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TheStreet Open House

Apple Has Fallen and It Can't Get Up

Stocks in this article: AAPL ORCL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- On Tuesday Apple (AAPL - Get Report) introduced the iPhone 5S and 5C. We learned from the much anticipated announcement the iPhone 5C would be a cheap, plastic iPhone in five colors.

That's it? What happened to "Apple the Innovator?"

Remember when a product announcement would compel customers to sleep outside their neighborhood Best Buy? Yesterday, Apple shares fell 2% and are down today over 5%.. The company has lost half of its value since the death of its founder in the autumn of 2011.

When Steve Jobs passed away, some analysts wondered, "Will Apple ever produce another breakthrough product?" At the time, I was convinced that it would. Apple was consistently one of the three most desirable employers for MBA graduates. Certainly, the best minds in America could carry on. But so far they have not. Apple's market share has fallen from 24% in 2011 to 14% the last quarter. It continues to weaken. Today's Apple is very different.

For the past decade, management theorists examining Apple's management practices have scratched their heads. How could a tyrannical CEO build the wealthiest and most respected company on earth? In these "enlightened" times, we expect a CEO to be "first among peers" when leading an executive team. We believe in consensus management and expect that innovative companies produce new ideas like thousand flowers blooming across the corporation. The Apple story just did not make sense.

But a recent interview with Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle (ORCL) and close friend of Steve Jobs, provided valuable insight. Ellison called Jobs, "The Thomas Edison of our times." Jobs' vision and creativity far surpassed his executives. Why should he try to get others to join along? One wonders if Thomas Edison used committees and consensus.

It is easy to identify a committee-designed proposal. It's a fat and unfocused patchwork quilt. Look at Obamacare. As of today, it is 10,516 pages, or eight times longer than the Bible. It was written to appease everybody. But it's unlikely to ever achieve its objectives of access, quality and cost. A simple, clean proposal by a small, interdisciplinary team could have easily produced a far better result.

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