Is Apple heading for a fall?


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Apple Maps Virtual Reality?

One of my favorite authors Jim Collins in his book How the Mighty Fall describes a 5 stage model of decline that many companies pass through on their way out of business.

The first stage he describes is the “Hubris Born of Success”. Hubris is an ancient greek word that means extreme pride or arrogance. It is an overarching estimate of one’s own importance that one is blind to the views of others or to potential dangers to one’s own position. In the great Greek tragedies hubris invariably precedes destruction.

Unfortunately we have seen an example of that from Apple with a decision to replace Google Maps with their own inferior mapping software. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a massive Apple fan, I write this blog on a Mac and have spent a small fortune on Apple products over the years. However if the decision to provide a product not ready for prime time wasn’t bad enough, Apple actually replaced one that was far better (Google Maps). This is a sure sign of Hubris. Here are a few recent apple maps user images:

apple maps highway image

apple maps puts burger king in the wrong place

Interesting new store design for Burger King!

Why would Apple make this decision?

Perhaps Apple believes it can do it better? Maybe it wants to own every core application on its iPhone platform? Certainly Google and Apple have become more like competitors than collaborators over the past few years. This is thanks to the Android cell phone operating system that competes with the iPhone.

What ever the reason, it’s a decision that does open the door for the competition. It’s also an example of the types of decisions that can lead them down the wrong path. Would Steve Jobs approve of the Apple Maps release?

Now Apple has always been a challenging company to partner with (I spent a number of years working with them in my days at HP). However when they deliver outstanding innovative products many things can be excused. What happens when they stop delivering? Unhappy customers and partners hungry for alternatives will rapidly look elsewhere.

Apple is the world’s most valuable company at almost $700bn in market capitalization, its iPhone business alone is worth more than Microsoft’s total business. It changed the smartphone market forever. But Hubris is a dangerous affliction. Will this be Apple’s fatal flaw?

What do you think, is this just a blip on the radar or a signal of something more serious?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Christopher Brown
Chris Brown is the CEO of MarketCulture Strategies, the global leader in assessing the market-centricity of an organization and its degree of focus on customers, competitors and environmental conditions that impact business performance. MCS works closely with the C-Suite and other consulting groups to focus and adjust corporate vision and values around the right set of beliefs, behaviors and processes to engender more dynamic organizations, predictable growth, and customer lifetime value. In short we help leaders profit from increased customer focus.


  1. The passing of Steve Jobs and shift to more “disciplined” management will eventually lead to a fall from the heights we see today.

    Under Tim Cook’s leadership, the company will increasingly be run by MBAs. Perhaps one of them put the ‘maps’ decision in a spreadsheet!

    According to this Fortune article How Tim Cook is changing Apple:

    If anything, Apple under Tim Cook will embrace efficiency to an even greater degree, especially as the company grows bigger and more complex — to the dismay of those who think techies should rule the roost. “It looks like it has become a more conservative execution engine rather than a pushing-the-envelope engineering engine,” says Max Paley, a former engineering vice president who worked at Apple for 14 years until late 2011. “I’ve been told that any meeting of significance is now always populated by project management and global-supply management,” he says. “When I was there, engineering decided what we wanted, and it was the job of product management and supply management to go get it. It shows a shift in priority.”

    And, it won’t help that Apple is building a glorious new HQ. Perhaps another sign that the company is reading its own press clippings, instead of focusing on creating the “insanely great products” that made Apple what it is today.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Bob, the fortune article appears to show a definite shift under Tim’s leadership. He is naturally going to play to his strengths, hopefully he is mindful of his weaknesses….

    Sounds like the mapping decision could have been simply been a spreadsheet one… let’s run the numbers on this… we will only annoy a small number of customers for a short period of time and then we’ll be back on track … the numbers add up let’s do it!

    It reminds me of a post I did recently on the “Death by a thousand cuts” – these decisions add up…..

    I am still not sure why they are doing this?


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