Boeing Plans to Think Differently, Like Apple

In a moment that exemplifies today's Apple reality, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney told investors on Wednesday that his company was going to be more like Apple. It's fascinating to see Apple invoked to gain cachet by a company that is—some might argue was—an American icon.


Those who have observed Apple for a long time will likely remember a time when Boeing was the industrial giant, while Apple was either a cocky upstart or a failing has-been, but today's Apple is apparently influencing companies far outside of the computer biz.

According to Bloomberg, Mr. McNerney said that his company would no longer organize its business around "moonshot" breakthroughs with new airline platforms, but would instead focus on iterative designs to advance existing airline models. You know, like Apple.

The only problem with this, as noted by Forbe's Tim Worstall, is the nitpicky fact that this isn't what Apple does, or rather, it's only half of what Apple does. Apple does indeed focus on continuous and iterative improvements on existing products, but only after releasing disruptive entries into new markets.

That's almost exactly the opposite of what Mr. McNerney sounds like he is describing. Apple has bet the farm on moonshot products several times. The first was the iMac, a massive gamble that was no less than Apple's effort to change the rules by which it competed in the computer market. It worked.

An even bigger moonshot was the iPhone (and its sibling, the iPad), and we might be on the cusp of seeing another such moonshot in the form of the iWatch, or whatever Apple calls its medtech wearable.

These were moonshot efforts that many people take for granted because Apple was so successful with them and made them look easy.

Still, it's so very interesting to see a company so far removed from consumer electronics try to boost its perception with investors by invoking Apple, especially considering how Apple died earlier this week