Apple’s March 25 Event Will Launch New, Vexing, Spinning Plates

Spinning plates shtick

There is no doubt that Apple’s streaming TV service is a good idea. But there is also reason for concern. It’s all about spinning plates.

I worry.

Apple’s senior executives are smart and seasoned. They’ve guided the company to success and wealth beyond imaginations of old. They’ve greatly expanded the scope and reach of the company.

And that is why I worry.

Spinning Plates

Everyone knows the spinning plates entertainment shtick.

Often this is how I feel about Apple. With every new product and service, it seems like it’s more and more difficult to keep the old plates spinning. One example is Apple’s recent decision to drop its Wi-Fi/router business in the form of the Airport Extreme. Another was the decision to get out of the display business. (But now, soon, it’ll be back in that market, reversing course.)

Also, whether it’s technical issues or talent issues or perhaps an impending transition from Intel to ARM CPUs, Apple has certainly had its ups and downs with the Mac in recent years.

We all worry. We worry about the ability of these fine executives to stretch themselves to management limits posed by a company sweeping in scope and reach.

Streaming TV Service

Apple is moving quickly and deftly into services. It’s a smart thing to do insofar as it provides insurance against the slings and arrows of hardware. But hardware has its benefits.

Hardware is quantitative. It’s either perfect or ready for the trash. Well designed, it pleases the user to touch it, to feel its warmth and texture. Once designed, it’s straightforward to both manufacture as well as create demand. Apple is good at that, having brought hardware marketing to its pinacle.

Tim Cook angry about Donal Trump import tariffs
Even the best can become overworked, frustrated, distracted.

Some services, however, are more vexing. Hollywood can, at times, seem like a wretched hive of scum and villainy. There are nuances of human interactions amongst directors and actors. There are strong executive personalities to work with. There are endlessly broken schedules. And, finally, there’s the capriciousness of the viewers.

Apple is a company now very accustomed to great, even easy success. But in this streaming TV service, there will be shows that fail. There will be shows that the viewers and critics ridicule. Apple executives will need to acquire a new, thicker skin.

Of course, there will also be satisfying successes. But in the process of agonized dealings with a new breed of likely service failures, older spinning plates will start to wobble—and maybe topple.

There are good reasons why customers often despise the offerings and customer service of ISPs and phone companies.

Business Clarity

Often, companies in trouble are asked by their consultants what business they think they’re in. Sometimes the executives have the wrong answer. Sometimes that introspection brings a fresh perspective and a new focus. Old thoughts are discarded as new ideas take hold.

As Apple starts to spin up more and more services plates, that question will certainly come up. I cant wait to see how it all unfolds.

2 thoughts on “Apple’s March 25 Event Will Launch New, Vexing, Spinning Plates

  • Please, let us not hear Ebernezer say “We have a really big show” on March 25th. Seems that Apple is going the direction of Elizabeth Warren’s breakup diatribe anyway. Apple Pay and a credit card in the works – Apple Finance. Apps and streaming – Apple Services. Apple Computer (Remember that?!) Apple iDevices – iPod, iPhone, iPad. Apple Retail. Apple Design (iVes?) and whatever distinctions you (or Apple) can come up with. Ebenezer should be put over Apple Finance, his forte, only. Bring in fresh blood or promote from within for the other divisions, people that are genuinely interested in, and committed to, their particular division.

  • A well-argued piece. But I can’t help but wonder why a company as wealthy as Apple can’t manage to keep more plates spinning than it appears to be able to do: simultaneous attention to more than one product line seems to rarely happen. A company is not limited by the inability to multitask that limits a single human — that’s the point of a “company”. It makes me suspect that the management structure of Apple is too centralized and top-down, rather than a well-coordinated team.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.