Roger McNamee: Post-Steve Jobs, Apple’s already acting like a ‘dumb monopolist’

Elevation Partners Managing Director and Apple Inc. shareholder Roger McNamee discussed the iPhone 5 with Willow Bay [wife of Apple BoD member and Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger.] on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West” yesterday.

Some salient quotes from McNamee:

• I think Apple’s the most amazing thing I’ve seen in 30 years of covering the tech industry.

• [Apple] are the whole package… [It’s] an extraordinary thing for shareholders and, from a regulatory point of view, a little scary.

• Now [Apple is] trying to slow down Web applications on their platform; what’s called HTML 5… and you look at that and you go, guys, why are you doing that?

MacDailyNews Take: McNamee never gives any proof to back up his statement above and, we just checked, Web apps work just fine on our iPhones and iPads, thanks.

• When I look at Apple today, I see them doing crazy things like they laid off a ton of people who worked in the Apple Stores. The retail experience went down the toilet the next day, to the pint where there was this huge backlash and they were forced to rehire some of the people. And I’m sitting there saying, excuse me, why are you trying to cut costs? You’re the highest margin hardware business in the last 25 years, what exactly is wrong with your model? I look at Apple and… as a shareholder, it’s amazing, there’s nothing competitive with them at all today, but they are, already – it’s so quick after Steve died! – they’re already doing the things you would expect a dumb monopolist to do…. Which is to say, arbitrarily cutting costs on services that are part of your brand. I mean, they’re harming the brand by reducing the value of the Apple Stores… You always wonder, what’s going to be the end for a monopolist and you can see that Apple’s already doing the things They’re already doing the things that – it’ll take 5 years – but they’re doing the things that lead to becoming less successful.

• I have no regulatory concerns [with Apple] in the sense of… my impression is that the various regulatory bodies in charge of this, DOJ, etc., are just completely asleep at the switch, so Apple has nothing to worry about. I mean, I don’t this there’s a chance that anybody in Washington is going to look at this anytime soon.

• What I think is the greater risk is that Apple has created these massive silos within its architecture that the architecture itself is vulnerable… At the moment, Apple is standing in the way of [cloud computing] and that is a strategically bad idea for them. it’s abad idea for anybody whose products are as great as their to not do the best you can do.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, no explanation as to how Apple is standing in the way of cloud computing. What’s iCloud, Roger, chopped liver?

Direct link to the video here.

MacDailyNews Take: As for the retail stuff, while McNamee may be overblowing the actualities (down the toilet the next day, etc.), his point is dead on target. Mr. Cook et al. would do well to take it to heart and change their thinking. Think Different™, guys!

As we wrote on August 29: “This sort of thinking is a cancer that will eat away at Apple all the way to the core.”

As we wrote on August 17:

This… type of “thinking” will kill Apple faster than 10 lines of beige Performas.

If Cook can’t see that clearly, he needs to go, too.

Concerned Apple shareholders might want to email CEO Tim Cook directly and ask him what exactly he’s doing…

Related articles:
Report traces Apple Store ‘mistake’ all the way to Tim Cook; shift in emphasis from service to profits comes from Cook, say insiders – August 29, 2012
Reports persist of Apple Retail Store budget cuts, emphasis on revenue over customer satisfaction – August 28, 2012
After being Browettized, Apple Retail touts numbers – August 20, 2012
Apple newbie John Browett brings Dixons to Apple Retail Stores – August 17, 2012
Dear Tim Cook: Apple’s retail focus should be on delighting customers, not generating cash – August 16, 2012
Apple Retail Store chief Browett: ‘We messed up’ with Dixons-eque staffing gamble; refutes layoffs – August 16, 2012
Apple retail chief Browett to get $56 million golden hello – May 27, 2012
Apple grants 100,000 shares to new retail head John Browett – April 25, 2012
Tim Cook emails UK customer: John Browett’s role isn’t to bring Dixons to Apple Retail – February 1, 2012
Eyebrows raised over Apple’s hiring of Dixons CEO to run Apple Retail Stores – January 31, 2012
Apple hires Dixons CEO John Browett as new retail chief – January 31, 2012

NPD: Nearly 60% of Apple product owners more likely to purchase another Apple device after positive Genius Bar experience – August 28, 2012
Apple Inc.: The most profitable retailer in America – August 15, 2012
Apple’s retail juggernaut is magical and revolutionary in its own right – May 25, 2011
Apple Retail Stores hit 10th anniversary (with video of Steve Jobs’ tour of 1st store) – May 18, 2011
Apple Store: ‘The best damn retail experience in America!’ – December 2, 2010
Apple’s retail stores generate huge sales – December 27, 2007
Piper Jaffray finds ‘gravitational pull’ at Apple Retail Stores – November 26, 2007
Apple thinks different with cash register-less retail stores that bring in billions – November 23, 2007
Apple makes retail seem ridiculously easy – May 29, 2007
How Apple’s Steve Jobs is revolutionizing Manhattan retail – May 08, 2007
Fortune: Apple Inc. is America’s best retailer – March 08, 2007
How Apple Retail Stores beat Best Buy, Neiman Marcus, and Tiffany – December 19, 2006


  1. well, MDN, yes. iCloud is chopped liver to us.

    …and despite your delight in contradicting anyone with criticisms against Apple, McNamee is not alone in his disappointment as Apple — the most wealthy company in the history of the world — seems to have slowed innovation in many areas.

    – Retail store cost-cutting was a dumb move
    – killing the server and then dragging feet on Mac Pro updates tells corporate and pro users that they don’t matter
    – dumbing-down the Mac OS with crap like FB and Twit integration is the exact opposite of the direction that desktop users want. There are already apps for that, stop bloating the OS!
    – iWork apps not updated since 2009 ?!?!?!? hell, even dinosaur MSFT has updated its bloatware more frequently than that!
    – and so on.

    This doesn’t mean that Apple isn’t doing a fine job with iPhone and iPad updates, and the Macbook with Retina display really moved the ball. But still, there’s plenty of things that Mr. Money, Tim Cook, can & should be doing that just aren’t happening. If you care about Apple, then you have to speak up and say when they are screwing up.

    1. 1. Agree with the retail store cost-cutting, but I think that was the guy hired from England who only knows discount retailing and bottom-line management. Tim Cook seems to have corrected him (hopefully severely).

      2. Server and Mac Pro lines are actually the dinosaurs. The reality is very few of Apple’s customers buy servers or Mac Pros, therefore Apple isn’t going to spend much time and money on them. However, how hard is it to update chips?

      3. I don’t understand the attraction of FB and Twitter, but apparently a lot of people do. Plus, it integrates well with iOS for those uses, which make Mac OS more appealing to consumers, especially switchers.

      4. iWork on Mac OS hasn’t been updated, but iWork was developed for iOS. Agree that a major update is overdue, but how much can Apple really add/improve to the iWork suite? Bloat it like MS has done with Office?

      5. iCloud is just a start. I expect Apple to steadily improve it as it gets its current offerings stabilized and working well.

      6. Most of your complaints involve issues which pre-date Tim Cook becoming CEO, even on an interim basis (e.g., Mac Pro). It’s not like Apple only makes a product plan a month at a time. With the unexpected monster successes of the iOS platform, Apple has had to divert resources from Mac development to iDevice development. That means picking and choosing what gets R&D money, and MacBook Pros and iMacs make a lot more money and sell a lot more units than Mac Pros and servers. That was true under Steve Jobs, is true under Tim Cook, and will continue to be true in the future.

  2. Wait, lets weigh the two,
    1) a ‘dumb monopolist’ whos products delight millions, and actually have features that people use, and that work,


    2) a failed (failing) Venture Capital Investor. (who picked the wrong company to back)

  3. Ugh, I know a few Apple Store employees and none of them have been directed to do anything different other than the same which is focus on customer service. Give the customer what they need. None of this profit only non-sense. iCloud is the cloud so how is Apple blocking this? There adding new features to it even. I don’t see Tim Cook or John changing anything from what I know. When I go into a store it’s business as usual doing the same things they always do. Nothing different. Just the same thing different they have always been and customer focused as always.

    1. I worked at Apple 7 years ago. The average IQ of the store employees in the area stores appears to have significantly dropped from well above average 7 years ago down to a luke warm double digit today. Now, you must make an appointment to speak to a “Genius” just for help on how to format a new drive. All of today’s reps sound like a terrible TV commercial, and not one can tell you how to easily restore your iPhoto library. The managers are even worse, often coming from a failed career as a department manager at JCPenny and has no idea how to add MIDI to a Mac or iPad, if they know what it is.

  4. I’ve been watching Apple since the late 70s. It is getting BETTER. If you watched the latest keynote you will see Steve’s imprint all over it. And while Steve was in his physical body, there were unending complaints and screams and predictions of impending doom. Questions, complaints, second guessing all the time. Every little misstep badgered as The End Of The World. No, just a huge company innovating and naturally learning by trial and error. Relax. Apple is doing great, and Steve has only left the planet, not existence.

  5. The dropping/ignoring of higher-end computers, obnoxiously flashy graphics on the consumer products, dumbing down retail, 3D photos for those too stupid to read a map, an unusually strong emphasis on grade school social apps like messaging, Twitter and Facebook…
    …is Apple morphing into Toys ‘R Us?

    Maybe Apple should follow the rumors and put out an iPad mini for the tiny hands of their new target market. Be sure it comes in 8 Playskool colors.

  6. This is the same Roger McNamee that said the following:

    You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two- year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone. Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later.

    He said it three months earlier, plugging Palm Pre…

  7. “You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two- year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone,” Elevation Partners (which owns a huge portion of Palm) co-founder Roger McNamee told Bloomberg in March. “Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later.”

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