It’s time for a changing of the guard. Apple (AAPL), the most valuable consumer electronics company on the planet, has already peaked and is now tumbling back down to Earth according to a former employee. Apple is on the verge of reporting the biggest quarter in the history of U.S. business thanks to record iPhone 5 demand, a refreshed iPad lineup and all-new Mac computers, but former Apple engineering manager Dan Crow still says Apple’s peak is behind us and “it’s all downhill from here.”
“I think Apple has peaked and the story of the next few years will be one of a slow but real decline,” Crow wrote on Wednesday in a column on The Guardian. The software engineer points to the ongoing iOS Maps debacle and the recent executive shakeup as two sure signs of the upcoming Apple apocalypse.
“Replacing Google Maps with an obviously inferior experience shows how much Apple has changed,” Crow wrote. “Apple’s success had been all about offering users the best possible experience; suddenly it is willing to give users a clearly worse experience to further its corporate interests – in this case its long-running dispute with Google (GOOG). We might expect this sort of behaviour from Microsoft (MSFT), but we don’t expect it from Apple.”
Crow says Apple is now putting its own needs ahead of its customers’ needs, and this is a sure sign of the company’s slow tumble. Even though Apple may have taken some steps to reverse the trend, it’s apparently too late.
“It’s not just on the product side where there are signs of Apple slipping,” he wrote. “While the recent departure of Scott Forstall has, rightly, garnered a lot of headlines, it’s important not to overlook the fate of John Browett. He was in charge of Apple’s retail stores – a vital component of Apple’s success over the last decade. Browett was in position for just seven months and by all accounts he presided over a significant and ill-advised change in strategy, focussing on profit over customer care – another example of Apple putting its corporate needs ahead of its customers.”
He continues, “It’s baffling. Apple has a winning formula – perhaps the most successful business formula ever – yet it seems intent on changing it.”
No company can stay on top forever, of course, but many would argue Crow’s claim that Apple is in the midst of a decline is a bit premature. Apple’s stock is getting pummeled though, down more than 18% since hitting a record high when the iPhone 5 launched, and investors have not been impressed with Apple’s recent numbers thanks to sky-high expectations from Wall Street analysts.
Whether or not Apple is truly in decline remains to be seen, but making that claim immediately after Apple reported a record September quarter, and just before Apple is set to post a record December quarter, is a bit of a stretch.