Apple Scapegoats Trump as Consumers, Investors Grumble

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

With Apple management failing to deliver any disruptive new products since Steve Jobs left almost 5 years ago, CEO Tim Cook is trying to play politics, shifting blame for Apple’s collapsing business model to some moral deficiency in Republican Donald Trump.

Cook has communicated to Republican leaders that Apple, Inc. will not provide the usual funding and free computers for the party’s national convention, which will be held in Cleveland, Ohio at the Quicken Loans Arena from July 18 to 21.

Apple justified its actions as statement of moral outrage at Donald Trump’s comments about women, immigrants and minorities. But the action is just another example of how Cook is like former Apple CEO John Sculley, rather than Jobs.

Sculley served as Apple’s CEO from 1983 to 1993, after being the president of Pepsi-Cola. He was recruited by Jobs, but  engineered a “palace coup” in 1985 that booted Jobs for his chaotic management style and for “launching expensive forays into untested products.”

Apple sales jumped from $800 million to $8 billion over the next 8 years, as the Jobs-designed Macintosh, Apple IIC and Laserwriter created a revolution that brought personal computers into the of the consumer market.

Sculley and most Silicon Valley CEOs in the 1980s had been life-long Republicans. But after meeting Hillary Rodham Clinton in the late 1980s and serving on a national education council, Sculley became deeply involved in recruiting Silicon Valley to back Democrat Bill Clinton’s quest to be President.

Sculley wanted Apple and other tech giants to seize corporate control of the publicly-funded “information superhighway.” He became crucial to changing Silicon Valley’s politics by recruiting 135 computer and biotech executives to publicly contribute $400,000 to Clinton in 1992.

Sculley was rewarded for his hard work with an invitation to sit next to Hillary Clinton in January 1993 at President Bill Clinton’s first State of the Union address. President Clinton’s first initiative was championing private sector telecommunication companies controlling the roll-out of what became known as the “Internet.” Federal Election Commission records reveal the Democratic Party received $70,000 from MCI, $25,000 from NYNEX, $15,000 from Sprint, and $10,000 from US West in 1993.

But during the same period as Sculley began his deep foray into politics, Apple’s corporate infrastructure costs ballooned and its products became increasingly commoditized. With Apple’s earnings beginning a historic collapse, Sculley was forced to resign in April 1993. A few years later, Apple was forced to buy Steve Job’s Next Computer start-up to recruit him and his disruptive product risk-taking style back into the company.

Over the next 14 years, Jobs launched disruptive products that dominated Silicon Valley innovation, including the iMac in 1998; Power Mac G4 Cube in 2000; iPod in 2001; Mac OS X and Apple Stores in 2001; iTunes Store in 2003; Intel MacBook Pro in 2006; iPhone in 2007; App Store and MacBook Air in 2008; and IPad in 2010.

When Jobs left Apple in August 2011, before dying of pancreatic cancer, Cook was named CEO of Apple.  Cook “focused upon building a harmonious culture that meant weeding out people with disagreeable personalities – people Jobs tolerated and even held close,” according to Brand International.

Cook fired Scott Forstall, who was disliked by his fellow executives, but who had led the wildly successful software development teams for the iPhone and iPad. Apple issued a press release stating that Forstall’s departure “will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams.”

The first sentence of the company’s PR release read, “Apple today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams.”

Former Apple senior engineer Michael Lopp warned on the tech-savvy “Rands in Response” blog that “collaboration” could spell doom for Apple: “Close your eyes and imagine a meeting with Steve Jobs. Imagine how it proceeds and how decisions are made. Does the word collaboration ever enter your mind? Not mine.”

Cook has coasted on the success of the iPhone and iPad for the last five years. He has also been spending heavily to build Apple II Headquarters to look like a massive spaceship. Earnings momentum is dead as Apple’s products are commoditizing again, and Cook’s Apple Pay and Apple Watch have failed to move the revenue needle for a company with $200 billion in annual sales.

But in recognition for spending a huge amount of his time raising money rallying Silicon Valley to support re-electing Democrat Barack Obama as President, Tim Cook was rewarded with the invitation to sit next to Michelle Obama during the January 2013 State of the Union address.


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