At the moment, I admit, it seems absurd to criticize Apple.
I even cringe when I read my own stuff. It's not easy to go against the grain, particularly when you're doing so vis-a-vis a company you love, respect and spend a ton of money with while it continues to power ahead as the cheapest stock on the market.That said, so much of what matters in tech's big picture has to do with what will happen tomorrow, not all that's good about what's happening today. The more experience you have as a human, the more you realize just how profound Strangis's advice is. Former Intel (INTC) chief Andy Grove wrote a timeless book about leadership, Only the Paranoid Survive. He felt in good times, great leaders needed an attitude of "this too shall pass," using the time to anticipate threats and prepare themselves to respond fast and effectively. Grove discusses "Strategic Inflection Points," where something happens -- a shift in technology, new regulations, a competitive salvo -- that changes a company's business overnight. In a blurb on Grove's book, Steve Jobs said, "You must learn about Strategic Inflection Points, because sooner or later you are going to live through one." Because it lacks credible competition, Apple faces few external threats that we know of. Of course, that's the tricky part about external threats; you do not necessarily see them coming. Great CEOs have to act, in part, like Hollywood producers, dreaming up seemingly unthinkable alternative scenarios to the status quo. They must see the writing on the wall. But, again, the human experience teaches us that when you're the graffiti artist, you're often blind to it. Coupled with the task of managing after Steve Jobs, Tim Cook appears to be in an impossible situation. I see the writing on the wall. And, despite how strange it feels to be anything resembling bearish, I can't ignore it.
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