There have been a few articles and blog posts on the web lately about Apple’s problems. This is not a new thing. It seems to run in cycles, but the “Apple is doomed” dragon rears its head over and over again.
Naysayers point out that the company’s stock price is stagnant, and call for Tim Cook to be fired. They say that product launches, such as Apple Music, have been train wrecks, and that Steve Jobs would never have allowed those products to go out the door with such problems.
They contend that Apple’s software is fraught with issues, and that the company’s entire user interface team should be fired.
As always, we take these criticisms with copious grains of salt. We’re not saying Apple is perfect by any means, but there’s a body of favorable evidence that far outweighs the company’s foibles.
Stock price stagnation
Let’s take the stock price, as an example. The overriding theme—which quarter after quarter is disproven—is that Apple’s growth can’t continue, so the company is inevitably on the decline. And, of course, that’s Tim Cook’s fault.
Apple will have a great quarter, announce those results, and the stock, while it may go up temporarily, usually falls back to its pre-announcement levels. This cycle plays out over and over again, much to the disdain of analysts, day traders and hedge fund managers.
Critics say that Apple is too dependent on iPhone revenue, and while the iPhone is Apple’s largest cash cow, the company continues to spawn new billion-dollar businesses. In fact, this year alone, Apple has introduced two: the Apple Watch and Apple Music.
Me? Well, as an Apple stock holder, I’m keeping the faith. Apple is still dominating markets that it enters. There are few other companies that can claim that. And Apple is morphing into more than a hardware company. It’s becoming a services company with subscription-like revenue streams.
Problematic product launches
And product launches? Sure, you can find niggling issues almost every time Apple launches new hardware or software. Once in a blue moon, an issue is serious. See Apple Maps and Apple Music.
Despite all this, Apple’s hardware is arguably world class, the software mostly delights users, and the company continues supporting updates for hardware that dates back 4-5 years, even longer in many cases.
Speaking of world-class hardware, a recent survey found Apple’s iPad 2, which was released in 2011, to still be the company’s most widely-used iPad. While this partly explains the iPad’s diminishing growth curve, it also reflects favorably on a company that is dedicated to making quality products that last a long time.
Planned obsolescence? Apple’s not into it. Customers know that if they buy an Apple product, it’s going to function well and be fully supported by Apple for many years.
Reach exceeding grasp?
Look at the last 12 months alone. Apple has:
- Introduced the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 and made those models available worldwide.
- Started selling the Apple Watch worldwide.
- Released ResearchKit for medical research which can be tied to Apple devices.
- Released updates to all its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models.
- Introduced the new, incredibly sleek MacBook.
- Introduced Apple Music.
- Updated the iPod Touch.
- Announced a partnership with Cisco Systems, and demonstrated new enterprise apps for iPad and iPhone developed in cooperation with IBM
- Introduced new versions of the Apple Watch and Watch OS 2.
- Updated the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus to the 6s models, which feature the revolutionary 3D Touch interface.
- Released iOS 9 and 9.1, both of which are supported all the way back to the iPhone 4s (released in 2010).
- Released updates to all its iMac models.
- Updated the Mac operating system (always a free upgrade) to Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan).
- Introduced the new 21-inch 4K iMac to complement its higher-end 27-inch 5K iMac.
- Introduced the iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Smart Keyboard.
- Introduced the new Apple TV with tvOS, and have since released the updated tvOS 2.
Operating on all cylinders
One could argue that the engine is overheating, maybe leaking oil, and Apple needs to slow the race car down a bit. Possibly.
But, then, I start considering future products that Apple is rumored to be working on: iPhone 7; the Apple car; artificial intelligence; augmented and virtual reality; the list goes on.
Is this sheer hubris or the behavior of a visionary organization? I don’t think Apple is cocky, over-confident, or self-absorbed. So it’s not hubris we’re seeing.
Rather, Apple is driven, obsessed with making transcendent products, and maybe, just a little nuts. As the man said, here’s to the crazy ones…