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The Upside-Down Tech Future

2014.04.24   prev     next

IF Apple is succeeding wildly, while other tech companies are stumbling and failing, and you don’t like that, what do you predict for the future? What else — the upside-down opposite of what’s happening now!

Dell was on top of the world maybe ten years ago, and now they’re not — so if Apple is top of the world now, soon they won’t be! See how it works? Apple was in dire straits fifteen years ago, but now they’re on top of the world — so if Dell is in dire straits now, soon they’ll be on top of the world!

It’s so obvious! Just ask the experts. Here they are, from the past year — enjoy!

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.”

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.”

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.”

Peter Cohan in Forbes (April 2013): “[I]ts imminent debt offering is just a part of what makes me wonder whether Apple could become the next Dell. ... Is Apple going the way of Dell?”

Rob Enderle (May 2013): “How HP Could Become the Next Apple ... 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.”

Derek Crockett in The Washington Times Communities (May 2013): “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.”

Clem Chambers in Forbes (May 2013): “Apple Needs A Miracle ... Apple investors need to look at the Microsoft chart carefully because this is a highly likely future for their stock.”

Jeremy Bowman in The Motley Fool (June 2013): “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.”

Barry Randall in MarketWatch (September 2013): “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.”

Henry Blodget in Business Insider (September 2013): “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.”

Paul Sagawa of Sector & Sovereign Research (October 2013): “Given Apple’s massive sales and industry defying profitability, it is difficult to see where ... 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.”

Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg (October 2013): “The 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).”

Benjamin Pimentel in MarketWatch (December 2013): “‘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%.’”

Paul R. La Monica in CNN Money (January 2014): “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.”

Jeff Macke in Yahoo Finance (January 2014): “New Apple looks like the old Microsoft ... Apple is getting old. ... 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.”

Richard Feloni in Business Insider (April 2014): “[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.”

 

Ongoing updates:

Scott Moritz in The Street (March 2010): “While hard to picture now, Jobs and company will one day, maybe soon, fall out of step with fashion. ... It’s inevitable. The life cycle of tech giants is brilliant and brutally short. Today’s consumer electronics leaders are tomorrow’s fossils.”

Joe Wilcox in betanews (September 2010): “Even the fallen can rise to greatness. Apple was a near-death case in 1996 ... Now look at Apple, with market capitalization greater than Microsoft’s ... If Apple can achieve such greatness with so much less than what Microsoft can bring to bear, Windows Phone can yet push upwards from the bottom. After all, Microsoft isn’t a company teetering on the edge of collapse like Apple was in the mid 1990s.”

James B. Stewart in The New York Times, “Common Sense” (February 2012): “[Evercore Partners’ Ro­bert] Cihra may well be right that Apple investors have at least several years of breathing room. But history suggests that excessive enthusiasm can often precede a fall. At Cisco’s peak, every Wall Street analyst covering the company rated it a strong buy or buy.”

Michael Wolff in The Guardian (August 2012): “Just like Microsoft, Apple’s evolution from smart tech company to global uber-brand contains the seeds of its own destruction ... 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.”

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?”

Rob Enderle (December 2012): “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.”

James Surowiecki in The New Yorker (March 2013): “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. ... Past performance is no guarantee of future results: just ask Motorola and BlackBerry.”

Daniel B. Kline in The Motley Fool (March 2014): “Just like it was great to be ... Blockbuster Video until the concept of video rental largely moved from physical to digital rental, it’s great to have the top smartphone while people buy smartphones. ... if Apple is not prepared for whatever is next, than [sic] the company — no matter how great a 2014 it will have — is built on a shaky foundation.”

Bert Dohmen in Forbes (March 2014): “The Apple bulls tell us about the great ‘eco-system’ of Apple. ... 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.”

Jonathan Yates in The Street (April 2014): “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 ...”

Kevin Maney in Newsweek (May 2014): “In 2020, Apple will still be king of the digital download, but that will be like congratulating Barnes & Noble because it’s king of physical bookstores.”

Jim Edwards in Yahoo Finance (May 2014): “[L]oss of share may not bother Apple CEO Tim Cook. ... But the history of computing has one iron-cast lesson for us all: Devices get cheaper over time, and better over time. The high-priced seller usually loses. This is why nobody uses $8.8 million Cray computers anymore.”

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in CITEworld (May 2014): “Sony has been listless since its iconic founder Akio Morita left in 1994. Since Bill Gates left his day-to-day role at Microsoft, the company’s stock price has been flat and it has lost its edge. GM has been on a secular decline since it has lost its legendary CEO Alfred P. Sloan. The examples are countless. ... For all his outstanding talent and his great personal likability, Tim Cook has revealed himself as what we knew him to be in our heart of hearts all along: A suit MBA. He is the Steve Ballmer to Jobs’s Bill Gates, and the consequences, in terms of the company’s inventiveness and long-term future, will be the same for Apple.”

Pedro de Noronha of Noster Capital (July 2014): “I need to know where a company is going to be in 5-to-10 years. I mean look at Apple, a company we all admire... I don’t know where they are going to be in three years. It’s a very competitive landscape. They might become obsolete in two-to-three years, as we’ve seen with dozens of technology companies.”

Horace Dediu of The Critical Path (November 2014): “If [Amazon] sustain[s] this strategy with Kindle and AWS for 20 more years, you never know, by then they’d just be patient enough to wait for the market to kind-of already consolidate, or wither away so that they will be the last man standing. Mac is the case in point ... they [at Apple] were persistent and they had the motives to stay in it for such a long time, 30 years on, there are no competitors from when it was born that are still around, and it’s capturing share. It’s actually probably capturing #1 profit in the business ... So could this happen for Kindle? Although it may not have the fuel to become a rocket that overtakes the market, it may have enough fuel to just sustain itself long-term within that market, and have loyal customers — and Amazon customers are loyal — that will buy the Kindle and will buy the Fire, and to keep improving it to be good enough. And then they might end up, in another 20 years, to be, if not the major player, one of the strong, top-5 device makers on the planet.”

Seth Weintraub in 9to5 Google (February 2015): “[W]hy Google should buy the remains of Radio Shack ... Apple has had a lot of success with stores and that trend shows no signs of abating. ... Apple and Tesla have both proven that high tech companies can prosper in retail.”

Jon Swartz in USA TODAY (April 2015): “[Apple] is arguably in as strong a position as any tech company since IBM ruled the mid-1980s. Ah, IBM. It’s Apple’s world, but fan boys take note: At one time, Big Blue was the Mount Olympus of big business. ... But all good things come to an end. ... Eventually, Apple — like IBM before it — will bow to the quarterly expectations game that Michael Dell cryptically refers to as a ‘90-day shot clock.’”

Jeff Sommer in The New York Times (April 2015): “Apple Won’t Always Rule. Just Look at IBM. Apple can’t grow like this forever. No company can. ... even if Apple still has some room to run, there are some early warning signs. ... the last market colossus to tower over its competitors by a two-to-one ratio was IBM, which did it in three successive years: 1983, 1984 and 1985. ‘That was when PCs were new,’ [Howard Silverblatt] said, ‘and just about everyone thought IBM would rule the world.’ ... What happened to IBM — how it became this small, in comparison with Apple — is worth remembering. I had forgotten how imposing IBM once was. By some measures, it was vastly more important than Apple is today. ... With hindsight, it’s clear that IBM’s Olympian status was part of its problem. ... Rapid growth, after all, isn’t a sure thing, especially when you’re already the biggest company in the world. IBM has proved that. Sooner or later, Apple investors will have to take that lesson to heart.”

Rob Enderle (July 2015): “Apple was in worse shape than HP Inc. will be and it still managed to eventually become a more powerful company than HP, suggesting that with sharp execution, [HP CEO Dion] Weisler could do the same.”

Rob Enderle (September 2015): “Apple creates a ‘happy trap’ with its products so that once people buy-in to the Apple eco-system, they can’t move out without an [un]acceptable amount of pain. ... IBM’s near failure in the late 1980s was also the result of this same strategy, which showcases that it can also be deadly to the companies that use it.”

Professor André Spicer, PhD, of Cass Business School at City University London (January 2016): “Apple may have had the largest quarterly profits in history but it could go from darling to dud within a few years. This happened to Nokia before, and it could easily happen to Apple.”

Larry Light (February 2016): “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. From Bank of America to Sears Holdings, history is littered with instances of corporate icons that built magnificent architecture to consecrate their glory, only to see fate humble them.”

Vivek Wadhwa (March 2016): “[W]ithout 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.”

Bob Lefsetz in The Lefsetz Letter (April 2016): “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.”

Jon Markman in Forbes (June 2016): “The notion that Apple is in decline is not even controversial anymore. Many longtime Apple proponents have made comparisons to Blackberry. The Canadian company excelled at a couple of skills and executives could not imagine a world where those attributes were less valuable. So Blackberry pressed on ... In the end, those well-intentioned but misguided Canucks never saw it coming.”

Vivek Wadhwa in VentureBeat (July 2016): “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 [iOS to third-party hardware], the future looks bleak for Apple.”

Steven Max Patterson in NetworkWorld (August 2016): “Apple could be the next AOL ... Long before AOL lost its lead, many internet users experienced the difference between AOL’s walled garden and the richer open internet.”

Rob Enderle in CIO (August 2016): “Now when HP Inc. spun out from HP, which became HPE, you’d think the deck was stacked against it. And, frankly it was. ... HP Inc. was to get all the debt and not one, but two industries in decline. There was literally no visible way that the firm could be successful. But then I recall Apple was actually in worse shape when Steve Jobs took over ... one of the things Jobs personally brought to the table at Apple was the fact he got marketing and the end-result was that he drove products that he knew he could sell. The more typical engineering-driven firm tosses products over to marketing in the hope they can be sold, which leads to a tremendous amount of waste. Coughlin’s marketing background should lead to more hot products and clearly many of its PCs, like the Spectre and Omen, show as well as Apple’s counterparts as a result.”

Ben Thompson in Exponent (January 2017): “Windows, they were so intertwined with the PC ... it was an unbelievable business model. ... But when the broader context changed around the PC, they were screwed! Because their business model was too good to change. And now, today, Apple with the iPhone is an unbelievable business model, right? The danger is, if we do come to a paradigm shift, can they change? ... the better you are in one paradigm, almost by definition, the worse you will be in the next.”

Rob Enderle in IT Business Edge (February 2017): “[There’s] a common mistake that large tech firms almost always make. HP Inc. is smartly ignoring and avoiding it. Here’s an example. Steve Jobs took over Apple, which was in terrible shape and, in the face of folks declaring that company dead, in about a decade, gave everyone a raspberry as he turned Apple into the most valuable company in the world. ... In HP Inc’s latest financial results, we see some pretty amazing things from a firm that is supposedly selling dying tech­nol­o­gy.”

Adam Hartung in Forbes (February 2017): “[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 [today’s Apple] sound a lot like Microsoft? ... 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.”

Zachary Karabell in Wired (May 2017): “[T]he shadow cast by past corporate behemoths is creeping up on Apple. As valuable as Apple is now and could still become, the company looks vulnerable to being eclipsed in the years ahead, if not threatened to its corporate core. ... take a look at the list of Fortune 500 companies in 1955 compared to today. As of last year, only 12 percent of the mid-20th century list of the world’s largest companies made it to the second decade of the 21st century. ... US Steel is severely diminished, and Armour (which made packaged meats as well as Dial soap) is no more. It gets worse from there.”

Marco Arment in Marco.org (May 2017): “Before the iPhone, RIM’s BlackBerry was the king of smartphones. They seemed unstoppable ... I’m worried for Apple. Today, Apple’s being led properly day-to-day and doing very well overall. But if the landscape shifts to prioritize those big-data AI services, Apple will find itself in a similar position as BlackBerry did almost a decade ago ...”

 

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The End of Martial Law

The Two Faces of Ev­o­lu­tion

A Fine Rec­om­men­da­tion

Free Will and Population Statistics

Dennett/D’Souza Debate — D’Souza

Dennett/D’Souza Debate — Dennett

The Non-Euclidean Ge­om­e­try That Wasn’t There

Defective Attitude Towards Suburbia

The Twin Deficit Phan­toms

Sleep Sync and Vertical Hold

More FUD In Your Eye

The Myth of Rub­ber­neck­ing

Keeping Intelligent Design Honest

Failure of the Amiga — Not Just Mis­man­age­ment

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer = Be My Honey Do?

End Unsecured Debt

The Digits of Pi Cannot Be Sequentially Generated By A Computer Program

Faster Is Better

Goals Can’t Be Avoided

Propped-Up Products

Ignoring ID Won’t Work

The Crabs and the Bucket

Communism As A Side Effect of the Transition To Capitalism

Google and Wikipedia, Revisited

National Geographic’s Obesity BS

Cavemen

Theodicy Is For Losers

Seattle Redux

Quitting

Living Well

A Memory of Gateway

Is Apple’s Font Rendering Really Non-Pixel-Aware?

Humans Are Complexity, Not Choice

A Subtle Shift

Moralism — The Emperor’s New Success

Code Is Our Friend

The Edge of Religion

The Dark Side of Pixel-Aware Font Rendering

The Futility of DVD En­cryp­tion

ID Isn’t About Size or Speed

Blood-Curdling Screams

ID Venn Diagram

Rich and Good-Looking? Why Libertarianism Goes Nowhere

FUV — Fear, Uncertainty, and Vista

Malware Isn’t About Total Control

Howard = Second Com­ing?

Doomsday? Or Just Another Sunday

The Real Function of Wikipedia In A Google World

Objective-C Philosophy

Clarity From Cisco

2007 Macworld Keynote Prediction

FUZ — Fear, Uncertainty, and Zune

No Fear — The Most Important Thing About Intelligent Design

How About A Rational Theodicy

Napster and the Subscription Model

Intelligent Design — Introduction

The One Feature I Want To See In Apple’s Safari.