If you wonder what’s going on at Apple, Inc. you’re not alone. Many of us in the Applesphere wonder the same thing because Apple seems to have become somewhat disjointed, a bit too circumspect, and notably wayward– but not in a Think Different™ kind of way.
They say money does things to people, and if corporations are people, too, then all those riches Apple has acquired since co-founder Steve Jobs died in 2011 have changed the company and perhaps not in a good way. $200-billion in cash and a rubber band stock price would cause any executive to become inebriated with success.
What could go wrong? Everything.
First of all, Apple, as a hardware company, has hit a wall. iPhone gets all the resources it needs to succeed while iPad and Mac get leftover crumbs from the company’s table of plenty. Apple’s major products are on a plateau of sorts. Unit sales are mostly stalled or dropped or both. Rubber band company.
What’s really growing? Services. Think of it as kind of a catchall of non-hardware items, now worth more to Apple than iPad and Mac combined, but remember the math– as a hardware company, Services only works if Apple sells more hardware, otherwise, Apple is just selling accessories and services to an existing customer base.
Now, as to other points of this seemingly crazy strategy, Apple continues to dole out money to shareholders in dividends, and continues to buy back stock; sometimes while the price is high, and less often when the price is low. Weird, right? That, combined with no next great thing product, and a current product line that has plateaued, tells me Apple’s executives don’t have the same creativity as Steve Jobs had, and has become seemingly risk averse.
Not only that, Apple is not doing a good job protecting the current customer base. The Mac? Too many models have not been upgraded in years and have fallen behind offerings from Dell and HP. What’s going on at Apple?
Apple is the richest company on planet earth, still vying for the most valuable company on planet earth– in a down quarter, the company made more money in profits than Amazon has made in its entire history. Apple has more cash than most countries. Would it hurt Apple to use some of those profits to enrich the world instead of making undeserving shareholders richer than dividends and a rising stock price?
If I thought an email to CEO Tim Cook would get read, I would tell him to take some of those hard earned profits and push them back to customers. Get new keyboards for the ones that died in MacBook Pro models. Upgrade a few more iMacs other than the $4,999 iMac Pro. Iron out more of the bugs in iOS 12. Make iCloud more affordable. Get risky and sink a few billion into an Apple ecosystem VPN (virtual private network) to give customers true privacy and security. Add multi-user functionality to iPad.
Whatever strategy Apple has going these days is just crazy. Except for Apple’s executives and shareholders who seem to prosper. As usual.