By Aaron Pressman and Adam Lashinsky
August 2, 2018

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Apple ended trading Wednesday tantalizingly close to the magical trillion-dollar valuation mark. The company was the story of the 1980s (not the 1990s), the oughts, and now our current decade.

But what exactly is the story?

Apple enthusiasts and departed insiders I talk to are adamant that the company has lost its way. It isn’t innovative in the way it was. Its management is sclerotic, entrenched, and arrogant. Its products aren’t crisp. It isn’t the Apple of old.

Even if true, the argument feels churlish. Could there be a better example of a company—and it is a company, after all, not a religious organization—making the most of what it has? And, oh by the way, executing nearly flawlessly.

The most intriguing aspect of Tuesday’s earnings call to me was Tim Cook’s statement that Apple feels very good about its as-yet unannounced strategy to take advantage of the cord-cutting trend. Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi says Cook was similarly bullish several years ago. But that was before Apple started dishing out billions to the likes of Oprah Winfrey in competition for original content with Netflix, Amazon, HBO, and others.

Apple’s grand plan could be as simple as re-skinning Apple Music to be Apple Entertainment (audio and video) and offering an attractively priced subscription. But perhaps it has grander plans. Look for Apple to do one of its signature “reveal” events next month, traditionally Apple’s preferred time for glitzy product introductions.


Momentum is building for Brainstorm Reinvent, Fortune’s newest conference. It is a two-day, invitation-only event in Chicago, on Sept. 24 and 25, devoted to the topic of business reinvention.

Here’s a selection of the participants I’m excited to hear from: Sam’s Club CEO John Furner, Harvard professor and (briefly) Uber executive Frances Frei, Microsoft deal chief Peggy Johnson, AI researcher and entrepreneur Rana el Kaliouby, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson (who is also on the boards of Starbucks, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Estee Lauder), and United Technologies CEO Gregory Hayes.

That’s truthfully just a selection, and I’ll highlight other participants soon. More information about the event is here. There are still spots available for this inaugural event; email me directly for an invitation.

Adam Lashinsky


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