Greetings and welcome to the new week of Apple [AAPL] rumor, speculation and negative spin -- and this promises to be a particularly interesting week as the company announces its financial results only to be pilloried by analysts and pundits whatever it admits.
[ABOVE: 10,000 iPhones fall like dominoes in this popular clip, though only one iPhone was damaged in the attempt.]
We are witnessing a ghastly example of group consensus as yet more anti-Apple rhetoric blips across the incomprehensible algorithms that drive the entity known as Google News, as critics focus on what doesn't matter and skip the one thing that does.
This morning's obsessions (with a few counter notions) include:
Criticisms of Apple's financial performance
It seems the company isn't immune to the appalling financial climate the seeds of which were originally sown by the bankers on Wall Street who invest in Apple stock in order to complain when the financial meltdown they created impacts their most profitable stock.
Apple iPhone 5S "delayed"
Delayed? That's a terribly unusual claim when you consider that while the iPhone 5S has been speculated about it has never actually been announced -- how can an unannounced product be delayed? Expectation may have been thwarted, but that's all.
Foxconn hit with up to 8 million iPhone returns
An astonishing claim from a single source that doesn't match up with any recorded iPhone durability study, in each of which the iPhone excels. Such a massive return of product should be seen as a positive -- Apple clearly cares enough about quality not to sell potentially faulty devices, a lesson many of its competitors would heed if they truly cared for consumers. Could this be related to the delay report above?
Yet another tale in circulation today (from Business Insider) claims Apple's component manufacturers in the Asia Pacific call the firm "Poison Apple."
Why? Because they don't like being so heavily reliant on Apple for their business, driving them to find other big customers to work with. Which makes sense from a business point of view, but also hints at something far more alarming: that in the current climate there are no other big customers to serve.
Tim Cook must go
A meme that likes to show itself from time-to-time is the "Tim Cook must go" argument. Who is it coming from? Apple's enemies, as Apple 2.0 observes. Think then about what it means when your enemies talk against you. We know this usually means your foes fear you. Investors might support a man Apple's enemies fear. It probably means Tim Cook's doing quite well.
These are just a few of the slices of negative rhetoric being thrown at the Californian fruit company this morning, but three of them probably tell a story in themselves, so consider this alternative explanation:
Apple's iPhone 5S may have hit unexpected production issues causing the first run of eight million of the devices to be returned and factories retooled to deal with the problem. The result of this might be that the new iPhone won't ship in mid-summer as we might have expected.
That's bad news in lots of ways, not least that it gives Apple's big nemesis, "sneaky" Samsung (I wonder if that name will catch on?) a chance to sell a few of its smartphones, not that it ever discloses sales numbers (sneakily).
It's also good news because it suggests Apple isn't prepared to compromise on user experience or quality. There's a huge business case to ship the new iPhone, but it has declined to do so because the first units aren't up to standard. This might impact financial performance for everyone in its component supply chain, but it's a huge commitment to customer experience.
That's important because it means that when it comes to putting its money where its mouth is, Apple's most important priority is its customers, not Wall Street, investors or critics.
Apple puts customers, not critics, first
A move to return eight million units of the new (or an earlier model) of iPhone means Apple's focus on customer experience is its raison d'etre. That's why it's safe to suggest Maps will pretty soon be the best mapping service in the world -- because the company will invest everything it can to transform that experience.
Maybe this is why the critics hate Tim Cook -- because he remains focused on customer experience. How they must have hoped that following the loss of Steve Jobs Apple would transform into some other boringly predictable commodity-style consumer electronics company that easily fits inside their own boringly predictable, "greed is good" world view.
This hasn't happened, and that's a good thing.
It means that despite stock market jitters, criticism at every turn, intense competition and occasional dirty tricks by those set against it, Apple remains focused on pleasing its customers. That's arguably the only thing that matters, and a testament to the strength of the company's current management.
It's unfortunate Apple's critics seem unlikely to see it that way as they seek to foster a perfidious environment of anti-iPhone negativity. Apple's customers, however, will benefit from that focus on them, not Wall Street. Apple's focus on customers will seed future growth far more effectively than listening to the analysts ever can.
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