Apple is undoubtedly one of the most if not the most successful company in the World. Its stock soars, its revenues and profits go through the roof, its team has a depth, breadth and integrity which makes it a HHRR dream, in essence, it’s a company which is sound, solid, innovative, at the forefront of one of the most if not the most dynamic of sectors, in fact it’s usually quoted as one of the best and most recognizable brands in the world if not the best one. However, is it really doing that well?
From my point of view, Apple is Apple because it has beliefs at its core, its essence is held in the “Steve Jobs Vault” in the way in which he has become both master and sage, an inspiration and a creative force. He is the gate-keeper to the company’s secrets, he has dictated the book for the company’s philosophy, he is truly unique.
His uniqueness is where we find Apple’s strength and weaknesses, is in his view of the future where the ranks of executives in Apple find the nourishment of their intellectual progression, its in his passion for the things he likes that the company thrives and strives to reach upper echelons of efficiency, esthetic excellence, user experience optimization, strategic guidance, all those things needed by a company to succeed. In essence, he is the true, ultimate and uncontested leader, serving as inspiration, setting the example, paving the road to move forward.
So, you’ll probably be asking yourselves, what’s the problem then?
Well the problem is that when a person is so strong and relevant in the context of a sector, social group, country or a company as such is the case, either he is substituted by someone equally genial or things start crumbling down. We’ve seen this before, such was the case when Alexander the Great died leaving his empire behind to be torn apart by friends and family, when Julius Caesar was killed thus dealing the final blow to the Roman Republic, we’ve seen how Genghis Kahn’s empire didn’t last long after his departure, the examples are countless, but, without having to go that far, we saw what happened to Apple when Jobs left in the 90s. Job’s gravitational pull is too strong as to get rid of it without having a pre-established long-term orbit, and his departure, let it be sooner than later and of age and not of medical leave, will most probably send Apple tumbling into outer space, where its cold and silent, and where the beeping sound of earth/Jobs control won’t be heard anymore.
Well, now there’s a situation in which we have two basic interacting elements.
Steve Jobs is starting to have an age, and Apple is at a junction in time when it’s no more a computer maker, it currently stands as the amalgamation of a hardware, software and media business models, and its fine. This is great, to have a company to be able to do so many things with such a level of success. Its fantastic except for the fact that, in a world as complex as that in which we live in, and in a sector as complex as Apple operates, the lack of exact definition regarding what one is or does is extremely dangerous if the beacon that guided the navigation through rough waters is not shedding its light anymore, and, let’s not fool ourselves, Apple IS Steve Jobs, and I haven’t seen too many like him lately.
So, regardless of who comes behind, whether if she or he is as good as he is, they’ll always have the bar set too high, the past too recent, and the 5 years after his departure will probably be hell, with confronting visions of the way to advance, with constant references either internal, external to the company or from consumers to what Apple was and is no more, etc. So, I do both congratulate and pity she or he that comes behind.
Additionally, the fabulous pace of Apple’s innovation in the past decade, with huge impact in music, computer making, mobile phones, film distribution, operating systems (these are not all, as you very well know) probably spells the curse of someone who’s seen too much too quickly and needs a rest. Companies are made up of individuals, individuals do get tired, specially when there’s a lack of motivation, specifically when that lack of motivation comes from the contrast of having had faith in someone with a superior judgement who is not at the helm no more and the solitary present. Apple as a company most probably is quite tired.
The problem is that the world in which we live isn’t prepared to hand the reins that govern people and money to dreamers. We live in a word where boring financial analysts sit at desks and join conference calls to judge other’s works without having created anything in their lives, a world in which the fear of the unknown builds an almost unbearable tension between innovation and status quo that no one can break except extraordinary individuals such as Jobs, or the passing of time. We, much to my regret, live in a world where money is more important than beliefs, where dreamers dream but seldom fulfill their dream, where the social security ID is more important than the longing of choosing to defend one’s ideas, one’s thoughts, but, let me ask you something, would Apple be Apple if Jobs hadn’t been allowed to freely dream and pursue his dreams?
Much to my disgust, the world is run by those who shy from risk, who are afraid to dream, let not their dream distort the sound fragility of the mirage of their well planned lives, who are reluctant to stick their head into the future trying to foresee or guess what may lay behind, and rather much prefer to sit still and watch life go by without touching them too much, let it not disturb the false gathering of the fake image they have built of themselves, and not the person they would have been had they been strong enough as to pursue their dreams to the end of the rainbow.
I haven’t seen many pragmatic genial megalomaniac dreamers lately, have you?
Disclaimer: BTW, I use Android