Having flown countless times in and out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, I can personally assure you that the runways are not set up on a site that more closely resembles a Supercross arena terrain – as is shown on the iOS 6 version of Apple maps. You can also rest assured that when you’re driving across the Hoover Dam gap, the new bridge does not vertiginously plummet to the river level below, or when you travel to Grand Cayman that you’ll find the island completely deserted outside of Owen Roberts International. The reasons why the post-Steve Jobs Apple decided to release a feature that was more “not ready for prime time” than anything since the Pippin game console (remember that thing?) may be indicating a metaphysical aspect to the largest company in the history of the world. Mr. Jobs may very well have been the company’s lucky charm that protected it against the evil eye of failure, and now that he is gone Applephiles may justifiably be having John Sculley flashbacks. Unfortunately this time Jobs is not at NeXT but in the Next World so the incompetence may be in Cupertino to stay.
Will Apple Go the Way of Wang after Their Founder’s Death?
Will the iPhone 6 make RIM’s Blackberry seem state of the art again? Will the iPad 4 be suitable only for use as a digital photo frame? Will the Retina Display iMac spontaneously combust? None of these doomsday scenarios would surprise some observers now that Jobs is permanently off the job. The very prospect that the absence a single individual can so profoundly influence a huge corporation has ample precedent. Has Honda produced any truly visionary vehicles since Soichiro died? Would Wang Computers’ $100 million office complex have been sold for $525,000 if Dr. An Wang had survived the Nineties? Even Apple’s eternal nemesis Microsoft is but a mere shadow of what it was under Bill Gates’ leadership.
The Lights Have Gone Out & No One Knows How to Turn Them On Again
Given that Apple’s fortunes have become a raison d’etre for millions of Appleficionados, the prospect that the company may have fallen into fallibility is tantamount to the mysterious but massive EMF burst that sets up NBC’s Revolution pilot: The lights have gone out and there is no one left who knows how to turn them on again. The lesson that Apple seems so far to not have fully grasped is that once visionary leaders are gone, the visionary aspect of the products must not leave with them. Apple Maps is an astonishing gaffe by a company previously blessed with the Midas Touch, and it may strike some as overly simplistic to simply attribute the failure to the departure of Jobs. After all, the same engineers are working in Cupertino now as they were under Jobs, and it would seem irrational to state that the absence of a single person in the company would lead to such a knee-slapper of a feature being released.
Rolls & Royce Are Dead but Their Car Is Still the Utmost Expression of Quality
If your brand is built on a particular level of quality and a specific set of features that your customers have become accustomed to obtaining, the passing on of a founder is no reason to let the standards slide. Both Rolls and Royce are long dead and the British stalwart car is now owned by Germany’s BMW, but that does not equate to the 2013 Phantom being positioned to compete with the Tata Nano. Guccio Gucci and Eddie Bauer are no longer with us but that does not stop their companies from producing quality clothing, as well as the absence of William E. Boeing and William P. Lear does not keep their companies from “flying” high.
Companies may be founded by visionary entrepreneurs but they should take on their own life and their employees have to continue their proven consummate implementation of products regardless of who inhabits the C-suite. That applies equally to cars, jets, clothes, electronics and every other product on Earth, including the ones you are marketing.