A brief history of people giving Apple advice

“Some wise person — I wish I knew who — once said that everybody has two businesses: their own, and show business,” Harry McCracken writes for TIME Magazine. “The same is true in the world of technology, except the two businesses people have are their own, and Tim Cook’s.”

“Everyone, in other words, seems to have strong opinions about what Apple should be doing,” McCracken writes. “And a remarkable percentage of the people who share their thoughts state them not as a suggestion or a preference but as an imperative so absolute that ignoring it could plunge the company into crisis. To emphasize the seriousness of the matter, their headlines usually use the words “Apple must…”

“Herewith, a few examples,” McCracken writes. “Just to show this has been going on for a long time, let’s begin with an example that’s almost three decades old.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Today is Martin Luther King Day in the U.S. and the markets are closed. As usual on such trading holidays, we will have limited posting today.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. My favorite is Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft telling the world that without “keys” the iPhone will fail with limited sales to those that are the Apple loyalists! That ended with they famous, “I like our plan, I like it a lot.”

    1. Well, he’s certainly not the first person who said Apple or the iPhone will fail nor will he be the last. Even as late as yesterday the news media has been saying that nonstop about the iPhone’s chances on China Mobile due to huge prices and tiny displays. Apple is the Rodney Dangerfield of tech companies.

  2. I was going to ask if “Cortland” really predicted the iPhone. But looking through the linked forum, did a pretty good job with some specifics.

    ‘Soon even the densest will acknowledge that carrying a phone and an iPod won’t make sense.

    So again, Apple has the opportunity to make the “hot product one always carries with one” — the multifunction color screen/storage/phone/backup/mp3/movies/speakerphone/calculator/email/web browser micro safari/come on you’d buy it in a second…’

    1. Mark, almost the entire list is trivially obvious pre iPhone. Everyone was already saying to combine the iPod with the phone, so:
      phone, mp3, movies, speakerphone
      Are already completely obvious. My flip phone had a calculator 10 years before the iPhone so, again, no bonus points for that.

      The iPhone doesn’t really serve as backup.

      email, web browser micro safari… those are already obvious as blackberry had a web browser and email. Unless he mentions full function html browser, he gets zero points for mentioning a browser. None.

      Basically there’s absolutely NOTHING on this list which is even remotely a stretch.

      What about “multi function color screen”? He did not mention a touch screen, he didn’t mention that the device should be a giant pocketable screen that does all these things. There’s nothing about this list which isn’t completely obvious. He did not predict the iPhone at all.

  3. Speaking of show business, there are only two showmen in the world worth watching, one of whom is P.T Barnum and the other of course is the late, great Steve Jobs, two of the greatest showmen on earth.

    Crack the whip Steve, and let the show begin!

    P.S Thanks Steve, I bought my first Apple product, an iPhone, because of you.

    P.PS Tim Cook isn’t so much a showman as a snooze man. Who do you call if you can’t sleep? TC Busters.

    1. Excellent characterization of Steve Jobs. He was indeed the very personification of P. T. Barnum – marketing to “fools” and knowing that new ones were being born every day. That would account for so many recent-borns who populate this site with sophomoric and totally blind expressions of support for Steve’s sorry successor.

      1. You of course must be posting this from a command line computer, since you certainly can’t be using a GUI based computer that owes its existence to Steve Jobs. Nor can you be using a touch screen smart phone which also owes its existence to Steve Jobs. Nor even going through a website based on HTML, which was developed on a NeXT box, also owing its existence to Steve Jobs.

        Oh… wait…

    1. I’m guessing you’re not a shareholder. Because when Wall Street cornholes Apple shareholders on earnings you can simply walk the other way or play the Great Apple Apologist like the rest of the diehard Apple fans and say “Wait until next quarter” or “Wall Street will someday understand Apple.” Meanwhile Google shares will be at $1200 and Amazon’s shares will be at $500 as Apple fades into the sunset. Everything Tim Cook does sends the share price down further. It’s simply poor company management that Apple can’t accomplish what even the weakest companies can do which is to increase shareholder value.

      Apple makes huge revenue, profits and has a mountain of reserve cash. Far more than almost every tech company on the planet. But does that ever translate into gains for shareholders? NO! If a company has a lot of money and shareholders never see it then that company is certainly being mismanaged or is running a scam. If profitless companies can increase shareholder value then a highly profitable company surely should be able to unless it’s running a Ponzi scheme. Just watch Wall Street destroy the stock price on the 27th of January.

      1. If that’s your attitude, I would like it very much if you sold your Apple stock and invested in something else. Apple’s history with Wall Street is a never-ending series of demands, thankfully ignored by Apple, that in retrospect would have been suicidal.

        If you are a short-term investor, you’d really be better off putting your money elsewhere. Apple’s visions take time to mature while short-term investors always want Apple to just do whatever their incompetent, short-sighted competition is doing.


      2. Google has about 334,000,000 shares on the market valued at $1150.90ea. Apple has about 918,000,000 shares valued at about $540ea . Google’s mkt cap of $384,300,000,000 divided by 918,000,000 (the number of shares Apple has) equals is about $418.62 per share. That would be Google’s price if they had the same number of shares as Apple. To flip it. If Apple only had 334,000,000 shares (the number Google has) the share price of Apple today would be $1456 per share.

  4. The three most fervent “musts” I’ve heard over the years;

    1. Apple must license their software (again).

    2. Apple must release a netbook. (Ah, the hilarity of THAT trend!)

    3. Apple must put a physical keyboard on that phone.

    The amount of noise that was created by those 3 demands over the years was almost deafening. And the self-righteous assuredness of those stating these “Apple must” opinions was quite entertaining to those of us who know Apple.

  5. This reminds me of all those articles back in the 90’s about how Apple was going to disappear in the next few seconds and everyone should abandon ship. I think there was even a web-site that recorded these things. Like many of the “must have” articles of today, they were written by people who have trouble understanding an innovative company like Apple, and base their opinions on what they see in the rear-view mirror.

        1. Thanks for the link. It was fun reading those articles again…like the one below…

          Apple Death Knell #12
          Apple R.I.P. – Oct 05, 2000
          By Michael S. Malone, Published in Forbes

          Relevant Quote:
          Steve Jobs can’t run companies… Jobs failed the first time running Apple, failed at Next and only succeeded at Pixar because the company worked around him. He succeeded in the short term during this, his second, Apple tenure because he ran the whole company as a product team. That only works so long. Why is he a poor CEO? Because he’s mercurial, insufficiently engaged by the more boring (but crucial) operations like distribution and, ultimately, because he’s a pretty nasty piece of work. In the best of all scenarios, Jobs would hire a competent CEO and focus on product development, but his ego would soon lead him to undermine his replacement.

  6. @MDN: Respect for MLK Day should be enough reason to take the day off in remembrance. Please stop mentioning ‘trading day’ excuses. It has nothing to to with Mac News or the reason people take time off work.

    1. “I have a dream… Apple will again reach $700 a share.” Oh, wait… This is reality and Apple shares are headed for $500 as CEO Timmy strolls the alleyways of China arm in arm with CEO Xi.

  7. How disgusting is it that we have no Holiday for TRUE American heroes (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc.), but we have one for Michael King (MLK’s actual, real name).

    Michael King was a socialist rabble-rouser, racial grievance monger, proven plagiarist, whoremonger, liar, and all-around fraud. The only reason he’s venerated like this is because he was shot. People are shot everyday. Doesn’t make you special just to be shot.

    Society needs to grow up and grow a pair and start rejecting all forms of political correctness. We’ll never be able to fix our problems until we stop letting the leftists push us around.

    I don’t recognize this as MLK day. I celebrate it as “I Hate Political Correctness Day.”

      1. Pretty sure President’s Day lumps all the President’s together into one generic holiday that no one even talks about. MLK day is all FOR HIM — which he does not deserve. MLK was NOT important. He damaged the country. Don’t be daft.

        So, anymore stupid comments, or are you done for the day?

        1. So, MLK damaged the country? I suppose I would agree, if I were a skinhead racist who regrets that colored boys don’t get off the sidewalk when I approach any more. Whether King personally deserves a holiday may be debatable, but to suggest that he and the Civil Rights Movement (which is the real honoree on MLK Day) damaged the country expresses a viewpoint so warped as to test most Americans’ commitment to the First Amendment. I’m surprised you aren’t celebrating the fact that Lincoln’s Birthday isn’t a holiday anymore. I can see you lamenting, “that race traitor freed the darkies.” I’m going to enjoy the day and be glad that I am no longer being taxed to maintain two separate school systems just to keep folks like you happy.

  8. As i always said for decades to Apple naysayers/doomsters:

    whether you’re a layman or anal-yst or journalist:

    1. STFU: your big mouth, big opinions matter not, since AAPL is still king, always trumping your so-called better ideas

    2. PROOF: if you’re so smart, why is AAPL so rich/successful yet you’re not?! if Apple needs your advice, since you know better than them, why have we never heard of your NeXT Big Thing or Think Different Invention or success story?

    3. SOUL: if Apple were to listen to all silly ideas on how to improve, they’d be as kitchy as all competitors – flummoxed indeed! Apple would never reach Design/Functionality Essence and would disappear like all others: IBM / Dell / Nokia / Moto / BB / Sony / Msft…It is not about cheapening/diluting à la Walmart US Culture but
    a. humanizing technology (de-complicating it)
    b. raising the standards (technologically/culturally/aesthetically/usability etc)
    c. making high tech affordable & fun

    4. STFI & if you still are too stubborn to think Apple will out survive all competitors with vision left to grow, if you’re blindly hate Apple due to your Stockholm Syndrome & other flummoxed inadequacies, maybe you should stop fooling yourself, lying to yourself, waste energy instead of create your own superlative inventions or game-changing solutions for the world, without copying/stealing, and if you still can’t handle the truth, maybe you need a life of your own, go masturbate…

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