The jury has left the building.
It is a good rule in life never to apologize.
The right sort of people do not want apologies,
and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.
P.G. Wodehouse, The Man Upstairs
The old saw in banking has it that when you owe your local bankster $1,000, he owns you, but when you owe him $1 billion, you own him.
The last great iMac, the G4. Conceived at a time of great crisis.
It’s a lesson that the Serial Apologizer passing as CEO at Apple has never learned. When the Chinese make an organized propaganda attack aimed at Apple for allegedly poor warranty terms and service – ridiculous however you look at it – what does Cook do? He goes cap in hand to his main provider and apologizes. He has fallen into the $1 billion debtor trap, mistakenly believing that the Chinese own him. They do not. Apple owns the Chinese. Concentrating so much production in the hands of one man – the fella in charge in Beijing – was never a wise strategy, any more than concentrating retail lending in the hands of a few US mega-banksters extending credit based on fraudulent loan docs, the while contending that they are too-big-to-fail,is wise. With such concentration comes the need for courageous and robust leadership. The banksters were far smarter than Cook. They used walk away power and totally pulled one over on Uncle Sam. We own you, they said. Let us fail and you go down with the ship.
What is Cook thinking? That Foxconn will lay-off two million Chinese workers if he tells Mr. Xi where to stick it? Please. Maybe Cook needs to bone up on The Man with No Name. Go ahead, make my day. How about a spot of civilian insurrection, pal, should we walk?
Cook, having set three miserable precedents in his dreary catalog of apologia, is now a pushover for any number of bullies who smell fear and weakness. The right response here was “Go ahead, Mr. Xi. Make my day.” You do not bend over to a despot. Now Cook is stuck with that old military acronym. BOHICA. Bend Over, Here It Comes Again. He probably knows more about that than I want to think about.
Now I’m beginning to pine for that old SOB who was Apple, Steve Jobs. When did Jobs ever apologize for anything? When Dot Mac failed miserably he did not go around cap in hand beating his chest and chanting ‘woe is me’. No. Rather, he excoriated the development team for ‘…. letting down everyone at Apple ….’ then fired the guy in charge. Then he fixed it and we got iCloud.
Great businesses do not run on niceness policies, respect for your fellow-man and gentility. They become great by fostering internal and external competition – remember Jobs’s early hatred of IBM? – and inculcating a ‘cream rises to the top culture’. Successful businesses do not crave love or respect. All expect excellence and have at the core of their genetic makeup a protocol which demands winning. Being nice in competition is for losers. ‘Show me a good loser, and I will show you a loser’ as Vince Lombardi bluntly put it.
As a photographer, I very much want to see the likes of Scott Forstall driving Apple to greatness, even if it means his face appears on many dart boards in adjoining offices. People who threaten a CEO accomplish one of two things. The CEO either rises to greater heights, as did Jobs, or the threat is fired as was Forstall’s fate when Cook decided the usurpation risk was too much to bear. Churchill’s struggles to return to power in the 1930s are an apt precursor, weak leaders in Downing Street forever threatened by the firebrand who was finally only appointed at the moment of greatest crisis. An irritant is a requisite for success, not an obstacle to it.
And that’s what Apple needs today. A leader, an irritant, who is prepared to see that the company is already in crisis and a leader who places scant value on popularity. And one who will fire the losers, not the winners. Starting at the top. What Apple needs is …. Steve.
The last great piston engined fighter. Conceived at a time of great crisis.
The seed of Apple’s problems lies in the design office and it’s named Jony Ive, the much applauded designer of all that is thin, thinner and thinnest on Cupertino’s drawing boards. Hence the overheating iMac G5. The overheating iMac Core2Duo. The overheating iMac notebooks. The overheating MacMini. The hard and costly to make iPhone 5. The long time to market and to volume production. The high production costs. And Apple’s problem with China is also Apple’s problem with Ive. They have made him so famous, so indispensable, so adulated that instead of owning him, he now owns them. How do you get rid of an icon and Steve’s best buddy? Meanwhile Apple’s innovation is a day late and a dollar over, damned by ridiculous designs when what most buyers want is function, not form. Like the PowerMac and the MacPro. In other words, machines using reliable, cheap PC parts and the best desktop OS in the business. For more, check out ‘Hackintosh’ in the Sitemap.
Excellence in business is not tea and crumpets. It is war. America and Apple used to be good at that. And wars are won by the strong not by milque toasts who make a habit of bending over.