August 24, 2011
Apple's Attempt at World Domination…without Steve Jobs?
It is truly amazing that not one day goes by without Apple appearing in the news. Clearly, I, myself, am getting fascinated with this organization seemingly eying world domination. Apple's pursuit of lawsuits/litigation (see Apple: Litigation as Business Strategy) gains momentum on a daily basis, as evidenced by today's ruling against Samsung in a Dutch court. Galaxy tablet sales had already been banned in Australia, and today, Samsung was informed it can no longer sell smartphones Galaxy S, S II, and Ace because of similarities in the screen scrolling function with Apple's iPhones. A strong win for Apple.
Tomorrow, Samsung will find itself in court in Germany, trying to defend its technology. One of its arguments will be that Apple stole/copied the idea for the iPad from the 1968 movie "2001: A Space Odyssey." [The famous YouTube video everyone is talking about can be found here.] The goal is to prove that the external appearance was not first invented by Apple "and this may be enough to prevent Apple from enforcing its alleged intellectual property rights in relation to the physical appearance of its latest tablet." Go for it, Samsung. [This is turning into some sort of "reality show" and nobody can look away. Investors just seem to be wanting more, and more, and more…]
The same day Sprint announces that it will be able to make the new iPhone 5 available to its 52 million subscribers come mid-October 2011. The third-largest wireless carrier appears thrilled to add the iPhone to its portfolio and avoid customer attrition, but will have to accept a change in cost structure; Apple demands high margins. The new iPhone will supposedly be even lighter, thinner, with an improved camera and operating system. Another strong win for Apple.
So, on the same day, Apple claims victory over one of its rivals and announces a new ally. Even though, the term ally may be an overstatement. I find it hard to believe that the wireless carriers consider their Apple agreements as true alliances and partnerships instead of simply a "must-do" at "nearly-all-cost".
And then,…on the day when Apple appears to be just one step closer to world domination, the feared announcement is finally made: Steve Jobs resigns as CEO. Tim Cook, who previously served as COO, is reportedly taking over the reigns. While T. Cook has been in charge of managing operations, sales, etc. it has always been S. Jobs, who has been the visionary at the company, who created the dream [occasionally destroyed others'], set R&D priorities, and called the shots. Of course, Apple has faith in its new leader. The news seemingly came so late that it did not impact daytime trading: the stock was up. In after hour trading, the share price dropped. As of 9pm EST it was down 5.07%. In the official company press release, Apple quickly pointed out that Steve Jobs will take on the role as Chairman of the Board, and "will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.” Of course he is; imagine how investors would react if he was not going to remain engaged. Jobs himself was reportedly clever enough to reaffirm that he believed the most creative times were still ahead of Apple. AAPL After hours: $357.10 (-19.08; -5.07%). This is called situation management; dealing with the unavoidable. [Note: The man has accomplished great things and I do wish him well.]
I doubt that this announcement was truly news to anybody. Jobs had been on a leave of absence because of his health for quite some time. It was simply a question of how the succession would be managed and announced. I wonder how and if this announcement will impact the litigation in German courts tomorrow. The company is too strategic and smart for all of this to be coincidental. Some litigation wins were made, the ink dry on the agreement with Sprint. A good time to announce the change.
If Steve remains in the role of Chairman of the Board, I doubt that too many changes will take place in the immediate future. Operations and innovation will proceed as they did before; all in all, the focus will shift to Tim Cook for a natural phasing out of the brand Steve Jobs had built for himself. We may not notice any changes for a couple of years.
So will this impact Apple's path to World Domination? If they haven't gotten there by 2014, they probably never will.