In 1996 Dan Crow joined Apple Computer where he initially worked as lead software engineer on the Apple Media Tool. He was also manager of the HyperCard engineering team and the QuickTime applications team. He worked closely with Steve Jobs on the QuickTime Player application and was co-inventor of two software patents with Jobs. So when this credible talented engineer says he thinks that it's all downhill from here for Apple, I was a little surprised but willing to listen to his position which he laid out in great detail. Update: Dan Crow Responds
Dan Crow stated in his recent article that "Apple had Steve, the master product and marketing genius. He was the enforcer of Apple's quality and consistency. He used the advantages of a command-and-control organisation to amazing effect. He harnessed tens of thousands of employees to create his singular vision for the future of computing and communications. Through a combination of inspiration, fear and brilliance, he was able to transform the sad remnants of the Apple of 1996 into the greatest tech company of our time."
And while he still believes that Apple produces a range of exceptional and much loved products and employs many of the most talented designers and engineers on the planet, he thinks that "Apple has peaked and the story of the next few years will be one of a slow but real decline."
One of his many points covers Apple's "Maps" debacle by stating that suddenly Apple "is willing to give users a clearly worse experience to further its corporate interests - in this case its long-running dispute with Google."
"Worse still," states Crow, "Apple's hyperbole is now getting a long way ahead of reality. Now, Steve was famous for his "reality distortion field". I saw it up close and personal, and it was amazing. But Steve knew that when he turned on the hype, he needed an outstanding product to back it up. The reason he could seemingly bend reality to his will was that products like the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad really were exceptional, breakthrough products. Steve's showmanship was justified.
Compare that to the launch of the latest revisions of the iPad and iPhone. They are accompanied by amazing levels of hype: "I don't think the level of invention has been matched by anything we've ever done", "This is the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since the iPhone." Crow added "Don't get me wrong, the iPhone 5 is an excellent product; it's probably the best smartphone on the market right now. But it's only an incremental improvement over the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5 is better, but it's really not that much better."
He concludes his article by stating that while Apple "will create amazing new products and will continue to make bucket loads of money, the pace will slacken, more mistakes will happen and it will not return to the levels of execution and brilliance we saw in the first decade of this millennium. I may be wrong. I hope I'm wrong. But something tells me I'm not."
If you have the time, Dan Crow's detailed article is a worthy read that shouldn't be missed. He's someone who worked with the late Steve Jobs, and I respect that. You may or may not agree with him but he airs out a lot of what Macites are really saying privately. I've heard these same arguments before and he's not alone. In fact, Ed Conway, the economics editor for Sky News, is another one who recently lashed out at CEO Tim Cook in a detailed rant that echoes some of what Crow covered and a lot more.
It's really difficult to figure out at this point in time whether these tell-all testimonies are part of a well-orchestrated marketing war against Apple or simply frustrated Macites who are angry as hell with recent developments and are willing to go public to make their positions known to Apple's management. How do you see it?
Update 11:55 AM MST:
Dan Crow was good enough to email me a few moments ago with the following comment:
"Thanks for the write up on my Guardian article. Regarding your last paragraph, I can assure you I am not part of an orchestrated marketing war against Apple. This was simply a write up of some thoughts I had following a recent Twitter conversation. These are just my thoughts, which I hope are of interest to a wider audience. I'd be delighted if Apple proves me wrong."
Update Nov 10, 2012:
About that "well orchestrated marketing war against Apple," that I hinted at in this report. A new report out this morning talks about this very point. Here's one quote:
"Apple’s strongest asset is the power of its brand, and the historically valid belief that Apple products are purchased by smart people who are well regarded. This asset is being systematically destroyed, overtly by Samsung, covertly by Microsoft and stupidity of Apple. "
You may or may not agree with Rob Enderle, and I hear some of you already grinding your teeth, the fact is you have to blind not see that there's an orchestrated marketing war against Apple. While I appreciated Dan Crow emailing me to say that he wasn't a part of this campaign, the timing of his article remains suspect.