As Apple keeps on reporting record-setting performance quarter after quarter, the chief executive of a big-name market research company is saying that Apple will be like Sony, a once-powerful and peerless tech giant relegated to the sidelines.
Forrester Research CEO George Colony equates Apple with Sony in a blog post, saying that the Cupertino, California-based maker of shiny i-gadgets will lose its place on top of the tech world. However, I beg to disagree.
Now before you call me a fanatic for Apple for choosing to explain why Apple is not likely to decline in the near future, read through this post first as I try to explain reasons why Apple won’t be like Sony, at least not yet.
Colony’s main argument resides in the fact that Steve Jobs is gone. He cites a typology of organizations created by sociologist Max Weber in a book published in 1947. According to Weber, there are three types of organizations: one is legal / bureaucratic, another is traditional and another is charismatic. I guess we don’t have to discuss what category Apple was – and how it is categorized as such – when Steve Jobs was still at the helm of his giant of a company.
Describing the third category, Weber said it is “run by special, magical individuals”. This leader is “is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities.” Those adjectives sure ring a bell. Reality distortion field, anyone?
Truly, Steve Jobs was praised as a tech CEO in a class of his own. Even fellow tech luminaries think so. Remember the comments which streamed continuously after Steve Jobs passed away?
Anyway, now that the man who built Apple twice is gone, Colony says that Apple will become “like Sony (post Morita), Polaroid (post Land), Apple circa 1985 (post Jobs), and Disney (in the 20 years post Walt Disney).”
According to him:
“When Steve Jobs departed, he took three things with him: 1) singular charismatic leadership that bound the company together and elicited extraordinary performance from its people; 2) the ability to take big risks, and 3) an unparalleled ability to envision and design products. Apple’s momentum will carry it for 24-48 months. But without the arrival of a new charismatic leader it will move from being a great company to being a good company, with a commensurate step down in revenue growth and product innovation.”
His arguments have merit but I just don’t see Apple declining that much in the near future, with the near future being five years from now.
For one, we’ve already discussed in detail about how Jobs chose right when he chose to hand over the company’s leadership to Tim Cook. We must remember that Cook was specially chosen by Jobs to be his successor and we know Jobs did not take to preferring many people often, if at all. Cook must have something of a magical personality within him for Jobs to personally recommend that he be tasked with leading the company once its cofounder is gone.
Furthermore, although Jobs was the face and arguably the person who is credited for Apple’s success, Cook had much to do with Apple’s achievements over the last decade. He is the man behind the scenes. The only difference now is that he has also become the man in front of the line.
Secondly, Apple still has the likes of Jony Ive, its design guru who was one of the few people Jobs respected. It also still has Scott Forstall who is currently the iOS chief. Forstall and Ive both have the creative chops to lead Apple to still pump out great products.
Thirdly, Jobs planned for Apple’s future. That’s why he has chosen who will inherit his roles at Apple from among his generals. If Jobs had faith in Cook and Ive, he must have thought they can guide the company without him. Furthermore, Apple has a ton of cash, enough to blanket California more than two times over , and the company is not about to tank anytime soon.
This is not to say, however, that Apple is infallible. However, to say Apple will crash after Jobs is just easy. Everything falls given the time. And currently, at the rate Apple is going, you sometimes have to wonder just how long they will grow. How long can Apple keep raising the bar, in terms of profits and sales? Maybe its performance is also a bad thing. How can you keep topping an outstanding success one after the other?
Stagnate, maybe, but decline to the status of being unimportant, no. Not yet, at least.
Source: Forrester Research – The Counterintuitive CEO Blog