Peace, love and understanding Apple


Because I spend a lot of my business and personal life on the Internet, and read a lot of blogs and journals, I can’t help but notice that a lot of analysis that is aimed at Apple these days is misguided. The analysis revolves around what’s wrong with Apple and how to fix it, or even whether it’s fixable at all.

A common theme is that Apple is losing the market share battle, and is doing nothing with all its power and wealth to fix this. Without the market share lead, Apple ultimately loses.

What are these people smoking? There are variations on the above-mentioned theme: Apple is losing because:

  • It is no longer innovating.
  • It can’t keep up with Google and Samsung (who are clearly winning).
  • It doesn’t make a large-screen iPhone.
  • Its release cycles are too long.
  • New Android phones are coming out all the time, offering newer and better technologies and Apple can’t keep up.
  • There are hundreds of Android models to choose from and only a couple of iPhone models.

How else is Apple losing? Here are some other gems:

  • Apple products are too expensive.
  • Apple’s walled garden is limiting and imprisons its users.
  • Apple is no longer cool.

This is not an exhaustive list of purported Apple failures (and arguments of its inevitable demise), but it does touch on some of the more common, and dubious, talking points one sees in many of today’s technology journals.

That’s not to say that all Apple analysis is bogus. There are some intelligent, insightful, and extremely knowledgeable technology writers out there. Check out John Martellaro at The Mac Observer; John Gruber at Daring Fireball; and Daniel Eran Dilger at AppleInsider to name a few.

In our world where the sky is blue and the sun shines, a lot of the questionable analysis one reads about Apple would not exist, because journalists and bloggers would understand and accept, and not try to change, who Apple is, what it has done and will continue to do, and how it does it.

Apple focuses on making what it believes are great products… transcendent products… empowering products… and keeps at it until those products are ready for prime time.

Everything else is noise…the stock price, the $160 billion in cash, the China labor issues, the competition…even the loss of Steve Jobs…everything. Although this is not to say that Apple ignores these things.

Apple has increased its dividend and the stock price has gone up considerably from its 52-week low of $385. It has addressed and continues to monitor the labor issues in China, certainly more than any other high-tech company that manufactures their products over there. Apple has even brought back some manufacturing to the U.S., with its introduction of the new Mac Pro.

Now, we recognize that Apple is not perfect. It makes mistakes…it is imperfect (because it is after all run and staffed by humans, and we are an imperfect lot). We recognize that not everyone loves Apple products (because we are humans, our tastes vary, we enjoy being contrarian).

But Apple, under Tim Cook, stays laser focused on its mission: To make great products. Here are the things that define Apple:

Apple loves what it does and loves delighting its customers. Apple would like everyone to use its products, but that’s not the goal. Market share is not the goal.

Apple measures its success by the products it releases, not the frequency with which it releases products. It releases products that it is proud of and knows its customers will be proud to own.

Apple prices its products brilliantly. It makes a healthy profit on every product it sells, and its huge and loyal (and growing not shrinking) customer base is happy to pay those prices because they see tangible benefits in doing so.

Apple’s ecosystem adds tangible value to its products for the vast majority of its customer base. There are very few instances of malware or other problems that impact any sizable segment of the user population. This is because Apple is stringent about who contributes to the ecosystem and how they are able to do so. Apple customers happily and willingly play in it because they see real benefits in doing so.

Regarding the cool factor…honestly I don’t think that most customers care if Apple is the hippest brand in the world. Customers want quality products that are easy and intuitive to use, are continually upgraded with new software that adds value and keeps them current, and are backed by a company known for outstanding service and support.

Tim Cook was recently quoted as saying, “I’ve always thought it was important for an individual and a company to have a North Star, something that doesn’t change. Many, many things can change but the North Star should be clear, and for Apple that’s always been making the best products in the world. That’s our strategy and that’s not changing today or tomorrow or the next day or the next year.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Here’s wishing for a little more peace, love and understanding for our favorite iCompany, and a little patience as we await the next great iThing.

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