The Macalope Daily: Argument recycling


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You will be surprised to read this (actual surprise not included), but Apple—the biggest and most successful company of our time—is doomed. Again. Re-doomed. Doom, The Sequel. Part II. The Doomening.

“Apple: Can a Leopard Change its Spots?” (tip o’ the antlers to Philip Elmer-DeWitt via Lessien).

Apple is at a crossroads.

The intersection of Moneymaker St. and Crapload of Cash Avenue.

After dominating the first decade of the millennium, the revolution that Apple started is shifting against it.

The Macalope is completely unsure why we’re supposed to listen to someone who puts two spaces after a period in this day and age. (Check it. He does.)

The iPhone, with its single annual update and super premium price …

“Super premium”?

… has been run down from behind by a pack of rivals with segmented product ranges, 6 month product cycles and aggressive price points.

Being “run down from behind” is apparently the new “taking all the profit and jumping ahead of Android in U.S. market share.”

Apple caused a paradigm shift and reaped a windfall, but now faces strategic challenges that will require changing the company DNA. [emphasis the author’s]

Because there’s so much wrong with Apple’s DNA. (More on that “paradigm shift” in a second.)

However, the sea change is shifting the opportunity from devices to cloud-based services, exposing Apple’s biggest weaknesses to its rivals’ greatest strengths.

Cloud-based services are certainly a big component of what people are growing to expect from their devices and it’s one that Apple has struggled with. But it’s still a component. The Macalope wonders why no one wrings their hands and rends their garments over other companies’ inability to make original devices with premium build quality and a good user experience, backed up by a robust ecosystem.

Obsessing over details, it seems, is a one-way street that runs only to Cupertino.

Winning will require substantial changes to the company’s product strategy, institutional skills, physical infrastructure, and perhaps, culture.

No, it will not. Apple needs to get better at cloud services. That’s about it. Another way to look at this is to say that the fact that it’s not great at cloud services is almost antithetical to the rest of the company’s culture. But, no, Apple’s just a giant loser machine that needs to step up its game, apparently.

Today, Apple no longer has the unequivocal “best phone” …

That is at best a matter of opinion. The Macalope has been hearing for years how the iPhone sucks. But we’re totally sure this time for sure totally, right?

… it has no products for the highest growth segments …

Which happen to be the lowest margin segments.

… and it has lost volume leadership to Samsung.

The Macalope doesn’t know the exact number, but Samsung makes somewhere around 800 million different kinds of phones. It’s not that surprising it’s managed to ship more. But that’s not Apple’s game, and it definitely doesn’t have to be.

The popularity of Apple devices amongst consumers have led some enterprises to adopt a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, but we do not believe that this model will have legs.

Analysis is easy when you just accept the trends that fit your preconceived ideas!

iOS requires expensive proprietary hardware …

Which users love and are willing to pay for.

… it is closed to customized software development …


… it does not support legacy enterprise software …

As opposed to all those modern phones with robust platforms that do.

… and the company has little experience with enterprise customers.

True, but it’s worth pointing out that IDC does not exactly agree with this negative assessment of Apple’s chances in the enterprise.

Let’s look at the options. BlackBerries? HAHAHAHA. Android phones? Sure! As long as you don’t care who else gets access to your corporate information. And then there’s Windows Phone, with its whopping 2 percent market share.

Hmm. Which? To? Choose?

Sagawa goes on and on but the problem with his analysis—well, the biggest problem with his analysis—is that he can only look at existing product lines. So, terrific, you’ve outlined how markets mature and most vendors race to the bottom. Congratulations. You’ve rewritten the same argument the Macalope’s read about a hundred times.

But that’s not what Apple, the company you’re supposedly talking about, does. Its speciality is that “paradigm shift.” Apple reinvents markets, stakes out the high end and then takes all the profit, leaving the bottom for other companies. That’s its M.O. That’s how it’s been so successful.

If Apple never remakes another market again then, yes, its best days are behind it. But the unspoken supposition here is that Tim Cook can’t do what Steve Jobs did, which we know because he’s had a whole year to do again what Apple’s done just four times in its entire existence.

While the horny one realizes patience is not a virtue exemplified by our modern pundit class, that’s what it’s going to take to see if the ol’ magic is still there.

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