Apple’s silly season continues!
Today, Nick Wingfield has an earnest post for the New York Times titled, “Why Tim Cook Is Like Steve Ballmer.“
The basic gist of the post: Microsoft’s stock has been flat-to-down despite the fact that its revenue and profits have gone up under Ballmer.
Apple’s revenue and profits have gone up, but now Apple’s stock is basically flat under Cook.
Wingfield then details the reason that they’re different: Ballmer has burned billions trying to kill Google, and totally whiffed on the iPhone and iPad. Oh, and Windows is at risk of totally falling apart.
Cook, meanwhile, is watching Apple’s stock disintegrate because, EPS is going to fall this quarter, margins are compressing, and iPhone sales growth is stalling.
He concludes by saying that it’s unclear if Apple’s stock will bounce back, but “the case of Mr. Ballmer and Microsoft, though, suggests that a company can be stuck in investor purgatory for a long time even if it keeps up profit and revenue growth.”
Apple’s stock is sliding because investors have no clue where the next wave of growth comes from. It’s Cook’s job to articulate and execute on the next big thing. In a year, if Apple has bupkis to show in the product department, then go ahead, start making Ballmer comparisons. Today, it’s premature.
Ballmer’s mistakes as CEO have been huge — he totally missed mobile, the technological trend that has radically altered the personal computing industry.
Cook’s hasn’t made a mistake — he went on the defensive against smaller tablets, producing the world’s most popular tablet computer, the iPad Mini. He’s not burning money fending off rivals with a too-late, me-too product like Bing.
Cook has not missed on one single major product. There is nothing that a rival has created that you say, “Apple should have done that.”
The closest we can come up with is a large screen iPhone. Samsung’s 5-inch smartphones are quite popular. But, they’re just a variant on Apple’s iPhone.
When Cook starts whiffing on technological trends and products, you can start saying he’s like Ballmer.
There’s a chance Cook misses the next big thing. Cook has only been CEO for a year and a half. Ballmer has been CEO for over a decade.
We’ll see how he handles Apple’s transition from selling high margin iPhones to developed countries, to lower margin iPhones to emerging markets. We’ll see how he handles the rise of wearable computing. We’ll see how he shapes or misses the next major technological trend.
Again, Cook could whiff, but until he does, the most accurate headline is that Cook is nothing like Ballmer.
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