Daring Fireball’s John Gruber “came to Macworld Expo 2010, however, not to praise the company but to probe its vulnerabilities,” Phillip Elmer-Dewitt reports for Fortune.
The problems, in the order he delivered them:
1. Steve Jobs: The pessimistic dig on Apple, says Gruber, is that it’s a supremely well-organized company organized around one irreplaceable guy. The optimistic view is that Jobs has structured it to run like his other company, Pixar, which manages to turn out hit after hit, year after year, without a charismatic celebrity leader.
2. AT&T: [Apple sticks with them because] AT&T so desperately needs the iPhone that Apple can extract far better terms from them than it ever could from Verizon. Meanwhile, however, AT&T’s service problems are draining Apple’s good will.
3. Computers: Gruber thinks he’s seen the future of computers, and it is the iPad. “It’s really, really good,” he gushed. If you are sitting on a couch and you need a computer, most people are going to reach for the iPad, not the MacBook Pro. And that puts Apple into uncharted territory. For the first time since the original Mac replaced the Apple II, it has two overlapping computer products. And although it took a few years for the corpse to grow cold, the Apple II basically died the day the Mac arrived.
4. The App Store
6. Mobile Me: It’s great for syncing your iPhone to your Mac, but what’s the point of Mobile Me’s Web apps?
7. Back Ups: Time Capsule is the right idea, but it’s not really a solution for all those people who don’t even know they’re supposed sync their iPhones to their Macs.
8. Apple TV: Gruber is not one of those who talks about Apple TV as Steve Jobs’ one dud. He likes Apple TV, but says it has a fundamental problem: [Content or the relative lack thereof]. Hulu is a wonderful solution but when Boxee figured out a way to put it on TV, the Hulu guys freaked out. They have “this crazy brick wall in their heads,” Gruber explains, that perceives computers and TVs and two fundamentally different things. They worry about ad-supported Hulu getting on TVs when they should be worried about people bootlegging their content for free and watching it with no ads. “I don’t see,” Gruber concludes, “how Apple can get from where they are to where they need to be when they are negotiating with people that stupid.”
9. Arch Rivals: A company needs direct rivals to stay hungry, but when they get big enough they tend to run out of them… Apple’s closest rival in smartphones, Gruber maintains, is not Google (which will rake in the Web ad riches whether Android succeeds or fails), but Palm, whose WebOS he admires.
10. About Box Credits: If software is a form of art, as Apple insists it is, “artists should get to sign their work.”
Full article, with full explanations of each of the 10 points above, here.
MacDailyNews Take: Some of these are a stretch. Number 10 is seemingly there only to fulfill the promise of ten points. As for number 9, Apple has plenty of arch rivals and self-motivation; they don’t require a floundering group of castoffs with chips on their shoulders in order to motivate them. There is plainly no need for Palm’s webOS; it’s superfluous in the current marketplace; a redundancy. Unless some other company decides to junk their current OS and snaps up what’s left of the company for webOS (which we strongly suspect is the real dream of Elevation Partners), Palm has no reason to be. If not saved via a buyout, Palm is dead. Number 6 isn’t really a vulnerability on the order of, say, how the company will someday run without Steve Jobs. Number 3 is many years off. It certainly won’t happen as quickly as Mac took over from Apple II because Mac had greater capabilities than what it succeeded, not less. Unless and until iPad evolves to do everything a Mac can do and more, the Mac will not only survive, it will thrive. All that said, it’s still an interesting, thought-provoking list and therefore a recommended read.