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Apple - Is it time for a major reboot ?

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

I will start with a disclaimer, I am a long time Apple fan and continue to be. Having said that increasingly I find myself less and less impressed by their products, services, and pricing strategies. Very few companies have maintained the stellar innovation and market leadership that Apple has built, despite the gargantuan scale of their business. And all of it on primarily 4 product lines - iPhone, IPad, macs, and services.

Innovation in companies always has a diminishing rate of growth relative to scale. I like to call it the “Icarus Law”. Akin to the story of Icarus, son of Daedalus(master craftsman) who succumbed to complacency and hubris. The Icarus law applies to companies across Industries. Very few corporates in the annals of corporate America have bucked this trend and Apple is a clear leader in doing so. They have kept their innovation growth rate equal to or above their size/growth rate, so far!

In the last couple of years, the innovation quotient seems to be stuttering through some serious misses. Let us take some recent examples:

  1. iPhone 12 issues galore

  2. Airpods Max - Sure it looks like a good product but unlike other apple products is not a category killer nor groundbreaking. Quite well summarized by MBK “Luxury product at a luxury price”. This is not Apple.

  3. Not including chargers with their product and the communication faux pas around the announcements demonstrate serious gaps in execution across the company. And the execution was something that made them exceptional.

  4. Some additional misses are Apple TV, TV+, iCloud and the list goes on and on.

  5. And finally, no great category busting product announcement for a long time yet!

Hence I believe the Icarus law is now catching up with Apple. They need a serious reboot to reinvent themselves. Focus and Talent density were always the key to success at Apple. Maybe part of the problem is they have become too big and chasing too many things for growth. Everything from compute to content, to media to EV to accessories. Despite the gigantic cash position they seem to be in a state of FOMO and hence taking on a try everything strategy.

In balance they still have time, money, market position in their favor and they can still do it but it will require to go back to their roots. What are they really good at and how do they discard everything else? Sounds familiar ! yes it does, thats what Steve jobs did when he rejoined apple. Big question is do they have the courage to reset ? And will they ? Only time will tell. I am hoping they will !

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