Sometimes I worry about my favorite gadget company. Other times I worry about humanity. Based on the mixed bag of responses to Apple’s financial performance, marketshare, and potential purchase of Beats Electronics, this week I’m more worried about humanity.
Mixed bag? Apple garners more than its fair share of criticism from Wall Street and the technology elite than any other company on the planet. The problem I see is the mixed bag of viewpoints.
Take Beats, the make of stylish and somewhat overpriced headphones and speakers; the fast growing little company with big ideas, and a clean, shiny and new subscription music service (which Apple does not have).
Responses to Apple’s purchase of Beats for $3.2-billion is a mixed bag. Some praise it and call Apple the most powerful media giant in the world. Others, simply scratch their head and say they ‘don’t get it.’ And, some are highly critical of the purchase and say Apple CEO Tim Cook is a clueless idiot.
The problem isn’t so much Apple’s performance as it is the responses from humanity. Mixed bag, indeed. Responses are all over the map; some good, some puzzled, some critical, few consistent with the facts.
Here’s the deal. It’s painfully simple so look closely.
Tim Cook has been CEO since long before Steve Jobs stepped down to plan his impending death. Since then, Apple’s stock has hit record highs, profits have hit record highs, every product line of substance is essentially a Fortune 500 company, the company has bought back tens of billions of dollars in stock, given back tens of billions of dollars in dividends, still has about $150-billion in the bank.
With little to criticize except marketshare, which doesn’t seem to matter anymore, critics have taken to slamming Apple for not being in the cloud, not spending money on acquisitions, and now that Apple is spending real money to buy a company, criticizing that move as an example of idiocy and cluelessness.
Back to the former before moving to the latter. Apple’s cloud business, as pointed out by analyst Horace Dediu is very big, growing very fast, and highly profitable. It may not look like everyone else’s cloud service bag, but that’s how Apple rolls.
The latter is Beats; an acquisition unlike any Apple has done before, thereby allowing Tim Cook the opportunity to break with Steve Jobs’ tradition, while confounding the so-called experts. What does Beats have that Apple needs?
That actually remains to be seen but Beats owns the high end of stylish headphones, a rapidly growing industry. Beats smacks of style over substance, a shiny example of trendy cachet– much like Apple. And, Beats has a streaming music subscription service which Apple does not. In other words, depending upon your perspective, Beats makes sense for Apple, and could help make the company a powerful recording label for independents.
Whats more, Beats headphones seem like Apple’s first step into wearable devices; Bluetooth from iPhone to headphones, cell phone calls to headphones. It fits.
A few hundred million customers love the company’s products. A few hundred tech journalists and Wall Street douche bags criticize the company’s every move, good or bad. Is Apple a good company, with great financials, products, and happy customers? Or, is Apple ready for the dust bin of technology history, about ready to fall from grace among the masses?
Will the real Apple please stand up?