Apple's share price seems to be in a state of near terminal decline. Despite just announcing one of the best financial quarters that any company in the US has ever had - ever! - revenue didn't match market expectations, and so the shares slumped. Now Apple has lost its crown as the most valuable company on the stock exchange with oil company Exxon Mobil bubbling back up to the top slot. In fact, last Thursday $50 billion was wiped off its share price.
I'm actually quite relieved by this. As any mountaineer knows, it's hard to breathe at high altitude, and worrying about the share price too much distracts a company from what it should be doing, which is making great stuff. It also felt wrong - as anybody who has been following Apple for long enough knows, its natural home is not the mass market with its bargain basement bins and two for one price offers. Apple means luxury, Apple means quality and Apple means 'thinking different'. Once everybody is thinking different what does that mean for company that isn't supposed to be for everybody?
But does it mean that Apple is in trouble? Well, not really. Apple sold more iPads (22.9 million) and iPhones (47.8 million) in the last quarter than in any previous quarter. Just not enough to satisfy the analysts.
Apple aren't slowing down either. Rumours of what it has planned for us over the year are as rife as ever - a 128GB iPad? A new iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 in June? A budget iPhone for the low-price markets that Apple has traditionally shunned? I'm quite happy to get back to speculating about Apple's future products and not about how it's now bigger than Google and Facebook combined. Just like updating your status on Google+, it doesn't really matter. What matters most is the products it makes and how it treats its customers, and as far as I can see both of those things combined are still Apple's strongest suit.
I'll predict it now: 2013 is going to be a great year for Apple. Notable Brit, saviour of technology design and spiritual successor to Steve Jobs, Jonny Ive has been put in charge of human interface design across all of Apple's hardware and software products, and this can only mean that the software that runs on your iPhone, your Mac or your iPad is going to get better than ever. It's true that Apple has dulled its edge in innovation, with rivals like Samsung, which used to be accused of copying Apple, releasing phones with newer features first. But I think those were exactly the warning shots across its bows that Apple needed, and the right changes have been made in the management structure to get things back on track.
For me, Apple being the largest company in the world just never felt right. Apple works best when it's standing for something different to the mainstream, and I'm looking forward to it getting its head back under the parapet, where it belongs so it can concentrate on making those innovative products that we don't even know we need, yet.
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