Apple is Doomed to Fail … or Maybe Not
Something very strange is going on in business journalism.
The world’s most valuable company just gobbled up 94% of global smartphone profits, up from 85% a year ago. Yet much of the media’s coverage of Apple—especially in the click-hungry corners of blogosphere—is pursuing a narrative that says Apple (AAPL) is doomed.
It’s a bizarre disconnect, and it has roused some of Apple’s fiercest defenders to declare open season on the doomsayers. It’s not exactly a fair fight, but it’s fun to watch. Here’s a sampling:
“Last month, Apple’s latest earnings call announced its ‘most successful year ever.’ The numbers were reported, the stories were spun and Wall Street basically anointed Apple the god of capitalism. They’re all wrong. — Bryan Clark, The Next Web.
“Apple wasn’t wrong—fiscal 2015 was Apple’s most successful year ever, by the objective measures of both revenue and profit. I suppose you can decide to define ‘most successful year ever’ in terms of something else, like percentage growth or stock price gains, but revenue and profit are pretty fair measures. I missed it where ‘Wall Street basically anointed Apple the god of capitalism’. All I noticed was that Apple’s stock price went up about 2% the day after earnings were announced and has since fallen back to where it was before Q4 earnings were announced.” —John Gruber, Daring Fireball.
The Outlook is Muted
“Apple on Tuesday turned in another quarter of enviable revenue and profit growth, fueled by sales of the iPhone. But the results raised a perennial question for the world’s most valuable company: How can it keep its growth streak alive?” —Katie Benner, New York Times.
“Forgive me in advance for this rant… Apple’s increasing monopoly on the high-end of the market is creating a virtuous cycle that ensures they will own the high-end indefinitely. From an app perspective, new and updated apps launch first on iOS, which means people who care buy iPhones, which means future new and updated apps launch first on iOS. From a component perspective, Apple is increasingly the only manufacturer that can even afford to buy the best components, and they have massive scale which ensures they get first dibs on what is new. This, of course, further solidifies Apple’s hold on the high end, which only strengthens their position with component manufacturers further.”—Ben Thompson, Stratechery.
Tim Cook Has To Go
“Look, Tim Cook might be an absolute Mahatma Gandhi of a human being but he does not seem to be the right person to lead the biggest and one of the most technological savvy companies in the world.” —Jay Somaney, Forbes.com.
“You do realize that it got to be the biggest and one of the most savvy in large part due to and under Cook’s leadership, right? Steve Jobs died four years ago and was sick for years prior to that. Didn’t realize or didn’t care? Such is the perennial question with the Forbes contributor network (and Waffle House fry cook training facility).” —The Macalope, Macworld.
The Apple-is-doomed theory has always been with us. In the late 1990s it came very close to being right. Why it persists today, in the face of the evidence to contrary, is a mystery to me. Is it market manipulation? The upcoming tough compare? A conspiracy of short sellers? A new generation of reporters discovering page-view gold in contrarian Apple stories?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed. You might also want to subscribe to Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology.
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