Apple Is Doomed…Yet Again

on February 13, 2014

Yukari Iwatani Kane is a former Apple beat reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Her book, “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs,” is due out in March.

I respect everyone. I even respect journalists. ~ Alexander Popov

Chained fanaticFrom an article in the New Yorker, Ms. Kane opines on the present state of the post-Steve Jobs Apple:

    “People who shouldn’t be hired are being hired (like Apple’s former retail chief, John Browett, who tried to incorporate big-box-retailer sensibilities into Apple’s refined store experience). People who shouldn’t leave are leaving, or, in the case of the mobile-software executive Scott Forstall, being fired.

    Mistakes, in turn, are being made: Apple Maps was a fiasco, and ads, like the company’s short-lived Genius ads and last summer’s self-absorbed manifesto ad, have been mediocre.

    Apple’s latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 7, looks pretty but is full of bugs and flaws.

    As for innovation, the last time Apple created something that was truly great was the original iPad, when Jobs was still alive.

    Although the company’s C.E.O., Tim Cook, insists otherwise, Apple seems more eager to talk about the past than about the future. Even when it refers to the future, it is more intent on showing consumers how it hasn’t changed rather than how it is evolving. The thirtieth anniversary of the Macintosh—and the “1984” ad—is not just commemorative. It is a reminder of what Apple has stopped being.”

Her conclusion? Today’s Steve-less Apple is as doomed as the Steve-less Apple of 1996 was doomed before Steve Jobs returned.


You see, but you do not observe. ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Apple Is Doomed…Yet Again

To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. ~ Elbert Hubbard

Ms. Kane’s book joins a long line of “Apple-Is-Doomed” articles and blog posts that stretch back to the very beginning of Apple’s existence:

iPad Death Watch

iPhone Death Watch

Apple’s Macintosh: 30 years doomed

“Apple Must…”: A Brief History of People Instructing the Company to Do Things

I’ll spare you further examples of this virtually endless list.

It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it. ~ Sam Levenson

Apple-Watchers Respond…Yet Again

Meanwhile, veteran Apple-Watchers — yet again — debunk the cliched “facts” and theories enunciated in Ms. Kane’s essay:

Understanding Apple

Understanding Apple: When reporting doesn’t seem to lead to insight

Why is Apple ‘doomed’ this week?

They have done such a fine job of responding to Ms. Kane’s allegations that I have nothing further to add…

…other than this.

The Lesson Is Unlearned…Yet Again

You cannot measure a man by his failures. You must know what use he makes of them. What did they mean to him. What did he get out of them. ~ Orison Swett Marden

[pullquote]You can’t reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into. ~ Mark Twain[/pullquote]

Here’s the thing. One can excavate, enumerate and eviscerate these oh-my-god-apple-is-doomed-again treatises until the cows come home but no amount of logic or persuasion will have any effect on those who write them either because the authors are being deliberately obtuse or because they sincerely have a fundamental disconnect with how life actually works. Mistakes are inevitable and the mistake itself IS NOT the problem. It’s one’s RESPONSE to mistakes that matters.

An (aphorism) is a short sentence based on long experience. ~ Miguel de Cervantes

Here are 8 aphorisms that promote the idea that failure is not only healthy but that it is the ABSENCE of failure that is troubling to the health of an individual or a corporation:

  1. Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to error that counts. ~ Nikki Giovanni
  2. Failure is success if we learn from it. ~ Malcolm Forbes
  3. If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate. ~ Thomas J. Watson
  4. Yesterday’s failures are today’s seeds that must be diligently planted to be able to abundantly harvest tomorrow’s success. ~ Pete Zafra
  5. Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself. ~ Vilfredo Pareto
  6. Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. ~ Robert Kennedy
  7. If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary. ~ Jim Rohn
  8. We are all failures–at least, the best of us are. ~ James M. Barrie

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations. ~ Steve Jobs

Not enough to convince you? I’ve placed another 41 aphorisms in the footnotes for your reading pleasure ((

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery. ~ James Joyce

A mistake at least proves that somebody stopped talking long enough to DO something about it.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. ~ Albert Einstein

Dream big and dare to fail. –Norman Vaughan

Error is the price we pay for progress. ~ Alfred North Whitehead

Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn. ~ C. S. Lewis

Failure is a delay, not a defeat.

Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street. ~ Zig Ziglar

Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough. ~ Elon Musk

Failure is the foundation of success; success is the lurking place of failure. ~ Lao-tzu

Failure is the mother of success. ~ Chinese proverb

Failure is the tuition you pay for success. ~ Walter Brunell

Fall seven times and stand up eight. ~ Japanese Proverb

He who does nothing makes no mistakes. ~ Italian proverb

He who never made a mistake never made a discovery. ~ Samuel Smiles

I am not discouraged because every wrong attempt discarded is a step forward. ~ Thomas Edison

I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge. ~ Igor Stravinsky

I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones. ~John Peel

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ~ Thomas Alva Edison

I learned much from my teachers, more from my books, and most from my mistakes. ~ Anonymous

If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative. ~ Woody Allen

If you don’t make any mistakes, you don’t make anything.

If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure all your life. ~ John W. Gardner

If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something. ~ Neil Gaiman

If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough. ~ Vince Lombardi

If you’re willing to fail interestingly, you tend to succeed interestingly. ~ Edward Albee

It doesn’t matter if I don’t succeed in something, what matters is that I learn from my mistakes. ~ Linda Evans

It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. – Vince Lombardi

Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final. ~ Roger W. Babson

Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker. ~ Zig Ziglar

Man errs as long as he strives. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is the COURAGE to continue that counts. ~ Sir Winston Churchill

Success is ninety-nine percent failure. ~ Soichiro Honda

Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. ~ Sir Winston Churchill

To produce we must be able to make endless mistakes. ~ Lesley Garner

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting ~ Buddha

There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes. ~ Buckminster Fuller

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself. ~ Sren Aaby Kierkegaard

With Pleasure own your Errors past, And make each day a Critic on the last. ~ Alexander Pope)).

I’m the only person I know that’s lost a quarter of a billion dollars in one year. It’s very character-building. ~ Steve Jobs

The Lesson To Be Learned…Yet Again

Is Apple (and Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Samsung, etc.) making mistakes. Yes. OF COURSE they’re making mistakes. That is the wrong question. The right question is whether one is…

…learning from mistakes…

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. ~ John Powell

…responding to mistakes, and...

It’s how you deal with failure that determines how you achieve success. ~ David Feherty

A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it is committing another mistake. ~ Confucius

…taking advantage of mistakes….

A failure is a man who has blundered, but is not able to cash in on the experience. ~ Elbert Hubbard

I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity. ~ John D. Rockefeller, Jr

Making mistakes isn’t the problem — in fact, it’s an opportunity to learn and do better. The problem occurs when one…

…ignores mistakes…

People do not wish to appear foolish; to avoid the appearance of foolishness, they were willing actually to remain fools. ~ Alice Walker

…denies the existence of mistakes…

More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them. ~ Harold J. Smith

…refuses to take responsibility for mistakes…

A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.~John Burroughs

…rationalize away mistakes…

There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find its defenders among the ablest men. ~ John Dalberg (Lord Acton)

…repeats the same mistakes…

Failure is not a single cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. ~ Jim Rohn

…or just plain quits.

What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down. ~ Mary Pickford

The Critics Are Mistaken…Yet Again

Chained fanatical prophetLet’s take a quick look at just two of the examples used by Ms. Kane in her essay.

First, she states that Apple had a terrible series of ads:

    “(A)ds, like the company’s short-lived Genius ads and last summer’s self-absorbed manifesto ad, have been mediocre.” ((For the record, I vehemently disagree with Ms. Kane’s assessment of the manifesto ad. I think it is brilliant.))

And Apple’s response? Apple promptly stopped the ads and replaced them with a string of heart-tugging, critically acclaimed ads.

And Ms. Kane views this as a sign of Apple’s decline?

Second, Ms. Kane states that Apple made some hiring mistakes:

    “People who shouldn’t be hired are being hired (like Apple’s former retail chief, John Browett…”

And Apple’s response? They promptly fired Browett after only 8 months and replaced him with Angela Ahrendt, CEO of Burberry.

And Ms. Kane views this as a sign of Apple’s decline?

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. ~ Margaret Thatcher

Did Apple bury their mistakes or delay their response to those mistakes in the hope that things would pan out? No they did not. They took decisive action to correct their mistakes and ended up all the better for it.

Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle. ~ James Russell Lowell

Ms Kane’s examples are not examples of mistakes. They’re shining examples of how a vibrant, self-correcting organization takes ADVANTAGE of mistakes.

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. ~ John C. Maxwell

If that’s all the depth of analysis that Ms. Kane learned from her time as an Apple reporter, then I’m not at all surprised that she now an ex-Apple reporter.

Conclusion…Yet Again

Miserable cultistApple is certainly not above fair criticism. But they’re not below it either.

It’s a conceit that Apple’s failings are like fatal character flaws. Every company has failings, especially those that are wildly successful. ~ john martellaro (@jmartellaro)

If you want to argue that Apple isn’t learning from, responding to, or taking advantage of their mistakes…if you want to argue that Apple is ignoring, denying the existence of, blaming others for, or refusing to take responsibility for their mistakes…if you want to argue that Apple is repeating the same mistakes over and over again or that they’ve just plain quit…

…then I’ll be glad to hear you out.

But if you want to cherry-pick Apple’s mistakes while simultaneously ignoring their triumphs, view their mistakes without perspective or context, treat molehills like they’re mountains, conflate the trivial with the essential, and pretend that every mistake — no matter how minor — is the equivalent of a fatal flaw…

…then I have no time for you.

All of us have failed to match our dream of perfection. I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible. ~ William Faulkner