Apple fisticuffs: Watch Adam Lashinsky shadow box George Colony

Two ways of looking at the end of the Steve Jobs/Jony Ive era.

From Tuesday’s edition of Lashinsky’s Fortune Data Sheet:

[Forrester’s George Colony] and I have been shadow boxing for years now about Apple. It began when he challenged a central thesis of my 2012 book, Inside Apple, which stated that while Apple no longer would be “insanely great,” it would continue to be merely great, a nifty feat. Colony has contended that innovation died at Apple when Steve Jobs did and that the company never would be the same…

I never quibbled with Colony’s contention that Apple wouldn’t innovate at the same level as it had. What company could? Successfully growing to a trillion dollars in market capitalization without the wheels coming off was an achievement in its own right. Thus began our short e-debate Monday:

Me: “I think enough time has passed now for us both to pat ourselves on the back for having successfully made our points, no?”

Colony: “As is typical, I was right in the long-term, but wrong in the short-term. But Forrester gets paid for being right in the long-term. You were right in the short term, and that’s what Fortune readers require. So we were both serving our customers! No one is guilty of blowing it at Apple – the company lost a “once-every-hundred-years” leader – no one could have replaced him. And Tim has done an admirable job of caretaking and extending the Jobs inventions. But this brand’s customers demand and will ultimately require real innovation – or they will begin to peel off. Apple’s board has to get the next CEO right.”

Me: “Agreed all.”

My take: Nicely done.


  1. Fred Stein said:

    Me: Huh?

    “But this brand’s customers demand and will ultimately require real innovation – or they will begin to peel off. Apple’s board has to get the next CEO right.”

    Apple’s customer base is growing, not peeling off.

    board has to get the next CEO right? Tim Cook is one of the best CEOs.

    Colony and Lashinsky need to feed their audiences. Maybe in five years, they will see Cook’s greatness. So far, they have not figured it out.

    July 2, 2019
  2. Grady Campbell said:

    I, generously, took the “next CEO” comment as meaning that, when Tim Cook reaches the end of his successful tenure, the board needs to get the “next” CEO choice right. It would be very risky if it’s not somebody at Apple now, well grounded in the culture and the Jobs vision and the Cook discipline.

    July 2, 2019
  3. Gregg Thurman said:

    “But this brand’s customers demand and will ultimately require real innovation – or they will begin to peel off. ”


    That has been the case since forever with ALL firms. IBM, Compaq, Western Union, Philco, Motorola, Sony, RIM, Nokia, ITT, ATT, General Electric, Westinghouse, Packard, Hewlett-Packard, Northern Telecom, Kodak, Western Digital, et al.

    They all dominated their respective industries until the upstart exploited a niche they ignored, preferring instead to protect their dominance by keeping the upstarts out, not by innovating. They all rested on their laurels.

    The difference between all of those and the thinking of Steve Jobs, institutionalized in the culture of Apple, Inc., is that Apple will cannibalize its own cash cows with something better before the new upstart arrives on the scene.

    Apple isn’t innovating any more? Hogwash. Apple stopped innovating when Jobs left in 1985, and didn’t resume innovation until Jobs returned in 1997. The single most important thing Jobs brought back to Apple was the willingness to sacrifice its cash cow in favor of better vs circling the wagons around that cash cow.

    Paradigm shifts don’t happen on a regular schedule, they happen when need and technology intersect. We may have needed smartphones but until Apple developed a touch interface the smartphone paradigm shift wasn’t going to happen. Apple used its smartphone technology to create a tablet paradigm shift. Apple used its miniaturization skills to create a paradigm shift in wireless ear buds and smart watches.

    The next paradigm shift (who knows what that will look like?) will occur when technology and need intersect once again. Will it be AR enhanced glasses or autonomous vehicles? I don’t know, and neither does the Tripp Mickles of the world. But whatever it is it will come from the firm that controls the hardware, the software and the user interface. Bolting disparate technologies together as has been done by all of Apple’s competitors wont be enough to create the next breakthrough. The consumer won’t allow it.

    July 2, 2019
  4. Jerry W Doyle said:

    I do not believe a day passes where someone on Wall Street doesn’t pronounce the cliché “… the markets get it right.”

    So much human behavior gets in the way causing many on WS to become myopic in recognizing the best estimate of a company’s fundamental asset values while ignoring the daily vicissitudes affecting the company’s normal sequence of events, such as personnel changes.

    A friend this morning with whom I have been in discussions over Jony Ive’s leaving Apple sent me the following text:

    Thursday — Jony Ive leaves Apple announced publicly.
    Friday — AAPL down $1.89;
    Monday — AAPL up $3.53;
    Now — AAPL up .55

    After all the public and private discourse along with anxiety the last several days the markets seem to be saying Jony Ive’s leaving Apple is a “non-event.” Interesting!

    July 2, 2019
  5. John Konopka said:

    It feels like both of these guys have a cartoonish, oversaturated view of Apple and their customers. Every keynote you see various journalists bemoaning the fact that Apple didn’t come out with a new product like the iPhone.

    This year was no exception. The general press was wailing about the cost of the monitor stand. When Apple described SwiftUI I was almost in tears. That is a huge development that will change app development for a long time. I used to develop software for a scientific instrument. It was incredibly tedious. Even now, I’m testing software for PCs and see that the tools are holding back the designs and reliability.

    The improvements to ARKit are awesome. The repeated assertions that Apple values privacy were powerful. Why is Apple the only major company paying more than lip service to this? I could tell from some of the videos that Apple used AR to show off the new Mac Pro. There was a table with a simple frame in the middle and a bunch of iPads around the edge. You viewed the frame through the iPad and could see all sorts of different views of the Mac Pro. Apple has a similar setup at Apple Park. There is a large table with a featureless model of the park. When you view this through an iPad you see all the buildings, you can open the buildings and look inside, watch people and cars moving about.

    The first iPhone was like the Model T Ford. It worked, but barely recognizable compared to modern devices. Apple has added HD video, then 4k Video, fingerprint sensor, now FaceID, Face Time, Siri, better battery life, larger screen, better resolution and color, and on and on. Yet these guys worry that Apple can’t innovate.

    July 2, 2019

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