For the past 12 years, the world has watched in awe as Mr. Steve Jobs has resurrected Apple from a floundering computer maker whose best asset was the land it owned in Cupertino, to what’s today the world’s largest corporation.
During this period of time, it has restructured the world of music – pushing the big five record labels to the background, redefined the MP3 player that was the rage as recent as 5 years ago, redefined the Mobile Phone experience and put the US for once at the forefront of innovation in the mobile space, finally got the industry to execute on its promise of developers actually making money building mobile applications, introduced a whole new platform – the Tablet – its hard to imagine that the iPAD was commercially available in April 2010, and oh by the way, transformed the MAC as well.
The systematic introduction of new products every quarter is impressive – and many of us eagerly look forward to the quarterly announcements by Steve Jobs and Apple Corporation showcasing the next big thing. Apple Corporation and Steve Jobs truly mastered the art of a recurring CAPEX-based business model from consumers – and layered the iTunes or AppStore-based recurring revenues on top of it.
With Steve now “retired”, armchair critiques are fast to jump to the conclusion that this is the end of the road for the company, at least from its ability to lead/innovate and more importantly mesmerize the world into believing it really needed whatever was introduced.
I have a contrarian view on this – a theory that most people laugh at. But imagine this – “What if Steve, in his autocratic style, actually held back Apple Corporation?”
- What if he truly was they reason they introduced products every quarter, instead of every month?
- What if there are 10 other models of the iPhone that are just as good – but in Steve’s desire to “keep it simple” never saw the light of day?
- What if they introduced the Apple Social Network?
- What if they introduced the Apple Messenger on Android, RIM and Windows Mobile and Nokia phones?
- What if they opened things up and allowed true interoperability with non-iOS devices – for example on the messenger front?
- What if they licensed iOS for embedded automotive applications – what does that do to other products like Windows/Intel-VxWorks/Nucleus?
- What if one could port iOS to Samsung and HTC devices as well?
- What if Apple exited the device space?
- What if they allowed Person-2-Person money transfer with the iTunes credit cards on file for say 2% – would they take out Paypal?
- What if they introduced a Group Buying program since they pretty much know everything we do on our iPhone/iPAD?
- What if the new CEO actually is superior to Steve Jobs and unleashes more innovation and creativity than Steve Jobs?
The thought of any one of these should send shivers down the spines of CEO’s who are focused on building companies in each of these areas – yet they all know that with the resources Apple has got, its purely a question of deciding to focus on any of these areas and the company has the culture to out execute incumbents, established players or startups.
Indeed the biggest question right now isn’t one of “can they survive” – instead it’s a case of “will they continue to focus” or “will they get more creative” – and what does that mean for others in the industry.
The Swamy Says – no sir, you haven’t seen anything yet, Apple will run even faster and in three years the world will say “imagine if Steve Jobs had retired earlier”!
What’s your opinion?
[Guest author, Sanjay Swamy is a serial entrepreneur and Angel Investor – he is currently the Chairman of ZipDial and used to be the CEO of mChek and has worked as a volunteer at the UIDAI.]
Infographic: Steve Jobs