Innovation & Insights

Why There Are So Few Apples

Sam Frentzel-Beyme Follow Managing Partner & Strategy Director

The Short of It

  • Apple succeeds by pushing products that cannibalize its own product line.
  • We still don't know if Jobs was just "brave" enough to push through his own visions or whether he was changing the way organizations do business.
  • Thinking about what could make your organization, service, or product obsolete is a powerful tool.

I caught an interesting video panel put on by Fortune Brainstorm Tech called “The Future of Apple”. The panel included Horace Dediu, founder of Asymco, which provides some great insights into what’s happening in the mobile space, and Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray.

Future of Apple from Fortune Conferences and Fortune Conferences on

The big take away from my perspective as a strategist is that Apple succeeds by continually pushing products that cannibalize its own product line. The iPod that reshaped the digital music industry has been supplanted by the iPhone. Now the talk is that the iMac is being supplanted by the iPad. Overall, iPhone now makes up 55% of Apple’s profits and the iMac line is the company’s least profitable. On the surface, you'd think that Apple was in the phone business.

One comment by Horace was that we still didn’t know whether Apple just had great leadership under a Jobs who was “brave” enough to push through his own visions or whether Apple is fundamentally changing the way organizations do business all together and that the changes Jobs infused are now part of the Apple DNA. Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray seems to think that Apple after Jobs is now a company very much like him. His target price for the stock: $900+/- (Apple trades today at $604.30). In other articles, Munster has even said that he sees Apple at over $1,000, especially once they make inroads with Apple TV, which, in his words, is basically a done deal.

As you look to your own organization, what would make your project team, division, or even organization as a whole obsolete? I don’t think anyone would be hard pressed to write down ten things that could happen in the near to mid future that would severely handicap their business or make it completely disappear. Most people could probably write more.

The real issue here, however, is not whether there will be redefining moments in your industry, but whether you are working on them now.

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