Is the cult of Apple over? Tim Cook faces a struggle to revive the spark

“Apple customers have previously been known for an almost fanatical devotion,” Matthew Field writes for The Telegraph. “Thousands of product designers, developers and fans flock for a glimpse of the latest phones, amid standing ovations and a blizzard of Apple-logo T-shirts.”

“This week, that rich corporate mythology suffered a blow. In a long-winded 1,400 word letter to investors, Mr Cook admitted sales of the iPhone – Apple’s core product which still generates two thirds of revenues – had fallen below expectations at the end of 2018, from $93bn to $84bn,” Field writes. “Apple stock plummeted 10 percent on Thursday, wiping out more than $74 billion of the company’s market value.”

“For Apple, its Apple Stores – now known as ‘Town Squares’ – are its temples, clean, white, palaces of worship with devoted attendants. One executive even described them in the semi-religious language of ‘gathering places. ‘That mystique has worn thin as Apple battles growing headwinds,” Field writes. “It is only Apple’s second earnings warning since 2002. Then, Steve Jobs succinctly and dismissively wrote-off the dip in 200 words as a bump in the road, a prediction that proved correct.”

“Cook has promised to ‘take advantage of our culture of flexibility, adaptability and creativity’ and said he was ‘confident and excited’ about its upcoming products. However, any attempt to drive up new revenue areas may take some time,” Field writes. “And as to its celebrated cult status, that may be trickier to refresh.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Steve Jobs could make a power cord seem insanely great. Tim Cook could put a room to sleep while unveiling teleportation; he makes watching paint dry seem like must-see event.

Apple is currently helmed by a charisma black hole. Sparks are therefor not emitted.

Lacking a charismatic leader who could sell ice cubes to eskimos, execution is the key. High quality products and services that just work with timely updates in sufficient supply at launch would be more than enough to keep us excited, satisfied, and loyal. Strong marketing wouldn’t hurt, either. With excellent products and execution, the weak keynote presentations would be bearable. Apple’s issues with late, old, sometimes problematic products and services do more to dampen excitement and devotion than anything.

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  1. Easy. No Steve, no spark.

    Cook has been living off the last of Steve’s vapors and all, and I mean ALL the vapors have dissipated.

    At this point, Cook is clueless.

    1. It’s been over for 8-years since Cook officially took over Apple. Only now are the last few Apple consumers fully realizing exactly who and more importantly what they have at the helm: a terminally greedy, lazy, incompetent sychophant… who’s made billions upon billions these past 8 years strategically ripping off once loyal Apple consumers. Tim Cook is done. If they don’t finally fire him this year then AAPL will be traded as a penny stock some day soon.

      1. Are you a snake oil salesman? I mean Apples ‘last few remaining consumers’ is just a touch over hyped dont ya think. More worrying for me mind is Cooks insistence on great new products something we heard every year while the company got into this situation.

          1. @Jimbo

            You’re a better cocksucker than your hero, Tim Cook. His scrotum has been in your mouth so long, you’ve already swallowed all his pubes and shat them out. Congratulations Jimbo, you’re the biggest Tim Cook fanboy on earth. You should get a trophy for that… right up you sloppy asshole!

            1. Thanks for your insightful contribution, Zero. Wow… some brilliant thinking there! The eloquence of your language is truly something to admire.

            2. A zero for certain! Your childish rhetoric and insults have cost you the tiny bit of credibility you possibly ever had, even for a 12 year old.

    2. I agree Steve is part of it. However, even when Steve was gone the first time, the enthusiasts and pros stuck around. What is different this time is Apple has not only ignored the pro/enthusiasts, it drove a huge portion of them away. Apple sells no pro machines they want. Any machine without upgradable storage is not a pro/enthusiast machine. They make no pro machines.

      So many of those rabid defenders of the faith went elsewhere because being without a reasonable machine for over 6 years (ie a decent Mac Pro), they have left to find alternatives to get work done.

      Apple May think they don’t need that group of people, but that group is what saved Apple when things were down. A good part of that group is gone. And if Apple doesn’t deliver a good Mac Pro including upgradable ram, upgradable storage, and slots this year, the rest will leave. And then you’re left with inertia holding a lot of users that fundamentally don’t care about Apple and will just melt away with the years.

      Shame on Apple for ignore it’s enthusiast core, ignoring those that brought you to the dance… you reap what you sow

      1. “it drove a huge portion of them away”
        I agree they have been intentionally driving folks away, but I contend that it was the least profitable portion of that market that they kicked out. 80% Apple’s professional users (defined by Apple as folks that use professional software at least once a month) are quietly happy using MacBook Pros. Then you’ve got 80% of that remainder making good money with iMacs. What you have left is a tiny sliver of total sales of more powerful machines. How tiny? So tiny it’s not worth setting up a production line to pump out millions of these devices per quarter. So small that even with these “Pro” sales dropping over time, the total profit made from Macs hasn’t budged much quarter to quarter. Economies of scale don’t factor in when your scale isn’t there.

        I think in the end this “modular” Mac Pro will be very expensive, very powerful, marginally (if at all) upgradable, and will run Final Cut Pro, compile iOS and macOS apps, and process Logic audio faster than any macOS system has before. It will make THOSE pros happy, but those pros will be the only ones remaining by that time anyway.

        1. you talk about not making Mac Pro due to profits…

          so Apple diamond rings, designer ceiling tiles, one and half year to make door handles, cafeteria doors, fruit orchards, coffee table books, animatronic Christmas trees etc etc more profitable than Mac Pros?

          Jobs regularly upgraded the Mac Pro. So the Mac Pro wasn’t a niche then? Everybody bought Mac Pros like iPods during Jobs years ?

          What about the Mini which was a Amazon bestseller for years? Not updated for 4 years until recently (with a big uptake in price !)

          What about the Macbook Air which just got updated. The situation was so bad the Air, another previous bestseller, which was supposed to be ‘lightest’ Macbook had MORE ports than the regular Macbook for years.

          What about zero Mac advertising for years until recently?
          No attempt to market Macs to PC users during the Win 8 fiasco years when they could have grabbed market share?
          You do NOT try to market your SECOND MOST PROFITABLE HARDWARE product? You don’t even market MacBooks or Macbook Pros? This is not mis management and neglect?

          Jobs had 66 different Mac PC guy ads in 4 years or one new ad a month !

          Cook and SVPs are seen in rock concerts, fashion shows, activism conferences and parades but I’ve never seen articles of them visiting a MacUser group or a big Mac using business. Now they got to hire consultants to give the advise on what Macs to build !

          What about the stuck Macbook keyboards which showed lack of determination in testing? We know the issue was real as the second generation keyboard had an extra seal.

          At one point the Mac situation was so bad we can see Ive’s studio in 2016 years after the Cylinder filled with old Cheese Grater Mac Pros probably due to the GPU issue. Apple had to to try to sell DEVELOPERS E-GPUs as there weren’t a single Mac powerful enough to develop high end Apple software !!!
          If it wasn’t for the rush iMac Pro there would be WINDOWS machines doing design work at the new Apple campus !!

          All these excusable too?

          And before we go into the ‘post PC’ crock again, the Mac still with this neglect in product and marketing STILL makes more than iPad and billions more than Watch, TV, Beats, iPod, AirPod, HomePod COMBINED. As it has for years.

          Imagine the probably multiple billions extra Macs would have made without this neglect.

          There is no excuse. Tim ‘we don’t need PCs’ Cook’s handling of Apples second most profitable hardware product was appalling.

          1. No, I don’t talk about not making Mac Pro due to profits. I’m reading back and I don’t even see how you could have gotten that. In fact, the only time the Mac Pro is mentioned in saying that it will be very expensive. And, looking at the iMac Pro and the mini, that doesn’t seem like a stretch to guess.

            The original poster said that not only did Apple ignore the pro/enthusiasts, it drove a huge portion away. Which is true. I agreed and posited that the pro/enthusiasts that were driven away were likely the ones that Steve Jobs didn’t particularly care for. He wanted to focus on consumers because the upside is enormous there. Apple turned away from the pro/enthusiast that wanted to have a huge say in Apple’s future direction and turned towards those that just wanted to use the products Apple created.

        2. It may not be a huge percentage, but that group of enthusiasts motivates a lot more sales around them and can kickstart halo effects. It’s why automobile manufacturers sell halo cars. The new ford gt sells 200 cars a year, but that halo aspirational product does a lot more than just bring in its relatively small bit of revenue. Bugatti actually loses money on every Ceylon, but it is a showpiece for the vow group.

          This group of pro/enthusiasts saved apple in 96. It’s a mistake to drive them away. They punch above their weight.

          1. I agree that those enthusiasts filled important gaps in 96 (if someone was interested in a Mac, it would sometimes be a challenge just knowing where to buy one!), but, looking at Apple today, many if not all of those Mac operational gaps are filled.

            If you take as fact that enthusiasts can help drive a brand and add to that that, as the original poster said, Apple drove large numbers of those away, then that implies that Apple doesn’t want to drive that particular brand. Looking at the past 10 years would seem to align with this idea.

            So, we agree that aspirational products can drive sales, I just can’t help but think that Apple considers the iPhone XS and XS Plus as those aspirational products (driving sales of the XR, the Watch, the AirPods, the services, etc.)

        3. “but I contend that it was the least profitable portion of that market that they kicked out. 80% Apple’s professional users (defined by Apple as folks that use professional software at least once a month) are quietly happy using MacBook Pros.”

          Wrong Again!

          I “contend” you are a serial jealous pro HATER and a 🐂💩 artist with opinions, conjecture and presenting ZERO facts.

          Pros are happy with laptops and you believe as “defined by Apple”?!?!? Had to pause laughing so hard I had to get off the floor. No way, Jose.

          A broken record for years on something that does not concern you. If you made a paycheck on pro computing for just one week, you would understand our perspective instead of shilling your ignorance and making EXCUSES for Apple pro neglect.

          Say, how many iPads do they have to sell to MATCH the revenue of one maxed out Mac Pro? Like Cook said it’s no longer the unit sales numbers that matter to Apple, it’s the revenue.

          Get a grip…

          1. When Apple had a “small roundtable discussion about the Mac” with six writers in April of 2017 to tell them how AWESOME the modular 2019 Mac Pro was going to be, Apple informed them that 15% of ALL Mac users use professional apps frequently. Apple considers that group pros. They said this about that group.

            “of the people who use pro apps, and define themselves as pros, our largest product used by those customers are notebooks. Notebooks are by far and away our most popular systems used by pros.”

            “Second on the list is iMacs, used by pros, again by the people who use professional software day in, day out, not just casually.”

            The percentage that use the MacPro were indicated as “a single digit percent”. So, at least 90% of pros use non-MacPro systems, again, according to Apple. My guess would be that it’s likely more like 95%, though that part is just my guess. The info about the roundtable is fairly easy to find, including a transcript.

            1. Not interested in your guess or your conjecture. You have used that clueless tool for far too long denigrating pro users. Both Apple and you have NO CREDIBILITY on the topic and do not UNDERSTAND our needs…

            2. I’m not criticizing Pro users. Apple is though, MOST definitely and have been for some time. There’s no one that should read any of the related comments from Steve Jobs, Tim Cook or any of their “leaders” and come away with the idea that “Apple cares about pros”. Whether it’s true or not, they have convinced themselves in believing that the vast majority of their users, 90 percent, doesn’t need this “modular” system they SAY they’ve been working on for years and that they’ll grace us with this year.

              Apple SHOULD have zero credibility with pros, but there are still some hanging on thinking that the updated cheese grater of their dreams is just around the corner. What those pros need is not coming because Apple doesn’t understand what they need. Anyone that thinks otherwise just hasn’t been paying attention.

    3. I hope the CULT is over… its the most destructive thing in Apple universe ! .. since when is a cult looked at in a positive light??

      And if the lemmings and the naive and the dogmatic blind worshipers (cult) stop their ignorant sensless bashing,,, there will be no issues about any sparks..
      These people are fueling the fire the competition so enthusiastically sets and are loving seeing it grow! Grow fueld by ignorance of the paniced….and ( oh ya i forgot, there is no mac pro and it has been ignored for 5 years, thats why… yup…. though a critical mistake, all these bashings and blanket complaints are massively out of proportion, massively! and in full disregard for the accomplishments)

      Wake up bashers.. u are pawns for the competition! Yo their delight.

      And lets not forget FACTS !
      1) Apple has grown 5 fold under Tims leadership .from 50 to 250 billion in revenues while maintaing margind. HUGE !

      2) Even at revised level.. 84 billion revenue is the 2nd largest quarterly revenue for Apple ever!

      3) Outside of China and -7%i phone related revenue issues .
      The rest of Apples products and services have seen record breaking quarter.. which is a Huge positive in the grand scheme if things: Apple revenue distribution !

      Wake up !

      1. “I hope the CULT is over… its the most destructive thing in Apple universe !”

        I hope your “CULT is over…” Nothing worse than a blind Apple apologist cheerleader fanboy that cuts and pastes the same excuses over and over while IGNORING REALITY. I have nothing against you personally…

  2. Cult is right. I guess it depends who says it.

    The cult has been diluted by the floodgates opening. The Kool Aid is not as effective. The Reality Distortion is now recognized by more people as just lies instead of artful lies.

    And thank goodness… fewer slogans parroted about.

    1. Apple hasn’t been a cult for a long time. If it ever was but I can let that slide. You’re right that the floodgates opened a long time ago. Apple customers are normal people from all walks of life now. They’re not buying anything because of any lies or marketing or reality distortion field. People know what’s up. They buy Apple products if they want or they don’t. Nobody is tricking them. Not for a decade or more now. Consumers have gotten too smart for that.

        1. There is a cult of fans and a cult of haters. You are in the hater cult as are many on this site. Many are in the fan cult as well. Most Apple customers today are not in either cult. The fan or cult argument as it relates to Apple’s success or failure has not been relevant for many years, if it ever was. Apple succeeds or fails on the merit of products and services. The rest is fan noise. That includes your comments even though I’m sure you would deny that.

          1. I don’t need to disagree. There are facts. Apple has personally screwed me twice, and continue to screw me with their censorship, restrictions, artificial limitations and bullshit.

            They earned my contempt. Being the anti-Apple cult has no leader, as is required by cults everywhere, your premise is false.

            1. Call it a group or a crowd if you like. Some people just hate Apple. Some people had a bad experience with Apple. Some people don’t like Apple’s business model. There are hundreds of reasons people hate Apple. You’re in that group. The exact reasons aren’t important.

              If you want facts Apple has one of the most satisfied customer bases on earth. That isn’t an accident and it isn’t because these people are being tricked. It is merit.

              If Apple has screwed you twice and continues to screw you and has earned your contempt I have to ask why are you still an Apple customer? If what you say is all true and had happened to me I wouldn’t be.

  3. Tim , You must leave, loyalty to Apple started dwindling long ago and now the sales. Where are the new Mac Pro , the Cinema Display, the new iPhone SE?, etc..

  4. “However, any attempt to drive up new revenue areas may take some time,”

    Again, back in early 2018, after seeing the sign that the iPhone, specifically the X, was not selling as well as Apple was telling us, some of us posted that Apple should be prepared for the eventual saturation of the smartphone market. There was nothing special about it, as any common person would figure out that if a large corporation was mostly depending its revenue on a single consumer product, the decline, if and when it does happen, will come very quickly. That’s what’s happening now. Everything has been a fire drill reactionary.
    But this might be the opportunity for Apple to return to its root and start selling insanely excellent Mac-related products, which will quickly reinforce and recover the revenue. I do not understand why they have not been doing so until a real fire started. But no more removing the 3.5mm jack, then turn around and try to sell super expensive AirPod and other tricks like that. These tactics are petty and consumers get repelled. Tim, you still have a chance and perhaps some time, and I am sure you are preparing for it, although the time is tight.

  5. The spark died with Steve. Apple will never be the same. They are now like all of the other tech companies…greedy, lazy and run by those who Steve warned about.

      1. You are on the mark. Steve had 1 thing to say about Wall Street. Don’t do anything because you want to make shareholders happy, make great products that make your customers happy and the sales will take care of making investors happy.

        Tim unfortunately shifted that to do everything to make investors happy, customers will just buy our products because we are Apple. Apple customers have no problem paying a premium for the best quality product on the market, but we will not just keep buying because it has an Apple logo on it.

  6. I should’ve known Apple was in trouble when they finally designed an iPhone that I didn’t want to purchase. The notch is an abomination of design. And bring back a goddamn updated iPhone SE for your many customers who agreed with Steve that it was the perfect sized device.

    1. “I should’ve known Apple was in trouble when they finally designed an iPhone that I didn’t want to purchase”
      Depending on your age, the fact that Apple is still focused on a demographic you aged out of is a GOOD thing. They could have very easily went the JCPenny route of maintaining all their old customers until they die (both the customers AND The company.

    1. Looks like you made a grand exit, Nostrus. I bet you didn’t predict that! Reminds of the Psychic Convention that was cancelled due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’.

      Now that’s (not) exciting!

  7. My own rabid spark left years ago when I realized Apple/Tim didn’t care about my own Mac needs and my increasingly glazing eyes turned from them to their PC competition who at least understands the need for constant updating and not 5-6 intervals of stagnant indifference and contempt. Along with not attempting to radically change what works well for pros and kill the ability to update components.

    1. “my increasingly glazing eyes turned from them to their PC competition who at least understands the need for constant updating”

      So why are you here? WTF!!! Just go buy these better products from these better companies and have a good time!!!!!

            1. The cheerleading isn’t dialogue either. It’s just a bunch of idiots yelling “Apple suckzzzzz!” and “Apple rulezzzzz!” at each other.

              “The sycophantic cheerleading needs to be countered.”

              It doesn’t. Honestly. Nobody is listening to either side.

  8. Holy POOP there’s a lot of drama and exaggeration in this thread…damn! My 2 cents:
    1) Steve Jobs was a genius – no one is going to ride in and do as good a job as him. Get over it.
    2) Tim Cook is NOT an idiot, he’s no Steve Jobs but Apple is hardly a failure. Companies miss their numbers ALL THE TIME Apple is a rare company that does not. They messed up ONCE IN 15 YEARS…breathe…breathe…
    3) Who’s making a better phone than Apple for the prices Apple is charging…Samdung, Huiwai? Come on. Apple is stretching its lead NOT losing it.
    4) Yeah he f**ked us on the Mac PRO – again he’s no Steve Jobs but all in all I ain’t moving to a Chromebook, not buying a Surface tablet, will pass on the Galaxy 9s (or whatever)

    Breathe…breathe…its going to be ok…

    1. But too simplistic and perhaps overly optimistic. Tim Cook as given plenty of time but he failed, and it was NOT an honest mistake that we could forgive. I for one, regard this as his fundamental lack of essential ability to analyze the situation and always look farther ahead, predicting what might happen. Thank you Tim, but your days are over and time to go and hand over the helm to capable people who always look ahead, not being complacent on the moment of success only.

      1. Pardon me, and likes of u smoking something?
        Apple has grown 5 fold under TIM’S leadership. From 50 to 250 billion in revenue while maintaining margins..( if u font understand the significance of that, i seriously doubt u even fathom what it takes to run a lemonade stand ! )

        The revised guidance 84 billion (-7% due to china and iphone) makes for the 2nd higest revenue quarter in Apple history !

        And the revinue distribution in the revised guidance is much much healthier than it has ever been….which other products and service breaking records and having a bigger effect on the overall.

        What are likes of you up to here..
        Distorting reality to nth degree and holding a straight face,
        Very suspect.

        1. Grew? Sure. Even a lot. But that was following Steve’s lead and making incremental improvements.

          In the meantime, the basics in the Mac product line got ignored. And hard problems too, resulting in a net shrinkage of product diversity.

          Now granted, there’s certainly “secret projects” consuming some attention, but so too did the Space Ship drain away far too much corporate attention…

          …losing track of the ball is a “buck stops here”.

    2. you don’t own significant amounts of Apple do you ?
      It’s not just ‘missing’ numbers , it’s a 40% haircut on stock price.

      Thread is divided into two camps : Cook supporters who basically don’t own a lot of apple stock and are not high end pros. Mainly new users who weren’t there and saw Apple during Jobs years.

      People who are disappointed with Cook because they own a lot of stock or one of their favourite products like Mac Pro, Aperture, small iPhone etc was neglected (some to death) by Cook.

      1. One of the folks that were there during the Steve Jobs years that was a Cook supporter, owned Apple stock AND cared little for Pro users was, of course, Steve Jobs. I was looking for a link to an article of his famous Final Cut Pro meeting, but found a much more informative link that gives an idea to what formed his rationale about Pro users. It also explains why a software package that used to sell for $999 quickly went down to $299 and offers free upgrades… apparently for life.

        “Steve told everybody point-blank that we/Apple were going to focus on giving them powerful tools that were far more cost-effective than what they were accustomed to… but that the relationship between them and Apple wasn’t going to be something where they’d be driving product direction anymore. Didn’t go over particularly well, incidentally, but I don’t think that concerned Steve overmuch.”

        Good reading for anyone that wants to understand how Apple went from doting on those professionals that kept them alive in the lean years, to where they are today. Don’t let ANYONE tell you that Steve Jobs was a big friend to pros 🙂

  9. The magic dissipated when Apple Computer became Apple.

    I loved my Apple computers. I use my Apple iPhone.

    I hate the garbage Apple calls “music” and I don’t give a crap about headphones.

  10. Tim Cook’s inattention to the core business is taking its toll. Quality standards have sunk to Microsoftian levels under his watch. How much longer can Apple charge premium prices for products that are no longer premium.

  11. I would like to purchase some new Apple products because the current operating system is out of date and the hardware can’t be updated on the Apple products I own. Problem is, those products will be obsolete even faster. Perhaps the company is now in the business of “insta-bricks.”

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