Even though Apple has long been one of the most successful, profitable and closely-observed tech companies on the planet, it’s absolutely dumbfounding how often armchair pundits and analysts manage to get everything wrong about the company. In a dynamic that still defies explanation, Apple’s success is rarely applauded; on the contrary, its success is often used to justify the position that the company has peaked and is about to undergo an unforgiving fall from grace.
That notwithstanding, the sentiment that Apple has lost its ability to innovate, meaningfully increase revenue and otherwise succeed has seemingly grown by leaps and bounds over the past few months. From critics bemoaning the MacBook Pro’s new Touch Bar as nothing more than a gimmick to analysts criticizing the iPhone 7 for sporting the same form factor as the two previous iPhone models, the idea that “Apple is doomed” is not only persistent, but is arguably more prevalent than it’s been in years.
Sure, Apple has the iPhone 8 coming out next year, and sure, analysts believe that the device will shatter all existing iPhone sales records, but that’s apparently as high as Apple will be able to go, according to some. In fact, analysts at Oppenheimer believe that Apple will soon “embark on a decade-long malaise.”
In a research note obtained by Business Insider, Opppenheimer writes: “Apple lacks the courage to lead the next generation of innovation (AI, cloud-based services, messaging); instead will become more reliant than ever on the iPhone … We believe Apple is about to embark on a decade-long malaise. The risks to the company have never been greater.”
Nothing in the tech sphere is ever predictable, but I think we can all agree that predicting where a company will be in 10 years is utterly absurd. Consider this: the iPhone didn’t even exist 10 years ago. Even in a more compressed time frame, look at how quickly Netflix managed to turn into an entertainment juggernaut and how quickly Microsoft managed to turn things around with Satya Nadella at the helm.
The idea that Apple lacks the “courage” to be at the vanguard of the next generation of innovation is certainly interesting, and not wholly without merit, but it completely ignores the fact that no one at this point knows what the next great area of innovation will be. Will it in fact be AI? Or will it be augmented reality? Or, perhaps, virtual reality? Or maybe it will be something completely different, something that’s not on anyone’s radar at the moment.
Microsoft famously missed the wave of smartphone innovation that Apple ushered in when it released the iPhone. Apple, however, has yet to miss a wave of innovation. Consequently, the idea that Apple is about to fall into a “decade-long malaise” seems a bit off the mark.
Apple certainly faces a number of challenges, but it’s always struck me as peculiar that Apple is never afforded the benefit of the doubt when it has a long track record of delivering innovative products to the marketplace.
Oppenheimer’s note concludes: “We believe its strong profitability, a cash hoard for protection, and one last ‘growth’ hurrah from the tenth-anniversary phone will keep investors interested in the company.”
Funny thing is, analysts have been predicting Apple’s ‘last growth hurrah’ for years on end.