Leadership Matters More Than Market Share

A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.
– Leroy Eimes

In studying the technology industry, the markets that encapsulate it, and the consumers who drive it, I am less interested in how much money a company is making, or how many devices they sell, or what a platforms market share is. Those are all interesting data points. What matters, in my opinion, is whether or not companies playing in this arena are advancing computing.

Apple’s Demise

It seems as though the popular “Apple is doomed” narrative will never go away. While this is a deeply naive statement filled with flawed pre-conceived notions, it is often thrown around publicly by those with an agenda other than genuine truth.

For some illogical reason, many are just waiting for Apple’s dominant reign to end. This line of thinking forgets that the only market Apple has dominated for a length of time was the MP3 player market. Apple may never secure a decade plus of device or category dominance like they did with iPod again but that does not mean that they do not have a healthy and profitable business that will last decades. Yet all too often ebbs and flows of markets, cyclical innovation patterns, and global adoption cycles, seem to fool people into missing the big picture.

I hear a subtle tone frequently whispered among analyst peers that Apple has had their day and it is time for someone else. That time may certainly come, but it is not today. I hold this view confidently because I am yet to see the emergence of a new leader. I see platforms gaining market share leadership. We may see devices become sales leaders, but without question Apple is still the envy of the industry. ((Being the first with a spec or some technological gimmicks does not qualify as leadership))

The Secret to Growth

“The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

We can debate until we are blue in the face whether the biggest growth opportunities like smartphones and tablets are saturated. But whether this point is true or not both markets will inevitably become saturated at some point. Growth will someday peak and only disruption can restart the cycle.

The key for a companies growth lies in new opportunities. Sometimes you have to create those opportunities and other times you can capitalize on opportunities others have created. But in either case vision and leadership are key.

Perhaps the next growth area is wearable computing, or the digital home and car. Perhaps it is something we have not thought about yet. This is what makes this industry exciting. The point remains, who leads these new opportunities is the key thing to watch.

Leading also means you often take some arrows in the back. It is hard and not all can handle the scrutiny. As I stated earlier, I am not naive in thinking that Apple will always be in a leadership position. But I’m yet to see another holistic leader in computing emerge.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

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