I am sure there are diehard Apple fans who believe nothing is wrong at Apple and the company is hitting on all cyclinders. I doubt that is the case. Unfortunately like all large companies in a very competitive global market, Apple is finding the road to continuing success a road with some twists and turns.
In spite of the challenges, I am not going to join with Doug Ehrman, a contributor to Motley Fool, and suggest that Apple would be better off by getting rid of Tim Cook. I actually thought Ehrman's arguments were particularly weak. The idea that consumers will give Apple a break if they are searching for a new CEO is a fantasy.
One of the biggest challenges for Apple in the nearly twenty years that I was there was the revolving door management. The reality is that you will never replace Steve Jobs. Tim Cook plus almost anyone is still no Steve Jobs, but I firmly believe that Tim needs to find some new leaders with a passion for technology. He needs to stop listening to whomever is whispering in his ear currently and find some folks who can bring some excitement back to the company. There has to be more to innovation than thin, light, high resolution screens, and prices that are higher than anyone else in the industry.
There are some serious problems with Apple.
- Obviously Apple has not been nimble enough to respond to the Android challenge in tablets and smart phones. Going to court also has not worked.
- Apple's strategy of taking industry standard parts and demanding unbelievable margins in computers to add to their cash horde is unsustainable in the long run.
- If Apple is going to be a premium product, it needs service where there are no hiccups like my iLemon. Even Tim Cook's Executive Relations team which had initially promised to solve all my iMas's problems gave up on it and gave me the remarkably sage diagnosis that it was broken. Guess what? Computers that cost $1,900 and are less than two years old should not break. I had five other people all with similar iMac problems contact me. That included one Apple employee who was afraid to push the issue.
- Apple needs a culture change. If you can find someone who worked at Apple and is willing to talk, you will find that Steve Jobs created a company culture where risk taking was discouraged. You will also find that aside from developers, Apple has isolated itself from customers who might at least provide some serious feedback which is not tainted by the famed reality distortion zone. I am not talking about people talking to their local genius bar.
- Apple still does not understand the cloud and their new beta of cloud based software is almost embarrassing. iWork beta in the cloud cannot import RTF files. (note hyper links are now working)
- Pre-announcing a new product like the new Mac Pro and not shipping it is even worse than the fiasco that Steve Jobs created in 2003 when he preannounced the G5s in June and was unable to ship any until the end of July.
- I use both Windows 8 and Mac OS X Mountain Lion. I find Windows 8 more stable and more usable. I cannot stand the dumbing down of OS X and apps like iPhoto which I have stopped using.
- If you are going to have the best products, quit doing stupid things like putting the SD slot on the back of a huge iMac screen. Make sure your products are also the best to service. Having to pull the huge LCD panel to get to a hard drive should not be the first choice.
- There are companies like Lenovo who believe they can deliver high quality and reasonable prices. If Apple is going to be the Lexus of the computer world, they need to fix problems when they find them instead of creating angry customers. Otherwise consumers will figure it out.
- Apple has always been proud that they ignore the competition and make their own way. That may no longer be possible. They need people who can figure out what the competition is doing right and help Apple get ahead of the curve. I see no evidence that Apple has people like that currently.
What's is still right with Apple
- They have some very passionate customers, but even there their patience is limited. We had an Apple user visiting with us recenlty He was very ticked off that his photos which should have been in the iCloud and on his iPad were missing in action. His comment to me was that it was becoming too complex to be an Apple customer. I promise that I did not coach him. As far as I could tell he had everything set correctly and the photos were just not there.
- Apple has a core of great products. They need to get better not just thinner, lighter or weirder.
- They have a strong developer community.
- There are some very hard working and bright Apple employees.
What does Tim Cook need to do?
- He has to decide what the new Apple is going to be. It will not be Steve Jobs' Apple.
- Innovation has to once again become a core value at Apple.
- Apple can no longer afford to screw up the cloud. Go buy Dropbox or someone else who has a good cross-platform cloud model and then add some Apple value to it.
- Get OS X back to being the best OS out there. That I prefer Windows 8 and Xubuntu Linux to Mac OS X Mountain Lion should be an embarrassment to Apple.
- People still use devices for the software. If you cannot figure out how to create great software, you better start throwing some more support towards open source. While Picasa might not be as pretty as iPhoto, try editing a few dozen photos with each and tell me which one does it easier and better. I already know the answer.
Why am I still rooting for Apple.
- I love nicely designed hardware and I still think Apple can be the best source of this.
- I want competition. It is the way we get better products.
- Twenty years at a company even if the last two were the pits still makes you root for them a little.
For those who have just found my Applepeels blog, it, like me, has been around for a long time. There is more about me at this link or it you want to explore my non-Apple writing a little more try this link but it comes with some upfront apologies if my page does not resize properly in your browser.
At one time I had over a thousand pages of posts on Applepeels. Apple never challenged the accuracy of a single one of my posts. However, much of the older Applepeels content is now found in our book, The Pomme Company.
And for those who might care, the book is now available in paperback. It is expensive because of the large number of color pictures, but on the other hand, the Kindle version is very inexpensive. Print production costs are what they are.
Just to be clear so potential readers understand the book's content, there are no Apple secrets in the book. It is about working at Apple. However, no other person that I am aware of who was at Apple for nearly twenty years has written an unchallenged book. Every Apple employee who was part of the history and who has read the book and communicated back to me has commented that if anything I was too kind to Apple.
Little of what I saw has changed according to reports from people still at Apple. I did work with Tim Cook so my comments are not idle speculation. If you want to see what it is like to be in Apple sales, the book will meet your needs. The book will most definitely show you a side of Apple that few people aside from Apple employees have ever seen.