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:
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?
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