of days to come up with analysis of Apple that actually makes sense. Either way, you will not disappear. (But you will remain irrelevant.)
Haydn Shaughnessy in Forbes (March 2014):
“Apple Pursuit of Samsung Starts Bordering On Farce”
“[I]s [the Apple-Samsung legal fight] becoming a drag on Apple’s resources, and a reputation millstone that Apple carries around its neck? ... Samsung is moving on from commodity smartphones to wearables and new services, Google is going great guns. Only Apple is seething.”
“As Apple’s life as a litigator extraordinaire has grown so too have its reputation problems.”
“[T]here are good reasons for wishing Apple would square up to its market opportunities rather than drag this conflict on.”
Market opportunities...to create more products that Samsung will immediately rip off? Great advice, Haydn.
Mike Elgan in Cult of Mac (March 2014):
“There’s Just No Getting Around Apple Buying Yahoo”
“Apple should buy Yahoo. ... it’s become an increasingly good idea — maybe a necessary one for Apple’s continued growth and success ...”
Keep talking like you actually know anything, Mike. I hear there’s good money in that.
Bert Dohmen in Forbes (March 2014):
“The Apple bulls tell us about the great ‘eco-system’ of Apple. In other words, the millions of people who are locked into this ‘gulag’ because it is not compatible with other brands. Well, Sony had that with Betamax, Wang had it with word processors, Digital Equipment had it with corporate computers. The last two I mentioned went out of business, and Betamax died although the technology was superior to VHS. The corporate graveyard is full of such companies.
Sony used to be the top brand in electronics. But then it always delivered products with fewer features at a much higher price. The company thought it could get away with that because it was ‘Sony.’ Isn’t that what Apple is doing? Now Sony is just another brand, having trouble making a profit.”
“I made my escape from the ‘Apple Gulag’ 18 months ago. People are fleeing the eco-system in droves.”
“Closed systems, like the ones named above, always lose out to open systems.”
Open always wins? Again? Really?
But hey — if we call Apple’s thriving App Store a death camp, maybe people will stop joining it! If we say people are fleeing it, maybe they will! You can do it, Bert! So don’t stop.
Ashraf Eassa in The Motley Fool (April 2014):
“Intel’s SoFIA is quite impressive ... 14-nanometer could mean the end game ... a clear long-term advantage for Intel.”
Actual result: Two years of extremely expensive failure, followed by cancellation.
Peter Cohan in Forbes (April 2014):
“Four Reasons To Avoid Apple Stock”
“[I]t is no accident that Apple stock keeps falling. What made Apple an icon was the return of Steve Jobs as CEO in 1997.”
“One glimmer of hope from Cook is that he seems to be squeezing as much profit as possible from the iPhone.”
“For a company that is so dependent on the iPhone, its loss of market share is discouraging.”
“One thing that would change my views is to replace Tim Cook with a visionary CEO who can breathe new life into Apple’s innovation DNA.”
“[Cook] has been ... an outstanding foil for a creative genius like Steve Jobs. Unfortunately, the consumer tech business is not a railroad or an electric utility ... Any competitor in the consumer tech industry is only as good as its last innovative product.”
So... you’re saying Apple is doing really, really well?
(Seven-month update: Apple’s stock is up about 50%.)
Joe Nocera in The New York Times (April 2014):
“Apple was fearless in its willingness to take risks and bring innovative products to market. This Apple, the post-Jobs Apple, has become risk-averse, its innovative capacity reduced to making small tweaks on products it has already brought to market. ... Jobs was a once-in-a-generation leader, with product instincts that just aren’t replicable. It is a sobering tale of what happens when a corporation becomes so reliant on one man.”
“The only real way to stave off further decline is to come out with a product that establishes a whole new category — the way the iPad did in 2010.”
“Samsung ... is coming to market with products that are every bit as good as Apple’s, and at a lower price to boot. [Apple’s] never-ending litigation is yet another sign that Apple is becoming a spent force. Suing each other ‘is not what innovative companies do,’ said Robin Feldman, a patent law expert at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.”
“These patent war cases can be — and should be — easily settled, as everyone in the business knows. ... Then the companies can get back to the business of innovating. Apple’s utter refusal to do so suggests that it has become less interested — or less capable — of innovating and more interested in protecting what it has already brought to market.”
I’m sure this can’t be the same Joe Nocera who said, about a year-and-a-half ago, “[D]espite [Jobs’s] genius, it is unlikely he could have kept Apple from eventually lapsing into the ordinary.” Or the same Joe Nocera who eleven months ago said there’s “overwhelming evidence ... that Apple engaged in dubious tax avoidance gimmicks”? Nah, probably some other guy with the same name. Who also writes for The New York Times.
Richard Feloni in Business Insider (April 2014):
“Here’s Why Apple Will Never Be What It Was Under Steve Jobs”
“Apple under Steve Jobs had an unparalleled run of success. ... But nothing lasts forever. ... Apple was going to bump up against the law of averages even with Jobs around. With him gone, it’s going to be even harder to continue its excellence.”
“Harvard Business School professor Gautam Mukunda [said] ‘There are just forces in any environment and any market that constantly drag companies to the mean. What Apple did was essentially in violation of business physics for an extremely long time.’”
“[Apple’s great] numbers can be misleading. Look at Microsoft. Sales under CEO Steve Ballmer grew while the company became increasingly irrelevant in the broader tech industry.”
“If the iWatch is a flop, it’s really bad for Apple. ... if it goes sideways ... it will be as good as done. In the technology industry, if you’re not making giant moves, you’re as good as toast.”
“Anything that even slightly hints at Apple fading from glory gets certain people annoyed.”
Especially when it keeps not coming true.
Lisa Sanders in Slate (April 2014):
“I won’t buy another iPhone or Mac until the company pays its fair share of taxes.”
“Apple, we’re done. It’s not me; it’s you.”
“Apple, it’s over. I’m breaking up with you. Because of your tax-ducking ways, I won’t buy another phone or computer or tablet or even song from you. This was not an easy decision.”
Karl Denninger (April 2014):
“What To Make Of The Earnings Parade? In a word, meh.”
“How about Apple? The market loves the ‘China Story.’ Uh huh — how about iPADs? Down big sequentially and on an annualized basis, which is bad news. Yes, China had a lot of shipments but they were of the lower-priced products so ARPU was down. How do you spell ‘commodity product and margin compression’ again? Of course Wall Street needs a ‘story’, so it gets pumped by $40, then just to play the game the company announces a split. Big deal. If you have gotten some of your sore butt back overnight I certainly wouldn’t be looking to commit more capital on this mess.”
“Down big sequentially” = less than the holiday quarter. “And on an annualized basis” = about the same, after channel inventory adjustments. “Mess” = best non-holiday quarter ever. More solid analysis from Karl Bold-Underline Denninger.
Jonathan Yates in The Street (April 2014):
“Apple’s $90 Billion Share Buyback Is an Epic Error
Apple’s $90 billion share buyback program is one of the most egregious misallocations of capital in corporate history.”
“Apple is moving from a position of weakness, not strength.”
“Apple has done little to diversify its line of business or augment its weaknesses ...”
“[T]hat $90 billion needed to go to diversify and expand Apple’s business ...”
“At this time, Apple is like General Motors with its Cadillac and Buick line in the early 1970s. It is doing well at the top of the market with the iPhone, but future sales will reward solid lower end mobile phones of an acceptable quality and level of performance ...”
“While much of that $90 billion is long gone for the shareholders of Apple, the company’s shortcomings remain.”
Apple is weak. Apple has shortcomings. Apple is making epic errors. Got it, Jonathan.
Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, as reported by Ingrid Lunden in Tech Crunch (May 2014):
“Fred Wilson: By 2020 Apple Won’t Be A Top-3 Tech Company, Google And Facebook Will”
“Speaking at today’s TC Disrupt conference in NYC, [Wilson] predicted that the top three tech companies, instead, will be Google, Facebook ‘and one that we’ve never heard of.’”
“Apple, he believes, is ‘too rooted to hardware,’ ... ‘I think hardware is increasingly becoming a commodity,’ he said.”
Hmmm.. hasn’t hardware been commoditizing away from Apple for at least six years already? And now it’s gonna take another six years yet. Good thing Fred’s here to warn us about that.
Gordon Kelly in Forbes (May 2014):
“[Apple’s] Beats’ deal is absurd and suggests Apple’s executives have completely lost the plot. ... Apple is paying $3.2 billion for a fashion statement.”
“[B]ehind [Beats] there is virtually nothing of use to Apple.”
“Apple is buying second class hardware.”
“The other theory ... Apple wants Beats Music. If so this is also laughable.”
“[T]he numbers don’t add up. The numbers also don’t take into account the potential market share losses Beats could suffer from impassioned Google Android and Microsoft Windows users who may boycott the brand over its Apple ownership.”
“[W]hat really highlights the lunacy of the Beats deal are the alternatives Apple is spurning.”
Apple — what a bunch of lunatics!
Karl Denninger (May 2014):
“ROFL! Apple Throwing Away Money
The Stupid, it burns. Apple is allegedly in talks to acquire ‘Beats’, the company that makes trashy but popular headphones.”
“[O]ne hype-fueled company buying another ...”
“[Y]ou are witnessing Cook burning your money in the fireplace, and since it’s summertime he’s not only wasting the heat content in the money but in addition he’s going to have to pay to run the AC to get the heat OUT of the place when he’s done.”
Nobody knows clever metaphor like Karl Denninger.
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in Forbes (May 2014):
“[I]f the reports Apple are in talks to buy Beats headphones are true, it’s insane, and it probably casts a pall on all of Tim Cook’s leadership.”
“There is, however, one good idea in the Apple-Beats deal: and that’s making big acquisitions.”
Apple bought Beats just to prove they could spend big? OK, if you say so.
Jonathan Brill in Forbes (May 2014):
“Was Apple Buying Beats A Mistake?”
“Apple needed another play after Nest went to Google ... Nest is a platform; Beats is a fashion product for teens. I think it was a panic move, and Apple’s going to regret it when the smoke clears.”
Apple’s panicking. Apple will regret spending a fiftieth of its cash hoard on Beats. Got it, Jonathan.
John Benjamin in Guardian Liberty Voice (May 2014):
“Apple Rotting From the Inside”
“Since [Apple revealed the iPod back in 2001], Apple has not innovated their business to much extent. Without Steve Jobs at the helm, Apple’s creativity has stagnated quickly, and seems to be rotting from the inside.”
“Since 2011, the year Jobs passed away, Apple seems to have lost their vision.”
“[C]hances are the [iPhone 6] will leave a lot to be desired. [grotesque photo of a decaying apple]”
“[T]he Apple mystique that drives people to spend their money on a newer, almost identical model, is beginning to make the consumers look irrational.”
“[Apple-acquired] Beats is not an innovative or original concept, and the company has no remarkable patents Apple would acquire in the deal.”
“[Apple] consumer confidence, and with it stocks value, can be lost overnight. There are no guarantees in business ...”
“With the years of innovation behind it ... Apples [sic] lack of creative growth might be an indication of the people who are now running it.”
Rotting! Apple is rotting! Fire Cook, quick!
Chris Ciaccia in TheStreet (May 2014):
“Apple TV and the iWatch may not be runaway hits.”
“Apple technology isn’t all that original.”
“Apple Isn’t Perfect.”
“Apple is aging.”
Surprise — Chris Ciaccia’s anti-Apple arguments aren’t all that original. Plus they’re imperfect. And they’re aging.
“Apple is reportedly acquiring Beats ... the Apple faithful are freaking out. ... They have a cultlike devotion to the Apple brand and are notoriously averse to change.”
“[T]his is going to be a shock to the system. The thing is, a good shock may be exactly what Apple needs. Since Jobs’[s] death, nearly three years ago, Apple has grown risk averse. Its growth has stalled. Tim Cook, the handpicked successor, is a smart number cruncher, but he’s no Steve Jobs.”
“Apple is undergoing a corporate blood transfusion ...”
Translation: Apple is on life-support. Kind-of like my writing career.
Matthew Yglesias in Vox (May 2014):
“Google wants to reinvent transportation, Apple wants to sell you fancy headphones”
“Apple’s playing checkers while Google plays chess.”
“[I]t’s so disappointing to see Apple focused overwhelmingly on small-ball extensions of its existing franchise while Google goes for big plays.”
Because futuristic hype is always better than shipping products.
Carmel Deamicis in PandoDaily (May 2014):
“China is overtaking the U.S. in mobile phone sales, which is mostly just a problem for Apple”
“Who loses as China gets bigger? Mostly just Apple. The company has notoriously struggled with traction in the huge country ...”
Apple isn’t doing well in China. Got it, Carmel.
Chamath Palihapitiya, Venture Capitalist (May 2014):
“I think [Apple’s] screwed. These guys have lost largely their mojo.”
Apple is screwed.
Preston Gralla in ComputerWorld (June 2014):
“WWDC shows it’s Microsoft, not Apple, who’s got the mojo”
“Apple’s announcements were not particularly ground-breaking. ... Microsoft — yes Microsoft — has got the mojo these days, and Apple is looking old and stale.”
“Without Steve Jobs, Apple is turning into just another technology company. If you want to look for startling moves these days, you have to look to Microsoft.”
“[R]ight now, Microsoft’s got the mojo, and Apple doesn’t.”
I’m sure this can’t be the same Preston Gralla who said five years ago that Apple had to “face reality” and make a netbook? Or who said that Apple was the brand most associated with the term “#fail”? Or who said the Motorola XOOM was “superior to the iPad?” Nah, probably that was some other Preston Gralla.
Matt Baxter-Reynolds in ZDNet (June 2014):
“Apple’s new Swift development language highlights the company’s worst side”
“Apple’s iOS tooling badly needed a reboot, hence the introduction of Swift. It’s just a shame they did such a bad job”
“The Swift language guide. Not even available as a PDF because, you know, Apple.”
“Now and again, someone comes up with some amazing innovation that makes software developers lives genuinely easier. .NET is a good example ...”
“[Swift]’s a total mishit that’s badly judged the state of the software development industry ... The problem that the industry has when it comes to software development for mobile devices is that each platform vendor produces their own toolset in their own language using their own APIs.”
“Apple’s problem with developers was that they used to be a bit of a backward schoolkid eating paste in the corner ... then suddenly with the success of iOS ended up in spotlight ... With the light shining on them, it was obvious their tooling wasn’t very good.”
“Objective-C is a mash-up ... a crazy and arcane looking language ...”
“[W]hat iOS developers had to work was with was understandably awful because as previously mentioned no one really cared about developing Apple software and there was no point in the investment. It’s amazing really that iOS grew the way it did given how bad the tooling is ...”
“Objective-C and Cocoa Touch are not proper software development toolsets. They’re too weird and backward, and were in desperate need of a reboot.”
“What [developers] don’t need is a bunch of know-better-than-thou engineers sitting in their ivory tower coming up with something that feels almost deliberately, intentionally different just because they think they know best. When you look at Swift, that is what you get. Something that has been designed in a way that shows no empathy at all for what the greater community of software developers actually need.”
Have fun with .NET, Matt.
Leonid Bershidsky in BloombergView (June 2014):
“[Apple is] building a Disneyesque castle designed to hold its customers captive as long as possible.”
“Apple is trying to fence me in. The Apple universe is an almost hypnotically cozy one.”
“[Developers] might reasonably be wondering whether they should still release iOS apps first if 80 percent of smartphones sold run Android.”
“Given the slow pace of Apple’s hardware innovation, it may soon be possible to assemble a better experience using apps and devices from various developers and manufacturers. There are more people working to that end outside the castle walls than Apple can ever hire. Being in the open field has its advantages.”
“Apple’s efforts aren’t futile.”
You don’t say?
Marlow Stern in The Daily Beast (June 2014):
“Apple Inc., the consumer electronics and computing behemoth, a multinational corporation with the highest market capitalization in the country ... has us by the balls ...”
“[T]he Tim Cook era ... has thus far been marked by middling products designed to pad the company’s bottom line while gouging their loyal — and dependent — fanbase.”
“[P]rofits aren’t everything. Yes, the alternatives to Apple products aren’t there, and yes, we’re all hopelessly tied to Apple’s ecosystem. But Steve Jobs was a product guru, and the products that the company he co-founded are churning out these days would not pass muster with the master.”
Wait — are we loyal, or does Apple have us by the balls? Didn’t quite get that.
Karl Denninger (July 2014):
“Apple And IBM: Meh”
“[T]his isn’t a ‘partnership’ at all; it’s essentially a sales agreement with Apple’s products.”
“None of this changes the fundamental reality of Apple’s products — They are aimed at consumers, they are ‘weak sauce’ when it comes to enterprise applications and security ...”
Yet more objective analysis from Karl “crApple iPhoney” Denninger.
Preston Gralla in ComputerWorld (July 2014):
“Apple-IBM deal fallout: The future of innovation is now with Microsoft.”
“[A]nalysts say that Microsoft has little to fear from the partnership. ... The move very clearly signals, though, that without Steve Jobs, Apple can’t innovate. With Steve Job’s [sic] passing, more than just an individual died. So did innovation at Apple.”
“So it’s at Microsoft that you should look for innovation.”
I’ll do that, Preston. Hey — didn’t you write this same article last month?
Peter Cohan in Forbes (July 2014):
“With IBM Partnership, Apple Proves Its Innovation Mojo Has Been Smashed”
“Rometty and Cook are nearly three years into their CEO tenures with little exciting to show for it.”
“I can only imagine how hard it will be for IBM to coordinate product development with its cultural opposite — Apple.”
“The question for investors is whether the deal with IBM is a signal that Tim Cook has no Jobs-like product innovation up Apple’s sleeve.”
Keep signaling those investors, Peter.
Karl Denninger (July 2014):
“I Told You So”
“When everyone was singing BlackBerry is dead! I said nope.”
“The iPhone and Android were simply never designed as a business device. Not then and not now, and trying to make something into what it is not almost-always turns out poorly. In other words trying to drive screws with a hammer sort of works...... Sort of. BlackBerry is not only breathing — it’s rising.”
BlackBerry! Yay! Not dead yet.
Rob Frankel, “Branding Expert” (August 2014):
“One of my main sources of leisure time joy is exposing poseurs. ... I listen patiently and then, very carefully, explain to them why Apple is anything but a great brand. Actually, it’s a failing brand.”
“[Apple] can boast legions of rabid evangelists lining up at their retail stores to blindly purchase the latest versions of pointless technology. I have no argument with that. Hey, more power to them. But that’s not why I feel Apple’s best days are behind them.”
“I’ve been watching Apple arc from underdog to King of the Hill to Second Generation Brand Headed Into the Meat Grinder ...”
“[T]here are plenty of other platforms with lots more to offer than Apple. Android, in particular, comes to mind, but there are lots more systems, with lots more apps from lots more brands. The time has come where Apple users want to switch out but feel trapped by having invested so much into Apple’s fortressed, domineering domain. ... users find themselves waking from the dream and asking why they’re paying premium prices for Apple devices and systems that may be as good, but not better than, its competitors. That bell you hear is the death knell of fashion brands as the public realizes its overpaying for under-delivery.”
“When it comes to pandering to the public’s narcissism, Apple is tough to beat.”
“Now that Steve Jobs is essentially a long-forgotten ghost, Apple is a second generation brand that has abandoned its fundamental vision. ... Tim Cook et al[.] are simply grasping at the lowest hanging fruit in order to generate the easiest money they can find. That’s what Second Generation brands do. It’s also what drives them into the ground.”
“[C]racks in the Apple armor are beginning to show. But hey, don’t take my word for it. All you fanboys can keep believing, if you like. There are still millions of Beatles fans who don’t want to accept John Lennon’s announcement of the band’s demise. Decades later, they still can’t believe it. But believe it you must: ‘The dream is over.’”
Nothing rabid or blind about Rob’s viewpoint. Sensible and rational.
Leonid Bershidsky in BloombergView (August 2014):
“As long as the Cupertino company is able to sell millions of devices at prices that reflect nothing but the brand’s cachet, it doesn’t have to care about its shrinking market share ...”
“After receiving hundreds of insulting messages every time I have the gall to question Apple’s superiority, I am convinced its products are cult objects made in heaven as far as its fans are concerned. ... to them, anything the company touches is sanctified ...”
“Its devotees will believe anything ...”
“The Apple cultists know they’re paying premium prices, and they love it.”
“The brand’s loyalists want Apple to reap its rewards and enjoy profit leadership: Somewhat illogically, it reinforces their belief that they’re doing the right thing by overpaying.”
“[Apple seems to be] reinforcing the cult rather than building a rational offering. Meanwhile, for consumers seeking functionality ... Apple’s handsets make less and less sense.”
Apple has millions and millions of cult-like fans, of whom it takes full advantage, to the exclusion of all rational buyers. Thanks, Leonid. You’re only the hundredth pundit to tell us this vital fact.
David Auerbach in Slate (September 2014):
“Five reasons why celebrities and civilians should never trust Apple with nude photos, or any data at all.”
“Apple has been provably irresponsible with users’ security.”
“[W]hether or not any of these problems [with iCloud] were directly responsible for the [celebrity nudes] leak, Apple users ... should be out for blood, and other companies should use this as a lesson to double- and triple-check their own security stories. Apple will probably survive though. IPhones are so cool and pretty.”
Apple will survive. Probably.
Karl Denninger (September 2014):
“I suspect the iSheeple will ‘embrace’ this [impending Apple e-wallet], right up until they start losing their money, anyway. Then we might finally see people wake up.”
And start buying BlackBerry devices. Of course.
Jim Edwards in Business Insider (September 2014):
“On The Eve Of What Was Supposed To Be Tim Cook’s Greatest Triumph, Apple Is In Disarray
Tim Cook must be furious.”
“[T]he entire company depends on the success of the three new products Cook is going to unveil ...”
“Instead of quiet excitement, Apple is in disarray because hackers have been successfully trawling iCloud for photos of naked celebrities. ... Cook is watching his brand take a beating. ... Cook has found himself dealing with a crisis ...”
“Trust is a huge part of the Apple brand. ... Now, Cook is in danger of seeing that trust slip away.”
“Cook can fix this, of course. ... But it will take time. Cook doesn’t have that time.”
Yes, I know — this is the same Jim Edwards who said, four months ago, that, “Apple’s iPad Business Is Collapsing.” But never mind that; I’m sure he’s being objective now.
“Apple’s dangerous game
Apple has announced that it has designed its new operating system, iOS8 [sic], to thwart lawful search warrants. ... Warrants will go nowhere, as ‘it’s not technically feasible for [Apple] to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.’”
“I find Apple’s new design very troubling.”
“Because Apple demands a warrant to decrypt a phone when it is capable of doing so, the only time Apple’s inability to do that makes a difference is when the government has a valid warrant. The policy switch doesn’t stop hackers, trespassers, or rogue agents. It only stops lawful investigations with lawful warrants.”
Hackers and rogues can get past Apple’s new security system any time they make up their minds to do so — but Apple can’t. And neither can the government. Got it, Professor. Is this going to be on the test?
Rob Enderle (September 2014):
“If [Apple’s watch] bounces, folks will begin to lose faith. ... watch the iWatch execution. That’ll tell you whether this is a rebirth or the beginning of the end.”
Apple needs to be reborn. Because otherwise the company could end. Another of Rob’s fine postcards from fantasyland.
Gene Marks in Forbes (September 2014):
“Intel is aiming its black arrow directly at Apple’s weak spot, the exposure in its seemingly impenetrable armor: its aloneness. Apple insists on going it alone. ... Given the company’s profits, few can argue with this approach. But times are changing. There are billions of ‘things.’ There are more startups, more entrepreneurs, more competition. Can Apple’s strategy of doing it alone last forever?”
“‘As a tech company, we’re not so arrogant as to think we know what the end user will want,’ said Mike Bell, Intel’s head of new devices.”
Translation: Apple’s approach has been very, very profitable. But now it won’t be. And I’m not arrogant for saying that; Apple’s arrogant for not doing what I say they now should.
Matthew Mombrea in IT World (October 2014):
“Why CurrentC will beat out Apple Pay in the end
Apple pay was released to the public just over a week ago and it’s stumbling out of the gate. ... retailer participation is low. ... Unfortunately the payment system may be doomed to fail.”
“The strength of the merchants designing or backing CurrentC is enormous. It reads like a greatest hits list of retail outfits ...”
“The retailers have joined together to create a platform that is independent of the credit card companies and their profit-robbing transaction fees. ... This is huge for the merchants who are losing a significant amount of money on every credit card transaction.”
And it’ll be even huger when consumers decide to stop buying on credit. Which should happen, like, any day now.
Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg (October 2014):
“Given the euphoria around upgrading to the 6 (among new and existing users), the concern we have is that future demand may have been pulled forward. What will the iPhone 7 have to differentiate it, a six-inch screen? A curved/flexi screen? In other words, this is the ‘once in a lifetime’ upgrade/catch-up cycle. Beyond that, as with Samsung, what is the hardware innovation that differentiates? Foldable? If this thought process plays out as we think it may, 2015 is going to be an amazing year for Apple earnings, but there is a risk that 2016 will see a deceleration. And earnings deceleration for a well-loved/well-owned/heavily-hyped stock is never a good thing in our view. Sell. $60.”
Translation: I pledge to say something boneheaded about Apple every October.
Four-month update: Now trading at around $130. But I guess he still has until late 2016 to be right. Or wrong. Or very, very wrong.
John C. Dvorak (October 2014):
“Unfortunately, the public is all gaga over the idea of replacing a card swipe with an NFC pass-over using a smartphone. Go ahead and believe that. But if you think it is also hacker-proof, you’ll be in for a surprise. It’s no safer than using the mattress to stash cash. At some point, you can expect to be robbed blind.”
Malicious hackers can break into anything. Especially iOS devices. Right, John?
Chris Maxcer in TechNewsWorld (October 2014):
“[iPad] needs to get off the ‘one-app-at-a-time’ limitation.”
“The hubris in Cupertino, as humble as it appears on stage and on conference calls with investors, is the notion that perhaps because Apple is selling products better than everyone else, that means Apple is doing great things. You can’t argue with sales numbers, right? Wrong. Just because a kid chooses to buy the least burnt cookie at a school bake sale, that doesn’t mean the least burnt cookie is insanely great.”
“[D]oes anyone really need Siri? Definitely not then — and maybe not even now.”
“Apple ... has failed to understand the core desires of a customer base that wants Apple to deliver more value in the iPad form factor.”
“What’s sad right now is that Apple doesn’t even have to spark our imaginations with something wildly new.”
“Amazon is so far ahead of Apple in terms of family-friendly apps, controls, and accounts that it’s not even funny.”
“Lenovo has a more interesting tablet. Dell has a more interesting camera system on the way.”
When, oh when will Apple ever learn?
Karl Denninger on RT’s Boom Bust (November 2014):
Erin Ade: Do you expect Apple to have any future financial results, in terms of products that they put out? Do you say no?
KD: I say no, and my suspicion is that the iPhone 6 is probably the first of the down side within their product line, in that regard. ... when that upgrade cycle runs its course, where’s the next trick come from? ... will enough people buy [iPhone 6] to become relevant in the global commerce scheme, in order to make Apple Pay a viable thing? Um, from a single-source company? I don’t think it happens. ... I think you need to have something in the pipeline. And there may be something in the pipeline we don’t know about. You need something in the pipeline that’s yet another runaway home run. Whether you like Steve Jobs, that was his charm, that is what he was able to do. But you have to remember, he really only hit the ball out of the park once. And that is unfortunately the way these kinds of things tend to work. So what you have to do is have a lot of very high-risk, concept kind of projects running within the company. They all take up a lot of R&D spending. And 90% of them never see the light of day. And you hope you hit the one that the public just grabs onto and has to have. But that’s the difficulty of any company that finds itself in the position that Apple has, in that you have to come up with that next follow-on product. And I don’t see one that’s in the pipeline that’s going to be that.
Apple’s in a difficult position. Apple’s future is high-risk. You’re the one to tell us, Karl. And by the way, “Jobs” rhymes with “lobs,” not “lobes.” And “iOS” isn’t spelled “IOS”. And “iPod” and “iPad” aren’t— oh, you already knew all that? Sorry. Didn’t mean to waste your time.
Jim Edwards in Business Insider (November 2014):
“This Diagram We Saw Inside Facebook’s London Office Made Us Think Twice About Apple’s Dominance Of Apps”
“For years, Apple has dominated the $45 billion app business ... Facebook, however, has a plan that could change all that.”
“At Facebook in Europe ... executives think that Apple’s iOS dominance might be about to weaken. We spoke to Facebook’s ... Julien Codorniou recently and were surprised when he told us that the trend he was seeing favored Android.”
“Facebook is hoping to take advantage of this via its Parse app development platform, which Codorniou believes virtually erases the two-step iOS/Android development process ...”
“Previously, developers made iOS apps first and Android apps second ... But [Codorniou’s diagrams] indicate those days are gone — erased.”
“‘We see more people being Android-first because of the size of the market. ... People look at the numbers ... The world you described [in which Apple is dominant] was true a year ago, but I see that things are changing.’”
Of course, this can’t be the same Jim Edwards who said, last May, that “Apple’s iPad business is collapsing.” And it can’t be the same Jim Edwards who said, last September, that “Apple is in disarray.” Can it?
John Prisco in TechCrunch (November 2014):
“It’s Time For Apple To Open Up”
“Xsser is an example of what’s coming in terms of mobile malware. The whole concept of BYOD will turn into an unmitigated disaster unless mobile operating systems are protected. With Apple, you just don’t have enough access to apply that level of protection.”
“Apple had good intentions. ... But the genie is out of the iBottle.”
“With the Apple iOS ... You’re blocked off. What is then forced is an approach that requires only looking at the app with the AppWrapper. There is no way to develop a guardian for the operating system, so you will never be protected.”
“Hackers are a reality. Malware is inevitable ...”
“How can there be any level of acceptable and secure BYOD if the world’s largest smart device manufacturer won’t let security professionals protect its users? ... It’s time for Apple to open its eyes and its iOS.”
In case you hadn’t noticed, John, the inevitable Apple malware disaster has been just around the corner for well over a decade. Maybe in another decade, you’ll still be pushing for Apple to head it off by “opening up?” Hey, I’ll be rooting for you!
James Allworth (December 2014):
“[Apple temporarily banning PCalc] is just so dumb. I mean, it’s just so mind-blowingly dumb, right? Part of the reason that iOS is as popular as it is, and well-loved as it is, is because of this incredible app ecosystem that’s built up around it. And the reason that app ecosystem is there is because you’ve got developers on side, and you want developers pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. That’s the way that cool new stuff comes up. ... This feels like them taking it for granted. Right?”
News flash, James: The value of the iOS app ecosystem is Infinity Blade III, PodCruncher, Monument Valley, Dark Sky, The Room II, Paper, Hearthstone, Hyperlapse, and Tweetbot, to name just a very few. Not another pocket calculator app, this time in the notification pull-down, instead of the already-omnipresent home screen. And the great value of iOS is that Apple does tightly control it, even if the boundary of that control is sometimes a little fuzzy. But hurrah for you: they let your precious calculator through.
Eric Jackson in Forbes (December 2014):
“Apple Returns Cash To Shareholders Because It’s Out Of Ideas ...”
“I didn’t think I’d strike such a nerve when I wrote a post 2 weeks ago saying that Apple CEO Tim Cook had wasted $100 billion in the last 2 years on dividends and stock buybacks.”
“[S]tock dividends and stock buybacks can be effective ways to increase a company’s stock price when the company lacks imagination ..., has a history of making wasteful internal investments and external acquisitions, or is simply a low growth company.”
“[T]he day [a company] announces it will begin paying dividends or doing buybacks is the day they admit to the world: ‘Look, we really don’t know what to buy anymore or how to invest this extra money without it ending really badly, so we’re going to give it back to you to figure out what to do with it. You’ll probably get a better rate of return on the money we give you than we will spending it ourselves.’ There is something endearing about this kind of frankness and humility.”
“[L]et’s be clear, what they are saying when they make that decision is that they are bankrupt of ideas ... For a technology company like Apple to make such an indirect admission through paying dividends or buying stock back, it’s even more of a shock.”
“I’m trying to provide Apple with a cautionary tale of what happens to well-meaning technology companies when they take their eye off the ball of actually running their businesses and get on the treadmill of paying out dividends ...”
“It’s not too late for Apple to get off this fruitless shareholder-value train and start better investing its capital on itself ...”
A company’s making lots more money than it needs to be able to fund its plans? Then it doesn’t have any plans! Especially if its name is “Apple.” Got it, Eric.
B.K. Yoon of Samsung (January 2015):
“Samsung is prepared to play a leading role here [in internet-connected home appliances].”
“We must not have walled IoT gardens. We need an open ecosystem so that IoT devices work together, and we need to collaborate across industries.”
Translation: Please don’t buy Apple products; that’s not good for Samsung’s long-term plans. Yes, we make a lot of Apple’s chips — but we want to run the whole show, not just a piece of it.
Peter Cohan in Forbes (January 2015):
“Apple is still more doomed than you think.”
“Apple shares have had a good run ...”
“Apple is becoming too dependent on one product — the iPhone. ... smartphone industry growth is slowing.”
“I remain skeptical that [Apple Watch] will become a big business for Apple.”
“With the tragic death of Steve Jobs, Apple has lost its ability to innovate.”
One of these anti-Apple arguments has gotta be right — so why not cover ’em all?
Joe Wilcox (February 2015):
“Apple’s core is rotting”
“Simply stated: Atop the pinnacle of success, Apple stands at the precipice of failure. ... managing success is challenging, if your business model is innovation. The two objectives often work cross-purposes.
Apple defenders will rap this post, waving around the recent quarter’s fantastic results ...”
“The fruit logo company is a juggernaut, and that’s the long-term problem.
David Becomes Goliath”
“The Cook era is, so far, one of stewardship rather than innovation.”
“I sympathize with the dilemma CEO Tim Cook faces.”
Fine, Joe. Just don’t sympathize with Cook’s plight as an embittered tech writer struggling to eke out a meager living by spitting up transparently biased drivel. Because he won’t be having that problem any time soon.
Tim Kadlec, author of “Implementing Responsive Design” (February 2015):
“We have a recurring situation where all vendors (save for Apple) show interest in standard, but because Apple does not express that same interest, the standard gets waylaid.”
“Apple simply does not play well with other vendors ... They’re very content to play in their own little sandbox all too often.”
Wait — did you say that Apple owns the Web, or that they’re off somewhere playing in their own little sandbox? Not sure I heard you correctly. Clarification needed.
Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg as reported by Neil Hughes in Apple Insider (February 2015):
“The justification for Berenberg’s extreme price target [less than half of its current price], according to analyst Adnaan Ahmad, is that Apple relies too heavily on the iPhone ... Simply put, Ahmad believes that the ‘law of large numbers’ will quickly catch up with Apple.”
That would be the same “law of large numbers” that Tim Cook recently called “old dogma that was cooked up by somebody.”
Dan Lyons (February 2015):
“There is surprisingly little to be learned about Sir Jonathan Ive in [Ian Parker’s] 17,000-word piece in The New Yorker, except this: The fucker gets driven to work in a Bentley ... Jon Ive is off the fucking rails and the only person who could rein him in is no longer among the living. ... no way would Steve have ever been so vulgar as to be driven around by a chauffeur in a Bentley, like a modern-day pharaoh. ... Jon Ive is 47 years old, secretly running Apple, and dangerously out of control.”
Translation: I will never get a scoop like Parker’s. (Nor will I ever own a Bentley.)
Sanjay Sanghoee in Fortune (February 2015):
“Has Apple’s value peaked? Despite all that’s going right for the tech giant, new signs indicate that Apple could be in a vulnerable spot ...”
“[Apple] needs to innovate aggressively to stay on top.”
“Other than minor improvements, the iPhone 6 is almost identical to the iPhone 5S, which in turn is similar to the model before it. That is Apple’s big problem.”
“In order to maintain its position, Apple can’t afford to simply tweak or upgrade its existing line of popular products. It needs to create new lines that truly change the way we live and work.”
Apple has big problems. Apple needs all-new products. Got it, Sanjay.
Jia Yueting of LeTV (March 2015):
“Under the arrogant regime of iOS domination that developers around the world love yet hate, we are always carefully asking, ‘is this kind of innovation okay?’ [Apple is a] dusk empire ... [picture of Hitler with Apple logo on his uniform]”
Playing the Nazi card is as good a strategy as any to defeat Apple.
Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg (April 2015):
“We sense that the company [Apple] is over-earning, over-loved and, in our view, the stock should be ‘over and-out’ soon.”
Hey, sorry to hear Berenberg finally fired you. I hope you can get a new gig heaving up anti-Apple nonsense.
Peter Cohan and Mark Leslie (April 2015):
“Stanford Lecturer On Apple’s Innovation Drought”
“Apple’s best days are behind it. And the decline started after Steve Jobs negotiated an exclusive deal for AT&T to be the iPhone’s carrier. Its best hope for the future may be Apple Pay. That’s my summary of what Stanford Graduate School of Business Lecturer, Mark Leslie, told me ...”
“Leslie told SandHill, ‘the big lesson I learned is that whatever the business — no matter how great it is — it’s not always going to be a great business. ...’”
“By milking that moment of maximum opportunity, an operationally-driven leader may accelerate a company’s long-term decline. ... ‘... failure to create new growth curves when the moment is right puts even the most successful companies in history at risk of extinction.’”
“[The 2007 iPhone] was the last time Apple innovated. ‘Since the iPhone, Apple has had no innovation. ...’”
“Has Tim Cook created new growth curves or is his failure to do so putting Apple at risk of extinction?”
April fools. Two of them, to be exact.
Karl Denninger (April 2015):
“iShatter ... for Apple, if it breaks when you drop it they appear to consider that a feature (for them, of course!)”
Especially if the iPhone fares better in drop tests than its main competitors.
Rob Enderle (April 2015):
“Microsoft Build 2015 ... is the first real showcase for CEO Satya Nadella’s Microsoft. I think this event, more than anything else, showcases why a technology firm needs to be led by someone who is both passionate and expert in the technology the company builds.”
Wink, wink: Cook isn’t a tech guy! He’s from finance and operations!
Rob Enderle (June 2015):
“Dell looked at acquisitions and became uniquely aware that they simply weren’t working ... So the firm went back to the drawing board and created a clean slate acquisition process. ... virtually every Dell acquisition since has over-achieved its goals and expectations. Dell rethought the process and the end result was almost magical.”
Translation: All Dell ever did is sell a dizzying array of Microsoft Windows PCs from a website. And the only magical idea they ever had was to secure colossal, clandestine, exclusivity payments from Intel, which at their peak comprised 3/4 of Dell’s income. Since that scheme croaked — thanks to the SEC and a $100 million fine — everything at Dell has been magically dull. Oh yeah, they had one other magical idea: Buy back all their stock to make sure the founder’s surname doesn’t turn into a fake, stick-on brand, like Gateway and Compaq.
Christopher Mims in The Wall Street Journal (June 2015):
“Why Apple should kill off the Mac”
“[Apple’s] leaders have only so much time. ... Which is precisely why Apple should kill off what is perhaps its most-refined brand: The Mac. I realise this is heresy, but if you’ll indulge me, I think you’ll find it a useful exercise in thinking about both what makes Apple such an exceptional company and how hubris is the ultimate downfall of all empires.”
Heresy? Or...maybe just idiocy?
Bill Robinson in The Huffington Post (July 2015):
“Android Clobbering iPhone & Cook’s Short Slide to Insignifigance”
“Cook is on a tirade. He obviously sees Android and Google as the lethal threats they are to the Apple’ iPhone/iOS kingdom. But he doesn’t want anybody else to know that.”
“Cook ... attempts to use a confusing plethora of numbers and statistics to further lock-in and bolt-down clueless Apple iOS-bots.”
“[T]he end-game for iPhones is near.”
“Cook tells a bevy of wriggling whoppers to a laughing audience of Apple zombies about how much Android sucks.”
“Cook can’t muster any true facts about how great his own Apple products are, so he takes the coward’s way and speaks ill of his competitors’ products.”
“Cook’s wishful thinking and fanciful dreaming and [sic] underlines just how desperate Cook’s become.”
“Never before has the greedy Apple, ever, ever been more price-sensitive than with [Apple TV] where they’re late to the game and find themselves already down 49-0. Game over.”
“Apple Pay [is] looking quite dismal for Apple in my estimation.”
“Apple Watch [is an] overpriced product, too-late and too-far-behind the superior Pebble Steel and Samsung Gear. ... Game over.”
“Apple is not doing anything right. except propping up their stock price with generally behind-the-times/market products and misleading their consumers and investors.”
“My understanding of the tech sector is that there is another Tech Wreck on the way and it will be led by Apple ...”
“This guy [Cook] isn’t going to make it. ... Can he manage Apple? I don’t believe he can.”
“I clearly recall as Jobs’[s] death approached, the Apple faithful’s fear and loathing about who might replace ‘the single greatest inventor to grace the world since Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla.’ (Poppycock, btw.) When Cook received his coronation, I thought, ‘what a weak choice. He’ll never keep Apple strong with Job’s [sic] bombastic leadership style — it isn’t in him.’ Well, I was right. Cook has all the earmarks of a desperate man, treading water furiously while trying not to swallow too much water and go under.”
Bill must have learned metaphor from the master, Karl Denninger. But Denninger still has him beat for sheer bile (barely!).
Two year update: No sign whatsoever that anything Robinson said is even approximately coming true.
Stewart Butterfield of Slack Technologies (August 2015):
“Apple spent billions of dollars on Siri and worked on it for a very long time with hundreds of engineers and a huge dataset of voices — and it’s fucking idiotic. Siri is nearly useless.”
Translation: I make a Siri competitor. It’s not out yet.
Therese Poletti in MarketWatch (August 2015):
“Don’t expect iPhone 6S to save Apple”
“With Apple Inc.’s stock suffering, investors are hoping for relief from the expected launch of a new iPhone in September. Don’t count on it.”
“[S]ince the tech giant counts on the smartphone to drive the majority of its profit and revenue, any disappointment is bound to hurt its stock and fuel questions about whether the iPhone has peaked.”
“Piling on are some scary predictions from technical analysts, who analyze stocks based on trends and repeated patterns in trading charts. This week, some technical analysts noticed a bearish chart and predicted a pattern of a so-called ‘death cross’ in Apple’s stock.”
Too true, Therese — the iPhone 6S isn’t going to save Apple from the “death cross.”
Jon Evans in TechCrunch (August 2015):
“Don’t Be Apple”
“There is so much to admire about Apple. ... So why do I think they represent so much of what’s wrong with the tech world? It’s because they have, I think, an almost Shakespearean tragic flaw: their obsession with centralized corporate control of the devices they sell.”
“You are only permitted to download and install software that has been officially approved by Apple onto your iOS device.”
“Let me hasten to admit that this seems like no bad thing for the end user. It acts as a bulwark against malware.”
But let me not hasten to mention piracy, at all, in my entire article.
Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times (September 2015):
“In many fundamental ways, the iPhone breaks the rules of business, especially the rules of the tech business. Those rules have more or less always held that hardware devices keep getting cheaper and less profitable over time. That happens because hardware is easy to commoditize; what seems magical today is widely copied and becomes commonplace tomorrow. It happened in personal computers; it happened in servers; it happened in cameras, music players, and — despite Apple’s best efforts — it may be happening in tablets.”
Damon Beres in The Huffington Post (September 2015):
“Apple Could Trap You Forever With Its New ‘Upgrade Program’
The new monthly payment plan seems incredibly tempting — but let us talk you out of it. It’s not enough that Apple wants us to buy a new phone every year. Now it seems to want a little bit of our soul, too.
Apple’s updated batch of iPhones will hit shelves next week. They’re expected to sell like hotcakes, because they always do ... The tech giant ... could sell a potato coated in ‘rose gold’ if it wanted to ...”
“[A]llow us to save you the anguish of looking into Apple’s upgrade plan yourself: It’s a bad idea ... If you opt for the upgrade plan, you’ll have a hard time ever breaking out of Apple’s world. ... this is a really great arrangement for Apple. ... You, the consumer, will not win. It’ll seem great to have an awesome new iPhone for a manageable monthly fee, but it’s a hamster wheel. ... Or maybe you do wise up one day, but you’re still stuck in the middle of your 24-month contract with Apple. ... because you’ve shredded hundreds more that could’ve been used on a competing smartphone, you’ll be stuck with an outdated iPhone until you can scrounge up the cash for something else.”
“[Y]ou want to be behind as few locked doors as possible. ... Make your own choices, but do so wisely.”
Using an Apple product is something you should avoid because...uh...because. Hamster wheel!
Rob Enderle in Tech News World (September 2015):
“Two Risky Strategies Could Threaten Apple’s Long-Term Survival”
“IBM nearly failed ... largely due to two strategies Apple now has embraced: vertical integration and lock-in. As a result, I’m very sensitive to these strategies — especially, to their negative potential. ... These strategies ... can lead to behaviors that are company killers. They nearly killed IBM, which once was a far larger and more diverse company than Apple is.”
“The problem is, as powerful as the company is, it doesn’t have the R&D budget for processors that a processor company like Intel or Qualcomm does. The end result is likely to be inferior to what the other vendors can do. We saw a touch of this when Apple was on Power, IBM’s processor. IBM, even with all of its mass, just couldn’t keep up with Intel on devices.”
“When [Qualcomm’s 820 ships] ... it should make Android phones far more secure than iPhones ...”
“Apple’s move to vertical integration with processors could end up killing the iPhone, and the benefit just doesn’t warrant the risk.”
“[O]ne of Apple’s biggest assets [customer lock-in] could eventually kill it.”
“It appears that Apple is going to switch from ARM to Intel for the iPhone 7.”
The iPhone could be killed. Apple could be killed. Yea, verily — Enderle has spoken.
Matt Krantz in USA Today (October 2015):
“Even the iPhone can’t save Apple ... It sold 13 million new iPhones in the first weekend ... even these numbers aren’t enough to impress investors. And there’s a good reason why.”
“On its face, Apple’s news looks solid. Apple says it sold 13 million units of the new iPhone 6S to its faithful consumers ...”
“The watch can’t save Apple, either ... it appears the watch isn’t the shiny silver bullet either.”
“[T]here’s a growing realization the watch isn’t the killer new product category the bulls were hoping for ...”
“Investors are realizing that Apple gets most of its profit from a product category — smartphones — that’s increasingly mature. Just about everyone who wants a smartphone has one — or two. ... Investors keep hoping the company can continue to lure consumers to bring their wallets with new products — but none have had the same magic as the iPhone.”
“If there’s a bright side, it’s eventually once the over bullish sentiment is flushed out, the stock might finally be attractively priced.”
Finally, Apple’s stock price will be even lower than it already is.
Elon Musk of Tesla (October 2015):
“They have hired people we’ve fired. We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.’ If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding. ... It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches. You can’t just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: Build me a car. But for Apple, the car is the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation. A new pencil or a bigger iPad alone were not relevant enough.”
Did he say “Tesla graveyard?” I heard him say something about a Tesla graveyard.
Rob Enderle in IT Business Edge (October 2015):
“If you look at what Apple is attempting with Cisco and IBM, this would, in house, give Dell similar reach, but with the entire solution fully under Dell’s control so it could be engineered to function as a system as opposed to something assembled from parts that initially weren’t intended to work together. Until recently, HP has been the only other firm capable of doing this, but with HP’s split and this merger, suddenly Dell stands alone. That could be massively powerful for products and solutions that have as clients Chromebooks or even Microsoft Surface products and VCE as a backend, but with Dell server components at its heart, all end to end built and certified by the new Dell/EMC mix.”
Translation: I sure hope Apple can’t get along with its new partners because it doesn’t own them. And I sure hope Dell’s ownership of EMC works a lot better than did HP’s ownership of Palm, Google’s ownership of Motorola, and Microsoft’s ownership of Nokia.
Rob Enderle in IT Business Edge (October 2015):
“Tesla and Apple: When Analytics Can Bite You”
“Apple tends to aggressively work to not discover problems with products that are shipped and certainly not talk about them, while Tesla has implemented one of the most aggressive analytics-based systems to find, report and correct problems, even before they occur. ... Arguably, Tesla builds a better product than Apple does, but now Tesla is under a quality cloud and Apple isn’t.”
“I see two big differences between Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and Jobs. One is that Musk is much better educated (a degree in physics, another in economics, and a PhD in physics) and Jobs dropped out of college. The other is that Jobs understood the importance of appearance and Musk clearly does not. ... the end result is that Jobs created products that folks thought were ‘magical,’ but that mostly were just repackaged ideas that hadn’t done well in market ...”
If I ever called Karl Denninger the best Steve Jobs grave-dancer, I now stand corrected.
Mike Daisey in The Guardian (November 2015):
“Apple spins impressive narrative of success, but are there holes in the story?
There’s no question that Apple has had a legendary run and often exceeds Wall Street expectations. A company, however, is more than its numbers.”
“There’s no question Apple has had a legendary run over the last decade.”
“Apple is the most profitable company on the planet today, and growing at about 30% annually — with numbers like those, who could see anything wrong? Well, there are signs, if you are interested in looking for them.”
“It’s almost been a decade since the iPhone, and the longer that is Apple’s only crown jewel the better the chance they will be disrupted. Someone else eventually will bring something new to the table. It is possible we will look back in a decade and know we couldn’t have seen that this was the moment of Peak Apple because it is always clearer in retrospect when something is past its peak. Time will tell. It always does.”
When The Guardian wants a quality story about Apple, it sure knows where to get it.
Bryan Clark in The Next Web (November 2015):
“We’ve reached — maybe passed — peak Apple”
“Apple is the largest company in the world, but success is fleeting. While the numbers are impressive, they don’t come close to painting an accurate picture about how much trouble Apple is really in. Apple’s rise under Steve Jobs was historic. Its fall under Tim Cook is going to be much slower, more painful.”
“Tim Cook can spend days waxing poetic about profits but even a modicum of ability to read between the lines is all it takes to realize it’s mostly bullshit.”
“Apple swung. Apple missed.”
“Apple lives and dies by the iPhone. ... There is no Plan B.”
“What made Apple an iconic brand is gone
Steve Jobs is almost entirely responsible for Apple’s cult-like following.”
“The beginning of the end”
“When you reach a peak, all that is left is the inevitable fall. Apple might not quite be there yet, but its [sic] on the edge and looking over the side.”
“There are larger issues on the horizon: For example, how does Apple compete with Windows and Android? Both have proven to be amazingly adept in recent years not only at competing with Apple in form factor, but functionality as well. Two companies that are innovating, not searching for identity outside of a singular product. Two companies that are on the way up, not down.”
“[W]hat’s the next big thing? I don’t know. Apple doesn’t seem to either. ... Apple is just the next in a long line of once great companies whose best days are behind it.”
If we say Apple is falling, Apple will fall! Please, Bryan — don’t stop trying.
Richi Jennings in Computerworld (November 2015):
“With the iPhone 7, Apple is planning to strong-arm you into paying more for headphones.”
“Seriously? Doesn’t Apple exert enough Soviet-like control over its ecosystem? Isn’t the ridiculous profit margin on an iPhone already enough?”
Strong-arm. Soviet-like. Ridiculous. That’s Apple.
Rob Enderle in IT Business Edge (December 2015):
“Many lessons can be learned from the mistakes tech companies have made over the last several decades. Microsoft Zune teaches us that it is foolish to enter a market dominated by another company if you are unwilling to spend or do the things necessary to displace that larger company.”
Apple had success with the iPod because Microsoft let them.
“[I]f a firm doesn’t want to die on a pivot, it should always have several skunk works-like projects with independent funding looking at the alternatives, and executive support at the CEO level so the existing legacy executives can’t proactively kill the efforts.”
So all Microsoft needed to do was whip up an insulated, innovative sub-company, and they could’ve beaten Apple at its own game. Now why didn’t they do that? Maybe they didn’t spend enough time reading Clay Christensen’s books.
Rob Enderle (December 2015):
“Why iOS and Android will soon become obsolete”
“The market is eventually going to move to one product that scales from a smartphone to a PC.”
“iOS is trying to grow up with the iPad Pro, but is being limited by the conflict with the MacOS [sic] in the professional space. Apple’s desire for people to buy three devices from them (a phone, a tablet and a PC) when customers really only want two or even one is a big problem. ... Apple does not want the ultimate collapse the market seems to want, which is create a smartphone that could replace all three devices ... This suggests there is an opportunity for a platform from a company that is software-based like Google so it doesn’t care about the revenue.”
“Whoever addresses this opportunity will likely dominate the next decade. What is interesting right now is that doesn’t appear to be either Apple or Google. ... I think we are on the cusp of another big market shift, which seem to occur every 10 to 15 years.”
Translation: Apple will dominate for the next decade, and probably far beyond.
Rob Enderle (December 2015):
“Apple’s two most memorable accomplishments are the GUI, or graphical user interface, and the mouse, both of which it literally stole from Xerox PARC.”
So you meant to say that those were two memorable accomplishments of Xerox. And Apple, uh, hasn’t had any. Got it, Rob.
Jay Yarow in Business Insider (December 2015):
“Apple is going to have a tough year”
“Smart, rational people in the media, like Nilay Patel of The Verge and Ben Thompson of Stratechery, think Apple’s products were kinda meh in 2015. So as we enter 2016, Apple is poised for its toughest year in a while.”
“The big picture here is that Apple is looking at a year of low, perhaps negative, sales growth.”
“Ben Thompson, a smart independent tech and media analyst, warned that Apple has taken on too much, and that its biggest weakness is about to become a problem.”
Hey, uh, didn’t you call Apple a “train wreck” around this time two years ago? But now it’s just going to have a “tough year?” Sounds like improvement to me.
Fred Wilson (January 2016):
“One of the big four will falter in 2016. My guess is Apple. They did not have a great year in 2015 and I’m thinking that it will get worse in 2016.”
Highest profits in the history of corporations = not a great year. Ya see, Fred’s a great venture capitalist because he has such high standards of success.
Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities (January 2016):
“Chowdhry Blasts Apple Management: ‘Tim Cook Has Zero Vision/Zero Passion,’ Calls Board Callous & Says Co Needs A ‘No Bozo Policy’”
“Chowdhry called for the ‘completely clueless’ Tim Cook to be replaced. He cited a culture of ‘bozos’ at Apple destroying $486 billion in shareholder value under Cook’s management.”
“Chowdhry called the board of directors ‘callous’ in their concern about the company PE multiple. There is hope though for Apple’s management, and it starts with Jonathan Rubinstein taking over for Cook.”
Because Rubinstein worked such wonders for Palm. I guess I would want Cook replaced with Rubinstein if I had completely committed my reputation to Apple’s impending downfall.
Brandon Russell in TechnoBuffalo (January 2016):
“Has Apple lost the magic? Despite products like the Apple Watch, MacBook, and iPad Pro, 2015 could be considered an ‘off’ year for Apple. Even introductions of 3D Touch and Live Photos couldn’t hide the Cupertino company’s increasingly apparent hardware and software deficiencies.”
“As the company continues to fight for growth among mounting competition, Apple has begun to ignore the users that helped make it what is it today.”
“Apple tries to mask its weaknesses with shiny metal and fancy marketing. ... There’s no doubting Apple can design a mean phone, and the company continues to make some of the most popular consumer products in the biz. But, in a lot of ways, 2015 was a year where, to put it nicely, Apple was in transition.”
Apple’s been successful up to this point. But no further. Got it, Brandon. By the way, did you know that you are the very first tech commentator to use this mode of argument against Apple?
Nellie Bowles in The Guardian (January 2016):
“Apple — losing out on talent and in need of a killer new device”
“‘Apple’s culture is one that’s so negative, so strict, so harsh,’ said [ex-Google, freelance programmer James] Knight ... ‘Other than the fact that we have to work with them because we’re delivering apps to their app store, I don’t really want anything to do with them,’ ...”
“The Silicon Valley computing giant is stumbling. ... Long unassailable, there is now a chink in Apple’s armor.”
“One startup executive ... compared the big three consumer tech companies to the Ivy League universities; he cast Facebook as Harvard, Google as Yale and Apple as Dartmouth (apologies to Dartmouth).”
“Apple notoriously doesn’t serve free food ... Employees don’t get free phones.”
“‘Apple’s not an engineering culture,’ [Michael] Solomon said. ‘Tim Cook’s done an amazing job running the company, but [Steve Jobs] was the guy everyone wanted to follow into battle.’”
“The iPhone is the bulk of Apple’s business, and at a certain point everyone who wants an iPhone has one. Efforts to break into other markets with its watch seem shaky. ... In an industry built on the notion of ‘disruption’, attracting exceptional talent and keeping them nimble is key. Apple doesn’t need to just make a better iPhone — it needs to make something new.”
“Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.”
Translation: Apple hasn’t responded — immediately or otherwise — to trashy Guardian hit pieces for many years now.
Rob Enderle (January 2016):
“Years ago, I watched with interest Bill Gates come to the conclusion that his next big effort wouldn’t be a new technology product. Instead, it would be finding ways to help areas and people, both foreign and domestic, that needed it. His foundation has since been a powerful platform for change. Many argued that he could have been far more effective as CEO of Microsoft. He realized at the time, though, that he couldn’t split his focus. Conversely, Steve Jobs stopped all philanthropic efforts at Apple, believing investors wanted to make those decisions themselves and that his job was to get them the money to do so.”
Translation: I can kiss Gates’s rich ass like nobody’s business. But never say I’m not principled — I wouldn’t kiss Jobs’s rich ass even if it was still alive to kiss.
Joe Wilcox in Beta News (January 2016):
“Why Apple’s future failure is certain”
“Apple has strayed far from the path that brought truly, disruptive innovative products to market. In 2016, the company banks on past successes that are not long-term sustainable.”
“Cook has not proven to be the visionary leader that Apple needs to maintain long-term success.”
“Adding the [new Mac] Pro disrupts nothing, but simply adds another SKU. That’s supply-chain thinking ... killing off the popular MacBook Air when introducing 12-inch MacBook would have been risky, self-disrupting innovation.”
“Apple’s fortunes rose with iPhones sales success, and, given the current product lineup, will likewise fall. So much dependence on a single product is the worst kind of risk ...”
“[T]here must come the quarter where iPhone sales growth stalls or retreats. If Apple Watch or iPad Pro is Apple’s Plan B, uh-oh.”
“Idiots will flame this post ‘clickbait’. It’s how they draw attention to themselves, to inflate their egos; others mistakenly will assign motivation to my writing — e.g., for pageviews, when I couldn’t care less about them.”
Anyone who doesn’t like your relentless Apple spite is an “idiot.” Got it, Joe. Thanks for setting us straight on that.
Professor André Spicer, PhD, of Cass Business School at City University London as reported by Andrew Cave in Forbes (January 2016):
“Spicer ... is concerned. ‘Apple may have had the largest quarterly profits in history but it could go from darling to dud within a few years,’ he says. ‘This happened to Nokia before, and it could easily happen to Apple. Its strategy of providing a limited range of high priced products could backfire. As smartphones increasingly become undifferentiated commodities, people will start asking why they are paying such a huge premium and Apple could find itself trapped by what it is good at. ... Now Apple is trying to make up for flat sales of its core product by moving into other markets like healthcare, financial services and cars. ... It is uncertain where the skills of making cool looking mobile phones will translate into banking.’”
“‘It is easy to paint a doom and gloom scenario,’ he says, ‘but what is more likely is that Apple will shift from being outstanding to being simply ordinary. When this happens, many of the habits which you find in middle aged companies will kick in — cost cutting, fashion following, and pointless and repetitive change programs. ...’”
“‘Some investors will be eyeing Apple’s cash pile, hoping they might see it returned to them rather than being reinvested to reinvigorate the company.’ If that happens, it will probably be the ‘first nail in Apple’s coffin,’ predicts the London professor.”
Those business professors really know their stuff!
Shawn Tully in Fortune (February 2016):
“Apple Has Wasted Billions on Buybacks”
“In the past several years, Apple’s leaders have been touting the benefits — and wisdom — of its gigantic stock repurchase campaign. That wisdom ... is looking pretty misguided. On Tuesday, Alphabet [Google] overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company.”
One-year update: Apple’s market valuation at least $130 billion greater than any other company, and its cash hoard now past a quarter of a trillion dollars, even as the buybacks continue.
Larry Light in CBS MoneyWatch (February 2016):
“Apple and the curse of the ‘edifice complex’”
“It’s called the edifice complex, and it carries a curse: A high-flying company builds a beautiful new headquarters, then heartbreakingly loses altitude. Some wonder if Apple, which is constructing a massive new palace near the tech titan’s long-time California office, is the latest to fall prey to this hex. ... [H]istory is littered with instances of corporate icons that built magnificent architecture to consecrate their glory, only to see fate humble them.”
“[T]he worry is that Steve Jobs’[s] juggernaut may have seen its best days.”
“A theory called the Skyscraper Index, holds that massive new corporate buildings demonstrate that growth is peaking and woeful times are coming ... Internet pioneer Marc Andreessen, a partner in venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz, listed ‘pouring huge money into overly glorious new headquarters’ as one of the 10 signs that show companies are riding for a fall.”
“[I]f Apple does succumb to the edifice complex curse, it will join a long roster of tech leaders that floundered following the ribbon cuttings.”
“The company did not respond to request for comment.”
You don’t say.
“Intrepid Investor” in Seeking Alpha (February 2016):
“If Apple wants to shift its focus to high-margin enterprise with IBM, it should spin off its retail operations into a new company for investors who like retail.”
“Apple seeks new avenues of growth and one of those is through its partnership with IBM, but it needs to shed excess baggage to grow in that direction.”
“In his book ... Chris Zook cites numerous examples of companies that had to shrink to grow again.”
“When Apple spins off the retail business, revenue will abruptly decline — that will be time to buy Apple, the leaner device and software company.”
Sage advice for Tim Cook from Seeking Alpha.
Doug Kass in The Street (February 2016):
“Personally, I’ve consistently argued to short or avoid Apple shares since early 2015. ... Apple’s past success represents the greatest headwind to its forward advancement.”
“In its [encryption] fight with the U.S. government, Apple has once again adopted a position that coincides with its economic interests. ... [its] ‘defense of the public’ is hypocritical — and a contradiction of terms given the firm’s long history of what I see as tax avoidance, mistreatment of employees and customers and more.”
“[L]ike Ty Cobb, Apple usually plays dirty ... [Apple] dodges taxes every which way possible ... Apple claims to support higher U.S. wages and the ethical treatment of workers, but allegedly uses Chinese sweatshop labor that’s paid well below minimum wage and is literally worked to death ... The company scrapes Lord knows what kind of private usage information off of customers’ products. Apple routinely screws consumers by forcing new proprietary upgrades on their accessories. [Apple] generally charges through the nose for its products. Because it can. Yet now, we’re supposed to believe that Apple wants to stand up for the little guy? ... Apple is the last firm that should be acting like it has a social conscience and is championing the public good.”
Don’t hold back there, Doug.
L. Gordon Crovitz in The Wall Street Journal (February 2016):
“Apple’s Rotten Core”
“CEO Tim Cook’s test case for Apple is rotten to the core.”
“Apple said compliance [with the FBI’s request] would ‘substantially tarnish the Apple brand,’ as if branding were above the law.”
“For the world’s most valuable company, with annual revenues above $200 billion, [doing what the FBI’s asking]’s a trivial cost...”
FYI, Gordon: Appealing the order also costs a trivial percentage of $200 billion.
Rob Enderle in CIO (March 2016):
“Donald Trump vs. Steve Jobs: The tale of two con artists”
“Donald has been branded by one of his competitors as a con artist and, in a sense, he is. But so was Steve Jobs. When Jobs initially showcased NeXT and when he initially showcased the iPhone it was all smoke and mirrors. The initial NeXT demo used a video to showcase what appeared to be a working product through tight scripting, but it didn’t yet work. The iPhone he first held up on stage didn’t work. Both were initially frauds. ... he eventually fixed Apple’s products so they fulfilled Jobs [sic] initial false statements. So the difference between someone with this skill that is successful and someone with the skill that ends up in jail is that before the lie is fully discovered they execute so the lie becomes the truth, or close enough.”
“Like Jobs, Trump is a master at manipulation and he aggressively controls his own image.”
Translation: Jobs died four-and-a-half years ago, but I can still hate him like nobody’s business. If I don’t smear his historical legacy, who will?
Mark Wilson in Fast Company (March 2016):
“Google Could Beat Apple At Fashion — Just Like It Did Phones”
“History Repeats Itself
It’s a familiar story. Google has always offered what the industry calls an open platform — anyone can take Android and stick it on any piece of hardware they want. Meanwhile, Apple offers a closed platform — where no one can build more than a case or an app for an Apple hardware/software product.”
“[W]ith an open system, Google gets breadth. Android devices are produced by dozens of manufacturers, each breaking their backs to produce, market, and compete to sell Google devices. So prices drop. Install base expands. And Android becomes the biggest mobile platform in the world ...”
“[I]magine a world where humanity only dresses in four different outfits — representing the black, white, gold, and rose gold finishes of an iPhone. That doesn’t look like freedom. That looks like prison.”
“[W]hat gets concerning about the viability of Apple’s strategy — if we really are to consider it a fashion company now — is how its closed approach not only will limit overall adoption of the Apple Watch, but limit the extent to which Apple can keep afloat in the sheer depth of wearables to come. In this regard, Android Wear is poised to become the only viable OS not just for the fashion industry’s smartwatches, but for the entire fashion industry at large. ... Apple will need to decide whether to finally open iOS ...”
Licensing always wins. Number of companies. Again.
Vivek Wadhwa, in The Washington Post (March 2016):
“Why I’m skeptical about Apple’s future”
“Steve Jobs was a true visionary who refused to listen to customers — believing that he knew better than they did about what they needed. ... Jobs’s tactics worked very well for him and he created the most valuable company in the world. But without Jobs — and given the dramatic technology changes that are happening, Apple may have peaked.”
“It is headed the way of IBM in the ’90s and Microsoft in the late 2000’s. Consider that its last major innovation — the iPhone — was released in June 2007.”
“All it seems to be doing is playing catch up with Samsung ... It has been also been [sic] copying products such as Google Maps and not doing this very well.”
“There is nothing earth shattering or compelling about Apple’s new phones — or any of the products it has released since 2007. By now, Apple should have released some of the products that we heard rumors about: TV sets, virtual reality headsets, and cars.”
“Instead of innovating, Apple has been launching frivolous lawsuits against competitors such as Samsung.”
“Will Apple release some products later this year which blow us away? I am skeptical and doubtful. I expect we will only see more hype and repackaging of tired old technologies.”
“Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke, and distinguished fellow at Singularity University. His past appointments include Harvard Law School, University of California Berkeley, and Emory University.”
With all those credentials, we would be foolish not to take him seriously.
John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry (April 2016):
“[T]ech companies as good corporate citizens should comply with reasonable lawful access requests. I have stated before that we are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good.”
Translation: I sure hope these comments boost my company’s reputation.
Rob Enderle in TG Daily (April 2016):
“Apple’s Not So Secret Strategy To Kill The Mac Could Boost Windows”
“[Tim Cook] is making a mistake common with CEOs.”
“Apple’s increasingly large problem is they are becoming a one product company. If you look at their financials the firm is basically the iPhone company.”
“[Cook] needs to find a way to revitalize the company otherwise it is likely Apple’s board will see him as the problem to fix. He’d have a lot of company, every Apple CEO but Jobs has eventually been in this same exact position and they’ve pretty much all panicked and done foolish things. ... I’ve been doing this a long time and it fascinates me how often the same mistakes seem to come around again, often with the same company. I think this is a repeat.”
Translation: Every so often, I have to fantasize that something like the ’87 boot-Jobs-and-install-Sculley scenario will recur. You know — so I have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
“BayesianLearner” in Seeking Alpha (April 2016):
“Apple’s Fundamental Problem”
“After a decade of growing dominance, Apple has finally seen ‘peak iPhone.’ It is currently unclear what Apple will do to ensure its dominance going forward.”
“I do not believe the 21st century will be about consumer devices the same way the 20th century was. ... as a consequence of competitors entering a market, functionality becomes a marginal property. Instead, brand identity and status become paramount. ... a device becomes so commoditized that it is no longer associated to status.”
“The 21st century will marginalize devices through intelligent software-driven services. ... Mobile devices and productivity devices like laptops and tablets will end up as interchangeable as washing machines or fridges or TVs today.”
Apple’s successes will be eroded away by commodity competitors. Thanks, Seeking Alpha, for providing that fascinating insight. Like we haven’t been hearing that year-after-year for over a decade — while Apple keeps doing better and better the whole time.
Nick Farrell in TechEye (April 2016):
“The decline of the Apple Cult comes to pass
Two years ago, we warned that Apple was like a decapitated brain unaware that its body had died, but now the signs of rigor mortis are setting in and it is getting harder to deny.”
“Apple’s problems are going to get much worse. Apple made several mistakes.”
“In China, ownership of an iPhone was a status symbol. It proved you had more money than sense.”
“Apple’s refusal to have a good old redesign go at its iPhone, even returning to the iPhone 5 design this year, was just silly.”
“Sadly Apple is not going anywhere fast. It has piles of money and can effectively sit on its hands for a few years waiting for the next big thing. But Apple is paying the price for its arrogance.”
“[S]ervices ... were one of the bright spots of the quarter ... So it looks like Apple will try to lean on those services and hold on until the world economy picks up and can afford its pointless trinkets once more. Not a brilliant, super-cool way out of trouble but given Apple’s huge cash pile it might just work.”
Apple just might be able to hold on. Got it, Nick.
Bob Lefsetz in The Lefsetz Letter (April 2016):
“He not busy being born is busy dying.”
“[A]s long as Jobs was at the helm of Apple the company burgeoned. But those days are through. To expect the Cupertino company to continue to triumph is to expect the Doors to succeed without Jim Morrison. ... when the creative genius is gone, it’s over.”
“[T]he Apple Watch ... was good in theory yet dead on arrival ...”
“Tim Cook needs to be replaced. Apple doesn’t need a traffic cop, it needs a visionary. ... But it won’t happen, because in modern society the board is a tool of the CEO, an echo chamber.”
“So we’re down to three, Amazon, Google and Facebook, Apple is over. And it hurts me to say this, being a Mac user since ’86, but he who cannot see the writing on the wall is destined to a life of business illiteracy, never mind being left behind.”
“Smartphones are nearly a commodity. This is what’s hurting Samsung, the cheap competition from the bottom, the Korean company just can’t establish enough differentiation to hold on to market share, never mind profits. Sure, the iPhone has an ecosystem, it may even sport the best OS out there, but Apple has been legendarily bad at services and we need look no further to [sic] Sony to see how those selling premium-priced products are ultimately eclipsed. Turned out Samsung was just as good, if not better, in flat panel TVs, the Trinitron was no longer an engine of growth. The future comes and if you don’t continue to lead, you’re toast. ... business history is littered with those who dominated today but were marginalized tomorrow.”
“I don’t know who can lead Apple out of the doldrums.”
“It’s sad, but it’s time to change leadership at Apple now.”
Something here is very sad, that’s for sure.
Bert Dohmen in bertdohmen.com (April 2016):
“The Demise Of Apple”
“[U]nder the current CEO, there is a total lack of innovation. ... Apple is now a copycat.”
“The much acclaimed ‘ecosystem’ will now start to crumble. And that marks Apple’s historic downturn. It’s a fact that in a severe bear market, former idols usually get to be despised.”
“The bad news for Apple is just starting.”
Just starting now? Or just starting two years ago, when you said this same stuff in Forbes?
Matt Heiman in TechCrunch (May 2016):
“How Android gets to 100% market share
Android already commands over 80 percent of the mobile OS market share globally, and just under 60 percent in the US. But you wouldn’t know it here in Silicon Valley — almost everyone I know has an iPhone. As the consumer technology landscape evolves over the next five years however, there are a number of reasons to believe that Android, and the Google stack more broadly, could take an even greater share and become the platform of choice, even here.”
“Apple is the world’s most valuable brand and has consistently been at the forefront of device innovation over the last two decades. But as consumer technology evolves, software and Internet integration is gaining ever increasing importance over hardware. As the presence of the Internet continues to permeate more of our lives and the technology itself starts to ‘disappear,’ the battle for the consumer may tilt in favor of the world’s largest Internet company over the world’s best designer of hardware.”
Apple’s hardware business is on the verge of being commoditized away. Just like it has been for the past decade or more. Thanks, Matt. This we needed to know.
James Allworth in Exponent (June 2016):
“Growth is starting to stall; people are starting to care less about updates to hardware, because they’re starting to feel like they’re pretty well served. And the action is happening, in the tech market, in the messaging space. Now, Apple makes their money on hardware, and their services support the hardware, and that’s one of the wonderful things about it. But at the same time, it’s a really challenging question to see the fight on the stack move further up-market. And they’ve got themselves a fantastic service that people love to use in iMessage, or in Messages. And I’m thinking back to bringing iTunes to Windows, and, of course, they did it because they could monetize on hardware with the iPod. And there’s no direct corollary here with Messages on Android. But that fight is moving up the stack, and Apple— as it gets further-and-further out of hardware, Apple’s gonna have fewer-and-fewer ways to stay relevant. And I’m just inclined to say, ‘Take it cross-platform, guys.’”
Sage advice, James. You’ll save Apple yet.
Bob O’Donnell in Fast Company (June 2016):
“Be Prepared: We’re Entering A Post-Device Era”
“While it’s too early to be certain — it’ll probably take 12-18 months before we know for sure — I believe worldwide smartphone shipments probably peaked in the fourth quarter of 2015.”
“[T]he ability to have information delivered — and actions taken — by simply speaking does suggest an exciting new era that’s less dependent on traditional devices. The implications of this shift are profound. For a company like Apple, being the premier device maker in the post-device era is a sort of dystopian nightmare, where the company’s impressive abilities to generate better and better devices will be appreciated by a decreasing number of customers.”
Apple’s peaking! Then facing a dystopian nightmare! Well, I guess Apple’s heyday was fun while it lasted. Brilliant analysis, Bob.
Jon Markman in Forbes (June 2016):
“Apple’s Problems Are Worse Than You Think
Apple is about to become a much less significant consumer electronics business. The notion that Apple is in decline is not even controversial anymore.”
“Apple is in the midst of being blindsided itself by cloud-based, artificially intelligent assistants.”
“Because [non-Apple] AI assistants live in the cloud they’re both portable and infinitely powerful. ... Apple’s AI foray, Siri, was supposed to get a big makeover for its Worldwide Developers Conference this week. It was supposed to make her competitive. It didn’t work out that way. ... Siri is neither portable nor scalable.”
“[T]he next paradigm shift is artificial intelligence and voice. Apple is not built to compete in that new paradigm.”
AI! AI will be the thing that drives Apple back into irrelevance. It will, it will, it will!
Bob Skelley in Computerworld (June 2016):
“OS X rebranding further marginalizes Mac”
“Apple’s recent announcement that OS X has gone bye-bye in favor of ‘macOS’ will do nothing for the Mac except accelerate its downward spiral as a fringe hardware product.”
“macOS is an appropriate name for an operating system on a once iconic personal computer Apple would prefer fades away.”
The Mac is a fringe product in a downward spiral, and Apple would prefer it fade away. Thus Spake Bob Skelley. So listen up.
Jeremy Glass in Thrillist (July 2016):
“Why I’m sick of Apple upgrades”
“From the get-go, Apple turned me into an outsider. Starting in 2001, a new iPod was released almost every single year [...] I never saved up enough to buy one and felt pretty uncool, surrounded by a sea of creepy dancing silhouettes literally everywhere I went. Remember the days before Apple’s icy grip on us tightened to the point of vice-like? I do.”
“I learned the hard way after purchasing a perfectly good, affordable Zune in 2010. I might as well have contracted leprosy; my friends still refer to the purchase as a severe lapse in judgment, and assume I only bought the Zune as a misguided act of nonconformity... I just liked it.”
Sure you did, Jeremy.
John Chen of BlackBerry (July 2016):
“One of our competitors, we call it ‘the other fruit company’, has an attitude [on encryption] that it doesn’t matter how much it might hurt society, they’re not going to help. I found that disturbing as a citizen.”
And even more so as CEO of BlackBerry.
“Why Apple needs to liberate iOS”
“Apple reported lackluster earnings ... The numbers make it clear that the future of the consumer products behemoth is no longer in its consumer products. The fix? Apple should release a version of iOS for non-Apple devices. This suggestion will seem like heresy to the brand’s loyalists, but it may be necessary for the success of the company. Imagine those Samsung, LG, and Xiaomi smartphones having an original Apple operating system on them ... Google’s Android business would finally have a formidable rival.”
“Apple owns a decreasing share of an increasing market. Yes, Apple’s slice has been the most profitable, but, as this quarter’s results indicate, that will not last.”
“Microsoft offers a cautionary tale. The company was protective of its core operating system for the longest time, causing it to lose the smartphone market. ... Without expanding its operating system, the future looks bleak for Apple.”
“Making iOS available on other devices will remove a critical competitive advantage that the iPhone enjoys, but it will create many new revenue streams and will be better for Apple’s long-term survival.”
“If Apple made iOS available on other phones, it would not only multiply the markets for its service businesses but would also allow the devices to become a platform for all sorts of new products and subscriptions that other companies would develop.”
Imagine if iOS was a platform for all sorts of new products and subscriptions that other companies would develop. Wait a minute — what??
Steven Max Patterson in NetworkWorld (August 2016):
“Apple could be the next AOL
Apple’s secrecy prevents it from trying new product designs and collaborating with large innovative tech communities”
“After-hours trading drove Alphabet’s [Google’s] market cap up over Apple’s. ... expectations favor Google’s continued growth.”
“[Apple] struggles to compete with Android phones with the new low-cost iPhone SE.”
Apple is in a tough spot. ... [HTC and Samsung phones] are every bit as good. A smartphone maker would have to try to make a bad Android phone. It’s almost impossible because of the increased quality of components ...”
“Long before AOL lost its lead, many internet users experienced the difference between AOL’s walled garden and the richer open internet. ... Voltaire once said, ‘Perfect is the enemy of good.’ Apple’s obsession with perfect prevents the company from releasing a good product and making it great.”
“Apple is a hugely successful company that is too dependent on its hardware to innovate where it needs to ...”
Translation: No matter how record-breakingly successful Apple is, or yet becomes, in my book they’ll always be a dilemma-strapped, struggling company in a tough spot.
Jay Somaney in Forbes (August 2016):
“After 5 Years As Apple CEO, Tim Cook Scores C-”
“How exactly has Tim Cook fared in the five years since he has been the CEO of the world’s most profitable and valuable company? Let’s start off with the most obvious criteria that CEO’s should be judged on which is the performance of the shares under his stewardship.”
“[A]s far as hiring the right people, Tim Cook grades a D at best although one could easily make a case for a failing grade.”
“Tim Cook’s overall grade for the first five years would be a C minus at best.”
Superb analysis, Jay. A+.
Jon Evans in Quartz (September 2016):
“Apple should be worried — the future of tech is in software, not hardware
A specter is haunting Cupertino, California — the specter of a world increasingly defined by software. Behind the rote glitz and pizzazz of Apple’s iPhone 7 announcement last week lurked unspoken acknowledgements of an uncomfortable truth. The advantages that drove Apple to become the biggest publicly traded company in the world are beginning to disintegrate, and the new competitive landscape is tilted against them.”
“Once upon a time, Apple had massive advantages in hardware design, UX design, and hardware manufacturing. But its competitors are catching up in all three fields ...”
“If the iPhone 7 is Apple’s first step toward a virtual-reality strategy, as Stratechery suggests, its seems to fair to ask how it will compete with Microsoft’s HoloLens.”
“Apple is the behemoth of behemoths, but in the tech industry, revenue is a lagging indicator, and size is no guarantee of success. As of this year, Apple may be the underdog — again.”
Is this the same Jon Evans who a year ago penned, “Don’t Be Apple” in TechCrunch, in which he said Apple’s control of its devices is a “Shakespearean tragic flaw?” Methinks the man doth fish for any excuse to be down on Apple.
Geoffrey James in Inc. (September 2016):
“It’s Official: Apple Is Just Milking Its Cash Cows
Apple’s recent announcement continues the company’s descent into becoming just another tech vendor.”
“Apple has lost the innovative elan that once made it so special. ... The thrill is gone, perhaps for good. I feel that with the iPhone 7, Apple has become just another company flogging proprietary technology to up-sell its own products. ... all Apple seems to release is stuff that milks their installed base.”
“I can’t help but think that if Jobs had lived, Apple wouldn’t be slouching its way toward mediocrity.”
Translation: Apple’s cool ideas weren’t ever supposed to become really successful. They were supposed to be interesting flashes-in-the-pan, replaced every few years with something totally different!
Ewan Spence in Forbes (September 2016):
“Is Apple Flying Or Dying?”
“Apple is not in stasis, it will change. Companies are always in transition, they hope to end up in a better place but in many cases the path of good intentions may eventually lead to a painful end.”
“Cupertino needs to watch out, because the new iPhone handsets also exhibit traits that could easily derail the company.”
“Once more Apple is replacing something [the analog headphone jack] that makes life harder for the end-user... but helps Apple’s bottom line.”
“As the iPhone grows up, will Apple progress with it and continue to be seen as a leader in the smartphone space, or will it suffer the same fate as other revolutionary manufacturers who were destroyed by their hubris?”
You can’t tell whether Apple is flying or dying? Gosh, Ewan — neither can I!
Rob Enderle in The Wall Street Journal’s “What’s News” Podcast (October 2016):
“It’s not looking good for [Apple] ... They need another hit product, and they need it fast. ... there’s not a lotta hope that this is gonna hit the mark.”
“iPhone is what carries the company right now.”
“I think Apple’s basically a company that’s looking in the rear-view mirror at this particular point. Really, you can’t really trust outlook anymore from them.”
“Apple’s a company whose valuation is based on the fact that they’ve got recurring, blockbuster products, that the, the lack of those, of late, is just killin’ ’em.”
“iPhone 7 was received with less-than-stellar excitement, so the end result has been a lotta disappointment.”
“It’s not lookin’ good for the company, ’cause even with everything rollin’ in their favor, they still missed.”
“They just weren’t able to get excitement around [iPhone], and it’s that inability that, I think, is hurting them. I just don’t think the product can fix what is an execution problem with the company.”
“I think the problem is, is Apple brought excitement into the [smartphone] market, and now they’re not able to do that. So the end result is they’re part of the problem that’s causing the problem; it’s kind-of a full circle.”
Either that, or there’s a circle in your head that says, “Apple’s failing because they’re failing.”
“Microsoft Is Looking Like the New Apple
A pair of events this week suggest [sic] one company is charging ahead, while the other is stuck in a product rut.”
Apple is stuck in a rut. Microsoft is charging ahead. Smart analysis from our greatest institutes of higher learning.
Eric Elliott in Medium (November 2016):
“Native Apps are Doomed”
“From now on, I won’t be building any more native apps. All my apps going forward will be progressive web apps.”
“Native Apps are Not Dead Yet”
“If you think the lack of Apple support should hold you back, remember that Android is now 86% of the global mobile OS market.”
“Certainly, native apps will survive for a while longer ...”
“Why Native Apps Really are Doomed”
“Native apps face two gigantic hurdles trying to compete with Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) ...”
“[O]nly a tiny fraction of native apps ever gain any traction ...”
“Even Without iOS, PWA Wins”
“[N]ative apps just don’t make a lot of sense unless your app absolutely requires native capabilities that are not yet supported on the mobile web. Building an app is expensive. You’re looking at a minimum $100k commitment to build a proper app (usually a lot more).”
That’s a couple thousand for a Mac and an iPhone, a hundred for an Apple developer account, zero for Xcode, and at least $97,900 opportunity cost — to compensate for the mad money you would’ve made if you had used your time to write web-apps instead!
Douglas A. McIntyre in 24/7 Wall St. (November 2016):
“Android Market Share Pummels Apple
The global market share of [Google’s] Android rose to 88% last quarter, further cornering [Apple’s] iOS. Sales of the iPhone 7 are Apple’s only way out of the dilemma, and its numbers are not growing briskly enough to solve the problem. Android has the built-in advantage of its presence on smartphones made by an army of manufacturers, led by Samsung.”
“One of Apple’s major disadvantages, which is not going to change, is that it will not license iOS to other manufacturers. It is stuck on its own island as the water rises.”
Apple’s being pummelled. Apple has a problem. Apple is cornered. Apple is stuck. Apple’s in a dilemma. Apple’s disadvantaged. Apple’s surrounded by rising water. Apple’s fighting an army. Apple is so doomed, it’s not even funny.
Larry Dignan in ZDNet (November 2016):
“Why Samsung’s Harman purchase will be seen as Apple blunder decades from now”
“Samsung’s purchase of Harman is strategically sound ... The deal makes so much sense you have to wonder why Apple didn’t buy Harman.”
“Samsung’s purchase of Harman makes a ton of sense.”
Decades from now. That’s how far Larry Dignan can see.
Jason Calacanis on This Week In Tech (November 2016):
“If you put the person in charge of logistics [Tim Cook] in charge of Apple, the ships and the trains and everything’s going to run on time, but the product is going to suffer ... Getting rid of the headphone jack ... take the MagSafe connector ... and throw it away ... it reeks of some level of incompetence that can only happen when you put someone as boring and visionless as Tim Cook in charge of a company with a legacy and a passionate user-base like Apple.”
Jonathan Ive and his design team didn’t want to change those ports — Cook forced them to do it, because he’s boring. Got it, Jason.
Leo Sun in The Motley Fool (November 2016):
“Will Microsoft’s Surface Studio Crush Apple’s Mac Business?”
“Microsoft is coming after Apple’s Macs in the premium PC market.”
“Why Apple should start worrying
The comparisons between Microsoft’s new Surface devices and Apple’s Macs look pretty dismal for the latter.”
“For many customers — especially Apple’s dedicated demographic of graphic designers — the Surface Pro Studio likely represents what the iMacs should have already become.”
“Apple’s Macs are definitely losing steam ... Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Surface revenue surged 38% annually to $926 million last quarter.”
“[I]f Apple doesn’t present a clearer vision for the future of the Mac soon, it could fall behind the tech and innovation curve as Microsoft surges ahead with more daring products. We already saw this happen with the HoloLens ...”
“Apple’s hardware design is stuck between two form factors, because iOS and OS X remain distinctly separate.”
Apple is stuck — with the most successful tablets and laptops on the planet.
Mike Murphy in Quartz (November 2016):
Steve Jobs would probably be rather upset with what Apple has become today”
“Steve Jobs explained, in his mind why companies like Xerox, a company that once had one of the most innovative research labs in the world, failed. He compared the product cycles and the corporate structures of strong, stable consumer brands, such as PepsiCo, which John Sculley, the CEO that once replaced him at Apple, previously ran.”
“Apple doesn’t technically have a monopoly on smartphones or laptop computers or the other categories of products it produces. But its extremely high prices for things such as add-on iPhone and MacBook memory attest to the market power it has over consumers. And its notoriously rapturous marketing-speak about upgrades that merely bring its products up to par with competitors is wearing thin with its critics.”
Critics like.. you?
Rob Enderle (November 2016):
“[Apple CEO Tim] Cook’s choices are few and ugly. He can retire early and let this problem become someone else’s; he can try to reason with Trump or Thiel (a far more reasonable ear) in the hope of changing his mind and promise to bring a lot of jobs back to the U.S.; or he can go to China and lobby for their support. Although, on this last point, China isn’t really much of an Apple fan either, leaving Cook between a rock and hard place. So, ‘What does Tom Cook do?’”
Translation: Thank the makers for Donald Trump — now my Apple-suddenly-croaks fantasies get at least a few years of quasi-credibility!
Andrew Uerkwitz of Oppenheimer (December 2016):
“We believe Apple lacks the courage to lead the next generation of innovation (AI, cloud-based services, messaging); instead will become more reliant than ever on the iPhone. We believe Apple is about to embark on a decade-long malaise. The risks to the company have never been greater.”
“[Apple will have] one last ‘growth’ hurrah from the tenth-anniversary phone.”
More reliant on the most successful product ever made? Malaise! Thanks for the insight, Andrew.
Neil Cybart in Above Avalon (December 2016):
“Milking the iPhone
It feels like cracks are forming at Apple’s edges. The company is straining to push out hardware updates. Supply issues are getting worse. Apple is reportedly moving away from selling beloved products like stand-alone displays and wireless routers. Meanwhile, Microsoft, Amazon, and Snap are gaining buzz with new niche hardware while Apple appears to be hanging back and resting on its laurels. Something feels off with Apple, and the blame is increasingly pointed at Tim Cook.”
“One key mistake Apple made with the Mac during the early 1990s was to focus too much on profits and not market share.”
“Building a Sandcastle
Milking the iPhone in order to build a formidable ecosystem has been one of Cook’s defining moments as CEO.”
“Cook has built a spectacular sandcastle.”
“Cracks at the Edges
This pursuit of milking the iPhone has contributed to cracks forming at Apple’s edges.”
“Apple’s handling of the Mac line has been increasingly questionable. The same can be said of the iPad line.”
“Apple faces a major risk in relying so much on the iPhone to build its ecosystem. ... ecosystems are not everything. There has never been an ecosystem strong enough to stand the test of time. The App Store is not invincible.”
Nothing last forever — so Apple’s jig is near up! Got it, Neil.
Ed Bott in Redmond Magazine (December 2016):
“Why Is Apple Letting Microsoft’s Surface Kill the Mac?”
“[I]mprobably, Microsoft now finds itself being hailed as the innovator in modern PC design, with Apple hearing loud criticism for its outdated devices and timid technology decisions. Have we fallen through the looking glass?”
“The Mac ... is a legacy device, as far as Apple is concerned. The biggest tell? Six years after the debut of the iPad and four years after PCs began shipping with touchscreens, Apple adamantly refuses to add touch capabilities to the MacBook line. ... Meanwhile, Microsoft has gone all in with touchscreens.”
“Microsoft’s approach to convergence starts with its classic PC hardware and software, adding new capabilities to the OS to support new devices and services. Apple’s approach is to put its version of the classic PC on a glide path to obsolescence ...”
“Increasingly, I’m convinced that there’s room for both iOS and Windows ... Where that leaves the Mac, however, isn’t so clear.”
Rah, rah, Microsoft. From the same Bott who four years ago called iBookstore “mind-bogglingly greedy and evil,” then the next year said, “Steve [Ballmer]’s done a pretty good job. There aren’t too many CEOs in the tech industry today that are capable of continuing to make a profit. I mean, by that same logic Tim Cook should have been fired three months ago.” Bott looks right at home in Redmond Magazine.
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes in ZDNet (December 2016):
“2016: The year Apple stumbled
And 2017 seems set to be an even tougher year for the Cupertino giant.”
“[A]ll is not well in Apple-land.”
“iPhone sales are weakening, and analysts are predicting that things are only going to get worse. Next year’s 10th anniversary iPhone might kick off a huge upgrade cycle, but beyond that the consensus among analysts seems to be that the trajectory is headed downwards.”
“The iPad looks like it is on borrowed time. Then there’s Apple’s aging hardware line-up ... old and stale and in desperate need of a refresh.”
“2016 showed that even Apple, with all the money and smarts and consumer goodwill, is just another tech company.”
Apple: Just another tech company! Like, you know, HP. Or Dell. Or Acer, maybe. Asus? Toshiba? Sony? Sharp? So many to choose from. They’re all about the same.
iFixit (December 2016):
“As we begin to pull out the [AirPods’] boards, cables, and other bits, we’re reminded of a certain wearable repair nightmare (*cough* Apple Watch *cough*). If jamming complex components into a small form factor and sealing it with a copious amount of glue were a game, Apple would be winning.”
If building phenomenally successful products for iFixit to predictably wrench open and bitch about is a game, Apple is most assuredly winning.
Vlad Savov in The Verge (December 2016):
“macOS is becoming legacy software
Everything that Apple did, and didn’t do, with its Mac lineup this year tells me the company would rather be selling more iPads and iPhones. ... What that means for macOS is that it’s fast turning into legacy software: an afterthought on its way to becoming abandonware.”
“macOS is, of course, not going to disappear anytime soon. ... there’s a passionate user base that will extend its life far beyond the amount of time it takes Apple to transition all its eggs into the iOS basket. But make no mistake about it, that move is already underway.”
Apple wants to abandon the Mac. Got it, Vlad.
Dave Smith in Business Insider (December 2016):
“Apple is losing its focus again — and this time, there’s no Steve Jobs coming to the rescue”
Remember how Apple was maybe 90 days from bankruptcy just before Jobs came back? Well, now it’s maybe 90 years from bankruptcy! (Assuming it sells no more products and just uses its cash to pay its current employee base to sit around for 90 years.) And this time — Jobs isn’t coming back to save it!
Chris O’Brien in VentureBeat (December 2016):
“Apple survived a horrible 2016 and the end of its golden age. Now what?
If any other major tech company had the kind of year Apple did in 2016, it’s a fair bet that they would have been crucified by investors and pummeled by critics.”
Critics like.. you?
“[T]he stock is up about 10 percent so far this year. That surprisingly strong stock gain is the result of the underlying faith in Apple’s management and culture, as well as the reservoir of goodwill the company has developed among fans over the past decade as it seemed to routinely dazzle with new products or splashy upgrades. The question now is how patient are those investors and fans willing to be?”
“[T]he best that probably can be said right now is that it’s quite likely that 2017 won’t be nearly as bad as 2016.”
We should all have a 2017 as bad as Apple’s 2016.
KIA Investment Research in Seeking Alpha (December 2016):
“It’s Time For Apple To Stop Fooling Around And Take Back Market Share From Android”
“It is totally within Apple’s power to outflank Google by licensing iOS.”
“[E]ven with [its] stunning operating margins, things could be better for Apple, much better.”
Licensing wins — it was true twenty years ago, it’s true today, and it will be true tomorrow. And no matter how well Apple does without licensing out its OS, that’s just “fooling around.” Dogma trumps reality, every time.
Christopher Mims in The Wall Street Journal (January 2017):
“Why Apple’s Critics Are Right This Time”
“Almost since the birth of Apple Inc., critics have declared it was headed in the wrong direction. In 1997, when the company was 90 days from bankruptcy and Steve Jobs returned to save it, that criticism was correct. While things aren’t remotely as bad today, Apple’s critics are correct again.”
“[T]he conspicuous absence of [an Echo-like] device or comparable functionality makes it hard to believe Apple isn’t falling behind, despite being one of the first to the starting line when it introduced Siri more than five years ago.”
“Apple is great at creating unified experiences, but if the company makes too many products, it is impossible for management to keep up.”
“Like all giants at the apex of their power, it isn’t clear Apple is sufficiently paranoid about what might come next.”
“Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment for this article.”
No! Hard to believe.
Rob Enderle (January 2017):
“Two of the breakout products at CES were the Dell XPS 27 and the Dell Canvas 27 which, in concert, form a far more advanced solution for creators than the Apple iMac, which has formed the core of the industry standard for years. How Dell got this done was unusual for the industry and, I think, is the basis for a best practice for the industry.”
Tell us, Rob, how does Michael Dell’s ass taste?
Mike Murphy in Quartz (January 2017):
“Apple was once lauded for the design, durability, and simplicity of its products. But in recent years, the company has lost its way. Many of its newer devices feel derivative of older ones — rather than incrementally better — or seem just plain odd. Consumers appear to agree ...”
Apple’s critics haven’t lost their way, have they? Maybe they never had it.
Navneet Alang in The Week (January 2017):
“[I]f Apple cannot right itself, other companies will step in to fill the void.”
“With Apple’s influence waning, we may find ourselves in a strange position, lamenting the decline of a multi-billion dollar corporation ...”
“Apple’s technology is just no longer dominant.”
“[I]f Apple continues its slide into making sleek, expensive hardware that doesn’t meet its customers’ needs, while letting its competitors leapfrog it in virtual assistants and other fields, its significance will fade.”
“The sad end of the Apple era”
Something here is very sad, that’s for sure.
Rob Enderle (January 2017):
“BlackBerry’s John Chen: Beating Jobs by Doing the Impossible in Three Years”
“Chen is not only ahead of Steve Jobs in terms of turnaround speed, he has done something that both HP and Sun failed at: turned a hardware company into a software and services company, arguably something Jobs couldn’t have done. I had a chance to ask him about that this week and I’ll close with his fascinating response, but first I want to document how he was able to do what so many have failed at: Successfully doing a turnaround.”
Tell us, Rob, how does John Chen’s ass taste?
David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance (February 2017):
“Apple has struggled to maintain its technological advantage, with new iterations of the iPhone delivering diminishing returns, while the Chinese market is now crowded with local competitors. Apple has been living on borrowed time for several years by exploiting its accumulated brand equity. This underlines one of the many benefits of a strong brand, but Apple has finally taken it too far.”
You’re taking your #1-brand crown away from the company that makes the highest profits in corporate history just by living on its brand? Uh, makes sense to me, Dave.
Neil George in TheStreet (February 2017):
“[Apple] is faced with a dwindling market share and shrinking margins. This should send up a red flag for investors, warning them to get out fast.”
“Apple’s fans and investors are like a cult, so enamored with the company that they don’t read behind the lines in the company’s earnings report.”
“Apple’s got other troubles, as well. ... Perhaps Apple would do well by not picking fights with — or even suing — its suppliers ...”
“Apple is losing its market share ... Investors should be wary of Apple’s faltering business.”
“Whereas Apple is spending billions on a new ‘spaceship’ campus that certainly will never fly, Amazon is building an air cargo hub near its mega distribution center in Kentucky ...”
“Apple’s big trouble is a lack of ‘the next big thing,’ but Amazon is constantly trying things that may well take on that mantle. Apple makes phones that some people like. But the company’s practice of hording [sic] cash isn’t the best way to build future value.”
Amazon! Amazon will save us from an Apple-dominated future. (And boy, did we need saving.)
Ian Bogost in The Atlantic (February 2017):
“The Myth of Apple’s Great Design
The company’s new ‘spaceship’ headquarters shows how its beauty has always been skin deep.
Apple has great design is the biggest myth in technology today.”
“Apple has never accomplished sufficiently great design in its electronics to justify lionizing the pedantry of design at the new Apple campus.”
“In truth, Apple’s products hide a shambles of bad design under the perfection of sleek exteriors.”
“Apple products’ inattention to detail in design was already easy to see during the Jobs era ... Steve Jobs’s design philosophy was fascist more than it was exacting. The man was a not a demigod of design, but its dictator. ... Apple never cared what its customers thought, or wanted.”
“Apple’s products are beautiful objects ... that lied about the depths of that beauty.”
“[O]ne could also compare the zombified reality of Apple workers plodding to work over the carefully unperturbed thresholds in their new spaceship headquarters to the sleepy drone of an army built to abide rather than to think, let alone think different. ... Ironically, such design amounts to an inversion of the company’s famous 1984 Super Bowl ad for the original Macintosh. ... Apple’s wares have become increasingly collectivist and uniform, not to mention inoperative — even as the company has somehow gotten credit only for innovation and performance.”
“[Apple’s] new headquarters is a monolith meant to be worshiped ... Just don’t ask too many questions about how it works in practice. ... Borg-like, the black, glass Apple mothership ... will shroud its engineers in the safe comfort of an unperturbed gait, such that they might yet craft the identical, future devices ...”
Apple was never supposed to actually win, you know. Just ever be the lovable, struggling underdog. Thanks, Ian.
Eric Jackson in Forbes (February 2017):
“I have been a staunch critic of Apple’s capital return plan since it started in 2012. I think it signals to Wall Street that Apple is out of growth ideas ...”
“[Apple’s] dividends make no sense. They’re as helpful as Ballmer’s one-time special dividend was to Microsoft’s stock after the dot com bust. ... Money shoveled out the door for dividends creates no value.”
“[Apple] should immediately cancel all dividends ...”
“[A]s time goes on, history is demonstrating the folly even more of this precious Apple [‘thousand no’s for every yes’] type of thinking.”
“Apple should have bought Facebook ... I’ve also made the case for Apple buying Instagram, Twitter, and Yahoo ... Apple should’ve bought Tesla ... Apple also clearly should have bought Netflix ...”
Shoulda shoulda shoulda! Apple would be doing so much better if I was running the company.
Eric Jackson in The Eric Jackson Podcast #50 (February 2017):
“Apple is an iPhone company right now in terms of margins, revenues, profits, and so forth. The day that that stream goes away is gonna be a huge wake-up call to Apple. So they do need to be experimenting and pushing themselves into new areas. And I just don’t, I don’t understand why Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, Phil Schiller, whoever else on that senior team, why they’ve been so, they seem to be, so anti big-M&A. Again, when it’s been so valuable to Google, by contrast.”
Like, buying Motorola, then selling it for $10 billion less than they paid for it?
Adam Hartung in Forbes (February 2017):
“Tim Cook’s ‘Ballmer-ization’ Of Apple”
“[T]oday’s Apple, and the Apple emerging for the future, is absolutely not the Apple which brought investors to this dance. That Apple was all about innovation. ... Today’s Apple has been remade by Tim Cook, and it is an entirely different company. ... Today’s Apple is about using the company’s storied position, and brand leadership, to milk more money out of customers ...”
“[Apple’s] expansion into [India] is anticipated to produce tremendous iPhone sales growth. Do you remember when, just before filing for bankruptcy, Krispy Kreme was going to keep up its valuation by expanding into China?”
“Overall, doesn’t this sound a lot like Microsoft? ... Gates turned the reigns over to CEO Steve Ballmer. And Mr. Ballmer maximized these advantages. ... Ballmer optimized the gains from Microsoft’s installed base. And a lot — a lot — of money was made doing this.”
“Today all one hears about at Apple is growing the installed base. Maximizing sales of iPhones. And then selling everyone services. Oh yeah, the Apple Watch came out. Sort of flopped. Nobody really seemed to care much.”
“[T]hat’s the problem with all of these sort of ‘milk the base’ businesses. ... Arrogance, based on market leadership, emerges ...”
“Meanwhile, over the last four years Apple has spent lavishly on a new corporate headquarters ... Who was that retailer that was so successful that it built what was, at the time, the world’s tallest building? Oh yeah, that was Sears.”
Keep telling me, guys, and I’ll eventually get it through my thick head: Apple wasn’t ever supposed to really succeed. They were supposed to keep coming up with cool ideas for other companies to take.
Damon Darlin in The New York Times (February 2017):
“How to Decide Which Headphones to Buy (Hint: Not Apple’s AirPods)”
“Ah, the AirPods. ... Aside from not having a cord to tangle and being decent at taking phone calls, the AirPods didn’t improve much over the corded EarPods. ... this for $130 more than a replacement pair of EarPods? I don’t think they’re fully cooked yet.”
You mean, Damon, you might actually be recommending next year’s AirPods when they’re available to purchase? Pardon me if I don’t wager any large sums on that.
Richard A. Epstein of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution (February 2016):
“Apple’s iPhone Blunder”
“Can the United States government compel Apple to help break into the phone of [the San Bernardino spree shooters]?”
“It was agreed on all sides that only Apple has the technology that might overcome the encryption device.”
Actual outcome: The FBI hired a third-party hacker to do it.
Rob Enderle in IT Business Edge (April 2017):
“The cause of [Apple v. Qualcomm] appears to be an effort by Apple to pressure Qualcomm into providing a unique discount, largely because Apple has run into an innovation wall, is under increased competition from firms like Samsung, and has moved to a massive cost reduction strategy. (I’ve never known this to end well, as it causes suppliers to create unreliable components and outright fail.)”
“Apple appears to need Qualcomm more than Qualcomm needs Apple. ... Apple has become dependent on its iPhone revenue and, without Qualcomm, that product wouldn’t be competitive ... with potentially deadly impact on Apple’s revenue. ... At the heart of this is the fact that Apple’s perception of reality is very different from what it actually is.”
Speaking of reality perception, why no mention of FRAND in your entire article?
Ewan Spence in Forbes (April 2017):
“Apple Losing Out As Consumers Reject The New MacBook Pro
All is not well with Apple in the world of desktops and portable computers.”
“Apple has always pushed the idea that an investment in a MacBook will provide a return over the lifetime of the device, but this latest releases in the MacBook range — including the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar — have broken that covenant.”
“Unfortunately the 2016 refresh of the MacBook range did not add a huge amount of feature or functionality to the range to go along with the new price.”
“The Touch Bar is cute, but it can never be an integral part of macOS for many years ...”
“Apple also has to contend with the other laptop manufacturers coming to terms with the high-end market and bringing out designs that not only match, but surpass Apple’s choices ... behind all of these machines lies Microsoft and Windows 10.”
“Apple has become complacent in the eyes of many ...”
The Windows PC market is doing so well, isn’t it?
Karla Lant in Futurism (April 2017):
“Why Apple Should Buy Tesla and Make Elon Musk CEO
Apple: A Bit Lost
Elon Musk is the unstoppable innovation juggernaut of our time.”
“[Apple’s] sales are steady, probably because they continually pour out the same tired products that (they know) people are willing to buy. They also don’t take risks. Ever.”
“[W]hat Apple needs is to produce something new and inventive, which it hasn’t done in a very long time. Who says Apple doesn’t innovate anymore? Well, almost everyone. Just Google search, ‘Apple is no longer innovative.’”
“Apple will find itself in an increasingly precarious position unless it chooses another course. The company has benefitted from Samsung’s woes (what with all the phones exploding and catching fire), but that isn’t going to last.”
“Apple will soon (once again) find itself going head-to-head with competitors that are just as capable of turning out devices with the most notable ‘new’ feature being that they come in a new color.”
“Imagine you’re one of the best and brightest new minds ... Would you rather work on never-before-seen breakthroughs in technology or endless iterations of the same products? No one is called to create the latest version of the same passable earbuds; that’s not a calling. It’s just a job.”
“The longer Apple stays within its narrow computer/tablet/smartphone lanes, the tougher it will be to break free and diversify.”
Apple is in trouble. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Rob Enderle in CIO (April 2017):
“Often, those who come into power quickly end up misusing that power, despite indications early on that there will be a problem. Even though we have a saying about power and corruption, ‘power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ we should, but we don’t put in place strong controls to prevent rather than punish this bad behavior. Even Steve Jobs was almost fired a second time from Apple and might have ended up in jail for abuse of power (in his case backdating his own options without board approval) and, without Jobs, Apple likely not only not been the most valuable company in the world, but it likely would have failed last decade.”
Sometimes to get through your day you gotta fantasize about a world without Apple. Right, Rob?
Rob Enderle (April 2017):
“Why Steve Ballmer could fix the U.S. government”
“Steve Ballmer had a tough time as CEO of Microsoft largely because he had the wrong skill set to run that company. ... his extreme intelligence is largely focused on one area: numbers.”
Tell us, Rob, how does Steve Ballmer’s ass taste?
Standard Investment Company Inc., Hedge fund manager, in Seeking Alpha (May 2017):
“Tim Cook Needs To Be Replaced”
“Cook simply inherited the success created by Steve Jobs ...”
“Cook reflects a lack of vision and innovation required by a successful tech company CEO. Tim Cook in many ways is identical to Steve Ballmer, and for the same reasons should be replaced.”
“Cook ... is one of the more controversial CEOs in the world. ... there are those who believe that Tim Cook is not the visionary CEO that a world-class company needs. ... The following presentation will provide a brief yet thorough analysis of Tim Cook’s track record in terms of product and innovation and will conclude that, despite the successes he oversaw, he must be replaced.”
The only thing more fun than recommending a company rashly ruin itself — while pretending to be giving it helpful advice — is doing it under an official-sounding, corporate pseudonym.
Rob Enderle (May 2017):
“[W]hen it came to the iWatch, also a name that Apple didn’t own, Apple walked away from it and instead launched the Apple Watch. Certainly, no risk of litigation, but the product’s sales are a fraction of what they otherwise might have been with the proper name and branding.”
Translation: It feels so good to describe Apple as failing, no matter how far I have to stretch to do it.
Rob Enderle (May 2017):
“Let’s take the practice that largely forced Michael Dell to take his company and then EMC private: the excessive focus on quarterly results (which has been broadly panned because it is a company killer). Dell not only isn’t the rule, these practices that are slowly killing firms like Apple are still by far the most common.”
Michael Dell saved Dell from the same affliction that’s killing Apple. Okie dokie.
Mark Wilson in Co.Design (June 2017):
“Why Does Apple Think It Can Get Away With Selling Overpriced Stuff? Just because it’s worked before doesn’t mean it can work today.”
This time I’m right.
Ewan Spence in Forbes (June 2017):
“Why All Of Apple’s New Hardware Releases Are Good News For Microsoft’s Surface”
Like they were good for Windows Phone?
Rob Enderle (June 2017):
“Hearing Crickets at Apple’s WWDC ...”
“Apple is becoming more and more like a typical tech firm — that is, long on technology and short on magic.”
“Siri is coming to the Mac ... Better late than never, I guess...”
“At this year’s WWDC ... the excitement was on vacation.”
“Apple is drifting closer and closer to where it was back in the 1990s. It offers advancements that largely follow those made by others years earlier, product proliferation, a preference for more over simple elegance, and waning excitement.”
Keep dreaming about the ’90s, Rob.
Rob Enderle (June 2017):
“Why the Smartphone Market Works and Why Apple Wants to Kill It
As successful as the iPod market was for Apple it really didn’t work that well for the rest of us because advancement only came when Apple saw a threat.”
“FRAND licensing ... in theory, would prevent someone with competitive problems from raising prices on competitors to cripple them if they were successful. (Interestingly, the only firm in recent memory that ever did this was Apple ...)”
“I just put in my order for the Essential Phone, a unique product technology showcase from Andy Rubin, the guy who created Android, that likely wouldn’t be able to exist (and Apple has been trying to kill) if we didn’t have an affordable way for his small company to license the necessary technology.”
Apple’s coming after you Rob. They’re hiding in your closet at night.
Mark Wilson in Co.Design (June 2017):
“The Sneaky Psychology Of Apple Pay — And How It Could Cost You”
“If Apple really cared about customer experience, why wouldn’t the company make the process of redeeming Apple Pay cash as simple as paying it? Apple would not comment on the matter, but talking to analysts and payment specialists, it seems certain that Apple Pay’s design doesn’t prioritize you. Apple Pay prioritizes itself and its partners.”
Sophie Kleeman in Gizmodo (June 2017):
“[Apple] was controlled by a megalomaniacal asshole for much of its existence ...”
“Behold, Chicago’s terrible new Apple store! ... Why didn’t they just keep the old design? ... The Apple Store on 5th Avenue is a giant cube, which is also sort of lame ...”
“I am forced to assume that this is some sort of cruel retribution from Foster+Partners, the British firm that designed the store. ... Did Tim Cook piss on Foster or his partners’ floor? We may never know.”
Is Sophie Kleeman an unabashed Apple hater? We may never know.
Scott Galloway in L2 Daily (June 2017):
“Amazon will displace Apple as the top tech hardware innovator, with Alexa cementing itself as the gadget that defines the decade (post iPhone).”
Because that “post-iPhone” era is coming, like, really soon now. Can’t you feel it in the air?
Christina Passariello in The Wall Street Journal (July 2017):
“With Apple Park, [Jonathan] Ive is ensconced as master of the house, which means he has also inherited the burden of proving that Apple’s best days aren’t behind it. Apple hasn’t had a breakthrough product since Jobs died. The iPhone’s sales growth has stalled, and expectations are high that a 10th-anniversary phone will arrive later this year and will be markedly more advanced than previous versions. In other technologies, from digital assistants to driverless vehicles to augmented and virtual reality, Apple seems to lag other tech giants, including Google, Amazon and Tesla. Its new voice-activated speaker, HomePod, unveiled in June, will arrive on the market in December, three years after Amazon’s Echo.”
iPod released a few years after other MP3 players. iPhone came years after other smartphones. iPad came nearly a decade after other company’s tablet computers. Big-screen iPhones years after big-screen Android phones and Windows Phones. AirPods years after other brands of BlueTooth earphones. And now the HomePod? When, oh, when will Apple ever learn? You need to be first, not best!
Damon Beres in Mashable (August 2017):
“Apple’s greed is killing the planet (and screwing you, too)”
“[C]orporations like Apple like money more than anything, no matter how glossy their environmental websites are ... in an era of ‘activist’ tech corporations, it’s jarring to find the bottom line so nakedly championed at the expense of consumers and the planet they live in.”
“‘The manufacturers hold almost all of the votes,’ Kyle Wiens, the CEO of iFixit, a popular gadget repair company, said. ‘They’re basically writing the standards themselves.’”
Ah, Wiens. No better source than him for info about what Apple should and shouldn’t be doing. He and Beres ought to get along great.
Thomas Lee in The San Francisco Chronicle (August 2017):
“As Apple shifts toward services, company needs to rethink brand”
“[Y]ou would probably have to go all the way back to 1983, with the debut of the Apple IIe computer, to find the company’s last major Apple-branded product that struck gold.”
“Under CEO Tim Cook, the Cupertino giant is changing from a company that makes products to one that offers services, like mobile payments or streaming video.”
“[T]here lies the problem. Apple’s brand historically signified innovation. So if Apple has tapped out on innovation, what does it stand for?”
“The shift hurts Apple in another way: Its stores, temples to Apple product designs, are less valuable for selling services.”
“A spokesman for Apple did not respond to a request for comment.”
James Vincent in The Verge (September 2017):
“Apple calling its stores ‘town squares’ is a pretentious farce
Excruciating self-congratulation has always been part of Apple’s brand ... It started with a tribute to Steve Jobs that was unnerving in the depth of its veneration.”
“[Apple] has always been defined in part by onanism and self-congratulation, but has managed a certain degree of self-awareness. This year, it jumped the shark.”
Heads up, James: “jumped the shark” long ago jumped the shark.
Paul Thurrott (September 2017):
“With Apple’s awful iPhone announcement behind us, we can turn our attention to more interesting [Google Pixel] devices.”
“[Apple] events are tough for non-sycophants such as myself. I don’t take everything Apple says at face value, as they would prefer. And I certainly don’t buy into the theory that the world’s most profitable company is in any way out to help humanity or make the world a better place.”
Or at least not a better place for froth-mouth haters like Paul. For him and his fellow “non-sycophants,” the whole world has been a bit tough lately.
Joshua Topolsky in The Outline (September 2017):
“APPLE IS REALLY BAD AT DESIGN”
“[N]o one wanted or asked for Face ID, and the feature actually raises new concerns about security for users.”
“iPhone X ... is a flagship only because Apple wants it to be one.”
“I would love to say that this awful design compromise is an anomaly for Apple. But it would be more accurate to describe it as the norm.”
“Once upon a time, Apple could do little wrong. ... But things changed.”
“[iOS 7], the first piece of software overseen by Jony Ive, was confusing, amateur, and relatively unfinished upon launch. ... Since that release, the company has strayed further and further from a clear sense of purpose in its design, and drifted into a kind of mid-life malaise in which nothing seems to feel, work, or look quite the way it should. ... Apple’s foundation ... seems to be ebbing away with each new product.”
“It’s been a long time since Apple blew anyone away with its ‘innovation’ ...”
“And it’s not just the hardware, or the UI. The ecosystem is unwell.”
“[T]he reality is that for all the phones Apple sells and for all the people who buy them, the company is stuck in idea-quicksand, like Microsoft in the early 2000s, or Apple in the 90s.”
“[W]ith victory often comes complacency, and in Apple’s case, that complacency comes in the form of design without thought ... an increasing lack of concern for what is coming next. In technology, that next thing is always the one that breaks you.”
“Apple may be able to tout that it’s the ‘No. 1’ watchmaker in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s making good products.”
“Oh and the latest Watch hardware release? Eviscerated by critics ...”
Jack Morse in Mashable (September 2017):
“I’ll never use Apple’s Face ID”
Good for you, Jack.
Raymond Wong in Mashable (October 2017):
“How Google’s Pixel Buds will kill Apple AirPods”
By getting a lot of really bad reviews?
Rob Enderle in Tech News World (November 2017):
“Why Are Tech Companies Trying to Kill Us?”
“When I first saw the iPhone, I was appalled and, frankly, frightened. ... My concern was that many kids (and I should have included, but didn’t, many adults) have ADD. ... a device that constantly tries to engage them and entrap them in that engagement could subject them to life-threatening dangers any time they are in motion.”
“Why Some Tech Companies Are Homicidal
I think it comes down to an excessive focus on quarterly results, which increasingly blinds these firms to the massive risks they are taking when it comes to our — and their own — long-term survival.”
“What we now have is too much focus on short-term revenues and almost no focus on the long-term survival or success of the firm. This is why you don’t see anything very innovative out of firms like Apple.”
Translation: Saying “Apple’s products suck” just doesn’t do it for me any more. It takes something a lot stronger to gratify me now.
Jason Perlow in ZDNet (December 2017):
“Batterygate: Apple betrayed its customers and now it faces a world of hurt
It takes decades to build up fierce customer loyalty and just one mistake to completely dismantle it”
Because Apple’s “fiercely loyal” customers are just itching for any reason to hate the company. Got it, Jason.
Paul Mampilly in Banyan Hill (December 2017):
“Apple is doomed. And 2018 is the year where I believe you’ll start to see that this once-great American company has peaked and the Apple stock price is ready to decline.”
“To me, most people buying Apple stock are buying into a memory. ... Jobs died in October 2011. Since then, Apple has introduced no new revolutionary products. Instead, Apple now tinkers with models, sizes and colors.”
“[B]ecause Apple’s focusing on tinkering rather than innovation, Amazon and Google’s lead are only going to increase ...”
Those Fire and Pixel phones? Their lead is only going to increase.
David Gewirtz in ZDNet (January 2018):
“Maybe it’s time for Apple to spin off the Mac as a separate company”
“The only reason the Mac has been such a low priority to Apple is that it’s been such a low priority to Apple.”
Say.. aren’t you the guy who once informed us that “Apple’s primary goal is meeting Apple’s goals”?
Nilay Patel in The Verge (February 2018):
“I don’t think I’ve ever described a tech product as ‘lonely’ before, but it’s the word I thought about the most as I was reviewing Apple’s new HomePod.”
“HomePod ... demands that you live entirely inside Apple’s ecosystem ... [I]s beautiful sound quality worth locking yourself even more tightly into a walled garden?”
“Unfortunately, Apple’s audio engineering team wasn’t in charge of just putting out a speaker. It was in charge of the audio components of a smart speaker, one that simply isn’t as smart as its competitors.”
“HomePod doesn’t even really know Spotify exists. ... It’s an incredibly frustrating limitation ...”
“[T]he outside is wrapped in a custom spongy mesh fabric Apple proudly told me was developed by its ‘soft materials team.’ I do not know if that team has any cats, but I suspect cats are going to love the HomePod.”
“[I]f you just click yes during all the setup prompts, literally anyone can ask the HomePod to send or read your text messages.”
“HomePod sounds incredible, but not so world-bendingly amazing that you should switch away from Spotify, or accept Siri’s frustrating limitations as compared to Alexa. Apple’s ecosystem lock-in is actively working against a remarkable product ... it feels like it was designed for a very demanding person to use while living alone entirely inside Apple’s ecosystem. ... unless you live entirely inside Apple’s walled garden and prioritize sound quality over everything else, I think you’re better served by other smart speakers that sound almost as good and offer the services and capabilities that actually fit your life.”
People who use Apple products are “lonely.” They live “alone.” They wish they’d bought someone else’s products, which would “actually fit their life.” Got it, Nilay.
Ewan Spence in Forbes (February 2018):
“The iPhone no longer ‘just works’. Apple CEO Tim Cook is eating through a lot of goodwill to maintain Apple’s revenue and income.”
“Companies rise, and companies fall. Apple’s press releases will happily tell you why it is still on the rise, but the currents under the surface are shifting to tell another story.”
Apple’s great-looking numbers mask the true condition of alarming gloom. I would thank you for that, Ewan, but I’m afraid the line of pundits in front of you — offering identical wisdom for quite a few years now — has already drained that particular thanks bucket bone-dry.