Apple’s finances provide confidence in future
“It’s almost here.” That’s how Apple invited members of the press to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco for its announcement of the iPhone 5, along with other updates to its iPod line.
For those of us who follow when products are usually released, it’s nothing unexpected. Apple always holds an iPod event in the fall, and as of last year, that event has expanded to contain the iPhone.
In a press release issued on Monday, Apple announced that the iPhone 5′s weekend sales numbers had topped five million units. To make that perfectly clear: In the first weekend since Apple released the latest iPhone, it has sold more than five million units. The amount of profit generated by those sales will be added to Apple’s already considerable war chest (during the dark days of debt ceiling negotiation, Apple had more money than the federal government).
This, of course, has a certain correlation with Apple’s stock price. Before the weekend, it was trading over $700 per share. According to Tim Cook’s presentation at the iPhone 5 announcement, Apple’s share in the tablet market has grown, even as the number of Android tablets has exploded. iOS has become a major driver of Apple’s profits, but the Mac side of their business is growing as well. Tim Cook seems to have grown into his role as chairman and CEO admirably.
By all accounts, Apple is doing very well. But that transformation means that the way the tech press looks at the company has changed considerably.
While this month’s announcement of the iPhone 5 marked the phone’s sixth iteration in as many years, it also came on the heels of an important anniversary. In August of 2011, Steve Jobs resigned from his job at Apple. Jobs has been hailed as a visionary for good reason. His leadership is what brought Apple out of the hole it had dug for itself in the early-to-mid ’90s and gave Apple the competitive edge that it has held on to. Now that Steve is dead, his absence has spawned a nearly incessant chorus about whether or not he would have allowed even the most mundane of decisions.
I can understand, then, why commentators and analysts might be inclined to hearken back to the days of Steve Jobs as the halcyon days of Apple, when nothing could possibly go wrong. And while I’ll agree that there was more good than bad, it’s worth remembering that Steve was at the helm of a number of poor decisions (remember the hockey puck mouse from the old iMacs?), and his seal of approval was not the automatic home run that nostalgic writers seem to think it was.
It’s time to face the music: Apple’s success isn’t just about Steve Jobs. You don’t hit $700 a share without making good products and providing value to the market. Tim Cook, Jony Ive and the rest of the folks in Cupertino are responsible for the rampant success of this new phone, and they deserve credit for it. In order for Apple to move forward, they need to focus on the future. Everyone else ought to do the same.