Welcome to the Real World, Apple

by Chris Howard Jul 23, 2008


Today's headlines on my local newspaper's website made for an interesting contrast. The first read, "Apple rides high on Macs and iPods", the second, "Apple's MobileMe meltdown". The real world can be a wonderful place of billion dollar earnings, but it can also be a place that, like an over zealous terrier, bites you on the trouser leg and refuses to let go.

Most of us would be well aware that Apple this week announced it's making so much money employees' chairs are now padded with wads of folding stuff. Well, they could be and Apple wouldn't notice. It earned over US$1 billion in the third quarter of its current financial year, And revenue, the bit that's the money they took off you, was nearly US$7.5 billion. From memory, I didn't contribute too much to that.

Mac sales continue to grow at a massive rate (up 41 percent over the same period last year) and even iPod sales continue to rise (12 percent up on last year), despite Apple's best efforts to kill that market with the iPhone.

And the most interesting stat of all was that Macs account for 19.5% of the consumer personal computer market.

Of course, in spite of all this good news, and Apple's Chief Financial Officer, Peter Oppenheimer, telling us "The quarter was a home run", the share market kicked Apple in the goolies, wiping 11% off its share value. Although, after all the numnuts (who keep getting suckered by Apple's conservative forecasts for upcoming quarters) went home, the share price rallied, recovering its lost value.

Life is good for Apple. The real world is a happy place. Well, it is if that first headline is the only one you read. Over on the dark side of the real world, that fella Murphy was also giving Apple a kick where it hurts.

Hurts a lot, actually. Just lately Apple has been made to look somewhat Microsftesque.

Among other issues, the transition from .Mac to MobileMe has been about as smooth as alligators' teeth - and just as pleasant to experience. This is something we are usually more accustomed to seeing Microsoft experience. Apple has it share of teething problems with new or updated products or services, but not on such wide scale.

But Apple does have more credit in its goodwill bank than it does cash reserves, and so will ride out the bumps of the MobileMe disaster. Apple users have always been very forgiving, and even the new ones who aren't so fanatical, are showing the same sort sort of tolerance.

Probably because they've experienced the other side, where not only are new product launches challenging to say the least, but even when the products eventually work, they lack the panache and usability that switchers find in Apple's products. Given both sides experience teething problems, who'd switch back knowing that they'd be giving up that panache and usability?

However, even though we are a tolerant bunch, this does bode ill for a future where Apple is no longer a niche player. It's failures are going to be judged more harshly and although it won't cost Apple market share (I mean, if [insert product name] didn't cost Microsoft market share, Apple's got nothing to worry about), it will take the shine off it's shiny silver logo.

Apple will start to be seen as more like just another tech company.

Welcome to the real world, Apple.



  • My reaction to the second article is, duh. I have had similar conversations with colleagues for the last couple of years. However, I don’t consider it really negative, it comes with the territory. Apple, or anyone else for that matter, isn’t going to get everything right. It is the frequency and scale of blunder that invite any real criticism, everything else is just whining. Slow news day maybe?

    Danimal had this to say on Jul 24, 2008 Posts: 5
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