Stop the hurt! For the love of all things rational and pretty, can someone please stop the hurt? It seems that everywhere I look today there's something stupid being written about Apple. I'm not saying the people doing the writing are (necessarily) stupid, but the nonsense being bandied about by pundits far and wide could fertilize a vast amount of farmland.
OK, I apologize for that tortured metaphor, but my point remains.
So what am I talking about? Articles about Apple having problems, about Tim Cook's "failures" as CEO of Apple, about expectations, about the decline of Apple, and most recently a spate of articles about what Apple has to do to correct these and other supposed problems.
These aren't death knells, they're just proud proclamations of ignorance, and I decided today I was going to round up a few and make fun of them.
Let's start with Scott Martin, writing for USA Today:
Apple has failed so far to deliver an encore to its iPod, iPhone and iPad. This is critical for new growth, because the iPhone makes up the bulk of Apple profits — trailed by iPad — as competitors gain. U.S. markets have become saturated with iPhones.
This meme that Apple is somehow late with a disruptive product boggles my mind. It's not that folks are saying Apple needs a new product category—that would be great—it's the idea that the lack of something new today somehow indicates Tim Cook's inability to deliver such a product that is irrational.
Everything near to being shipped today had Steve Jobs blessing to one degree or another. It will be two or three years before you make any conclusions one way or another about Mr. Cook's ability to shepherd a market disrupter to market.
There's also the (usually un-articulated) premise underlying this meme that Apple disrupted markets on a seemingly yearly basis and that everything Apple released under Steve Jobs was a knockout hit (Cube? MobileMe?).
Mr. Martin also wrote:
As a result, Apple appears ready to head down the path of price competition. The launch of its iPad Mini last year was evidence of its need to offer a tablet to compete with Amazon's smaller Kindle tablets and Google's Nexus 7, which are selling briskly. The device is also expected to make less money as it eats into sales of higher-margin iPads.
You know, the iPad mini is Apple competing on price. The iPad mini, the same device that everyone and their brother said was too expensive because it's priced significantly higher than every other 7-inch tablet on the market.
There is not one shred of evidence to suggest that Apple is going to start competing on price, not one iota or scintilla of evidence. To say otherwise is stupid.
Let's move on to Sarah Cohen, who penned Apple's M&A skills as murky as iPhone 5 prospects for Forbes. How ominous! ZOMG! Apple's merger and acquisition skills are murky! The iPhone 5 is doomed, too!
Her premise appears to be that Steve Jobs was awesome and that without him Apple will have to become like other big tech companies to continue to succeed. She wrote:
Without Jobs, Apple might need to adopt a more aggressive M&A strategy to remain on top. But success won’t be easy.
Why is that exactly? She doesn't explain. She didn't even bother to trot out the meme that Tim Cook is a failure at innovation. She just argued that Apple is going to have to buy its innovation in the future and mentioned an unnamed analyst who gave her a list of companies who had M&A down to a science.
Devastatingly, Apple wasn't on that list. Oh noes!
That's an open and shut case if ever I've heard one.
I've been writing about Apple for 16 years now (14 of them as cofounder and copublisher of The Mac Observer). During that time, there has been no end of pundits and analysts who have said that in order for Apple to be successful, it must follow in the footsteps of other companies.
Apple has to stop making hardware, Apple has to license OS X, Apple has to compete on price. There was a constant drone of noise about Apple having to adopt Microsoft's model of open licensing. Clearly that's the only way to sell computers, right?
That one about competing on price has been the most frequently repeated bit of nonsense. The very first thing Steve Jobs did when he came back to Apple was to change the rules so that Apple was competing with the iMac on lifestyle rather than price. His ability to do that is what has fueled Apple's massive profits, and those profits are what allowed Apple to create iPod, iTunes, iPhone, App Store, and iPad.
I'm starting to see a little bit of that again. We've been hearing since at least 2009 that Apple can't sustain industry-high carrier subsidies. That's four years of that crap, and the reality that Apple still commands those subsidies has never been enough to shake the faith of these folks.
In any event, Ms. Cohen's suggestion that Apple's future lies in M&A is more of the same, that Apple has to do what everyone else does to succeed. It's nonsense.
At CNet, Eric Mack told us The iPhone 6 won't wow: 6 reasons why. He argues that the iPhone 5 is on the skids. You know, the device that captured 50 percent of the U.S. market in November, according to some estimates (we're waiting on numbers even now).
Yep, the iPhone "has jumped the shark," he wrote, and he's not afraid to stand up and crow that he told us so!
He didn't leave it at that, however:
My gut tells me the iPhone as we know it will be done at that point. I have a hunch there will never be an iPhone 6, because Apple will be forced to move into a significantly different form factor to keep people interested and compete with the movement toward bigger phablet-like thingies and emerging wearable electronics (lots of us have fat thumbs, after all). Or, there will be an iPhone 6 and it will disappoint.
That's right, there might not even be an iPhone 6. Or there could be, but it's going to be a dud. Way to CYA, dude.
Writing for Fortune, Cyrus Sanati told us this week that Apple risks repeating the 1980s. His argument is two-fold. The first is that Apple makes it hard to develop for iOS like it did on the Mac in the 80s. Or maybe 90s. He jumped around a bit, and it's nonsense anyway.
Plus, Apple is a dick to accessory makers. He's right there, but his suggestion that this will drive away those accessory makers is nonsense. He did find some app developers who went with Android first—I also found a developer who went with Android first at CES—but the problem here is that as long as more money flows to iOS developers, those developers will continue to make stuff for Apple.
Any suggestion otherwise—any anecdotal evidence of finding a developer pissed off at the way Apple controls its ecosystem—is just that, a suggestion based on anecdotal evidence. I can find plenty of developers who eschew iOS, and I can find plenty more developers who prefer iOS. As long as the money lies in iOS, most of the best developers will be there.
Mr. Sanati wrote:
If it weren't for the iPhone, Apple today would be a niche computer maker. The iPhone has turned Apple into a distributer of content, making it richer than anyone ever imagined. But its rigid adherence to its arbitrary rules and its secretive and closed culture is beginning to threaten Apple's profits.
No it's not. Apple's profits are not being threatened. There is no evidence of that. At all. Not even a little bit. It's a stupid thing to write.
The stupid didn't stop there, however. He also wrote:
There are a number of things Apple could do today to ensure it doesn't relive its 1980s meltdown. It could for one open up its iOS so that other manufacturers could integrate it with their phone. This will bring a new line of customers into the iTunes orbit. It could also create a larger line of phones to fit a multitude of price points. After all, the iPhone is simply a delivery device for content—the more people you have on your network, the larger your revenue. If Apple continues on its current path, it could lose—a lot.
That's right, his advice is for Apple to embrace open licensing for iOS! That way Apple can make all the money from selling apps and content!
It's so stupid, it physically hurt! Seriously, I have a headache from writing about this crap.
There has been an unending onslaught of articles like this in the last 6 weeks or so, and I don't expect it to end any time soon unless Apple offers forward guidance next week that ends the speculation about iPhone and iPad demand.
In the meanwhile, if any would-be pundit out there wants me to do a stupid-check on their piece about Apple, I'm happy to do so. Contact me through the link in my byline above. We can get together, maybe have some coffee, and chat about this stuff.
I promise I'm a really nice guy in person.
Stupid graphic courtesy of Shutterstock, as is the road sign.