Sure, there are many who – in hindsight – boasts about how they saw the dot com decline of 2002-2004, the sub-prime induced crash of 2008 etc., just before it happened, but the fact is, when you are caught in the moment, it’s very difficult to say whether or not you are witnessing the beginning of a decline or not.
So we are left with guesses, and why shouldn’t we guess, when it’s so much fun?
I’m hereby guessing that right now, in the year of 2012, we’re starting to see the decline of the Apple reign in its core markets of phones, tablets, and computers. Not all at once, and not at a very fast pace, but still; they are probably peaking about now.
For the record, I don’t have anything against Apple; quite the contrary.
I love their products. I own an iPhone 4S, iPad 3gen, Nano 6gen, Touch 2gen, MacBook Air 13” with the 256 MB SSD and an Apple TV.
Now that’s a lot of Apple products, by any standard.
I’ll even add a remark about the MacBook Air. It is the best notebook I’ve ever used. Period.
So, why then do I think they are peaking?
Basically three reasons. The shift in management, their unprecedented success in all of their fields for the last 7 or so years, and the, nowadays, common ownership of their products.
Let’s start with the shift in management. This is perhaps the most difficult reason of the three to explain.
With Jobs passing away, the impossible mission of taking his place was given to Tim Cook. He’s surely a fine craftsman at what he does, but he’s no Steve Jobs. No one is Steve Jobs but Steve Jobs himself, hence the label “impossible mission”.
People fell in love with Jobs, or rather the idea of there being a person who is like the media image of Jobs. I have a hard time seeing this happening for Cook, especially if he will try to run the ship just as Jobs did before him. Breaking out of the mold, finding your own stride is crucial. One should never say never, but right now I don’t see this happening.
So while Cook is surely as good as they come, the myth around Apple and the person of Steve Jobs is now gone. This will, in my opinion, inevitably have an impact on sales and the appreciation of the products in the long run, as strange as it may sound.
Apple was so closely identified with Jobs, and the near cult like followers hung on his every word for wisdom and inspiration. The question now becomes, who will inspire us next?
The second reason is easier to explain because it is more tangible. Let’s compare it to the games of heads or tails. If you have come up with heads 10 times in a row, you are starting to lean towards betting the other way, even though the outcome of the next throw of the coin is totally independent on the former track record. Even so, you start wondering if it isn’t time for your luck to change, sooner rather than later.
The same thing goes for Apple. With so many successes in a row, maybe there’s a product launch around the corner that will not be as good as the former ones from the last 7 or so years have been. Maybe it has already happened, with the iPad 3 – for who can honestly say they’re experiencing the same level of thrill for the 3gen iPad as the one they felt for the first and second iPad?
The third reason is the simplest one. When everyone has a blue bike, the really cool kid is the one with a silver colored bike. Right now, everyone and their mom too, has an iPhone. How cool is that?
Standing against all of this, is the fact that all other hardware manufacturers out there is not just one lap behind Apple, but at least a couple. This is of course troublesome for my prediction, since even if Apple would drop a little in the cutting edge feel of their products, they’re still so much better than everyone else out there today so I would still end up buying their products, for the lack of a better option out there.
That is maybe the really sad takeaway from all of this. There is right now no one else out there to step in and present an option to Apple products.
Just the same, I still predict that when we look back at 2012 a couple of years from now, we’ll mark it as the beginning of the decline of Apple’s superiority and complete ruling of the computer and computer like device scene.
That’s my $0.02 on this subject. Time will tell if I was right in this prediction. Any thoughts?