It has been nearly three years since Steve Jobs passed away, and Apple has since faced a great deal of scrutiny by investors, the media and even its faithful following. Common complaints include statements that Apple has lost its innovative edge; rather than pioneering new technologies, they’re just trying to keep up with competitors.
Steve Jobs was a notoriously difficult leader. He was highly confrontational and had little patience for concepts that he deemed foolish. He was unpredictable; one day he would be completely against an idea, and the next day he would sing its praises.
Perhaps this trait, the ability to change his mind so quickly and completely, is what enabled Steve Jobs to make Apple the success that it was. However, since his passing, Apple has made some changes with which Jobs probably would have never agreed, no matter how open-minded he was feeling.
The iPad Mini
When asked for his opinion on small tablets, Steve Jobs went on quite an impressive rant against them. According to Jobs, tablet users are also smartphone users, and there would be no market for what he called a “tweener” device. Small tablets are too large to compete with smart phones and too small to compete with tablets, and anything smaller than 10 inches would provide a terrible app experience.
In November of 2012, a little over a year after Jobs passed away, Apple released the iPad Mini. Fortunately, people love it. However, had Jobs been alive, the Mini probably never would have seen the light of day.
Steve Jobs had an incredible talent for effective advertising and was the brain behind some of Apple’s classic, most effective ad campaigns. Since his passing, Apple has tried a variety of marketing approaches and styles, none of them particularly memorable.
What a fiasco that was. Jobs had some strong criticisms for the MobileMe team when it delivered its dreadfully unreliable cloud-based service in 2008. One can only imagine how he would have dealt with the disaster that was Apple Maps.
To his credit, Tim Cook did fire the Maps manager, as well as the guy who was ultimately responsible for Maps. Jobs probably would have approved of that decision.
In the last three years, Apple’s innovation cycle has slowed considerably, and many believe that the company has altogether lost its grip on innovation. Even its most recent release, the iPhone 6, is said by some to have pulled its best features from Android phones.
According to Trip Chowdhry, managing director at Global Equities Research, we would see at least two new product categories if Steve Jobs was alive today. The public still loves Apple, but it’s no longer seen as the best brand available. Accurate or not, many believe that Apple has lost the innovative edge it had with Steve Jobs at the helm.
Relationship with Investors
Apple saw huge profits when Steve Jobs was alive. In spite of pressure from investors for a dividend, Jobs never gave in and certainly never did a share buyback. After Jobs’ death, Tim Cook did both. Apple released a statement saying that by the end of 2015, $100 billion would be given to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.
Has Apple lost its edge? Is the iPhone 6 and the imminent release of the iWatch enough to win back the masses? Time will certainly tell.