Apple watchers look for cracks in a modern masterpiece

There are a few different ways you might react to Apple’s latest financial quarter.

The glass-half-full optimist might salivate at the remarkable profitability and gusher of revenues. $18.4bn in profit: that’s about $1.5bn a week. The quarterly surplus is more than British Airways’ revenue (yes, revenue) for the year.  

You could do a lot of things with that money. That weekly profit alone for a football fanatic might buy the world’s best squad ever assembled. An art lover could buy a room of the world’s most expensive paintings. The fat profitability (over 40%!) and gusher of revenue ($75.9bn for the quarter) is a thing to behold for a company that was a write-off in the late 1990s.

Apple has written one of the most remarkable stories in business history but you wouldn’t think so reading the media coverage of Apple’s financials that focused on flatlining iPhone sales, a possibly misfiring automotive project, hiring freeze rumours and a murky macro-economy. Tired of repetitive success, Apple is scrutinised by reporters for every speck of grit in the oyster. This is the glass half-empty principle at work.

Is there a third way? I think there is and it is an eminently more sensible view to take. Which is to say that Apple has been on a golden run for several years now that has taken it to the pinnacle of commerce and utterly changed views of the entertainment sector, industrial design, retail, how we absorb information and more. But, sceptics say, kingdoms crumble and at their respective peaks tech rivals like AT&T, IBM and Microsoft also once generated palaces of gold from seemingly impermeable franchises. And in recent years, slides have tended to be spectacular – look at Nokia if you can bear to.

Well yes, but Apple is a company that has done marvellous things over many years now and it retains the wealth, people and verve to do more. Bet against it if you will and spend your time examining its ledger books for minutiae and signs of cracks opening. The bigger picture is more impressive and interesting though.

Also read:

Apple makes more hardware to seek its own destiny

Apple has changed retail, office design and more

Five things to say about the Apple Watch

$700bn Apple and the rise of the tech economy


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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