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Walt Mossberg Evaluates Tim Cook’s Apple

Veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg has taken a look at Apple under CEO Tim Cook, five years after Cook took the position. Overall, Mossberg praised Cook for guiding the company to new financial heights, refining its product lines, and retaining most of its senior talent. However, Mossberg deducts points for the fact that Apple under Cook has yet to introduce a game-changing product, though he admits that the Apple Watch might be that game-changer, saying that it took 3–4 years before the iPod took off. We’d also note that some of Apple’s biggest wins were actually low-hanging fruit — the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and MacBook Air all entered markets with radically inferior competition (the iPad didn’t have much to compete with in terms of tablets, but Steve Jobs set it against the entire netbook category). But there isn’t much easily reached fruit left in the consumer electronics world.favicon follow link


Comments about Walt Mossberg Evaluates Tim Cook’s Apple
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B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2016-09-06 06:52
Mossberg's examination of Cook's Apple is probably correct as far as it goes. But he leaves out a lot. In particular the decline in quality control in the software devision. There are some Mac focused journalists who have taken note of this problem with criticism of iTunes and iCloud in particular. But the mainstream tech press, of which Mossberg is a leading light, have failed altogether as far as I can see to notice the decline on the software side. To them Apple is a hardware company so they are always looking for the next shinny object to come from Apple's secret labs and opining morosely that such an object has failed to emerge since Cook took over at Apple.

Frankly I think Apple has bigger problems. Their hardware won't work without software. And if software quality is declining, their hardware can't progress, however much it prospers in the short term. And, in fact, the short term is not looking so rosy any more. No doubt there are many reasons for this, but software issues cannot reasonably be excluded from the picture.

The tech press, including Mossberg, seem remarkably myopic. It's not as if anyone else besides Apple has broken much new ground lately. All they can see is declining sales of tech gadgets, old and new.

As for the big picture, they cannot see the forest for the trees. If one were to stand back a bit, one might see that tech development has plateaued. 4K TV looks great. But there's not enough content to justify the expense of a 4K TV for any but the most enthusiastic and well healed early adopters. While 4K is interesting, it's not a breakthrough technology as far as the market is concerned and, at least in the short term, looks like the overhyped under-ahchivement of 3D TV.

How about Virtual Reality? A lot of new products are vying for attention. But they require expensive hardware to utilize and are, ultimately, with apologies to hard core gamers, little more than a great way to waste your time. Like 4K TV, VR is of little practical value to anyone, except perhaps to the companies that manufacture and promote them—and to the military, of course.

Both of these products would probably do well if the word economy weren't in a decade long slump that shows no sign of picking up any time soon. People who have disposable income are likely to use it on things they need rather than on things they want. Businesses are likely looking for tools to improve productivity, not glam up the office.

In this environment, is Apple not wiser to focus on adding value to their existing products, through consumer features like Apple Pay and enterprise tools like the iPad Pro?

Another example of conservative marketing is smart cars. They might be a sexy topic for tech writers, but where the rubber meets the road smart features are making their way into the automobile market in incremental steps rather than revolutionary leaps. Self-driving cars are a scary prospect for most people. Crash avoidance systems of various kinds, on the other hand, have broad appeal and are being marketed accordingly.

As for Apple, more than a new market busting product, they need to fix the quality control issues in their software. Sadly, they seem disinclined to do so. We certainly won't see any such improvements in Wednesday's product announcements, which are likely to follow the shiny object motif. But Apple is in the classic bind, trying to do too much and not doing anything all it well. A moderately new iPhone won't do anything to solve the underlying problem of creeping mediocrity, mediocrity perfectly typical of a business plateau.