Apple CEO Tim Cook will introduce the iPhone 5 on Wednesday. Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle / SF
As we wait for the Apple product launch on Wednesday, it’s worth reading a contrarian view by Dan Lyons, creator of the “Fake Steve” blog that ran until January 2011. Dan has always had a sharp eye for Apple’s moves and the expectations for the new iPhone and possibly a new iPad (perhaps even a mini) are high.
The stakes are high for Apple since the iPhone generates 70% of its profits. According to SF Gate:
Phone sales last quarter alone reached $16.2 billion, 33 percent higher than Google’s total sales and almost as much as Microsoft’s $18.1 billion.
And even more striking given the current state of the economy:
Apple’s new iPhone could contribute as much as half a percentage point to U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter, according to analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Lyons has a long list of what’s wrong out in Cupertino. FIrst, Android-based phone sales are up significantly and Apple market share for the iPhone (the design has changed little over the years) is down. Instead of innovation, Apple now seems to be copying it’s competition – a larger iPhone here due to Samsung’s Galaxy, a smaller iPad there due to Amazon’s Kindle and Google’s move into the tablet market.
Here’s a few observations from Lyons article on BBCNews:
This week it’s the the iPhone 5. Everyone pretty much accepts that Apple will introduce it, and there have been so many leaks that everybody pretty much seems to know what it’s going to be. Word is it will look a lot like the last two versions of the iPhone, except a bit thinner and a bit taller, with upgraded guts and a refreshed operating system.
If that’s correct, I imagine Steve is not happy. First of all, he’d be furious about the leaks. Steve liked surprising people.
More important, is this really the best we can expect from an outfit that claims to be the most innovative company in the world? This is the sixth version of the iPhone, and the user interface still looks almost exactly like the original iPhone in 2007 . . .
What else is there to complain about?
Um, Siri still doesn’t work. The oft-rumoured Apple TV doesn’t exist yet, presumably because media companies won’t let Apple take over their business.
The latest batch of Apple ads were such embarrassing garbage that Apple to take them down from YouTube. Apple’s new guy in charge of retail launched a plan to lay off workers and boost profits, then had to walk it back when people pointed out that this was stupid . . . .
Apple got where it was by taking bold risks. Now it has become a company that copies others and plays it safe.
A company that once was run by a product visionary now is run by a number-cruncher – chief executive Tim Cook, whose claim to fame involves running an efficient supply chain and beating ever lower prices out of Asian subcontractors and component suppliers . . . .
Apple has more than $100bn in cash. Its market value of $632bn makes it the biggest company in the world, bigger than any company in US history.
That’s great for Apple’s shareholders. But for customers, who cares? In terms of products, Apple has become the one thing it should never be. Apple has become boring.
Somewhere up there, I can hear Steve screaming.
For Lyons, Apple needs to confront two major problems: the lack of investment in research and development (Apple spends about 2% of revenues on R & D, Google and Microsoft are closer to 14%) and a lack of vision. While it’s true that Steve Jobs singular vision drove the company, it was not a one-man show. Or so we thought.
We will see on Wednesday to what extent Apple was more than Steve.