Friday, January 23, 2009

The show must go on

Apple reported strong quarter results that were driven by strong Mac sales and better-than-expected iPod sales. Apple beat analyst estimates and its guidance of last quarter but its outlook was short of analysts’ estimates. It has shown amazing resilience in an economy reeling badly under recession where consumer spending has taken a hit considering Apple's main customers are not corporates but end consumers.

Apple posted record revenue of $10.17 billion, a 5.8% growth, and net income grew 2% to $1.61 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.39 on sales of $9.76 billion. Apple had forecast revenue between $9 and 10 billion and EPS between $1.06 and $1.35. Gross margin was 34.7%, same as last quarter. Cash flow from operations was over $3.9 billion, and Apple ended the quarter with $28.1 billion in cash reserves.

But there is a certain incertitude looming around Apple's leadership that is a big concern right now. Though nobody knows the real picture, the five month long leave taken by Steve Jobs has shaken many in the industry and many fans. Well someday, Steve Jobs is bound to retire and when he comes back (which we all hope he does), he should be seriously thinking about whom the make responsible. He started this company and I am sure his final dream would be that Apple keeps surprising the world and changing it with or without him. That's what he stands for and I guess wants to be remembered for long after he is gone.

Though Apple will surely miss his crazy leadership style and make-a-dent-in-the-universe attitude, I am sure the very culture that makes Apples stand apart has sunk in deep into the senior management. The last thing we need is Apple choosing another John Sculley. We all know that Steve Jobs has softened a bit and has become much more diplomatic and shed the flippant image he had before he was fired from Apple but at the core he still remains a guy irreverent to the status quo, with an urge to change the world. Though most of the credit he got for turning around the company when he took over reins of Apple in 1997 goes to Gil Amelio (Apple's CEO before him), he was still instrumental in getting the act of Apple together and creating some revolutionary products and moving Apple from a me-too company to a follow-me company. Apple needs a leadership who understands this culture and takes it to another level.

So Steve - "Get Well Soon" and get back soon and find a worthy successor who can "Think Different" the way you and your team did. Because with or without you - The show must go on.

1 comment:

US said...

First signs are not looking good. Cook came out against Palm on defending its IP. Engadget doing a subsequent post that iPhone infringes many more Palms's patents and not the other way around.

I am negative on Apple with Cook. Jobs helped Apple simplify the product portfolio, push the envelope on Industrial design and UX.
Cook looks to be a placeholder who is more interested in prolonged patent battles to defend the castle rather than make it stronger.