Declining up: Apple's slow slide to success
Before we begin with today’s deconstruction, the Macalope must warn you that children, pregnant women, men and others with sensitive natures may find the arguments presented today to be disturbing and ulcer-causing. Reader discretion is advised.
Writing for the Forbes contributor network and small animal rodeo, Peter Cohan continues to be Peter Cohan.
Not cool using the D-word about a company in California, bro.
Apple’s best days are behind it.
Well, it had a good run.
And the decline started after Steve Jobs negotiated an exclusive deal for AT&T to be the iPhone’s carrier.
You know, writing out “Dahhhhhwhaaaaa?” may seem like a ridiculous exercise, but sometimes it’s seriously all the Macalope can do. Plus it gives his cerebral cortex time to carefully process the insanity without having a stack overflow.
So, Apple... remember, take it slowly and stay hydrated... is in decline... and it started just after the AT&T exclusivity deal... and since then... slowly, slowly... the company’s stock has gone up 926 percent and it’s continued to set record sales, revenue and profit. But decline.
Nope, still not getting it.
That’s my summary of what Stanford Graduate School of Business Lecturer, Mark Leslie, told me about Apple in a March 31 interview.
The Macalope has acquired a transcript of that interview:
Cohan: “Hey, do you think Apple sucks?”
Leslie: “Oh, totally. They suck big time.”
Cohan: “So sucky.”
Apparently all those iPhone sales since 2007 were just trailing indicators. Eight years of trailing indicators. It’s a little odd, but clever people like Cohan and Leslie can see things that we normals can’t.
Like the centipedes. All the hideous, smiling centipedes. What do they want?
[Back slowly toward the door...]
“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. And you need to start thinking about that, and planning for the changes, when things are going well.”
Well, that’s certainly a lesson Apple needs to learn, right? The company that axed the incredibly popular iPod mini for the nano, the company that was derided for making the MacBook Air, the company that spent at least four years quietly making a new trackpad. Yep, big dumb ol’ Apple. The Lennie Small of technology.
Leslie thinks that the success of Apple when Steve Jobs came back in 1997 was due not so much to great hardware design but to his ability to convince business partners—e.g., the music and the wireless service provider industries—to change how they operated to support Apple.
It couldn’t be both. Nnnope. Success rationale are like Highlanders.
Because there can be only one.
Yeah, you got it.
“The iPhone is a beautiful device but what really made it a success was how Steve transformed the telecommunications industry when he negotiated a five-year exclusive deal with AT&T,” said Leslie.
So, Leslie basically sees everything through a lens of business deals rather than design. According to him, there were always good digital music players and there are plenty of good phones and Apple’s success is based completely on its ability to negotiate with record labels and cellular companies.
Welp. That is an opinion you can have. It doesn’t exactly explain why all smartphones suddenly became glass rectangles after the iPhone and why so very many “Ultrabooks” (remember Ultrabooks?) are silver wedges with black keys or why no one else figured out that, yes, tablet computers should just be big iPhones, duh, people love iPhones. And it doesn’t explain Apple’s continued success in markets where the content and services are basically commoditized.
So, other than it not really explaining about 75 percent of Apple’s success, it’s a great theory.
That was the last time Apple innovated.
BUSINESS DEALS ARE THE ONLY KIND OF INNOVATION SAYS BUSINESS DEAL GUY.
On top of this completely bananas split, let us now put the crazy cherry that is Cohan’s particular value add.
This leaves me with a question. Has Tim Cook created new growth curves or is his failure to do so putting Apple at risk of extinction?