How the iPad mini is defining Tim Cook’s Apple

“At the start of the month I discussed five key features of the iPad Mini launch that would define Tim Cook’s Apple and illustrate the strategic direction that Apple would be taking in 2013 and beyond under his leadership,” Ewan Spence writes for Forbes. “Now the details are confirmed, let’s revisit them.”

“Before I do, a quick thought. There’s no doubt in my mind that short-term the iPad Mini is going to be a hit, sell by the millions, and be the must have gadget for Christmas 2012. But selling lots of devices is the result of a strategy, not a strategy itself. Apple’s long-term health is just as important as the sales figures on the new hardware,” Spence writes. “Historically the decisions and choices that eventually damaged weakened companies like Nokia, Kodak, and Sony all took place while sales were good and the corporate outlook was optimistic. Will Apple continue to grow and innovate? That’s what I want to look, rather than quantifying the upcoming success of the iPad Mini.”

“You always believed that Steve Jobs could do something special when he led Apple. I saw nothing at this week’s events that led me to believe that Tim Cook has that spark to lead Apple onwards to something truly new and different,” Spence writes. “Apple will continue to sell hardware by the metric tonne, the company will continue to be one of the biggest companies in the world, but I can’t see any impetus for change. It’s the same product line-up, slightly better, still with high margins, and trusting people to buy into the Apple story, shouting about short-term success…”

Spence writes, “If it were any other company, that would be enough, but Apple is not ‘any other company’, it’s Apple. It’s meant to be forward thinking, to be magical, to think different, to just work. Right now, it’s doing none of that.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: People who underestimate Tim Cook get iCal’ed for our future merriment.

53 Comments

  1. I personally don’t get it .
    I am definetly not getting an iPad mini when there is a Retina IPad which is faster and more technologically advanced .

    The price gap definetly shows the iPad retina as a better option

    1. Disagree. Apples (no pun) and Oranges. Different form factors serving different needs. I too prefer the iPad, however, I can readily appreciate how the Mini will create its own unique niche. You’ve been iCal’d. 😉

      1. Tim Cook did not replace Steve Jobs.

        The inner circle of key people at Apple, including Tim Cook, replaced Steve Jobs.

        A big difference these doom and gloom assholes just don’t get.

        1. I agree!

          Regarding: “You always believed that Steve Jobs could do something special when he led Apple. I saw nothing at this week’s events that led me to believe that Tim Cook has that spark to lead Apple onwards to something truly new and different,” Spence writes

          What a pompous ass! Tim is doing just fine.

          1. Those guys and their self-erasing memories! Steve Jobs presented new products and at the time those guys were, like, “meh”. Now they turn around and mendaciously play the “no creativity” card to discredit the Cook leadership. They “saw nothing to impress” then, they see nothing now. What makes those guys even more frighteningly meretricious is the plain fact that Jobs’s Apple team was, uh, this present team.

            Those guys always want to project a professional, knowing aura and demonstrate a grasp of the essentials, all while Bic-flicking a clever inside twist to gloss their self-branding personalities. Except that their exciting insights are just plain made up out of whole cloth—cloth full of holes is more like it.

            What these guys need to realize is that they are better suited to cover celebrities. Tech news, with its vastly greater importance to the evolution of life and values, is more than a junky reality show. Opinions matter less than success in the marketplace. Scoreboard.

    1. Apple has not been a “one man” company ever. One of Steve’s greatest talents was picking good people for the job (Skully excepted). Steve left a VERY deep bench. Do NOT UNDERESTIMATE Mr. Cook.

  2. Steve Jobs himself talked about how rare it is to bring a whole new category of product to market. He said it only been done in his lifetime a few times with the original Macintosh and the iPhone and now the iPad. If this moron thinks that Tim Cook is going to do that again within a year of Steve Jobs’ death, that is just ridiculous and absurd. Apple will be lucky if they can do that again within the next decade!

    In the meantime, I see tons of fantastic innovation at Apple. It’s innovation by reinventing existing products: the retina MacBook Pro, for example, is fantastic. The new thinner yet bigger iPhone 5 is fantastic. The new thinner iMac is fantastic. The new thinner, smaller, lighter iPad mini is fantastic. As far as I can see Apple is moving forward just fine.

    1. So true. If there WAS something radical and new at last week’s event (the mini is fantastic, but I’m talking about reinventing a whole industry), it would most certainly have been Job’s baby, not Cook’s.

      Cook will lead one of those disruptions one of these days. I’m sure about that. But radical disruptions take time. You have to get it right.

    2. You speak the truth, Zmarc! The gist of Ewan Spence’s article is that the iPad mini is going to sell extremely well, Apple is going to retain its dominance…and that is not enough. In his backwards way, Spence is correct – it is not enough. But that is because there is always the possibility of greater things. The essence of modern Apple is to strive for the insanely great, to take risks to break beyond the current boundaries and define the future.

      So Spence is wrong in his rationale, but correct in his conclusion. The “Future Will Be Difficult…” What Spence fails to understand from his overly negative perspective is that the future of Apple will also be magical and awesomely great.

      Why, on the exciting path upwards, do some people insist on seeking and predicting the fall downwards?

  3. Forbes has a consistently anti-Apple agenda. The writer’s failure to comprehend that a segment of the market will be served by the iPad mini proves that he is just a lazy, biased tool of ____.

    1. I don’t even bother reading articles from Forbes any more. They just don’t get tech and are consistently down on Apple. Garbage. Hey MDN – please show the author name and journal affiliation on the headline page so those of us who want to can skip garbage articles more easily. I will skip every Apple article written in Forbes. Not worth it.

  4. Call me easily impressed if you must, but to me what sets Apple apart is the things they don’t have to do. The fusion drive is an example. It is not simply a hybrid drive, it is transparent to the user and adapts to the user’s needs. No one knew they needed that, until it was made available. That type a thing is as important to innovation as whole new product categories, it is the continual redefinition of existing categories. Only Apple does this.

    1. The Fusion Drive is the perfect example, and for me was the big news of the day. It demonstrates how Apple is still the company that is first to market with high tech that was originally limited to “big iron”. This technology makes even small amounts of SSD appear huge. I had the pleasure of working with a company that developed much of this type of SSD technology 20 years ago. These were big rack mounted units that controlled data and dynamically positioned “Hot” data on volatile SSD. They were used in high transaction environments such as NYSE, banks and airline ticketing. They involved paltry amounts of SSD by today’s standards, yet cost tens of thousands of dollars. Thanks to Apple we can now have this dynamic data control on our desktops—in an iMac of all things. I am looking forward to viewing some reviews and test results of how well it works. Kudos to Apple. I am still confident that we will see another generation of Mac Pros, and the Fusion Drive will be a welcome addition!

  5. Hit-whoring, plain and simple.

    All of the products released in the last year (since Steve’s death) would have looked exactly the same had Steve still been in charge. Move along people- nothing to see here…

  6. As I recall, the iMac was originally conceived/designed by Jony Ive and was being ignored by too brass until the returning Steve Jobs stumbled upon him and his designs in some forgotten nook of Apple. Steve was incredible, but he wasn’t the only imaginative person at the table, and many if them are still there — fueling Apple’s future… and our own!

    1. You are right. Jonny Ive was toiling away invisibly at Apple until Steve jobs discovered him. That’s exactly what made Steve Jobs great and unique: he found and cultivated the talent. The talent of Ive was there but it required Jobs to find him. That’s what Apple will be lacking going forward, that visionary.

    2. Exactly – all of Jobs’ responsibilities were not replaced by Tim Cook. Ive and the rest of the senior management team were selected by Jobs because of their abilities and they helped to form the products with Jobs. Cook isn’t replacing the product selector/inventor part of Jobs – it’s now spread out among the team, probably headed by Ive.

  7. I believe the article is for the most part very accurate. I also believe that there isn’t much that Apple can do as far as innovation. As someone said above, it doesn’t happen very often. You can’t just will yourself to invent something fantastic (although I suppose Steve Jobs told his troops that they could). Coming up with some brand-new product or area just doesn’t happen very often. Hard work and luck and a true void in an area have to all happen together. Lots of luck.
    He’s just stating the obvious. Anyone who understands business knows that at some point a successful company will reach a plateau and hopefully can stay there. Apple will be no different. Apple can’t just keep growing and the stock price keep going up as it has in the past. That’s just not possible. No matter what how much fanboys want it to happen. They will have to work very, very hard to stay big and successful. They are no longer the underdog. Eventually the “cool” factor will ebb. I would say that it has compared to three or four years ago. Especially with the younger buyers. Let’s face it, Samsung doesn’t show mom and dad in line waiting for a phone for no reason. We are all a little rebellious and nonconformist when we are younger. Today’s generation is no different. They will simply buy other products because they are not Apple. And not to mention, those other products are generally much cheaper too. But there is still a huge audience out there for Apple products going forward.
    I would like to see Apple do better with supply and demand issues in the future. If you can’t make enough then you can’t sell enough. If you can’t sell enough your stock price will go down no matter how cool your products are. I have no answer for this but that’s Tim Cook’s job isn’t it? That’s supposed to be his strong point. Too many products? Not enough assemblers? Those have been known facts for a long time. Fix it! Fix it for your customers. Fix it for your investors. But fix it! Excuses don’t work in the business world. If you can’t meet demand then narrow the number of products. Do something! Fix it!
    The stock price has not dropped over 100 points because of speculators or manipulators. Speculators and manipulators have been around forever and always will be in ALL stocks. So let’s not start blaming everyone else. The stock has dropped because Apple is not executing well. And not just supply/demand issues either. This is not like the Apple of old. But it is not the Apple of old. It is many,many times bigger than the Apple of old. And therein lies the problem. It’s difficult to make something this big function like it did when it was more agile. I don’t believe that Apple is Sony, but they had better get their act together.
    Maybe Tim Cook was better suited for his last position? Although he is responsible for the current production process. It’s not like you can promote or hire another Steve jobs. But perhaps a little more dynamic face for Apple would help? Most of all they need to get their supply/demand issues settled. Margins. Margins are what counts. They need to do better planning.

        1. Oh, hon, you’re so wrong on so many points. Can’t keep innovating? Sorry for the ad hominem but aren’t you the clay-footed executive. If you believe in innovation, you create the environment for it (fund it, encourage it, reward it, embrace it – even if it means abandoning prior success). You’re a John Sculley; sell the farm because you don’t really believe in your company. Wasn’t there a turn of the century (~ 1890) politician who wanted to close the patent office because in his estimation ‘everything has been invented’.
          If your production can’t meet sales maybe dropping lines or going into panic, high-cost production isn’t the answer; maybe anticipating this possibility with an unmatchably high built quality will ensure that a vibrant second-hand market results (which it has) and you retain (or increase) your market share. And then there are further benefits… Just saying.
          And the ‘if I wasn’t so busy’ comment is so cute. In reply to an executive shouting, “Get up off your lazy ass!” to a machine operator I supervised once at a summer job, who was nearly always to be found sitting on a bag of peanuts watching his machine, the operator pointed to perfect product coming off his line, replied, “When you see me busy, that’s when you need to worry.”

          1. Sweetheart, it’s not about anticipating it’s about planning. Since you use the word panic it’s probably a great part of your vocabulary. I would guess that you use it often. And I doubt you got any higher than supervising a machine operator. I’m in business for myself so I’m the last person you should ever critique. I do quite well thank you. And I use nothing but Mac’s to make a living. So I do think I know what I’m talking about. John Scully hardly! I’m just going to guess that you used government programs to advance your career if you do it all? Because you weren’t being treated fairly. Have a nice day.

    1. Unfortunately Apple’s stock price is being manipulated. Apple has a P/E ratio between 13-14 which is very undervalued especially when one considers each share has about $130 of cash associated with it. That means the real P/E ratio is 8. Why is Amazon trading at a P/E ratio of almost 300. Could it be the institutional investors are trying to drive the price down so when then dividends are laid next month they can buy more shares at a cheaper price? Apple is humming along at the moment and it is in an ideal position in terms of making money – everything it makes it sells. Who else in the technology field can say that??

      1. “That means the real P/E ratio is 8.”

        By ‘real P/E’ do you mean Price to Book or Price to Cash? Not sure what ‘real P/E’ is other than fully diluted P/E and it certainly isn’t 8.

        I think you are thinking of the below values:

        Price to book – P/B = 5x
        Price to cash – P/C = 20.5x

        Regardless those measures are useless. Lets look at P/FCF or price to free cash flow. EXTREMELY attractive right now at 13.5x.

        Comparisons:
        GOOG = 18x
        AMZN = 98x

        Long AAPL with an 850 target.

        1. P/E is the price to earning ratio. However, Apple has over 125 billion dollars in cash and 932 million plus shares. So the true P/E ratio ( removing the inherent cash per share) will leave a P/E ratio of 8 which is very undervalued

  8. I wish that some of these writers who dwell on what they perceive as a lack of innovation at Apple over the past year would give us a clue as to exactly what innovative product Apple should develop next. I will bet you they can’t because they don’t understand how technology evolves. If you look at the bigger picture over the past 30 years we have gone from desktop to laptop to mobile all fuelled by the development of smaller, faster and more energy efficient CPUs. The next logical transition will be to embedded devices but I think that we are still a decade away from that development.

  9. People fall for this kind of BS. Imagine if this stupid writer was back in the T-Ford days……he would be saying that the invention of the car (steering wheel and four wheels with an engine) is OK but what about magic carpets. Can ford just simply continue to improve the car with only four wheels and a steering wheel? They need to come out with a flying carpet or a totally new means of transport.

  10. Spence noted “I can’t see any impetus for change. It’s the same product line.”

    Spence must not be a user of Mac products. Products include hardware, software, some accessories and certainly the iCloud side. Improvement in all those products and new models are coming making them more usable and practical and that sure seems like change to me.

    On a deeper level, Apple is already mocking up and doing multiple new hardware working models that Spence hasn’t seen or heard about and so he concludes nothing is happening. That is the Apple way.

    If Spence were to read a bit, he would understand that Apple can’t keep up with customer demand right now and that Apple won’t tell the world about brand new products until they are ready to ship.

    On the demand side, Apple realizes it needs to make easier to produce products wherever possible, so I would expect to see new products designed for robotic assembly in the near future in some product lines, just so Apple can broaden its manufacturing locations and maybe even bring production closer to home.

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