Music industry guru Bob Lefsetz has written about the Apple-Beats deal, and, to put it mildly, he is not a fan.
He mostly thinks the deal reflects poorly on Apple, and CEO Tim Cook:
The overanalysis is mind-boggling. Tim Cook is an operations guy, he’s clueless, the company has no vision and this is evidence of it. Steve Jobs was famous for saying one thing and doing another, decrying this and then doing exactly that. Anybody with a brain knew that streaming was eclipsing downloads. Except at Apple, where they were adhering to Jobs’s philosophy. But it turns out Apple had no Plan B, no streaming service ready to be launched when necessary. It’s like they never read Clayton Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma,” despite it being vaunted in the tech press for over a decade. If you rest on your laurels, you’re gonna be history tomorrow.
Lefsetz has been critical of Cook in the past. In January of 2013, when Apple’s stock was crashing, Lefsetz called Cook “charisma challenged.” He thought it was crazy that Apple was being quiet while the press was anointing Samsung as the new King.
In his post on Apple-Beats he added:
We no longer live in an Apple world. Apple dominated music because of the seamless interface of the iPod and iTunes, with the iTunes Store the glue holding it all together. Apple no longer has a market monopoly, and the company is too stupid to strive for this. End game with the iPhone is death (or a niche product with declining software, which IS death). We’ve seen this movie a zillion times before, most famously with the Macintosh. Apple triumphed in this century by dominating, first with the iPod, then with the iPhone and then with the iPad. As that dominance erodes, you come up with a new dominant product, one that hopefully ties all your others together, so far Tim Cook has failed to do this.
And he had this on Jimmy Iovine joining:
If Jimmy Iovine goes to Apple, more power to him. But that will indicate the lunatics have taken over the asylum, Apple should first and foremost be about tech, Jimmy is at best a marketer. This would mean Apple is mature, and you know what happens with mature tech companies…
He ends with this final blast at Tim Cook:
P.S. Don’t forget Steve Jobs sang the praises of John Sculley and ultimately regretted the decision to hire him at Apple. Just because Jobs anointed Cook don’t think Steve wouldn’t regret this decision today. Because Cook delivers numbers, but not products. Creative companies must be run by creative people, never forget that. In other words, Jimmy Iovine knows little about electronics and almost nothing about code, but he managed to create the Beats headphone juggernaut (Monster provided the tech) and Beats Music (MOG provided the tech). In other words, creativity is all about individuals. And either you’ve got insight and the ability to execute, to assemble disparate components for an unforeseen future, or you don’t. We love the visionaries and the dreamers, we don’t love Tim Cook. Many liked Van Halen with Sammy, but the band’s legend was built with Dave. Love him or hate him, you’ve got to admit Dave has a viewpoint, a persona, a personality. Sam may have the pipes, but once again, success is about vision, not raw talent, Steve Wozniak was the tech genius of the Apple II, but without Steve Jobs, he was nowhere. It appears that without Steve Jobs, Apple is nowhere.
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