“If you re-read the first few chapters of The Innovator’s Dilemma and you insert ‘Apple’ every time Clayton Christensen mentions ‘a company,’ a certain picture emerges: Apple is a company on the verge of being disrupted, and the next great idea in tech and consumer electronics will not materialize from within the walls of its Cupertino spaceship,” Molly Wood writes for Wired.
“The Innovator’s Dilemma, of course, is about the trap that successful companies fall into time and time again. They’re well managed, they’re responsive to their customers, and they’re market leaders. And yet, despite doing everything right, they fail to see the next wave of innovation coming, they get disrupted, and they ultimately fail,” Wood writes. “In the case of Apple, the company is trapped by its success, and that success is spelled “iPhone.””
“You may be tempted to argue that Apple is, in fact, working on other projects. The Apple acquisition rumors never cease; nor do the confident statements that the company definitely, absolutely, certainly has a magical innovation in the works that will spring full grown like Athena from the forehead of Zeus any day now. I’m here to say, I don’t think there’s a nascent warrior goddess hiding in there,” Wood writes. “Its quailing decade-long attempt to build a streaming service would be sort of comical if there weren’t clearly so much money being thrown around, and so tentatively at that… Even if the streaming service actually arrives, can it really compete against YouTube, PlayStation, Sling, DirecTV, Hulu, and just plain old Netflix? … Analysts are, at this point, outright begging Apple to buy a studio or other original content provider, just to have something to show against Netflix and Amazon originals.”
MacDailyNews Take: Analysts also begged Apple to make a low cost netbook, among other inanities.
“Smartphone sales may be slowing, but Apple is still a beloved brand, its products are excellent, its history and cachet are unmatched. But that doesn’t mean it has a plan to survive the ongoing decline in global smartphones sales,” Wood writes. “The guys in charge are the same guys who have been in charge for decades: Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, Phil Schooler, Craig Federighi, Jony Ive—all have been associated with Apple since the late ’80s or ’90s. (I mean, has there ever really been a time without Jony Ive?) You see what I’m saying here: brilliant team with a long record of execution and unparalleled success. Possibly not a lot of fresh ideas.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Even though we wrote the following in a pique, it was, as always, meant as a wake-up call:
Good luck, Tim!
And when your SVP of marketing is naming your most important products after “fast cars,” your SVP of Internet Software and Services is falling asleep in Siri meetings, and your Chief Design Officer (over whom you obviously have no control and who is totally unaccountable) seems more obsessed over Apple Park door handles than designing an Apple TV remote that actually works well for users – or, God forbid, a Mac Pro that actually works for professional Mac users and that isn’t FIVE+ YEARS OLD – you sure as hell are going to need all the luck you can get.
Old, tired, wildly-overpaid, far-too-comfortable blood with misplaced priorities kills companies. — MacDailyNews, January 11, 2019
We know for sure there are large projects inside Apple including, but not limited to autonomous vehicles, augmented reality eyewear, and a streaming service featuring a large and varied selection of high-quality original content. Apple is just not sitting around milking the iPhone.
Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma deeply influenced Steve Jobs. It’s a very safe bet that Tim Cook knows the following quote by heart:
My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. The products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything. — Steve Jobs
At Apple, as it was under Jobs, it’s still the products (and services) that come first, not the potential profits.
Apple talks a lot about its great people. But make no mistake — they are there only in service of the mission. A headhunter describes it thus: “It is a happy place in that it has true believers. People join and stay because they believe in the mission of the company.” It didn’t matter how great you were, if you couldn’t deliver to that mission — you were out. Jobs’s famous meltdowns upon his return were symptomatic of this. They might have become less frequent in recent years, but if a team couldn’t deliver a great product, they got the treatment. The exec in charge of MobileMe was replaced on the spot, in front of his entire team, after a botched launch. A former Apple product manager described Apple’s attitude like this: “You have the privilege of working for the company that’s making the coolest products in the world. Shut up and do your job, and you might get to stay.” — James Allworth, Harvard Business Review, October 24, 2011
Apple Inc. still works this way. We know this from current Apple employees.
Wood criticizes Apple too soon. Before the iPod, before the iPhone, and in fact, before the Mac and, much later, the iMac, the same laments were pervasive. “Apple, where’s the next big thing? Apple has lost its mojo Etc.” Innovation takes time and groundbreaking disruptive products and services do not arrive every year, or even every five years.