Everybody’s a Steve Jobs. Everybody wants to run Apple. It’s an appealing idea, as it’s so easy to see it as “one man’s” company, one that exists only to fulfill his vision of what the next big thing should be. The problem is that no one else has Steve’s vision, so that when he comes out with a revolutionary product (like the iPod), it’s met with puzzled looks and cries of how this is going to be the final nail in Apple’s coffin.
And while there’s always money to be made in trashing Apple, too many wanna-be-Steves think that what the company really needs to do is follow what the rest of the computing world is doing, rather than innovate a new product. This brings us to our second example of those who tried to change Apple: analysts calling for…
The Apple netbook
Success or Failure: Failure
Ah, the netbook. The hot and sexy device that was capturing market share and putting Linux on the shelves at Target. They were portable, cheap, and no one one knew what they were good for. It was an analyst’s wet dream. Companies were selling them by the shovel-full, and everyone simply knew that Apple had to come out with their own version.
The calls for this became so ubiquitous that many predicted Apple would flounder without one, stating that the rough economy would drive people away from more-expensive Macbooks and into the arms of ultra-cheap PCs. In truth, the exact opposite happened, and Apple made tons of money off high-margin Macbook sales while netbook makers were cutting their own throats in a race to produce the cheapest netbook in order to sell the most. Computer companies were capturing market share, but Apple was capturing the profit.
“What about the iPad?” Yep, the iPad is an ultraportable device. But I don’t think anyone would call it a netbook. For one thing, it’s still more expensive, and I imagine Apple is still making a healthy margin on its production. But even if they’re not, Apple has two more revenue streams locked into the iPad: the App Store and the recently announced iAds. Apple isn’t just making money off the sales of the device (like Microsoft and the hardware makers), they have a revenue stream through the life of the device.
In fairness, I don’t think anyone, certainly not me, would have predicted that Apple would actually thrive during our current recession, with their market cap approaching Microsoft’s, fer gawd’s sake. And while Apple didn’t make a netbook, it was an exciting idea that a lesser company might have jumped at.
But there was one campaign to change Apple that made just about everyone scratch his head, and we’ll deal with that in part three…
Also see “Dear Steve: Campaigns that tried to change Apple (and failed):