Everyone wants to know about the future. What do we have as a guide? Not much, right? Prognosticators are wrong as often as monkeys throwing darts. Intelligent people with a good track record often hide or diminish their mistakes. Politicians lie. Religious leaders lie. All we have to guide us toward the future is what we know now.
The present. And what came before. The past.
Apple was once a good example of how the present and the future exist to help mankind determine the future. The company’s co-founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, was well known for predicting the future of technology gadgets. He had a distinct knack– plus the almighty position power and personal power— to visualize the future and bring together the resources to get it built.
Look at the list Jobs built.
Apple, the Mac, NeXT (bought by Apple and formed the basis of Mac OS X), Pixar Animation Studios (which went public, made Jobs a billionaire, then was bought by Disney; Jobs made more money on Pixar than from Apple), iMac, iTunes, Apple Stores, iPod and iTunes Music Store, iPhone, iPad, the App Stores.
You get the idea.
How can Apple of the past tell us about the present?
Well, the present Apple is run by Jobs’ hand-picked successor, CEO Tim Cook. He is an intelligent, articulate, knowledgable executive who has managed to squeeze enormous profits from the house that Jobs built.
Jobs had what is called that vision thing and combined with Apple’s wealth and assets, and employed by Jobs personal and position power, launched many market disrupting products and services. Had jobs lived, it may very well have launched new products on the road to the next great thing.
Reality bites. Tim Cook is CEO and his approach to product development is different than Jobs. The latter had vision and used it often to push Apple forward. The former has an innate ability to understand the math of products better than the development of products.
That explains why Jobs’ long list of market disrupting products makes Cook’s list of accessories pale in significance. Cook brought Beats Music and headphones to Apple for $3-billion or so. While Cook also managed iterative improvements in Apple’s product line– the Mac is a good example of where public outcry goaded the company into new product development– most of the new products are accessories, certainly nothing as earth shattering as Mac, iPad, or iPhone.
Accessories? Beats Music, Beats headphones, Apple Pay, Apple Watch, Apple’s AirPods– all major accessories to iPhone, each somewhat disruptive in its own right, but none that fit on a scale with Jobs’ record.
If Apple of the past (Jobs’s era) could not tell us about Apple of the present (Cook’s era) then how is Apple of the present, or the past, going to tell us about Apple’s future?