Over the last decade to say things have been different this time would be the understatement of the century. And yet, the more things have been “different” it seems they’ve really been the same. The only real difference has been in the papering over (literally) of what once constituted true and acceptable business metrics, ethics and more.
That “paper,” of course, is that which has been supplied via the central banks of the world known as quantitative easing (QE). Or better yet “free money.” And the trail of distortion that is ultimately causing its destruction, is morphing into one for the ages. That is: for those that are watching.
The term “watching” is extremely germane to my insinuation. The reason for it, for those too young to remember, was back in the “Hey” days of the mid 70’s thru mid 80’s, people couldn’t get enough of a sitcom called “Happy Days.” And its not so straight-laced character known as “Fonzie.”
Yet, just like anything, things run their course. Innovation or ideas for how something can be both interesting, entertaining, as well as “bought” by the audience diminishes. Where suddenly it becomes obvious too all that – it’s over.
In Happy Days it was the the now infamous “Jump The Shark” moment, and has been a go-to catch phrase ever since. I believe Apple™ supplied Silicon Valley (or Big Tech if you prefer) with its own, which I now call, “The Monitor Stand Moment.” This was unveiled at Apple’s latest WWDC.
That “moment” for those that don’t watch these things was where Apple rolled out its newest and greatest innovation to the far overdue Mac Pro® updates. Was it a (wait for it…) $999.00 (again, wait…) computer? Nope.
Processing power thingamajiggy? Nope. Monitor? Close.
No, it was a thousand dollar: Monitor stand.
Yes, a monitor stand. But wait…there’s more!
For it’s just the best-est, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious one ever created! However, I don’t think it comes in space grey, that’s probably extra, if available at all.
I don’t know because after the “big announcement” it took a while to regain my composure from
laughing so hard being awed with such innovation.
I’m thoroughly convinced this moment – is the same as “that moment.” And…
I also believe the rest of the world is seeing it the same way. Even those that were once the life and soul of design at Apple itself, as in, Jony Ive.
When it comes to the rather “sudden” notice that Mr. Ive is leaving. There is more than enough people speculating to the reasons why. My take seems to be a bit different from what I’m gathering elsewhere.
I am of the opinion when it comes to design: Unless it has to do with “Apple the stock,” the entirety of the C-Suite, as well as Board is not interested. For that’s where the “design” focus has been and will remain. Everything else appears secondary.
Think about it this way: If it’s not – then why would they have allowed Tim Cook to mercilessly spend $284,000,000,000.00 (that’s nearly 1/3 of a $Trillion, yes, trillion!) over just the last 5 years on “Apple the stock” innovation such has buy backs and more?
And remember: As the share value kept going lower, meaning every $dollar spent was the equivalent of “down the drain,” Mr. Cook announced that he was going to spend even more, to the tune of nearly doubling the prior commitment. i.e., Up an additional, again, additional $70Billion over and above what was assigned prior. This was announced at the latest earnings report.
To put this into perspective think about it this way:
Apple wants to get in the news business, the messaging business and streaming business, correct? So, using just the latest add-to, repeat, add-to of $70 Billion. For that price Apple is spending the equivalent of the entire market cap of: The New York Times™ ($5.5Billion) Spotify™ ($26.5Billion) and Twitter™ ($27Billion).
Cook and Crew could theoretically purchase all three at their current market cap for $59Billion (and that’s if they even remain there) and still have $11Billion left over to deal with any remaining losses that they are currently still involved with.
Again, to reiterate, for this can not be made strongly enough: That’s just using the latest add-to of $70Billion announced at the latest earning report!
Think about that very carefully, because at least there would be something in hand to work with, innovate, restructure, help the brand and services portion of Apple etc., etc., etc.
With buying Apple-the-stock? The moment it repurchases it – the money and value is all but gone.
For if (and for much has been an actually “when”) the share price drops just one cent below the repurchase price? It’s more than gone – its both spent and you have less than nothing to now show for it.
Think about that, don’t let that just slip by, for it’s a very crucial point for understanding any further impending implications, whether seen now or in the future.
Again, as far as actual branded product innovation? (insert cricket sounds here.) Or better yet: Mac Pro® 2013 may be more fitting.
The new Mac Pro® is something people like myself have been screaming for now going on 7 years. It’s a welcome sight. However, why in the world would there have been the reasoning to wait this long, leaving such an outdated, overpriced literal “trash can” in plain sight as a thorn-in-the-side of real Mac® users if innovation and design was being allowed to thrive as it once was? Hint: See Apple share price and compensation reports for clues.
But that’s now over. And the departure of Mr. Ive seems to punctuate what many of us already knew , as in, Apple: known for its innovative and intuitive simplicity, with outrageously stunning design features that offered things that “just works” as coined by Jobs – went with him. And the “innovation” ship has been running rudderless ever since.
Just like it did under John Sculley. “Sugar water” anyone?
But yesterday’s “sugar water” story is much the same as yesterday’s Happy Days. i.e., It’s different this time – but not by much.
At the end of the “Dot-Com” craze, before everything went down in unison. There was this overhanging smugness emanating from “The Valley” and its ancillary world known as “tech” (it wasn’t as ubiquitous as what we now know and call “Big Tech” today).
It acted as if no rules applied. i.e., They (“the Valley”) made up the rules. Period.
Business fundamentals, the wild stretching of existing or accepted business practices or laws were meant to be followed only by those that were stupid enough to think they mattered. Why? Because – it’s different this time. Yep, that’s when phrases like that originally began to become mainstream.
Profits? Who cares, the term “serial-entrepreneur” was the moniker of the day. Sounds like today, yes? Or said differently, IPO anyone?
Then, suddenly, there was that “moment” where it didn’t take long for everyone to instinctively know in their core – I think we just “jumped the shark” with that one.
Dot-com’s morphed into the “sock puppet moment,” where something that seemed oh so trivial, as a mascot for marketing purposes, brought to the forefront just how far into the “crazy” everything had become.
For some reason it suddenly made the entire world look closely at what this “sock puppet” really represented – and what it was was not good.
Pets. com was that moment in marketing that made the greatest impact for all the wrong reasons. It made everyone think “Wait…what?” all at the same time. And the resulting crash remains one for the ages.
We’ve had this similar moment once again just the other day when another in-kind “pet” type stock was released into the “markets” that is supposedly worth $Billions, yet still loses money. e.g., Chewy™.
But it just doesn’t appear to have had the impact that makes an entirety of people, both users as well as fleeting onlookers, to suddenly gasp in unison where its obvious – it – is – o-v-e-r.
When we were all watching Happy Day’s the moment you saw Fonzie in summer shorts, coifed hair, wearing his trademark leather coat, on water-skis, in the summer sun to then be catapulted up a ramp to “jump a shark” in some rink-a-dink styled holding pen. It didn’t take a moment’s more of thought to know – it’s over.
This is the same feeling I believe many endured when they were watching Apple’s latest and greatest WWDC live event, where they announced all the newest “innovation” coming forth, only to “market” not only was the monitor stand not included with the newly redesigned monitor, but rather, it would now cost you another grand!
The gasps of “Wait…what?” were not just audible, but shockingly so.
It was in this light (for he would have known this before hand) that I believe Mr. Ive knowing all too well the implications of such marketing “genius” looked in the mirror and thought of another old TV axiom uttered by that luminary of kids Saturday morning television of long ago Snagglepuss “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” as in: What am I still doing here?!
Then followed it with – “Exit, stage left.”
I mean, what’s next to design? An Apple-coin?
© 2019 Mark St.Cyr