Apple Death Knell #70 - Apple’s In Big Trouble and Has No Plan B

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Apple is doing really well. The company is fantabulously successful, or so Bryan Clark argued at TheNextWeb. But all that success is only masking the reality that Apple is in a heap of trouble with no future. Again, or so Bryan Clark said.

Accordingly, I present to you Apple Death Knell #70: "We've reached – maybe passed – peak Apple: Why the narrative needs to change."

Here's his setup:

Last month, Apple's latest earnings call announced its “most successful year ever.” The numbers were reported, the stories were spun and Wall Street basically anointed Apple the god of capitalism.

They're all wrong.

The actual story, the story we should be telling, involves a different narrative. Apple is the largest company in the world, but success is fleeting. While the numbers are impressive, they don't come close to painting an accurate picture about how much trouble Apple is really in.

Apple's rise under Steve Jobs was historic. Its fall under Tim Cook is going to be much slower, more painful.

That's kind of a new spin on the Apple-is-doomed mantra. The notion that Apple's own success hides its failures is...novel. For introducing something new to the cannon, we must all take a moment to thank Mr. Clark.

Unfortunately, his underlying reasons are just more of the same ol' thing. They break down thusly:

1.) Windows and Android are going to magically come out of nowhere and out-innovate Apple.

2.) Steve Jobs had all of the special sauce for innovation at Apple, and now that he's gone Apple is incapable of coming up with a new product that matters.

3.) Apple Watch doesn't count.

4.) Apple Car will never work and Apple can't beat Detroit, Tesla, or Google.

5.) All of which is proof that Apple has no Plan B. It's an iPhone company and will always be an iPhone company, and smartphones will eventually pass, and Apple is doomed.

Mr. Clark has fallen into the trap that many Apple doubters—he claims to be an Apple fan, not a hater, and I'm giving him the benefit of that doubt—fall into. He can't see where Apple is going next and concludes that Apple must therefore not be going anywhere.

I counter with this: who amongst us saw the iPod coming? The iTunes Store? iPhone? iPad? Apple Watch? Apple Car?

The answer is no one outside of Apple. I mean, we got rumors and leaks on several of these products, but those leaks came because Apple was already working on them. There's a wide line between prognosticating and reporting what the real innovators are actually doing.

This has been Apple's modus operandi since the return of Steve Jobs. While Mr. Clark argues that Apple can no longer innovate without Mr. Jobs, I point to the Apple Watch as the proof he is wrong. That device isn't perfect, and I've argued it's missing killer functionality, but Apple Watch has gotten people to think differently about wearable computing, and it did so without Mr. Jobs's input.

That's a monumental achievement.

Next: Insults and Apple Car

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Mr. Cark sound’s repetitious.

I swear I heard similar arguments about how Apple had peaked when all they had was the iMac and the iPhone was never going to sell. In fact it seems like people are always arguing that Apple can’t innovate, even before SJ left the scene. That Apple was at peak but was running out of gas.

And Apple keeps proving them wrong.


I’ve been at companies that have died, if Apple does die, it will be long after that reporter is dead of old age.


I agree with Mr. Clark. I am a fan of Apple longer than most on this site and for the Apple fans to actually believe Apple innovated anything after the all-in-one candy colored iMac is ridiculous - who saw the iPod coming? MP3 players already existed; the iPhone? Smart phones already existed, same same with Pads and Watches and yes-the Watch doesn’t count because it’s a bust and the next Apple Watch will be an “innovation” i.e. more a copy of what Fitbit and Samsung are doing. Apple takes EXISTING technology and merely sprinkles it with Jonny Ive’s design and slick interface - NEVER do the products have the specs (battery life,screen res,connectivity etc) of the competition. Of course every 18 months they will “innovate” a new version with something the competition already had like NFC or the folding keyboard or the stylus. Next they will “innovate” (i.e. borrow) wireless charging and a flexible screen.  The only thing keeping me from selling APPL is the sheeple, they keep buying so I’m standing pat. One thing I will never do is doubt the “bullshit” factor that keeps the sheeple buying. But Mr. Clark is only partially right, because you CAN sell the same Pepsi over and over as a commodity as Apple’s iPhone is; basically you lease it for a year and then lease a new one and that biz model is working so far but it WILL end just as all things pass. Soon, the world will be saturated with smart phones, then what? When phones are passé? Then what? If Apple was a true innovator there would be the Apple TV (or Watch or lapel pin for that matter) that controls everything in your house from cooking to watering the lawn to turning lights, heat/AC on and off, all media control, syncs with a NICE smart watch that allows hand gestures to open and close doors & windows as well as complete voice command/request link-up. This WILL happen but Apple could’ve already done it. But nooo, you talk about cars and fantasy that would send APPL to the graveyard it there were a grain of truth. So I ask all my friends here, when will Apple innovate anything new???? What will it be? Seems everybody is a fanboy and clone here but nobody can answer that - it’s just Oh Yeah - well we still sell a boatload of smartphones!  Pepsi won’t die either, but it’s boring as crap.
Must also point out that the Death Knell proved correct years ago when Apple Computer died and became a Sony-like phone co. The co. name actually changed so when will you admit the Death Knell came true?


Bryan, well written, and great comments. I especially love, “Well, Mr. Clark: says you. You have confused your own inability to see where Apple is going with Apple’s ability to actually get there.” And a nice shot at Alphabet as well. Very good.

Apple’s innovation over the past decade has been staggering, and they will continue to put out new and innovative products into the foreseeable future. With billions of dollars to burn in R&D, replaced with billions of dollars in profit every single quarter, there is very little Apple couldn’t do with their focus and dedication to innovation and excellence.


Zero innovation over 10 years and Android at 85% mobile share proves it.  Apple pay? Ha! Don’t embarrass yourself and talk about anything iTunes or the Watch. So, besides the iPhone version X what do you (we) have? Nobody on this site can answer that, all they can do is drink the kool-aid.


GoogleBoy, your pathetic posts truly smack of desperation. I have no doubt you either work for google or samdung, or you are for sure paid by them to attempt to sew discourse in the Apple ranks. You are so over the top wrong it isn’t even funny. Your reference to zero innovation for the most valuable technology company in the world is completely ludicrous, and your ignorant reliance on market share demonstrates your lack of understanding of even the most basic of finance and economic concepts. There is absolutely no reason to begin to argue with you, and I had to bury my contempt of you so deep in responding to your latest post that I just may go and vomit. But hey, have a great day!!


CudaBoy in a nutshell:

“Apple hasn’t created completely revolutionary Earth shattering market creating products every 2 years, so they are worthless.”

So what exactly has Samsung done over this decade? Google? Microsoft? (and don’t even embarrass yourself and talk about anything with their Surface products.)

And the power of the iPhone proves it with 43% smartphone marketshare.

You can’t answer that with a straight face, and you know it.



Your namesake’s thesis could be dismissed as little more than a click-bait exercise in confirmational bias (selectively observing those things that confirm your a priori expectations and/or belief system, or even as a fundamentally irrational argument (a faith-based position for which there is no objective evidence). Nor would either description be far afield, however I see a deeper trend here that runs through the analyst ranks, whether in tech or market circles, and which results in a bifurcation into, for the sake of descriptive simplicity, two broad categories.

One is a group that relies on a product or device-specific definition of innovation, i.e. that innovation is defined by the development of an entirely new product or device. The other is a group that accepts innovation to include the re-imagining of a device or product line, and its development to a new level of functionality with under-the-bonnet novel features and enhancements. To be sure, each of these arguments has its merits, but the latter is, in my view, far better supported not simply by evidence, but by outcome, whether that indicator is user experience (which can be subjective), functionality, productivity and new uses, which can be objectively measured.

One can use the example of the automobile. Apart from the steam-powered automobile invented in the late 18th Century, the first automobile powered by the internal combustion engine invented in 1807 - the basic concept of today’s cars - bears little resemblance to even the most basic of today’s cars, replete with advancements in drive train, braking systems, passenger protection systems and computer-controlled navigational and operational enhancements - all of which comprise the modern user experience, with the all-important outcome of mortality reduction per accident. By comparison, the Model T was a coffin on wheels, a portable death machine capable of far-flung collateral damage to person and property. Those under-the-bonnet innovations have transformed the automobile into not simply a safer, more capable machine, but an altogether different beast than the horseless carriage of 100 years ago. And it is clear that these innovations are far from over, as we move from the internal combustion to alternative engines, no less than than to semi and fully autonomous driving machines. To deny these cumulative changes as innovation would require an extreme exercise in not only confirmation bias, but irrational argument. And yet, one could rightly argue that the basic concept of the internal combustion engine-powered car was invented well over a century ago.

The same can be argued for not only today’s PCs, but the smaller ultra-portable devices, like the iPhone. The device that SJ unveiled 8 years ago, despite superficial similarities in touch screen interface, home screen and basic shape, bears no meaningful similarity in capability, function, features and use case to today’s 6s series and iOS 9.

It is precisely because of their relative intangibility that these innovations are both under-appreciated, when not overlooked entirely.

There is another dimension related to this latter category of innovation, which though peculiar, is not unique, to the electronic tech world, and that is the innovation required for integration and harmonisation of these devices through the development of supportive infrastructure. Given our use case for our electronic tech, we are increasingly serviced less by additional new devices than we are by the under-the-bonnet and trans-bonnet innovations of technologies that coordinate these devices under one system that moves our work seamlessly between devices, stores and backs up our data without effort, and, importantly, hardens that system against attack and compromise. Those innovations have an economic and user experience impact no less important or profound than the development of a new device. Indeed, one could argue that the impact of these developments are even greater than any single device in the present line up. They are certainly essential to the user.

The amalgam of those innovations, and the companies that can achieve them, not fastest but most reliably, will have great impact not only on the future of that company, but the industry and the user community. These innovations, in turn, will shepherd the user community and industry alike to that next level of experience worthy of being styled ‘next generation’, without which such progress would not be feasible, and likely would neither be sought nor desired.

Methinks Mr Clark’s conclusions, however deftly argued, are the result of a failure of imagination, vision and grasp of the wider horizon.


Cudoboy your a troll and obviously don’t know anything about computers and especially Apple. You like the guy that wrote this article are writing stuff with no facts and in some kind of fantasy land all by yourself. Just stay there with this guy. It just amazes me that someone could write an article so full of miss information and fantasy. It’s like a bad science fiction novel. Many of these kind of trolls that write this stuff are stuck in the early 90’s version of Apple. They just never got out of that time period so they keep writing this piss poor garbage that Apple is going to be doomed by tomorrow with no facts to back it up that are actually true.
Thanks Bryan for the great article showing how much miss information this article really is full of.


Bryan et al:

While it is not my place to police this or any other site, I think that one of the greatest assets of any site that hosts discussion threads is diversity of opinion and thought, and that it is the place of the readers of that site to help foster an atmosphere of courtesy and tolerance that nurtures such diversity.

Indeed, the contest of opinion compels one to reflect more deeply on those processes about which opinions differ, in turn leading to a greater appreciation of objective reality and its complexity, which is not always achieved when mere opinions converge.

Conflict of opinion, therefore, is a vehicle for expansion of thought, and should not only be welcomed but embraced as an opportunity for growth.


Good points on the car analogy Wab. True, there have been many innovations surrounding the 100 year old tech that ICE cars are still using today, but the overall thing is still essentially 100 year dirty tech. Is it ‘innovation’ to tack on features to stay current with competition? Funny how NOW when the big players see the writing on the wall (even before the VW purposeful lying and deception) that all kinds of tweaks to the ol’ ICE engine are coming out for added efficiency. Is that innovation, or gilding a pig? We were waving NFC dongles at gas pumps to pay for a long time before Apple Pay, and many phones had NFC but Apple innovated that tech?
I like my Apple Mac, but it’s just a tool to get to point B via Adobe software; it needs no Kool Aid to prop up it’s ego, no yearly replacements to “keep up”, it’s not a gimmick. There is LOTS of room for real innovation now, and so far nobody can throw out ideas of what Apple could do except lovable me?

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