Apple finds itself facing a formidable challenge these days. Co-founder and company visionary Steve Jobs is gone. A once solid hold on an emerging market has been challenged by a series of knock-off vendors. And the company's once-solid financial resources are being called into question.
If that sounds familiar to you old-timers, it should. The company paced a similar situation some 20 years ago, and handled it in entirely the wrong way. The result was a catastrophe that almost destroyed Apple as a brand and wiped out what would become the most iconic technology brand of the 21st century.
Back then, the company was several years off the ouster of Jobs and the ascension of John Scully. Having decided that good enough would work, the company slowed up on development of the MacOS and turned to marketing, expanding the computer's reach and attempting to appeal to as many markets as possible.
With a brain drain and a horrible misjudgement of the market, Apple soon found itself in a terrible position when Windows 95 delivered a 'good enough' user experience to the MacOS with a far wider hardware selection and a better developer environment.
Eventually, the company was able to recover when Steve Jobs returned, overhauled the MacOS with OS X and refocused the company on making just a few products that were far beyond anything the competition could offer.
But now, with Jobs since having passed away, Apple finds itself in a familiar situation. Once a market darling, the company has seen its value fall substantially as the Android platform has won over hardware developers and helped fuel the creation platforms which are as good, and at times better than iOS with a lower price tag and a greater range of compatible offerings.
This has also started to eat into Apple's bottom line. The company saw the same PC sales pains that the rest of the market did, but in the case of Apple it also came with worries that the portable device line which has become the company's bread and butter was threatened as well.
As such, Apple needs to refocus itself and renew a commitment to overhauling its product lines. The company needs to realise that incremental updates and moderate improvements are not going to be enough to beet Android.
The company needs to recapture the spirit of Steve Jobs, the unrelenting, sometimes cruel drive that demands not only innovation and inspiration, but absolute perfection in the process. Someone at the company, be it Tim Cook, Jon Ive or another brilliant mind, needs to step up and demand that the coming versions of the iPhone, iPad and iMac be more than the best, but the sort of "insanely great" leap that helped to define Apple as the electronics powerhouse it has grown to become.
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