There once was a time when we inveterate Apple watchers sat on the edge of our seats waiting for Steve Jobs to walk off the stage after a presenting Apple’s newest and latest and coolest things, only to stroll back on and say, ‘One More Thing…’ and the introduce something new, different, unexpected (and, at times, fully expected).
The list is long. Long, I tell you.
‘One more thing…’ started in 1999 when Jobs introduced the new iMacs. In new colors. After that it was AirPort Wi-Fi, the Aqua user interface of OS X, the infamous G4 Cube, iPod mini in colors, and the list goes on.
Paying due homage to Jobs, CEO Tim Cook presented his own ‘One more thing…’ back in 2014 when he revealed Apple Watch. The problem with the ‘One more thing…’ expectation is that it’s tied more to emotion and great products than the reality suggests, and all too often we conflate ‘One more thing…’ to the ‘next great thing.’ They are not the same. Or, if they are, Apple has a different idea of what great is than you or I.
Of course, what we want is someone at Apple to take the stage of the next keynote presentation, show off a few new products, then, near the end, slow down, pause, contemplate, review, and seemingly end the keynote show– just as the next great thing is introduced as ‘One more thing…’
As each month passes it seems as if Apple cannot do anymore what it once did with relish and regularity (even if somewhat irregularly).
Where’s the ‘One more thing…?’ Where’s the next great thing? Sure, disruptive innovation doesn’t run on a calendar whereby Apple pushes a new product out the door every x-number of months, but to outsiders who peer inside Apple appears to have become a company that manages by nudge and is risk averse to the next great thing.
Every year the iPhone and iPad improve, but incrementally. Every year the Mac gets faster and thinner and more powerful, but incrementally. Watch is a great accessory but it will require more than incremental changes in the next few years to become the must-have standalone device that is not tethered to the iPhone.
And that’s the problem. Apple’s ecosystem is growing and Services would make a healthy Fortune 500 company, but it should be absolutely clear to any analyst or passersby that Apple does not know what to do with its riches. Give it back to shareholders? Give it away as dividends? Buy stock to prop up the stock price?
Is that what Apple’s management considers to be the next great thing? Financial parlor tricks?
That’s madness from a company with a long heritage of technology innovation and a string of industries totally disrupted by the presence of a new Apple product. Every company has failures and Apple is no different. Steve Jobs loved the G4 Cube. He was the only one of significance to say so. These days Wall Street judges a company less by financials and more by growth, and Apple has that backwards with a strong balance sheet that’s so out of balance that money needs to be given away with little hint of a return and growth is something relegated to the Services division.
It’s time for Apple to deliver ‘One more thing…’