Apple and the curse of the ‘edifice complex’

“It’s called the edifice complex, and it carries a curse: A high-flying company builds a beautiful new headquarters, then heartbreakingly loses altitude,” Larry Light writes for CBS. “Some wonder if Apple, which is constructing a massive new palace near the tech titan’s long-time California office, is the latest to fall prey to this hex.”

“From Bank of America to Sears Holdings, history is littered with instances of corporate icons that built magnificent architecture to consecrate their glory, only to see fate humble them,” Light writes. “At this stage, to its many fans, Apple still enjoys an air of indomitability. Boasting the world’s second-largest market value, the company inspires enormous consumer enthusiasm. Its flagship iPhones amass annual sales that eclipse the individual GDP of 66 percent of the world’s nations. But the worry is that Steve Jobs’ juggernaut may have seen its best days. That without founder Jobs, who died in 2011, the company has lost its creative mojo.”

“Apple’s new headquarters is a worthy monument to its awe-inspiring scale and global reach. Designed by storied British architect Norman Foster, the building is a huge glass ring dubbed ‘the spaceship,'” Light writes. “The $5 billion project, located across the street from Apple’s current Cupertino, California, location, is 2.8 million square feet and a mile in circumference. It’s powered by a daunting array of solar panels. Housing 12,000 employees, the Apple-plex is slated to open later this year.”

Apple Campus 2 project - Cupertino, CA
Apple Campus 2 project – Cupertino, CA

“A theory called the Skyscraper Index, holds that massive new corporate buildings demonstrate that growth is peaking and woeful times are coming — for the organizations that built them, as well as the economy at large,” Light writes. “If so, that explains the Great Depression (the Empire State Building), the Asia Crisis (Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers) and the Great Recession (Dubai’s Burj Khalifa)… For sure, if Apple does succumb to the edifice complex curse, it will join a long roster of tech leaders that floundered following the ribbon cuttings.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The only curse Apple suffers from is the curse of pancreatic cancer.

It turns out that a visionary genius obsessed with user experience down to every last detail isn’t as easily replaced as some might have thought.

Walt Mossberg: Apple’s software needs work – February 3, 2016
2015: Apple’s year in beta – December 29, 2015
​Apple’s dirty little secret: Sucky software – why Apple’s entire UX/UI team needs to be fired – November 19, 2015
What Steve Jobs gave Apple that Tim Cook cannot – November 18, 2015
Alternatives to Apple’s bloated iTunes – November 17, 2015
Apple’s new iPad Pro debuts with forced reboots, missing Apple Pencils – November 16, 2015
Apple’s perplexingly incomplete launch of the iPad Pro – November 16, 2015
Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to do better – January 5, 2015
Apple’s major problem is Tim Cook – November 16, 2015
At Apple, it seems as if no one’s minding the store – November 13, 2015
Houston Chronicle’s Silverman reviews new Apple TV: This cake needed more baking – November 9, 2015
The new Apple TV has more rough edges than a sack of saw blades – November 3, 2015
Apple Music one month later: Not loving it, but I’ll be subscribing to it – August 10, 2015
The tragedy of iTunes: Nothing ‘just works’ – July 28, 2015
Apple Music, both on iOS and OS X, is an embarrassing and confusing mess – July 10, 2015
After many of complaints about Wi-Fi issues, Apple dumps discoveryd in latest OS X beta – May 27, 2015
OS X 10.10.2: Wi-Fi problems continue to plague some Mac users – January 30, 2015
The software and services that Apple needs to fix – January 14, 2015


        1. Anyone who thinks software development under Steve was much more reliable and bug free than it is today, is delusional. Longing for a time that never existed.

          This reminds me of that FOX moron Glenn Beck, who started crying, longing for the time when everything was simpler. Of course the idiot was referring to his childhood, when he had zero responsibilities. This was during one of the most turbulent times in US history.

          1. I recommend you go to Apple’s Mac Apps store and start reading the user reviews. Apple needs to own up to the issues TODAY.

            Everyone knows that OS X 10.0 and 10.1 were shit. 10.2 through 10.6 were just awesome, light years ahead of any other OS.

            But then Apple got cute and decided to double down on mainframe computing. Apple inserted iCloud where it was not invited. Apple followed MS and Adobe into subscriptions and started treating all OS updates like betaware. Apple put artists in charge of user interfaces. The CEO spends all his time on social agenda and leaves the accountants to run the ship. THAT is the Apple we have today.

            Here’s the billion dollar question for Mac users at least: If I make my living using a Mac, how much more productive would I be using El Capitain versus Snow Leopard? The answer is: NONE. That’s the problem. Apple doesn’t provide better value in its software today than they did 7 years ago.

            Totally agree that Beck is a moron.

            1. are you saying MDN is a former MS employee? get a grip dude. Apple today is earning its criticism. in the past, Apple’s great products more than made up for the rare issues they had. the dorks running the show now are getting rich and stupid.

            2. SPOT ON !!!!!!

              I happily paid to upgrade through Snow Leopard. OS X versions since are worth no more than Apple charges for them. Cook has been sold on a future of subscription mainframe computing, because that’s what all his competitors are doing. Pathetic.

  1. no, i think mdn’s take is hitting very close to home.

    like it or not the visionary genius and detail man is gone, he has been succeeded by businessmen – competent, i suppose, in their own realm, but not in either the vision or attention to detail departments.

    hence, they are making money hand over fist, but the user experience is suffering. and i don’t think there is much disagreement about that.

    despite the fact that their products pretty much excel all others in design and durability, all is not well in apple-world.

    they need to refocus and re-energize the “insanely great” ethos of the olden days.

    1. I think Tim Cook is doing well. He’s the corporate business guy. Can pay attention to business detail’s, but isn’t a product guy. It’s Ive who is failing. I’m guessing that Ive and Jobs played off each others strengths. Ive doesn’t have that anymore. When SJ returned as CEO he immediately partnered with Ive. Ive now has to find his “replacement” or the person who has complementary strengths. Ive has been handed the reins, it’s very difficult indeed to find that person less experienced and below you in the organization that you can engage on a peer/trust relationship because of their unique talents. Hard to find the person, even harder to forge the relationship.

  2. It’s apparent to me that people just cannot grasp the growth Apple has had AND everything that comes with it. It’s also funny how people seem to forget that all was not 100% perfect when Steve Jobs was alive. I hate pointing this stuff out to you people but you obviously need to be pulled out of Steve’s RDF that you’re still trapped inside.

    Apple had 1 product line, The Macintosh, and 1 operating system, and yet when they released OS X 10.0 it was so bad it was almost completely unusable and they had to scramble to release 10.1 within 6 months – for free. And it still had major issues that weren’t fixed until 10.2

    Apple had 1/10 the the user base they have now using their services and yet MobileMe was so awful, Steve had to publicly apologize for it.

    1. Michael,
      100% correct. Its too easy for people to forget the opps and remember only the great. Star trek movies, odd number suck… OH year, but each one made more money than the last. Maybe they did not suck that bad.

      Hey, compared to the speed of light, we are all slugs moving so slow. LOL

      Like the complaints about software and its bugs. All versions have bugs and things that do not go perfect. That is life.

      PS, do you have a spare tire in your trunk? Why, don’t you have “run flat” or re-inflating tires on your car??? What’s wrong with you. LOL.

  3. It’s always “interesting” to read the criticisms of Apple from MDN and others on this site.

    Clearly, they know more about running Apple, Inc. than the people who actually do.

  4. This is the most blatant hit-whoring piece I’ve seen in a while. AAPL has always gone through these price swings, and will continue to do so, until they have a services LOB that contributes a much larger percent to their bottom line than it does today. It’s amazing to me the speed at which “Apple Fans” will dump on the company, especially Tim Cook, when the scope of the company’s accomplishments over the last decade simply boggles the mind. Patience, Padawan. And don’t swallow all of the shit you read whole hog. Get some perspective.

  5. I have wondered about the new headquarters myself.
    It must cost a bundle and I can’t help but think that part of the price of the iPhone is that building.

    I would have replaced my old iPhone a year ago except that the cost of the replacement is$850. Add in taxes and a new case and the cost hits $1000. That’s a lot of money to many of us.

    1. I moved from California to Eastern Europe to study. Here in Poland a new iPhone 6s 16gb costs $800 (there are no subsidies). The average Pole makes $750 per month. I know Apple caters to largely affluent customers, but would it kill them to create phones people could buy for $300-400, simultaneously expanding their customer base in a massive way?

      An iPhone 5s can be had for $440, but 2 1/2-year-old tech with a 4″ screen is no match for for 5″ Huaweis and Samsungs with dual SIM and micro SD slots for $200. Of course we know even the 5s is better, but 90% of the planet can’t afford it so they’ll never now. Apple can create an entry level phone that gives people all they need and hooks them into the ecosystem. Leave 3D touch and the best cameras and larger screens for the aspirational devices. If anyone can do it, Apple can and without sacrificing the quality they are known for.

  6. “MacDailyNews Take: The only curse Apple suffers from is the curse of pancreatic cancer.”

    Prayer killed Steve Jobs. Pancreatic Cancer was just the means.

    His type of cancer is highly curable if detected early enough. His was detected early but he waited to have his Whipple Procedure during which time it spread and he wasted the time he had to act.

    Want to believe in something? Believe in peer reviewed science.

      1. Actually, money does grow on trees. Money is just the lubrication that enables us to trade. It’s infinately renewable.

        Apple’s problems under Cook stem from a lack of focus on user experience. Whether or not that stems from executives spending all their time decorating their new offices is just speculation, but there is no question that the accountants running Apple now do not offer the product magic and fantastic marketing that occurred a decade ago. Apple has just way too many stale products in stores, and their retail experience has dramatically declined. But all we hear from Apple is that they are delighted with the status quo and that they see global headwinds that are unprecedented. As I recall, Jobs publicly said that Apple doesn’t batten the hatches when the economy dips, they “innovate through the downturn”. Okay Tim, with all the insane money you have at your disposal, WHERE ARE THE NEW PRODUCTS?

        1. patience, padawan, rome wasn’t built in a day,
          I mean sheesh, give it a break, how long between the iPod and the iPhone? the iPhone and the iPad? the iPad and the apple watch? just shut up and “quitcherbitchen” and watch as the future unfolds, you will be a much happier person. Plus we won’t have to listen to your impatient infantile whining so we will be happier too

    1. Speaking as a patient of late stage pancreatic cancer, not all cures translate to quality of life. I understand if a cancer patient doesn’t want to experience the side effects of current cancer treatments. (Dealing with that question myself these days.) From what we understand, Steve had the best of best in medical care and advice. He chose how HE wanted to live out his life, and sometimes that means living it out shorter and better than longer and stricken with side effects of treatment. Mistake or preference? That is for the patient to decide, not onlookers. If you’re ever at that point, you’ll understand.

    2. DavGreg — Would that be the peer-reviewed science, so beloved of the pharmaceutical and medical industries, that kills about a quarter of a million people per year with PROPERLY PRESCRIBED drugs.

      Aaaaand, much of modern medicine is not peer reviewed nor double-blind tested.

      Aaaaand as for cancer… the record of that sector is appalling. Quality of life is a huge issue – especially relative to maybe getting only a few years more. So live for three more years and spend most of it lying in bed, sick as a dog from chemo and barely able to watch tv. Whoop-di-doo. (Yeh, some people do great. But it’s far from the hopeful picture that is painted.)
      Also, cure rates have not improved much at all. And good old statistical lying is rampant… proclaiming wonderful RELATIVE survival rates rather that the much more factual ABSOLUTE survival rates.
      E.g. 50% increase in survival will inevitably be relative and could mean, for example, that 2% surviving to 5 years has increased to 3%. 2or3… yer pretty much screwed.

      1. By the way, my ranting is not the petulant whining of somebody who doesn’t really know anything. I’ve dealt with all this in depth with what’s going on with my wife. So don’t talk to me about “peer reviewed science” and “Steve should’ve…”

        1. I have worked in the Medical field for 30 years this year and a significant portion of it involved with the diagnosis and treatment planning for Cancer patients. I have seen it first hand.
          Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Pancreas are survivable by Pancreaticoduodenectomy in a timely manner. It is a big surgery, but many times is the only procedure required.

          Steve Jobs was fortunate enough to have his caught early by a CT scan. Unfortunately he chose to wait and it likely cost him his life.

      2. The kind of Cancer h is reported to have suffered from is entirely curable by a Surgical procedure. He was offered the procedure and declined- waited for 6 months and then had the surgery. That likely contributed greatly to his tragic demise.

        Smart people sometimes do stupid things- like substitute prayer for science.

  7. eh… mr analyst person…

    yeah 5 billion is a lot of money
    but this is APPLE
    did you notice they just made a profit of 18.4 billion in 3 months (27.5 billion cash flow).
    they’ve paid for their ‘edifice’ with like a month’s profit.

    (and real estate money isn’t ‘gone’, it’s invested. Even if for some bizarre reason they had to sell it at a loss they would still recover a portion of their 5 billion …. )

  8. For those that just have to pile the HATE on Apple, just leave like many did in the mid 90s. Sell you stock and/or buy a competitor’s product.

    I believe it is okay to constructively critique specific products ( The hockey puck mouse never stayed properly oriented in my hand) or strategies ( I was a big user of Mobile Me). But ranting excessively about the management team by those with lesser management acumen or market insight gets a little nauseating.

    Constant posting of anti- apple comments while continuing to buy their products and stock is akin to a dog eating its own vomit.

  9. “Boasting the world’s second-largest market value”

    According to, Alphabet (Google) currently holds that honor: Apple is at $524 billion, Alphabet at $521 billion.

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