The end of the world

Apparently some of you think that Apple’s about to go out of business; that its very existence is threatened; that fire, plague, and pestilence lie just around the corner for our favorite fruit-themed computer and consumer-electronics company. To which I say: What fight are you watching?

Let them eat cake

It may have started last summer, when there was much hand-wringing over the delay of Leopard. “Apple can’t scale to meet demand!” people moaned. One missed deadline and suddenly every Mac user is an operations-management expert.

Then some of you were disappointed that Apple didn’t follow up the iPhone with something equally game-changing—like a tablet PC. Or one of those $100 laptops. Or an even cooler iPhone with, um, lasers. Or maybe jet packs.

And while we’re at it, Apple never explicitly promised you free cake, but you really, really like free cake. So, Steve Jobs, where’s the free cake? Huh? Where? Is? The? Free? Cake?

What’s Apple done for you lately? The MacBook Air. Are you really going to throw your money away on a supposedly revolutionary laptop that at first glance appears to exist in only two dimensions? So what if it fits in an envelope? Does it smite your enemies? Where’s the smiting?

Then it was the iPhone software-development kit. When the iPhone was first released, everyone was all, “Oh, it will never sell without third-party programs.” (Of course, Apple sold millions of them.) But then—perhaps so he could sell millions more—Steve Jobs released an SDK. “Here!” he should have said. “Here’s your darn SDK! Now get off my lawn!”

But did you get off Steve’s lawn? No, you did not. You complained about the 30 percent take Apple was going to skim off the top of all iPhone software sales, about the fact that we’d be able to get programs only from the official iPhone App Store, about the noticeable absence of free cake.

Magical fairy pony princess

What is the matter with you people?

Seriously. Because despite the recent decline in the company’s stock price¹, things at Apple have rarely been better. The iPod and iTunes still dominate the digital music world. Sales of the iPhone are strong, and the iPhone SDK will revolutionize the platform. Mac sales continue to climb. Leopard received rave reviews. The company has more cash than Oprah when her monthly Amazon referral check clears.

It’s not like Apple’s the only company to see its stock go south this year. And some people did think Apple could churn out an iPhone-level product every year. I like to call those people “magical fairy pony princess” investors. They’re not looking for a stock as much as they’re looking for an imaginary best friend with pockets full of cash. When Apple turned out not to be that friend, those investors went looking elsewhere. I say good riddance to them².

I’m going to type these next words very slowly so even they can understand: Despite the substantial drop in the company’s share price, and despite what you may have read on the bathroom wall, things are very good right now for Apple. The only reason to doubt that Apple will continue to do well is if you think Jobs and company are plumb out of ideas. After 30 years, do you really think the hitters at Apple are ready for retirement, just because they aren’t hitting a homer with every at bat? Besides, given the almost weekly release schedule the company has been following lately, Apple is clearly hitting for average these days. I’ll take a solid double anytime.

The iPod and the iPhone not only have been hits in and of themselves, but they’ve also encouraged more Mac sales. Which, in turn, encourages more iPod and iPhone sales. It’s almost as if the company has defied the laws of ther-

modynamics and created a perpetual-motion machine. The question is, are you going to be on the perpetual motion machine or are you going to step off and watch it roll on into the distance?

Me? I’m going to just sit back and enjoy the ride. I might even have some cake.

NOTE: ¹ I’m writing this in March. For all I know, Apple’s stock price will be higher than Google’s by the time this column is published. And in the spirit of full disclosure: I own two whole shares of Apple. ² The author’s views are not necessarily those of Apple’s finance department, senior management, or board. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re not.

[John Moltz used to write the Crazy Apple Rumors blog. His next project will be something involving jet packs.]

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