Who Is Apple ?

Individuals matter.

Jimmy Iovine willed Interscope to success.

And Steve Jobs did the same with Apple. But now he’s gone and Apple is hurting.


Tech is about a level playing ground, albeit an oftentimes expensive one. Everybody gets to eat at the buffet, as long as they can afford the entry ticket. But please explain to me the three different Apple watches that work exactly the same, that are evanescent products with a useful life of two years at best. Sure, iMacs came in different colors, but they were all the same price. Fashion is subsidiary in tech, it’s the cherry on top, never the whole enchilada. Functionality comes first, and a $10,000 Apple Watch works no better than one for $349. Which is why Apple has only sold 2,000 copies of the 10k Edition in the U.S. Proving that the bad press the company got is not worth the extra revenue.

How did they get it so wrong?

By not having a visionary who could say no.

Unless you’re making clothing, fashion is a feature, not the essence.


Yes, Steve Jobs never employed research, but he also developed products he thought the public would want to buy. Only early adopters want the Apple Watch, and there’s no word of mouth. Publicity will get you started, word of mouth will make you triumph.

The Watch was dead from the get-go.

Maybe it should have been introduced as a hobby, like Apple TV. So people would have low expectations and know they were along for the journey.

The Watch tells time poorly and has a steep learning curve for uses you’re not sure you need. Sound like a winning product to you?

Of course not.

Steve Jobs didn’t play in all arenas, only ones in which he could win.

The Apple Watch proves there’s no vision in Cupertino, not that we can see.

And no one who can say no.


Me-too is usually death. Its success is predicated on market share in a world where there’s little penetration. Which is how Windows 95 almost put Apple out of business. And the truth is streaming music adoption is still low, so Apple has a chance. But it’s a little more complicated than that.

You see streaming has already won, on YouTube, it’s just that that’s free to the customer. So if you’re not free, you’ve got to be a whole lot better, and Apple Music is not.


Once again, Steve Jobs only introduced a product when he knew he could win. Design did not sell the original iPod, however appealing it might have been, but functionality/usability. The iPod was the first MP3 player that transferred tracks at high speed, FireWire instead of USB. Furthermore, the software eliminated stupidity. That’s right, you just plugged your iPod into your computer and the software, i.e. iTunes, took care of the rest.

There is no great advance in Apple Music. Even Songza had hand-curated playlists. So the company’s only hope is it’s so early in the game that they can end up winning.

One can argue that Apple should have truly differentiated its product. Maybe by giving less. No playlists, but easier functionality.


This was Steve Jobs’s credo, make it easy to use, with no flaws. Apple Music is MobileMe on steroids. And there are so many options included that functionality is crippled, users are overwhelmed.

MobileMe sucked and heads rolled.

Whose head is rolling for the bugs in Apple Music? Someone needs to be fired, someone needs to take responsibility. People are afraid to download the software for fear of it screwing up their library. I’m still waiting for a fix to library corruption, but Apple is mum.

Not only is there no admission of fault, there’s no manual. Steve Jobs may have put up a press blockade, but he was unafraid of explaining his product, which Jimmy Iovine and his cohorts did so poorly during the WWDC presentation.

Jimmy Iovine. He succeeded by being a friend to the artist, by working relationships. At first the money was Ted Field’s, but it turned out Jimmy just needed that to get him started. Jimmy’s biggest triumph was the 9/11 TV broadcast. Give the man credit.

But Jimmy’s no visionary. He had one success, with Beats headphones. You’ve got to have two to prove it’s not luck. Jimmy failed with Beats Music. Disastrously. Unless you say selling to Apple was a victory.

Steve Jobs had multiple victories, the original iMac, the iPod, iPhone and iPad, never mind the Apple II and original Macintosh.

But now the company is running on fumes.

Because it needs a Steve Jobs and all it’s got is Tim Cook, a supply chain expert.

Let’s investigate what has been achieved since Steve’s death.

A smaller iPad, whose sales have now been cannibalized by a larger iPhone.

A larger iPhone, after Samsung cleaned Apple’s clock with bigger handsets for years.

Software releases are hitting deadlines, but there are so many bugs loyalists are frustrated. And I used to be a loyalist.

There’s a fiction that corporations rule in America.

The truth is it’s all about individuals. Sure, a group can effectuate the vision, but it always comes from one person, maybe a team of two, certainly not a committee.

Jeff Bezos is Amazon.

Mark Zuckerberg is Facebook.

Larry and Sergey are Google.

Daniel Ek is Spotify

Evan Spiegel is Snapchat.

Who is Apple?




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  1. wally commented on Jul 12

    Ah… the Great Man Theory revisited.

    Probably some truth to it.

  2. kaleberg commented on Jul 12

    If Apple sold 2,000 $10K watches, that’s $20M. That’s actually pretty good considering that they are also selling lots of other watches as well. How does this compare with Lexus sales versus Corolla sales? I’m taking a whacky guess that the Corolla outsells the Lexus by a fair margin with less of a price ratio difference. Is the Apple Watch actually dead? I’ve been seeing estimates of sales in the 3-4 million range for the last quarter. Let’s say 2 million at $350 a pop. That’s a conservative estimate of $700M. I think the jury is still out on the watch being a failure. If nothing else, the Apple Watch, like the early iPhone, is still being improved by both Apple and countless developers. Remember, the Watch is a software product, not a piece of hardware.

    “Me too is usually death.” strikes me as an odd thing to say about Apple. The iPhone was a me too product; it was almost a clone of that Palm organizer / phone that never did all that well. The iPod was also a me too product, as was the iTunes Music Store. Apple didn’t even develop iTunes. They bought it. The Mac was a me too product based on various Xerox workstations. Steve Jobs was very open about Apple copying Xerox. In fact, the Apple II was a me too product. It wasn’t the first 6502 based PC in the 70s. There were lots of them. Apple actually has a pretty good record of making me too products work.

    Is Apple running on fumes? The biggest negative sign for me is their new HQ building, the flying saucer. I’ve seen lots of companies killed by an “edifice complex’. On the other hand, IBM survived its move out to Armonk just fine.

    Personally, I’ve met Steve Jobs and I’ve followed his career. His secret was that he was a software person in a hardware person’s body. Apple is essentially a software company, and I think that the modern Apple leadership knows this. The problem is that very few people understand the software business as it drives hardware and media sales. As a software person myself, I often find myself up against a wall of incomprehension. Most people, even business insiders don’t get software. Until Apple starts hyping gigabytes and processor speeds as opposed their current approach of downplaying those specifications, I wouldn’t consider them out of the game.

    • DeDude commented on Jul 12

      Sorry this was meant for “Sunday Reads”

  3. bear_in_mind commented on Jul 13

    @BobLefsetz: Me thinks thine doth protest too much.

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