Angela Ahrendts’ Apple departure points to wider mystery

“The surprise departure of Apple’s retail chief, Angela Ahrendts, leaves two questions. Why did she leave? And had she done a good job? Investors can’t know the answer to either,” Robert Cyran writes for Reuters Breakingviews. “The $821 billion smartphone maker has a penchant for hiding information that investors would find useful. The lack of clarity helps explain the valuation discount hanging over its stock.”

“Ahrendts received $170 million in compensation in her five-year stint at Apple,” Cyran writes. “The company stopped breaking out the sales and profitability of its stores years ago, so outsiders are left guessing on performance. They can’t see whether Ahrendts’ departure, announced on Tuesday, signifies problems or a mission satisfactorily completed.”

“The stock trades at just 14 times estimated earnings, according to Refinitiv data, a lowly rating for a tech company,” Cyran writes. “Disclosing more might persuade the market the future is brighter than they thought. In any case it might earn Apple some credit for giving a fuller picture.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: One problem with Apple’s valuation is that the market is still valuing Apple as just a hardware company when it is so, so, so much more than that – and always has been. The sale of an Apple device to a customer isn’t the end of the relationship, but the beginning. It’s the ecosystem, stupid.

I don’t really think that Apple was ever a hardware company, even at the beginning of time. — Tim Cook, February 2015

Another problem is that Apple has lost its ability to bend and shape perception and media coverage at will, mainly due to replacing the dynamic and riveting Steve Jobs with the boringly milquetoast Tim Cook. “He’s a nice guy who cares” simply doesn’t command the same level of attention as a white-hot Jobsian visionary.

People hung on Jobs’ every word because he was often predicting their future. The only people hanging on Tim Cook’s every word are those with an overexposure to AAPL in their portfolios.

26 Comments

  1. Very well said, MDN.

    Cook’s biggest mistake was turning Apple into a boring company, with a greedy and boring CEO.

    The lower Apple’s perceived status sinks, the less likely consumers will be propelled to buy Cook’s poorly made and ridiculously overpriced products.

    My wife and I bought iPhone Xs when they came out, but honestly, this is my last iPhone unless the company makes some seriously changes. Oh we can afford to, but I purposely no longer upgrade our Apple devices because Cook makes it so easy not to.

    The products haven’t changed significantly but the prices change exponentially, and the build quality has dropped dramatically.

  2. Angela Ahrendts was the most overrated, overpaid Apple employee ever. Can anyone name a significant accomplishment that she achieved worthy of $170 million. I see very little change in the Apple retail or online operations that is not just normal incremental improvements.

    1. 170 million for a diminished retail experience it’s sad. The Apple store has never been more overrated both the online version as well as the retail outlets they’re crowded less organized than ever and the quality of their employees has diminished greatly. It’s follow through with the rest of the company. Hardware is highly overpriced and the value within that hardware is generally mediocre at best. I hate my 2017 MacBook Pro and regret the day I ever bought it the keyboard is junk and already been replaced twice. In my opinion Tim Cook and the rest of them in my example they know the problem with the keyboard and they just want to dress it because it’s a massive failure.

    2. I’ll name one: Before Ahrendts, apple.com and store.apple.com were two different things. She had them merged into one thing, so that when you’re looking up information about a product, you can also click Buy right there without having to go to a different site first. That seems like a obvious thing, but the concept managed to elude everyone at Apple before Ahrendts took over.

    3. Kent and Rob, spot on.

      The Apple store experience has definitely degraded under Angela’s watch. Gone are all the highly recommended third-party hardware and software for sale stuffed shelves. Customers years ago could purchase non-Apple products on site and employees would cheerfully advise on how best to integrate and improve your Apple experience. I bought HP printers, Lacie external storage and many others.

      Angela took more away than she added. The new Apple mantra under beancounter Cook.

      Now that the overpaid fashion poser is gone, along with other department heads recently — the BIG KUHUNA needs to FINALLY hit the trail, as well…

  3. My last trip to the apple store was a f’ing disaster. No prices were listed so I had to get a salesman when I looked at every product.

    No product names were listed on the display table. I had to turn on the product just to find out what model it was.

    I was so pissed I sent an email to Cook and Ahrendts.

    I was appalled at the experience.

    Ahrendts should give back every penny she received from Apple

  4. Haven’t been to an Apple Store for a while. Nearest one is in Santa Clara or Palo Alto. The first one has always been crowded for most of the day. Surprisingly Apple never saw the need to expand it or move to a new location. At some times there would be 200+ customers in an average store size. Palo Alto was better but parking always a bit challenging there.
    For the most part I generally buy online. The only time I use a store is the need to set up a new phone contract or for repairs. Key is to make an appointment or you will be waiting for some time.

  5. Total bullshit article. AAPL went way down after quarter 4 earnings, which set quarter sales record. They announced, as has every other smartphone maker, that they would not break out individual model sales. The analysts hissy fit dropped the price like a rock, only worsening with iPhone sales miss warning. All is crap because they are still earning profit dollars as fast as they’re printed

  6. AA seems to have operated like an interior designer, a person who chooses the right colors for the walls, correct plant placement, and appropriate lighting schemes. She fixed and built up Burberry so she may have quit to return to fixing and building.

  7. Maybe now Apple will expand its stores to more American cities like Eugene Oregon, home to the UofOregon.
    Sure, we aren’t Paris or Hong Kong, but if Apple wants to work on stopping the intrusion by Xiaomi and other low cost companies, it needs to give more love to lower income spots in America.
    Hard to buy stuff without actually seeing and checking out the keys, etc. and it would be nice to attend a few of the free classes on FCPX etc.
    Hugh Massengill, Eugene Oregon

    1. That is the best response yet. My thoughts exactly. Over the past 5 years or so we’ve seen unprecedented growth in Apple Retail outside the USA. The only new stores we’ve seen have either been replacements or semi-flagship stores. There have been so many gaps where I used to live that it would still take me at least 40 minutes to drive to an Apple Store – and I didn’t exactly live out in the country.

  8. People complain about the deteriorating experience – this is mostly due to the success of Apple.

    The foot-traffic due to the number of iPhones in circulation (and in need of service) has exploded.

    In theorey, you would increase the number of stores and the number of employees per store – but that is only the theory.

    My guess is that despite Apple’s claims to the contrary, it’s sales that make an Apple store profitable. Not (often free) after-sales service and not people browsing Facebook all day on the display-units.

    If you increase the number of stores and employees, that directly impacts the bottom line because sales will only increase slightly (if at all) but be distributed among more stores.

    Rent + salary for the employees will rise, though, with negative impact on profitability.

    1. Apple Store foot traffic?

      What I’ve seen this year is that there’s crowds, but half of them are at the back tables waiting for a Genius to fix their iPhone. Of those on the floor, some sales, sure, but also people like me…killing time waiting for my text for an open seat at three Genius table for getting my iPhone unbricked.

      1. What I have seen at the Baybrook Mall location is an Apple Store crowded from end-to-end with many people buying and upgrading products.

        I am not concerned with the crowd at the Genius Bar. That is not necessarily a negative. Many of the issues that I have overheard appear to be simple and easily remedied and I seldom see anyone walking away unhappy.

  9. Hmm, do you think she had some influence over iPhone pricing or marketing. Or, an expensive experiment, where Tim was otherwise occupied and didn’t want retail diversion of focus of his time? Or she doesn’t have the technical chops to exist in Apple?

    1. Agreed the amount of customers at the store was amazing. That volume must surely translate to high sales.
      Nut it also can be a burden on customers that don’t like crowded situations.
      I have to say that most times when I needed to buy something there was always a team member who could check me out. Also now can use the Store app to pay for the item without the need for a sales rep.
      The lack of a checkout line is very refreshing but that was around way before AA joined.
      For the Santa Clara store it definitely needs to be bigger and with better sound proofing – hard to hear yourself think sometimes.

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