Apple Says 'You're Only as Good as the Last Thing You Did' Amid Sales Slowdown
After recording its first quarterly sales decline since 2003 this year, the doom and gloom sentiment surrounding Apple has reemerged. Some critics believe that Apple is doing too many things at once, or wrongly placing its focus on areas like Apple Watch bands rather than its core product lineup.
The most vocal critics often point towards the state of Apple's current Mac lineup, which is beginning to stagnate. It has been 447 days since the last MacBook Pro release, while the MacBook Air has not been updated beyond a RAM bump in 518 days. Mac mini: 662 days. Mac Pro: 963 days.
Apple's stock also remains down over 13 percent from its 52-week high, and investors perhaps have at least some reason for concern. Rumors suggest, for example, that the next iPhone will be an incremental improvement over the iPhone 6s, with more significant changes not coming until 2017.
In a new Fast Company interview alongside CEO Tim Cook, Apple services chief Eddy Cue acknowledged that technology companies are "only as good as the last thing" they did.
"Look," says Cue, who somehow manages to look both like a man who just woke up and a compact ball of perpetual energy, "one thing you know if you’ve been in technology a while, you’re only as good as the last thing you did. No one wants an original iPod. No one wants an iPhone 3GS."
Cook admitted that Apple can "sometimes fall short," but indirectly added that the "Apple is doomed" narrative has existed during his entire 18-year span at the company.
"Is Apple making more mistakes than we used to? I don’t have a tracker on that." […] "We have never said that we’re perfect," he continues. "We’ve said that we seek that. But we sometimes fall short." […]
"What tends to happen with Apple, not just today but in the 18 years I’ve been here," says Cook, "is that invariably some people compare what we’re doing now to a vision or a product that somebody says they will create in the future."
Fortunately for Cook, he said he doesn't "read all the coverage on Apple that there is," and instead focuses on pushing the company into a future that is bigger and broader. "I want Apple to be here, you know, forever," he said.
As Cue says, grinning at the ambition: "We want to be there from when you wake up till when you decide to go to sleep." Cook himself is only slightly less brash. "Our strategy is to help you in every part of your life that we can," he says, "whether you’re sitting in the living room, on your desktop, on your phone, or in your car."
Earlier this year, Above Avalon analyst Neil Cybart said Apple is on track to spend a record $10 billion on research and development this year, up nearly 30 percent from 2015, and significantly more than the little over $3 billion per year it was spending on R&D just four years ago.
Cybart said the increased spending undoubtedly points towards development of the widely rumored Apple Car, suggesting that the company will pivot into the automobile industry. But if Cook's recent teaser about "great innovation in the pipeline" is any indication, Apple could have other plans in store too.
Apple Maps and Public Beta Testing
One other interesting anecdote in the wide-ranging interview: Apple Maps is the reason why iOS public beta testing exists.
Apple now does public beta testing of its most significant software projects, something that Jobs never liked to do. In 2014, the company asked users to test run its Yosemite upgrade to OS X. Last year, it introduced beta testing of iOS, which is the company’s most important operating system. "The reason you as a customer are going to be able to test iOS," Cue says, "is because of Maps."
Full-length interview: Playing The Long Game Inside Tim Cook's Apple