Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Seriously, Apple Is Doomed
Daring Fireball ^ | 11/10/2012 | JOHN GRUBER

Posted on 11/12/2012 6:36:16 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Dan Crow, another former Apple employee from the 1990s, also says Apple has shown itself to be doomed without Steve Jobs, in a piece for The Guardian headlined “We’ve Passed Peak Apple”:

Why do I think Apple has passed its peak? There are a number of signs. The most visible recent one is the Maps debacle. Replacing Google Maps with an obviously inferior experience shows how much Apple has changed. Apple’s success had been all about offering users the best possible experience; suddenly it is willing to give users a clearly worse experience to further its corporate interests - in this case its long-running dispute with Google. We might expect this sort of behaviour from Microsoft, but we don’t expect it from Apple.

On the contrary, for better or for worse, iOS 6 Maps is exactly what we expect from Apple: taking control over its essential technologies, confident, perhaps overly so, in its own ability to build a best-of-breed product. Of all the dozens of “This wouldn’t have happened if Steve were still alive” arguments I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot, the Maps one is the worst. Steve Jobs would have traded in Google Maps for a folded-up map from a gas station at this point, given the competitive situation between Apple and Google and the various privacy-invasive strings Google wanted to attach to desperately needed features like turn-by-turn navigation and vector map tiles.

Steve left Apple towards the end of 2011, and since then we’ve seen a number of missteps, all leading up to the recent executive reshuffle that left Forstall and Browett out in the cold.

Apple was far from perfect under Steve Jobs. But in hindsight, critics and skeptics of the company now see fit to deem his reign flawless or nearly so. Here’s a guy on Yahoo Finance telling Henry Blodget that “Steve Jobs wasn’t wrong about anything ever.”

What you want is to be (1) right more often than wrong; (2) willing to recognize when you are wrong; and (3) able and willing to correct whatever is wrong. If you expect perfection, to be right all the time, you’re going to fail on all three of those — you will be wrong sometimes, that’s just human nature; you’ll be less willing or unwilling to recognize when you’re wrong because you’ve talked yourself into expecting perfection; and you won’t fix what’s wrong because you’ll have convinced yourself you weren’t wrong in the first place. The only way to come close to being right all the time is to be willing to change your mind and recognize mistakes — it’s never going to happen that you’re right all the time in the first place.

Obviously it would have been better for Apple if Tim Cook had never hired John Browett in the first place. It might have been better too, if Cook, through the force of his own personality, had been able to get his other senior vice presidents to work alongside Scott Forstall, as Steve Jobs had been able to do. But Cook did hire Browett, and Forstall was no longer tolerated by his executive peers. So Cook did what you’d want to see done: he recognized a mistake and a problem and took decisive action.

Botched executive hirings never would have happened under Steve Jobs.

Most recent tech startups subscribe to the organisational philosophies embodied at Google: extremely open internal communications, flat management hierarchies, as much bottom-up decision making as possible and lots of collaboration amongst team members. Apple is the opposite. It’s highly secretive, to the point of paranoia. It has many layers of management. Decisions are made at the top and rigidly enforced through micro-management and direction. Apple was built in Steve Jobs’s image, and Steve was all about control - specifically, his direct control of everything at Apple.

At Google, products are built by largely self-directed teams, so there is little consistency between them.

You’re not selling me on the Google org structure, here, Dan.

Maps is the most obvious recent sign of changes at Apple, but there are other, more subtle, signs of a creative slowdown. The iPad 4 launched just six months after the iPad 3 with Retina Display. It doesn’t improve substantially over the previous version, yet has managed to annoy users who just bought an iPad 3. This insipid update is not the sort of magical product launch on which Apple has built its reputation.

So Crow says Apple under Steve Jobs never would have done something like double the performance of the iPad — both CPU and graphics — just before the holiday quarter. But it was Steve Jobs himself who wrote the following in 2007, two months after the iPhone debuted:

First, I am sure that we are making the correct decision to lower the price of the 8GB iPhone from $599 to $399, and that now is the right time to do it. iPhone is a breakthrough product, and we have the chance to ‘go for it’ this holiday season. iPhone is so far ahead of the competition, and now it will be affordable by even more customers. It benefits both Apple and every iPhone user to get as many new customers as possible in the iPhone ‘tent’. We strongly believe the $399 price will help us do just that this holiday season.

Second, being in technology for 30+ years I can attest to the fact that the technology road is bumpy. There is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you’ll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon. The good news is that if you buy products from companies that support them well, like Apple tries to do, you will receive years of useful and satisfying service from them even as newer models are introduced.

I’m sure there’s some way to argue that the above argument does not apply perfectly to Apple’s decision to release the iPad 4 seven months after the iPad 3, but I can’t figure it out. Back to Crow:

Compare that to the launch of the latest revisions of the iPad and iPhone. They are accompanied by amazing levels of hype: “I don’t think the level of invention has been matched by anything we’ve ever done”, “This is the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since the iPhone”.

Is it just me, or are neither of those slogans all that hype-y? The “biggest thing” is a pun regarding the display size. It’s exactly in line with the marketing slogans of all previous iPhones.

Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone 5 is an excellent product; it’s probably the best smartphone on the market right now.

Just because it’s the best smartphone ever made (agrees Crow himself), doesn’t mean Apple should sing its praises? Maybe I need to brush up on my marketing.

But it’s only an incremental improvement over the iPhone 4S.

Which was only an incremental improvement over the iPhone 4, which was only an incremental improvement over the 3GS, which was only an incremental improvement over the 3G, which was literally just an original iPhone plus 3G.

The iPhone 5 is better, but it’s really not that much better, and iOS 6 has had some decidedly mixed reviews. But you wouldn’t know that listening to the hype from Bob Mansfield, Tim Cook, Phil Schiller et al. The problem with over-hyping is that people notice, and over time it erodes their faith. There are only so many times you can be told that a relatively small increment is “the greatest thing ever in the history of everything ever” before you get jaded. Steve knew how to balance hype and product. Apple today seems much less adept at this.

Right, back when Steve Jobs was around, you could count on guys like Bob Mansfield and Phil Schiller to tell us what was not so great about the new iPhone. Mansfield in 2008: “This plastic case on the iPhone 3G is not as nice as the aluminum one last year.” Schiller in 2011: “Really, the iPhone 4S is just a little faster and we moved the antennas around a little. No big whoop.” (I can’t find a source for these quotes.)

It’s baffling. Apple has a winning formula — perhaps the most successful business formula ever — yet it seems intent on changing it. The company has shifted away from Jobs’s laser-like focus on building the best and most complete user experience, and started putting its interests way ahead of those of its users. It hasn’t introduced a truly new product since the launch of the iPad nearly three years ago; instead it’s making incremental and overhyped improvements to its current lines.

Year-over-year incremental improvement is Apple’s winning formula.

The loss of Steve was devastating — the entire company was built around him and the mistakes we have seen since he left are entirely consistent with a very hierarchical organisation trying to find its way without its leader. I think in hindsight, we will see that Apple’s peak of creativity, innovation and leadership was early 2012.

“Innovation” is the word I keep seeing bandied about regarding where Jobs’s absence is going to manifest itself at Apple. No one is going to argue that design is dead at Apple, that they’re going to start churning out products that aren’t aesthetically appealing. No one, not even the company’s most ardent critics, would believe it. (The more common line is that Apple only cares about aesthetic appeal; the iPhone 4 antenna and iOS 6 Maps controversies lend at least some credence to that — “better-looking but works worse”.) But innovation, that’s something that many feel might be attributed solely to Jobs, and it plays directly into our utterly unreasonable collective desire to see Apple pull an original iPhone level of novelty and innovation out of its hat every single time Tim Cook or Phil Schiller takes the stage.

But no Apple product has ever been universally hailed when it launched. Crow says Apple “hasn’t introduced a truly new product since the launch of the iPad nearly three years ago”, but when the original iPad did launch in 2010 it did so to a chorus of skeptics who deemed it no more than “a big iPhone”. Even the original iPhone was laughed at — literally laughed at and mocked — by competitors.

Long-term, the verdict is out. Jobs has only been gone for a year. Apple has yet to do a Big New Thing without him. The retention of talent remains their biggest risk, and Forstall’s departure highlights that. But in terms of innovation-without-Jobs so far, I’d say going from the original slow chunky iPad in April 2010 to the retina super-fast iPad 4 and svelte iPad Mini today is a pretty brisk clip. Two and a half years later Apple offers two very different iPads that both completely blow the original one away — and the original one is now almost universally hailed as a landmark innovation in the history of personal computing.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet; Society
KEYWORDS: apple; computers; iphone; stevejobs

1 posted on 11/12/2012 6:36:20 AM PST by SeekAndFind
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Interesting.


2 posted on 11/12/2012 6:52:33 AM PST by WashingtonSource
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

An Apple employee from “the 1990s” has little to no experience under Steve Jobs, and certainly none under Cook, or with nearly all the Mac line. If he was under Spindler and Amelio, that doesn’t give him much more insifght than almost any palooka.

We may be past “Peak Apple”, as every booming company has its peak. That does not necessarily spell “DOOM”.


3 posted on 11/12/2012 6:53:28 AM PST by Dr. Sivana (There is no salvation in politics.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Apple has been “doomed” several times in the past.

It always came back, supported by a loyal core of Apple diehards like yours truly!


4 posted on 11/12/2012 6:58:24 AM PST by Honorary Serb (Kosovo is Serbia! Free Srpska! Abolish ICTY!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Inferior products?

So, Apple is going to become more like Microsoft?


5 posted on 11/12/2012 7:03:31 AM PST by Seruzawa (Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for good a blaster kid.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dr. Sivana

Now that Apples are made in China, you might find the enthusiasm for every renew, shrinking all the time.

Just saying.


6 posted on 11/12/2012 7:06:06 AM PST by Cringing Negativism Network
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

I’m not an Apple cheerleader; but, my understanding is the company is doing beter than ever?


7 posted on 11/12/2012 7:11:14 AM PST by lacrew (Mr. Soetoro, we regret to inform you that your race card is over the credit limit.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
Long-term, the verdict is out. Jobs has only been gone for a year. Apple has yet to do a Big New Thing without him.

Apple is to Microsoft as hardware is to software. What "Big New Thing" is left for Microsoft in the software realm? Not much that I can see. Just ...

OperatingSystem=8
StillViable = TRUE
Do while StillViable
OperatingSystem = OperatingSystem+1
End Do

So if this is not good enough you go into Hardware, which Microsoft is doing.

So where goes Apple when there are no obvious Hardware "Big New Things". I'm not sure. Invade the automobile industry is a possibility. Put Apple software in every washing machine.

I think even Steve Jobs would struggle with the question. But unless they figure it out they will just duplicate the Microsoft code with something similar but with OperatingSystem replaced with iPad, iPhone, iTouch etc.

8 posted on 11/12/2012 7:12:07 AM PST by InterceptPoint
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
Sounds like what Carly Fiorina did to HP.
9 posted on 11/12/2012 7:19:50 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Government is the religion of the psychopath.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Apple is now being run by the Bean Counters.

Macbook Pro is largely un-fixable because everything is soldered.

IPhone5 is not a compelling upgrade because of IOS6.

Mini-Pad sounds stupid and is built from 2 yr old off the shelf parts.

PR war games because of FoxConn’s China plant.

I hear of nothing on the horizon or in the pipeline resulting from R&D.

Sounds like Apple has sacrificed their future for current profits.


10 posted on 11/12/2012 7:24:53 AM PST by ImJustAnotherOkie (zerogottago)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Cringing Negativism Network
Now that Apples are made in China, you might find the enthusiasm for every renew, shrinking all the time.

Apple's, and pretty much everyone else's electronics, have largely been made in Red China for a LONG time. I bought a U.S. made Supermicro mother board back in 1999, and the were a hold out.

In point of fact, Apple is actually starting a second source in Brazil. California is hostile to manufacturing. Malatsia, Hong Kong (Red China Lite), Thailand and Singapore are still in the mix, but it would be impossible to manufacture a modern computer in the U.S. using only U.S. sources for parts. To my knowledge, we make NO optical drives, no LCD screens, no hard disc drives, etc. I am doubtful that there are any U.S. based manufacturers of SSDs. Others can state whethere there is an ARM processor manufacturer or serious RAM nmanufacturer left.

The causes are multiple: high tax and regulatory environment combined with low tariffs and high wages. I don't like it, but I don't see where a large portion of the populace will give on any of those three causes to change the landscape.
11 posted on 11/12/2012 7:25:24 AM PST by Dr. Sivana (There is no salvation in politics.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
Apples problem is that US Law and the separate laws in different countries will result in different viewpoints. For example, in South Korea which is home to Samsung a near identical legal decision was rendered not in Apple's favor as had been the case in the US courts. Apple is only as secure as the political allies and perceived clout it can derive over competitors. Just as Microsoft has a major operating system, manufacturers their own hardware, and vendors a product line, each competes for shelve space in the open markets. The global economy may find Apple too expensive, or downtrodden peoples form a movement against them for their use of Chinese slave labor. The point is that Apple's value is derived from the perception of its worth - and today with so many other producers competing for the same currencies in all the markets, they have an advantage of playing politics, the courts, rolling out more products, etc. Ultimately dropping prices to sell as does Amazon a product at a breakeven price will break the Apple 40% profit driven stock value; If Samsung wanted to sell their S-IIIs for $300 it would kill the iPhone. If both Samsung and Amazon teamed together, and then further partnered with Nokia, HTC, and other manufacturers in a marketing campaign of giving more value than Apple and arguing their value over Apple in a prolonged marketing campaign it would doom the stock.

However, I do not think any of these manufacturers would drag another one down, and one need only look at the two party political system which needs each other, or the MSM which all work together to make their niche profits.

12 posted on 11/12/2012 7:27:32 AM PST by Jumper
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: InterceptPoint
Not much that I can see. Just ...

OperatingSystem=8
StillViable = TRUE
Do while StillViable
OperatingSystem = OperatingSystem+1
End Do

It's too bad they only have an operating system.

If they also had infrasctructure software like Exchange, Sharepoint, SQL, IIS, or a suite of desktop applications like Office, or development software like Visual Studio, and programming architectures like dotnet it might be different.

13 posted on 11/12/2012 7:37:15 AM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Honorary Serb

Correct, but what is the difference? Then, Jobs was alive.

In many ways Apple was an extension of one man’s visionary brain. Only time will tell if “design by committee” will suffice to keep that pattern going.


14 posted on 11/12/2012 7:38:42 AM PST by bigbob
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: ImJustAnotherOkie
Apple is now being run by the Bean Counters.

Apple is run by a Logistics guy. Close to being a bean counter, but not the same.

Macbook Pro is largely un-fixable because everything is soldered.
Apple has been mostly that way since the original Mac 128K in 1984. Many of their most successful products were based on that. Something as simple as replacing a battery was not considered something for the consumer. It is less of an issue with the cost of electronics, even Apple's declining.
IPhone5 is not a compelling upgrade because of IOS6.
It is a good upgrade because of the faster processor and extra memory, and for some, the Lightning connector. I agree it is not a compelling upgarde for those who already have an iPhone 4.
Mini-Pad sounds stupid and is built from 2 yr old off the shelf parts.
The Mini-iPad was simply to keep the low-end of the market from buying into Kindles and Android-based devices. It is not supposed to be a show-stopper. Apple wants you to buy an iPad.

PR war games because of FoxConn’s China plant.

To the degree that is true, it will affect nearly every notebook and electronic gizmo manufacturer out there, except maybe Samsung and the like. I imagine they wouldn't want you to look to closely at their Red Chinese manufacturing facilities, either.

I hear of nothing on the horizon or in the pipeline resulting from R&D.
The Apple television set has been heavily rumored for a LONG time.


Sounds like Apple has sacrificed their future for current profits.

Focusing on current profits has always been an Apple trait. Sometimes it works better than other times. Their System 6 OS with a 68030 could address 9MB of RAM without jumping through hoops, something no MS-DOS based box could dream of (and the Unix folks couldn't get their act together). But Apple insisted on shipping boxes with piddly 256 SIMMS, and charging a super premium for upgrades. And don't get me started on Jobs attitude to major software developers in the early days (Ashton-Tate, Lotus).

Even now, Apple seems to be almost forgetting the Mac itself. The Mac Pro has been ignored for over two years. While that PC may not be a big money maker these days, it is the Mac Pros that the graphic devekopers and video editors use provide the mosty important part of the Mac fan base. THEY are the ones who stuck with Apple when there wasn't much reason to (early 90s).
15 posted on 11/12/2012 7:46:26 AM PST by Dr. Sivana (There is no salvation in politics.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: tacticalogic
If they also had infrasctructure software like Exchange, Sharepoint, SQL, IIS, or a suite of desktop applications like Office, or development software like Visual Studio, and programming architectures like dotnet it might be different.

Appletalk, Applemail, CyberDog, Claris Office Mail, Hypercard, Claris Pro Office software (MacWrite Pro, Resolve Pro, MacDraw Pro, FileMaker Pro, Organizer), Claris Homepage (HTML development). This doesn't cover everything, and some of these were baby steps, but for the most part it didn't work out so well. The Claris line in particular made teh few existing Mac software companies (except Microsoft) REALLY mad. I will say their old server software worked great back in the day.

Right now, Apple seems to be putting its eggs in the HTML5 basket and of course iOS development, such as it is.
16 posted on 11/12/2012 7:59:19 AM PST by Dr. Sivana (There is no salvation in politics.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
The gist of this article is to list criticism of apple and then say "Steve Jobs did the exact same thing". It appears to be all its true, with specific examples.

On the other hand, Steve Jobs had an almost mystical aura. A cult of personality built up around him. Apple fans were in awe of him. He could get away with a lot that a room full of suits cannot.

17 posted on 11/12/2012 7:59:24 AM PST by pepsi_junkie (Who is John Galt?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dr. Sivana

Logistics is the core of Apple’s execution. Without it you’re nothing, but without the super product so what? Where’s the vision.

AppleTV - Ho-Hum...Can’t take it with you.
Macbook Pro - You can’t even upgrade RAM.
Iphone5 - Not compelling to me anyway and frankly kind of boring.
Mini-Pad - Low-end market with a middle tier price.

Point is Apple was a super-premium product now it is just premium. Apple used to spend a nickel and charge a quarter.

Apple created markets, now they just compete.

All of this happened in pretty short order.


18 posted on 11/12/2012 8:35:32 AM PST by ImJustAnotherOkie (zerogottago)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you’ll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon. The good news is that if you buy products from companies that support them well, like Apple tries to do, you will receive years of useful and satisfying service from them even as newer models are introduced.

Agreed....This was key to Apple's success, sure newer models would come, but for the most part, you could use their products for years.....I still use my iPod "Classic" that I've had for five years.....no need for me to upgrade, it works great as it is.

19 posted on 11/12/2012 8:40:35 AM PST by dfwgator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Dr. Sivana

The comment was in response to an observation that all Microsoft can do keep releasing new OS versions, as if Windows was the the only product they have.


20 posted on 11/12/2012 8:45:21 AM PST by tacticalogic ("Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as he chambered his last round.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Well I for one hope they are able to continue giving MS and Droid a run for there money BUT I don’t find their products too compelling personally. I like my iPhone so much I got an iMac, a beautiful 27” sculpture of a machine, but I found it to not as configurable as Windows.

Trying to learn development for Apple (I was using XCode) was definitely not an experience I remember fondly.

One thing that I think a lot of people miss is that Apple was given a shot in the arm by the AntiTrust suit that Clinton brought against them. That caused MS to take their eyes off the ball for long enough for Apple to get an edge. I am fond of saying that every mobile device from Apple has a $100 over charge that the increased demand as a result of the lawsuit against MS has added.

One of the first things Bush did after giving the military a raise was dismiss the lawsuit against MS.


21 posted on 11/12/2012 8:56:55 AM PST by ChinaGotTheGoodsOnClinton (Go Egypt on 0bama)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: tacticalogic
The comment was in response to an observation that all Microsoft can do keep releasing new OS versions, as if Windows was the the only product they have.

Looking back at #8, I understand. Okay, your point is accurate.
22 posted on 11/12/2012 9:44:52 AM PST by Dr. Sivana (There is no salvation in politics.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Dr. Sivana
We may be past “Peak Apple”, as every booming company has its peak. That does not necessarily spell “DOOM”.

Yep.

United States Steel
Standard Oil
Ford
IBM
Microsoft
Now Apple

Each became one of the largest companies in the world following a period of massive growth. Each was the fastest growing company in the world's fastest growing industry. Each continued to be profitable for many years after they peaked, but each peaked.

Apple is probably still a good long term investment, but it is not going to make you rich. The trick is picking the next Apple. I will give you a hint. The largest company in the world 20 to 30 years from now is probably in an industry that no one has created yet or that no one thinks you could ever make money in.

23 posted on 11/12/2012 4:20:24 PM PST by Bubba_Leroy (The Obamanation Continues)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
Dan Crow: "At Google, products are built by largely self-directed teams..."

Liberal hypocrisy is so intense it burns.

THIS is how Google's "self directed teams" ACTUALLY work: The Delphi Technique

It's also how every California liberal works - right down to when they order fries at McDonalds. You want to understand liberals? Study this until it drips out of your pores, and then, when you completely get it, imagine being so morally cowardly, so utterly soul degraded, so steaming with compacted filth and lies, that you swear upon satan's soul to never, even with a single breath, stop using this technique with anyone, friend or foe, family or stranger, work or play, young or old, male or female, formal or informal, for the rest of your life.

Does that sound insanely intense? Obsessive-compulsively neurotic? Like, hey dude, calm down already?

Good - then you're starting to understand liberals.

24 posted on 11/12/2012 7:43:51 PM PST by Talisker (One who commands, must obey.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson