Saturday, April 20, 2013

Should Apple's Share Price Be A Concern For Mobile Users, Not Just iOS Users?

Apple's price has been down and out of Wall Street favor for a long time now.  Maybe a better part of a year since reaching high into the 700s.  Personally, while I like to see stocks rise, not just Apple but for Google, Microsoft, or any other company, I take a particular interest in Apple because I've been a long time Apple product user and have lived through the "dark days".  Yeah, you know what I mean and that brought back bad memories for those of you who knows what I'm talking about.

The difference here is that Apple today is in a much stronger position than the Apple in the 90s that was weeks away from bankruptcy before Steve Jobs successfully turned things around.  And that took years to do.  Today's Apple was not an overnight success.  It took around seven years before people started to believe.

It's not Apple's successful story that I want to discuss here.  Rather, it's Apple's lost decade in the late 80s and 90s that I am afraid may be repeated.  The creative juice and innovative energy that Steve Jobs instilled in Apple endures and will probably do so under Tim Cook.  However, I do see Apple today more as a company than a creative shop that was under Steve Jobs.  

Jobs cared nothing about money.  About dividends and stock prices.  Maybe it was easier when things were better and the rise of Apple's value was the sky.  And through not Tim Cook's fault, Apple's stock prices today may force Tim Cook to waiver a bit from Steve Jobs' vision for Apple and innovation in general and stir Apple more towards being a corporation and less of a place where magical devices are created.

Investor pressure could for Cook to direct his teams to make products that sell for short term gains like the fabled "cheap iPhone" rather than telling them to make products that will continue Apple's legacy.

Make no mistake, however, that what I am expressing is only a fear that it can happen.  I'm not saying that it absolutely will happen or that there are signs it is already happening.  But should that happen, mobile warriors could be used to see innovation in the mobile market happening at neck breaking speed in the last five years come to a slower pace.  

Even now, Apple fans are increasingly more vocal about the stale state of look and function of iOS.  Make no mistake that we are talking about wholesale defections from Apple to other platforms.  It's just that while the UI for iOS works, it has gotten boring while others like Windows Phone and Android have tried doing different things to differentiate themselves from Apple and each other.

And while I'm not a fan of Facebook, I have to say that Home is definitely something I like to see in the mobile market.  It offers a different perspective on mobile use even as it takes a frightful attempt to obliterate privacy.  

In the next twelve to eighteen months, we will see where Apple goes.  As a matter of fact, the same can be said of Google.  Both of their mobile heads were replaced within months of each other which suggests change of pace or direction where Apple and Google wants their mobile efforts to move respectively.  One might assume that big changes are coming.  

Maybe.

We won't know what mobile users can expect from Apple until the second half of 2013.  Yeah, aside from increasing the iPad's top-end mobile with 128 GB, there has been a dry spell.  Apple's annual World Wide Developer Conference in June is the earliest when we should see any new product from Apple this year.  And they're probably going to be Macs and Macbooks, not iOS devices like the iPhone or iPad.

For those, we will have to wait until fall.  Hopefully, Apple will grace us with a glimpse of what iOS 7 going to be like and that will only be a partial unveiling.  We won't know if Apple will continue to care not about the stock price and exist as it currently does now or becoming a company that cares more about the bottom line until the next iPhones and iPads are released.  

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