Do You Think You Can Run Apple Better than Steve Jobs?

December 3rd, 2010

This is likely an exceedingly silly question, but when you read what some of the armchair Apple critics spout on a far too regular basis, you’d think they have the gall to imagine themselves in the CEO office supplanting Steve Jobs and his executive team, doing a far better job. That may seem a stretch, but when a company continues to report record sales and profits, you have to accept the possibility that they actually know what they’re doing.

This doesn’t mean they can’t do a better job, but when you read article after article about how Apple is making foolish moves, you wonder if their stellar success may just be an accident. They are poised for a big fall. Maybe not this year or the next, but it is inevitable. How can they possibly succeed when they are so busy doing the wrong things?

This isn’t to say that Apple hasn’t screwed up badly, particularly in the past. Just what was former soft drink salesperson John Scully thinking when he was hoodwinked into licensing portions of the Mac OS interface to the one and only Bill Gates so long ago? That gave Gates and Microsoft the tools with which to affix a graphical user interface on to DOS, a text-based OS, and make it look and act something like a Mac.

Sure, it took a number of years for Microsoft to make it work well enough to be accepted by a large portion of the business community, at the expense of Macs. Yes, the Mac OS, aging by that point, may have been fundamentally better, but with even an 80% solution, along with loads of cheap gear and tons of applications to run, Apple seemed doomed to a tiny niche status.

It’s not that Apple didn’t help the cause. Rather than focus on a small number of well-designed products sold at fair prices, they wanted to be everything to everyone. You had loads of Macs along with a low-end variation, the Performa, that were offered in so many near-identical configurations even Apple’s top marketing executives found it difficult to separate one from the other.

In addition to keeping the prices unduly high compared to similarly-outiftted Windows hardware, Apple seemed to want to make the internal workings as hostile as possible for basic upgrades. This may not matter so much on a basic consumer model, but when the high-priced professional Macs required actual removal of internal cabling and logic boards to add a few memory sticks, you had to wonder just what the designers were thinking.

I remember a meeting involving Apple’s customer beta testers — a group that was exorcised by Steve Jobs no doubt in the interests of reducing the potential for new product leaks — where the audience applauded enthusiastically upon seeing a new Mac minitower that was actually easy to upgrade. Imagine that!

At the same time, many cheap PC boxes could be opened with a few screws and a slide out case, providing relatively easy access to the interior for the needed upgrades of peripheral cards, hard drives, and, of course RAM.

All right, there are still Macs where simple memory upgrades have been traditionally difficult, although the latest, higher-priced Mac mini has remedied that deficiency.

But the real problem with the Apple skeptics is that, whenever the company attempts to enter a new market, they are denigrated as incompetent to pursue that strategy. I mean, who’d want to spend $399 for a digital music player back in 2001? What’s this iPod all about, and how did Apple intend to expand it beyond an expensive curiosity?

Of course, you just know Apple was planning an iTunes Store to buy legal digital music, and the ultimate expansion to the Windows market. Apple’s vision included not just for the next quarter, but the next year, the year beyond that, and so on and so forth.

So the iPod became a sensation, and every single alleged iPod killer touted by the media as evidence that Apple had run out of steam failed. Microsoft even had to emulate Apple’s walled garden with the Zune and double-cross their partners to try to compete. They failed.

You hear the same arguments with the iPhone. The walled garden is bad, open is good. More Android OS-flavored gear is being sold in the U.S., so therefore the Mac versus PC wars of the 1990s are being replayed, so expect the same outcome. Of course, they fail to realize that Android is not a consistent platform, with a predictable user interface, or even the ability to upgrade your gear to the latest and greatest software. You are left at the mercy of those greedy wireless carriers who may even offer an alternate app repository rather than the loose-knit file library maintained by Google.

My Android may not be your Android, so it’s hard to really consider it a consistent OS that’s destined to supplant the iOS and the iPhone. Besides, in the last quarter, Apple reported an iPhone sales increase of 91% over the previous year, so it’s not as if they are destined to fail. Even if more Android OS devices are sold, it won’t hurt.

I won’t even get into the iPad. This is the hot ticket for the holiday season, and the also-rans are few and, so far at least, particularly unimpressive. Oh well, the critics say, just wait till next year. Or the year after that.

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6 Responses to “Do You Think You Can Run Apple Better than Steve Jobs?”

  1. Peter says:

    “Besides, in the last quarter, Apple reported an iPhone sales increase of 91% over the previous year, so it’s not as if they are destined to fail.”

    And in the last quarter, Android sales increase 800% or more over the previous year. So it’s not as if they are destined to fail, either.

    • @Peter, But how much for any single maker? That’s the key.


    • max march says:

      @Peter, and if the average price on android goes to 0$ (its already close- i see free android phones all the time) NO ONE will make money on them but google. So the PC / Mac of today (where PC makers far outsell apple but make little money,) is the same as the android market today. They fast forwarded the android market to the point where the makers dont make money, the os provider does. (While apple makes billions selling less machines.)

      (Before anyone says there are $400 android phones too….how many do you think they sell vs the free or 2- for 1 sales i see at best buy, etc all the time. Dont be dumb.)

      In business, it isnt really about the units sold….its about the profit. Selling billions and losing billions impresses no one, and bankruptcy looms. Selling billions minus X, and making several billion dollars impresses everyone, AND THE STOCK SKYROCKETS AS APPLES HAS DONE.

      Show me a comparable PC/Android maker whose stockholders believe in them so much the price keeps going up and up. Oh, the PC makers are all in the crapper. Especially dell. Whoosh.

      Disclosure: Bought apple at $12 in the 90’s. Been riding the wave since. Also bought Red Hat at $3.84. I could see the fall of MS coming a long time ago, and bought the companies i felt might be the “New/Next MS”.

  2. MichaelT says:

    I could do a better job. I’d shut it down and give the money back to the investors. Oops, wait. I thought I was Michael Dell there, for a second. 🙂

  3. iphonerulez says:

    99% of the the pundits that criticize Steve Jobs for not being able to make more money for Apple or say that he’s making a lot of poor decisions probably couldn’t even run a successful lemonade stand on their own. Apple is, by market cap, the most wealthiest tech company in the world and yet there are these fools that sit in front of their computers and say they could do a much better job. Especially those arrogant analysts who are usually only right 30% of the time and still get paid for their 70% incorrect guesses. Apple should build netbooks, Apple should build iPhones with keyboards, Apple should get rid of iPods, Apple should buy back its stock, Apple should… ad nauseum. What a bunch of arrogant fruitcakes. If they’re so damn smart, they should start their own freaking company and steal Apple’s business away. They’re so quick to point out what Steve Jobs and Apple is doing wrong and yet there are dozens of struggling companies they could lend their expertise to to help them beat the recession.

    Although there are dozens of companies that basically have to mimic everything that Apple does just to stay within cannon-fire range of Apple. If it was that easy to turn a company around in a recession, all of them would be doing it. More companies are like Motorola that turn a successful company into a company on the verge of bankruptcy.

    I have nothing to say about Steve Jobs decisions because I know I don’t have the smarts or the guts to run a company like Apple with media and analyst jackasses always trying to second guess my every move. Critics are some of the most useless people on the face of the earth. They should critique their own lives before they start trying to point out other’s errors.

    As for the iPad. Acer says it’s going to take the whole tablet market away from Apple within a couple of years because Apple’s integrated iOS is all wrong for consumers. Can you actually believe some jackass would spew such garbage about a financially successful platform that is thoroughly enjoyed by most of its users. That from a company who’s CEO said the iPad is just a fad and soon everyone is going back to netbooks. Jeez!

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