Monthly Archives: February 2014

State of the Apple in 2014

Jony_Ive_Book_CoverApple: too Big to be a Growth Company?

From a Stock Investment point of view, maybe. It’s a well known fact that the bigger you get, the harder it is to grow fast because your base is such a large number. Big successful companies like Apple can also become complacent.

With Stock troubles the last year and a half, though, Apple has had some time to introspect and get the house in order to fight the competitive battles they need to fight. The biggest immediate challenge is that Smart Mobile is peaking. Most of Apple’s target market — knowledge workers, professionals and creatives already have iPhones and iPads. Now what?

The first thing Apple has done is put out 3 great versions of their 3 stellar products: iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with retina. All three are based on Apple’s new best in class A7 chip and are incredibly responsive. The 2013 retina MacBook Pro is also a great machine. Jony Ive has taken over software design now and iOS7 has  a fresh new look and is better than ever. Their current product portfolio including OSX Mavericks is peerless!

Growth and Innovation

Let’s grant that Apple has one arm tied behind its back as a Growth company due to its decade-long rapid growth and enormous sales and profits. But Innovation, design and excellence are Apple’s proven strengths. How can Apple not innovate? That’s what they do. I’m not the only one impressed with Tim Cook’s competence, intelligence and commitment. Steve Jobs is gone. But intensity, vision, aesthetics and creativity are alive and well in Apple’s secret sauce man — Jony Ive.

Jony Ive Has the Goods

I’ve just finished reading the new Jony Ive book by Leander Kahney and it is quite enlightening. Ive’s father taught him design, curiosity, craftsmanship, observation and innovation from the cradle. His father led the development of design education in England and helped Jony get into the best design schools and firms. Jony was winning prizes for design and turning heads while still in high school. The best part might be that he is just as driven as Steve Jobs was. And Jony isn’t working alone, he has handpicked an amazing team of designers.

Ive joined Apple in the early nineties and designed the 2nd version of the Newton. His team also did a Newton mini-laptop that looked a lot like the translucent Bondi Blue iMac a few years later.  It just got better from there.

Tim Cook Makes it Happen

Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs but he kicks ass and gets stuff done like no one I’ve ever heard of. He’s not even a product guy but he is super competent and obviously loves being the guy running Apple. He will do whatever it takes to keep Apple in a leadership position in technology.

Angela Ahrendts is Coming

I’m cheating a little here as Ahrendts hasn’t even started yet as Apple’s new Retail chief, but I’m super excited just from seeing Angela’s Ted Talk on The Power of Human Energy. She is inspired and inspiring and I’m glad to have her on the team. She’s done wonders at Burberry and is pretty geeky too. She’s done stuff with retail at Burberry that Apple could only hope to do until now.

In the area of computer software and hardware and now Post PC smartphones and tablets, Apple is the innovator. No one else is close…

The Future Unfolding

New Product Categories

We’ve been hearing rumors of a real TV or a much cooler Apple TV for years now. More recently there’s the iWatch rumor. I’m guessing these both are going to happen. Cool stuff is starting to show up in Cars. It is safe to say Apple will address the digital home and car near term. But we will have to wait a little longer to see the results of their efforts.

Sapphire Glass Plant in Arizona Looks Promising

I like this new development. First Apple is manufacturing the Mac Pro in the US. Now they are building a Synthetic Sapphire plant near Phoenix.  My take on this is that Tim Cook is on the move. I think he wants to build up Apple’s manufacturing capability in the US. He says he is just getting started on this.

What About Google?

Google is Apple’s number one rival. They have shown themselves to be good at search and cloud services. Android’s 80% global marketshare in smartphones is nerve-wracking to say the least. Google CEO, Larry Page, plays big and will help the industry move forward rapidly in the coming years. Lots of their innovation is vaporware from my perspective, though. Self-driving cars and Google Glass are innovative but ideas are a dime a dozen. Let me know when you sell those cars and a few regular people adopt Google Glass.

Apple doesn’t pre announce their innovations, so every time there is a gestation period, people start questioning whether they still have it. See my August 2013 post on Apple’s Strengths and Weaknesses for more on Apple and Google.

That said, Google is a great spur to Apple to keep innovating. Just lately Google bought Nest the hip digital home thermostat and smoke alarm maker founded by, Tony Fadell. And Google sold Motorola to Lenovo. I can’t tell whether they are scarily great or just shaking things up.

I’m Optimistic

Google is out there and Apple has to play its best game to do exactly what it wants to do in the technology space. But Apple has lots of cards to play in this undertaking. They have the money, passion,  people,  design leadership and cutting edge engineering and manufacturing. I can’t wait to see what is coming down the pike next. It’s going to be good!